The 5 Habits of My Highly Effective Husband

Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 15.00.34.pngOn 22 April 2017, it was exactly one year since the rainy, stormy, magical day on which I said “I do” in the Stellenbosch Moederkerk to my six-foot-seven other half.

So, I thought it fitting to publish a post in honour of the man himself. He surely deserves it, if for no other reason than simply having put up with me for the last twelve months, without (visible) recourse to the odd Schedule 5 sedative. Also, as an added bonus, the first wedding anniversary gift is traditionally “paper”, and, seeing as this blog is pretty much my online diary, I reckon it all ties in pretty nicely. (Don’t worry, this is not his anniversary gift. I’m not that much of a chancer!)

On a serious note, as I sit here writing this, I am deeply grateful that the man I married is someone I constantly look up to, not only because of the dreamy six-foot-seven-ness. I have learned a huge amount from The Planet (I’ll have to explain this nickname some other time and, no, it’s not what you think). So, I wanted to share some of my favourite lessons here. I’m limiting it to 5 (because, well, I am running late and behind, as usual) and, as luck would have it, Marco’s rugby jersey number was always number 5 (lock position).

1. The rewards of making a plan & sticking to it

umbra-take-5“Failing to plan is planning to fail”. While this is obviously not an original Marco Wentzel concept, it’s something I’ve seen him put into practice every day, without fail. Let’s just say, the man is decisive about being decisive and disciplined about being disciplined. Quite frankly, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Whether it’s due to 17 years of playing professional rugby or an innate “maybe he’s born with it” ability, I do tip my hat in his general direction when it comes to his ability to “make a plan and stick to it”.

While he goes to bed at the same time each night and gets up (refreshed) every morning at 5am to start each day with an hour at the gym, I’m still floating around in dreamland only to hit the “snooze” button repeatedly two hours later, whilst struggling to find The Perfect Excuse for bunking gym (yet again). I mean who, in today’s world, wakes up feeling “refreshed” of “well-rested”? Planet replies to all emails within 24 hours or sooner, whilst I have 395 unread mails in my inbox on a good day, mostly because “I have too much on my plate and I’ll get to it later”. The Husband doesn’t work this way – he makes a plan to get to it and then does so. (And his plate is way, waaaay, fuller than mine.)

Absa Currie Cup: Cell C Sharks training session and press conference

Many people are planners: they have big dreams of what they want to achieve, but somehow never get around to making these dreams come true. Others are simply doers, impulsively jumping into new projects, without ever taking the time to devise a proper plan. Marco has shown me that not only it is possible to be a planner and an executor, but it is a highly rewarding skill set worth pursuing, resulting in less stress, higher productivity and, ultimately, a less chaotic life.

2. You have to look after yourself before you can look after others

This heading can’t help but remind me of that safety speech flight attendants always give, prior to takeoff: something about “during an in-flight emergency, make sure you secure your own oxygen mask first, before helping your children or those around you.”

I have lost count of how many times in my life I have reached out to help friends in need,  taken on charity cases or familial issues, when – in fact – I was barely struggling to manage my own responsibilities. Whilst it’s all good and well (and, I believe, our moral obligation) to help those in need, the math is simple: if our tank is empty, we’re not going to get very far carrying others. If the lifeboat isn’t inflated properly, everyone in it is going to drown. If you have a big heart and find tremendous joy in helping others where you can, it’s not easy to say “no” when being asked a favour, but it is sometimes necessary and in everybody’s best interest to try to help others only when you have the capacity to do so.

3. There is only space for so many marbles on your board

ClareWieseBlogPostThe day only has twenty-four hours in it. A week only has seven days. It’s impossible to be everything, to everyone, all of the time.

Marco always says that we all have space for a “limited about of marbles” on our board (although, quite frankly, I think I’ve lost a few along the way, but that’s besides the point). He says: “every time a new marble comes onto your board, another one has to make way”.  Whether it be relationships, friendships, career projects or other personal endeavours, at some point you’ll need to decide which marbles deserve to be on your board and which ones have to roll off.

When I complain (to the poor man) about not having enough time to finish my ever-expanding to-do list, see all my friends, reply to all my Whatsapp messages or answer all my emails (you can tell by now I have a major email problem), he will simply say: “you’re trying to make space for too many marbles on your board and there just isn’t space. So, decide which marbles you want to keep and let the rest roll away.”

This lesson is really about the need for prioritising those aspects of your life that are, at any particular point in time, MOST important to you (whether it be building a business from the ground up, bettering your relationship with your mother, supporting a friend through a messy divorce or getting your body back in shape after giving birth). On the flip side, it’s also about letting go of those things (or those people) who, at the end of the day, simply aren’t as important as the rest. You only have space for so many marbles! I’m still working on this one, but the lesson is there:)

4. Change the changeables

This one is simple (to Marco, at least, it seems). Again, I’m still working on it. There are things in life we can change and things we can’t. We can’t change people’s prejudices or preconceptions, we can’t change how we were brought up, we can’t change the cards we were dealt at birth. On the other hand, we can change so many, powerful, things: one of which is the way we respond to that which happens to us or the way in which we play our cards.

Whenever Marco catches me worrying about something (which, unfortunately, is often, as I seem to really enjoy worrying), he’ll say, quite pragmatically: “You can’t change it. Let it go. Change the changeables”. There is a lot of freedom in accepting the things we cannot change (whatever they may be) and shifting our focus towards the things we can. I actually wrote a piece on self-acceptance vs self-improvement recently, which ties into this very liberating philosophy.

Absa Currie Cup: Cell C Sharks training session

5. Keep your eye on the prize

Last, but not least, Planet refuses to get sucked in to trivial power battles or stand-offs in business, relationships or life. He always keeps his eye on the ball (cheesy rugby pun and well-placed photograph intended) and his focus always remains on his long-term goals.

It’s so easy to get derailed or side-tracked, when we encounter difficult people or circumstances along the way to fulfilling our dreams, but if we spend all our time worrying about every high tackle (an illegal and “dirty” rugby tackle) en route to scoring a try, we’ll never get further than the half-way line.

That’s it (for now). Some top tips from a top guy. I hope you find them (and him) half as inspirational as I do:)

Wedding photograph, courtesy of Jean-Pierre Uys & rugby photographs, courtesy of Steve Haag

The Fine Line Between Self-Acceptance & Self-Improvement

Last week, the call for entry was launched for my new television series, MOOIMAAK, set to air on kykNET from 5 October 2017.

Since then, I am happy to report, we have been snowed under by entries and social media responses, some of which have included the following wonderfully candid comments: 

  • “I need something positive like this in my life’;
  • “It’s as if my prayers have been answered, I need a smile makeover. I am unable to afford a dentist and, as a result, I no longer smile with confidence”;
  • “Being chosen as a participant in this show, would be the most amazing gift I have ever received in my life.”

Whilst my talented production team and I are (needless to say) extremely excited about the public’s overwhelming response, it did make me sit back and wonder: to what extent can or should improving our looks be a determining factor in changing our lives?

The title of our show (“MOOIMAAK”) refers, loosely translated, to the act of “beautifying something or someone”. The term also has a more colloquial meaning in Afrikaans, denoting the idea of “playing nicely” or “being gentle”.  As the title thus suggests, our goal is without question to “beautify” or dramatically improve the appearance of our participants and, in so doing, improve their lives: perhaps we can give their self-confidence the boost it needs for them to finally apply for that job or go on that date.

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The dramatic effects of the latest skin-resurfacing laser treatments are indisputable

In addition, our aim is to achieve this outcome by “playing nicely” i.e. without knives (pun intended). We are excited about the sheer variety of non-surgical cosmetic and dental procedures on offer today in South Africa, at the hands of world-class professionals. This includes commonly known treatments such as chemical peels, botox and fillers to lesser known, cutting-edge procedures such as thread lifting and carboxytherapy, as well as the very latest cosmetic dentistry techniques.  We know that there are many women out there who might wish to improve their appearance by means of these treatments, but who lack the finances or the know-how to do so. This is where I hope to come in, by sharing my little black book of experts (from the country’s foremost non-surgical aesthetic practitioners and cosmetic dentists to my favourite makeup artists, hair stylists and designers) with our participants and, of course, our at-home audience.

At the same time, although we firmly believe that this series will change people’s lives, we are by no means advocating that “fixing your looks will fix your entire life”. How could anyone make such a claim when some of the world’s most annoyingly and gobsmackingly gorgeous people (e.g. Angelina Jolie) have publicly admitted to self-destructive behaviour that would, by all accounts, indicate a life somewhat broken on the inside?

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So, if we, at MOOIMAAK, are hoping to changes peoples’ lives by changing their appearance, but at the same time saying “good looks alone won’t make you happy”, we are back to my original question, and I repeat: “to what extent can or should improving our looks be a determining factor in improving our lives?”

Having given it some thought over the last few days, I feel the answer might lie somewhere in the balance: the balance between self-acceptance and self-empowerment.

Whilst there are some things about our appearance we certainly cannot change and thus need to accept, there are plenty of wonderful things we can do to improve the way we look and, hopefully, the way we feel (ranging from expensive and time-consuming treatments to simply getting a more flattering hair cut or learning some clever new makeup tricks). I, for one, have certainly experienced the impact that having a cosmetic problem (like problem skin or skew teeth) can have on one’s confidence. On the flip side, however, I have endured (like everyone else) some challenging times in my life, including painful breakups and the death of loved ones, where (finally) having a clear complexion or a semi-Colgate smile did nothing to lighten the load.

So, before deciding to improve our appearance (whether it be on a glamorous makeover show or not), perhaps we should be guided by the famous (paraphrased) words of Reinhold Niebuhr: “accept the things you cannot change, have the courage to change the things you can and have the wisdom to know the difference.”

In the current context, we might thus do well to ask ourselves the following questions (I’ll write them out in bullet points, in case your attention span is anything like mine, i.e. that of a goldfish with amnesia):

  • Which of our appearance-related problems do we need to accept and which can or do we want to do something about?
  • Which of the obstacles we face (like struggling to make that call to The Potential One or submit an application for The Perfect Job) might well be overcome by making some of the cosmetic changes on our wish list?
  • And, last but not least: which of the other ‘ugly’ issues in our lives (like an unhappy marriage or long-term family feuds) require a different kind of renewal?

Lastly, please know that, of course, I realise this is one of those highly controversial topics that everyone will have a different (yet equally valid) opinion on. I simply wanted to share my thoughts here and, hopefully, highlight a topic worthy of attention.

Love,

Clare.

How I Learned to Embrace Imperfection Through The Concept Of Wabi Sabi

ClareWieseblog2I was recently introduced by a close family friend to the super cool Japanese concept of “wabi-sabi”. During an impromptu “pop-in” to my parents’ place, where Lynda and my mother were enjoying espressos and rearranging furniture, I rather strongly  suggested that the way-too-visible air-conditioning unit in the lounge, amongst some rather nice pieces of art and a shiny black piano, might warrant a relocation. Lynda looked at me, with a knowing grin on her beautiful face, and simply said “no, darling, it’s wabi-sabi.”

As I’m lying here in bed with a flu that seems like it has literally “moved in” to my life (and has no plans to leave, ever), trying to tackle an avalanche of emails, it’s dawned on me that today is Thursday and, yet again, I have missed my usual 09h00 on a Thursday publishing time. Now, for a girl like me (who loves a bit of routine and order), this realisation has not been well received by the self.

Because, well, I generally like things to be perfect. Perfectly timed, perfectly presented and perfectly in order. But – as I am sure anyone reading this will agree – that just ain’t how life works. That’s why the concept of “wabi sabi” struck such a deep and powerful chord with me the moment I first heard of it. The fact that this powerful philosophy is of Japanese origin (and as we all know, I’m a tad obsessed with anything Japanese) is just a bonus.

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“Wabi-sabi” is a concept in traditional Japanese aesthetics referring to a world view based on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete:” take, for example, the aforesaid hideous air-con unit ill-placed in an otherwise elegant living space, handwritten post-it notes stuck onto the glass frames of original art works (one of my quirky mom Caro’s signature moves), laugh lines, crow’s feet, scars & skew noses (ask any rugby player) and hideously scuffed heels on pricey stilettos (my sister and I have a special knack for ruining shoes).

But, wait there is more (sorry, I could’t help myself;).  This powerful philosophy of “beauty in imperfection, impermanence and incompleteness”, of course, transcends mere aesthetics. In fact, it can and should, in my opinion, be applied to all aspects of life.

Not only does society expect us to look “ageless”, run a household like Bree from Desperate Housewives and find The One (with whom to have The Beautiful Babies) by no later than our mid thirties, but many of us only add to that load with our own additional list of perfectionistic expectations.

BrokenchairClareWieseThe problem, as we all know, is that reality looks a little bit different: many of us don’t have Heidi Klum’s metabolism or perfect, blemish-free skin (myself included), we all do and say stupid things that we subsequently regret, and most homes are not in a constant state of decluttered minimalism (contrary to how they might appear, from time to time, in perfectly styled magazine shoots). And, most relationships are either transient or imperfect. I have personally witnessed many close friends endure ugly, messy divorces or serious marital discord. I, myself, have experienced some significant relationship setbacks: I broke up with a former boyfriend after a six-year relationship just before I turned 30 (not a great age to experience a big break-up), and, a while ago, one of my very closest girlfriends and I were (as Ross from “Friends” put it) “on a break” for almost two years.

So, now that we have established (or, let’s just say we have, for the sake of this post) that “a constantly perfect life” will never exist, even though we might really want it to, what choice do we really have but to accept it? Even better, how liberating can it be to start embracing life’s imperfect, impermanent and incomplete nature?

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Please don’t get me wrong: I am by no means saying we should, or always can, let go of deeply ingrained perfectionistic tendencies (I would say my own personal tendencies are pretty much genetic, so I would need some sort of DNA re-mapping here). Moreover, I firmly believe such tendencies have their place: channeled correctly, they can be of great advantage to us, especially in the context of self-motivation, self-discipline and the achievement of goals.

The trick, I think, is to recognize the difference between the way you want things to be, sometimes, and the way they actually are. And, more than that, to be OK with that discrepancy.  So, these days, when I open my horrendously intimidating email inbox and watch it grow like some self-feeding little green monster, wake up to spot new fine (ish) lines around my eyes, have a fallout with a loved one or abandon big projects and change course mid-way, I try to remind myself of “wabi sabi” and the liberating value in accepting “what is, just as it is”.  As Richard Powell, author of Wabi Sabi Simple put it: “accepting the world as imperfect, unfinished, and transient, and then going deeper and celebrating that reality, is something not unlike freedom.”

OK, now that I’ve gotten that off my metaphorical chest, please excuse me whilst I return to nursing my actual, real-life flu (which I’m hoping will begin to reveal its transience any second now).

PS If you’re intrigued and want to know more, here’s a list of Amazon.com‘s books on “wabi sabi”.  I can’t recommend any particular one, I’m afraid, but whichever one you get, I’m sure it will be imperfectly perfect:)

Love,

Clare

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Inside My Wardrobe (& The Silo Hotel) Part 2 | In Herve Leger at The Willaston Bar

0756As you might have seen, last week I posted the first of our launching three-part fashion and beauty series, featuring a simple black cocktail ensemble I am currently loving, set inside the marvellous penthouse of the The Royal Portfolio’s brand new Silo Hotel.

For today’s post, I am sharing our second round of photographs by the incredible Jean-Pierre Uys, featuring a super formal black-tie look that is very close to my heart: I first wore this dress at my thirtieth birthday party at our family wine estate, Lourensford, about four years ago. I still remember spotting the dress in Harrods, after a week-long and extremely thorough search in ice-cold London, calling my dad and asking him whether he thought the dress was too expensive. He said “if you really love it, you’ll only turn thirty once, so get it and enjoy it.” And, while I did only turn 30 once (thank heavens for that, because it did not come without its own very unattractive little quarter-life crisis), I have worn this treasured wardrobe item on many subsequent special occasions and, I figure, if I work out the cost per wear, it actually wasn’t that expensive;). You can watch a short video clip of my 30th birthday party here (event co-ordination by The Aleit Group).

As the setting for the second part of this series, I wanted to give you a glimpse into the magnificently furnished Willaston Bar at the Silo. Our (crazy) crew fell instantly in love with the opulent and seductive energy of this particular spot at the hotel, boasting unbeatable views of Cape Town’s city centre in a magically eclectic, jewel-toned environment.

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After ordering a Martini or two, and making absolutely sure that Gilbert and Renee had taken a sufficient amount of selfies in this new setting,  we started creating some images. Here is a selection of a few of my favourits. I hope you enjoy them. And, if you live in Cape Town or are planning a visit soon, go ahead and put “sunsets drink at the Willaston Bar” right at the top of your to-do list.

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WHAT I WORE

Dress | the black full-length beaded evening gown is by Herve Leger.

Shoes | the patent leather black strappy sandals are by Jimmy Choo (my all-time favourite shoe brand. I wore Choos on my wedding night on the dance floor until 05h30 and my feet still had blood supply at the end of it – that’s saying something.)

Diamond earrings | these are my everyday (and pretty much every evening) go-to earrings: a simple pair of 0.80ct diamond studs claw-set in 18 carat white gold. Personally, I prefer smaller diamond studs to larger ones, as I find the bigger ones often look fake and a tad Desperate Housewives. I am thinking of getting some black diamond studs made, set in rose gold claws, which I think will be amaze-balls.

Engagement & wedding ring set | these rings were designed by the lovely Ida-Elsje and myself, as custom-made Paka Paka pieces. The engagement ring features one brilliant-cut centre stone, flanked by vertically- and horizontally positioned baguette diamonds that form a complete eternity band. My wedding ring consists of baguette diamonds only, and all the stones have been set in platinum claws. You can see I have a small thing for baguettes (the edible version too, I’m afraid).

Cocktail ring | the 18 carat rose gold and black ceramic cocktail ring I’m wearing here is from the iconic B-Zero collection by famed Italian jewellery house, Bulgari. It was given to me by my darling younger sister, as my 30th birthday gift, and it’s thus become one of my most treasured items.

Stole by Errol Arendz (my favourite South African designer and an absolute hoot – now that I think about it, I could write a whole blog post just on him. In fact, a video interview (after a few glasses of bubbly) would be best. Watch this space.

Handbag by Chanel (this has been my go-to evening bag for the last decade). “I own too many Chanel bags” said no woman, ever.

MY HAIR & MAKEUP

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HAIR | Gilbert gave my hair a look that was a bit glamorous, a bit messy-hair-don’t-care. We wanted to keep things young and modern and achieved this using Gil’s Kardashian Beauty curling tong, a sufficient amount of old-school teasing and our hands (for a regular old pull-through, to loosen those curls). And, while no volumising mousse, spray or shampoo will, in my opinion, ever achieve the same effects as a good-old-fashioned tease (done right, of course), I am feeling generous today and want to share a little hair-care secret with you: be introduced to Joico’s Glamtex Backbomb Effect Spray (as the name says, it’s basically a backcomb in a bottle). Use this together with a good manual tease and you (and your hair) will be transported to new heights. Believe me when I say, this stuff works. (If you live in Cape Town or South Africa: contact any hair salon that stocks Joico to get your paws on a bottle of Glamtex.)

MAKEUP | Renee used the following key makeup products on me to create some sultry smokiness (I’ve been known to tell Ren not to “under-smoke” me and, as usual, she didn’t disappoint): Bobbi Brown’s Smokey Cool Eyeshadow Palette, MAC’s Smolder Eye Liner (this is a must-have makeup product for any girl who loves a smokey eye), Sensai’s Fluid Finish Lasting Velvet Foundation and, on my lips, Chanel Rouge Coco Gloss Moisturizing Glossimer in 172 (a soft peachy pink colour in a translucent gloss finish.)

If you can never get enough makeup tips, read my recent interview with Renee where she generously shares a whole list of her best-kept beauty secrets.

WITH MY SINCEREST THANKS TO THE WORLD’S BEST GLAM SQUAD

Photography & (some necessary;) re-touching by Jean-Pierre Uys | The single photograph of the bar, appearing at the top of this post, is courtesy of the Silo Hotel | Makeup by Renee De Wit | Hair by Gilbert Mofubelu at Spoilt (moving to Hair soon) | Styling by Clare Wiese & Shari Kennedy

& THE AMAZING SILO HOTEL, SUPPORTED BY THEIR WONDERFUL MANAGEMENT TEAM. I WISH YOU ALL THE SUCCESS YOU DESERVE.

If you’re enjoying this blog, please don’t forget to Like The Global Critic Facebook’s page.

Love,

Clare.

My Father, Christo Wiese, On What Defines Happiness, What Doesn’t Matter & What Keeps Him Grounded

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A few years ago (OK, if I were to give away my age and be brutally honest, I would confess it was about 14 years ago), I found myself working as a naive, annoyingly enthusiastic intern at Marie Claire magazine in South Africa (think Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada. Pre-makeover). This internship took place during my three-month summer break from my last year of studying journalism in London.

I was about 20 years old at the time and ended up getting my ‘big break’ in the world of glossy magazines, in a very similar way to how I ended up on a film set with Colin Farrell. I had nothing to lose, took a wild, impulsive chance and “fortune favoured the brave”. I simply picked up the phone one day, called Cosmopolitan magazine and told them I was a journalism student looking for an internship. The lady who answered the phone said they didn’t have any vacancies for me but she knew that Marie Claire happened to be looking for extra help. The rest, as they say, is history.

As time progressed during my stint at Marie Claire, then deputy editor Kate Wilson and editor Suzy Brokensha gave me increasing responsibility. I eventually suggested we interview my father for the “What I’ve Learned” section which, at the time, was published every month on the very last page of the magazine.  The team had mostly interviewed celebrities, artists and people in the creative world for this section, but I felt my dad would be the perfect interview subject for this particular page (even though his most “creative invention” to date has probably been the Panado box he keeps in his car for spare change to give to car guards. He simply cannot recommend this nifty little trick highly or frequently enough to any passengers who happen to catch a ride in his car).

ChristoClareWieseMy father had been interviewed countless times before, but with an always-similar line of questioning: what are the keys to success and serious wealth? Today, over a decade later, this question has become: “how did a barefoot boy from Upington (a small arid town in South Africa) manage to get onto Forbes magazine’s global rich list, in one generation?”

The Marie Claire interview (which was, as the name of the page suggested, about “what life had taught” him) turned out to be a huge hit – at least insofar as I was aware. He was inundated with calls from friends and relatives, who had found his comment about “the secret to a successful marriage” particularly entertaining. I will repeat it hereunder, as it’s just too good to leave out.

This past week, over the course of some deep conversations, my father’s illuminating philosophies on life, loss and everything in between, once again struck a cord with me. As much as the world sees my dad as one of the big bosses of South African business, I feel his greatest wealth lies in the sum of his experiences, the priceless life lessons he has taken from them and his discerning outlook on the world. Perhaps this is why I always turn to him first when life throws me lemons.

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Remembering the Marie Claire interview we did so many years ago, I decided it was time for a refresher course; an updated “What I’ve Learned”. This piece is, at the heart of it, really just for me (a type of “dear diary”entry, if you will). However, I nevertheless wanted to publish it here on my blog, with the simple intention of sharing some of my dad’s personal life hacks, just in case some of them might strike a cord with you too.

So, here they are:

What gives life meaning is the love of family and friends, and one’s love for that which is yours, like your country and your people.

What keeps me down-to-earth is my family (I have three very strong-willed children) and my very cheeky dog, Kimbey, who treats me like her personal servant – I have to carry her wherever she goes and, 90 per cent of the time, she ignores me when I call her.

The most impressive people are those that are not overwhelmed by their perceived success and therefore do not become a legend in their own minds.

I combat stress by regularly having fun with my friends over lunch at my favourite Capetonian restaurant, Magica Roma, and playing matches to determine who has the privilege of paying the bill. I used to play under the name “Champ” and now play under the name “Prince”. Let’s just say, we all have our noms de guerre.

It’s frustrating when things go wrong that can so easily be put right and those in positions of power lack the courage or political will to do so.

Growing up in Upington is something I am very grateful for because of the life lessons I learned in a beautiful but harsh part of the world, one of them being that life is not always a bed of roses and sometimes you just have to get on with it.

How you treat people says a lot about who you are and will determine, in most instances, how they treat you.

It’s OK to make mistakes, to fail and to try again.

My mother taught me that one should not concern yourself with things you can do nothing about. Rather focus on those things you can do something about and then go ahead and do something.

My father taught me to treat people from all ranks, creeds and races, equally. He got on with everyone.

The three biggest lessons I wish to impart to my children are: be your own person, never allow others to determine your horizons and accept that “life is a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get” (as the movie character, Forrest Gump, so eloquently put it).

Happiness is achieved when you consider all your blessings.

The secret to a successful marriage is, inter alia, learning what your spouse’s air conditioning preferences are, prior to tying the knot.

The hardest lesson I have had to learn is that there are circumstances in life which are simply beyond our power to change.

The measure of a successful life is when you leave the world a better place than you found it.

I try not to fall into the trap of focusing on the negatives.

Age makes you realise that patience is a great virtue.

I thank my lucky stars that I grew up in a loving and nurturing home, and that I in turn am the father of a happy family.

My children have taught me that there is something like limitless love.

Dogs are undoubtedly man’s best friend (it’s a cliché for a reason).

My wife has taught me that I am allowed to decide the big issues (like what the gold price should be and whether America should go to war in Iraq) but all other decisions will be made by her.

All of us should try to give more than we take. And all of us can do that.

What helps me most during turbulent times is my belief in a higher authority whose guiding hand determines our way through life.

I look up to so many people that it’s impossible to name them all. The qualities I admire most in others include compassion, humour and having a sense of direction.

It doesn’t matter if your dreams don’t all come true. What does matter is that you do have dreams.

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Our little gang at my father’s festive yet informal 75th birthday party at our family’s wine estate, Lourensford. Clockwise from left: my sister Bella, myself, my father, my brother Jacob, my beautiful mother Caro, my sister-in-law Ty and my husband Marco (aka Planet).

Love,

Clare.

PS thank you, Jani B, for the beautiful photographs of my dad’s 75th birthday “boerefees” used throughout this post.

This interview, translated into Afrikaans, was re-published with permission by Huisgenoot.com.

Why I’m Obsessed with Marie Kondo’s World-Famous Decluttering Method

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The inspirational Marie Kondo

It was a few months ago that I found myself browsing the book section on Amazon (I must confess, I always find book stores – whether online or offline – much like pharmacies or, as the Americans will call them, drug stores. There’s something about spending time in them, wandering around aimlessly, that makes you realise all the things you never knew you really needed). Maybe that’s just me (although I know my sister feels the same about pharmacies: we could spend hours in there.)

So, as I was reading the review of some or other health-related book, Amazon kindly recommended a book to me, titled “The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo. Now, I must confess, subsequent to my having found out that the launch of this book had almost broken the internet and it had reached the number one spot on the the New York Times Bestsellers list, I did have a good chuckle at its title. I mean, really, even for someone as annoyingly OCD as myself (who REALLY prefers if when things are clean and in order), I couldn’t help but think “what are they going to write books about next?”

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The New York Times Bestseller

But, curiosity got the better of me (and I think somewhere beneath that, my neat-freak tendencies were intrigued) so I bought the book. What followed was, quite literally, a life-changing experience. Although I was sceptical about how a whole book could be written about the art of decluttering (as they call it), I found myself absolutely mesmerised by the profound Japanese philosophies underlying the Konmari method (the particular method of decluttering that the book advocates). Yes, there is a particular method.

Although, with all due respect, the author of this book (who is now super rich and famous, so she probably won’t mind my saying so) probably is not the most mentally stable of all people (when you read the book, you’ll see what I mean), her approach to decluttering your life, by decluttering your home, is fascinating and – I can vouch for this – certainly effective.

Marie begins her book by citing examples of how her method has freed her clients to make radical life decisions, whether that be getting a divorce after years of being stuck in unhappy marriages, quitting their jobs, pursuing their life-long dreams or finally taking that holiday. It was almost as if the negative energy attached to all the things in their home that no longer sparked joy, was keeping them in some kind of existential gridlock and blocking them from moving forward or blocking the influx of new energy into their lives. If you think about this concept, it’s very similar to a thought I most certainly often have, namely: “I can’t work properly if my desk is a mess”.

So, sold and motivated, I roped in my trusty best friend, Lara (who, in my opinion, could easily become South Africa’s version of Marie Kondo – without the mental health issues, of course:) and we began the process. We did it exactly as Marie prescribed – no skipping steps and no bending the rules.

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This pic was taken during my and Lara’s BOOK sorting phase, clearly

Eventually, we started discarding (this is the term Marie uses) anything and everything that no longer sparked joy for me (this included unused kitchen utensils, broken or chipped crockery, books I had read and will never re-read, objects I no longer found to have visual or useful value, expired supplements, electronic cords from 1985 that no person alive today would be able to identify, old DVDs I would never watch again, clothing I no longer wore, gunky makeup, shoes with scuffed heels and, of course, photographs in which I didn’t exactly look my best). We donated most of the discarded items and sent the books to old-age homes and hospitals, which added another layer of welcome satisfaction to the whole process.

As the days went by, and we worked our way through the categories, it was as if a weight was slowly being lifted from my shoulders. My wardrobe (although significantly smaller) now only contained items that fit me well and still looked good. I could see everything I owned hanging neatly in my cupboard, as opposed to having to sift through 10 blouses to find the 1 or 2 blouses I wore over and over again. My makeup drawer now contained only those items that I wore almost daily and couldn’t live without.

It was really as if my home had been transformed from a house full of collected stuff – some used and some unused – to a carefully edited home, where I was surrounded by only those things that truly brought me happiness, conjured up good memories and were being used and enjoyed daily. On this note, I want to point out that the measure of what sparks joy is a completely subjective test. For one person, a good kitchen knife, a favourite pair of worn-out socks or a trusty tupperware set might spark just as much joy as a timeless painting or a Louis Vuitton handbag might for the next. This test has nothing to do with an item’s monetary value, but everything to do with how it makes you feel.

The fabulous interiors magazine, House & Garden, in January 2017 published a small and beautiful feature on my home, where I spoke about the magical effects that the Marie Kondo process had had on my living space. They, rather aptly, titled the piece “Bare Necessities”.

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Photo credit: House & Garden, January 2017

Before I finish, and whilst you will have gleaned that I have decided not to go into the finer details of the actual Konmari method (that’s what the book is there for and I’d be ruining all the fun),  I will give you these key tips before “trying this at home”:

  1. Finish reading the whole book, before you start the process;
  2. Get a best friend (or hire someone) to help you, if you feel the task is too overwhelming;
  3. Be as ruthless as you can be: the more ruthless you are, the more liberated you will feel;
  4. Last but not least, refrain from Konmari-ing any of your husband or family’s things – it’s extremely tempting once you get into the groove but, trust me, this does not go down well.

Ultimately, I believe – in the pursuit of living our best lives – we should make our home our sanctuaries: a place where we feel safe, unburdened, free to think of new adventures, quieten our minds and rest our spirits. It certainly is much easier to get this right, in my humble opinion, in a truly uncluttered environment. So my suggestion is: get the book, get cracking and…you can thank me later. May your inner joy be sparked!

You can follow me @clarewiesewentzel on Instagram to keep up to date with my latest posts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How I Finally Achieved A Clear Complexion

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Finally, after years of trial and error, I am enjoying a naturally clearer complexion

Ok, so skin problems (especially adult acne or any acne for that matter) certainly don’t classify as a glamorous topic. But, while this blog certainly reflects my love of all things glamorous, it is – more importantly and over-archingly – about sharing helpful hints and life hacks with those that want to look their best, be their best and, ultimately, live their best lives.

I am not a hoarder (as evidenced by my fascination with Marie Kondo and her book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”) and it’s thus very much against my grain to hoard information that might make someone else’s life a little bit easier. Last but not least, I’m far from perfect. And, in a world where we often use social media to portray our lives through literal and figurative filters, it’s liberating for me to point out one of my many imperfections, right here in broad cyber-light.

That being said and whether we like it or not, we live in a world where our appearance matters. Not only does the outside world often judge us by our looks, but it would seem that some of us can be our very own worst critics. Whilst we struggle to live up to the unattainable ideals portrayed by Hollywood & the Instagram It girls, most of us nevertheless strive to do so.

So, hopefully, with all that in mind, my story about how I radically transformed the appearance of my imperfect skin (by taking some very simple and side-effect-free steps) can inspire some life-changing magic.

It all started in my very early teens when my face (almost overnight, I swear) went from pimple-free perfection to resembling pepperoni pizza. Not the ‘hot’ kind either. My parents, the wonderful and well-balanced human beings that they are, never wanted to put too much emphasis on appearance and, in hindsight, my first eventual visit to the dermatologist’s office probably came a few years later than it should have. But, be that as it may, the problem was eventually addressed.

PHARMACEUTICAL TRIALS & ERRORS

medicine_pills.jpgAt first, I was put onto a course of RoAccutane (a very strong, commonly prescribed acne medication that comes with a long and scary list of serious side-effects. It can cause birth defects in pregnant women, it’s very heavy on the liver and it can cause dry lips, skin and joint pain). Although it helped clear up my skin at the time, once I had completed the course, it only took a few months for the problem to rear its ugly head again.

The second option I tried, along this very long and frustrating journey, was a contraceptive pill called Diane. Again, this was and is a commonly used method of treating acne, often prescribed by many skin specialists who believe the problem to be hormonal. Although it was extremely effective at clearing up my skin without the drying effects of RoAccutane, Diane’s own side-effects of weight gain and mood swings barely made it worth it.

The third and final (medicated) attempt I made at solving my skin problem (which continued to affect me well into my twenties), was taking a maintenance or low dose of RoAccutane (at one tablet, twice a week). The dermatologist told me “all the models were doing this”. Of course, I was sold:) In practice, this ended up working well for me insofar as it cleared up my skin, without drying out my lips or causing any of the other side effects.

THE SIMPLE SOLUTION

In my early thirties, as my interest in holistic and, specifically, nutritional health started growing, my desire to go off the RoAccutane completely and seek a more natural solution to clearer skin, steered me in a new direction.

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After much of my own research (and I’ll save you the details of said research, as it’s A Long Story), I started cutting out dairy, gluten and sugar from my diet. I am pretty much an all-or-nothing girl, so I stuck to this new regime pretty rigidly. My diet consisted mainly of a variety of vegetables (especially the green kind), protein and healthy fats like avocado, seeds and coconut oil. This was no mean feat but, after two to three weeks, my skin started taking what can only be described as a dramatic turn for the better. It was almost unbelievable. After struggling with periodic skin problems since the age of 13, it was only now in my early thirties that I finally experienced what it was like to have naturally blemish-free skin, without the assistance of pharmaceuticals. Having witnessed this radical transformation first hand, I was in hindsight disappointed that none of the specialists I had consulted, throughout the years, had made this rather simple recommendation to me. I suppose there’s little money in telling your patients to ‘stay away from milk-based products’.

So, if you are battling breakouts and seeking a solution free of harmful side-effects, do yourself the favour of changing your diet and seeing what happens. (Of course, everyone is different and some skin conditions are related to serious hormonal disorders or other medical conditions that might not respond to dietary changes alone.)

Icecream.jpgFor me, the biggest change has definitely come with eliminating all sources of dairy. Sugar and gluten are known to cause inflammatory reactions in the body as well, so for maximum results I would recommend limiting those two common culprits too. The only bad news is that, at least insofar as my experience goes, if I have even just one cheesy cheat on Monday, I’ll wake up on Wednesday with pepperoni pizza problems, which will take about a week or more to clear. But, as they say, knowledge is power, which means I can live with the odd breakout more easily.

In the end, life is all about trade-offs and, of course, for the die-hard cheese- and chocolate lovers out there, cutting out dairy (let alone gluten and sugar),  might be too much of an ask. For me, it has been absolutely worth it. Because, simply put, no amount of Chanel or Armani foundation can give you the kind of confidence that a clear complexion can.

HELPFUL HINTS

  • there are many dairy-free foods, treats and snacks (including vegan ice cream) available on the market today, so don’t feel despondent
  • use ghee (a dairy-free, clarified form of butter) or coconut oil, instead of regular butter, for cooking purposes
  • a good skin care routine, including an anti-bacterial cleanser (I use Image’s Clear Cell salicylic acid cleanser) is, of course, essential
  • always wash your face immediately after exercising
  • omega 3 fish oil supplements are widely known for their skin-enhancing benefits (I take The Real Thing Mega Omega Supreme)
  • when the craving for chocolate strikes, go for the very dark kind that contains no milk (it’s so good for you anyway and you’ll get used to it quickly). I love Lindt’s 85% Cocoa slabs
  • drink plenty of water (this is so obvious, but I had to include it)
  • get enough sleep (again, another super obvious one)
  • limit alcohol
  • keep your blood sugar levels stable throughout the day by eating low-GI foods
  • limit stress
  • avoid oily makeup products and keep your makeup brushes clean
  • high-frequency or blue light treatments (offered at some beauty salons) work very well at clearing up breakouts quickly
  • avoid over-stimulating facials
  • Cetaphil makes a great oil-free sunblock with SPF50 that doesn’t cause breakouts (this popular skin care brand is available at most pharmacies worldwide)

CELEBRITIES WHO SUFFER FROM ADULT ACNE

This part of the post is just to make those of you suffering with problem skin feel a bit better and a little less alone. To name but a few, Victoria Beckham, RiRi and Cameron Diaz have been battling breakouts for years. As they alway say in those cheesy (no pun intended:) tabloid magazines: “see? they’re just like us”!