2022 – Do something about it

It’s an oversimplification put a heading on a whole year. If I had to commit to a theme, the idea of being quietly resolute comes to mind. I made and stuck to a few personally significant resolutions. These had to do with my heart, my body and my sense of home. 

I start my annual reflections by going through the photos on my phone, month by month, to recall the captured moments that accumulated into a year.

2022 definitely had momentum. The world opened up again, and hurled forward at a tremendous pace, eager to make up for lost face-time. 

For the most part, 2022 was a healthy, wholesome, adventurous and blessed year for me on pretty much every front, and I write that with thankfulness. Yes, it was packed and at times borderline manic, but somehow there was grace, and intentional work-life balance. The consistency of work, friends, mountains and music anchored my schedule in a healthy weekly rhythm and, for the most part, gave the clarity of perspective. 

I’ll return to the heading for the year in due course. First, a few sub-headings. 


The hiking culmination of the year was the 6 day Tsitsikamma Trail (16 – 21 December), starting in Nature’s Valley and ending 62km later in Stormsriver Village. Much of the hiking happened in the rain, with its own charm and challenges. The trail meanders up and down mountains, over rivers and streams, dipping down into magical indigenous forest where the mountains fold. Hiking out of a year is a meditative experience, and doing so with good friends and kindred spirits is healing. 

Multi-day hikes are emmersive. The simplicity of a small gas stove, brewing a cup of something warm. No thought of loadshedding schedules, because all you need is a fire and a headlamp. The delight of two minute noodles. Being mindful of your next step to not slip on a drenched protruding root. Putting your head down and getting up that final steep stretch. The slight trepidation of a river crossing. The joy of being embraced by green and lush and wild.

The December adventure stood on the shoulders of the 18 shorter ones that happened throughout the year. Most of these are connected to disa and orchid hunting, due to the esteemed company I keep .. .

  • Table Mountain Silvermine (Metallic Disa)
  • Kogelberg (heatwave hiking … questioning life choices)
  • Jonkershoek Swartboskloof x 2
  • Table Mountain Overseers Hut (Red Disa) weekend
  • Greyton to McGregor (overnight and back for Chris’s birthday)
  • Simonsberg
  • Drakensberg short meander 
  • Simonstown to Cape Point
  • Constantia Neck via Chapmans Peak
  • Cederberg Luna Peak
  • Cederberg Wolfberg Cracks 
  • Table Mountain highlights (up via Three Firs, via MacClear’s Beacon, down Kasteelspoort)
  • Devils Peak King’s Blockhouse
  • Jonkershoek Victoria Peak
  • Landroskop (overnight and back)
  • Chapman’s Peak
  • Table Mountain Skeleton Gorge Disa Valley (Blou Drup Disa)

Weekend breathers

Weekend breathers were also a tank filler, and 2022 was packed with a few short hops across the country. 

  • Pretoria (a family weekend for ouma Lizzie’s 90th, also unknowingly farewell)
  • Hermanus (marathon support crew)
  • Montagu (Cape Chamber Choir performance)
  • Langebaan (SMS choir practice weekend)
  • Buffelsbaai & Knysna (to run a half marathon) 
  • Olive Glen (camping)
  • Cederberg Zooridge (rock art and red wine)
  • Cederberg Sanddrif (camping / freezing / hiking)
  • Drakenberge family break-away (Cathkin Peak for Tannie Liefie’s 60th)
  • Johannesburg / Musina / Tzaneen (work & birthday)

Exploring further afield

Zanzibar! This bucket list experience has its own blog: Click.

Memorable activities

There is a certain energy that accompanies entering a race or committing to a concert date.

For me, the value lies equally in the adrenaline rush of the actual event, and the weeks or months of physical and relational investment leading up to it. 2022 had its fair share of goals requiring dedication and fun habits. Honourable mention goes to the Gforce crew, for all the early Friday morning runs up Kloofnek Corner, around Lion’s Head, and on the Promenade. This year’s races included the Knysna half marathon, the Gun Run half marathon, and the Berg River Dam half mile swim.

Being part of the Stellenbosch Madrigal Singers is also an important commitment in my life, and this year again held the weekly privilege of singing with friends, in preparation for performances at weddings, church services, the Wolfberg Cracks, and a fancy year end concert. With my first solo :).

Doing things for the first time

I tried two new things this year. A mountain bike trail adventure with the Gforce crew at Bloemendal, and playing Padel. The hype is validated, on both occasions. Funsies! 

Life events

There were a few disruptive moments during the year that caused some choppy emotional waters. Nothing too dramatic, but still worth reflecting on to glean the wisdom and leave the baggage behind.

2022 was the year of property portfolio experimenting. I made some calculations and took the plunge to buy and move into a second property. It was lovely to live in Royal Ascot for a bit (a quiet and quaint neighbourhood for anyone looking at Milnerton and surrounds.) I enjoyed being part of Life Changers Church Century City for the season, and valued the sense of community, being in a lifegroup again.

The playing with properties process escalated into proper landlording when the traffic finally got to me, and I decided to see if renting out two properties could turn into a side-hustle. As these things go, I had a choppy month of transition with a few maintenance and tenant gripes. I make light of it now, but that one month of cortisol bombing taught me that tycooning requires more resilience than what I had. The waters settled again, with one property sold and another rented out just in time for my own move back to the City, a block away from where I initially landed in 2019. Full circle, anchored again in the reassuring presence of Table Mountain.

A few other adulting things this year included paying off a car and correcting a romantic misalignment. Both of those statements are more profound than the space I will give it here.

I’ve written a separate blog about this, but its worth a reflective mention again. For the first time in  literally my life, I feel confident in a bikini. I stopped making excuses, and dug my heels into a healthy diet and consistent exercise. It’s more about the decision to do something about what was niggling me than the weight-loss. The outcome is a newfound sense of personal confidence and freedom in my own skin. It’s easier to run, easier to hike, and easier to consider bigger goals. Like doing the Robben Island swim.

I guess the key gleaning from some of these deeper experiences this year is accepting the responsibility for emotions and actions. Owning a sense of agency, and doing the work required to change the things about yourself and your circumstances that are within your influence.

Do something about it.

Maturity 101, I guess.

In 2023 I want to extend that energy beyond myself. I want to care about the wrongs in my world, with the same sense of agency and commitment to change things within my circle of influence. In 2023, I desire to be fit, with purpose. To do something about it, not just where I am the main beneficiary.

There are a few other loose ends I want to tie up again. Write and release my dormant songs. Develop a PhD proposal for a study looking at the planet as a commercial shareholder in business and government decision-making, identifying the positioning bases for organisations that could be its legal proxy.

There is always still the lingering longing for my life-partner, and my own family. Hope has not deferred there yet, even with the mythical 40-plus label firmly stuck. P.S new rule: If you ask about my love life, you tag yourself with the responsibility to introduce me to one eligible guy in your circles.

Do something about it … 🙂


A line in the sand

I’ve always said that weight and size are secondary to lifestyle.

If you are healthy, and you honestly look the way you want to, and your weight/size does not hinder you from doing the things you’d like to do (whatever that might be, from going to the beach to hiking to performing in plays to applying for a promotion, etc.), that is what matters.

Unfortunately, our relationship with weight and size, and subsequently food, is way more complicated than that. It’s all wrapped up in sexuality, self-worth, longing, and rejection … in societal norms and feminism, and patriarchy …

We are so conditioned to being judged by our covers, that we unintentionally do that unto others.

Even me.

My parents are not around anymore to share their battles and their victories, so I won’t dwell too much on the proverbial garden I grew up in. It would suffice to say that appearance/weight and sexuality were always pretty sensitive topics. As a perceptive child, you witness the struggles of your caregivers, and you inevitably internalise some, if not most, of it.

In my case, perfectionism, and to a degree, imposter syndrome, lingered beyond me leaving the nest, or my parents passing away. Classic ACoA.

I really recommend counseling. For anyone and everyone. Emotional intelligence needs mentoring. I’ve been through years of unraveling emotional baggage. Spirit and Truth terrain.

But yet, even with all the years of spiritual awareness and mind renewal, the uprooting of false identities, and the intentional establishment of my own life, separate and apart from the pain of the brokenness I experienced at home, somewhere lingering, I still felt like a victim. Add orphan. Also, single woman in her (early …!) forties.

Speaking of labels.

Last weekend, for the first time in probably 15 years, I fit comfortably into a YDE dress.

The reason why this is significant, in relation to the reference to some of the internal wars I mentioned (that I share with all humanity), is because it signifies the manifestation of a line that I drew in the sand.

A few months ago I realised again that I alone have the agency to activate the things I want to change. To look for the help I need. To commit to the discipline required to see the results I want.

I’m careful with “you can be a better you” statements like that because for me it is all preceded by grace, and rooted in knowing that I am loved and delighted in. In my opinion, any efforts towards a different, improved personal reality require solid spiritual foundations and the kindness of others. And the humility of “So, if you think you are standing, be careful that you don’t fall.”

I experienced a deeply personal victory in that dressing room, with no lights, no camera, and no action. Thankful for the result of a decision to extract the last pesky root of victim mentality. To practice some self-discipline, and to develop a new pragmatic relationship with food. Detangled from the emotion.

I made a few other decisions over the past few weeks. Recommitting to live in community, aligning with the principle of “strength is for service”. Intentionally pursuing wholesome fun. Valuing friendship above the expectations of romance. Withdrawing some pearls, for their protection.

Change often looks like doing something. For me, in this recent pursuit, it looked like making an appointment with a dietician. Again.

It also looks like getting up at 5:30 in winter to go to training. It looks like buying the salad and making the smoothie. It looks like having the glass of wine, guilt-free, knowing that the work is being done and that moderation and balance remain key.

I hope that somewhere between these lines, you will experience the spirit of encouragement. If there are things in your life that make you sad, there probably are professionals or friends that can help you do something about it.

I’m not saying any of this stuff is easy.

I’m saying it’s possible. Enabled by grace. Rooted in love.

You have permission to live your life … Ask for help. Try again.


Azure escapades

Zanzibar, August 2022

All the glorious cliches expected of an island in the Indian Ocean thrive in Zanzibar.

Sweeping scenes of fine-sand beaches, framed by breathtaking shades of sky and aquamarine sea. Lithe palm trees sway in the tropical breeze. A full moon rising drapes a romance-veil over the tranquil ocean. Nations unite for a cocktail-enthused Jerusalema flashmob at sunset.

Moonrise over Paje


There is a wildness in me that only makes sense riding on the wind in a Viking-esque dhow. Then there’s also the timidity, that almost didn’t get in the no-lifejackets-held-together-by-rope-and-prayer vessel. The wildness dives gracefully off the side of said dhow, anchored just off a sandbank, to snorkel at leisure in the deep blue. The timidity gets back in the precarious boat after 10 minutes because the bloody tiny white blobs in the water bite.

Sandbank snorkelling

From 5 – 12 August 2022, we stayed just up the road from Michamvi Sunset Beach, in Mount Zion Lodge, a quaint one-up-from-backpackers with everything seasoned hikers would need. Except, occasionally, water in the taps. It needs to be especially pumped if needed after-hours. We tested their flexibility with requests like a “special Spanish omelet” (a negotiation for fewer carbs at breakfast, traded for more eggs) and a fridge tray filled with suger-free pineapple juice to mix with the local lets-call-it-rum, Konyagi. Our increasingly complicated menu and accommodation adaptation requests were navigated graciously by a very helpful staff. Hakuna matata.

Our closest beaches were at the end of either a 5 minute walk (Sunset Beach), a longer walk/short busride (Pingwe) or a 30 minute-ish busride (Paje). How to catch a bus: Stand on the side of the road and flag down the Michamvi 340. 500 shillings p.p. is the standard fee per trip, regardless of how far you ride it. Expect close quarter company.

The Michamvi 340

We did the things to be done on islands. Snorkeling, forest strolling, Zanzibar-spice (cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg etc.) ice-creaming, tanning-and-dipping, reading, 2-for-1 specials sundowner-and-moonupper-ing. The booming-bass deep house playlist at Sunset Beach eventually got on my nerves a bit, but it’s a small price to pay for good seafood, Kilimajaro and Safari beer, and flawless views.

Michamvi, Sunset Beach

The mangroves of Jozani Forest captured my imagination. Brilliant natural engineering that protects the land from flooding, whilst solving its own water salinity problem, and our carbon problem.

Mangroves, Jozani Forest, Zanzibar

In terms of budget, give or take a grilled lobster, save up around R20k for an 8-day adventure. Return flights from Cape Town on Air Kenya (with a short layover in Nairobi) were between R9 000 and R12 000, depending on when people booked. Accommodation for a 1-ish star double-room in Mount Zion (with a shower bathroom and the occasional wifi signal) worked out at around $320 / R5 000 for 8 nights. Everything nice to eat (think pilau rice/stirfry prawn vibes) ranges between $10 (~20 000 shilling) and $35. Beers were between $3 and $7, depending on where you buy. The famous Safari Blue dhow trip/snorkeling (catered, with lobster and prawn and the BEST fries) and Jozani Forest / Stonetown day trips were $40 pp each. An initial monetary curveball was an unmet expectation of credit card facilities at Mount Zion (seemingly not workable, even though physically available), but the Absa ATM in the adjacent bustling metropolis of Paje came through after the ATM-at-the-circle didn’t spit out the money that went off my account.

Tour de cuisine, Pingwe

Travelling, in many instances on our breathtaking continent, politely insists that we consider the fact that a little discomfort on the odd occasion doesn’t mean that there isn’t a perfectly sufficient system that will eventually deliver a great result. It seemed to me like Zanzibar carries the juxtapositions of Africa effortlessly. The walled-in luxury resorts with their own mini solar PV farms and all the private beach access deck chairs one could ever wish to lounge in. Also, the overfull public busses that need to be push-started, with wooden floors that offer a road-view through gaping holes. Zanzibar seems like a country-under-construction. Literally. With great expectations. Pole pole.

Destination branding sometimes sets a photogenic tourism hotspot up for misguided expectations. We struggled, for example, to track down anything spicy to eat on Spice Island.

Experiences that result after falling for billboard promises, on the other hand, deliver self-discovery. Some of my self-discovery insights from taking a mid-winter summer break will have to first be penned for safekeeping in a private journal, and then perhaps eventually expressed in poetry, in Afrikaans. Jip. That deep.

Azure oceans, Zanzibar

What I can share freely is that I have acquired a glorious tan that no one will see before it fades, since it’s bloody freezing back home. In the words of Simba the Uber driver: “Welcome back to reality.”

Given that reality includes a memory bank filled with an epic bucket list adventure shared with friends-who-are-family, I’ll take it.

Squad goals #hangingwithHannes

Asante sana, Zanzibar!

For more photos, head over to Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cilnette8/

After a time

It’s been a while.

Sometimes a blank page is just too overwhelming. And the many thoughts that mull around too complex to distill into a focused plot, neatly contained in 800 words.

It’s been a while, because it’s been a month. Or two. Maybe seven.

This blog has always been a place to park insights from lessons learned while living.

Maybe I’m still processing a lesson or two. So, while that’s still percolating, let’s look at some emerging themes from the season of silence.


I flew up to Pretoria to visit my paternal grandmother in February, on her 90th birthday. She was unfortunately in frail care at the time, after a fall that broke her hip (she has since recovered miraculously, and is doing well. Pretty much the strongest woman I know). What struck me at the family gathering that was arranged in her honour (i.e. her own party that she was pissed that she couldn’t attend) was the expansive legacy of one marriage. Four sons, nine grand-children, multiple (lost count …) great-grandchildren. Exceptional humans, all persevering in the pursuit of unique contributions to society, resilient in caring for their own, and others.

One union. A whole fascinating tribe resulting.

In addition to feeling blessed to have reconnected to a family that I had lost out on a little after my parents died, I was also confronted with the troublesome fact that I am not currently in a union that will result in a tribe springing victoriously from my loins 🙂

The very vulnerable pang I had was – who will care when I am old and frail?

It’s one thing to be 40 and strong and independent. It’s another thing to be 90 and alone. Which my gran is not, with the dedicated love and care of her sons, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren.

It was a bit demoralizing to take a hard look at my own life, in that regard. Still not quite sure how to to wrestle myself out of that one.

But alas.

The legacy concept. Powerful to be part of one. Considering what my own needs to be, in light of the absence of biological children.


It’s not always easy to know what the right thing is to do, especially when the time frames for decision-making are tight. Some decisions have seemingly conflicting values that could tip them. Dipping your toes in any leadership role will bring with it challenging decisions that impact other people’s lives. Obviously, mandates and spheres of influence differ, and impacts of decisions vary in their severity. I have found the golden rule to be pretty helpful over the past few months. Do unto others.


It takes time to settle back down after a change. I moved house, again. Invested in a second apartment, in the face of economists’ cautioning. Que sera … The first two weeks were emotionally challenging. In fact. debilitating, to a degree. The systems were unsettled. The order was upset. OCD frenzy-feeding time. Buyers remorse? Waves after walking out onto the water?

Frankly, I got used to companionship. Care. Then, silence. Confirming evidence. Alas.

The equilibrium seems to be restoring to my soul. The WiFi is working …

Long-distance running

Fitness goals. They do keep us moving. Something worth sacrificing a little comfort for, because its good for you, and you can do it with other humans that are fun to spend time with. Worthy pursuits in the name of well-being and accountability.

Glory to Ukraine

I met a lady when we both attended the Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering in Jakarta in 2016. She leads an international non-profit organisation with her family, and they are based in Ukraine. The beautiful newsletters that she has been sending reflects the unspeakable pain of the people living through the hell of war. It also reflect stories of hope. Light in dark places. I did not know how to even start engaging with the war until I read her stories of individual people and families. Please get in touch with me if you want the link to support their brave humanitarian efforts. Making a difference in one life matters, especially in the face of overwhelming devastation.

In the light of the latter, I find much of the former pretty trivial. Maybe not the legacy and leadership bits. Those do matter.

Maybe all of it does.

Matters of the heart. Hearts. Nations.


Amatola, 2021 – in rymwoorde

Oorgegee aan avontuur,
pelgrimstog beplan –
’n goed-geoefen-geloof-gevulde

Gly vir gly,
selfs tuimel-terugslae
ten goede mee gewerk.
Gesprekke strek van Tolkien, Lewis,
verby musiek, mushrooms en kerk.

Oats en tuna,
droeëwors, noodles,
Rehydrate en Game.
Rys is swaar en melk is luuks,
lunch is “more of the same”.

Op en op en op en op
en bietjie plat,
en op.
Af en af en af en af,
en bietjie plat,
en stop.

Asemrowende lewensgevaar.
“Eerder nat as plat.”
Engel-skans in die vorm van hand en klipbank bewaar
wat afgrond-mistrap maklik sou kon vat.

Siele-landskap inge-ets
met woudvallei en bergtop misgordyn.
Kamerade in die soms-saam-sukkel,
die vreugde troef die pyn.

’n Dankbaar hart.
’n Seerblaas toon.
’n Pelgrimslied
’n Siel, weer skoon.


The participation award

The only sport I’ve ever really been pretty fast in is swimming.

I had a South African record to my name as part of a relay team. There’s a bag full of medals and trophies from high school in a crate somewhere in the garage. Might be something for netball in there too. So, at least, there’s that …

In every other sport, I was always just fast enough to sort of keep up. Or not even.

Speed has never really been a goal for me. Neither has winning, oddly enough.

I’m not saying that I won’t give it my best shot. I’m just saying I don’t really care how that compares to someone else’s best shot. If I happen to be the best at something in a moment, I won’t back down from the win, but it really actually isn’t in me to be determined to “beat” anyone else at anything.

I know the line goes: ”You only need to compete with yourself.” Frankly, I don’t really even want to win against me. I do like seeing results, though. But I define results in my own way.

I guess for me, the important, and sometimes most difficult bit, is showing up. Deciding to participate. To be present. To risk it. Come what may …

I have totally been last. It was a 10km grueling trail run, and they were packing up when I, and a friend that stuck around to see me through, got to the end.

But I finished and got the medal. It’s in the same bag with the SA record, and the ones for the five half-marathons I subsequently completed. Not last, but somewhere not close to first …

Participation is the goal. Engagement is the principle. Winning and records, meh. They’re circumstantial, in my books …

You see, there are so many people that don’t even show up. They’ve decided long ago that they’re not good enough. So, they stopped trying. Gave up. Sat down. Content to watch. (I’m very mindful of limitations in physical ability, and the blessing of a healthy body, but this is more a comment about mindset. When you actually physically can and want to, but choose not to, for reasons other than injury or disability).

And I’m not just talking about sport, but it’s such a helpful and practical way to get your body involved in practicing the principles that apply to the rest of life.

Take hiking. It’s been the one activity that has taught me so much.

Sometimes, you just need to look at your feet to not get discouraged about how far or high you still have to go. Just take the next step. And then the next one. At your own pace. Eventually, you’re having coffee at the top of a mountain that looked impossible to climb from 1 400m below. It’s the principle of perseverance.

I’m privileged to have hiking buddies that accommodate my pace. I’m not deliberately slow. I just potentially have exercise-induced asthma or something that stuck around after having covid. Basically, I can be as fit as I want, my heart rate and lungs don’t always play along. But, if I stick to my own game, I’ll get there too. It’s the principle of adjusted pacing.

Then there’s the principle of priorities. Packing light. Only what you really need. Emotional baggage is also heavy to carry up a mountain.

There’s probably an entire book to be written about all of the life lessons I’ve taken from hiking. That might be a chapter in my memoirs, ’Life in heels and hiking boots.”

I think I’m reflecting on this at the tail-end of what feels like a year that required an adjusted pace to avoid burnout. I can take on way more. But I don’t always have to …

We made it through 2020, which was definitely a year that required perseverance.

Perhaps the new year, in all of its mystery, will require a recommitment to important priorities.

Whatever may come, may you continue to choose to participate.

Even where there’s been past failure and disappointment.

You are not disqualified. His grace is sufficient.



Life consists of cycles and rhythms. We orbit. Around the sun, around the neighbourhood. Around each other.

Like in music, the rhythm sets the pace of the moment. Sometimes, there’s a lot that needs to fit into the silences between beats. Other times, there is more space to breath. To let the notes linger.

Regardless of the pace of the season, it is helpful to intentionally embed rhythms. Rhythms eventually form habits, and habits determine results. Sowing and reaping. Same principle.

I’ve recently moved (again), to a new neighbourhood. Moving is disruptive. For a sensitive soul, moving can upset a delicate internal balance, and be a trigger for anxiety. Moving equals change. Lots of change.

The principle of base-rhythm is a strategy I deploy to cope with change.

When there is a disruptive change in my life, I try to keep a basic rhythm going to help keep a sense of order. I intentionally cut the embellishing notes, and just stick to the core beat. For as long as it takes to regain balance. Once the core beat is strong again, I build more semitones into the line.

Core rhythms include very basic pragmatic things like a set wake up time. Coffee and quiet time. A set breakfast smoothie mix. Getting to the office (yay, that’s an option again!) at the same time every day. Choir prac on Tuesdays. A healthy dose of nature and friends over weekends.

Then, the embellishments can come in again to build the melody. I recently re-added CrossFit into the mix. A new weekday after-or-before-work hike. Getting the courage to join a new church, in person. Exploring Toastmasters, and further studies in Urban Renewal …

Before long, the melody is lavish again.

A new song. Set to the unforced rhythms of grace.


Searching for dwindling delight

I believe that being honest about struggles is one of the best ways to relate to others. If you are able to see some of your own inner wrestling reflected in what someone else is brave enough to share, it helps you feel less alone. And feeling less alone is actually a victory in itself.

I know we’re living through a pandemic, and that languishing is a shared experience of many, given these circumstances.

I’m just worried that I’m loosing a grip on my heart. It’s like she’s thinking about giving up. Not sure when that happened, just started to notice some listlessness in the areas where creativity used to flourish.

And that makes me feel a little lost.

Because I have always searched and followed my heart, since it is the wellspring of Life. Even in its vulnerability to be deceitful.

I thought it might be useful to go looking for some clues to what she used to delight in. Maybe there’s a coherent picture once the clues have been gathered that could help her find some courage to dream again. And maybe even, faith to step out into an adventure again.

The clues are pretty random.

Fragrance: She really likes organic beauty and household cleaning products that smell nice. Her favourite brands are Earthsap and Simply Bee. The best gift she got for Christmas was a Soil diffuser, and she loves that essential oils have healing properties.

Home-making: She really likes making a space pretty. So much so that she’s considering doing an interior design course. She loves playing with where to put plants and Moroccan-patterned mats. Her favourite colour-scheme is white and dove-grey, with greens and blues. Ocean. She loves playing with space to make things fit just right. She dreams of owning a pretty double-story house with a veranda and a lush garden. With happy birds in big tree in the backyard.

Nature: She is delighted by vastness and wildness. Mountains and oceans. Bushveld. Untamed.

Roadtrips: She likes planning and plotting journeys. Setting itineraries in place. It’s more about enjoying figuring out the logistics than actually going on the trip.

Editing documents: Basically, making text Arial 11, 1.5 line-spacing, justified. No random caps. Italics only under really drastic circumstances. Underline only when it’s a hyperlink. She finds satisfaction in that. Making spreadsheets neat also falls into this category. Hyperlinking to add depth and context and integration of information.

Fine dining: This probably has more to do with the immersive experience of culinary art than the actual food. Same goes for gourmet coffee and craft beer / gin etc.

Galleries: She appreciates art with sensing, not sight. One painting that she remembers being deeply moved by was one of Pierneef’s more obscure ones, tucked away in the back corner of an exhibition (of most of the originals). It was for his fiancee.

Music: Give a soprano a F5 to belt out in a hall with bouncing acoustics. Her soul reaches up and soars in the sound. Just don’t comment on vibrato in that moment. She’ll control it in a choir. Sometimes, just let her fly free.

Fireside conversations: Preferably in the bushveld, under the stars, with either a craft beer or a good red, and people with interesting stories. She finds a deep comfort in staring into the core of a fire. It’s probably a primal resonance.

Public speaking: She comes alive in front of an audience, or a class, or any setting where she has something of value to present. She misses lecturing. That might be something to pursue again.

A view: The sense of being at the top of something to be able to see far. Mountains, buildings. She always wants to know what the view looks like from the highest point. It’s an upward call. She feels the same sense of (or pang for) freedom when she sees an eagle in the sky.

There are more clues. She delights in well-written emails and thriving houseplants. White linen. Spending hours searching to pick out that one perfect addition to a wardrobe. Pedicures. Whatsapps that just check-in to show care or concern.

I guess the clues aren’t that unique. Looking for a golden thread might reveal a shared human longing for connection, and meaning. A desire to find, and be, timeless beauty.

And then, the key. Recalibrate the focus. Delight does have a Source.

Scripture’s wisdom: “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”



I had an ordinary divine moment this week in my kitchen.

I was in one of those work “flows” where a bunch of moving parts needed to fall in place at a pretty rapid pace and under some mild time pressure. I actually do quite enjoy coordinating complexity, and eventually seeing order emerge when loose ends get weaved into a coherent picture – like a tapestry.

But on this particular day, it felt like “hurdles” kept popping up that prevented it from actually being an enjoyable “flow”. It felt more like running a mini gauntlet. Like something was chasing me, and throwing silly obstacles in the way to trip me up. I felt a little harassed. Too frantic. Not my preferred style.

Now, the context is that there was a mild degree of “a glass ball that can’t be dropped” to the task. But in reality, I knew that the pressure was way more internal than external. We do sometimes choose to do things in a way that sets us up for more stress. It’s good to own your own level of excellence expectations. Basically, I was chasing myself.

So, when my computer mouse battery died in the middle of designing something with a lot of hyperlinks that had to be sent out to 2 000 people in less than an hour … I stopped.

In stead of throwing the mouse to officially kill it, I got up and stood at my kitchen counter. I took a breath and simply said, rather matter-of-factly: “Stop. In Jesus Name.”

It wasn’t a particularly spiritual experience.

I just tapped into the authority of a word in His Name.


More to myself than to anything else.

It’s a bit contentious to try and explain metaphysical exeriences. So, I won’t be too dramatic. I’ll just describe it as “the wind-from-the-front backed down.” Literally, in that moment.

I sat down again, and the emails of the things I needed to be able to move forward at the pace required to make a success of the task started to roll in. [Context: Corporate communication is a highly integrated function. If one tiny thing gets stuck, the whole process grinds to a halt. Things really do need to “fall in place”, in a specific order. The level of detailed coordination for anything to seem “smooth”, requires tenacious commitment. And a massive team effort. In one word: Grace.).

In that moment of pause, and owning a wrong posture, something shifted in my experience of the day. Commanding (your own frantic self) to stop the relentless chasing of (your own sometimes overly ambitious) expectations might just be a step in the right direction of sustained well-being. Stuff will still need to get done well. Eskom will probably switch off the lights while you try. Just get the bloody screeching monkey off your back. Could be self-doubt. Fear of failure. Pride. Being offended. Having something to prove to someone else. Whatever that unnecessary load is for you. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

As I write this, I get a sense of another metaphor. Surfing. You have to wrestle through the shallow surf to get to the good waves …

That’s a more pleasant metaphor than the running-a-gauntlet-with-a-demon-chasing one.

So, I hope you have a moment to rest in the back-line today. Drown that damn monkey.


CP back in CL

For immediate release
March 2021


Cilnette Pienaar has moved back to Stellenbosch. Sources are speculating that it might have to do with a mystery man.

Pienaar has however not confirmed these wild speculations. “The move back to Stellenbosch is probably a temporary arrangement to be closer to community while working online from home, and the potential of lock-down levels increasing again, are still realities,” she said.

She has been living in the lovely leafy Hout Bay since December 2019, and loving it. Then 2020 hit, and lock-down made meeting new people and building a community base pretty damn near impossible. When 2021 arrived and the situation didn’t seem to look like it would be changing soon, she began to realise how much of an impact the sense of social isolation was starting to have on her mental health.

“Mental and emotional well-being are as important as physical health. Hout Bay is lovely, and I especially enjoyed living a block away from a gorgeous beach and Chapman’s Peak Drive. Being so close to nature was a saving grace during the months of lock-down. But I haven’t really been able to connect with like-minded people there. Churches were basically closed. Cross-fit was a start, but not 100% my vibe. I started to slip into bit of a bipolar cycle, and that’s when I decided to get myself back into an environment where close friends are around the corner, and I can more easily join back into shared activities that make my life rich and my soul happy, like singing in an ensemble, being part of a church family and drinking wine with friends on my stoep on a Friday evening. And a Tuesday evening,” she explained.

She does however have some doubts. It was quite a drastic and sudden move. Like most of her moves. She had reasons other than work for moving to Cape Town, and those reasons are still valid.

She is also a bit nervous about the shift to being a landlord. Which she also considers, come to think of it, to be a rather feudal term. Be that as it may. “She considers the value of a field … “ Proverbs 31.

One of the thoughts that Pienaar had about moving back is to avoid familiarity, and to not “pour new wine into old wineskins”. She is mindful of how much the past two years have given her a completely different perspective on life, and of not assuming that people and institutions on this side have stayed the same.

“I am so aware of how everything has shifted over especially the past year. Everyone has been through a version of trauma, and everything has had to reinvent to just keep going,” she said. “I lived here for 10 years, and one builds up a certain reputation over a time period like that. I honestly don’t feel like the person that left two years ago. I used to have quite a few entrenched roles and “identities” in various contexts on this side that I intentionally stepped out of when I moved, and I am super mindful of not assuming that those are what I should be, or would be welcomed, to step back into,” she added. “I am however, so thankful to reconnect with the amazing people that I missed.”

Stellenboch is a mere 40km away from Cape Town. Very similar to the distance between Joburg and Pretoria. The similarities if that comparison is pretty striking.

“I am definitely not woke or English enough to every really fit into the Cape Town scene. I am also fundamentally feminist (in the sense of assuming equality as a value, not demanding it … a fine nuance), and that has clashed somewhat with a Stellenbosch patriarchy in the past. These are the tensions of culture in context that makes authentic living interesting,” she said.

Pienaar will not be entertaining the wild speculations about a mystery man. “If you are that man, you will know, trust me,” is what she had to say about that.


Notes to editors
For sh*ts and g*ggles. Selah …

Issued by: Cilnette Pienaar
On behalf of: Herself
For media inquiries please contact: I’m not putting my actual number our there 🙂

(PS. This was written as satire on my personal blog. If you are looking for me for actual media inquiries in a professional capacity, and came upon this blog in a Google search, please do get in touch via LinkedIn!)