This is “Flourish”, the the next piece of the ‘Autumn Haze’ puzzle.

“Flourish”
by Conrad Schwellnus

Clear is kind, like the depths of your sorrow,
A heart of steel, you will surely need to borrow.
Perhaps you can lend it to feed your hungry soul?
A lifetime of lies, no longer taking their toll.

Bested by those who loved their own reflections,
Using their kin in resolution of their imperfections.
Seemingly damaged to a point of no return,
A reality to ponder, but your memories start to burn.

Widening of shallow, subsiding anger in your mind,
Honesty and truth will always pay you back in kind.
Creative you will be, creative you will flourish,
A journey to build on, a past to demolish.

This poem is one of the pieces that went through the most edits from the first draft, simply because it had a lot going on (there was an additional stanza in the original version that didn’t quite fit, and I may use elsewhere in the future). It’s fairly dark, and tells a story of sorrow, but ultimately redeems itself in the last stanza, providing a glimmer of hope in the process.

Next week, I’ll be publishing a very special poem, influenced by ex-Nightwish singer Tarja Turunen. The piece, which was written while I was listening to her sing, is simply titled “Turunen” and it will be live on the site by 12h00 GMT+2 on Friday the 10th of May.

We’re five poems into the ‘Autumn Haze’ anthology already, with seven to go in the series. You can learn more about the anthology over here, but if you’re curious about the other poems in the series, have a look at this nifty page displaying all the poems in a batch right over here. Have a wonderful rest of your week.

– Conrad was here.

Here is “I Dream in Black and White”, the next poem in the ‘Autumn Haze’ anthology.

“I Dream in Black and White”
by Conrad Schwellnus

I dream in black and white,
I see in shades of grey.
Nothing about anything always feels quite right,
A life of your own, you simply cannot delay.

Mourn the emancipation, let go of the grip,
Alone you may just fall, perhaps you stay and trip.
But fly you will, you pick yourself up,
Resilience in the form of a tiny beating cup.

I dream in black and white,
I see the cruelty of a nation.
Trudging along and a departure I might,
The only energy to defeat my indignation.

This is your way to say goodbye,
To a lifelong service to a sigh,
This happened in the depths of this mind of mine,
I’ve been done for a while, waiting for the colors to shine.

This is one of the first poems in the anthology that just poured out of me when I started writing it. I wrote this very quickly and it came together even faster while I was editing. It feels like an important piece in the anthology. “I Dream in Black and White” is about fear, letting go and realizing that it is time to move towards a new chapter of your life. I won’t say too much, and let you interpret the text for yourself.

Next week, I’ll be publishing the fifth poem in the series. The new piece is called “Flourish” and it will be live on the site by 12h00 GMT+2 on Friday the 3rd of May.

You can learn more about the ‘Autumn Haze‘ anthology over here and if you’re curious about the other poems in the series, have a look at the new page displaying all the poems in a batch over here.

– Conrad was here.

The podcast has landed, and as you can tell, I’m all sorts of emotional, excited and scared.

I have to admit that seeing it pop up on Spotify was quite something and I may have gotten just a little bit emotional (and done a dance in the kitchen).

I do quite a bit of talking in the episode so I’ll keep this post brief — I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who encouraged me to do this, everyone who has helped me on the path towards finding my confidence (and my voice again) over the last year, and especially to the people who have done the hard slog with me and sat with me through the good and the bad. You guys mean the world to me.

The show doesn’t feature any snazzy production, or over the top edits. I did this for a reason. As with the blog being more about my words and connecting with you through my writing (you’ll notice I never share visuals in my posts), the podcast is an opportunity for raw connection, and for you to see me a little bit more clearly, coughs, sniffs and all. If I wanted to, I could have added a whole lot of autotune to my voice (circa T-Pain 2007) but I prefer to keep it more authentic and this will likely be a theme throughout future episodes as well.

The first episode is called “Welcome to Wellness with the Schwellnus” and you can find more details about the topics I cover, as well as listen to it over here. All future episodes will be shared on the same page, so make sure you bookmark it. The next episode will air on Thursday May 9th and I look forward to staying connected with you via the blog until then.

– Conrad was here.

I’m hosting a brand new lifestyle podcast, and of course it has a cheeky title! Happy to finally share some details with you.

It’s been five years since I did my last radio show, but I’m thrilled to get behind the mic again, hosting Wellness with the Schwellnus, a brand new lifestyle podcast launching on Spotify on Thursday the 25th of April.

The show, which will be exclusive to Spotify for 24 hours, will be syndicated to other streaming platforms from Friday the 26th, and will air twice a month on the second and fourth Thursday of each month, until April 2020. Episodes, which have a minimum of three segments, are anywhere between 45 and 60 minutes long. I’m really excited to be collaborating with indie publishing house CSP on this project, and I’m grateful to have had their support right from the get go.

In recent weeks I’ve gotten a lot of questions about the content I’ll be covering, most of which I’ve been avoiding answering, as I want listeners to be surprised, and to make up their own minds about what the podcast is going to mean to them. If you recall, this very blog started as a mental health awareness journal, and has since transformed into a space for me to share my flow journey, and even to publish some of my poetry. The process for the show is equally flexible and fluid, but as a whole, it aspires to promote mindful living.

What I can reveal today, is that the first episode contains more information about my journey so far, delves into what led me to the point of pursuing a full-time career as a writer, and I may or may not have decided to include some details about 3 year old me (as written down from a reliable source: a report card, signed my my pre-school teacher). Oh Mrs. whats-her-name, you had a profound impact on my life after all.

The show aims to bring some lightness, humor and inspiration to your week. I’ll be sharing a couple of stories that have had an effect on my life so far, checking in on interesting current events, as well as throwing in tidbits from my personal journals. If you’re worried that you’ll grow tired of my voice, don’t fret, I’ll also be introducing interview segments in the near future, discussing topics with a variety of interesting guests (there is already a list of twenty people that I’m dying to sit down with) and in the process hope to learn more about what it means to live well and satisfied with a view towards the future.

Hopefully, the podcast will give me more opportunities to be able to connect with you, wherever you are in the world, which, as you know if you’ve been following the blog, is one of my most important goals for the year. From June, I’ll be recording episodes from Brazil, and after that, who knows where the road goes. I look forward to taking it step-by-step and going on this journey with you! Thank you for your support.

– Conrad was here.

The next chapter in the ‘Autumn Haze’ anthology is here — read “Knife Party” now.

“Knife Party”
by Conrad Schwellnus

Let’s throw a knife party,
Our highs take on a new life,
When you’re done sipping on the Bacardi,
Will you start to let go of your wife?

Take away the pressure, we dance intimately,
Stroke my hair as I begin to feel you in a dream,
Shake your body, the contours slowly enchant me.
Pass through me, as I float somewhere far beyond my being.

Sensual in all of my remembrance,
Illustrious as I take my space,
Love in the monotonous, head up in the clouds,
Manic as we avoid a tender embrace.

Let’s throw a knife party,
Aim for the neck but keep hitting the board.
Everything is slow, a near set of sorry,
Discourse in heaven, we put down the chord.

Many of us have experienced falling in love with someone who is unavailable, and this poem tries to pack that into a few sentences, eight years after I started what would be the defining romance of my twenties. I reference a ‘wife’ in the poem in a non literal sense; it merely implies a person that is otherwise committed, be that through being with another partner, or just as a result of a lack of self acceptance. For me, the poem is a symbol of letting go and moving on, and I hope it brings you some comfort too if you’ve ever experienced something similar.

The next poem in the series (which I might add, goes straight for the jugular) is called “I Dream in Black and White” and will be published on the site by 12h00 GMT+2 on Friday the 26th of April. Catch you back here then?

You can learn more about the ‘Autumn Haze‘ anthology over here and if you’re curious about the first two poems in the series, head over to the home page to check them out. Thank you for your support!

– Conrad was here.

Here is the second poem from ‘Autumn Haze’ — this is “Hearts at Half Mast”.

“Hearts at Half Mast”
by Conrad Schwellnus

Let’s bond as a family, with our smartphones in check,
Eyes fixed on the television, in public we shall forget.
The elders converse with their hearts at half mast,
Exhausted from keeping the week afloat — now with some freedom at last.

Sit by yourself sweet miss, your loneliness is palpable,
Can I give you a hug or will that make me culpable?
Do you believe I feel sorrow in the wake of your solace,
How charmed or lonely I am, awake in my empty bodice.

Bond, bond, and bond, we must,
We despise each other, but in blood we must love.
Sing to me child, show me your prowess,
Other than that, be gone, but remember to stay the dourest.

I wrote this poem after seeing a family having breakfast in a restaurant, and adjacent to their table was a woman having a meal on her own. Both “parties” seemed equally isolated in that specific moment, though ironically, I only felt sorry for the woman, irrespective of whether my intuition told me that everyone at the group table was alone too.

I really appreciate you taking some time out of your day to read some of my work. The next poem in the series, which is quite possibly the most sensual poem in the series, is called “Knife Party” and will be published on the site at 12h00 GMT+2 on Friday the 19th of April.

You can learn more about the ‘Autumn Haze‘ anthology over here and if you’re curious about the first poem in the series, you can read it over here. I welcome your feedback via social media or the contact section anytime you feel like reaching out.

– Conrad was here.

Embarking on a 50 day challenge to start healing my tricky relationship with food.

I’ve always had a tricky relationship with food — it’s usually been more of an emotional crutch, because I’ve never really learned how to cook and usually tend to go for more efficient food options, rather than making the most nutritious choices.

If it was up to me, I’d swallow a pill every morning that would give me all the nutrition I need in one go, but I’ve recently become more aware of how much food brings people together, creates joy, and is at the heart of communities around the world. Considering my plans to travel for the rest of the year, I’d love to be able to explore more types of foods and traditional dishes from cultures other than my own and it’s time to get out of my comfort zone a bit.

Tomorrow, I’m starting a 50 day personal challenge to start working on adjusting (or healing) my relationship with food. My goal is to reconnect with food as a source of nourishment, something to enjoy and quite frankly, to be grateful for.

I stumbled onto a TedTalk about this topic after doing a basic Google search earlier today and I was happy to find out that I’m not alone in the struggle. The talk was hosted by dietitian Eve Lahijani, and included the following tips, which I’ve tweaked slightly to fit my lifestyle, and incorporated into the challenge:

  • Reconnect with your hunger. Eat only when you’re hungry, not out of boredom, stress, or just because it is available. Do so when you first get hungry, not when you’re already ravenous.
  • Feed what your body is craving. Go with your instincts about what your body is asking for, which requires you to tune into your feelings. I think this will be particularly useful to me during my morning meditations.
  • Try not to use food as a reward or punishment. I’m a pro at this, and will need to be extra mindful of this. Mostly, my rewards are sugar heavy and I’ve gone down the sugar rabbit hole far too many times for my own liking.
  • Don’t punish yourself for bad days. It happens, carry on.

Over and above this, I also have two additional resources in my corner that found their way to me today, which I’ll also be incorporating into the challenge.

The first, is the latest episode of the Spiritual Gayz podcast. Angel and Brandon discuss the importance of ritual, and especially so when you’re working on healing some or other aspect of yourself. From listening to the show, I’ve decided to work a small mantra into my morning routine, a ritual of sorts, where I’ll start my morning with a simple sentence: commit to feeding yourself with love today. It’s as simple as that.

The final resource I’ll be utilizing along this journey, is a Masterclass I found today, which is hosted by Thomas Keller. From just the first lecture, it’s clear that he will be delving into the very basics of cooking, even to the point of discussing which kitchen utensils are best to use and how to prepare before you even start preparing a meal. It’s very clear to me that I need this in my life! I’ve decided I’ll be doing one class a day for the next month and I believe it’s also a nice way to easy myself into it, soaking up each lesson and practicing some of the lessons, rather than binging them all in a single sitting.

As I mentioned at the start of the article, I have never learned how to cook, and have always had a “get it done and move on” attitude towards my own nourishment, but perhaps, as part of my self care journey, and just generally wanting to lead a more healthy lifestyle, which protects the one body I’ve been gifted with to live this life through, it’s time for me to take my relationship with food to a new level. Today brought me a couple of signs and I’m excited to see what the challenge does to my energy levels, mental health and frankly put, my general enjoyment when it comes to food.

I’ll be sure to document some of the journey on the blog, and feel free to get in touch if you have any tips, suggestions or resources. The challenge will wrap up on June 1st, and I’ll be sure to share my results and learnings with you on the blog, so stick around for that over the next couple of weeks.

– Conrad was here.

A space to write, a space to type, a space to sleep.

I recently started what I call a six month “flow experiment” — essentially, the beginning of an opportunity to embrace change, learn to be more open to flexibility, practice patience, and generally to just see “where to wind blows me” for the rest of 2019. It sounds very fancy and like I’m playing the lead role in an indie movie, but in reality, it’s all kinda daunting and overwhelming. A couple of things have led me to this interesting point in my life, which I felt like writing about today.

In December I decided that I wanted to quit my full-time job, in order to primarily focus on my own business again. Running a business while working full-time is no joke, and my mental health definitely took a knock as a result of the stress from doing this. Delve 6 will also be turning three this coming September (it’s hard to believe it’s been a part of my life for such a long time already), so what better time to give it a proper bash, to see who I get to meet through taking on new creative projects and quite frankly, to enjoy myself along the way. It’s taken some time, a lot of lessons, and a lot of work, but I’ve certainly fallen back in love with the idea of taking it to new heights over the last couple of months.

If marketing is the main course to my life, writing can only be referred to as the dessert. Along with the decision to quit my full-time job, came the realisation that it was time for me to pursue a long lingering dream of being a published author. Some of you may have already seen that I’ve started rolling out my first poetry anthology, and I also entered my first writing competition earlier this year. Writing is something that brings me a tremendous amount of joy, mental clarity, balance and gives me the freedom to express myself in a way that provides various perspectives on my own life, feelings and decisions. It is the kind of skill that helps in all avenues of my life and one of the biggest blessings of the year so far has been the ability to write (or scribble) each and every day so far.

The last new piece of the flow puzzle is that I’m travelling from South Africa to Brazil at the start of June, and will be staying in South America for at least a month. It’s time to get out of my comfort zone and out of the bubble a little bit. I’ve been looking forward to travelling for a very long time, and finally decided to take the plunge and buy my ticket. This will be the first time I’ll travel alone as an adult (would you believe) but thankfully I’m meeting up with my partner in São Paulo, which should make it an easier (and a more exciting) trip as a whole. On a more practical front, I’m currently taking Portuguese lessons every day (I’m about four weeks in), which I’m sure will also help to amplify the experience to an extent. Something I wasn’t initially aware of was that South African passport holders can stay in Brazil for up top 90 days without a visa, which is pretty amazing, so my ticket back is flexible at this point, and I’ll see how things go, and assess my next move as and when the time comes for me to do so.

In general, all three of these new pieces of the puzzle constitute quite an uncertain whole… and certainly brings a fair share of excitement and anxiety along with it. I do like to overthink most things, and when I caught myself starting to question my decisions, I wrote the following down as a gentle reminder of, quite simply, the only three things I really need to be concerned about for the next six months:

A space to write. A space to type. A space to sleep.

It can really be as simple as that and well… it is. This, and entering into each of the days ahead being both brave and afraid at the same time, something which has become somewhat of a life mantra for me. Who knows which adventures await me between now and the end of September, but the time has come to close my eyes, jump and see where it all takes me.

– Conrad was here.

This is the first piece of work from ‘Autumn Haze’ — here is “Yanked”.

“Yanked”
by Conrad Schwellnus

Yanked against my will,
Towards a life I never wanted.
You asked me to be still,
Forget a childhood of enchantment.

A distant memory lurks, but I’m with family now,
You are what I wanted… we knew each other so well.
Untainted by your words and passions somehow,
Behind the shades, behind the façade, your self lurks with a story to tell.

The cup is unrefined, it’s still early, you’ll see,
Fill your well with all the wishes and the things you mean to me.
For the universe knows how to send you a dream,
Perhaps it’s more about your needs, despite what you will not see.

I initially planned to attach a visual and short description to each poem, but have since changed my mind, as I believe poetry is largely an experience of personal interpretation, and I’d like to avoid influencing the way you experience my writing and the full anthology. I’m happy to chat about it if you’d like to reach out to me privately. Speaking of the anthology — you can learn more about ‘Autumn Haze‘ and the publishing plan for it over here.

The next poem in the series is titled “Hearts at Half Mast” (no, it’s not a country song, well, yet) and will go live on the site at 12h00 GMT+2 on Friday the 12th of April. See you then?

– Conrad was here.

I’m publishing my first anthology, ‘Autumn Haze’.

Earlier this week, I got some good news about “Roaming”, a poem I wrote about the life and career of the legendary Whitney Houston, which came in third place in the first writing competition I entered. The poem (quite surprisingly) was read by over 1,100 people on Instagram, which gave me the confidence to start thinking about how I want to start sharing some more of my work. So here we are!

At the start of March, I wrote a bundle of poems under the anthology title of ‘Autumn Haze‘. I called it this for a variety of reasons. Firstly, as a symbol of the changing of the season and the birth of autumn (which runs from the end of March to the middle of June in the Southern Hemisphere). “Haze”, however, also refers to a traditional definition relating to an initiation of sorts, highlighting the ushering in of a new personal journey, the closing of a chapter, and my path into a career as a writer. The poems are deeply personal, were written in a very short space of time, and have only been shared with my partner so far. This will be the first time this work gets seen by anyone else, and I’d really like to invite you along for the ride if you felt connected to my poem about Whitney in any way.

So here’s the deal: between now and Friday the 21st of June, I will be publishing the full anthology, one poem at a time, every Friday, at 12h00 GMT+2. Each poem will be accompanied by a short context paragraph, to give you an idea of what it was inspired from, but the overall interpretation, as with all poetry, remains with you as the reader.

It will also be accompanied by a photograph I have taken in my self care journey so far, which started when this blog was launched in June 2018. Each post will also contain the title of the next poem in the series, to give you a taste of what is to come the following Friday, and I may even be dropping some hints as to what it is about in the week before, depending on how I feel on the day. The anthology will be published in full on the blog by Friday the 28th of June.

It would be wonderful to have you along for the ride. This is my first time doing something like this, so I’d welcome any feedback on any of the works, and would like to make you a part of the journey. Oh yes, before I forget! The title of the first poem, which will be published right here on Friday the 5th of April at 12h00 GMT+2, is “Yanked“. I’ll leave you to get imaginative about the inspiration behind it.

– Conrad was here.