“Feins” — the second last poem from the ‘Autumn Haze’ anthology — was particularly difficult to publish, but it’s here.

“Feins”
by Conrad Schwellnus

Silently quiet, silently curious,
A depth you imagine as the crux of notorious.
Look past the creation, a gaze brings you more trouble,
As you feed your temperance, heeding a life within a bubble.

Sip from the glass, the lemon bitters your palate,
As far removed as the time of Sir Mallet.
Did you forget how to breathe, do you dream of others now?
Higher and lower, as we plunge, a reaping bow.

You see me there, I find you somewhat endearing,
A judgement based on a deafening bearing.
Are you still bloody, morose, a vastly wild hunt,
Forgiven for you vapidity, as you stay ever so blunt.

The journey still matters, feel the music in your core,
Decipher this true moment, as you quit keeping score.
Troubled chalice, time to let go of the reigns.
Hidden from my view, yet a memory still feins.

“Feins” is the only poem in the anthology that I struggled to put my finger on 100% and questioned whether I should publish it, due to its deeply personal nature. It contains many layers, and there is a lot going on, but ultimately, the first stanza drives home the point of the story, which is meant to represent an emancipation from a perceived life of living in a bubble. I explored a few titles for this one, and it went through only a few slight tweaks before publication. If you’re curious about the original, feel free to reach out to me in the contact section and I’ll give you a heads up about the changes.

Next week, thirteen weeks since starting to publish, the final poem from Autumn Haze will be released, and my first full body of work will be out there to enjoy as a unit. The last poem is a favourite of mine, titled “The Ledge”.

If you’d like to read the other poems (“Yanked”, “Hearts at Half Mast”, “Knife Party”, “I Dream in Black and White”, “Flourish”, “Turunen”, “Pink Scarf”, “Safely in My Heart”, “A Fever Poetry” & “Dorian”) in preparation, head on over here to find them in one place, and I’ll catch you back here next week.

– Conrad was here.

It seems that the universe would like me to stay in Brazil for a little while longer than planned.

I had very little to do with the airline going bust and my flight to South Africa being cancelled. I had even less to do with the fact that one way tickets are suddenly three times the price of the return ticket I bought initially, and that the refunds will take up to eight weeks to process.

I did, however, put it out there to the universe that all I needed for these six months of my “flow experiment” was a place to write, a place to type and a place to sleep. Hell, I even wrote these things in permanent marker on the front cover of my diary. Well, I have all three of these things over here, and it seems that it is something I have to explore a little further on my journey towards a career as a writer, and wanting to connect with people from all walks of life (one of the other things I wrote down back in December).

The latest episode of Wellness with the Schwellnus, titled “Where do you feel like you belong”, discusses my first few weeks in a foreign country, and touches on what I’ll be doing for the next few months, which in all likelihood is looking like a longer term stay in Brazil, up until the start of September.

I also talk a bit about the concept of belonging through community rather than country, as well as mentioning a few key points from my journals that will hopefully help both of us, as we embark on the third quarter of 2019. You can listen to the new episode on your platform of choice over here.

– Conrad was here.

What I’ve learned from the first six weeks of pursuing a career as a writer.

It’s hard to believe it’s already been nearly two months since I left full-time employment, in order to focus on building a new career as a writer. These six weeks have been both interesting and challenging for a variety of reasons, and I thought it would be wise to get a few thoughts down while they are still fresh, to help me better reflect on where things are at on my new journey. I’m also just two weeks away from my trip to Brazil, which I am tremendously excited about, so it’s a good time to pause a bit, and to take stock of what these last few weeks have been like.

Firstly, being away from an office environment is both wonderful and hard. Wonderful, because you are not bound to a specific time where you have to be anywhere, plus you have the freedom to do what you would like to do, when you would like to do it. It must be said, however, that it can be quite a challenge to your overall levels of discipline (sometimes what you want to do is not what you need to do), and it requires razor focus to continue with the grind each day. Truth be told, in this situation you don’t have to be accountable to anyone but yourself, and you are responsible to make things happen for yourself. It’s freeing, but not easy. I don’t claim to have this waxed or figured out yet, and I probably will never have it fully figured out — a sentiment often echoed by my entrepreneur friends. As with anything in life, it remains a work in progress, and I take each day as a new opportunity, as a new chance for growth, and with hopes that I will be able to continue the forward momentum I have generated so far.

It tends to take a fairly high level of dedication to manage your own schedule, and I have noticed that without establishing a routine quickly (each week in fact), my productivity and self care efforts have tended to dwindle a little bit. I’ve had to stop myself, and gently nudge back in another direction, as soon as I’ve noticed this. I think that the block comes in with the notion of being fearful of failure (aren’t we all), a general fear of not knowing what is coming and feeling like you’re swimming blindly each day, and also a lingering thought that you’ve done something incredibly brave, but quite possibly, incredibly stupid. This is what makes it both thrilling and daunting!

Anyone who works for themselves, or in any entrepreneurial venture, will know that it can be quite an unstable, yet very rewarding path to pursue. They will know loneliness, only because very few take the same path, and only because it is hard for those in a traditional working environment to comprehend what it means to truly be the last line of defense when it comes to your income and sustenance. On the other end, there is always a sense of opportunity; that a new day can bring any possibility, and that your fortunes could change at any given second. I was reminded of this on a plane to Johannesburg recently, where, out of everyone I could have been seated next to, I found myself sitting next to someone who works in publishing. He gave me some great tips on self publishing and we exchanged details: a great example of how things are unfolding without us really having too much control over them.

I want to circle back to fear quickly, which is important, as it tends to escalate on days when it is harder to get out of bed. It doesn’t help that Cape Town is entering winter, which is usually icy, rainy and dreary. I’ve found small remedies to manage my anxiety and make it a little easier to get going when I wake up. I’ve found that meditation is a big help with this (fifteen minutes in the morning does the trick), writing or scribbling is naturally something that is wonderful for my mental health, and working a few other key self care elements into my day (a walk, an ASMR video, drinking a cup of tea, etc.) really does really help to keep me in a positive flow. To an extent, I am still finding my feet in this new chapter, and I know it isn’t a process that is going to happen overnight. I’ve got to remember to practice patience and perseverance in that regard. I am discovering new self care practices each day and I am always mindful of wanting to go gently and kindly in whatever I do.

I only have good news to share when it comes to my writing. I haven’t had any problems actually writing, which you will have noticed if you’ve been following the poems I’ve been publishing on the blog, if you’ve listened to the podcast or if you’ve had any sort of conversation with me in recent weeks. Sure, as with anyone, I’ve had a few days where it has been harder to draw inspiration, but other than that, I know I’ve made the right choice for myself in making the career change, not because of some romantic idea that I had of what it means to be in a creative career, but because I still get excited at the prospect of waking up and writing in the morning. I hope this feeling sticks with me, and that no matter where the road takes me in the coming months, that this remains a constant in my life.

I have officially traded my laptop bag for a satchel, and now walk everywhere carrying my notebooks (which are stacking up), the book I’m reading, plus a collection of pen and highlighters. Post-it notes have also become my best friend! I scribble ideas on these wherever I go. Through some of the online courses I’ve completed in recent weeks, I’ve learned that creativity is not something you create yourself, it’s something you catch in the moment. I’d like to continue to be prepared at any possible moment to catch it wherever possible.

In aide of this, I wake up each morning and read the following to myself, as a reminder of why I’m pursuing this path, hopeful that it will keep giving me the opportunity to connect, learn and love.

My name is Conrad. I am a writer. I want to connect with people from all walks of life. This is what I want to do, so if it is going to benefit you, then contact me. I’d like to continue to serve other through kindness. Please guide me along the way.

– Conrad was here.

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.

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.

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.

Trusting myself enough to give a new venture the best possible chance to succeed.

17 days ago I wrote a post about how my mental health journey had turned into a process of reinvention, how I had started the year with a clear mindset and with clear goals for what I wanted to tackle. I skimmed through it again this morning, and it certainly looks great on paper. The last week has been one of the most difficult in my mental health journey, not because I hit a dip, but because I started to doubt myself and my ability to succeed on this new path of wanting to become a writer.

There’s not doubt in my mind that my mental health dipped a bit from the start of the week, I could feel it coming on, as I was engaging in a lot of unhealthy self soothing activities: excessive drinking, excessive dating, extending excessive energy outward, rather than turning my focus inward, and generally having to deal with anxiety levels that were through the roof. I see no point in beating myself up about it, it happened, I dealt with it the best possible way I could, and I’ve got to let that go as something that is part of the journey. None of these things are bad when done in moderation, but I could feel that I was extending myself further than I usually would, dropping a few self care routines in the process and ultimately contributing more to my anxiety. It has meant I’ve had to take a few additional steps to “navigate the rumbling strip” so to speak, and I will be implementing a few boundaries in the week ahead, as well as preparing to meet with a psychiatrist, who will hopefully be able to assist me in finding a medication that will be able to balance my anxiety levels. I’m a naturally anxious person, but considering the shifts I’m busy planning in my life, it’s normal for my anxiety levels to be elevated, but I’m of no use to anyone when it is debilitating to my day-to-day and when it stops me from functioning like a normal member of society and getting to the things I’d like to get to. We all deserve to soothing in this often very harsh world, and perhaps meeting with a specialist will help me find a better balance than my GP is able to offer me. What I’ve been busy doing clearly isn’t doing my mental health any favours. One day at a time.

This week, self trust has been on my mind a lot. I stumbled onto the concept while doing some light reading online, realising that a lot of my day-to-day anxiety comes from a fear of failure. My self esteem is inextricably linked to my career success, something that was drilled into me from childhood with high expectations for school performance, and thus why I’ve always worked fairly high profile jobs. I realised though, that the decision to pursue something as ‘volatile’ as a career in writing (or any career in a creative field), would not have been possible had I not trusted myself enough to feel that I could succeed at it in the first place. This entire week, I’ve been worrying about failure, and not trusting that I would be able to bounce back from failure. This is something that is fairly ridiculous of course, as I’ve bounced back from many failures, and in essence it is what makes life such an interesting journey after all. I’ve just been doubting myself and the decision to focus more time and energy into my writing, convincing myself that it “wasn’t a real dream” and that it is something that I shouldn’t be doing. This week ahead, I’d like to make an active effort to remind myself that I’m allowed to trust myself as I move into this new chapter and on this new journey. In the short space of time since I’ve made the decision to move in this direction, I’ve been given a bunch on wonderful ‘gifts’ already, in the sense of meeting people from similar industries, being referred to writer communities and finding opportunities for me to tackle. It simply is now the time to put my head down and to give it a gong.

I was on a walk earlier today, questioning whether I was making the right decision in pursuing my passion. As I got to the of the road I was walking on, I stepped on a painted sign on the road that read “FH” (fire hydrant). As I stepped on the sign, the artist I was listening to on my headphones chanted the word “fire” in the middle of the song, in a moment of sweet serendipity. A few minutes later a butterfly flew right up to me and grazed my knee. I was reminded that I am exactly where I am supposed to be at this very moment. I was reminded to continue to work to be kind and gentle to myself in this process. I was reminded that I’m simply a human being, doing his best, and going through a process that isn’t an easy undertaking. These past eight months have been months of tremendous personal and spiritual growth, and I won’t let one bad week set me back for the rest of the year. It just isn’t worth it. Time to trust myself enough to know that no matter what, I will get through this.

– Conrad was here.