Retreats, research, a rabbit and a recce

A trip to Parys, south of Johannesburg, to review the week and consider research needs leads to a recce for a retreat venue, the meeting and making of more friends, gold that is not metal and a pensive rabbit for the garden.

We retreated to Parys once again this past weekend. We went back to the tiny stone clad cottage in the Vredefort Dome. We prefer the mountains to the river and as we came around the bend on the R53 just off the R500 there was a marked shift in the energy as it moved from turbulent busyness to a dense mantle of calm. Aaah.

We were welcomed by the wide grin of Warrin, a new friend, made when we were there in April and the clucking of chickens. Matthew quickly got the hang of the wood fired stove and we settled in to review the days before.


“Getting the hang of using the “Welcome Dover stove No. 8”, to give it it’s full name

Of interviewers and interviewees

We had been interviewed for a Canadian podcast, Caring Support and had, in turn, interviewed James Smith of the same organisation. Caring Support is an online job platform for healthcare workers in Canada. They were interested in emotional fitness and what it can do for their stakeholders. Compassion fatigue and burnout is a big issue so what we had to say did resonate.

“Wow, this was so interesting,” said Laura, our interviewer, “Our listeners will definitely find value in this podcast. I can see the opportunity to have you back on again.”

James, a partner in the Caring Support business is passionate about connecting with others. He was a warm and inspirational interviewee. Look out for the episode coming soon.


Fields of gold, skies of blue and billowing clouds of white are typical in this space

Searching for research participants

On top of being interviewed and doing an interview Matthew was hard at work sourcing candidates for our research. Carried out by Bond University in Australia, we need 30 or more participants to get viable, useful data. We are looking for people who suffer from anxiety and or stress (it doesn’t have to be chronic either) and have not used Shape of Emotion before, to take part in a six week programme. They will attend an online Emotional Fitness Class once a week for six weeks with pre- and post programme questionnaires also completed online. Data or access to wifi is a necessity. There is no charge to participate.

Matthew is on a mission to get participants from as many African countries as possible so he has been doing the mental health and wellbeing boogie on Twitter targeting organisations in this arena. So far he has interest from Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia, Ghana and Kenya. Including South Africa, that’s 8 down and 46 to go! As a result of his work 5th Place has been co-opted as a member of the Africa Mental Health Consortium.

If you are interested in taking part in this research, or know of anyone else who may be, please make contact for more details or share the research form link.


Our friendly, furry neighbours

Cold rain, warm hearts

The last time we were in Parys it poured. The end of June was a sure thing for clear skies, it’s the middle of winter, after all. We don’t get rain in this part of the country in winter and we wanted to go for that walk in the mountains. On Friday evening the heavens opened and it poured all night long. Saturday started foggy and damp and remained cold. No walk in the mountains but we did meander through town and meet some interesting and enthusiastic restaurant and shop owners. We now have a small group of new friends to add to our list for when we come again. We also have a delightful, if pensive, rabbit for our garden.

We want to facilitate a retreat and what better place than a World Heritage site? We roped Warrin in to help us with a recce of the area for a potential venue. Who better to ask than someone who has been living in that town and surrounds for the last 16 years?


There’s plenty of space to ponder transformation

A recce and a winter walk

We bumped over gravel roads, swept through farm gates and wandered around accommodation of varying nature. From functional dormitories overlooking ancient mountains to cottages with sugar and spice decor, so pretty and perfect it made us afraid to walk too loudly. We visited a wedding venue once burnt to the ground, now rebuilt stone by stone by the family, who have turned it into a venue for more than just weddings. You will know soon enough which one we choose.

The sun came out on Sunday and we went for that walk. It took us past old mining shafts and a crumbling miner’s cottage then up a rocky mountainside wobbly with dislodged stones that could not withstand the flow from the rain. Cattle had shared the path and the odd baboon. Vervet monkeys too. The only gold now was the grass blanketing the rolling earth and the last rays of a quickly setting sun.

“You will be back soon,” said so many of our new pals. Oh yes we will, this area once transformed by a cataclysmic event two billion years ago, is a fitting place for work that is transformational today too.

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5th Place

5th Place is a dynamic organization that's passionate about emotional fitness. We're the creators of Shape of Emotion, a revolutionary tool that's changing the way we understand and manage our emotions. But we're not just about theory - we're about practical, tangible change.

We offer Emotional Fitness Classes and courses that help individuals, from children to adults, build emotional resilience and well-being. For our younger audience, we've created the Vibarealm, a vibrant universe that encourages a healthier interaction with emotions.

Join us on this journey to emotional fitness and let's make the world a better place together.

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