The art of connecting

Planning an 80th birthday celebration tests the socialising muscle memory while unreliable weather apps call for some pivoting. It all results in good cheer and a reminder of the importance of people who are dear.

It is amazing how easy it is to lose muscle memory. There was a time when socialising was easy. The planning and putting on a lunch, a celebration or largish get together was a walk in the hosting park. Not so anymore. The build up and preparations for Matthew’s Dad’s 80th birthday celebration proved taxing in a way that was unexpected but the result was worth it.

We blamed it on lockdown with its decreed social isolation and the resultant resistance to meet more than four people at any one time. Re-entering “real life” and starting to socialise started slowly, tentatively. Face to face engagements were small and intimate. Suddenly the requirement to host over 20 people felt supremely mountainous and strangely overwhelming.


Tristan baked and decorated the beautiful cake gift for his almost 80 year old grandfather!

Planning for a party

At first we were going to have a braai but the weather apps, as unreliable as they can be, warned of impending storms. Not wanting to risk a downpour ruining the charcoaling of chops and wors, we pivoted and decided on finger foods. In reality, braaing for that many people would not have worked very well at all, plus we do not have space to seat so many at once.

“Nope! No eating off laps, thank you,” huffed Chantal, the very thought throwing her back to days of precariously balancing paper plates on knobbly knees; the flimsy cardboard buckling and leaking juices as unruly salad spilled to the floor. A decidedly unpleasant eating experience.

An order was placed at Fournos Bakery. The momentary sigh of relief was shoved aside by a wave of panic: Do we have enough? What else do we need? Will anyone else bring anything? Chantal did not think we had enough so on Friday we scooted from cheese shop to supermarket, from Impala Fruit and Veg to Oregano Bakery. Just in case.


Sandton was the location of our Shape of Emotion taster talk and experience

Footie, presenting and painting

The week was unusually busy apart from the birthday planning. Marking essays, managing diaries, catching the important World Cup football games and juggling the plaiting of friends and family in and out of our visitors’ few days here, occupied much of our time.

On Thursday evening we had an opportunity to tell the story of 5th Place and to offer an experience of Shape of Emotion to a group of diverse and curious people. We arrived back late, energised by the positive response. A late night does nothing for one’s well being the morning after and there had been a few already - Qatar, again.

Remember our coffee painting artist, Grant? He held an evening of painting with, yes, coffee, drinking wine, and meeting interesting people. Matthew, Tristan and Edie washed Joburg skylines with dark roast. David drank wine and watched.

And Chantal? Back home collapsed in front of the big screen watching episodes of The Crown. It’s not that she didn’t want to paint or be with the crew, it’s just that the week had caught up on her and she chose some quiet time, leftover pasta and an early night to re-energise for the next day’s festivities.


All roads lead to Johannesburg: coffee in the clouds, desert and beyond…

Good cheer flowed

On the day the sun shone and the birds sang. For once we were grateful that the weather app got it so wrong. Friends and family arrived to honour the “almost” octogenarian - his birthday is on the 2nd December - with them came gifts and platters and drinks. There was more than enough. Of course there was. Ages ranged from the sweetest, smiling two month old to warmly grinning eighty-two! Good cheer flowed and the time flew.

It’s so important to recognise another year in a person’s long life. We can learn so much from those that have witnessed decades more than we have. Being surrounded by others, especially those we love, is a real need for us all. Cranking up the socialising muscle memory is on the cards for the near future. With the festive season and holidays upon us, it shouldn’t be too difficult.


The garden welcomes friends of all kinds

It’s times like these that hold up a loud and urgent sign reminding us that the last few years have been unnatural, unpleasant and have shaken the bedrock of our lives. We are urged to lift up our faces from the blue lights of our screens to survey our real surroundings and notice who is important in our lives. Then to reach out and connect, face to face, preferably. A long and firm hug - heart to heart. A soft soul gaze, and a smile. Always a smile.

With the holiday season bearing down on us, we encourage you to snatch some time from your full and busy day, to pause, reflect and connect. Really connect, with love.

Until next time.

Yours in feeling,
Chantal & Matthew

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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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