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Hello. My name is Willem van der Merwe, I live in South Africa, and have been living here my whole life. I was born in Pretoria on 16 March 1972. I suffer from a mental illness - paranoid schizophrenia, according to the doctors. This makes my life rather complicated and puts a bit of a constraint on my options. I have to use medication that I don't like very much, but with that I can live. I want to say one thing: I love people again. I will dedicate my life to Love ... for those close to and those far from me, and those in between. I will make a change in my life. I will again reach out to people. Apart from medications, and psychotherapy, I will also from inside myself try to work to overcome my paranoia. The world cannot be all bad. People neither. I will focus on the good ... and right now I know that there's a *lot* of it.

What do I do? Well, I'm an artist. I paint, and I sketch. These days I am very much into watercolour painting, and I'm a member of the Watercolours Society of South Africa. I enjoy nature immensely, so most of my art is of natural scenes, plant and animal life. However, I also do portraits of people, in pencil or paint. I get quite a lot of commissions. I also do retouching of bad or old photographs. Not making much money with that, but I'm very good with it!

I also enjoy photography. It helps to supply me with reference material for my art, but I like doing it in itself as well. Because I can do retouching, I can make a lot of my not-so-good shots look really professional! Furthermore I also enjoy hiking in wild areas. I have that to thank for a lot of my knowledge and experience of wildlife. People tell me I'm quite a good tour guide for people who enjoy the wilderness experience! I don't do that for money though, just for good friends!

I am very health conscious. I don't smoke, don't drink caffeine or alchohol, don't use any recreational drugs. I only use the drugs I need to use to control my schizophrenia. I also don't eat meat ... I'm an ovo-lacto-vegetarian. So I eat eggs and dairy products, and fruit and vegetables. I also do weight training usually three days a week. I'm interested more in strength than in fitness, but I have a fair degree of endurance, and my heart is in good condition. I should actually do more fitness work ... walking and running! I want to live *extremely* long, because there is *so much* I still want to do! I still want to write books ... *many* of them ... and I want to illustrate them myself! I also would like to make music one day!

Another thing that I do, and that I am extremely enthusiastic about - I cultivate indigenous South African plants. I'm hoping to have a piece of land some day, on which to start out a Botanic Garden. In the meantime I grow lots of plants here at home, and sell some of them on occasion.

Music is very important to me. Mostly, I listen to music while I paint, but sometimes I also dance around alone to loud music ... gives me a bit of exercise as well as being great fun. I wish I had someone else to dance with! There aren't nice dancing places here in my town of Pietersburg/Polokwane. When I was a student in Pretoria there were very nice dancing occasions ... we held dances at the hostel, and there were also dancing clubs in town. I mean nice clubs, where one can dance with a partner almost ballroom style.

But as for music ... I like everything from classical music, to heavy metal ... some genres excepted; I am not much into country music, or jazz, or rap.

I am looking for friends here, people to talk with, basically about pretty much any sort of subject. Please drop me a note here in case you're interested in friendship!

If you want to email me:

[email protected]

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Willem

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