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Margaret Linström finds stories everywhere

“It’s busy, often chaotic, but always beautiful and always full of love.”

As an English-speaking girl growing up in predominantly Afrikaans town Upington, Margaret quickly learned that paying attention to people’s stories was the best way to connect with others. “I was young when I realised that there’s something interesting about every single person, and if you’re able to identify that and talk to them about it most barriers fall away.”

In her career, first as an English teacher at Dr Blok High School in Heidedal, and later as a journalist at the SABC and OFM, approaching life as a storyteller has been the key to her success. “Many of my high school learners are in their late forties now, but I often see them around Bloem. They’re surprised when I remember details about them. It’s not a deliberate act; I just find people interesting. Above all, a good journalist should be a good listener. If you want to get to know someone you have to listen and pay attention to even the smallest detail.” Seeing the potential in people and helping them to see themselves as what they can become has also made it possible for Margaret to train journalists who are now successful in their own right. “As a journalism lecturer at the University of the Free State I’m constantly amazed at how resilient young people are. It’s such a joy to see my students succeed, especially knowing the challenges many of them had to overcome.”

While writing is Margaret’s professional passion, her other passions are also ways of telling stories. “My kitchen is where I’m at my happiest. Making food, baking sourdough bread, and seeing people who I love enjoy my food – nothing matches the feeling.” Her daughter, grandson and friends often drop in to see what is on the menu. “I keep them guessing because I rarely make a dish twice. Why make it again when there are so many other things to make!”

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Margaret’s belief in reinvention is also the reason why her husband, Chris, never walks around in their home in the dark. “He says I move the furniture around so often that he’s never really sure exactly where he is!”

Her colourful home is her sanctuary. “I love beautiful things – ‘n bossie blomme from the garden, art (and more art) adorning the walls, and an eclectic mix of furniture bought mostly on Facebook Marketplace.”

Her maiden surname, Green, is a giveaway to another passion – gardening. “I love plants… and yes, I use the word ‘love’ often! My garden is my other happy place – to think that something that just requires water and sunshine can bring such joy!” Flowers are often the subject of her paintings. Yes, multi-talented Margaret is also a skilled artist. “For me, making art is fun; so I make art about whatever I want to, stories everywhere and it doesn’t need to please anybody. For me, there are no rules… nothing that cannot be tried on a canvas. All my paintings tell stories; some are obvious, some are only known to me.”

Something else that fascinates Margaret is how anybody can say, “I’m bored”. “The world is so big and there’s so much to see and do; there’s always something new to explore.” For now, a lot of time in the Linström household goes into preventing their new “grandchild”, Ghosty, a Weimaraner puppy, from destroying their beloved garden. And, with her daughter and grandson living nearby, it’s not as if there wasn’t already a menagerie of dogs, cats and two tortoises (called Mes and Klip).

“It’s busy, often chaotic, but always beautiful and always full of love,” says Margaret of her family.

“Decades of journalism, and especially lifestyle journalism, which has allowed me to interview people in their personal spaces, have shown me that we are all interesting. Life, especially since the onset of the pandemic, has been hard. Yet people never cease to amaze me; if you allow them the space and time to open up, there is something captivating, surprising or beautiful in everyone.

That’s what I love most about writing for Get It, and why I think the magazine’s community focus is so important.

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