Sprung

How is it already the end of September? I thought I was getting into this blogging groove thing but it’s already been more than a month since my last post!

That said, I’ve done a lot more thinking about posting than I usually do, and even drafted some notes on my phone, with the intention of doing some scheduled posts. I know that many of the bigger bloggers out there use scheduled posts to make their lives easier. I haven’t tried it yet but I’m wondering whether it’s worth the bother in my case, because, scheduled or otherwise, there’s still the issue of having to find the time to actually write the posts. (Those of you who have this down, some tips would be welcome!)

As you will have guessed by the title of this post, I’m doing my Spring thing today – half-arsed and late to the party, as always. I must be honest, though, and tell you that I’ve had some really cool things happen since my last post, not least of which was being invited by Jacaranda FM and Discovery to participate in a blogger activation in anticipation of the Jacaranda FM & Discovery Spring Walk 2016, which took place on 25 August at the gorgeous Planet Fitness Platinum health club in Sandton.

Upon arrival, bloggers were treated to refreshing drinks and delicious smoothies, during which we exchanged Twitter handles, greeted familiar faces and tweeted the obligatory selfie or two. Next we had a bit of a warm-up stretching session with a semi-sadistic fitness coach, interspersed with frequent water breaks and fuelled by some delicious wraps, juices and other edible treats. Because you can’t exercise properly without being appropriately plied with food, right?

Suitably stretched and refreshed, we made our way to the club’s fabulous indoor running track, where we split into teams and it was fastest feet first for some amazing prizes. This part of the day’s fun brought me to the shocking realisation that, having not run all winter, I am extremely unfit! Luckily, through sheer luck and the kindness of better athletes, I walked away with the best prize of the day: A complimentary 6-month Premium membership to Planet Fitness, which I intend to put to very good use, regaining some semblance of fitness and (hopefully) toning up for the coming summer! You can catch a glimpse of me coming in 6th or 7th place, here:

(I’m the one in the light blue crop top! 😛 )

Because happiness is healthy-ness, right?

 

Lemonade

As you may have read in an earlier post, I applied for a job in October. I thought the interview went really well. The test I was given was nerve-wracking, not because I couldn’t do it but because I TOLD myself I couldn’t do it. Because as soon as I realised how much I really, really wanted that job, I knew I’d somehow screw it up. It’s what I’ve done almost all my life: Sabotage the things I want the most.

So I did a rushed, panicked job of the test and had all kinds of technical stuff go wrong, just for good measure.

Even then, though, it still felt like things were kind of on track. And then I started pushing and nudging and I think I kind of felt the shift when I followed up for the third time. I’d blown it. I received a message that the other candidate they’d been considering was more experienced than I, but they’d keep my details on file for a possible future position.  I actually cried.

I’ve had all kinds of mixed feelings about this these past few days. I’ve explored other options, set up a few appointments with people and largely moved on. What lingers, though, is the sense of having been deemed unworthy, not only of the job but also of an open, outright, honest dismissal and having bought into that mindset myself. *

Anyway, it didn’t work out and I can’t wallow forever.

It hasn’t all been doom and gloom, though. There have been a few highs in between the dips and it has been an especially busy time in these parts. With our eldest finishing primary school and gearing up for high school next year, the youngest getting prepped for Grade R and the year having been a tumultuous one for our Jack in Grade 1, there has been plenty to keep my mind occupied!

Since my last blog post, here are a few of the things that have happened:

I tweeted for and won a double ticket to the Titanic Expo happening in Rosebank. It’s not a huge thing in the big picture but was a much needed little boost to my emotional state.

Then, I was chosen as the lucky, lucky winner of a copy of Sarah Graham’s new cookbook, HOME. Food From My Kitchen PLUS a R1000 Yuppiechef voucher!

I spent my voucher buying several of my Yuppiechef Wishlist items, an experience which was made extra awesome by the fact that they were/are running a 4 for 3 sale, so you get the cheapest of any one of 4 items from the sale for FREE!! Naturally, this meant that I got to spoil myself not only with some coveted kitchen goodies but also some decadent edible treats!

My Yuppiechef Loot
My Yuppiechef Loot
My new Sarah Graham cookbook
My new Sarah Graham cookbook

Then, on 1 November, I got to revisit the Soweto Half Marathon, which was amazing. Soweto was my first ever half marathon last year, and I was thrilled to be able to go back this year.

It was a tough one and I was a lot slower this year than last. But I was happy to be there and humbled by the interactions between the runners and the residents of Soweto, especially around the 15km mark, where the water point that was supposed to be, wasn’t.

Residents brought out hosepipes and jugs of cold water to cool down runners and quench their thirst and I was just overcome with emotion at the kindness of strangers. That, to me, was the true embodiment of The People’s Race.

*And then, the day after Soweto, I received a rather cryptic tweet from someone I didn’t know, which would soon lead to something exciting, which I’ll blog about that in another post. I will say this, though: November shot by in a blur of panic and excitement and between my big news and the preparations for Megan’s first year at high school, there hasn’t been much room for anything.

2015 Seems to have been a hard year for many of us and I can certainly say that it was nothing like what I was expecting. But I guess it hasn’t all been lemons.

The Things in My Head

My head is full of things. So many things! Some of them make me happy, even though they shouldn’t, because I’m not really supposed to eat Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Because gluten and sugar and stuff.

But I’m kind of ready to pack my one-woman camping bag and spend the night parked outside the doors before they open up their very first store in SA on 25 November.

25 November is significant to my family for completely different reasons, too. It was the birthday of my younger cousin, Donnavan, who was killed in a freak accident in my matric year. He would be turning 31 this year.

And just like that, my head is full of loss. Of images of 12 year old me, watching the hearse drive off, my father’s body in the casket inside. And of the yellow daffodils my grandmother arranged for Donnavan’ s funeral in 1997. And of the helplessness I felt, watching Gaby suffer through her final moments almost two weeks ago now and how those pictures have stuck in my mind since then. And of the dream I had last night in which I was being comforted by Cath after realising my mother had died of cancer.

And of the relief of waking up, realising I’d been dreaming.

And suddenly my head is full of other things again. Of how things change – how I’ve changed, over time. And also stayed the same.

Of how anxious I am about things right now. Things I hadn’t realised were so important to me. Like the job I’ve applied for and am waiting to hear about and how it’s been many years since I’ve felt so exposed, having put myself out there.

Best not to think on that too hard…

So, it’s off down another one of the tunnels in my mental maze, looking at the things about the year that’s almost gone and what lies ahead in the new one.  Now, my head is full of school things. Of how Jack seems to have gotten off to a pretty good start this term and I hope it lasts! Of how Michael is doing well in everything but Afrikaans and it’s totally my fault because I’m half boertjie and yet have raised my children to speak only English. Of how, in a couple of months’ time, Megan will be off to boarding school and I won’t be there to see that it all goes well, that she settles and is happy and makes friends…

 

It’s a good thing, I think. It’s like mental pins & needles as my brain wakes up after having been stuck in a hazy state of numb for an awfully long time.

I’m so ready to be awake!

Catch up

Last night, a friend and I met up with a former colleague from Dubai, who’s currently visiting South Africa on business. I got home at 2:00 this morning. It was so good to reconnect with old friends and feel a little bit like a person again, rather than a mom. People have more fun than moms, you know. And bikers have more fun than people. But we won’t go there just right now…

Anyway, we met up and enjoyed some cocktails and beer and a very late night burger, which was delicious. And we talked about all kinds of grown-up things, like education and learning and the study of literature in a hypertextual world. Things I used to be deeply engaged in before my whole life became all about five other people.

It was wonderful!

My brain misfired every so often, trying to plough through the fog of misuse that settles when you spend 80% of your time in the company of a pre-schooler, and still it was marvellous.

Apart from that little detour, not much out of the ordinary has happened around these parts this last while, so I’m going to follow Angel’s lead and post some random photos from my phone.

Mud party
What little boys do when Mom’s not home
Chris Riddell, 2015 - 2017 Children's Laureate, explaining the negotiation with "Edna Mode" in the publisher's "Making Books Beautiful Department" to his fans at Exclusive Books in Melrose Arch.
Chris Riddell, 2015 – 2017 Children’s Laureate, explaining the negotiation with “Edna Mode” in the publisher’s “Making Books Beautiful Department” to his fans at Exclusive Books in Melrose Arch.
James playing on the building site at Sci Bono.
James playing on the building site at Sci Bono.
Samuel Johnson snapped at the beginning of a big yawn. Looks like she's mouthing off something cheeky, doesn't she?
Samuel Johnson snapped at the beginning of a big yawn. Looks like she’s mouthing off something cheeky, doesn’t she?

Oh, also – I’m job hunting at the moment. There are one or two possibilities I’m very excited about but I’ll tell you all more when I know where things are headed. Wish me luck!

 

 

Weeks

There are 8 7 left before Knysna and I have managed three 4km runs since injuring my knee, which is no-where near adequate.

The knee is much better, though, which I am glad about. I was supposed to start running properly again this morning but stayed up late last night, reading and then couldn’t force myself out the door this morning. Tomorrow, though, there can’t be any excuses.

I’m going to bed at a decent time tonight and at 4:00 tomorrow, I’m outta here, pounding that pavement.

In other news, the accounting is slowly actually getting somewhere. And some other business admin I’ve been putting off is finally happening. Soon, I’ll be free to dive into some of the more enjoyable aspects of my business again, and to focus more on getting a proper market presence established.

Otherwise, all is quiet. Ish. Well, as quiet as a household of eight people can be.

I’ve been thinking all the things this past while, about all the other things. But the urge to blog any of it is simply not there.  I find myself giving a lot of thought to my personal online presence – and I mean outside of Facebook and Twitter which, as we all know, I’ve already eliminated from my life. I’m talking about blogs and Instagram.

I’m not exactly prolific on either platform and I definitely don’t have the time to go and explore others. I certainly don’t have the urge to.

I do find myself spending a bit more time on Pinterest and Houzz.com lately, primarily looking at houses and home stuff, because I don’t plan on us living where we’re living now for all that many more years. We have a plan, see? Largely, that plan is why I have nothing left for sharing on the interwebs.

But it seems to me at the same time that I’m experiencing a broad, life-encompassing shift of focus. Maybe because of getting older. Maybe because, however incrementally, things are finally moving forward. Maybe because, after a few months of not being sucked into all the things that used to take up all of my time, I’m rediscovering myself, my life and what I really think of both. And of the people I surround myself with. Maybe it’s  because there are only so many hours in a day and I’m learning what it really means to prioritise.

At the moment, it’s hard to say exactly what I’m focusing on. It’s like I’m walking toward my life and I can only look straight ahead. I know where I’m headed but it is still too far ahead for me to see it clearly.  As I get closer, it’ll start to take shape and I’ll be able to make out more detail. But for now, I have to just keep going, satisfied in the knowledge that I’m going in the right direction.

 

 

 

 

On Learning, Purging, Races not Run and Runner’s Knee

I’ve been chipping away incrementally at the many things I need to master in my life for the last while, all the while dreaming of when it’ll finally be done so that I can get to the more enjoyable bits of life.

And then I read a blog post yesterday by a blogger I haven’t read before – a letter from her 40 year old self to her 20 year old self – in which she states that it hit her at 38 that her life is already here!

This is something I have struggled with all my life – this inability to live in the moment, always wanting more, always looking ahead instead of simply being in the now. Most often, it’s about not having the money to do blah right now or putting off something I want to do because I’m not getting around to doing the things I’m supposed to do, first. And if I’m honest with myself, the root cause of the problem is me.

I procrastinate and delay and put off and avoid doing things because I don’t enjoy them. Or I’m uncertain of myself and afraid of doing it wrong, so I do nothing instead. And every day that passes, I tell myself I’ll get on it tomorrow. But tomorrow, the cycle repeats itself and I go to bed again, telling myself I’ll do it tomorrow…

And every now and then, when all things are perfectly aligned, I have a good day and get things done. And it goes smoothly and everything works and I don’t have to force myself all that hard to get going. And it feels great. But it’s not enough.

So, I’ve decided to revisit some of the successful tools I’ve used in the past, to get myself motivated and busy, doing the things I need to get done.

One of these was the 31 Baby Steps on this website. I don’t necessarily like all the stuff on there or agree with her very touchy-feely vibe. But I can look back and recognise that when I started doing the 31 steps a few years back, and kept at it, it was one of the most productive phases of my life so far.

Another is doing a daily Battle Plan or To-Do List and sticking to it. This is a tricky one for me at this point because there are just so many things I need to get done and have neglected for too long. And the difficulty for me is in prioritising the list. Getting work stuff finished is urgent but so is making sure that the kids are all fine. At the same time, I need to up my skills in various areas, in order to be able to properly do what I need to do. This means finding the time and resources to study some stuff I’m not that clued up on, otherwise I’m never going to get anywhere. And having a clear, uncluttered space in which to work is the only way I can focus, so sorting out my space and the house in general is just as important.

I was thinking today that perhaps, instead of working off my big “Master Plan” for the year, I should break down the day into specific time slots, each dedicated to a specific activity. That way, I get to do some work in every area of my life, every day, and slowly get to cross off all the stuff I need to do, until I’ve caught up…

I’m giving myself a deadline by which I need to be caught up on everything, from each child’s individual space, cupboard, school stuff, etc., to each room in the house and each division of my business, not counting stuff I have yet to learn how to do. That deadline, I’ve just decided, will be 30 June 2015.

In the process of catching up and sorting out, I should be able to set up systems for maintaining these various areas and activities, so that I don’t fall behind again. Kind of like the FlyLady system. Starting small, slowly working up to more things, so that you can keep a handle on it all as you go. Which should free up time for learning the things I need to learn and so on and so forth.

There are a few different areas of study I’m interested in but I’ll start with my incomplete BA (Language & Literature) at UNISA. I won’t be able to register again until next year, though, so I should be able to do a couple of short courses in the meantime. I’m looking at a basic web design course, so that I can finally get my business site and blog to look and work the way I want them to, and a digital marketing course, for obvious reasons.

Considering the time it’ll require to complete my UNISA degree, the other things I’m keen on are purely theoretical at this point, but I have decided that I’m going to re-do matric Maths (I dropped to Standard Grade because I was lazy) and also do matric Science next year.  With those, I’ll be able to sign up for a BSc or BEng degree when I’ve completed my BA. I’m looking at BSc Chemistry or BEng Mechanical – ideally from somewhere other than UNISA.

Speaking of time and the lack thereof, my propensity for procrastination and general disorganisation aside, I’ve noticed that I still waste lots of it opening email newsletters every day. In fact, the percentage of emails I receive every day that are actually meant for me, from someone I know, is embarrassingly small, given how many emails I open every single day. This is, of course, another symptom of my online competition entering addiction – You know how it is: Like us on Facebook, sign up for our newsletter, tweet about our promotion/s, etc. for an entry…  I know I said some time back that I was going to clean that shit up and I did, some. But today I realised that I still receive far too many emails that I really couldn’t care less about, purely because I entered a signup-tied competition at some point.

And you know? I think this is something that brands may want to take a closer look at. Yes, it’s good to build your mailing lists. Yes, you want to attract customers with giveaways and promotions. But what good a mailing list made up of mostly people looking for free stuff?

Anyway… So today I unsubscribed from another dozen or so newlsetters I receive every day and never read. Tomorrow, I’ll have a look at what comes in and purge a few more.

In other news, the running is not happening right now. I was registered for 2 races these past 2 weekends and I missed both. It broke my heart because the kilometres and race experience are vital to my preparations for the Knysna Forest Marathon in July. But I have had to accept that it is even more vital that I treat and recover from this case of runner’s knee I’ve developed, otherwise I may find myself unable to run at all in the long term. That would be tragic.

I’m still going to try to be ready for Knysna but  if worse comes to worst, there will be other marathons later in the year.

What’s happening in your world?

 

Like (to be) a boss

This morning, I read Stacey’s latest post over at Living Lionheart and immediately went to comment. But my comment started growing pretty long, pretty quickly, so I decided to blog it instead.

Reading that post, it hit me that my life is in a state of nowhere-ness. I’m a stay at home mom but not a housewife.  I’m a business owner but not a boss. I.e., I sometimes employ people on a casual basis but  I don’t have any full time employees to manage. This works for me right now because I’m utterly RUBBISH at handing over a project and overseeing or delegating until it’s done. But at some point I’m going to have to have full time help and I’m going to have to let people own the jobs I employ them to do.

Stacey talks in her post about second guessing her choices and actions a lot. All The Time, in fact. And I think that’s something we all tend to do, regardless of our position in life. We always wonder whether we’re doing the right thing, whether there might not have been a better/faster/easier way of getting to where we want to be or whether we even want the right things for us, right?

And that’s not even taking into account the parenting stuff!

Life took a couple of unexpected turns a few years ago, including retrenchment from a very lucrative job; two more babies, five years after the first two and various other big and small changes over time. In the process,  I’ve kind of left behind the media/writing industry (although I’ll still be the guy who runs those aspects of my business for the foreseeable future) and find myself in the chemical manufacturing industry instead. Where I am now,  I’m not out there pitching to potential clients for new business or having to have frequent meetings with clients. When I meet with people these days, it’s in safety boots, hard hats and reflective vests because, more often than not, I’m meeting them on a construction/roofing site. It’s a far cry from the conference rooms, hotel lobbies, overseas trips and company-bought lunches of my old PR days…

As a woman  in an industry still very much dominated by males and where the shift to online presence is at least a decade behind that in most other industries, I’ve been tempted (often) to ask Stacey for a job. For serious. Because, on top of having to ignore gender prejudice and leering eyes, there’s nothing that’ll make you second guess yourself more than taking the plunge and starting up a business in an entirely new sector!

Now, as for my family, here’s where I get to raise my hand in answer to Stacey’s question about husbands who have child-related notes in their calendars. David is very involved with our kids and makes the time to attend cricket matches, play chess, read stories etc. He makes their school lunches and drops them off at school every day and, until Jack started primary school this year, used to pick up the two littler guys every afternoon. Now, it’s only James he still picks up in the afternoons on his way home but he still pretty much handles everything related to James’ school. I do all the stuff at the primary school, because it’s less than a kilometer from our house and my job is way more flexible, because I’m the boss.

So I can’t say on the parenting front that I’m missing too much of my kids’ lives. I’m lucky enough that my situation allows me to be there for most of what’s going on. I can attend sports days, pick them up from school, supervise homework, etc.

But what it means is that my productivity suffers.  I need to be getting more done, faster. And a lot of the slack comes from a lack of the focus, organisation and confidence that Stacey speaks of.  But a lot of it also comes from having to drop what I’m doing because the kids’ needs come first.

For the moment, what this means is that my work life consists of mornings only. Because once the kids are home from school, there’s no way I’m getting any work done. That’s not to say that I don’t get distracted by other things. Right now, for instance, I’m supposed to be catching up on my accounting. (Yes, the same accounting I was supposed to catch up on two weeks ago.) And it’s been ages since I’ve touched my business website. And I seem to have lost the plot in terms of keeping up with my filing and keeping my desk uncluttered… You get the picture.

Of course, I’m getting better at avoiding temptations and having cut out social media has been the single best move I’ve made in terms of increasing productivity, ever. And I find that the more productive I am, the more motivated I am to get more done. Sometimes, the time it takes to see the rewards is a bit long and I get tripped up again, feeling like I’m getting nowhere. But then I’ll get another big enquiry out of the blue or my day will run that much more smoothly, because I’ve been doing what I’m supposed to, keeping track of things with lists and stuff, and I’m raring to go again. As my business expands, I’ll have to slowly get into the habit of being consistently productive.  The nice part of it being the way it is, is that it allows me to grow and develop routines and strategies over time, rather than having to manage in crisis/cope mode all the time. I get to ease into it and master things in my own time.  Which, in theory means that one day, I’ll be running my life like a boss.

 

Slipping

It’s 08:40. This morning, I’m supposed to be delivering product to a client. I should have left already but I wanted to start this post, so that when I get back from making the delivery and stopping in at the shops on my way back, I’ll see it and keep writing.

See, I’m already slipping back into my corner, not writing, not sharing the thoughts in my head and I don’t want to go back to being in that cage again.

12:43. I made my delivery at 09:04 – perfect timing. Then I stopped by the place where I buy breakfast cereals in bulk, at a massively discounted rate because the cardboard boxes they are packaged in are damaged. Then I met my husband for coffee before heading off to the nearest Woolies to spoil myself with some pretty new panties. Because if I were to be in an accident in any of the pairs I currently own, my mom would die of shame if she came to identify/collect my remains.

This afternoon, my three primary school kids have Chess and Orienteering, which means I have an extra hour or two in which to be productive.

I was going to run this morning. It was supposed to be a run day. But we stayed up far too late last night, watching movies and eating stuff I’m not supposed to eat. So I didn’t even bother setting my alarm for run time, knowing that I would hit the snooze button if I did.  I’m running a half marathon in a month’s time. I should be hitting the road, hard, almost every day.

I was going to go to the fresh produce market in town this morning, after the delivery and the shops. Now, it’ll have to wait for tomorrow because the boys finish Chess in an hour and a half and I’ll never make it there and back through lunchtime traffic. Best to go first thing in the morning, I think, and get it done.

I was going to blog this weekend. Instead, I read Nicholas Sparks’ Message in a Bottle, took the kids out for waffles (and ate one myself, knowing it would put me in a gluten semi-coma with a swollen belly for the rest of the day!) and waited out the power outage while David worked, again.  Then we made paint on Sunday so that I could deliver it today.  So that’s at least some time productively spent, before we sank into our armchairs and vegged all afternoon and evening, right?

This week, I’m supposed to get my accounting up to date, so that we can send it off to our tax consultant and file our taxes, pay our penalties and promise ourselves again that this year, we’re going to stay on top of it. And we will, because I’m getting better at making lists and remembering to do the stuff that needs to be done.

Even if it feels like I’m always messing it up. Even if it feels like it’s always slipping away from me.