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.


Dear MTN

We started seeing each other a little bit over a year ago, when things between me and Vodacom started feeling a bit stale.

We didn’t get off to the best possible start. There was that thing where I ordered my new phone from you in the colour you promised me I could have and you then delivered me one in the colour I definitely DIDN’T want. Then I had to spend my own time and money chasing you to take it back, and then I had to chase you some more only to find out in the end that you could not, in fact, supply me with the phone I wanted.  I could’ve broken up with you then and walked away without having invested too much in the relationship but you wooed me back with the promise of something even better, at only a fraction more, and I stayed.

All in all, I can’t complain too loudly about the way things have been since then. I pay a reasonable price for a decent phone and have the freedom to top up as I need to. The device works and I rarely have major signal issues. Except sometimes when my husband tries to call me and nothing happens. It’s been a while since it last happened but I never did get around to asking you: What’s up with that? No biggie at the moment but, you know, this is the one human being on this planet whose calls I never reject and for whom it is actually important to reach me. What if it’s something urgent? What if something’s happened to one of our kids or to him and he needs to talk to me but MTN somehow isn’t getting the message across to my phone to fucking ring already!??! Just a little something you might want to think about…

Otherwise, my gripes are mainly trivial, really. You know, like when you debit my account 3 days before the specified debit date and I haven’t been paid yet? Did I ever mention how I love it when my credit rating takes a dive? No? Oh, yes. That must be because I FUCKING DON’T!

You couldn’t possibly know this, so I’ll tell you, I have a large family. We live in a rented house East of Central Johannesburg and, while it works for the moment, we actually have plans to move sometime in the next 2 to 3 years. Yes, really. It’s probably got a bit to do with how people get shot around here quite a lot. Like the other day, when some guys tried to rob a cigarette truck across the road from our house and one of them got shot in our driveway.  I guess it could have been worse, though, right? I mean, aside from not being able to get into my house for most of the day and the fact that bullets flying all over the place is not exactly conducive to a safe and happy family environment, y’know?

So, do you think that maybe I’d like to be able to maintain a healthy credit rating, in order to be able to secure a home loan when the time comes? Yes, I think I would. That would be grand, if it’s not too much trouble. ‘Cause, you see, I’ve kind of had to give up the idea that I’m going to win the lottery anytime soon, which means I’m not about to waltz into my dream home unless I follow the yellow brick home loan road to Kansas like everyone else does.

Speaking of winning – I was most impressed with that Win A Plane promotion you put on last year. Man, what a prize!

Here’s another little something you might not know about me but I’m quite the competition whore. No, really, I am. Okay, I’ve had to tone it down a whole lot this year but if you ask anyone who knows me, they’ll tell you that I have won quite a lot of cool stuff over the years.  A couple of iPads, a couple of phones, some cash, some pampering and other experiences… It’s been pretty sweet. Because I ENTER so many competitions. And man, was I keen to enter that particular one!

So you can imagine my disappointment when, upon enquiring, I was informed by your social media team that I didn’t qualify to enter your Win A Plane (or a Million Rand) competition. Now, with a prize that big, I can understand that you may not have wanted to give the thing away for Mahala. (See what I did there? *wink, wink*) I mean, I can undertand that you’d want to see some brand engagement happening, before you just gave away an aeroplane! Jeez!

But what I couldn’t understand was why, when I pay you just shy of 400 bucks a month, every month, PLUS another hundred or two for top-ups, I was disqualified from entering when, at the same time, any Tom, Dick and fucking Harry who bought a pissy little R25 pre-paid recharge got an entry into the draw?! But in order for ME to qualify, I would have had to upgrade my contract to one that would cost me MORE THAN DOUBLE – roughly TRIPLE, in fact – my current monthly fee. How is that even vaguely fair or justifiable?

And even then, MTN, I didn’t throw my toys or cause a public scene. I went back to entering the competitions I could actually enter and winning the odd prize here and there. Nothing so grand or magnificent as an aeroplane, mind you, but still. I told myself that some lucky citizen of Mzansi was going to have one hell of a good day when that draw happened, whether they opted for the ‘plane or the cash. I figured, maybe this was the universe telling me to back off of this one and accept that it was meant for someone whose life would be well and truly transformed by the win. And I truly hope that it was and it did…

I could get over my misgivings and, yes, the sour grapes. I could do it because I know better than most that you can’t win them all.

That doesn’t stop me from still entering competitions, though. Not nearly as many as I was entering not that long ago but I still give it a bash every now and then. Like this latest promotion you’ve got going – the one where you receive and SMS prompt to SMS the word “FREE” to a designated number and get entries into a draw for a Samsung smartphone? Yup. I’ve got a good couple of thousand points in that game and am keen to see whether I’m lucky on this one.

But, once again, I’m disappointed to have to tell you, MTN, that I’m not sure you’ve thought out this whole promotion all that well.  Because, apart from the fact that YOU decide when my entries occur, by sending me those SMS prompts, I find myself also being bombarded with prompts to subscribe to a paid service that I have zero interest in. Not once, not twice but EVERY SINGLE TIME that I respond to one of your competition prompts. Really? Can’t you just accept that I DON’T WANT TO SUBSCRIBE?  I get that you’re trying to sell stuff here and make money. I get that, once again, you don’t want to be handing out cool, valuable products for nothing, that you’re trying to create engagement with your customers or whatever. But once again, I feel it is my duty to point out where you’ve lost the plot: You are not going to retain customers’ loyalty by forcing crap on them that they don’t want, in exchange for a competition prize.

If you want to make money out of a competition/prize promotion, then just tell people upfront how much money you want them to spend in order to qualify. Then you draw a qualifying client’s name out of a hat and BOOM! You’ve sufficiently fleeced a customer while making him/her a winner, no-one’s been inundated with bullshit subscription schemes and everyone’s happy.

And I guess that’s really what we’re all going for here, isn’t it? To be happy? Which is why, on having reflected during those instances of annoyance and/or disappointment, and over the writing of these 1375 words and some, I’ve decided to file for a divorce. It’s not me, it’s you. You simply don’t make me happy. So, come January 2016, when my dues are paid and the current contract period lapses, I’ll be making my move on over back to Vodacom.


Drawing a Line

This morning, not long after David left to drop the kids off at school, he called me to tell me that Jack had forgotten to bring his school bag with him. Of course, this meant that I would have to bring it to school, otherwise David would be late for work.

When I arrived at the school, Jack was being held by his arms between two other boys, a couple of other boys following, walking past me. They were all laughing, so I didn’t make anything of it. I dropped the bag outside of Jack’s classroom and started making my way back to my car, when Jack came running toward me with the other boys hot on his heels, grabbing at him. And a split second later, I watched Jack pivot and throw a single punch and the larger boy behind him come to a dead stop. I’ll probably get in to trouble for saying so, but it was a thing of beauty. That series of movements was executed as if choreographed for a boxing film – the lightness of his feet, the speed, form and power of that blow, landing bang-in-the-middle of the other kid’s mouth. It was beautiful.

Now, if there had been any malice or forethought to it, I would probably have taken a different view on it. And I had to feel for the poor little guy who caught it in the kisser – they are, after all, a bunch of six year-olds.  But anyone watching would have told you that, outrun, outnumbered and feeling threatened, my boy took that swing in pure self-defense, landed it on the mark and then stopped.  Turns out the other boys had been trying to drag him to a group of girls nearby and make him kiss one of them and he was having none of it. I can’t argue with that. Everyone has a limit to the level of infringement they will allow on their personal space. Everyone has a line that you cross at your peril.

I obviously had to make a point of telling Jack then and there that punching is not okay and make him apologise to the other kid, who was bleeding a bit from his top gum. I made them shake hands and checked and double checked that the other kid was okay – the bleeding only lasted a couple of seconds. But I have a feeling I haven’t heard the end of this yet.

I suspect that the other kid will have told his parents that he got punched in the face today. And they will, in all likelihood, want to take it up with the school. I can’t say that I wouldn’t, in their shoes.  Things are different these days from back when I was at school. Kids can’t just sort out their shit anymore.

It used to be, when you had a beef with someone at school, you’d arrange a time and place and you’d have it out.  You’d arrive at the designated spot, assuming you didn’t chicken out  – and the shame of being labelled a coward was always significantly worse than any beating one of your peers might lay on you – and the challenger would draw a line in the sand a few feet in front of him. And his opponent would accept the challenge by stepping over that line, signalling the start of the fight. Someone would win, someone would lose and, by the end of it, both parties would normally walk away with a newfound respect for each other and come out of the whole thing firm friends.

These days, things just spiral completely out of hand too quickly and no-one can be trusted not to make a circus of any minor altercation. These days, children murder each other for little more than a few dirty eyeballs; Parents call conferences with teachers before the kids even really know what they’re upset with each other about; Lawyers and authorities are consulted, because children and parents and even teachers can’t be counted upon to reach sane, amicable solutions.  Families are called before committees because we’ve all become too sensitive to communicate effectively – it’s too easy to say the wrong thing and offend someone… And with the language barrier so common in our current society, cultural differences, the varied levels of social standing and education, it’s insane how quickly a thoughtless comment becomes a racial slur or a “bullying” incident; How a scuffle on the playground – a reflexive swing of a fist – becomes something more sinister…

It so happens I have a meeting with Jack’s teacher tomorrow morning, so I’ll be telling her of the incident before anyone else does. Let it not be said that I don’t view the matter seriously or that I condone violence from my children. But let it also not be said that my child is a bully. I will stand by him and back him and champion his cause and fight for him, whatever anyone says. Because I know who he is and I saw what happened and because, knowing what is likely coming, I’m drawing a line.

Liebster Award

Okay, so I wasn’t actually awarded this one. I saw it over on Cassey’s blog and mentioned in her comments section that I may use it to inspire some cool Q&A type  stuff for a post on my blog. Of course, it sounded like a totally unsubtle hint at wanting an award,  so she added me to her list of nominees. Yay, me! ;-P


And here’s how it works:

  • 1.  Thank and link the person who nominated you.
  • 2. Answer the questions asked by the nominator.
  • 3. Nominate 11 other bloggers who have fewer than 200 followers and link them.
  • 4. Create 11 new questions for your nominees to answer.
  • 5. Notify your nominees via social media/blogs.

And here are the questions Cassey asked, with my answers:

1. When you go somewhere new, what’s more important seeing the sights or eating the food?

Depends on the place and what my budget is. But more often than not, I’m all about the food first, then the sights. The scenery will still be there tomorrow but I might not, if I starve to death! 😉

2. Five cities/countries/places you must see.

New York City, Venice, Germany, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Hong Kong, Thailand, Milan, Cyprus, Greece, the Louvre (again), the inside of Burj Khalifa, Disneyland,  the LEGOLAND resorts, Cadbury’s Dairy World… And everywhere else in between. Sorry, no way I’m picking just five. You can’t make me!

3. Favourite city/country/place.

Right now, Johannesburg. Because it’s where I’m setting up the systems and structures that will create wealth for my family and allow us in time to visit and explore and fall in love with all the other places we’ll go.

4. Shades of grey or black and white?

All of them. Some things, you just know are right or wrong. Others, you have to gauge what’s the greatest good for the greatest number…

5. Who’s your favourite superhero?

Not sure. I’m kind of disenchanted with what moviemakers have done with superheroes of late – they’re all coming off a bit poncey. I really like David Dunn of the 2000 movie, Unbreakable? He’s real and raw and wounded and vulnerable and big and unbreakable and just a good guy, deep down.

6. Who’s your favourite villain?

Elijah Price. He’s the perfect polar opposite to David Dunn but also not really. In his own way, he’s kind of a good guy, too.

7. Top three books.

The Hounds of the Morrigan – Pat O’ Shea

Kringe in ‘n Bos – Dalene Matthee

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

Of course, this could change at any moment. Picking favourites is hard because the way I feel about a book can change at any time, depending on where I’m at, mentally and emotionally. If it communicates something to me that resonates with me, I love it. When it stops doing that, I move on.

8.  Top three series

I really don’t watch much TV at all, so this is hard. I’ll have to list the only three series I’ve actually watched over the past couple of years:

Prison Break (How kak was the ending?!)

Dexter (only saw up to end of Season 6)

Game of Thrones

9. Tea or coffee?

Coffee in the morning. Rooibos tea the rest of the day. And maybe the odd coffee in between.

10. Favourite game.

Up until recently, I was having loads of fun playing Criminal Case on my phone. But that went the way of social media and now I don’t play any games anymore.

11. Favourite character you’ve played.

A long, long time ago, when I dabbled in RPG, I once played a Ravnos vampire  with a bunch of cool skills but known to be dead. It was awesome.

And here are my nominations:

I’m not nominating anyone.  I don’t think there are even 11 people who read my blog. And I’m pretty sure that most of the bloggers I follow have more than 200 followers. Also, I’m not on social media, so this eliminates the notifying nominees bit from the equation, too. So, if you read my blog and would like to play, here are my questions to you:

1. Where in the world have you been?

2. What is your signature dish – the one thing you can make/cook/bake better than anyone else?

3. How many of your high school friends are you still in touch with now?

4. What did you want to be when you “grew up” and are you doing/being that now?

5. Five books you could read over and over again?

6. Five all time favourite films?

7. Top five songs in your current playlist?

8. What has been your biggest adventure so far?

9. What is your single greatest regret?

10. What is your single greatest motivator?

11. If you could change one thing in the world/your life/your job/the universe, what would it be?

And there you go.


@TheatreOnSquare #DoubleBass

What a happy surprise to find an invitation in my inbox last week to the opening night of Patrick Süskind‘s The Double Bass at Sandton’s Auto & General Theatre on the Square!

Thank you, Wenchy!

Many people don’t know this, but I was accepted to Pro Arte for Drama many, many years ago.

It has been a very long time since I’ve indulged in the theatre experience, which is sad because I ADORE theatre! So I jumped at the chance to drag my David off to Sandton to see the show with me.

This was my first visit to Theatre on the Square and I simply love the venue!




Media release:

Daphne Kuhn
by arrangement with Rosica Colin Limited London presents

translated by MICHAEL HOFMANN

17th February – 14th March

directed by ALAN SWERDLOW
set and lighting by DENIS HUTCHINSON


Internationally renowned, award-winning play, THE DOUBLE BASS, opens at the Auto & General Theatre on the Square in February. Daphne Kuhn has assembled a stellar team to bring you an original South African production of this much celebrated work. The illustrious award-winning, Alan Swerdlow will direct highly acclaimed and versatile actor, Pieter Bosch Botha in this delightful piece which will be designed by Denis Hutchinson. The play is written by the German author Patrick Suskind, who is most known for writing the famed novel and film, “Perfume”.

THE DOUBLE BASS is a serio-comic monologue that explores a double bass player’s relationship with his instrument, illuminating both the instrument’s and the player’s supporting role in the orchestra as well as in life. The character is caught in the claustrophobic world of his soundproof, hermetically sealed apartment. He is on his own with his dissatisfactions, desires and dreams. The only companion that he has is the heavy, solid, raw insurmountable double bass. The instrument is alternately characterized as feminine, reliable, discriminated against, and simultaneously protesting and threatening revolution.

The play is a delightful allegory of the downtrodden who are crying out to be heard, set in the elegant world of classical music. The play is liberally dosed with comic overtones and is a must for lovers of legitimate theatre and music.

When Süskind wrote “Perfume”, he described smells with such imagination and accuracy that to read the book is like smelling with your eyes. In his one-man play THE DOUBLE BASS, which he wrote before the novel, he proves his prowess and gift for writing in many genres.

THE DOUBLE BASS was first staged in Munich in the eighties and has since become one of the most performed plays in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. It has also been performed at the Edinburgh Festival and at the Royal National Theatre in London. The Auto & General Theatre on the Square is proud to present its professional debut of the play in Gauteng.

Bookings can be made by calling the theatre’s box-office on tel. 011 883-8606,
via Strictly Tickets on tel. 082 553 5901 or on-line:

Enquire about group discounts, dinner show packages and Tuesday specials.


It was marvelous to be able to dress up and slip away from life for a couple of hours, sip a glass of wine and immerse myself in something that requires nothing of me but my presence (mental and physical). I found myself nodding furiously a number of times throughout the show, or nodding and laughing, when I wasn’t coasting right along with the double bassist on his emotional ride of frustration, passion, disdain and longing. It is astounding and humbling that a single actor is able to engage an audience so intensely for close on two hours!

This show is a must for anyone who has ever been involved on any level in the performing arts or for anyone who’d like a glimpse into the mind of a performing artist. And if you do go and see it, remember to tweet @TheatreOnSquare using the hashtag #DoubleBass!

Disclaimer: I received a pair of complimentary tickets to the opening night of the show in the hope that I would blog about it. Everything in this post besides the media release text and photo is my own opinion.

Domestic (Mostly Food) Stuff

Last night, my brother and SIL came over for dinner.  They don’t live all that far away but it’s rare for us to get together, so I decided that, although it was Tuesday, we’d have dessert with our dinner. (Pudding nights in our house are generally on Wednesdays and Sundays.)

I used to have a little treat of some kind handy for every night after supper. It happened sort of incidentally, without my giving it any thought – a Chomp or a couple of marshmallows or a cookie each. And then I started playing with dessert recipes and making more intricate stuff. And then, one day, when I’d had a long day and wasn’t in the mood, we had all hell break loose because the kids wanted pudding and I hadn’t made any. So I told the entitled little sods off and laid down the rule that we would only have pudding twice a week. Which, frankly, is plenty!

But having guests over changes things a little bit, and I made an exception for last night.

Since our cleaning lady was off sick, cooking dinner for 10 people plus cleaning was going to be a bit of an ask, so I bought a couple of Woolies’ rotisserie chickens for the occasion, which I served with skillet roasted sweet potatoes and salad. And then I made individual chocolate lava cakes/chocolate volcanoes, using this recipe. I didn’t have any bittersweet chocolate, so I used a combination of ordinary cooking chocolate and Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. Other than that,  I followed the recipe to the letter, but found that my volcanoes, although softer in the centres, were not as gooey as I would have liked.  When I bake them again tonight, I’ll shorten the baking time to about 7 minutes and see how it goes. Despite being a bit overcooked, they were utterly delicious and I served them hot with vanilla ice cream on top. They were so good, I didn’t even have time to snap a pic!

Yesterday, I also finally made it to the Joburg Market, where I registered, picked up my buying card and dipped my toes in the bulk produce buying waters. I came away with a box of bananas, a box of apples, two boxes of grapes and a box of spinach.  And I learned a couple of things:

1. A trip to the market to buy bulk fresh produce requires excellent advance planning. I’m going to have to research and find out what fruits and veggies can be packaged and frozen and have my meal plans worked out in advance. They don’t sell anything in small quantities – you can’t pick up a bag of apples, for example, or a punnet of tomatoes. You buy a BOX of bags of apples and a CASE of punnets of tomatoes. And yes, they work out WAY less expensive than buying individual bags or punnets at the supermarket but then you have to figure out how to store them so that they don’t go off before you have a chance to use them.

2. A smile and a greeting can make ALL the difference to the service you receive. This is obviously not a new lesson but just something I was reminded of when dealing with the customer care official and sellers at the market yesterday. Also, if you approach people in a calm, friendly manner, they’re likely to go that little bit further to help you.

3. If I am going to be buying fresh produce in bulk, our grocery bill may very well be significantly lowered and we will be eating a lot more fresh stuff at breakfast and lunch as well as supper. Which is fantastic, because I have been nagging at David about getting the kids off bread for ages! I can TOTALLY live with having a variety of salads for lunches every day. Also, I’ve wanted to buy the kids those cooler bag style lunch bags and now, if we’re going to be eating fresh stuff instead of bread, they’re going to need them.  It also means that I will be able to pack them more stuff to school, including their water and juice bottles and snacks for sports after school.

4. If you’re going to shop at the Joburg Market, pick a day to go and GO EARLY.  The market opens at 5:00 in the mornings and runs until around 11:00. I went after 9:00 yesterday and, for a first time, I think it was perfect. There weren’t too many people around and I could fumble my way through and figure it out at leisure. But if I’m going to be doing this regularly, I’d rather be there when the doors open, be well prepared and get out before the day gets going full tilt.

Right now, though, I need to figure out what to do with 18kg of bananas and 12kg of apples.  For a start, I’m going to take a whole bunch of them and cut them up and package them into individual smoothie bags for freezing. I’m also going to bake a few banana loaves and I’ll probably try out some of the paleo pudding recipes I’ve found and pinned on Pinterest recently. And perhaps I’ll try my hand at a gluten free Apfelstrudel or two.

Hmmm…. I can taste it now – thick, doughy pastry filled with piping hot, cinnamon coated apples, topped with vanilla ice-cream, chopped almonds and maple syrup…

Do you have any tips for storing and/or using up bulk produce? Have you ever considered doing it?




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.



On Sunday, David and I celebrated our twelfth wedding anniversary.

It was a good day, nothing like anything I would have planned for us. We spent it with the kids at Dikhololo, courtesy of David’s folks, who had booked us the weekend there months ago.

I was pretty miffed at first because I felt that our anniversary plans should have been our own to make and that, by booking us the 6-sleeper chalet, which was obviously so that we could take the kids with us, our special day had kind of been hijacked.  But the weekend rolled around and I started packing and by the time we were on the road, I was fine.

We spent a lot of time swimming at the resort. There was no shortage of swimming pools and, given the current heat wave blistering across the country, even I was not averse to being in the water. And anyone who knows me knows that I am NOT known for my love of swimming…

We also spent a lot of time eating ice cream and sleeping while the kids glued themselves to Cartoon Network – something we are adamant will not become a fixture in our home.  And David and I sipped a few Original Iced Mojitos and enjoyed a bottle of wine out on our little verandah in the evenings, gazing at the sky and listening to the quiet of the bush around us.

We didn’t really do much thinking about things or talking about work or making grand, romantic gestures. We really just took the time out and enjoyed it for what it was – a weekend away from everything. So much so that I didn’t even bother taking any photos, except for this one, hastily snapped selfie, with my finger in the shot, taken on Sunday. ( If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve already seen it.)

Us, on our 12th anniversary
Us, on our 12th anniversary

We’ve weathered some storms in our years together and for much of it, life has seemed a bit of a slog. Not in terms of *us* but rather, us against the world or in the world and all its chaos and with all its curve balls.

But we’ve also had some amazing adventures, travels, experiences and good times. And it seems to me that this year, we are on our way to bigger, better things.



What’s Up?

I’m kind of vague when I talk about what it is that I’m so busy doing, that keeps me from blogging or being present in my interwebs circles in general.

Generally, it’s because getting into the details would probably bore you to death but largely it’s because I’m lazy.

But I was thinking about it this morning – about what’s happening in my life and why I feel so exhausted at the moment – and I realised that my life is actually pretty hectic right now!

Jack going to big school this year is a major catalyst for changes to the way my day runs and, frankly, I don’t think I would stand the slightest chance if I hadn’t removed myself from social media. (Yes, the fact that I mention this in every single post so far has not escaped my attention – clearly, it’s a big deal for me.) Even so, it seems to me I’m not nearly organised enough at this point. I’m trying, though, and we generally seem to get through each day with everyone having gotten to where they needed to be with what  they needed to have. I’m still struggling in a big way to find a routine that we can groove into.

Jack’s school day finishes earlier than Megan and Michael’s, so I’ve been doing 2 school runs in the afternoons. While we wait for the older kids to finish, I do homework with Jack. This week, though, I’ve decided to let them each pick an after school activity to attend. Michael has chosen chess, which happens on Monday and Wednesday afternoons. Megan has chosen Tennis, which happens to be at the same times on the same days. Jack signed himself up for cricket last week – I arrived to pick them all up from school on Friday to find Jack on the field, doing his thing. This is fine – I think I’m going to enjoy spending an hour or so outdoors every Friday afternoon while he gets to run off some excess energy. Also, the school offers “story time” in the library on the days that the older kids finish later, so Jack will be going to the library on those days from this week and he’s also keen to try chess, which means I don’t have to keep doing 2 school runs! Then I’ll just have to figure out how to keep helping Jack with his homework. Thankfully, he’s enjoying school and loves doing his homework!

Now, I’ve been a mom of 4 for almost 5 years and pretty much everyone I meet asks me how I manage. The truth is, until now, I’ve only really had to manage 2 of the 4 kids most of the time, because  the younger two were both at a pre-primary near David’s office and he would drop them off in the morning and pick them up on his way home in the afternoons. Plus, I wasn’t bothered with the older two doing extra murals, so I really only had to pick them up after school and bring them home.

Now, that’s all changed and I’m in awe of moms like Laura, who have been doing the soccer/cricket/swimming/dancing, 3 different schools madness for ages and still find time to blog, Facebook, tweet and run a household.

That said, I also have a business to run, one that has undergone a number of growing pains and identity changes over the past three years or so. I’ve gone from promoting someone else’s company and product to participating in research and development of an entirely new product, starting up a company with partners and finally breaking away from the partners to set up on my own in a very much male-dominated industry.

We have the basics down – company name, production setup in place, product labels and a large order, which we are producing and delivering in smaller quantities over a period of time. We manufacture in the evenings and over weekends, meaning David and I mix the paint ourselves outside of normal working hours. I take care of all the logistics behind this – sourcing and collecting raw materials, delivering product to clients, handling sales and enquiries, etc.

In the meantime, I have to get stuck into market research and marketing campaigns and get on top of the accounting admin.

Then, there’s the household. We now have a domestic who comes in twice a week and I LOVE her! She is a fantastically hardworking lady with the sunniest personality and impeccable integrity. I wish I could employ her full time because then my house would always be spotless.

Outside of keeping the house clean, there’s also the cooking and feeding 8 people daily is interesting!

My mom and sister live with us and my mom is a diabetic plus she and I both have Hashimoto’s, which means special dietary needs. We also have 4 kids in the house, some of who are extremely fussy eaters *cough, cough, JACK cough*.

I started trying to eat and cook gluten free when I was first diagnosed with Hashimoto’s almost 2 years ago now. It is still a struggle. Eating completely gluten free means that I have to bake my own bread, cakes, biscuits, etc. Yes, there are more and more gluten free products available on supermarket shelves but buying them in sufficient quantities to feed 8 people is simply not economically viable. My family eats 2 standard size loaves of bread daily. A ready made gluten free loaf costs 3 times as much and is half the size, meaning I would need to buy 4 loaves daily. At R36 per loaf, it would cost me R3168 on an average month with 22 working days just to buy bread. Not going to happen.

Also, if I were my kids, I would be so utterly sick of bread by now. Obviously, I don’t eat much bread because baking it takes too much time. So I’ve started looking into Paleo. Not because I want to lose weight or whatever but because if it’s Paleo, you know it’s good for you.  Lots of protein, lots of fresh veggies, everything is low GI for my diabetic mom and it’s perfect for those of us in the house who could do with dropping a few kg. Also, it eliminates the issue of having to bake completely because Paleo is totally grain free.

The thing with Paleo, though, is that it requires planning and learning a new cooking style, which also takes time. And since I’m the only one who actually is serious about really eating healthy, I’m the one who does most of the cooking. Which means researching, finding recipes, finding time to get to the shops and buying ingredients we don’t usually have in the house, etc. Also, no grains means no cakes, biscuits, etc. Which doesn’t help to get the family on board.

Our diet is one of my biggest challenges at the moment. Without buy-in and support from the rest of the family, I fall off the wagon a LOT. And I pay the price every time, too. Eating gluten drains me of energy, bloats me, leaves me sluggish and foggy-headed, sometimes for several days afterward. Which doesn’t help when I need to get up early in the morning to run.

And getting up early in the morning to run is the only option, if I am going to keep at it. Which means getting to bed no later than 10PM. Running is how I relieve stress and spend time on my own, doing something just for myself, so it’s a non-negotiable. It’s also how I challenge myself and build self-discipline. I signed up for the Old Mutual Om Die Dam half marathon this week, which leaves me just under 7 weeks to train. So, eating right and getting enough sleep is a big deal right now.

Reading over this post so far, I really don’t have more on my plate than any other working mom does but it feels messy and overwhelming because I’m so disorganised. I’m working on planning things better and being more efficient in getting things done. I think one of the most useful things I’ve started doing is making lists. I’ve done this in the past but it never lasts and, if I’m honest, it’s because I haven’t been using lists these past few days that I woke up today feeling like everything is out of control. That and because I forgot to take my thyroid stuff yesterday, ate two (wheat flour) cupcakes on Monday and haven’t gotten around to finishing some of the things I was supposed to do over the weekend.

So, starting now, I’m picking up my pretty Graphic diary from MillaMae again today and noting down all the things I have to get done, and starting over.  Also, David brought me a diary from work – a corporate gift from one of his suppliers – which I’ve decided is going to be used for managing the kids’ schedules, homework and activities.

This year, I’m going to win at life!

How are you doing in 2015 so far?



In Retrospect

I’m only about a month late, so I figure I can still get away with a “Looking Back on 2014” type post, right?

The short version is that 2014 was a mixed bag for me. I grew in a number of ways I had never imagined possible but also took a couple of hard knocks. Basically, 2014 kicked my ass.

Some of the highlights (and lows) for me were:

Starting off the year on a high, having closed a massive deal in late 2013. There is a lot to be said for a running start to the year. It’s a fantastic motivator and driving force. Sadly, the running start was short lived, as it became increasingly evident as the year progressed, that the people I was in business with and I were nowhere near on the same page. I took some serious losses from this, both monetary and mental. And in the end, I had to write it all off as school fees paid. Which is a lot easier said than done.

It does something to you when, even though you’ve put hours of time and effort into something, you have nothing to show for it at the end. It messes with your head and your sense of the value that you add, of your contribution to your group.

With things set up the way they were between us and the business partners, I began to question my value to my family , my worth in the workplace and my ability to deliver and/or contribute anything of any use.

The tide turned when, later in the year, David and I took a hard look at where things were headed and looked into some of the possible reasons why we weren’t seeing the returns we’d been expecting. We enrolled on a couple of financial and administration management courses, recognised where we were going wrong and started taking steps to correct those areas. This led to us taking the plunge, separating from our business partners and opening up shop on our own. Together, we have now established a far more realistic and workable business model and we are  beginning to see the results.

On a more personal level, the year 2014 was one of self-discovery and self-enhancement for me. Running – actual running – became a part of my life and forced me to challenge myself in ways I hadn’t considered for many years. And it taught me that I am capable of high levels of perseverance and self-discipline.

Then, Winter saw my running die a sudden death and my self-worth plummet every time I hit that snooze button instead of lacing up and heading out the door.

And then I read this post on Tanya Kovarsky’s blog, and had to comment as follows:

“I moan a lot about not having run at all this winter, especially when I have no-one to run with, to keep me motivated. But in all likelihood, once I find it in me to brave the (admittedly slightly warmer) cold mornings again, I’m not sure I’m going to want that running buddy anymore. I love plugging in my earphones and setting off, up the first hill of my local route. I love how my breath and steps syncronise with the music tempo and the sting of the cold on my face and shoulders becomes a soothing coolness. I love how the voices and the things in my head start lining up and stop bickering amongst each other for space. This is how I know I’ll run again, even if I haven’t gone in weeks.

I loved seeing your tweets on this race. They reminded me that I love running, too.”

And I did run again.  I signed up for the Soweto half marathon which took place on 2 November and finished it in 2:26:58. I met some beautiful people along the way and was thrilled to run into Jenty there, too. It was a wonderful, humbling and empowering experience.

There were a lot of Twitter, Facebook and blogging folk running Soweto and I saw many of them post about their training, their sports watches, their running buddies and so on. Often, seeing these posts deepened the chip on my shoulder, that feeling of disconnectedness, of not having made the cut, (still) not being cool enough to sit with the popular girls.

What the hell did I know about training for a race? How the hell would I justify blowing a couple of K on a sports watch? How could I go running with other people in my 9 year old running shoes and only one set of running clothes to wear, when all of them have the latest gadgets and gear and they all run faster than I do, too?

So I started filtering what I looked at and engaged with online. I spent more time entering competitions and less time participating in conversations. I fell (hard) back into the habit of wasting time on Facebook instead of working. I hated myself a little bit more every day. I spent less time with my husband and kids and more time with my face stuck in my phone.

And then the year came to an end. We went away on holiday, despite my misgivings. We spent a lot of time on the beach and I left my phone behind a lot of the time. It dawned on me that I was exhausted and depressed and I needed to disengage from the  world outside of my family for a bit. So I did. And while I was doing it, I realised that I needed to check out of the social media space for real, because it was creating expectations in me that could not possibly be realistically met, and just find myself again. So I am.

I deleted my Facebook profile shortly after retuning to Johannesburg from our holiday at the coast. And the next day, I killed my Twitter profile too.  Like any addict, I have the occasional twinge of longing. I see a “WIN” in big, bold letters in one of the hundreds of newsletters I’m subscribed to (yes, I’m slowly purging those, too), and have to stop myself from clicking on it and letting myself go down that rabbit hole again. But then I look around my newly de-cluttered office space and remember that I’m working toward something bigger. That I’ve set off on a different path, of my own making. One that I’ve had to overcome so many odds and learn so many lessons and make so many changes in order to find.

And I love that 2014 kicked my ass.