Bravery. Ticking the box.

Bravery. It’s not a word that I’ve ever associated myself with. I’ve never done anything big enough to be in that category. Until last year, that is.

I was filling out a survey recently where I was asked to tick as many words I associated with. The word bravery jumped out at me and made me think. Actually, you know what? I think I have been brave. In fact, I know I have!

After 17 years, I walked away from the comfort and (false sense of) security of a job in the corporate world to start my own business. With hundreds of similar agencies popping up and offering the same services, in a struggling economy, with no guarantees, I decided to give it a go.

The first few weeks were hugely disruptive. It was year-end when I started my business (is there ever a right time?).  Most people were exhausted and counting down to December holidays. People would agree to meet with me but wanted to kick off only in 2019. Made sense.

So as I also started to relax, to clear my head and take a break into the festive season, there have been days (many of them) when I have felt incredibly guilty. Guilty for feeling such a massive sigh of relief. Guilty for allowing the anxiety to disappear. Guilty for reading or sleeping or walking Emma. Guilty for finally being happy.

No one tells you when you start a business that there is so much admin to sort out! What’s kept me busy?

  • Sorting out admin such as registering my company with CIPRO, opening up bank accounts, finding a bookkeeper.
  • Sourcing an accounting package so that I can invoice clients. It took me 4 hours to send my first invoice via Quickbooks. I am so thrilled my bookkeeper is back from holiday.
  • Coming up with my own branding and mapping out my business’ marketing plan.
  • Developing a content strategy for Conversation Station.
  • Meeting with prospective clients which I realize is tough. In between cappuccinos and chai lattes, there is a lot more education and convincing that needs to be done to get them on board.
  • Writing up proposals but knowing my audience does not expect the Rolls Royce version that I am used to after my years in corporate.
  • Buying office furniture, stationery, a printer. Office National in Cramerview Bryanston is a gem folks!

Heading into 2019 and I’m ready.

Do you like my office? Man, I’m proud of it. Thanks KK for hanging up the whiteboard (behind my desk) and your patience with me trying to find the perfect couch, which I promise is not for afternoon naps. It’s for thinking time. *grin*

office study

My office. I actually love it. Notice the medal hanger with all our running medals up behind me. Inspiration.

It hasn’t been easy and there’s a long journey ahead, I know. But I feel brave. Braver than I’ve ever felt for a long time. I’m confident in my abilities and I know I’ve got something different to offer. More importantly, I love what I do and I can make a difference.

For now, I have the luxury of time on my hands. Time to think. Time to relax. Time to sort out stuff. Time to regain a bit of the confidence I lost towards the end of last year. Time to love “me” again. Time to re-invent and find myself.

Working from home and not sitting in traffic also means I have more time to run. And this is usually where my best thinking is done.

For more info on my new business, check out www.conversationstation.co.za. Let me know what you think!

The stories behind my “Best 9 of 2018” Insta pics

It’s that time of year when we reflect on the last 12 months, the good and bad. Both the wonderful and the disastrous memories we either cling on to or choose to forget.

Instagram does a great job of revealing which images received the highest engagement. It’s the images that others felt worthy of a Like or a Comment.

Here’s the story behind each of these pics:

1. My Dad retired after dedicating his entire life to serving as a Fireman. This was his last ride out on the fire engine. Incredibly emotional.

2. A week on an island off the coast of Singapore. It was bliss! Cocktails, snorkeling, overeating. Just what we both needed. I swam in those warm waters each and every day and loved it. The best part was leaving our cell phones in the hotel room.

3. and 7. We said goodbye to Annie this year. After the removal of her adrenal tumor a few years ago, her days with us were numbered. She held on to the very end. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about Panks!

4. After 20 years in corporate, I said goodbye to these high rise photographs overlooking Rosebank and decided to open my own business. To be my own boss. Eeek! Watch this space!

5. I started the year off recovering from a double pulmonary embolism. This pic was taken on an early morning stroll along the Camps Bay promenade with KK. You start appreciating life a lot more after experiencing something like that. I have no makeup on, my hair is knotty, but the coffee tasted divine.

6. KK. My rock. The support and belief in me really shone through this year. Thank you! After 17 years of marriage, I’m still learning that an engineer will never know how to read my mind, It’s just easier to tell him what I want.

8. Our CW-X business happened for a reason. It was the bug that bit and made me decide that I wanted to run my own business. It’s with sad hearts that we will finally close the business for good and shut down the site in January.

9. Two words. New Zealand. Never before have I witnessed the emotions behind a father’s decision to emigrate and the impact on everyone left behind. There’s only so much anguish a 16-year-old can take. But watching my sister and niece recently laughing together and enjoying time together in the pool made me so happy.

My friend Conrad always reminded me that we say every year, “Gee, the year was tough”. But it’s tough every year. It’s how you come out on the other side that matters. It’s what you learn and how you grow that counts.

It’s the friendships you make and nurture. It’s how much you love yourself and others; when there are more happy days than sad ones, and the excitement of setting goals for the year ahead.

How did your 2018 turn out?

My 5 weeks counting down to Christmas

It’s been long…

It’s nearing x5 weeks since KK left for a business trip to Perth. Five weeks is the longest we’ve been apart.

It’s happened only once before when he worked on a project up in Tanzania. When he returned, I scored a pair of tanzanite earrings and decided we needed a dog, which explains how Annie came into our lives.

But this round has been tough.

The pool pump gave in on Sunday night. After weeks of nursing the clear blue water, fishing out leaves with the net, brushing the walls, keeping the water levels up, emptying the little basket (which at first I couldn’t find), the pump suddenly broke.

Water streamed into the neighbours yard and down my cheeks. It was the Christmas cherry on the top.

I’ve been bravely tackling issues on my own.

  • Opening up a business bank account and reading all the small print. KK is good at this.
  • Ensuring the washing is done each week and taking out the rubbish bin on Mondays. These are KK’s chores which I kept forgetting to do. Washing piles up quicker than I thought.
  • Taking Emma to the Vet and finding out that she has a heart murmur.
  • Putting up all the Christmas decorations around the house. It sounded like a good idea when I started.
  • Seeing new clients for my new business and not having him to sense check my sales pitch beforehand.

While the above list may sound petty, I realised just how much KK does around the house. How much I rely on him.

I take him for granted.

Lying on the couch. I’ve done a lot of this. Crochet, movies, books. It was fun the first few weeks.

Then there are other little things that I’ve noticed:

  • I didn’t know where KK keeps all our important documents, such as my green ID book which I needed to open up the bank account.
  • I don’t have a side gate key so couldn’t take the dustbin out on dustbin day.
  • I thought the store was going to swallow me up. There is so much crap in there! What the hell are we keeping?
  • I’ve never done a backwash of the swimming pool. Ever! In fact, one thing I’ve learnt is that I know very little about pool maintenance.
  • When we had load shedding, I discovered (in the dark) that the little camping light next to my bed doesn’t work.
  • If I go for an afternoon run, there isn’t anyone checking to make sure I get back safely. (I do message my mom but I think it freaks her out waiting for my return).

He couldn’t come home soon enough, especially since I haven’t had a good nights sleep in weeks.

The whole “cooking for one” is a constant reminder that I’m alone. I’ve developed nasty cabin fever. And it’s actually not fun suntanning next to the pool by myself.

burnt pizza

I’ve been eating way too many pizzas. Damn Woolies has these on special. I added the bacon in case you’re wondering. And yes, I burnt it.

I have a greater sense of gratitude for all he does and how he looks after me at home. I also have new found respect for people who live on their own. I talk to myself now. Do you?

Christmas decorations on a dog

I did have some help putting up the decorations. Thanks Emma!

I miss the company. I miss the routine. I miss KK. I want things back to normal.

But it’s been a good five weeks to teach me that things will go wrong, but I can handle it. It’s taught me to pick up the phone (actually WhatsApp) and ask for help. And most of all, I’ve learnt to be a little independent and trust myself for a change.

The biggest Christmas present will be fetching him from the airport on the weekend! I cannot wait!

My Kaapsehoop race review

I remember putting my leave in at work for the Kaapsehoop road race at the beginning of the year, thinking that the race was months away. But as we’ve all seen, the end of the year has arrived in supersonic speed. Our road trip to run our 4th Kaapsehoop road race arrived sooner than we thought. I was undertrained.

The breathtaking Mbombela Stadium with its giraffes and zebra lines. Love it!

I downgraded to the 10km race which meant I could legitimately collect my race t-shirt at registration and keep busy while KK ran his marathon.

Being married to an engineer, most events are planned down to the last minute. We have a holiday packing spreadsheet and a pretty good idea of exactly how the weekend will pan out. But things didn’t always go according to plan.

It’s Nelspruit so you’d expect hot and humid weather. But it dropped to 13 degrees and I was lucky I had packed in a warm top. KK had only packed in shorts and slops.

Milkshakes are at another level nowadays! KK was not complaining.

We stopped for a light lunch at Halls Farm Stall knowing we’d be tucking into saucy pastas later on.

I found this gorgeous Pinocchio at the Farm Stall. I’ve renamed him Stoute Kabouter!

Our carbo-loading plans were dashed when we arrived at the Riverside Mall to discover that the Primi had closed down. KK started to panic. In his mind, an early supper of gnocchi or Alfredo would fill his belly nicely and he’d be ready to run. Now what?

We ended up at the Mugg ‘n Bean. Disappointed. A Milky Lane soft serve ice cream saved my day.

What makes the Kaapsehoop race unique is the 3am bus trips to the start of the race. Shivering in the foggy forest waiting for the gun to signal the start of the race, followed by 42/21kms of downhills. It all adds to the experience of the day.

My 10km race as we headed out for 5kms, to turn back for 5kms.

Done! Not as fast as I would have liked. But I enjoyed it.

My 10km race was the last few kilometers of the marathon route. It’s the ruthless and relentless finishing climb into the Mbombela Stadium. For most of the runners, it’s a painful walk.

The 10km route – down and then up again.

The good news? KK qualified for Comrades! He ran a 3:54 and was thrilled with his time. He has battled injuries for over a year and the smile on his face as he crossed that line… priceless.

It was a good weekend away. We spent a few hours (because that’s all you can do) in Kaapsehoop itself, spotting a few horses.

We also regrouped with some of our running junkies for a hearty Italian meal on Saturday evening.

The races we ran this year, focused more on 10km distances.

It’s the final official road race for us for 2018. When I look back, it’s been a year of rest. It’s been a year of scaling down, focusing more on strength training. But it’s been a welcoming relief not to have the pressure that running often brings.

I suspect next year will be different. KK is rearing to go!