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!

We’re closing down

When KK read me the email, it truly felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. For a couple of days, we both floated in a bubble of denial, hoping our contact in the US would reply to our list of frantic questions with a solution. It never came.

The news was not what we were expecting to hear. They have decided to restructure and stop the international distribution model. Basically, our supplier will not be supplying us with anymore stock and advised us to close down the CW-X SA business.

Gutted. Angry. Relief. Disbelief. Hurt.

The timing was bitter sweet. After spending so many months getting our business up & running, we had just engaged in negotiations with a few partners to start advertising in top notch media. After a great evening hosting a stand at the Valentine’s Day Night race at Harriers, we had made plans with a few other clubs to sell our goods. Business had picked up! The tingling excitement when my phone beeped signaling a new order had come in never grew old!

Now we are sitting with the dilemma of swapping our growth strategy for an exit strategy.

It’s the weirdest thing. I’ve ping-ponged between feelings of complete sadness to days when I look back and at how much KK and I were able to accomplish in the last couple of months.

There are no regrets.

The purchasing process, registering our company, opening up bank accounts, setting up the website, learning about the product, selling to customers, the late nights of prepping social media posts and running campaigns on Facebook & Instagram. Every day I felt more alive than ever!

KK and I learnt so much about ourselves and one another too. Want to know how strong your marriage is? Run a small business part-time with your spouse! We’ve grown tremendously during this journey together.

The pic is dark but it was a selfie we took the evening we had finally signed offer & loaded the car with stock. We were entrepreneurs!

The first delivery! After being held up at customs for 5 weeks, this was one of the highlights! Unpacking boxes of our very first order of stock!

The Sunday afternoons practicing setting up the banners and gazebo in our garden.

We can’t thank our family & friends enough for the support during the last couple of months. You have been part of the success and the fun. The excitement you showed, the stories you listened to, believing in our vision. It has meant so much!

Thanks especially to all our brand ambassadors and loyal CW-X fans: Dan, Kirsty, Gwynn, Timaya, Advocate Karen, Julia and Zara, Carl, Isabel, Jonty and Portia. It was a hell of a ride!

So where to from here? A huge clearance sale of the stock we purchased. Updating the site to reflect the sale prices and trying to get back as much of our investment as possible. The learnings continue and I suspect it’s preparing us for our next business venture.

As readers who follow my blog, you’re the first to hear the news before we send out official comms to our customer database. The good news is that you’re also the first to take advantage of the sale prices. Head over to the site to grab first dibs on the most amazing running clothes you will soon not be able to get locally before we shut down the site.

Tinsel on the tree

We decided not to decorate the house for Christmas this year. KK was headed to Brizzy on business, my leg was in a moon boot. The jolly feeling just wasn’t there and it felt like more of a schlep than anything else.

But I kinda regret that now. Since my nasty visit to the hospital last week, my condition has improved 100%!

Two visits to the physio confirm that my ankle has healed nicely! In fact, my healing timeline is ahead of schedule! I was originally meant to be out of the moon boot only around 22nd December. But guess what? I’m ready to kick it off and walk in an ankle brace! Forced bed rest was actually a good thing!

The strengthening homework has started: stretches using the band, standing on a pillow while someone throws a ball at me and balancing on each leg.

My physiotherapist, Shelagh, also gave me some mental homework. To walk in the garden.

I haven’t stepped out into the garden since my accident. I’m terrified. That’s where the accident happened. I’ve been too afraid in case I step wrong again. So this morning, I walked out onto the patio and sat on the step. I touched the grass. The birds were chirping like mad and excited to see me. It felt good! *deep breaths*

Christmas is a time of presents, family and gammon. But the main message of Christmas is life; the story of the birth of Christ. The gift of truth, love and hope.

I’ve come through a dark patch but there is light on the other side. The healing has begun and there are so many reasons to celebrate and be happy!

Tomorrow I just might walk out onto the grass. And maybe put the Christmas tree up, tinsel and all. I’m feeling kinda jolly!

I Ran-the-Berg and loved it

I’ve always made lame excuses about running trails. Claims that I if I was going to train, I’d pour more effort into road running than trail. If I had time to run, my focus was going to be on tar. But with KK training for Otter, he hinted that I should try the Run-The-Berg Challenge trail run. Yeah, why not? How hard could it be?

Collecting race packs

I won’t lie, by the time the race weekend arrived, I was nervous! It was the unknown and when we were fully engulfed in the Drakensburg on the Friday afternoon, the weather was overcast and windy. An SMS from race organizers instructed that we had to pack in some of the compulsory items, such as a waterproof rain jacket and space blanket. Luckily with KK out of the race, he had loaned me all his fancy trail running gear.

The night before the race, I kept having visions of getting lost. I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to complete the course. We were also given a pamphlet about snakes to look out for in our race packs. Great! If I wasn’t concerned before, I then lay awake till almost midnight trying to convince myself that this was going to be fun and that if all else failed, I could walk to the end.

The race is made up of two days of running. The Challenge event runs 15km each day and the Extreme event takes on the longer distance of 25kms. I knew that coming out of 4 weeks of bronchitis and undertrained that I would only run one of the two days. KK convinced me to run Saturday so that I wouldn’t spend the entire weekend stressing. I agreed.

The race started here…

We woke up to the most glorious of mornings on Saturday. The sun had come out, the wind was gone. It kind of takes your breath away looking up into those majestic mountains!

I clung on to a friend, Linda, at the start of the race. Experienced and uber confident, she showed no sign of nerves. Inside, I was like jelly. Following her guidance, we started in the middle of the pack and off we went. Within 500m, I was at the back with a few walkers behind me. Keep calm, just keep… calm.

It’s an odd experience. By the time we reached around 4kms, there were very few people running beside me. At times, when I looked around, I was all alone. What I expected to be a stressful situation was actually quite calming. I was able to breathe and take in the views. Gosh, they were incredible. Before I knew it, I had reached the 6km mark which was the highest point of the race. It was downhill from there.

As the terrain changed, so did the views. We weaved between forest trees, climbed rocky cliffs and then suddenly emerged into an open Savanah type grass field.

The race did not end at 15kms, something I learnt the hard way. In the end, my Garmin recorded 17.4kms. I was cheesed. But not once during the race did I feel like quitting. In fact, with no one around me, the only person I was racing against was myself. It dawned on me that while a road race is mentally tough, I didn’t feel the same pressures as I did on the trails.

The ugly sense of urgency & panic was gone. I wasn’t as hard on myself when I walked. I loved stopping a couple of times to take photographs.

And when I crossed the finish line, there was no big clock to remind me that I was slow or that I had missed a cut-off. There were only cheers, and a beer truck and boerie rolls. There is definitely a different culture at the trail runs. Refreshing actually.

On the Monday morning, I bought myself my very first pair of proper trail shoes. It feels like I’ve leveled up when it comes to trail running. I’m so ready for that Dassie trail run down at Otter now.

If anything, the Run-The-Berg trail race reminded me that running is about having fun. It’s about proving to myself what I am capable of. I didn’t get lost. I didn’t even come last. I am stronger than I thought. Yes, I coped and boy, I kinda love trail running.

At the race briefing the night before the race, the race director Warren quoted something similar to this:

And it will stick with me forever after I came and conquered Run-the-Berg!