Thoughts on my run: how I survived #Januworry

#Januworry is over and it’s a new month. Phew.

I knew when I left Standard Bank last year in November that we were entering into a really difficult phase for most businesses. Starting my own small business was risky. Diving into the rush of December, followed by the deathly quiet and stretched out January, my chances of finding work and clients were said to be slim.

I didn’t have any expectations, but it didn’t stop me from hustling as hard as I could. With my business card in hand, I visited the retailers in my ‘hood. I networked via social media and sipped over 100 cups of chai latte, meeting prospective clients and others like me who have also made the jump into entrepreneurship.

Emma watching me at work in my office.

It’s comforting to talk about my journey and reinforce my vision with as many people as I can. I have found other entrepreneurs incredibly inspiring and encouraging. Compared to the corporate culture I left behind, other small business owners go out of their way to help me be successful.

If I could sprinkle just a handful of this dust into the team I left behind, what an amazing difference that would make.

But I’ve moved on and survived.

Every day has been wonderful. Every day has felt new. Every day has come with its own challenges. But it’s been difficult. Difficult like you have no idea! It’s been exhausting. I’ve been thrown miles out of my comfort zone. The fear has been crippling. But strange enough, there was hidden confidence inside me I didn’t think existed.

I survived. And hey, look, it’s February.

I have two clients on my book who have trusted me to manage their social media accounts. I have consulted on a huge project and I have sat in as an advisory on interviews for a social media role in the mining industry – ironically where I started out 20 years ago. I have an inbox full of proposals awaiting replies. What a ride it’s been. My head wants to explode because my heart already has.

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!

That time of year again

The change in season is never more evident than when we return home from our Easter holiday. The yearly trek down to Cape Town to run the Two Oceans is the first time I’m packing in warmer jackets and closed shoes, knowing that evenings are a lot cooler. And by the time we fly home, everything is suddenly duller. There’s a fresh chill in the air, the sun sets earlier and unless you head out for your afternoon run before 17:30, you can forget about finishing in the light.

Brenaissance

Wine and pizza pairing at the Brenaissance Wine Farm on the day we landed. I was already feeling chilly & whipped out my puffer.

We did manage to soak up a few rays down in Cape Town. Truth be told, we must be getting older because we preferred to lie around at the pool at the hotel instead of heading down to Clifton 4th beach.

12apostlespool

Calm & relaxing. Only realized that my toenails are painted blue by pure coincidence – Thank you Monika & Lemonade.

KK gets terrible cabin fever and so we decided one morning to hike up the mountain. It wasn’t as easy as we thought. The fires had destroyed a lot of the vegetation and so the path wasn’t visible. It turned into quite a serious hike, right up KK’s alley! But the views from the top were amazing!

I was left with mixed feelings about Cape Town’s drought situation. There’s definitely awareness of it up in Jo’burg and we packed in wet wipes, expecting the worst. But I didn’t get a sense of the seriousness whilst down in Cape Town. The hotel only had a few signs around, but no clear instructions on what I was expected to do with the water in the bucket after I had showered.

The concierge claimed it wasn’t an issue and would only hit Cape Town in 2019. The toilets at the V&A Waterfront had a small sticker above the loo saying, “This toilet uses grey water.” So does that mean I flush after my wee or not?

The great thing about holidays in Cape Town are definitely the late sunsets! It was 19:00 and the sun was just setting over the ocean. It was refreshing to stop and take it in. We also scored with no wind this year! The wind and I are not big friends and that nasty South Easter can upset my entire day.

cape town sunsets

I must confess that I did have two chocolate croissants, one after the other, at breakfast on our last morning in Cape Town. It was glorious! I had been very good the entire weekend – no wine, lots of protein, zero Easter eggs (liar) and a salad here & there for lunch. But coming back to Jo’burg, I have a new mindset & have reset my goals:

  1. Running: I will be relooking my running goals. I’m already eyeing RAC 10km in May. But for now, I am hoping for more runs, less mileage. Going for regular 4km runs after work (before that Winter sun sets) instead of thinking that I need to run 10s and 21s all the time. That will come, but not for now.
  2. Weight: Call it “the 40s midlife crisis” or blame it on my running injury excuses, but something has gone seriously wrong in my head & I have lost control over food. Sounds quite dramatic, I know! I’ve been to see another dietician. I’ll save it for another blog post, but while eating Pronutro and rice cakes works amazingly for some, it didn’t for me. So I found someone who is Banting / LCHF / Keto / Plant based pro. My gut feel is that this way of eating suits me. It’s worked before. It’s my head I need to fix first.

There’s another long weekend coming up at the end of April and then we have that long stretch into Winter. Chilly, dark morning runs. Battling the traffic to get home from work early enough to run. The streets lined with an array of beautiful hues of brown and orange leaves that crunch under your feet. I’m ready for you Winter.

 

Throw out, make a list and run less. 2018, here we come.

I don’t usually set New Year’s resolutions. I admit to starting off January knowing I’d take the rest of the year to lose all the extra weight put on from all the festivities during the holiday. KK and I typically map out the road races we’d like to run in the year and also book our holidays around these dates.

But in terms of actual goal setting, all I have in my head is a list of really bad experiences that I don’t want to repeat going into the new year.

I did make a few minor behavioral changes which I’m hoping make a difference.

Here’s five things I’ve changed going into 2018:

  1. Ditching the plastic

The new Woolies grocery bags. We just need to remember to take them with us shopping.

During our weekly grocery shopping, we collect around x10 plastic bags to carry our groceries. We use the excuse that “we use the bags for dustbin bags during the week.” But we don’t need to, so we swopped the bags for Woolies enviro-friendly bags. I must tell you, they’re huge and carry quite a lot of goods.

  1. Americano vs. Cappuccino

Confession: this pic was taken in December while we were in Cape Town. It’s a cappuccino. LOL

I know that diets don’t last but if I make small changes to my eating, then that alone should help. Those Vide ‘e cappuccinos are just mucho grande cups of frothy milk and when I’m having two or three a day, it adds up (around the belly). Americano is purely black coffee and while I know the best solution would’ve been to swop for water, one or two coffees with less milk won’t hurt. Baby steps.

  1. Getting organized

Labelling all our cupboards & drawers makes it a lot easier to pack items away too.

My sister stayed over in December and exposed just how disorganized we really were! She helped me re-pack my cupboards, throwing out old clothes, linen, pots and food. Oh gosh, my medicine cupboard was a mess! The trick is to keep it clean and organized.

  1. Making a list

I make to-do lists all the time at work. But I’ve never made a shopping list before. KK and I head over to Woolies and buy the things we think we need. It’s only by sorting out my cupboards with my sister that I realized that we had loads of food that was going old or duplicates of items that we were not using. Let’s not even talk about my freezer! Just by making a list, I’m buying less now too & saving money.

  1. Run less but more

I’m loving my new Garmin fenix 5S. With such a great strap, I’ve been wearing it to work. Hitting my 10 000 step goal is tough!

KK and I are both coming out of 2017 with injuries. KK missed Kaapsehoop, he pulled out of Otter, did not enter Two Oceans. With my pulmonary embolism recovery and sprained ankle treatment, my running has been slow & reserved. It hasn’t entirely stopped us. KK has been walking a lot and I’ve been enjoying the shorter runs. We’ve become Parkrun fans! But there have been discussions about whether or not 2018 is a rest year for us both and a refocus on strength training. (The verdict is still in the air at this point. Notice that KK still entered Comrades & Otter 2018).

I’m unsure how I feel about 2018. I’m cautious. Overall, I’d like to have a better control over my life and I suspect the only way I can gain this is by focusing on the small things.

The small things, the small differences which eventually are the big changes. I can only try, right?