Letting the dogs out

I’ve always loved dogs. We grew up surrounded by dogs, especially the larger breeds such as Great Danes and Boerboels. In my teenage years, my sister and I worked at the SPCA on weekends. So when my Junkie friends, Brenda and Erica, asked if I’d like to join them to walk the dogs at a local dog shelter, I immediately said yes.

We arrived at the dog shelter and were taken on a short tour of the kennels. My heart stopped. Most of the dogs were big. Very big! They were magnificent! I guess I had grown accustomed to being around Annie & Emma, my little Brussels Griffon breeds and had not spent time with any large dogs in a very long time.

We were paired up in two’s and shown how to hold the dogs on the lead. It was a case of taking turns to walk the dogs down the street, then return to the two different enclosures for the dogs to be able to run freely, which they did. And in the one enclosure, there was a pool which they loved!

I won’t lie, I was scared. The very first dog I took was difficult to hold, strong and heavy. I was relieved that the young girl I was paired up with was a regular dog walker to that shelter and while I panicked in my head, she told me the background story to each and every one of the dogs we walked. Their names, where they came from, their personalities. She clearly had favourites. I was relieved she could “read” each dog well.

While we walked the dogs, another bunch of volunteers cleaned the kennels and provided bowls of food and fresh water. Their blankets were laid out in the sun to dry. That smell of wet kennels and jik permeated the air and brought up many memories of those SPCA days.

We all thought it would be a quick and easy morning. But it was hard work! My hands were broken and it felt as if I had been hit by a bus. Tucking into Steers burgers on the way home, we all acknowledged that it was harder than we had initially imagined.

When we left the shelter, the dogs were fed, walked, clean and happy. There are special people who commit to making sure this happens each and every day. They dedicate their lives to not only looking after these amazing animals, but to finding homes for them. But they cannot do it alone.

You can find more information on their Facebook page. We all promised to be back to do it all again. It’s so rewarding!

7 lessons on living a good life as told by me, the Librarian

I studied Library Science and working in a public library was my first job which set me up for my working life (Read my other blog post about this – it’s my highest read post!) I often look back on those days and remember with fondness all the activities which kept me busy.

As a team of librarians, we didn’t just stamp books and ask people to be quiet. There were lessons in every thing we did back then which make complete sense to me now.

1. Seek silence

I can still remember the music streaming throughout the library floor during the day as people strolled around. Sometimes it was classical but my personal favorite was the soundtrack to “On Golden Pond”. People walked in rushed, but their pace and body language changed after a few minutes as they made their way through the maze of shelves. In a world which has gone mad, you need to find your own peace and quiet, a place to zone out. With so much noise and anger, especially on social media, make time to go offline and find silence in the real world.

2. Be organized and neat

Believe it or not, these were still around when I worked in the Library!

Before we opened the doors at 9am each day, the team of librarians made sure the library was clean and organized. We would sit in front of the books in a straight line and make sure that each and every book was in its place, exactly where it should be. You’d always find the odd lost fiction book, where someone had randomly shoved it between other books. Non-fiction was particularly important in making sure the Dewey Decimal system was adhered to. This habit has stuck with me & to this day, has helped me find the order and structure I need at work to be efficient.

3. Make time for tea, always

Working for the Council meant that we followed typical old school working hours. Stopping for tea was the norm back then. We’d even have a tea room where we would sit, relax and sometimes even read for 15 minutes. I miss those days. Switching off and taking a break felt like a mini reward. But now, we’re stuck in this “busyness hype” where we eat at our desk over our laptops and if you do stop to catch your breath, it’s frowned upon. There’s nothing wrong with pausing & catching your breath. In fact, it’s a habit we really should practice more often.

4. Forgive and forget

Returning the library books before the due date was tough for some people. And I get that. Life happens. The same faces would return their books late and have to pay a fine. But once they did, all was forgiven and they’d choose a whole new set of books to leave with. You knew you’d hear the same excuses when they were late again, but it didn’t matter. Forgive and forget. It’s a good attitude to have. Rather allow people to enjoy the books than focus on the punishment. Which one mattered more?

Who remembers this? WOW!

5. Be known for the things you love

The kids from the nearby schools would run into the library to do their homework every afternoon. Helping them find info on topics such as Egypt’s pyramids or the human body was always fun. But so too when you’d assist someone who had started a new hobby to find every book they could to read up on. I knew exactly where to find the info they were looking for, often without having to check on the system. If you’re passionate about what you do, you become the expert and can help people find what they need. No matter what job you’re in, there’s no greater satisfaction than this!

6. Get excited by the small things, because they matter

One of the best days working in the library was month end when the new books would arrive! We had the advantage of unpacking them and booking the ones we wanted to read first. The smell of those boxes, of the fresh, new books and being the first person to turn those pages… pure delight! You need to invest in your own happiness and know what brings you joy. It’s so important to seek out and anticipate these special moments! Find them!

7. Trust

The whole library system is built on trust. People register to join the library and then each week, get the opportunity to leave the building with a handful of books, promising to return them. And they do! (well, majority of people). How crazy that in a world riddled with crime and corruption, the library works on a system based entirely on trust. It’s a system still respected by society.

Do libraries still exist in communities and suburbs? I haven’t been to one in years! When last did you visit your nearest library or bookshop? Next time you do, remember a few of these lessons.

Credit: Images sourced from Google

We reluctantly came. We nervously saw. OMW, we sold!

The choice of touch points or channels has always been quite a strong focus of most of my career. Where to target customers, on which channel, when and how. So when we launched our small business CW-X SA, I seriously thought that I would be able to lure customers to the website via a range of beautiful imagery on Instagram and engaging stories on Facebook.

Sales have been slow. 

We realized that the brand had dipped into very low awareness levels, the competitor environment was fierce and that unless we put money behind our social media posts, no one was really seeing our brand.

We decided to get our faces out there and approached Randburg Harriers Running Club asking if we could promote our goods at their Thursday evening time trial. I won’t lie, a social media collaborator and an engineer, face-to-face sales was not our strong point and we were dreading it.

The nerves ran high!

But here’s what we learnt:

  • Our brand needs to be seen in the real world. Once people saw the banners, it suddenly felt real.
  • Our faces need to be seen and recognized by fellow runners to make the connection between our brand and ourselves. Why? Because trust sells. Relationships sell. Networking sells.
  • And most of all, word-of-mouth is key! Once people realized its was us and they knew our faces and names behind the brand, they were really excited and started to tell other people.

Mini brand ambassadors were born.

I’m all for eCommerce but it doesn’t allow for much human connection. With the face-to-face interaction at time trial along side the track, it was easier to question and probe. We showed an interest in people and their stories.

It created a comfortable space for people to share their running injuries, their eating struggles and their choice of what running tights suited them more. People opened up to us about personal stories they would not necessarily do online.

After one evening, we’re no experts. But what an eye opener.

And here’s one more nugget. We fell out of our comfort zones and rolled straight into realizing that maybe, just maybe, we can do this thing called sales.

Wiehl’s on wheels

I felt trapped. Nursing my sprained ankle meant I had been balancing my body on crutches for three weeks while holding up a heavy moon boot. My knee and calf muscle were crying. My hands ached. I needed to get out of the house and feel like myself again. So I sent an urgent WhatsApp to my sister, “Please take me shopping!”

I was caught off guard when she arrived to fetch me with a wheelchair on the backseat of the car. “I’m not disabled,” was my defense but she bundled me up and off we drove.

By the time we arrived at the mall, I had stopped fighting and climbed in the wheelchair. What a relief to have my foot up and my hands free!

I could finally whizz around Woolies and pick out my own veggies and fruit again. I could feel the fabrics of the new fashion displayed in the stores. And it felt so good to just slow down and be outdoors.

The wheelchair humbles you. I was worried people would stare (which they did). But it showed me a different view of the world.

I observed:

– that some shops are easier to maneuver around than others. You need quite a wide path for the wheelchair to drive through. Shops such as Typo & Cardies do not cater all that well for wheelchairs.

– trying on a pair of shoes was difficult. The bench in Poetry is positioned conveniently (for able-bodied people) right smack in front of the shoe rack on a lovely fawn and pink carpet. It was a struggle to get close sitting in the wheelchair.

– when paying for goods, I could not see the POS / credit card machine screen when I was promoted to input my pin. It’s a tad too high.

– people apologize to you all the time. As you pass them or come around the corner, they see you, they jump out the way and say sorry.

– the beautician in Dis-Chem was the most comfortable dealing with me and even gave me mini manicure.

– when we stopped for lunch, the waitress remove the able bodied chair and wheeled my wheelchair in. It’s cumbersome sitting in the wheelchair. The foot rests are in the way under the table. The arm rests stop you from pulling the wheelchair closer to the table. And the legs of the table are in the way of this huge wheelchair seat.

For me personally, I didn’t mind hoping out of the wheelchair into the restaurant chair & asking the staff to move the wheelchair away. I know this isn’t an option for everyone.

It was great to get out! But more than a shopping trip, what I observed and how I felt in that wheelchair gave me a lot of food for thought.

Is wearing a moon boot for x6 weeks really the end of the world? Being impatient not being able to drive and my irritation depending on others almost seemed ridiculous knowing that it’s temporary.

Most of all, spending time in the wheelchair reminded me of just how incredibly blessed I am to have the use of both of my legs, to walk, to jog and to run!