Ordinary people doing extraordinary things. That’s my business!

The end of year rush has started … Projects need to be completed. Budgets need to be spent. Exams start soon. That feeling of burnout can feel quite overwhelming.

So…I thought it might be worth taking your mind off things & sharing some great initiatives from a few of Conversation Station’s (that’s my business) clients.

Francis and Terry Rogan Physiotherapists

These two physiotherapists have bought a whole bunch of Secret Santa Shoebox names and opened it up to their clients to support. Simply “Pick a name, fill a box or two, drop it off, we will do the rest.” Physiotherapists with heart.

Just a few months ago, Francis was also part of the Sunflower Fund Everest Challenge, running up & down the Westcliff steps to raise funds for stem cell donation. Go check Francis in action!

I see passion in the work they do but love how they make time for others.
Francis and Terry Rogan FB cover

Educo Solutions

FREE, yes you heard right, education to South African youth in Soweto and Alex. Be between 18 & 28 years old, unemployed and come along to learn SETA-accredited computer and business skills. For more information and qualifying criteria, go here.

With SA’s dire unemployment figures, this is a lifeline for someone out there. Please help to spread the word!

Educo family

Brenda Taylor (aka CocoJade Distillery)

Brenda is collecting clothes, food, bedding and pretty much anything for a family close to her after their house burnt down in Lawley near Orange Farm. As she puts it, if your house burns down, you need everything! For Vongani, Phumzile and Siya, their end of year stress is very real after losing everything they owned. Let that sink in. If you’d like to donate, message me and will put you in touch with Brenda.

In choosing clients to work with, it’s usually the proof of their actions which tells me more about their values than any business plan they develop. You will want to support this amazing entrepreneur in future. Watch this space. *Not only because of gin.*

WIBT & PDA International Africa

In partnership with NICOSA & Khensani’s Collection, the team from Women In Business Today (WIBT) & PDA International Africa ran a series of workshops with high school kids in Diepsloot to teach them about navigating life beyond school. They played a board based simulation game which taught them to understand the career options available to them.

An incredibly enriching and empowering initiative! Thank you Matthew and Wade.

W5

School Aid SA

So most of you know that I grew up as an avid reader and even went on to study Library Science after high school. So refurbishing libraries across schools in South Africa is quite close to my heart. Imagination is one of the strongest tools to escape the evils of this world.

“I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book.” ― J.K. Rowling

Check out (& please follow their Facebook page & Instagram account) for amazing stories across SA. Here’s a little video I made to pull at those heart strings!

There’s a lot more going on but sometimes instead of listening to the negativity going on around me, I remember that a few people in my circle are doing extraordinary things.

It’s the small things that make a big difference.

3 ways to grow the best veggie garden (and other things I’m Googling)

We planted a veggie and herb garden outside our kitchen window. I don’t have a cooking (veggie) clue on how to grow them, but I’m going to try. A veggie garden is something KK has been talking about forever but we just never got around to doing it because we were always busy.

The bark chips are still to be laid but I simply love it! In these boxes are lettuce, kale, baby tomatoes, chives, chillis, brinjal, rocket, basil, lemongrass, coriander…. and some other bits & bobs.

Yeah, yeah. That famous Jo’burg uttered phrase. But I don’t think “being busy” had anything to do with it at all. It’s about priorities.

Before I left my job at the Blue Bank, I used to wake up at 05h30, dash out the house by 06h30, slump home exhausted after 18h00 in the evenings. No time spent with my dogs, no time available to go for sunset walks, and certainly no time to spend in my garden.

The plants gasped for sunlight under the overgrown trees, the grass died, the pool paving became brittle in the sun. But I never took notice, because I was busy…

A year ago, I sat down and drew up a vision board. If I was to leave my job after 20 years in corporate, I needed to know what I was giving up and what I wanted out of life. What mattered?

My office with my vision board (yellow) up as a constant reminder of what I promised myself. Also, my race medal hanger reminds me that I am capable of achieving goals, but also to go run!

Besides the obvious one of being happy, I wanted my life back. I wanted to be free, less anxious and to start being passionate about things that mattered in life. That really mattered to me. On my list was a healthy body, sharp mind, being passionate about the work I do.

But also finding joy in things outside of work.

Shit! I have no idea how to grow veggies. I’ve been Googling and watching YouTube videos, even following new accounts on Instagram. Learning a new hobby is thrilling! Digging my hands into the damp soil is such an incredible feeling!

It’s a small thing but you have no idea how excited I am about picking my own butter lettuce!

When last did you take stock of the things that matter? Before you answer, go look at your garden and ask your plants what they would say.

Ps: If you grow your own vegetables or herbs, I seriously welcome any advise! Or an invite for supper. LOL

Running influencers don’t lie but can disagree

Two running influencers caught my attention this week. They were sharing their views about a pair of running tights.

Both of them posted reviews of a popular local brand of running tights from Vivolicious. But here’s the difference… For a change, the reviews were completely opposite – one was positive and the other negative.

Comrades green number runner and Catch Me If You Can (CMIYC) leader, Tanya Kovarsky has been raving about her pairs of Vivolicious tights for a few weeks now. And gosh, go check out her Instagram feed. They look amazing!

(Even though Tanya’s tights are sponsored, I don’t hesitate to believe that her review is honest. I believe that she would only align with a brand she believed in 100%, especially when it comes to anything to do with running because it’s ultimately her reputation at stake and so many aspiring runners look up to her.)

Instastory wine celeb, photographer and runner friend, Jenty has also posted her experience with Vivolicious. But not as positive. The tights look stunning, even matching her toenail polish, as she pointed out. But the fit is uncomfy. They keep falling down when she runs and she’s questioning if she even has the right size for her body shape?

I’ve appreciated their honesty. Both credible fitness fanatics, runners and social media reviewers, I have found it refreshing to find two opposite reviews of the same product with equally relevant and important factors to consider when making this purchase decision.

Two different views for a change.

It’s impossible that every single influencer has the same experience and personal taste as the other! But knowing that one pair of tights can be a totally different experience on two different bodies builds trust in my eyes, both for the two runners and the brand.

But more importantly, runners don’t lie. And when it comes to being comfortable out on the road, we do look for the best and what works for our bodies.

So then? Will I buy a pair or not? Damn them both… I don’t know!

What my coaches taught me about running

I’ll be quite honest with you. When my CMIYC running partner (who I had only met 5 mins before the run) plugged her earphones in her ears into the 2nd kilometre of our 5km run, I was quite relieved. I was pushing myself so hard that I had started to grunt and pant like a bear and hoped her music would drown it out. I didn’t feel like chit chat.

Something else was on my mind. I had somehow managed to run the Randburg Harriers time trial route the entire way without stopping to walk once the week before. I was aiming to do it again but was already negotiating with myself that if I stopped to walk, it was okay. I mean, I had run the 10km Vitality Series road race on Sunday at Wanderers so was entitled to some rest time, right?

As we slipped into a rhythm, I started to question why the run felt so easy. Not once did I feel the need to stop or slow down. What had made the difference to previous runs? It’s then that the lessons from my previous running coaches made sense…

Coach Dave would repeat the same thing over and over: Consistency and discipline. Just go out and run, he’d say. Even if it’s 20 minutes. Do it. And yes, I have been doing that. Working from home has made it easier to close my laptop and run from home instead of sitting in traffic. The runs have been consistent and I’ve been kinder to myself for accepting that even a 3km run is still a run.

Track session with Coach Dave and his Running Junkies 2013. Best running years of my life hanging out with this bunch of amazing friends twice a week.

Coach Neville made the statement, “You can’t be training for a 21km PB until you’ve run your best 5km and 10km times. Start there.” His running programme started me out on 4km runs which is what I’ve mapped out around home. My fastest road race times have been while training with Neville.

So yes, I’ve focussed more on the shorter distances: between 4 – 7km runs during the week, running regularly, and only running the 10km races on weekends. Mentally, it’s felt a whole lot easier to commit to and I’ve bravely stepped it up along the way knowing that 10kms is pretty manageable.

Both coaches taught me valuable lessons and I was pretty thrilled when my Strava showed that I was trending faster. That’s always a good sign. I’ve also found another CMIYC group where the girls run closer to my pace – meaning I can still see most of them in front of me along the route.

As a runner, as in life, it’s not about giving up. It’s about finding what works for you and sticking to it. Only then will you see the results…

Catch Me If You Can (CMIYC) Randburg group

Spring has arrived! Yesss! New beginnings. New goals. New running races. It also means shaving legs. Happy running everyone!