Goodbye twenty seventeen. Keep the change!

The narrative on WhatsApp groups and social media platforms is all focused on saying goodbye to 2017. The emphasis is on the negativity, the difficulties, how bad it’s been. Ironically it’s the same conversations we have at the end of every year. 2017 is no different.

The longing for the year to end coincides with another familiar tradition – the Instagram #2017bestnine – where your x9 most favorite, most Liked Insta images are displayed in a collage to remind you of what your highlights were during the year.

#2017bestnineofnine

It got me thinking…

It’s easy to remember the bad times, and yes, for most people, including myself, this year was pretty damn shitty. There were too many times of illness, too many people dying and most of my days were overwhelmed by stress.

But just looking at my #2017bestnine sparked reminders of a few great moments that I’d like to cherish and hold dear for a little longer before they fade into memory.

I started writing them down:

  • We became entrepreneurs. We took the plunge and bought a small business. Both KK and I are in our 40’s with long careers in corporate, but it’s as if we’re reborn. Here’s to an abundant and successful CW-X SA in 2018!
  • We travelled to Germany on a fantastic holiday & I learnt how much family tradition means to KK. A highlight was spending time with our friends, Lisa & Shaun (and their dogs Merlot and Schnapps) in Munich. It reminded me that these are the special moments holiday memories are made of.

    Walking the dogs on a lazy afternoon in Munich. We fell in love with the place! Shaun & Lisa, we will come back! We promise!

  • My sister lost weight & started exercising. It’s so inspiring but more than that, she has control over her health. She’s a different person! She’s the one that now sends me recipes and reminds me to drink water and avoid Pringles!

    My sister’s very first Parkrun. Since then, she’s become a fan!

  • I fell in love with trail running. Reaching the top of the Drakensburg mountains on the Run-the-Berg trail run is truly a highlight of my running career. It was worth an entire blog post of its own!
  • I ran my best 10km road run in Pretoria. And when I say best, it wasn’t the time that mattered, not a PB, but rather how I felt that stuck with me. I felt strong, determined, capable. I “owned” that race!

    It was freezing & I spent the first few meters hating on everything and everybody! But I warmed up… as you do.

  • Annie made it through another year! Almost blind and managing her health day by day with the help of my mom, she still manages to provide us with many joyful moments & laughs.

    She loves to sit on my lap and listen to me talk away. She’s a great listener.

  • Another successful Two Oceans & KK’s 4th Comrades race experience is etched in memory. There’s just something addictive about those two races.

    The nerves before Comrades are something else!

  • We surrounded ourselves with healthy family and happy friends. It’s during all the difficult times that this becomes important in your life. This year, more than ever, did I appreciate knowing my family were there when I needed them. Thank you! XXX

There are so many exciting challenges on the horizon going into 2018. There will be more of the bad times, just like there were this year and years before that. But the key is balance.

I’ve promised myself that there would be more balance in my life going forward. For every hard time, more joy. For all the stress, activities of calm and relaxation. And when there’s hurt and disappointment, to be kinder to myself and others.

My blog has been silent and yet I have so much to share!

My blog has been pretty quiet lately. It’s not that I have nothing to share. Quite the opposite in fact! I’ve been busy. Very busy!

Here’s what’s been happening:

  • We bought a small business. What an eye opener this has been! It’s taken us ages to sort things out. From bank accounts, merchant accounts, web development, ordering stock, waiting for the stock to arrive. It’s been such a learning experience, full of ups and downs. We wanted to wait until we were ready to start telling everyone and sharing our news, but that seems to be taking forever! So here it is: We’re officially the distributors for CW-X in Southern Africa! *Squeal*
  • Running your own social media content plan for your own business takes time! Most weekends and weekday evenings, I’m sitting down writing posts and creating content. The Instagram account is live (go check it out!) but we’re reluctant to get going on Facebook until our website is ready & people can purchase stock. Want to help me? If you do wear CW-X and have any photos showing the running kit, please can you share those with me. I’d much rather show real athletes (that’s you!) than posed models in the kit.

    This is us both in our CW-X clothes at Parkrun. We might need to work on our posing. LOL

  • Like almost 90% of Jo’burgers, I got bronchitis and was out of action. It took forever to heal, two visits to the Doc, daily nebulizing, lots of sleep (read: Allergex). Then out of the blue, I get shingles. On my face! WTH? 3 weeks of misery has taught me two lessons. One: listen to my body. Read bullet point number one. It’s been a stressful time! Lesson number two: when you can’t run, your body had no way of de-stressing. You get even more niggly. I acknowledge the huge role running does play in my life & will try not complain about my running again.
  • I have been on a mission to help an after care centre in Kliptown called Izanokhanyo Community Based Project get SnapScan so that donations can be easier as well as kickstart their social media so that we can start telling their story. Let me tell you, it’s made me incredibly happy inside to help. It’s early days but here’s holding thumbs I can help make a difference! I’d love your help! I’ll let you know how soon!

    Helen, who runs Izanokhanyo without a salary, handing out sweet to the kids.

  • I’ve been successful in my application to be part of a pilot project kicking off at work. All new. Unknown. Virgin territory. Exciting as hell but I’m also nervous. But after climbing in & assisting with some of the project management for the last couple of weeks, I’ve proven to myself that I am capable of learning & trying something new. Doing this nowadays at work needs to be the norm.
  • My Dad’s partner Rina passed away too. It’s funny how you think you have time and you discuss illness and old age and plans on what to do if this happens and if that happens. But when things do happen, no one is quite prepared. Everyone grieves differently. Each person says goodbye in their own way. I’m glad we’re spending more time with my Dad. I wish my parents stayed closer.

Everything I’ve mentioned above happens for a reason and at the right time. The delays in getting our business up and running gave me more time to spend with my Dad. Getting sick slowed me down and forced me to rest and take stock of what mattered. What mattered was helping Izanokhanyo in my spare time and not using that time for reading work emails. And yet I was rewarded by getting the job at work.

I’m going to make more time to blog too. This one was long. If you made it to here, the key take out is that I’m fine, I’m excited and yes… I’m still running! We’ve got Run-The-Berg (or in my case with limited training Walk-The-Berg) coming up, Kaapsehoop and Otter.

Can’t wait for that purple carpet to line the streets!

By the way, the jacarandas are starting to bloom. It’s the most beautiful time to be outdoors! Go for that run!

Is the sun going down on you?

Call it a midlife crisis, inspiration from a TED Talk or just mid-year review, but I've been on this mission to make time for more quality in my life. Notice that I said "make time" and not "find time". You will never find time, trust me on this one.

In order to make time, you need to do a combination of the following:

  • Plan your day. Make sure you know where the gaps are and which meetings at work will be productive or not.
  • Be selfish with your time. When you say yes to every meeting, every interruption and every invitation, you don't have anything left for you.
  • Make sure you're allocating enough quality time towards doing the things that enrich your life and make you happy.

To force myself to make time, I've been committed to getting home before the sun sets. I've taken a photo every day to prove that it's possible.

I've made time to bake in the middle of the week.

I've walked the dogs when I've arrived home from work.

I've even ensured that I look after myself physically and get my hair done on a regular Friday afternoon. There's no better feeling after a busy week to kickstart the weekend feeling fresh and beautiful!

More importantly I've made time to run and stick to my training programme. That's the single thing that I didn't sacrifice. Guess what? I ran a race on Saturday and was thrilled with my time! Just 2 minutes off my PB!
It pays off and the rewards come.

Make time for yourself and the things that matter in your life!

9 to 5 emails

When I returned to work at the beginning of January, I made the decision not to receive work emails on my phone anymore. The switch off during December had been wonderful and I decided it’s exactly what I need going into 2015.

MailboxI’ll admit it was hard in the beginning. I would randomly click on the envelope, more out of habit, and remember that my mailbox was not connected. But I stuck it out.

The first realization has been how much time I was ‘stealing’ from home-life by reading my mails. I sit on average 45 – 60 minutes when I get into the office in the morning, catching up on reading emails (that I could’ve read at home). Yes, so it may have saved me time at work, but it ultimately stole time from family and other things around the house.

The second thing I realized is that I needed to start re-prioritizing the important emails. I don’t know about you, but as that email pops into my mailbox, I tend to respond immediately and action it. Almost 90% are not even urgent. So then which are?

Having the support of my boss and team has helped and also encouraged a culture of true work-life balance. They know that if they need to get hold of me (and no, I’m not a Doctor on call so not even necessary) they can Whatsapp me. I also don’t expect of them to be online once they’ve left the office and prefer that they rather spend time doing non-work related activities.

But again, it is their choice, not mine. I know it’s not for everyone. Some people like to be connected and have the flexibility. But it was something I needed to do.

Does not reading my emails after hours make me forget about work? Surprisingly no. I never switch off. I’m constantly thinking about projects, ideas, goals, my team. Do I feel like I’m missing out on some major announcement or important information? Yes, all the time. But I am enjoying switching off more.

It’s been a good decision and time will tell if I’m able to stick to it. Ironically, I’m not alone. It’s becoming legislation in some countries, such as Germany as early as next year. What are your thoughts? What works for you?