I have stopped listening to the news and reading stories on the spread of the virus, infected numbers, businesses closing, staff being retrenched, and what is allowed at each level. Some would say this is naïve, but to be honest my heart just cannot take it. As humans we are built to want to help those that we can. We tip the car guards and petrol attendants, we give the waiters/waitress 15-20% and not only 10%. We buy extra food for the security guards of complexes and will always try and give what we can to the less fortunate, but during these times it is difficult to give when you do not have much yourself.
So, I have decided to rather focus on the opportunities during this time. Spending time we wouldn’t normally get with our children and partners. Getting to things around the house you have said you will do for years. Sitting down to finish that baby book. Finally organizing your workday, schedule and tasks. Finishing tasks you have not found the time for. And most importantly being able to switch off.
Enjoy your home
Just as we are built to want to help others, we as South Africans are built to work. It is inbred in us, every day revolves around what time to wake up to miss the traffic, how much can we get done in the prescribed office hours, what dinner will take the quickest to cook, then it is cleaning, laundry and prep for the next day to start it all over again, never mind the additional hours put in, in the evenings on emails and tasks that you just never got to during the day.
This driving work force, it still lives on, but within the four walls of every home, it looks a little different. There is the extra hour or two of sleep as traffic is no longer a problem-child, there is no hours lost sitting in traffic, struggling to get to the office to attend to emails and meetings. This time is spent cooking breakfast and enjoying one extra meal a day together as a family, some days it is attending to emails in your pajamas, exercising at lunch time and vacuuming at 16:00 before cooking dinner. The weight on my shoulders seems a little lighter.
Smell the roses
Not everyone has little people running around ruling their homes but, in our house, this is exactly what we have. Our little one is an early-riser, so our mornings start before the sun has risen and is fast-paced. Running and jumping and swimming and reading and snacking and eating and falling and climbing. I get tired just writing this, but these are moments that we normally miss, that we are not around to enjoy. Although it is crazy and some days, I feel the years I am losing off my life span, I wouldn’t trade it for getting back to the real world. I am starting to worry about how I am going to go back to the normal.
Do it now!
Before isolation it was a case of ‘why do today what can be done tomorrow’ so in essence it was never gotten to. The glass cabinet I’ve been meaning to reorganize has been done, the baby book I never got around to finishing, is almost complete, the meals I always wanted to cook – are finally being cooked, the painting project I wanted to start has started, and the book I wanted to read, has been read. The tables have all turned. The emails I can do tomorrow, the document can be reviewed tomorrow, the project can start tomorrow. And off course none of these missing a deadline but rather being done when you can within the required timeframe. The chicken seems to be running around with all its body parts for a change.
Everyone is worried and scared, industries are facing turmoil, turnover is at an all-time low, and every single person is doing what they can to not only survive but keep sane. During the time it is difficult to stay positive and to looks for the good in each day but all it takes is one thing a day. One task that makes you happy, makes you feel lighter. One extra hour spent with your little people doing something that makes them smile and laugh. Take 20min to have that cup of coffee outside with no cellphone or laptop. Finally finish the sorting of all your emails or finishing that one task that has been lagging at your side.
Everyday do something for you, something that makes you smile, makes you feel lighter.
How Women in Power are Changing the World
Public holiday, who cares? We can rest….. But every single woman in South Africa needs to care. We need to understand why this is such an important month in the history of our country. Women’s Month in August is a tribute to the more than 20 000 women who marched to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956 in protest against the extension of Pass Laws to women. The Government of South Africa declared August as women’s month and 9 August is celebrated annually as Women’s Day. Women were somewhat regarded as inferior to their male counterparts then. Fast forward 63 years, and women are seen as equal and paid and treated as such.
Women in power in South Africa making a change
Growing up I always imagined being someone that can make a real change, not only to my immediate family but also to people around me. Especially during August I have seen articles about women doing just that. It all started with a heart, to be understanding and empathetic towards others. And let`s face it, women are good at seeing the need of others. Salute ladies, and let us go on this journey of getting to know my top four inspirational women:
Saray is an award-winning mountaineer, a Mandela libraries ambassador, a social entrepreneur, a mother of two boys and also an executive for one of the distinguished financial institutions in South Africa. Over time she has demonstrated her commitment to making a difference in her environment through mountaineering. Through her climbing with a purpose initiative, Saray has organized and been part of the following initiatives:
- Climbing Kilimanjaro with a purpose (self-funded climb) which built an outdoor gym for Kids Havenworth R200,000 and also converted a room into a library.
- Climbing Everest in 2014 raised funds forThe Lunch Box Fund to feed over 60,000 children.
- Climbing Everst in 2015 raised funds for The Mandela Library Projects and built a library for Isiziba Primary School in Thembisa, Johannesburg.
- Climbing Everest in 2018 raised funds of over R800,000for The Mandela Library Projects and built four libraries across South Africa. She continues to campaign for more libraries as she takes steps towards the seven highest peaks on the seven continents around the world.
# Caster Semenya, standing up for human rights.
Wikipedia describes Mokgadi Caster Semenya as follow: “OIB (born 7 January 1991) is a South African middle-distance runner and 2016 Olympic gold medalist. She won gold in the women’s 800 meters at the 2009 World Championships with a time of 1:55.45 and at the 2017 World Championships in her new personal best, 1:55.16. She also won the silver medal at the 2011 World Championships in the 800 meters. She was the winner of the gold medal in the 800 meter events at the 2012 Summer Olympics and 2016 Summer Olympics.
Following her victory at the 2009 World Championships, it was announced that she had been subjected to sex testing. She was withdrawn from international competition until 6 July 2010 when the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) cleared her to return to competition. In 2010, the British magazine New Statesman included her in a list of “50 People That Matter 2010”.”
Semenya is not allowed to participate in this year’s World Championships in Doha, as her testosterone levels need to be reduced as ruled by the IAAF. Luckily the South African Cabinet fully supports Semenya as she appeals and fights for her fundamental human rights. Like all other athletes, she is entitled to compete without being obliged to alter her body by any medical means. And following Semenya`s very public career over the last nine years, I am sure she will still be fighting for many years to come.
# Tracey Chambers and Tracey Gillmore, educating and clothing the underprivileged
These two women realized they can make a difference in the lives of women, and people in general, by letting their empathy grow into a business. They started the ClothingBank of South Africa, by clothing and educating people. In their own words: “We believe that becoming a self-employed business owner is something everyone can do, irrespective of their education levels and resources, as long as they are self-motivated and well supported (mentally and emotionally). We have developed a holistic eco-system, which successfully engages families living in poverty to chart a path out of poverty. Our projects have been changing lives for the last eight years.” Visit their website for more information: https://theclothingbank.org.za/
How can I make a difference
Following these wonderful women did make me feel unmotivated for a second, before I was left amazed. I wanted to be them, and here I am 37 years old, not summiting mountains, un-athletic and unentrepreneurial. I voiced this to my friend and very small business partner (who is really unprivileged, sleeping on someone’s kitchen floor, cleaning houses for a living). She said that you should never think something is unimportant to the person next to you. We can always, as women, have an empathetic heart and ear to our sisters. Sometimes, without even realizing it, by listening you can show love and affection. For too many years, sisters in South Africa were not heard, until they gathered, mobilized and moved. And because they did, my heroes are out in the open, voicing their concerns and making changes without needing to stand back.
Secondly, we should remember to never quite. Even if we feel we do not have the capacity or mental ability to do something, just keep going. All of the women mentioned above must have felt deflated and wanting to quite somewhere down the line, but they pushed through and always educated and kept training in their areas of specialities.
In bringing it together I thought it would be best to share this poem by Maya Angelou:
’You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.’
The importance of being consistent
To be able to be a top-notch Virtual Assistant, is it extremely important to make sure that you understand that keeping your clients happy and building loyalty takes time. To build this trust you need to build a foundation for a sound working relationship and you need to deliver a consistently high standard of work on an ongoing basis. As a Virtual Assistant, you need to remember that your client’s confidence in you and VA Connect will only increase if you continue to deliver a high standard of work within the deadlines provided to you by your client.
The road is never smooth and naturally, there will be obstacles that need to be overcome. Your clients will understand and they will forgive an occasional mistake, provided the issue is handled quickly and in a professional manner. Clients need to be confident that you will deliver on your deadlines every time, rather than only when it may be convenient for you.
When it comes to flying the VA Connect flag high, there are a few points you need to remember. One spends a considerable amount of time at work and building healthy positive relationships with your clients through consistently high-quality work helps retain your clients and makes for a happy day at work. Bear in mind that all the work that you do for VA Connect ultimately reflects on the VA Connect brand.
If a chink in the armour develops it is up to you to make sure that the issue is resolved timeously. As a Virtual Assistant, it is imperative that your client’s bad experiences are kept to an absolute minimum, even when your service is not necessarily at its highest level. One needs to remember that your client’s journey with VA Connect begins with many promises and expectations. It is up to the Virtual Assistant to deliver on these promises. Your work ethic and quality of work can make or break your client’s expectations. To put this into perspective, a client will tell people about the great service that they have received from VA Connect, however, they will tell even more people about the bad experience that they had with the service.
As the business world takes on a different working environment, clients have a much larger voice than they did in the past and are therefore a lot more demanding and pay more attention to detail. You simply cannot allow any part of the client experience to be jeopardised, as this will ultimately affect the VA brand as a whole. The only way to ensure ongoing success is to pay attention to detail and to provide an impeccable service on an ongoing basis. All virtual assistants need to make sure that they remain focused on the task at hand and strive to consistently achieve and surpass the high standards and deadlines provided by their clients.
By setting consistent goals you ensure your long term success and in turn manage your client’s expectations.
The year that was 2018
A new year has started, for many, it represents a fresh start, a chance to pursue new opportunities or it may even mean time to finally get training for that big race you’ve always wanted to do. As the saying goes “new year, new beginnings”, and boy are new beginnings exciting! My question however is, have you taken a moment to take a step back in order to reflect on the year that was? To appreciate your successes and be thankful for the obstacles that taught you some great lessons?
Looking back in order to move forward
The minute the clock struck 12h00, on the 31st December 2018, my brain went into automatic mode planning and thinking up all the things I want to get done in this year and I was full of adrenaline, ready to take on 2019. I kept saying to my myself – “This is going to be “my” year”, which considering I am expecting my first child in a couple of months, is already making this
year AMAZING for me. I quickly saw however, I was not alone in saying, this was going to be my year – numerous family and friends shared the same sentiment, combined with the fact they were glad 2018 was over with. This got me thinking was 2018 that bad? I mean, it was the different challenges and life lessons that I experienced in 2018 that had fueled my ambitions
and plans for 2019. I then remembered a quote I had read not so long ago by an unknown author that says “If you want to move forward, often look back. Otherwise, you’ll forget where you came from and where you need to go” Reflecting on 2018
All of this got me thinking, and I decided to take a step back and really reflect on my life during 2018. 2018 had started off quite roughly with my fiance being hospitalized for a lengthy period of time, I was in a work environment that I did not enjoy, was in over my head with assignments due for varsity and was planning a wedding amongst other things – a true mix of highs and lows.
Giving new perspective on life
But looking at all of this carefully, these very things that had me experience a mixture of emotions both negative and positive, turned out to be the best possible things that could have happened to me in 2018. Why? Well, On the 14th April 2018, the most beautiful and magical day of my life thus far surrounded by the people that mean the world me, I married my best friend. My now husband who thankfully is back to full health, learned to take a step back every now and then, now lives by the motto YOLO – you only live once, something that rubbed off on me. His new outlook on things gave me the courage to make the changes I wanted to make in my career, I always wanted to be an entrepreneur but was always too scared to take the risk, in
June, I took that risk and even though it’s been challenging, I am now my own boss, doing what I love daily. The hard work on my studies during the year last year will allow me to make my dream of graduating this year a reality. Above all, I rediscovered the power of faith & gratitude and how lucky I am to have the family and quality of friends I do in my life.
Grateful and Blessed
Personally, I am glad I reflected back on the amazing year that was 2018, I am so grateful for all the lessons and blessings I received during the year. Looking forward to 2019, I know I am going into it a stronger, happier, healthier and humbler person and for that, I say thank you to the year that was 2018.
The top 3 things to do in Gauteng, with young children!
Having 2 young girls who are as active as they are vocal about what they want, like and need (their needs are more like wants, but to them it’s a need) means that I need to ensure that there is always something fun and exciting, active and hopefully educational for them to do!
Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens
Just this past weekend, with winter on its way, I decided that some fresh air was just the thing we all needed. Along with a great friend and her two young children we set off for the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens. The goal was to hike to the top of the water falls. I remember this hike, from back in the day, however on this day I was put to shame by a 4 and 6-year-old, who led the charge up the precarious 3.5 km hike to the water fall. This hike was not what I recalled, and though the struggles were real for me, not having exercised in longer than I can remember, the fun, the perseverance I saw in these young children reminded me that giving up was not an option!! This fun journey should be one that everyone should try at least once. The tranquil gardens, the educational aspect, the fresh air and the quality of time spent with my daughters was an amazing experience.
Second on our list is the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa otherwise known as the Pretoria Zoo. What can I say but WOW. Animals for Africa, huge. A great time out for the entire family! My daughters were able to spot animals all over the place! Unlike the Johannesburg Zoo which feels very run down and desolate, you will find every animal imaginable!! Even the Kangaroo! and leopards, Guerrilla’s, tigers. A fun time, also walked for hours, a gold cart may have been better, but the chance to spend that time enjoying the looks on their faces was the highlight of my day. Revisits are definitely in the cards!
For the young at heart where coordination is not a problem, we Roll eGoli! Roll skating! Not for the feint hearted as demonstrated by myself, where my butt was more on the rink than my roller skates. An immensely fun time, learning a new skill, the music is great, the friendly staff are amazing and the pizza to die for! Parties, or just a casual visit will have you revisiting the 80’s!
I’ve learnt the hard way that trying to find things that we all enjoy need not be the most exhaustive thing to do! With google only a tap away, and my daughters eager and excited faces as we head off on yet another awesome journey is worth more than words can ever tell!
And I did have an ice-cream or 2! How can I not!