Monday, July 28, 2014

Hot chocolate, heaters and my heart

I've so loved reading through all the comments on last night's post. Also, page views look like normal again. Really, what is happening with blogging these days?

You know the comments and conversation are the best part of blogging and in case I forget, thank you to those of you who so faithfully leave comments here to encourage me to keep writing.

I was watching the Amazing Race this evening while attending to emails and finishing up a few things.... I really didn't feel like coming to blog but I remembered the lovely dialogue in the comments and that inspired me to make some hot chocolate to come write.

Thank you!

The wind is howling outside my window, as much as it does in Jhb (not very much). It feels very cosy in here with my big, ugly green jersey (I bought it in first year varsity - 1991! - at Edgars Grahamstown) and the heater.

So Louisa's let the cat out of the bag - I went to do a talk for her secret team on Friday, and while that was lovely, the best part this time was the preparation.

It's strange but there are two things I like about speaking - the energy of delivering the talk and that feeling when all my vague thoughts and feelings come together during my hours of preparation into The Picture.

I had such a good time putting it all together the last few weeks. I also realised again and again how my two languages of appreciation were just never spoken to me in that team. No wonder I was a flower who didn't bloom. It sounds a bit dramatic but yes, sometimes the words were said but you could feel the insincerity a mile off.

Anyway.... moving on to the real point of this.

I also noticed something the last couple of weeks, something we all know but we don't do enough of.

When I focus on my own life instead of caring too much about the versions other people display, I'm much happier.

Basically, run your own race.

If you're a bit PMSy (or stabby, as Julia calls it), just stop reading FB, IG, whatever. Much healthier for you.

I used to feel like I had to see everything every one of the people I follow on IG was posting but... no more. Who has the time? If I have 5 minutes, I scroll through, enjoy the pretty pics I see and consider it a win.

It's like my blog first, and then read blogs rule I have for myself. Except I've been a bit careless with that one over the last week so tomorrow I'm on it again.

And last but not least, I am overall happier and more content when I'm plugged in enough to God.

I was sharing a few God-incidences with D last night (oh right, D had a birthday!!!) and he reminded me that my life used to be FULL of this kind-of thing. Lovely little and big happenstances all over the place, authored and designed by God. Very true - I love it!

So... what was the best happening in your life last week?

PS 9 days til my birthday!
PPS the photos with the leaves are straight from my camera - I've done nothing. That is their colour!!!!! LOVE them. My new favourite feet pics.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

On hospitality and offering up your bed

I just found a new blog and there was a post about having guests staying over with some tips on how to make their stay as comfortable as possible, which of course got me thinking....

Apparently it's a thing in some cultures to always offer the most comfortable bed (usually the one in the main bedroom) to the guests.

I'd never heard about this before.

BUT.... on our trip to England in 2008, not one, not two but THREE sets of friends all insisted we take their bed. 

At the time I didn't even properly connect the dots but I do remember feeling that our friends were all so LOVELY. They are.

I personally have never ever offered up my bed.

(I may have some issues because I'm very fond of my bed and love it dearly!)

Do you know which cultures these are?
Also, do you have people to stay over? Do you offer up your bed?

I can tell you a few things people have done that have made me feel particularly loved and welcome:
  1. handwritten notes each morning of our visit, and sometimes at night too (I have them all saved!) on top of our cereal bowls... handwritten notes in general (I have them all!)
  2. asking if we eat anything in particular so they could get it for us
  3. giving REALLY good directions (ask the man at the Spar for our keys!)
(my mother and sister always cook my favourite foods - my acts of service love language)
What kind of things have made you feel very welcome when you've stayed over at someone's house?

PS I won't tell you about a stay that really did not go great at all! Or should I?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Elevate the ordinary

Ah, elevate the ordinary.

If any of you remember this far back, in April 2012, Mandy and I did Superhero Photo and straight after that finished, we did Elevate the Ordinary.

I did it as best as I could during winter (but it was harrrrrrrd forcing myself to go outside). At that point I couldn't take photos inside at all.

I've been trying to complete this course (the one after Superhero Photo) for two years, and finally I'm nearly there - I have a few more lessons and then I'm done.

It will be done by the end of July because I put it on my list :)

Well, it's been great.

I've found the lessons refreshing but also affirming. Because it seems I already elevate the ordinary in a number of ways, most notably I totally honour my obsessions.

The other day I was playing with blur (!) and when I looked at my camera, I'd taken about 284 photos in about 30 minutes.

So lovely.

I can't wait to pick through them all for the gems.

Speaking of obsessions, colour is another one of those obsessions.

If I see something cool, I go back there to take photos.

The kids and I have been on two colour photowalks. It's SO fun! Just Connor and me for the blue one, and then the other day all three of us on a pink photowalk.

It's just too much fun.

The photo above is the ugly bit of wall.

But me? I see potential in that ugliness!





And that's when I dragged the kids back there to take some photos.

How are you elevating the ordinary in your life?
Not necessarily with photos, but with anything.

Friday, July 25, 2014

I have big plans this weekend

Edited to cross off some things from the list!
Family stuff
  1. Get K to make D a birthday card
  2. Make pancakes for D's birthday as requested by K 
  3. Walk with the kids
  4. Date with D

Fun stuff
  1. Do my party favours, or at least half of them
  2. Read at least one book
  3. Play with my artsyville washi tape
  4. Send off some happy mail

Productive stuff
  1. Declutter the pile of handbags in my bedroom 
  2. Tidy my desk
  3. Go through my clothes again (it helps to do it again a month or so later... you become even less attached)
  4. Get some advanced blogging done for when I'm on holiday
  5. Sort through last week's party photos as I'm seeing that friend next week
What are your big plans for the weekend?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Bits and bobs on a Thursday night

I'm so glad so many of you liked the post I wrote on Sunday night. As you know, I feel quite passionate about living life intentionally so it's really nice when it resonates!

If you've thought about it some more since then, what are you saying yes to these days?

Are the trees in your neighbourhood also sprouting little blooms? This is probably one of the last photos I have of our "winter" tree.

I need to go take a walk tomorrow to show you how the tree on the corner thinks it's already spring!

I had a meeting this morning in Sandton and thankfully, the whole commute there only took 45 minutes...and I stopped for petrol!

I don't know if it was a fluke or what, but I'll take it!

The playdate on the weekend was a success except for the not-so-small matter of one of mine writing on my NEW carpet with a whiteboard marker.

Tips to get it out???

I told the kids to play with the toys and if they wanted to do a craft, to just tell me... and they didn't ask me for a thing. For nearly 3 hours!

At one point they did ask me to take down some Dr Seuss books from the shelf so they could all "read" to one another.

I made muffins and biscuits, both of which were tasty and accompanied the numerous mugs of tea and coffee very well.

We all had a good time and already agreed to go over to theirs next time.

And last but not least, have you submitted your tax return yet?

Louisa asked if we all knew where our wills are, so I'll nag about the tax.

I got the last certificate today (everything else has been waiting for just this one - I even had a note to phone them) and I'm such a nerd, I squealed. Yay - now I can send to my guy to do his magic.

Actually it's not that I'm nerdy; I really just like to tick things off a list.

Care to share any of your bits and bobs?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

{Wordless Wednesday} Winter walk 2!

This day, the kids chose which way they wanted to walk. So we went another way and I was so glad because we found a gorgeous background which we went back to photograph properly.

There was a tantrum and only two of us finished the walk after dropping off the one child at home. Amidst much screaming.... but I have to be consistent.

Golden hour

I LOVE this one.

Do you have a favourite?

PS This is the blue that's "my colour"

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Let's talk about traffic!

Let's talk about the traffic.

I was driving home this afternoon and it took me 33 minutes to get from the mall to my house.

33 minutes!!!!!!!!!

Please bear in mind that I left at 3:30 ish, there were parking problems (the machine was swallowing my money so I had to go to centre management. The manager there asked the security guard to check the machine to see if it had, in fact, swallowed my money, so I told her, "I'm not very happy that you're accusing me of lying for R9!" She looked taken aback and told the other girl to just let me out. Hell!) but I got out of there at 3:40.

So here's what I was thinking in the traffic.

1. I can't believe there's traffic this early!!!! What happened to 4:30 ish?

2. How is it that other people find it okay to sit in this crazy traffic day after day? Is there something wrong with me? I can't BEAR it!

Is it that I like to be productive too much? I was about half way home and I was thinking OH MY WORD, still so far to go.

First job - I took a bus to work.

Second job - I still took a bus to work. I lived on the bus route and my work was also on the bus route. So I literally walked 2 minutes in the morning and the bus dropped me at my building. Afternoons were the same story (even more buses than in the mornting).

Actual commute 20 - 25 minutes but I read on the bus so I was happy as Larry :)

I did that happily for 5 years and then got my licence when I wanted a new job because I realised I didn't want to be stuck choosing a company on the bus route again!

Third job - I had the car and the licence but the company was 15 minutes away, maybe 20 in severe traffic :)

Happy for five years.

Fourth Job - Secret Company was an HOUR away (I'd interviewed at another building) and I told them I didn't want their job. No kidding. The recruitment agent begged me to reconsider and said the magic words... "they're moving to ______ in two months". It turned out to be 3 months but still. I endured that long commute for 3 months. Torture!

This business of leaving 5 minutes later and being 20 minutes late is for the birds.

I was happy, happy, happy when they moved and I then had a 20 - 25 minute commute again for the next 9 years.

And now I've started to think about driving again as I verrrrrrry slowly dip my toes onto the job websites.

Do I just rule out everything more than 30 minutes away? I WANT TO!

But seriously people who travel far every day, help me to readjust my attitude! How do you make it okay in your head?

I'm just not sure thousands of rands is worth sitting in the traffic :) :)

And then 3, it's quite sad when it THRILLS me if I let someone into the flow of traffic (which doesn't happen in CT!) and they actually thank me. I am delighted!

Tell me your traffic stories!

Monday, July 21, 2014

{Messy Monday} Washi tape teacher's gift

K's teacher from last year resigned ....and we love her so we wanted to make her a little gift.

With the kids (actually, and for me) I like creative boundaries.

I often bring a colouring book with just pencil crayons (colouring pencils) or just markers or just crayons, so they have to get a bit creative instead of having every artsy thing under the sun available.

Anyway, for these sorts of things I let them choose 3 colours. So these are the ones she chose and then I guided her so she did some diagonally and some straight.

All you need are:
  • mini notecards
  • mini envelopes
  • washi tape
  • scissors
We decorated both the cards and the envelopes.



And best, some time for Kendra and me to play with some crafty stuff.

When was the last time you got creative?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Saying yes to all the important people things

So remember that post I wrote on the effects of just resigning?

3 things happened as a result of that post:

1. I decided to do some "work" on myself. I am currently not working with a coach but since I am a coach, I pretend I'm coaching someone else and give myself occasional homework and make myself answer the hard questions.

2. I objectively looked at where I've clammed up about my plans because I don't want to talk about things too much while still figuring them out vs where people have genuinely not taken an interest in me when I thought they would. This was revealing in itself.

I love MandyE's comment on that post. It echoes much of what I'd been feeling. While I'm all for being flexible, adaptable and such, I'm definitely not about being a doormat and I do require reciprocity. This was hard because it meant admitting to myself that in some cases, I'm simply putting too much effort into relationships.

I'm not desperate. It's just that I care, I try to be a good friend and I suppose I do expect the same in return. So when it doesn't happen, it hurts. Bottom line - God is my source and He really is the only one who can fulfill all my emotional needs, and He does!

3. Last, I decided to take a more active approach. This was somewhat in response to 1 above. So when people have asked, I've said YES more knowing that I both need the interaction and that I'd enjoy it afterwards even if a big schlep to organise babysitters, arrange my schedule and such.

Back to number 1 on that list.

When I was working through some personal development things, I wrote down my core desired feelings.

Yes, I mind map everything. EVERYTHING. Blogging for the month, planning out a talk, goals for the week, EVERYTHING.

The next question was which 3 things would I have to do to bring more of those core desired feelings into my life.

And so I grabbed a PL card (freebie) and wrote this down:

I love this little card.

So I stuck it up with washi tape on the top of a photo frame.

Real people are people face-to-face, or who engage properly with me in person, email, phone (so rare). In other words, when there's a real person in my life, they're always going to trump IG/ FB and computer stuff.

How this translates - I'm saying yes to friends who want to meet up if it makes sense for me too. I'm taking time when I'm out and I get into conversations with people at the gym, shopping, kids' school, etc. And I'm trying hard to be brave, vulnerable and ask for help if I know I can trust my heart with them. I had a situation a few weeks ago when I reached out to someone who absolutely came through for me. I can't tell you what that did for me. It was just great! But I can't share like that with many people and that's ok too.

I feel super accomplished when I'm doing stuff. Creating content, courses, products, but also creating an organised area, photographs, memories with my family, food, etc.

I've been coaching for 11 years and from my work with clients (and personal experience), it's harder than ever before to stay intentional with the onslaught of information, social media, etc. Not impossible, just harder.

If I work with my phone next to me, I'm constantly distracted by messages popping up even if the ringer's turned off. So I leave the phone in the bedroom while I work in the study and when I use the loo, I'll quickly check if I want to see what's happening.

That's the quickest way for me to be fully present with my family.

I'm personally a fan of small, constant steps rather than big, dramatic ones, and keeping the balance throughout the day and week is key for me rather than a crazy big unplug when it all gets too much. In fact, that's how this stuff never really gets too much for me (the social media stuff).

How about you?

This post is already way too long but I want to finish off by saying this:

I (and you) always have choice.

I am not a victim of circumstances. If I don't like something about my life, I can change something - either my response to it, or I can change the circumstances.

What are you saying yes to these days?
What do you need to say yes to?

PS Amazon sent me a gift card to my account which will be used super soon as, despite my best intentions, I still seem to be buying about 3 - 4 books a month.
PPS just realised this could tie into the new book, Let's all be brave, by Annie Downs.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Well, yes!

Indeed, I spoke too soon because it was cold today. Brr.

I've already had about 4 mugs of tea/ coffee and am cradling another one now.

I just checked my Goodreads and how in the heck have I only read 2 books for the month so far?

I know I've been reading Proverbs too but this seems wrong. So I'm going to read the books I want to, instead of the ones I feel I should read (books that have been on the Kindle too long).

Speaking of books, I bought a Kindle book for a friend today. Then I used the back button on my browser to go buy me a copy too since I thought maybe she'd want to read together. In any event, I wanted the book.

I think I was sidetracked because I bought another copy of the book.... again for her.

At first I thought no way... but WAY. Amazon didn't even tell me something like "you've just done this 2 minutes ago". (like FNB tells me when I want to pay the same person - my savings account - twice a day)

I went into my account to check and yes, two different invoice numbers. How perfectly annoying.

Nevertheless. Moving on.

My study is a MESS.

I'm sorting out 4 birthday presents at one time which means gift wrap! cards! washi tape! ribbon! ALL OVER.

And I still have some of the kids' gifts in my study because... well, I don't trust them to not lose bits and pieces so they need to be used under supervision. Nanny S doesn't give a jot about making sure all bits are together if she's with them, so I have to figure out a way to sort all this out.

I thought it was normal to be like me. When the kids pack away anything, I count - are all 18 markers in the set? Are all the puzzle pieces in the correct box? etc.

Do you do this too?

Anyway, I'm going to do a quick tidy and jump into that bed to start a new, fun book.

What are you reading at the moment?


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