Is Your Life Paying Dividends Already?

I am sure you are having an amazing life so far.

The lights and heat are on and you have a nice little nest egg saved up. If you were to lose your job tomorrow, you are able to cope with the financial pressures. You have enough money saved up to cover at least 6 months of living expenses.

Uhhmm yes…or maybe not.

If you are reading this you are in a fortunate position. For those who can internalise and make sense of it, you are in an even better position. Or best scenario, you don’t need any advice since your pockets are lined already.

Good for you, too.

However, for the rest of us mere mortals, let’s put our heads together and start turning the soil.

There are only two rules.

  1. Spend less than you earn.
  2. Don’t forget rule no 1.
  • The millionaire next door carries a brown paper bag lunch to work.
  • The millionaire next door is driving a 10-year-old Toyota Carolla.
  • He doesn’t have the latest iPhone.
  • He doesn’t party every Friday night.
  • He knows exactly how much he has in his bank account, down to the last cent.
  • You would think he never gets a raise because he always looks the same.

There are so many things we think we need. The Joneses have it all. If you could only send them your cat food bill at the end of the month.

There are two sets of people in life. Those who are living the life right now in terms of enjoyment and consumption. Then there are those people who are investing in themselves and decided to put off ‘enjoying’ until later on.

Have you ever noticed those people whom you see jogging day after day? They are the ones who seem not to need to jog. But that’s why they are fit. Those who are wealthy work at staying financially fit. But those who are not financially fit do little to change their status. — The Millionaire Next Door

Every day you get up and get to work on the groundwork of your life. You don’t take for granted that one day you will retire on a great retirement package and have enough money for all your needs.

We count on tomorrow as if it were guaranteed. There is so much that can happen. Unexpected life changes like retrenchment, falling ill, divorce. Will you be in a position to absorb those financial shocks?

No matter what your financial position is right now. It can always be better. You need a mindset shift, from consumer to investor.

Who and what you are today is directly proportional to the investments you have made earlier on in life. Right now we are in the planting season. It may not be pretty, but it will be worth it.

The harvesting season will come.

With finances, like anything, prevention is better than cure. Don’t think it won’t happen to you. And myth number two. There is no time.

Live life on the offence. Ready for anything. Always. 

I can, I will, I must.

Man, You Are Worthy

Ladies, the man in your life needs you.

(I wrote this post a while ago, but I thought it was worth sharing again)

Photo by josh peterson on Unsplash

We all have men in our lives, whether husband, father, brother or just your friend. When last have you had a deep conversation with them? Not the kind of outburst after an argument with words and plates flying around.

A real heart to heart, how they feel, what bothers them, what do they fear. Most men feel that they obviously need to be the strong one, keeping it all together, making sure the wife and children are provided for and feel secure.

However, when life throws it’s punches, it may become rocky. He gets laid off at work. He is facing a health issue. His friend passed away. He is struggling to keep his business afloat. There are demands. The rent is due. The hospital bills are coming in.

You get the picture. Ladies, at this time he may be pushing you away, he may be saying that everything is under control even though it’s not. Understand that it’s difficult for him to talk about it. He needs your support now more than ever.

Let’s stop thinking about ourselves for a moment. Do just one thing that shows him that you are fully behind him and that everything will be ok. Tell him that he is doing a great job already. Everyone needs that reassurance, that his woman is behind him. Our circumstances are all different, it may be easier said than done.

Once you’ve made a decision to be with someone, you owe it to them and the relationship to build up one another, not tear down each other. We can get so emotional. The relationship can only blossom when there is mutual trust and a commitment to make it work no matter what.

I think part of our problem is that we give up too easily. Your partner may have done something that hurt you. No one is without fault and misunderstandings happen so easily. You have to believe that what you have is worth more than one (or two, or three) misunderstandings. Especially when children are involved. Of course, there are non-negotiables. Nobody needs to stay in an abusive relationship.

Having said that, if you are in a relationship where you are co-parents, respect the other person enough not to talk badly about them in front of the children. Fathers, take the lead role in your children’s lives. Be there for them, physically, emotionally, financially. They, too, will grow up and it will be difficult to try and forge a relationship later if you were absent during their childhood. We cannot turn back the clock, but we can make a decision today to make it right.

Man, reclaim your rightful place as head of the household, and head of your tribe.

You can do it, you are worthy.

Woman, You Are Worthy

Let’s give each other permission to shine.

(I wrote this post a while ago, but I thought it was worth sharing again)

Photo by hannah grace on Unsplash

As you show up at work (when you eventually go back to work again, after COVID-19), just take a look around. How many women do you see? Not just notice, but really see.

Not just say hi to and get on with it. We are all supercharged, 100 percent battery life as we sit down and get to work.

No time to really connect with others, particularly the women in our lives. So many women are carrying a silent burden. Whether the trouble is with the man in her life, her children, finances or job, a lot of us don’t say anything. We just suck it up, show up and get on with it.

It’s not easy because, at night when the guard and make-up come off, it can be a lonely place. There is no-one to talk to, no one to listen. No one hears the doubts and fears, the silent cries. They don’t know that when the kids are asleep, you take out the whiskey or the valium, or the two for the price of one double-decker pizza (which comes with a free 2-litre coca-cola).

In our 20s, we are set on getting an education and a decent job and rightfully so. Then, in our 30s we are climbing the corporate ladder, trying to get to the corner office. Then suddenly we are 39 and single. Just stop today and take stock. Is this where you thought you’d be when you hit 25, 30, 40 or 50?

It’s not too late to get your life back together and make yours truly your number one priority. Put down your 5-year plan, also put down your goals for the next 12 months. Like they say if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. Make it all about you.

Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

There’s that good looking guy with the great sense of humour you’ve been eyeing. You know what is better? When you work on yourself and have it all together. You are emotionally and mentally strong and you can hold your own. You won’t have to go looking for anyone, they will come to you. Put in the hard work first.

There is nothing worse than going from one failed relationship to another, without any loss of enthusiasm. Life is not a sprint. It’s not speed dating. Stop worrying that you may be missing out. The relationship worth having is firstly with yourself. If someone shows up who is genuinely for you and in your corner, good for you. But even then, take your time. It’s great to get to the fireworks, but then what?

Woman, wherever you are in life, do what is right for you. Feel the fear and do it anyway. The saddest thing would be to fast forward one year from now and be in exactly the same place. I know it’s not easy. We don’t want to be vulnerable. As you take the smallest of steps forward, your confidence will grow and it will be like compound interest. With every step, you grow and become beautifully and wonderfully you.

You can do it.

19 March 2020 – 150

I guess every South African knows what this number means. Probably the rest of the world as well. All they need to know is where you live and they will immediately make the connection.
150 cases of COVID-19 in South Africa, up from 116 yesterday.

A little less than a week ago we were still fine. I remember the total was 24 on Friday 13 March, nothing to be really concerned about I thought. I woke up on Saturday 14 March with an announcement from the school that a father who had travelled to Switzerland and returned had tested positive. As a precautionary measure, all the weekend’s sports and social activities were cancelled.

On Sunday 15 March, we heard the president will make an announcement at 18h00 that evening. Everyone was now at the edge of their seats, what is he going to say? At about 19h30 (an hour and a half later) he began to speak.

We are now entering a state of emergency he said. All schools will be closed from Wednesday 18 March. Social gatherings of 100 or more were prohibited. A travel ban for incoming visitors from high-risk countries. I don’t think anyone has recovered from the news yet.

Even though schools were only closed from Wednesday 18 March, children were kept at home from Monday 16 March. Normal parents have to work, or so I guess… So who is going to look after all these little people who are suddenly at home that no-one planned for? It’s enough to give anyone an anxiety attack before the start of the week.

Despite our whole world just being turned upside down, we are all supposed to act like normal people. I know many of you have similar stories, and I think the only thing holding us up, is that no-one is exempt from COVID-19, we are all in this together. Our leaders may decide on different measures on how to fight the virus, but collectively we are all affected.

As Marcus Aurelius said, it’s not what happens to you, it’s how you respond. For some of us, there is a lot of free time at hand, and it’s what you do during this time when no-one is watching that you build character and integrity. No-one has to tell you what’s good and bad, you intrinsically know the difference. That’s personal growth and wisdom. You can either get out of this proud and strong, or weak and pathetic, the choice is yours.

We are all at the same starting blocks. Even those who were ahead are forced to take a step back to recalibrate. Maintain your internal fortitude. Be the rock to those around you. You are not doing it for others, you are doing it for yourself.

Even though the children are at home, businesses still operate. If not, we may just have a total collapse of the economy. Most people are encouraged to work from home. Where I work we do medical assessments and we are dependent on foot traffic. If we don’t see patients, there’s no money in the bank.

I don’t know what will happen next week, but for now, we are still going in. We have taken various measures to protect ourselves and our patients. My children are at home doing their school tasks and my one son send me this photo. This is what he did today.

There is still beauty in the world. Don’t despair, we will get through this, together.

God Bless.

There IS Hope!

As we enter this day, March 14th we are all worried about the coronavirus and where it will all end. Schools and universities have closed, major sporting events are cancelled. People are asked to self-isolate and work from home.

There are a few problems with that. For the majority of people, this is not a voluntary move, they were not asked and they can’t say no. What does that do to one? It feels like you are not in control and when you are not in control you start to experience anxiety and worry.

Working moms and dads are worried about elderly parents living far away. They now have to try and do some productive work while the kids are running around at home. It feels like the spring break came early, but without the cheerfulness and excitement.

We are asking ourselves, is it safe to go to the mall? One has to eat. The gym is off-limits. If you are living in the city, you are at least an hour’s drive away from the nearest park and then you have to watch out that you choose the one where there are no crowds. It’s supposed to be a relaxing weekend. If you hear of anyone who has travelled you say sorry, you can’t visit even if they came from a country where the count is zero. One just cannot take any chances.

In South Africa, we currently have 24 confirmed cases. In a country of 60 million people, that is less than a drop in a bucket. However, if we don’t take precautions this number can rise exponentially and out of control within the next few weeks, just like in other countries. Our public healthcare system is fragile as it is, we just won’t be able to cope with the masses who will need treatment.

That, compounded by the fact that we now have regular load shedding (electricity cuts), rising food and fuel prices, we are starting to feel the pinch. Psychologically, more than anything.

This is dangerous because we bottle up emotions. It is also a country rife with unemployment. There is more strain on the income earners where one person is looking after their own family, plus extended family members and those who are not working. A bleak outlook overall.

At the same time, I don’t think I’ve ever felt so connected to all of humanity, to people in other countries fighting a similar struggle to try and curb the virus and bring it under control.

People are opening up. They know they are not alone. There are more acts of goodwill that normally go unnoticed. Even if you can’t visit family and friends, keep in touch with them. Send a quick message or call them. People will appreciate so much that you care.

Above all else, keep a level head. People are looking up to you for guidance and direction, without you knowing. You are their only beacon of hope. Don’t let your light go out. Keep shining.

Thank You, But No Thank You, Sir

Start taking control of your life.

Photo by Donald Giannatti on Unsplash

Because you are reading this article, you would, by inference have the following already going for you.

  • You have a roof over your head (correct me if I’m wrong)
  • You had (or can have) 3 meals today if you wanted to
  • You don’t have to walk 2 miles to work or to school
  • You have warm clothes to protect you from the elements
  • You are probably reading this from your iPhone 11 Pro Max 😊

If you are over 18 and you have all of the above, you can start making your own money. You can have any lifestyle you want. The only prerequisite is that you have to do the work.

Can you do that? By all means, yes. You may not have the ambition and drive you need right now, but you can start by reading books, taking online classes, take up an apprenticeship. Just start.

You don’t have to be like the other men or women in your family who didn’t make it. All they talk about are the missed opportunities, they reminisce about all the chances they had but didn’t take.

The excuses are many. They said they would start one day.

“Opportunity waits for no man. Today it is here; soon it is gone. Therefore, delay not!”

Life is already here, and we are waiting and getting ready for it. I need to pass this course. I need to save up enough money. I need to learn about ad words and affiliate marketing.

If this doesn’t stir you.

The internet, globalization and working remotely have made us so comfortable. One has to consciously guard against becoming too cosy. Exercise at some point during the day is a great enhancer. One has to block out that there is food around to nibble on, otherwise we may go on nibbling the whole day and get nothing done.

The greatest distractor though is our mind.

It wants to do and think of everything except the task at hand. Ryan Holiday says Stillness Is The Key. If you can conquer your mind, you can do anything.

Our hopes and fears, especially our fears paralyze us from the time we wake up. One has to occasionally and regularly quiet the mind. Exercising and meditation can do that. It has to be a conscious decision though.

The same conscious effort is needed to not overeat, to not over-indulge, to not partake in mindless numbing and sensationalism. It’s so easy to zone out because we don’t have to be fully alert to veer off lions or wild animals. We don’t need all our energy to gather food. It’s all available to us, on a silver platter and what we can’t do is say no thank you.

The way forward is in saying thank you, but no thank you. No, I’m not going to sleep in. I’m not going to skip class today. I’m not going to call in sick. I’m not going to overeat. Instead of taking the bus to get to the train station, I may just walk. I will give up my seat on the full train and just stand.

When I get to my desk, I won’t check in to social media first. I am going to knuckle down and work through the task at hand. I may just hand in my assignment a few days early.

I’m not going to buy a new pair of sneakers, my old ones are just fine. I may just decline the party I was invited to this weekend to get through just one of the books I’ve bought but never got to the second page.

Maybe I’ll try it, just for today.

Thank you, Sir.

You are your own worst critic (and enemy)

Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

After taking a bit of time off from writing and telling myself that I need all the time and energy to focus on my new year’s resolutions — 55 days in. If that isn’t enough time to set you straight, I don’t know what will. I just happened to stumble upon my previous blog posts and saw some comments that you’all wrote, of how a few pieces resonated with you and that you want more and here I am thinking that this writing thing may actually not be for me!

At best, we are our own worst critics. Every, single, time. It’s like a record player that got stuck. In my head at least. They tell me at work that I’m doing great, that we’ve grown the department under my leadership and they don’t know what they would do without me.

And I’m like, yeah right. You’re just saying that to make me feel good and I REFUSE to take any credit. There is so much still to be done. You just know about this one time, that one time, that other time when I utterly and miserably failed.

Yes, I didn’t want to come back the next day. You say you know the feeling, I don’t think so. That misery that makes you want to pull the blankets over your head and maybe wake up in the year 2030.

Michelle, can you just get out of our head for once? It isn’t all about you. Misery, anxiety, depression is your crutch. What would you be without it? Where would you be? Perhaps, just maybe, in a better place.

Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

Start with gratitude. Look around you and see all the things you’ve got going for you. So many people look up to you. You’ve got a job, you earn decent money. You’re debt-free. You’ve got 2 beautiful kids. When you’re looking at the Joneses, you think you’re falling way short.

Just be careful, for anything can happen and you may just end up on the street, with nothing. Then you’ll have something to complain about. Then you can really feel sorry for yourself.

We want to live every other life, except the one we have.

We are living in the past and the future. Never really anywhere.

Be present. Today. Be where you are.

Appreciate all the things you’ve got going for you.

Look around, smell the roses.

Start doing some introspection and self-examination.

Don’t hide the truth from yourself, don’t lie to yourself. It’s easy. Anything than facing the harsh reality. The reality that what you have is enough.

That you can become anything you set your mind to.

Many people before you have succeeded, with less. You need to demand more of yourself. You are highly capable. It’s all in your head. Get out of your head and get going.

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.”

If you don’t know where to start, exercise is a great catalyst. So is meditation. Start with exercise. A walk around the block. If you’re into art, draw something. If you’re great with code, code something, however simple.

Build on that tomorrow. But don’t be with tomorrow yet. Finish today, finish it strong. I can, and so can you.

Good luck with your journey.

How To Turn Anxiety and Vulnerability into Appreciation and Self-Love

Photo by JR Korpa on Unsplash

There are many of us going through difficult times at the moment. Or is it just me? Things seem to fall apart at the seams. I am facing a major transition period in my working career and it is scary. I’m not sure if I’m making the right decision. I’m not sure if a year from now I will regret it.

All I want is for this period of uncertainty to end.

There seems to be no end in this diabolical situation. It feels like I’ve been stuck here forever, although I’ve only really felt it over the last few months.

When you are going through a difficult situation, what do you do? How does one cope? How do you pretend that everything is normal, even though you are filled with anxiety and all you want to do is stay in bed and watch Netflix all day.

It’s hard. It’s hard to explain to somebody when they are not in it. Nobody understands. They don’t get it. And if they can just stop asking if everything’s ok. It’s not! Not today, not ever!
You know people on anti-depressants and think that maybe it’s time to get that prescription. Numb the pain. Don’t feel anything. Walk around like a zombie.

One day, not too long ago I went to visit my grandfather. He is born in 1921. He is 98 years old. My grandfather grew up on a farm in Namibia and he’s never left it. Perhaps to go to primary school in the town but that’s it. He is less agile now as he has aged, has some trouble with his joints and had to have surgery to his eyes to take out cataracts, but other than that he is still a spring chicken.

I am always humbled to be in his presence. He doesn’t have a care in the world. He gets up at sunrise, works the land and the livestock, comes back in the afternoon and rest. He lacks nothing because he does not know what much feels like. He never had much.

To be so content and so free of worry at such an advanced age is something that we folks can learn from. 
We worry about everything. There is so much anxiety. The pent-up emotions that we walk around with are enough to drive anyone into a straight jacket.

Photo by matthew Feeney on Unsplash

Let us stop and think for a minute. If we think we have it bad with the lights on and watching an iPhone 11 screen, you better think again. Put things into perspective. Take time to re-evaluate where you are in life and appreciate everything you’ve got.

That job you hate going to go to every day, well someone would give their left pinky to have that. Because if you have to decide between a shitty job and to eat, what are you going to choose? Look around you, take stock. Sit down, make a note of everything you are grateful for. Stick it on your wall. Rewrite it every day.

While you are going through this tough time, draw nearer to yourself. Spend time alone. Reflect. Read. Stop all frivolous activities. It will just make you feel more empty.

Become deeply aware of your situation and with the knowledge that no situation is permanent. This, too, shall pass. Become intensely aware of who you are and how far you’ve come.

Don’t rush the healing. It will come. When the time is right. And when it’s all over, you will realise just how much you have grown and matured.

With pressure, diamonds are formed. 

You are one of them. 

A diamond in the making.

Sub two-hour marathon — Eliud Kipchoge Did It!

What is your excuse? Not to run a 2-hour marathon, but to slowly, consistently and intentionally change the course of your life.

Picture courtesy of @INEOS159

We didn’t think we’d see it in our lifetime, but it was done, on Saturday. Eliud Kipchoge did it. I don’t even know how it feels to win a marathon in double that amount of time. I watched the full race on television and all I can say is that we humans, we underestimate ourselves.

We start something and if it just looks like we are about to break a sweat, we give up. It is unbelievable what one man could do. He tried it 2 years ago and failed. But that didn’t stop him. He got back on to the track and trained and geared himself up for the next time.

What do we do when we fail? We throw in the towel. Any inkling of self-worth goes right down as well. You think to yourself, I will never amount to anything.

Let me stop you right there. Others, with less talent, is outworking you right this minute. Stop with the excuses, just stop! You’re not the only one going through a tough time. In fact, you have not seen any kind of tough. It’s in your mind. Snap out of it. Now!

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” — J. K. Rowling

Eliud didn’t stop 2 years ago. We are not going to stop today. No matter how tough it feels. You are tougher than that. Eliud proved it. You are not your failures, you are not your excuses.

Picture courtesy of @INEOS159

When you’ve had a good cry, dry off your tears and let’s go. You owe it to yourself. You owe it to the people cheering for you. Eliud had 41 pacemakers. 41 hearts were beating along with his. They are world-class athletes, they could have done anything else with their time. But they decided to be by his side, to be a part of history in the making.

Sometimes, you must look at the bigger picture. If you don’t bring your part today, will someone notice? Will they ask you if something’s wrong. You don’t seem yourself today.

If you have just one such person, you owe it to yourself and them to not give up. So many others are silently watching, wanting you to succeed.

It’s not too late. Take a few deep breaths and tell yourself that whatever curveball you’ve hit, is just a slight side-step, but it’s not going to stop you.

You are not going to give up. It’s all part of the journey. One day you will look back and smile because you’ve tried.

“Those who complete the course will do so only because they do not, as fatigue sets in, convince themselves that the road ahead is still too long, the inclines too steep, the loneliness impossible to bear and the prize itself of doubtful value.”
 ― Thabo Mbeki

Picture courtesy of @INEOS159

Great Expectations

Whose path are you on?

Photo by whoislimos on Unsplash

I was at a family friend’s baby shower today. Little baby Joel is expected to arrive in no less than 9 weeks. As all mothers know the last few weeks become the source of great excitement, anxious awaiting, boundless expectation until the final day arrives. It’s a beautiful experience.

As we journey through life, other events happen that bring about the same experience. Working on a project for a long time and finally seeing the fruits and reward. Starting a business from scratch and eagerly awaiting the time when the first check is in the mail.

We have 2 peach trees in our garden and last year the harvest was rotten. A fungus got into the trees very early which we were unable to detect until the peaches were ready to be harvested. In fact, they looked ripe and ready to eat from the outside, but the inside was rotten.

The blossoms are just coming out and this year we prepared the trees and sprayed them with pesticide and pruned them early. We are anticipating a better harvest this year.

Ready for peaches?

Whatever we are busy with, we don’t always know the outcome. We have an expectation of one thing, to be successful. To do well in college and get a good job. To be in a relationship with a wonderful guy or girl and hoping that it will eventually end in marriage. Taking on extra tasks at work in the hope of being the next one to be promoted.

However, the outcome is never guaranteed. Life happens. Things change. How do you cope when suddenly you realise that this path is not for you? How do you tell other people, that the relationship is not working for you any more? That the project you’ve been working on for 6 months does not serve your higher purpose anymore.

This is perhaps most painful in the breakdown of a marriage. One person says I’m sorry it’s not for me anymore. This is not how I want to live my life.

The growth in a person occurs at different stages and it could be exponential in some and minute, barely visible in others at a specific point in time. This brings about a shift in dynamics in the workplace, in relationships, with your family.

Not everyone is ready for the growth and this new person.

Some people would prefer that you stay the way you are, the way they’ve known you. Why are you trying to complicate things? Do you think you are smarter than us now?

The shift is difficult, more so for the person at the centre of it, you. It is the metamorphosis that is so necessary for you to reach your full potential and become who you truly are meant to be. This may mean losing friends, partners and work colleagues along the way. Don’t fear, you are making space for other people to come into your life who will bring value at a different level. At the level you are now.

We are all creatures of habits and would prefer that things stay the same. Don’t rock the boat. A lot of people walk around with great pain inside them because it’s easier to pretend that things are ok, that you are still the same.

Only you know the hurt and the longing and sadness that come in the small of the night. In the morning you wrap that all up and put it aside because the world is expecting the version of you that they are used to.

If you are lucky, the day will come when the risk to remain tight in a bud is more painful than the risk it takes to blossom.

Upon this journey people will come and go, some will walk a part of the way with you, some will divert early, but the ones that stay with you till the end are the ones to be cherished.

Good luck with your journey.