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Staying Home Amid COVID-19

Don’t wish for it to be over

Photo by Tani Olorunyomi on Unsplash

In South Africa, we started our nationwide lockdown on Friday 27 March at 00:00. It was to carry on for 21 days until midnight on Thursday 16 April. That was 3 weeks. All we could do was go to the shops or go to the doctor pretty much. If you were not essential services, you stay home.

Companies had to adjust quickly and send staff home to work from home. Restaurants, bars, public places were the hardest hit. Everything had to remain closed.

Two weeks in, everybody got into their groove, not too much bitching and moaning going on anymore because it was the same for everyone, the rich, the poor, black, white, coloured, indian. No-one was exempted. This made it more bearable.

On Thursday 09 April, we heard that the president would address the nation in the evening. We were all eagerly awaiting news from him. He started with praising the public response and cooperation, the healthcare workers’ dedication and commitment. Then he said that’s it’s too early to tell whether our efforts to curb the virus has been successful and imposed a further 2 weeks of lockdown. The lockdown will now extend to 35 days, until the end of April. There were mixed emotions. We had one week to go and all of a sudden the 3 weeks had started all over again. Businesses who were suffering were now pushed into a further 2 weeks.

About a month ago patient zero arrived on our shores. Who would have thought? I bet these are the words on everyone’s mind. How did this thing come out of nowhere and so quickly disrupt my existence to the point of some losing jobs and later all hope?

Who allowed that to happen?

Photo by Krists Luhaers on Unsplash

As you are now confined to 4 walls with your partner and children, you have never spent more time with them. You’re not sure if you want to anymore. Your spouse is driving you crazy and you wonder, where were the days that you could drop your kids off at school or the daycare centre and get on with your life? I want answers you think. Someone must pay for this.

After all the ranting and raving and punching pillows, you know it’s not going away. No use fighting it any more. You always said you would build the dollhouse, well now is the time. Might as well keep you busy and not just with trips to the fridge.

Your kids will grow up and you will never have this time with them again. You won’t have all this time again to start that side hustle that you always dreamed of. Everything is going digital anyway. Maybe it’s time to offer those online piano lessons. Or to learn code, or to take up cooking lessons. 
 
First, you have to start with a plan. Work out a daily schedule for the remainder of the lockdown and include everything, even trips to the fridge. 
Read, meditate, catch up with friends and family via FaceTime. Call your parents, every day. They are the most vulnerable.

On the other side as well, it’s a great motivation to re-adjust your budget and expenses and save. You just realised you can do without all that eating out and daily Starbucks coffee. Put money away for a rainy day, because although the rainy day is here now, you will be better prepared for the next one 
 
Only hard cash is king. Make sure you have at least 6 months of expenses saved up. Yes, we all thought that day would never come. Well, all we can do is ride the wave, make adjustments and come out of this strong and ready. I will and so can you. We can make money again, find other jobs, but we can’t bring back life.
 
Good luck and all the best during these turbulent times.

Just remember, this too shall pass.

Blessings.

Love Lives Here

In the heart of a beautiful woman, you.

I just felt that today I needed to speak to the women in the house.

Ladies, wherever find yourselves. Will you do me a favour? Just for today, put yourself first.

Take some time out, go into a quiet corner and reflect on where you are today. What are you grateful for? What do you have going for you? A job that you like (that’s rare), your studies to educate yourself in order to become something better. A husband or partner who loves you. And lastly your kids whom you wanted to drop off somewhere more than once, but since there’s a law against that.

The burdens are heavy. Our mothers have carried those same burdens. With so much grace. Here we are, living in an age of microwave dinners, workplaces with child care facilities, being able to FaceTime your mother whenever you need to and still, we are not happy.

Something is sapping all our energy. Self-doubt and worry make us lie awake at night. Woman. Listen. For once, make it about you.

There is a beautiful saying — Love Lives Here. Let here be wherever you are.

Fellas, if you are listening. She may appear strong. For you. But inside she is falling apart. Especially when children are involved. Be committed. Stay committed. She loves you. Give her that honour.

She needs to know that she is your everything. Tell her that you love her. Often. That you appreciate everything she is doing for you. Do it today. Pick up the phone. Now.

Ladies, go to work every day determined to give it your all. Change your attitude towards your situation. It will never be 100% perfect. But if you go in with a smile, you will get through the day much easier.

Where do you see yourself 6 months from now? Will your situation still be the same? I hope not. We either progress or we stagnate. Start today to lay the foundation for a better future.

Become financially independent. It gives you options. Spend less than you earn. Start saving 10% of your income. Tackle your debt one at a time. Pay off your credit card.

Start taking care of your health. Start exercising. Eat better food. You can’t do anything if you don’t have your health.

Practice kindness. You just have to look around you to see where the need is. It is everywhere. Don’t wait for someone else to do it. That someone else is you.

Give yourself permission to start enjoying your life. Don’t wait for him to organise a date night. Just do it and send him a meeting request. Buy your own flowers.

Be the strong, independent woman that you know you can be. With a soft heart. Many things may have happened to warrant a hard heart. But you are not going to let those things overshadow the good that is still in the world just waiting to be discovered.

Be open. Let the light in. Let Love Live Here.

Make The Tough Decisions Today and You Won’t Regret a Thing

When things are not going well we are quick to come up with every excuse and justification for not taking action or doing the right thing.

Most unpleasant situations are our own doing. We know the right thing to do, but take zero action and then we wonder why nothing is happening.

We blame our past, the present and everything in between. It’s time to face some hard truths. Let’s start by asking yourself some tough questions?

1. Are you healthy?

The other day I had a slight headache because I was fasting for the day. I told the person I was with and immediately came out a whole bag of medication. She had a pill for everything. I was very surprised because overall she seemed healthy.

Don’t feel the need to be dependent on anything. Nothing that some exercise and fresh air won’t fix.

2. Healthy Eating

Are you able to go to the shop and choose exactly what you want to eat tonight? Do you have a choice of getting the healthier, slightly more expensive options? All the fruit and vegetables you need?

For some people, it is pap (South African mielie meal porridge) once a day only. If you’ve never had to go to bed hungry, you have nothing to complain about.

3. Healthy Body

Are you able to, if you wanted to, take a brisk walk around the block? Are you able to get out of your car, or get off at the bus stop before yours and walk the last 20mins?

Some people don’t have that luxury. Are you able to if you wanted to? That’s the answer.

4. Healthy Mind

Are you able to look around you and count all your blessings? Your spouse, your children, your co-workers who make you laugh.

If you wanted to, can you switch off all electronics and noise and just sit all by yourself, with your own thoughts without wishing you were somewhere else?

Can you decide to stay in and work or read a book, without having the feeling that you need to be somewhere or that you are missing out on something?

5. Healthy Spending

Are you able to say no to the impulse of buying another pair of shoes or another kitchen appliance you don’t need?

At the click of a button you can buy anything online and if you pay a little extra it can be home before you. Knowing that this service exists, knowing that you have the money to buy whatever you need, but not doing it — that’s a winner.

You will never regret it. Not making that purchase. This strong resolve will show up in all areas of your life. People will wonder how come you’re so lucky, you have everything going for you.

They don’t know that in the quiet moments when it’s just you and you, you make the tough decisions. It takes nerves of steel, but you’ve gotten better. Practice makes perfect.

6. Healthy Relationships

Are you able to walk out on an unhealthy relationship because it’s toxic and it’s affecting every area of your life? Are you saying no to verbal and emotional abuse even though you will return to an empty house tonight and there is no one to split the bills with?

You don’t need to sell your soul just because the lights are on when you get home and the bed is warm.

We’ve all made mistakes. But when you know better, you have to do better. 

You owe it to yourself.

Good luck with your journey.

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.