Back to the grind

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Photo by Madison Inouye on Pexels.com

And…. im back!

So for a moment there, I thought hey, does the world, or let’s go a little smaller and say does South Africa really need my blog?  I wanted to write about so many things after the festive season, but self doubt creeped in like the way it has a habit of doing so and I wasn’t really sure if people really wanted to hear it, and so I stopped writing for a bit, but the ideas and stories I want to tell you can’t be kept silent.

I can’t tell you how good it feels to write again. When I write I don’t stop to think, I stop when I finish the article. I do it in one go. Everyone asks me where do I find the time. I can say I don’t have time, but the truth is we all make time for the things we love and so I write before bed time usually until late but thanks to technology I can write and post to social media at the touch of a button. Let’s leave the A.I. for another day, shall we.

A New Year begins. Another chance at doing it over, doing it better, or just doing what it is you set out to, but for some reason, couldn’t. Maybe you are starting from scratch or picking up where you left off, but the slate has been wiped clean and you have a new canvas in which to paint for your story in 2019. So, what will it be?

I used to make resolutions in the past, but I don’t anymore. What I did give much thought to, is what areas in my life I needed focus on and came to the realization that there are a few aspects that I would like to either change, improve or expand on in my life currently. What I also learnt about myself is that I am far too cautious. I really need to take more risks this year. Venture out, and try new things, be more adventurous! Having said that I believe in writing things down and setting mini goals so I have been working towards this.

Hasn’t the year just started off with a bang! Getting back to the grind, the clichéd line where you feel like you haven’t even had a vacay and you need a vacay from your vacay.

It’s been a rollercoaster since January,  and each time I started to write, my fatigue took over and muddled my brain, or I would stop to attend to something else, and forget to get back to it but never publish, until one of my close friends asked me about when I was writing my next blog, and I told her that I wasn’t sure whether to write again or not. She raised her eyebrow and looked at me quizzically. She reminded me of the reason that I started this blog. It was never to be famous. It was to reach out to people who would read this and be able to resonate with some part of it.

There is something really special in reading something that echoes your own sentiments, and for that moment you have affirmation, that hey, I’m not alone. There’s actually someone else that is going through this too and there’s almost some sense of solace in that and it wraps you up like a blanket giving you calm when you need it most.

2019 has already been a trying year and it’s only March. Is it too early for wine? I recall starting off at work by having to take time off my first day back at work, as my 2 year old was running high fever for almost 48 hours and eventually had to be hospitalized. Thankfully it was a short 3 night stay and baby was back to her normal self but Ah, a mum’s guilt of trying to be present at work but also being there for her family. I got to work looking like I needed to sleep for a week, but a little caffeine and I was good to go!

My 5 year old was placed in a new class this year and she was feeling apprehensive about finding new friends. Her bestie from the previous year was placed in another class. I new she would adjust but after I fetched her from school on Day 1 I asked her how her day went and she said, “ It was okay Mum,  but everyone had someone to play with,  and I didn’t.”

My heart sank a bit. I told her that she would make friends in no time, reassuring myself as well as her, I’d hoped. I guess that was my cue. I told her that it was okay if she didn’t have friends immediately. She would be okay playing on her own. She is a very shy child but I realized the sooner I equipped her to becoming more agile and being able to deal with change, the better. I also wanted her to understand that having someone to hold her hand in school was great, but even if she didn’t have that, she would still be perfectly okay.

The Mum in me was really just wanting to make things better for her, but as I learn more on how to parent ( and those of you who are parents know that this doesn’t have a handbook and we just making this up as we go) , I realize that the more self sufficient I can raise my child, the more easier the transition will be for her one day when she has to stand on her own two feet.

A few weeks in at school, and she comes home beaming and tells me that she has made two new friends. Thats my girl!

Thank you to my two friends who reminded me that my stories are being read and that they are reaching you.

What I would like to hear from you is what you would like me to write about? I would love to hear from you.

Please feel free to inbox me or comment on the site. Email Nirusha34@gmail.com

Until next time

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Press Pause

 

adult beverage breakfast celebration
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Thank you to all of you who commented and messaged me after I posted my last blog. I know that it had a few key elements in it, and each of those elements is probably a separate topic on its own, but from your feedback I have noted how much different aspects of it has resonated with you. Sometimes I feel I am just the voice inside your head, that you probably just need to hear out loud. Heck, sometimes I need to hear myself out loud.

With the holidays and festive season fast approaching, and what will be the close of a really busy year, I wanted to just take a moment and pause. Life moves at an incredibly fast pace and for those of you like me, who operate at full speed, it can get too much, physically and mentally.

We really underestimate the power of rest and relaxation. A foreign concept to some of us, but yet is does exist. We also don’t seem to understand how much stress can impact on our bodies and minds. Stress is a real thing. Most of us just brush it off and move right along. The challenge I find is that you can only brush it off for so long. Even the strongest of people will be forced to stop and take stock and make changes.

This happened to one of the strongest people I know this past week and it was really hard to deal. People always expect strong people to be just that, strong. But every one has a point where it gets too much.

I am just grateful that it was nothing that cant be fixed, but when we are told to “take it easy’ can we really? And do we. We still have demanding and challenging careers, many of us have kids, many of us are studying and have the stress of exams and assignments, and we cant just take it easy when we have goals to reach.

I am not saying, just take it easy, but when you get the signals that you are overloaded, then take a step back and assess what you can do to make things easier.

We all get to a point where we feel overwhelmed.

Life wont tell you when, but you will find that when things happen, they all happen at once.

So here’s just some of my tips to help you out  , and you can use em or lose em:

  1. Breathe – people forget the importance of breathing. Taking deep breaths in, holding to the count of 5 and then exhaling to the count of 5. Once you have oxygen in your system and your breathing slows down, you will feel alot calmer.
  2. Get engaged in something physical – Walking, running, cycling, whatever you like to get your heart rate going.
  3. Focus on the present – look around you, take in the sights and smell and sounds. Ground yourself. I always take off my shoes to feel the earth and the grass and the ground.
  4. Read a book – get your mind off whatever it is that’s stressing you and lose yourself in the pages of a good story.
  5. Engage in some quiet time – I know that’s hard when there are little kids around, but when they are napping , take some timeout for yourself
  6. Eat right – drink some herbal tea, and choose light foods and avoid caffeine
  7. Take a long bath and just rest your mind and body
  8. Usually when you are stressed, you are worried about something. So think of a plan of action, once you have that you will feel more grounded in terms of what you can do
  9. Focus on what is within your control. You cannot control things outside your span of control so let that go! Cue song…..
  10. Talk to someone – a partner, spouse, boy or girlfriend, family member and they can help you see things from a different perspective.
  11. Focus on your spiritual side – meditation , prayer, whatever brings you calm and peace.

 

The point is not to let things bottle up. Let go of excess baggage that you are carrying. I read somewhere that “The Mountain you are carrying on your back, you should be trying to climb.” Trying to be strong all the time, is great but shortlived. None of us here on Earth are super humans. Many of us can run on empty but we are all just trying to make it through the day sometimes.

Reality bites. And as beautiful as the moments in life are, growing up and adulting is hard. I remember when I was a kid myself, and now I have kids myself, little people that I am responsible for. If I had to ponder on that too long, I will freak myself out. But the only expectations we have are the ones we place on ourselves. And maybe today, the dishes can stay in the sink, or the toys can remain on the floor and maybe that time can be used to cuddle a little longer or crawl on the floor pretending to be the Lion from Narnia.

Rest is underrated. Take more time to rest, but really rest. Unwind, be still. I hope that whatever it is that you have planned for this vacation, you find the time for yourself to reconnect with whatever it is you wish to.

Take each day as it comes and enjoy the moments with your family, friends and loved ones.  Now that I have written this,it reminds me of my middle sister telling me I am cheesy after she read one of my IG posts hahaha! This blog is going to seem incredibly cheesy. But like I told her, this is just me being sincere. If that makes me cheese, I would definitely like to be Camembert melted with some figs 🙂 and who doesn’t like that?

For all those observing, a very Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year! May this festive season bring you closer to what you seek.

Safe travels to all of you and thank you so very much for taking the time to listen to little old me.

And with that this is my last blog for the year. I started in March of this year and am really proud to still be writing in December.

Catch you back in 2019!

 

 

 

let it Go

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My 5 year old twirling

 

Now before you break into song, (those of you that are parents will know the Disney movie to which I am referring), let me just say how freaking hard those three words are!

Ever get told to “Let it go?” Ever tried to? I don’t know why it is, but the more I try, the harder it seems.

My hubby tells me that I need all to be right with the world in order for me to be happy.

I realised that he’s right. Crap, did I just say that he was right? Well partly. Partly because I don’t need all to be right in the world, I just need almost all things to be right in my world. Not because I want it to be perfect, but because I want people around me including myself to be happy. I know I have great expectations. Possibly a little unattainable but I guess its because the things and people around us, are what keeps us grounded and when that is unsteady, then we become unsure.

The reality is, that I cant fix everything but being the eternal optimist that I am,  I always try. And when I cant, I get really bummed about it. The downside of being someone with high EQ levels is that I cant just leave my emotions at the door. I can do it in my work but not always in my personal life. Sometimes I cant compartmentalize. Often, I carry the weight of it on my shoulders. And often it is to my detriment because I let it bring me down. And when I do my hubby and kids have to bear the brunt of me not being 100% myself. They don’t deserve that. Shouldn’t our families get the best of us?

If there is one thing I find really hard, its getting people to see things from my perspective. Only if you are truly empathetic, will you be able to place yourself in someone else’s shoes and see things from their point of view. Not many people are able to do that. Very few can. Judgment clouds us because our perception is our reality isn’t it?

Of all the things bothering you right now, how many of those relate to people?

The truth is many of us can deal with so many things in our lives but interpersonal relationships are the hardest. Loved ones, friends, family, colleagues, they’re all a part of our lives and when one relationship isn’t going as well, can you just cut the tie and move on? Many people can and not look back without a single regret. But many of us , don’t. Why? I think the reason is pretty evident. It’s because we care, we actually do. We care, we love, we hurt, we cry, we laugh again, and we move on. Some ties will always be there, forever.

I find that of all words I know in my vocabulary, saying “I’m sorry,” is probably the most difficult words to come out of my mouth. When it comes to my hubby , I hardly ever say it because I am never wrong 🙂 Just kidding! But truth be told, even when it comes to him, I battle to say it. Its like those two words get stuck in my throat and they just refuse to come out.

And we really need to become more attuned to saying sorry when we are wrong. Suck it in soldiers. There’s no point in arguing until Kingdom come, when you know deep down you were wrong.  Let it freaking go. I know of people that haven’t spoken for years and possibly cant even remember the reason why they even fought in the first place. Pride can be a good but also a very bad thing. Time passes and we are holding onto pride instead of letting things go. We are losing more than just time. We are losing moments.

Friendships are a two way street. One party should not just be giving and giving and the other taking.  It should also not be a case of only calling, texing or sms’ing when you need something. How many of us are guilty of that?

We don’t speak or see some of our friends for months or sometimes even years and the moment we need something, then we are quick to call to ask for something but not to find out how the person is actually doing? If the person is no longer a part of your life, why only turn to them when you need something? That’s not fair, is it.

You cant always be the person whose shoulders have to broad enough to carry everyone’s problems. You need to be able to identify when you are being drained. When you are being used, when you are being taken for granted

You also want to be there for the good times and the successes , not just for when they are down in the dumps. Have you noticed that when things are going well and they are happy again, you wont get a call to hang out with them? Why is that? Because you are the go to person for when things are not going well. When things are hunky dory, there’s a different set of people they will go out with and hey, sorry but you are not one of them.

This blog is about me just as much as it is about you. I am incredibly compassionate, I am very empathetic, I love people and am passionate about my relationships in life! I wear my emotions pretty much on my sleeve because that is me being my authentic self. If I am sad, you will see my tears,  or if I am happy you will hear my gregarious and loud laughter! I can take up to a certain level , but I also know when I am being used. When that happens, I am not dramatic about it, but I slowly withdraw and disengage. Eventually I stop engaging.

It was hard for me to do that when I was younger, but as I have got older, I have matured and I realized that I will be selective with whom I choose to spend my time. I will politely decline an invitation if I don’t feel comfortable to attend somewhere. I will do what is in the best interest of my family and myself. I have never been a selfish person all my life, and I wont start now, but I have placed a tighter rein on what and who makes me happy and what brings me down.

You have the right to do the same. I call it self-preservation.

Gosh, isn’t life too short to not be doing things you love with people you love.  Let go of negative energy. Let it pass through you and not into you.

I have already got my hands full with two energizer bunny girls at home. My time with hubby is limited during the week, so we make the most of our catch up over tea every night. All I want is to be around people who fill my life with love and light. Who it is a pleasure to just have the company of even if we are just laughing and having drinks at home. No effort, no fuss, and just lots and lots of good and positive energy.

Over my 20 years of living in Johannesburg, mine and hubby’s circle of friends have become just like family. Some, have come and gone, but the select few that remain, I know will be here for life. You guys know who you are. They knew us when we had nothing, and they still view us in the same way now that we have come up in life. They still want nothing from us but the pleasure of our company. Many of them don’t yet have kids, yet they are happy just to chill out with us and play with our kids and spoil them as if they were their own.

Someone asked me once, how come I have such young friends. I don’t base my friendships on age. I have friends that are as young as in their twenties to those that are in their sixties and for me, its not the age that matters but the bond I share with them. I learn so much from the millennials and their agile mindset, and on the other end, I can have conversations for days with my older friends, as they are so well travelled, so experienced with the world, and just listening to their stories, I feel energized to go out there and do something different.

Choose the company you keep. Fill it with positive vibes and making memories whether you’re relaxing around a BBQ, taking trips filled with adventure or just having a conversation.

You should always walk away feeling like, when can I see this person again. Their spirits uplift me and make me want to do better and be better. Or I really learnt something from this conversation today. Or, I feel so comfortable that I can just be me even though I am not in my own home.

That’s real.

Always keep twirling, like that of a child.

 

Out of reach

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My Grad pic with Henley – Nov 2017

 

The pic above was at my graduation from Henley last year after having completed my Post Grad. It was one of my proudest achievements! I hadn’t studied in a while and wasn’t sure about what I wanted to do. Being in HR, I felt that I needed something that would better equip me for the way HR is now, a true Business Partner from a Commercial perspective. The Post Grad Diploma in Management was all that and more for me. I was blessed with an incredible syndicate group to work, and whom I am proud to still be in touch with and call my friends. I could feel myself growing with each lecture and block of study, literally and physically LOL, because I fell pregnant during my studies!

It really tested me. I was working on a major global project at work, I had to meet with my group every Thursday from 6-9pm and we had assignments to complete. I also had my first born who needed me and I still had to make dinner haha. Talk about multi tasking. I really have to thank my partner for having faith in me and believing in me, when I didn’t believe in myself. He encouraged me to go for this. He helped me with our kid whilst he was also studying his MBA. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without him.

When my group and I gave our final presentation, I was almost 8 months pregnant. I don’t recall wearing shoes!! We had the most amazing lecturer who was my inspiration and allowed me to carry a pillow to class and put my swollen feet up. Rica, you will and always be an incredible inspiration to me!!

Ever feel like whatever you are reaching for, seems to get further and further away. Or if you are working really hard towards something, it seems really hard to achieve? Why, is that? It feels like sometimes it’s right within my grasp but just a little out of reach.

Growing up, I wasn’t one who excelled academically. It just wasn’t my strength. I had subjects in school that I was really good at and then those that I really sucked at. The harder I tried with the subjects that I didn’t like,  the more it stressed me out and the harder it became. Isn’t the irony in life that, we always focus on our weaknesses ?

To quote renowned speaker/author , Marcus Buckingham in his book “The Truth About You,” he says that from a young age there are certain things we’re good at and certain things that we aren’t. However we always tend to focus our energies on the things we are not good at so we can improve on it, don’t we?

The “Truth” he says is that the things we are not good at, even if we work real hard on them, are always going to be our so called “weakness “. We may get up to a reasonable level of competence with it,  but it will never be our strength. We just don’t like it. He mentions that what we should actually be doing is honing in on what we love, what we are good at, because then we can really excel at those elements. Now in school , we don’t have much of a choice, we have to choose from a selection of subjects. But as we get older we get to choose, and what will our choices then be?

I remember how much I loved to write poetry. At the time I thought my poems were really good but then as I got older I realized that all my poetry rhymed lol and that I didn’t need to have a rhyming poem in order for it to be good and when I realized this, my poems became more real and more authentic to me.

Before I completed my high school education, I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to further my studies in. In retrospect, if I had the money and could do it all over, I would definitely have taken a gap year. When you get older, we call it a sabbatical, but not everyone gets the opportunity to take time out to find themselves – and I mean this in a very non-condescending way. Because I believe you should find yourself. You should come to a realization about what makes you happy and if that can help you to sustain a living. The world felt really large when I completed high school, and I didn’t know what purpose I had to play in it. What I did know was that I was more right brained and I never really utilized that.

Instead, when my Mum recommended a course in Banking, (which seemed like a safe and practical place to be – excluding the fact that I had watched several movies where Banks were held up 🙂 LOL) ,  I agreed to sign up for a course in it and within a year I had secured a job interview at one of SA’s 4 major banks. I remember the day of the interview as if it were yesterday. My mum bought me a beautiful pastel pink suit and I was all suited up, and dressed for success!  We started off with about 25 applicants alongwith myself, and through process of elimination in different rounds and assessments held throughout the day, the numbers started to dwindle until there were just 6 of us by late afternoon. Thankfully, all 6 of us were selected to join different Branches of the Bank.

This is where my theme for today arises. I started off doing something I wasn’t sure that I was cut out to do. Let me tell you having money and counting money are two very different things! LOL. And having to count money that came out of the customer’s shoe’s , little purses inside brassieres, and hundreds of coins in big glass jars was not glamourous but I always envisioned that I would be able to prove myself and work really hard and make it somehow . My young self at the time, and at the tender age of 19, I already had goals. I didn’t know what I wanted out of life, but I also knew what I didn’t want. I didn’t want to follow the norm. I always wanted something different, something that deviated from the normal path life was supposed to take.

I really believed in that, and when I started my first job as a Bank Teller, I had a little post it note on my cubicle which was an excerpt from “Invictus”. It wasn’t a popular poem back then, but there was something really special to me about being the person that would steer my own ship. I had to decide on the course, I had to navigate through the decisions and the obstacles,and I had to pave my own path. No one could do it for me. Yes, people could support me, but ultimately it boiled down to me.

It read:

“Out of the night, that covers me , black as pit from pole to pole

I thank God, for whatever Gods may be, for my unconquerable soul.

I am the Master of my fate, I am the Captain of my soul.”

(Extracted from Invictus)

Isn’t that just incredibly powerful? Those words, gazed back at me for two years and they are entrenched in me. I have an unconquerable soul. I thank God for that everyday. I believe in fate, but I also believe that I am the Master of it. It was those words, that gave me the courage to make a decision all those many years ago, to leave the safe confines of my parent’s home, and to carve my own path and way, 600 kilometres away from everything and everyone I knew. I knew that if I didn’t alter the path then, I would not have been able to find my own way in life and stand on my own two feet and be independent.

My Mum had always taught me how important it was to have a goal in life. I grew up with that resonating in my mind, and so I always wrote my goals down so that they were a daily reminder of what I wanted to achieve and how I needed to work in order to realise it.  I thought I would never forget that, but recently with life getting so freaking hectic,  I have forgotten to write down my goals and I am starting to feel a little lost without them in all honesty.

Goals ground me. They re-center my Universe and help me focus on what’s really important. They help me realize what I have achieved thus far, but also to focus on what I still want to work towards. Goals are not monetary for me. They are predominantly things that help me in my quest of self-actualization to quote
“Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.”

Starting my career off at the bank as a Teller wasn’t easy but I enjoyed it because it taught me two really important things, one of which I already had as a quality intrinsically which is Integrity and two which was Customer satisfaction. Integrity is what I was born with. What is right and what is wrong. That was easy. Having experienced really crappy service myself , I knew what I would expect as a customer from my Bank, and from someone that was dealing with my hard earned money, so I always ensured that my customers had the best possible experience. They wanted to be in and out of the Bank really quick, they wanted efficient service, they wanted attention to detail and no errors and that’s what I gave them.

Over time I honed in on this service and it has enabled me to provide the exemplary service that I provide to esteemed clients. Sometimes all people want is to be heard, and to provide a service in line with what their need is, but we rarely get this right.

Back to goals. Nothing is out of reach. Anything you want to achieve is within your power to do so. The only aspect I feel we should be really cognizant of is “Timing.” For me, I always felt that when I was ready then whatever I wanted should just fall into place. Wrong! I cant decide that. I waited 8 years for Alia, and no matter how angry I got or jumped up and down, I couldn’t make that 8 years any shorter. But it is all in time. And for that we need to learn to be patient.

Let me tell you that often I am about instant gratification. And for me being patient is tough but I have learnt how to be patient over time. You need to realize what you have control over and what you don’t. So I have learnt that if it is out of my control, then I need to let it go.

Once you write down your goals, they become more real. I’m sure to some of you this may seem elementary but sometimes it’s just about getting back to basics. What do you want to achieve as a student, worker, homemaker, etc. Break it down into what you want to achieve personally and professionally. Assign them into short and long term goals and then make mini targets to help you get there. Once you have a visual of this written or even drawn then it helps to get a clear path in your head on how it is you are going to get there.

Be realistic about what you want to achieve and the time you’re allocating yourself. Don’t set yourself up for failure by putting too many goals down at once. Choose your top 3 things to work on and once you’ve achieved this then , guess what, you can write down another 3. You can do this on your phone, your iPad, or just written down on a piece of paper.

Theres still so much that I want to do and I want to keep myself from writing a long list. I want my goals to be attainable but also to stretch me a bit. As if I don’t have enough going on in my life as it is LOL , I guess you could call me a sucker for punishment.

I’ve learnt that I don’t need to grasp at everything in life, that is probably not meant for me. But as someone who yearns to do more and be more as a person, I will always strive towards being a better human being.

I want to end off this article by sharing my latest poem that I wrote recently. I hadn’t written in a while and I actually typed this onto my phone one day when I had some time and I was deep in thought.

Stay true to you!

 

THIS IS ME

This is me

This is all of me

My good, my bad, my everything

All of this makes me

I can find the safety that I seek within myself

There is nothing to fear

There is only the light that is God to cradle me in His arms

and tell me I am going to be okay

That I am enough

That I am worthy

And with that knowledge, I can forge ahead

I can breathe

I can exhale

I can accept

For this is me

All of me

 

Written by Nirusha Ramraj-Pillay 17.10.18

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have bag, will travel

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If I had to think about the places I have been to, I would have to say that I am not as well travelled despite having been to a few Countries. From the places that I have been to however, I can honestly say that if there was anything I would spend my money on, it would be travel.

Now I know that very few people have the luxury of being able to travel abroad. It is by no means cheap. Even local travel within South Africa for a family of 4 , just for a weekend away mind you, is almost as expensive as travelling to a neighboring Country to SA.  What I do painstakingly save my money for is, my next adventure . The travel bug is real. If you’ve been to explore a new Country just once, you will find yourself wanting to go to explore a new place and then another and another.  Of course there are two general hurdles I find is one being having enough leave to go on a vacation and the other obviously the cost factor especially if you have a family and want to travel with kids. One cannot just take a sabbatical to travel for six months and still come back to gainful employment. Further to this, with the South African rand, one cannot get very far, so saving is definitely in order to plan the next trip.

I love traveling. I love everything about it except having to fly there lol.  I am a nervous flyer to be very honest, especially on long distance flights , but I keep my focus on my destination and how amazing it will be when I get there. That keeps me calm. Of course traveling with kids is another ballgame and parents with kids, will know how you need to pace up and down to keep your kid entertained,  especially on a long flight which has its challenges,  but for now,  where I go, my kids go.

For me,  being able to meet people of  different cultures, different walks of life, explore new, visit ancient heritage sites, take in the beautiful architecture in various cities, taste the local delicacies,  and basically just take in the slights and sounds of new experience and adventure is utterly decadent!  Each time , I travel I find myself realizing that we are just a small spec on the map and there is still so much in this world still to explore, and I wonder if I will get to see all that I desire to in this lifetime. I will certainly be trying to!

I remember as a child, our Mum and Dad ( if my sisters are reading this please note the use of the word “Our” lol) I tend to say “ my” parents as if they are only mine , both worked really hard, as most parents do,  to sustain our family. My Mum has always been an avid reader , still is, and she would comb the pages of newspapers and magazines, and find the tiniest articles on vacation specials. She would then cut these out and call the number to find out what was on Offer. My Mum would always make sure that at least once a year, we would all go on a local trip with my two younger sisters and I. We travelled from Durban almost always by car as flights were really expensive back then (nothing’s changed there) . My Dad was the designated driver and Mum was the co-pilot. I recall that my Mum would never ever fall asleep when my Dad drove. She always kept herself up so she could keep my Dad company.

Mum would pack us the yummiest road food and off we would go. This would include anything from tinned fish sandwiches to chicken roti rolls and  from Durban we would drive to places like Sun City in Johannesburg, Swaziland, and to areas just outside of Durban like Hluhluwe Game Reserve, Wild Coast and San Lameer. One of the fondest memories was a trip we took to Cape Town by ship. I couldn’t have been more than 12 years old and we went aboard a cruise liner called the Achille Lauro. I remember the first time I saw it. It was huge and extravagant. I recall the detail about that the opulence of that ship, the ritual of a seated dinner and formal attire every night, to the phenomenal entertainment by the Carlo Spetto dancers and the grandeur of the Captain’s dinner which ended off with sparklers in pavlova for dessert. I remember my baby sister in her polka dot dress on the dance floor, moving her tiny hands to the beat of music, and my middle sister with the sweetest, toothiest grin smiling and enjoying her spaghetti in Napolitana sauce.

These memories are etched in my mind forever , and I am so grateful to my parents for them exposing us to such beautiful childhood memories that will last a lifetime. I’m thankful to my clever Mum who always put money aside to ensure we took these trips annually.

My first ever trip abroad was to India. I remember everyone in the Indian Community referred to it as going “Overseas”. It was also something really special to be able to travel abroad and usually involved a really big send off from parents, grandparents, sibling, aunts , uncles and cousins. It was as though everyone was going with and wanted to partake in the pomp and excitement which was always special.

I had no idea what to expect. Being Indian, I wondered what it would be lim to go to the Motherland, the land my ancestors originally came from . I was born and raised in Durban, South Africa before I moved to Johannesburg, and I remember both the excitement and trepidation. I went with my Mum, Gran, and my cousin who was shopping for her wedding trousseau. I was 21 years old.

We had a 2 night stopover in Dubai before we were due to arrive in India. I recall looking around as we drove to our hotel. It was immaculately clean. The cars were all in amazing condition and I didn’t see any cars that weren’t roadworthy on the road. Our hotel was beautiful and we were jetlagged, but so excited to be there. The heat gets you first. We decided to rest before we headed out on foot to do a bit of exploring. The first thing we realized is that there were no women walking around . No one in sight. We started to feel a bit odd as we were also getting a lot of stares,  so we asked a local what was happening. It was Ramadan , a fasting period and holy time for Muslims. We immediately realized that we were wearing jeans and needed to be more appropriately attired in Indian wear out of respect. Dubai was lovely, what a beautiful city!

India was next. Mumbai was our first stop. The first thing that gets you as you step of the plane is the heat, the dust , the pollution and the scent of the city. It’s a place that you either love or it’s not for you. For me , it is and will always be Incredible India. I have been there three times and I would go again in a heartbeat. There are places with extreme poverty, then in complete contrast,  you will find a shack next to a large Corporate building in the city. As you move away from the City , the pollution lessens and you get to experience the villages, the people and the beauty of the country.

What I found most prominent about India, is the generosity of the people. Wherever you go , whether it is into a store to shop or you meet a local, you will always be offered a drink or sometimes even a meal!  In India , guests are treated as Gods. It’s a practice in a South Africa as well with most people of Indian descent that when you have a visitor that you always offer them something to eat or drink. I often found that people we met in India had so little yet they were still prepared to buy  you cold drink. Poverty is rife. People have to survive on so little. Women doing manual labour on the streets with concrete to earn a living. It was hard to see that, but it was very similar to what we was happening in my own Country. The graciousness of the people will always remain with me.

It is said that if you bathe in the Ganges river in India then you will be absolved our your sins. But you can only do it once in your lifetime.

I went into the Ganges on my 2nd trip with my Mum, but oh my word was it freezing!! I couldn’t immerse my head into the water as other locals were doing and only went in waist deep. It was a beautiful experience, and I felt this amazing sense of calm, but it was incredibly cold, I was freezing when I came out!!

I had a cold the very next day and came down with the flu. We drove back to Delhi and I was man down. I literally couldn’t get out of the bed . My Mum wasn’t sure what meds to get me and what to do, but the Hotel manager we were staying at suggested that the waiter bring me some ginger chai tea. I wasn’t sure how that was going to help my cause but I took in a few sips to appease him.  Don’t laugh when I say this, but I swear to you that 3 cups off that tea that night saved my life! The next morning my fever had broken and  , I was back to normal as if nothing had happened to me. So yeah ginger chai tea rocks for me.

Nothing prepares you for the first glimpse that you get of the Taj Mahal in Agra. It is both mesmerizing and magnanimous. I was transfixed with its beauty, the intricacies of the paint work which was apparently made with vegetable dye, and the sheer magnitude of the building. Imagine someone loving a person that much, they declared their love with such an incredible work of art and architecture.  With the pink palaces on either end , it was a sight to behold and if I just close my eyes, I am back there again.

I have since been to India on two other occasions. On the last trip Mum and I were joined by my middle sister, Dad, and hubby. It was a journey that started in Kashmir, where we in awe of the sheer beauty of the place in Winter with snow capped mountains and frozen lakes. Dad had always wanted to go there. I remember us having to hire really warm fur covered jackets for us to head up the mountain pass. We arrived at a place called Gulmarg, that looked like a picture out of a storybook possibly where Santa could have had his house and toy factory with his elves. I looked around me and it was bright as day with the sun shining brightly on my face, but there was snow everywhere. What a sight to behold. A memory etched in time that I will never forget.

We went on from there to Agra, then to Haridwar to the Ganges, then to Goa, Jaipur and then Mumbai and yet I have not had my fill of India. I still need to visit the South of India and cant wait until I am able to do so.

Since the kids, we have had to consider shorter flights and kid friendly resorts. Mauritius is an amazing island with numerous kid friendly places to stay. We spent our December there and it was nothing short of spectacular.

Our most recent trip was to Singapore.  Its such an incredible city. It runs like clockwork from the cleanliness of the place to the transportation system to the etiquette of the people and their politeness. The heat can take some adjustment but once you do, you are just on the move and on the go. It’s super kid conducive and we were fortunate to have family around to show us around the most popular sights and we got to see the place as locals. As much as we missed them both, I realized that they had something really special in this City. What I loved most is that we could walk anywhere day or night freely with the kids! I remember us heading back one night at 10pm with just my Mum and I and the baby and I honestly felt safe. Safety is never guaranteed in any Country which I’m not oblivious to but it was just a strange concept for me not to have to look over my shoulder.

We took in the sights of Gardens at the Bay, Marina Sands, Sentosa Island and Little India. We ate from everything from fish curry, to chicken satay, to chicken rice. It was an incredible trip and really special to have my family there except my baby sis and her hubby who we missed.

What’s also special about travel is that you meet people. People who become friends. When my first born was 8 months we met a family of 4 at a resort in Mauritius. What a wonderful family and they were smitten with Alia and they carried her and played with her. We are still in touch to this day, and met again recently. Alia is now 5 and we met them when she was 8 months old!! How incredible is that!! So believe me when I say travel connects people.

So that’s only part of my story, I know you guys don’t have time for a long read because I could really could go on.

But here’s my advice for what it is worth.

Everything you have in your life can be replaced, but memories are etched in time and will remain forever. Do what you wish to do in you life and I wish you well in all that you choos, but for those that are itching to see more, go out there and see it, taste it and feel it!!

Have bag, will travel!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best of Me

person on a bridge near a lake
Photo by Simon Migaj on Pexels.com

 

I haven’t written in a while because I guess, well,  life happens doesn’t it.

I find that time becomes stretched so thin that I really battle to balance all my commitments and priorities in a day. My usual late night ritual of writing has taken a back seat because I am so exhausted,  that I pass out whilst baby is being put to sleep.

I am grateful to have a partner who is wonderful with both my girls, and my baby girl is attached to him at the hip, so she gravitates more to her dad at bed time. Lucky me!

So after a short hiatus of a little travel, having two sick kids, then getting sick myself, I am getting my groove back and slowly getting back into writing.

I ran into a friend of hubby’s at the mall about two weekends ago and she said to me that she loved my blog, and that I should keep at it as I was really good at it. It was her words that made me realize that my message is getting out there each time and that even though my blog is more of a passion of mine , it resonates with people and that is the ultimate aim of my writing.

It’s been really busy at the office. It gets to crunch time around this part of the year and there is a hive of activity. I am grateful to be in a role where I get to work with and help people and my Organisation. There are many days when its really challenging , and multi tasking is key, but it is also rewarding for me to be able to change someone’s life in some small way.

When I get home I have two little rugrat faces, that are so amazingly cute that I just want to squish them. They are usually waiting eagerly for me to get home and once I do it is a scramble from each of them to get a piece of my attention. I get two special hugs that just revitalize my tired body and mind in that few minutes. Whatever stresses of the day, wash away there and then, and I go from  Corporate Woman to SuperMum in a matter of seconds. To them, whatever achievements I had that day doesn’t mean much to them. All they want is Mum to take off her heels and play with them on the carpet.

Within a few minutes I am off to get cooking with dinner. I cook every night. Maybe that’s my problem right there!  I enjoy a home cooked meal. Fridays are usually “take out” meals or we go out for dinner. But the rest of the week I prepare dinner for us. Speaking of which, I am so over those dreaded 3 words …….”What’s for dinner?” Hubby tells me not to worry about “going to too much trouble” and then when I don’t, he looks into the pots when he gets home and seems unimpressed.  Mmm. Anyway I will leave that there. I hope he is reading this! LOL

Whether you’re a stay at home Mum or a working Mum, there is still so much that requires your attention. So it doesn’t help when you’re having an off day or an off moment. You just need to shrug it aside and keep moving on. I remember that when it was just hubby and I and I had a rough day, I would pick up some food on my way home,  run a bubble bath for myself, light some candles and soak myself in the bathtub.

Then I would have dinner with hubby, and I would pick up where I left off from the latest book I was reading. You know when you actually had time to pick the book up, open it and read a few pages hehehe. All you Mums know what I am talking about.  It would be a few hours before I would put it down and then off to bed it was.

Please note that I adore my kids with every fibre of my being, but anyone with kids knows that you cant do the same when you have kids.

You just cant switch off.

When you get home, your afternoon starts with them and it involves you being engaged. I get down onto the carpet and we sing, and dance and we play, and it’s really refreshing to act like a kid again and be carefree and get involved in the kind of activities that they love like arts and crafts, drawing, being creative, playing music, watching Peppa Pig and Ben and Holly and then dancing to Baby Shark do do dooo dooo dooo dooo dooo dooo and then some more doooo, and The Wheels on the Bus.

Then there’s dinner, bath time, pjs, bottles , bedtime stories and trust me when I sat my 5 year old has every excuse in the book for not wanting to go to bed.

You guys know what I am talking about right, and these are not in isolation, these are all in one night session consecutively:

  • Mum, can I have some water?
  • Mum, can I sleep in your bed just for a little bit?
  • Mum, I need to use the bathroom. Then back to bed
  • Mum, my tummy is sore (Now parents out there will know the number of ailments that arise when kid is asked to go to bed)
  • Mum, there are monsters under my bed?
  • Mum , can I have some more water?
  • Mum, can I sleep with you tonight?

Hmmm. By this time I am exhausted and have already lost the battle, but I shall, I shall win the War , me thinks LOL.

My 18 month old doesn’t sleep…. period.

You know the kids that have slept through the night from like Week or Month one? Yeah that ain’t my kids. My first born only slept through the night when she was 3. My 18 month old literally doesn’t sleep… period. It’s every respect to her as she sleeps with a brace and shoes for her club feet but she is just restless and so we are like zombies when it’s time to wake up.

Kids are only young once so I honestly DO NOT MIND  having to deal with what I have to now. These aren’t complaints. In fact, I savor and I make a concerted effort to be present when I am with my kids. Not on my phone, not thinking about work, but genuinely being present with them. Holding, them, hugging them, and giving them lots and lots of kisses. Someday my kid may not want to cuddle or kiss me so while they do I intend to take full advantage of it!!

Getting back to what I wanted to chat about today. I realized that being so many roles and so many different things to different people, it’s hard to keep anything back for yourself. And that’s how I’ve been feeling. Like this balance I’m trying to achieve is so far out of reach but most of all ,I’m not getting time for me.

I need the Best of Me to be the best of me. If that even makes sense. But it does to me.

To just not have a routine. To maybe deviate from the routine. And just to be kinder to myself. To cut myself some slack.

A friend of mine who read my Blog on the “Shape of Me” told me that she loved my blog. She loved every one of my articles but she wasn’t so keen on “The Shape of Me”. We didn’t go into detail but she just said that it felt like I was being really hard on myself.

And I realized that maybe I was. Yes, I am still striving to be healthy but being and looking a certain way doesn’t define who I am as a person. I am still me. Flawed, fragile and tough at the same time. Empathetic, but not to be used only when needed. Generous, but not to be taken for a ride. A sincere friend, that will stand by you when you need it the most.

I realized that most of all , I need to be my own best friend.

When I was still in school, I really wanted a best friend. I had a wonderful best friend in Primary School and she and I were so much alike. We were both really good at writing, I know she was better than I but still we always competed especially when it came to essays in English class. When we got to high school, she and I parted ways but still remained in touch over the years to this day.

I didn’t have best friend in high school. I had my friends from primary school, but I also wanted to widen my circle of friends and I eventually made friends with a group of girls that I didn’t know before. It wasn’t part of my normal nature to put myself out there and make friends with people I didn’t know. But for some reason, I did. I didn’t just stay with the people that I knew. These girls that I made friends with in high school , are now the women that I am friends with to this day.

They are successful women in their own right, and even the friends I had made in my primary school have grown up to be successful women that I am proud to know.

But I realized that I don’t need a best friend. I have me. I have my sisters who I speak to on a daily basis over what’s app, that is a sisterhood, an instant advice medium, a comedic meme stance when one is needed, a support group for sharing dieting tips and I have an amazing group of friends, each so special in their own way that I cherish and make time for.

Being my own best friend means that I can be gentle with myself. I can be forgiving of my mistakes. I can learn from where I have gone wrong. I can say I am sorry, if I have hurt someone. I can stop being so hard on myself. I can give myself permission to have an off day and just keep it real. I got this.

I told my hubby that I need a night out with just the girls. I sometimes find that women tend to bring each other down, instead of picking each other up. Why is that?

I also find that women find it so hard to compliment one another. I am really sincere with my compliments if I see someone that really looks amazing, or is wearing a stunning dress, or has her brows on fleek, or has the ability to walk in those amazing killer heels. I can honestly say that I am the first one to say something nice. Why is that so hard?

I have sometimes seen people stare from your head to your toe in appreciation but then say nothing. Oh well. This isn’t about fishing for compliments. This is about creating a camaraderie where women are not in a competition.

We are all experiencing the same things as we go through life. There is no competition and if there is , you should only be in competition with yourself to be the best version of you.

So that’s what I am focusing on. Being a better me. As I have grown I have realized that there is still a lot to learn, but don’t we always tend to focus on what we haven’t done.

How about we focus on what we have done? What we did get right? I have a successful career where I am in a position to help people which I love. I have a supportive partner who is my equal in all respects. I have two beautiful girls, who are miracles in their own right. I have a wonderful family and an amazing group of friends who make this home for me.

From now on, gratitude is my attitude. It always has been, but it will be more pronounced and it will be enforced more. I have always been someone that wants to achieve and reach greater heights, but never at the expense of something else. So whilst I have my goals, I am going to place my emphasis on the here and now and just be.

Just be me.

If there is one thing that I know about myself its that I wont compromise my values or my integrity.

You do you, and I will do me.

Till next time friends….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Investing in dreams

 

Zhavia Ward - Artist: created_by_inspiration
Zhavia Ward – Artist: created-by-inspiration

So the above picture was sketched by my niece. Her dad and I were really close cousins growing up, and she and her brother are so dear to me. She is someone incredibly talented from a very young age, both academically and artistically, and she is only 14 years old!  This is just one of her favourite’s from her art collection which is her take on Zhavia Ward who sang on a show called “The Four”. She is completely self taught and when I look at this picture, I see such incredible talent.

I am writing about empowerment today, because I feel that many of us have the ability and potential to be so much more, and do so much more with this life that we have been given, but we don’t. We don’t because in reality, life happens. And when life happens your priorities change. Your dreams don’t, do they? They are hidden in the background and very, very rarely do we have the power to bring them to the forefront. We try, but it doesn’t always work out.

Those people living their dreams are few and far between, sometimes at a cost of something else, or sometimes they just got lucky, or they just worked really  hard to get there. Whatever it may be that got them to that point, they are possibly in a situation where they are getting paid to do what they love. For me that would be tasting ice cream, but nah, let’s get a bit more real, shall we?

So, when we are kids we have all these really amazing and sometimes far-fetched ideas on what we will do when we grow up. But the more far fetched the better is what I believe. Let’s think about some of the jobs we are doing today, some of these jobs didnt even exist back then. Then we grew  up and as we go through that process of growing up, we get told many times about why we can’t do something as opposed to how we can do it. You guys know what I am talking about right. Well those dreams and ideas we had as a kid, somehow diminish as reality kicks in and we need to conform to what the world at large and society has placed on us as rules.

Well the trick is, there are no rules. Not really. Not when you want to follow your dreams. Of course your road to following what you really love doing might not be practical. You may want to surf for a living but you don’t live at the Coast. But if you do, you need to make that move to the Coast, right? Or if you are a struggling musician, and are waiting for that record contract, you need to play in a couple of dodgy bars to a sparsely populated audience before you get your big break right?

Well, the thing is, you are not alone. You are doing what you love. You don’t have a fall back. Many of us do. But if we didn’t have a fall back, we would be going for what we wanted full steam ahead, wouldn’t we? We wouldn’t have a Plan B right, there would only be a Plan A. And when there is only Plan A, there is no room to turn back.

Well maybe we should be going for our Plan A. If there is one thing I have learnt about this life, is that you only get one shot at it. And you best give it your best shot. I heard that this Canadian lady just won the Lottery and some ridiculous amount. I mean she is set for the rest of her life. But I heard that she gave a huge portion of it away. Her rationale was that she can’t take it with her, all she gets to take with is memories. So shouldn’t we be focusing on just that, making memories and following our Plan A.

Look, I know it’s easier said than done right. I mean there are bills to pay, there are kids to feed and one has to be realistic and practical. That’s part of adulting as I call it. Being a grown up, having bills, paying your rent and securing your job. That doesn’t mean you can’t still work towards your dreams.

My blog has been that for me. It has given me an outlet to channel the passion I have for writing. I can write for days, it might not always have great content, but I believe in always having a message to impart. I remember writing when I was younger, writing poems, writing short plays at school, one which we actually performed called Doctor Hollywood, which some of my classmates may recall. I wrote that play, we casted for it, and we acted it out to our class.

That passion for writing is my strength and that strength will never die. It has led me to this and even though I don’t have the time to write longer articles, I am taking a piece towards my dream and working towards it.

Yes, I am doing it at 10pm at night for about an hour and a half but it’s “me” time when the kids and hubby are asleep and I get to focus on doing what I love. Trust me I don’t sit and think about this, it just flows from me. I can’t even type fast enough to keep up when I have an idea on what I want to write about. I type it on my phone and then email it to myself so I don’t forget.

Sometimes you will find this inspiration in various ways but most of the time, it’s an inner voice that will tell you to go for it. You get to a point where you realise that I can do this. I am really talented and good at this. I should be doing this. Well when you get to that point, don’t ignore it, as some of us take longer to get there, and some of us unfortunately don’t get there and hey no ones judging you because we get it

Empower yourself. Get yourself the tools to channel your inspiration and passion. Practice , practice and practice some more if you need to fine tune your talent, your product, your skill. Develop it , nurture it and care for it. Like a plant that grows from a seed, so you will your Plan A grow, and reach for great heights.

Have ambition, but let it be structured. Structured ambition. I used these words with a friend of mine this past week, and she wanted to write it down because she loved it so much. I know some may disagree, and feel that ambition shouldn’t be harnessed. I am not saying harness it, I am saying structure it so it’s achievable, so it has mini goals, so that it is not all over the place, so that it has a ladder to success.

Be prepared mentally for setbacks because they will happen. It’s not all going to be a straight line. Ask any successful actor, musician, or successful person how did they get to achieving greatness and you will always hear how they started from the bottom or how they waited tables, or how they washed dishes at a restaurant or how they were told that they would never amount to anything. But despite all the odds, they got there, and so will you. You just need to be tenacious and have a hunger for it.

So for me it’s always been about timing. When I wanted my first child and yearned for her it wasn’t my time. My time was 8 years later. But in those 8 years I got to experience life with my hubby and have an extended honeymoon. I got to take naps LOL, but even though my time is limited now with my 2 young girls, I still find the time to nurture my writing skills. My blog was the first thing I have done for myself in a long time, and the fact that I can reach out to one person fulfills me. I always get feedback after my articles are published and that for me is affirmation that my word is being acknowledged and helping someone that may need to hear what I have to say.

So I speak of empowerment. It’s such a powerful word for me. Empower yourself. Don’t wait for someone else to affirm what you already know. If you have a talent and you wish to pursue it and you don’t have anything holding you back, go for it. This doesn’t mean that you need to quit your job, or not have an income. But find a way to follow what you were given naturally as a talent.

They always say that if you are doing something you love, you never have to work a day in your life. I am grateful to be able to work with people, which I love doing, and also have this that I work on until I have perfected it.

Sometimes it will not be perfect, but like my blog is called the Imperfect Perfection, in our flaws lies our perfection. Perfection is an ideal people strive to, but in my mind it’s just that, an ideal. It is all about perception.

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NOTE:    Should you wish to follow my niece’s artwork on Instagram her handle is:

@created_by_inspiration