November 30, 2006

Why complicate things?

Look at these gorgeous muffins I made the other day.

They tasted even better than they look and you know what? They're from a pre-mix with just a dash of creativity*** added.

So I got to thinking about how we like to complicate things and why. Is it because we want to be "perfect" or do we just over-analyse things?

Especially us women! We want to be Superwoman, doing everything from scratch, cooking a "perfect" meal every night, taking two hours to make an authentic dessert, (fill in the blanks) ________________________ and so on.

It's okay to use cake, muffin and cookie mixes. It's okay to ask your guests to bring a dish instead of stressing and trying to do it all yourself. It's okay to say no if you don't want to go to a function. You get the picture...

So now, especially as we go into the Christmas season, try and simplify your life.

Make a To Not Do list for this period and stick it up on your fridge so you are constantly reminded.

P.S. These are the Golden Cloud muffin mix and I thoroughly recommend it.

I've used the Vanilla, Chocolate and Savoury mixes and they are all good. The other day when I stocked up with some more I practically raved to a mother and daughter in the baking aisle.

***This recipe is Vanilla Muffins and I added a 100g Cadbury Caramel Chocolate slab which I roughly grated into the mix. It gets messy in preparation(with all the chunks) but the end product is oh so yum when all that chocolate melts during the baking process. Enjoy!

November 29, 2006

Matching lunchboxes

How cute is this?!

This is the counter top where Dion and I pack our lunch every day. We are usually never on the same schedule - he unpacks straight away when he gets home and packs it the next morning.

I usually do mine while I'm cooking (non-gym nights) or while waiting for the kettle to boil (gym nights).

So I thought this was so cute and so very blogworthy too!

November 28, 2006

You know those new business cards???

Well, here they are.

Aren't they beautiful?

November 27, 2006

New Simple Savings calendar

Hi everybody

Just a quick post to let you know that Simple Savings, an Australian website, has their new 2007 calendar out.

You can download it and start setting your FINANCIAL goals for next year.

How it works
Each month you set a financial goal.
You decide how you will work it into your lifestyle.
You also mark off how much you save every week and month, and how you will reward yourself at the end of the week and at the end of the month. (If you've bought my goal-setting workbook, you know that I always suggest that you build in rewards).

For example
Let's say you usually pay R15 every day for lunch at your canteen.
Your goal is now to bring your own lunch every day. This might cost you R5 at most (and I'm being very conservative).

Daily saving R10
Weekly saving R50 and monthly saving R200

Now you can reward yourself with a nice, long bubble bath every week and maybe at the end of the month treat yourself to a coffee date with a friend.

You see? Easy.

Now go over there to get your calendar so we can get you to your financial goals!

November 22, 2006

Success is like...growing watermelons

Remember I told you a few months ago about year to success? They send you an email every week day on a different aspect of success - it's really cool. You should go sign up. Click the link and it will take you directly to the page.

Anyway, in today's success email, Bo Bennett talked about having it all.

Success is "like growing watermelons... you have to sacrifice some watermelons by cutting them off when small to give other watermelons a better chance to grow to full size".

This is SO true. I like to say that you can have it all, but not all at the same time.

And Bo is right - sometimes you have to reduce some activities in your life to give your other watermelons the opportunity to grow to full size.

An example is cutting off or reducing your social life when you're studying for exams, trying to get a business off the ground, focussing on a big goal.

Now, especially as we go into the Festive Season, it's impossible to do everything. So think about which watermelons you have to sacrifice in order to let your bigger watermelons (family, etc.) grow.

November 20, 2006

It's annual increase time!

I wish it was more exciting than this but the truth is I'm talking about annual increases in medical aid, insurance, and so on.

I received a letter from my broker last week advising that our insurance is going up as at 1 December. Don't you hate that?!

Last year when I got the same letter, I phoned another insurer looking for a cheaper quote. I found more cost-effective insurance from one of the companies who don't use intermediaries (I don't want to be sued on the blog!!!) and phoned my company to cancel.

They asked me if I'd consider staying if they matched the quote. Of course I said yes. The service over the last 5 years (then 4 years) has always been outstanding and I have absolutely no complaints.

This year I'm doing the same. I phoned up the competitor and the cheaper rate this year is not great. I do know that my current insurer is the cheapest I will get if I go through a broker (I do an analysis every year and nobody can beat them). It's tough when you get used to a really good rate!

I have one or two more companies to phone before I make the decision. And the search continues...

So if you get letters like this, don't just accept it at face value. Phone around and see who can help you out. Even R50 less is better than nothing.

Post your success stories on the blog so we can all learn from you.

*** I will update this post to let you know how I do
Right, here's the update. I found cheaper insurance by 8,4%. Have joined up with the new people and cancelled the old one (quite sad after 5 years but money talks).

November 18, 2006

Ask the coach about focus & discipline

J: My biggest challenge is focus & discipline.
I have been struggling with this for months....and I am starting to identify the problems that arise in my life as a result of this...
J, thanks for your question.
I myself battle with focus in some areas and I find that what works for me is to write things down. Otherwise you get distracted, don't you?
At home, I have a whiteboard on my desk with the week's activities I need to do in my business to bring me closer to my goals. At work, I have my to-do list in front of me all day long. As more and more things crop up, I just add it to the list. Of course, you do need to prioritise your tasks.
Another thing that helps is a timer. I can't say enough about a timer. If you set it, and then work on one thing until that timer goes off, you'll find that you get a lot more done.
As for the discipline, there is no easy answer. You have to make a quality decision to create that habit and then do it.
When I wasn't eating breakfast and wanted to create this new habit, I set a reminder on Outlook every day for a whole month. It sounds crazy but it worked. I'm extremely results-oriented (as my clients will tell you) so I'll do whatever it takes to get me the results.
Remember, successful people do what unsuccessful people are not prepared to do. And as always, if you need a cheerleader, I'm there for you.

November 17, 2006

Someone's looking out for me

and it's God!

Two things happened this last week that just made me feel so special.

1. When we were in Thailand, the vendors sold a lot of these types of handbags which I instantly loved. However, I didn't quite like the fabric (lots of very dark colours which I find boring) or the price in most instances.

So on Saturday I went to Pick 'n Pay (as many of you know, I'm a proud and loyal P&P shopper) to do some shopping and saw these. They were so gorgeous and at such a good price (R59,95) I just had to have not one, but two! I love the style and the beadwork.

2. Do you know the magazine Every Woman?

Well, I am on their events mailing list because I love learning and going to workshops. In fact, if I wasn't doing so many myself, I'd go to more! So I got an email advertising an event on Sat 18th Nov from 7pm that I really want to go to.

Only thing is, we have a pantomime from 10 - 2 in the morning, a lunch for Dion's gran straight afterwards and I want to go to this in the evening. A bit much but I know it would be a wonderful opportunity to show off my fancy new business cards, as well as have some fun.

I emailed to check if they're doing another one and... this one's been postponed to 2 Dec when my calendar is completely free. I just about did the happy dance!

Of course, I booked, paid, emailed proof of payment all immediately.

I love, love, love when things like this happen. Don't you?

November 16, 2006

Ask the coach - on being a good wife and parent

My biggest challenge is how to be the best parent and wife possible on limited time while working and trying to discover my faith - F

Thanks for your question. I love this question because it's where so many people are at.

First off, F, it is clear to me that you define success for yourself by being a good mom and wife.

This is great because it already tells me that you are focussed on this as a goal for your life. And you know that the Law of Attraction states that whatever you focus on, you naturally attract more of into your life.

You also mention that you're trying to discover your faith. You're going to need time for this to reconnect with God.

So here are some practical tips:
  1. Realise that you're not superwoman and that "good enough" is okay. Everything doesn't have to be perfect and we all have 24 hours in a day.
  2. Decide on 1 small goal every week in the different areas of your life - family (as wife and mother) and spiritual. It could be something like have a coffee with just your husband, spend 30 minutes quality time with your child every day and 10 minutes praying.
  3. Schedule the time in because you will never just have time. You have to make time.
  4. The key is to start building some good habits. Once you have the habits going, you can always add different things.
And before you know it, 2 months will have passed and you'll see that your relationships will have improved with your husband, child and God, and this all in BABY STEPS!

November 14, 2006

Living with integrity - guest article by Sarah Robinson

Grownups Behaving Badly: A Case for Living and Working With Integrity By Sarah Robinson, Hot Pink Success Coach© 2006 Hot Pink Success Coaching

Three events happened to me this past week and inspired this article. The first happened when I was in the drive through line at Burger King. As I was placing my order, a car whipped in front of me in line. I calmly got out of my car and told the driver that she broke in line. She replied that she had called in her order that since there was a space in line, she took it. When I pressed the issue, she used a few expletives and invited me to a physical fight. I politely declined and simply asked that she use nice manners. My husband says I was lucky I didn't get killed.

The next event happened as I was leaving my son's school. The back entrance is on an alley and a woman stopped traffic in the alley as she stopped her car, popped her trunk, and got out to deposit her trash in someone else's trash can.

Did I mention that the alley is one-way? This is important because the very next day, a dad brought the entire traffic flow to a grinding halt as he came barreling up the alley the wrong way. Everyone in line had to back up to accommodate him.

Is it me, or is that just plain Bad Behavior? Would any of these people be pleased to see footage of themselves on the evening news? Do they not know this is Bad Behavior or do they honestly believe that the rules don't apply to them?

To me, the opposite of Behaving Badly is Behaving with Integrity. So that I could write a meaningful article on the subject, I wanted to be sure I was clear on the definition of integrity, so I looked it up in Webster's Dictionary and here is what it said:

Integrity:–noun1. adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character, honesty.

Now I don't know anyone who would argue that living and working with that definition of integrity is a bad idea. As a matter of fact, I bet the three people whose behavior I witnessed honestly believe that integrity is a firm part of who they are. So,then, where does the slippery slope happen?

I believe it happens when
1) We haven't concretely defined our core values and principles
2)We think "just this once, it's okay",
3) We see a shortcut to get where we want to go and the thought of getting there in a faster, better, smarter way overrides our better judgment,
4)We don't think anyone (or anyone "who matters") will see us or
5)We find a way to cleverly twist our principles to fit the action we want to justify taking.

This last one is the most dangerous. How much damage has been done, for example, by comments preceded by "I just want to be honest"? Some people use this to justify unleashing a torrent of unnecessary, hurtful observations. Hiding behind the value of honesty is a real desire to be unkind.

Here is a personal example of how I got myself on the slippery slope of living out of integrity with what I say is matters to me. I want to teach my son to be patient with others and I tell him that this value is important. But has he ever heard me yelling at a car that won't "GO!" because my personal agenda and schedule are so terribly urgent? You bet he has. He even asked me about it once. "Mommy, why are you yelling at the lady in that car?" Nothing like having your integrity called on the carpet by a four-year-old!

If any of these observations are hitting home for you, you aren't alone. Do a quick Google search on Living With Integrity and you'll find pages and pages on the subject. Everyone knows it is important and yet struggles to do it. I've put together a few quick tips that I hope will make it just a little easier:

Tip #1 If you haven't already, define your core values and principles. Whom do you admire most? What values do they embody?

Tip #2 Have a conversation with the important people in your life about core values and principles to live by. Let them know you are trying live in line with your core values. Ask for their help and support. If they call you on something, try not to get defensive. They may see something you don't.

Tip #3 When you slip up - and you will, we are only human - clean it up as soon as you can. Apologize if at all possible. If it is not, make a note to do better next time.

Tip #4 If you are faced with a choice about something that is in a gray area, use the Nightly News Test. If you were seen and heard on the nightly news doing and/or saying the thing that is in question, would you be proud of your behavior? Would it be in line with who you say you are?

A mentor of mine long ago told me that if I am living with integrity, I will know it because who I say I am, who others say I am and who I am are all the same person. It's another way of saying "live so that others won't have anything bad to say about you" - even if it's only the lady behind you in the school drop off line.

WANT TO REPRINT THIS ARTICLE? You may, as long as it remains intact and you include this complete blurb with it: Sarah Robinson, Hot Pink Success Coach and founder of Hot Pink Success Coaching and The Hot Pink Revolution, teaches Mary Kay Sales Directors how to reduce the stress of their career, increase the profitability of their Mary Kay businesses and find time to have fun and live the life they desire. For free tips on creating an extraordinary business and an extraordinary life, visit

November 13, 2006

How Do I Put Into Practice What I Know?

That's a great question, M.

I think we all battle with this to a certain extent. We know what to do but we don't do it.

The answer is simple but it's not easy to do!

1. You have to be motivated by why you want to do it, and then have the discipline to start doing it daily. It takes 21 days to build a habit and once the habit is created, it becomes easy.
2. Make yourself accountable to someone. This is why coaching is so great - you're checking in with your coach every week or two and if nothing else, this will accelerate you towards your goals of more time, more purpose in life, more money, better relationship, etc. Whatever the specific things are that you want out of life.

Personally, the best way for me to make any life change is definitely to make myself accountable to someone.

The only time I ever have sustained weight loss is when I'm on Weigh-Less and I go to group meetings to weigh weekly. Now the thing is they're not teaching me anything new because I knew 90% of those things before. It's the holding myself accountable that does it for me. That's how I put good eating habits into practice.

With other life issues like in the past when I had BAD time management issues, I got myself a coach and accelerated to a "normal" life in a few short weeks. Then we could move onto the fun stuff like achieving some of my other goals - promotions, more money, those sorts of fun stuff.

Hope this helped you, M, and remember, if you need some coaching, email me on

November 12, 2006

How Do I Remain Patient While Dealing With Taxis On The Road?

ASK THE COACH. Which ONE thing is the biggest challenge in your life?

Thank you for your question, A.

In my opinion, it comes down to a simple choice - you can choose to let it affect you negatively or you can just take it in your stride.

If you realize that it is nothing personal against you, it does become easier to deal with and the bottom line is this - do you want your day ruined or not?

Practically speaking, you can…
1. play some good music to distract you, or listen to a teaching tape. You're stuck in the traffic anyway - might as well use the time constructively.
2. pray
3. plan your day at work
4. phone some people and catch up with your calls (if you have a hands-free kit)

There is a lady who lives near me who drives like a maniac. My Success Principles group suggested that I start praying for her. I did this (more for me really because I don’t want to be anywhere near that kind of recklessness on the road) and stopped seeing her for many months.

I've started spotting her again which probably means I need to start praying!

Subscribers, what other suggestions do you have?

November 10, 2006

Friday's meme

a) Four jobs I have had in my life:
Saleslady - holiday job while still at school
Admin Manager
Customer Relations Manager/ Admin Compliance Officer (my longest job title to date)
Personal life coach

b) Four movies I would watch over and over again
My best friend's wedding
French Kiss
How to lose a guy in 10 days

c) Four places I have lived
Port Elizabeth

d) Four TV shows I like to watch
Dr Phil
The Apprentice
Amazing Race
clearly I'm a reality TV junkie

e) Four places I have visited

f) Four websites I visit regularly
Encouraging Coach
Ali's blog
Mindi's blog

g) Four places I would like to be right now
New York with Dion
In my lounge, reading
In my study, on the computer
At Exclusive Books, using my vouchers

h) Four of my favourite foods
My mother's chicken lentil curry
Fettucine Alfredo

Thai Mussamen curry

i) Four bloggers I'd like to respond
Feel free to respond. I want to hear from all of you, whether bloggers or not.

My self-esteem is high 96% of the time

You Have Low Self Esteem 4% of the Time

Which can be translated to mean, you have high self-esteem and a healthy sense of self worth.
You believe in yourself, and you know how to be the real you. You love yourself, imperfections and all.
Our next Drab to Fab workshop where I help you to improve your self-esteem will be held on Saturday 27th January 2007.
The cost is R500 per person but we are offering you a 10% discount if you register and pay before 31 December.

November 08, 2006

Out with the old, in with the new

I have had some new business cards made which are just stunning!!!! Or so I think. (I'll have to take a photo and blog it).

Why? Well, mainly because when the first lot was printed, the website wasn't up and running and so when that happened, I started writing in the URL which I don't like because I'm lazy and prefer things to look nice all on their own.

So now we use those to give out our addresses and phone number, and I used them as luggage tags (I read this tip somewhere and loved it).

The process of doing these was so very different compared to the way I did the first batch way back in January.
  1. This time, I knew exactly which colours and fonts I wanted.
  2. I didn't ask anybody what they thought - I did what felt right for me. Last time, I was back and forth with friends "do you like this or that?"
  3. I knew what "image" I wanted the cards to portray
  4. I knew what to put in but more importantly, what to leave out.

If you see me around, remind me to give you a new card. Otherwise if you attend any workshops, you'll definitely get some.

And if you have more than one, help me to advertise by saying something like this to your friends (assuming you have some LOL)...

I think you'll be interested in this site. There are some cool checklists and tips and stuff... And people who are like us will get excited by that. Trust me!

November 05, 2006

Thailand Neighbours & self-esteem

Every evening before supper, Dion and I would go back to our room and read a bit before our showers.

I would read on the balcony and our neighbours would do the same. The one evening we got talking and had a good old chat.

They were two 22-year-old Australian girls from Sydney. During the course of the conversation, I found out that they'd both been abused in their relationships - the one verbally (they'd finished with one another) and the other physically (she was still seeing the guy).

Of course I was horrified - two charming, attractive girls with "heaps" (I think it's an Ozzie thing) of enthusiasm and zest for life. They appeared to be so confident but there must have been some self-esteem issues. Why else would they stay in relationships for so long with men who have such a little respect for them?

If you know me, I really have to hold myself back so that I don't just take over and say "you must leave him immediately. Like phone him right now and get rid of the loser".

I did my coaching thing though, trying to encourage them but not come across too pushy which is soooo difficult.

Anyway, I am seeing more and more of these kinds of issues which is part of the reason I'm doing the From Drab to Fab workshop. You can read more here.

If you need a confidence or self-esteem boost, please come along and let me help you.

Nov 2006 newsletter is out

Hi everybody

This month's newsletter is out and the theme is SIMPLIFY.
You can find it here.

In this issue

Introduction to Group Coaching

1. Inspirational quotes
2. Featured workshop – From Drab to Fab
3. Marcia's monthly motivational message - My favourite organising tools
4. Products and services
5. My reading room

6. Organising challenges
7. On a personal note
8. In the blog

9. Coach's corner
10. About Marcia

have fun reading and remember to pass it on!

Love and success
Marcia Francois
Visit for your FREE success pack