April 30, 2007

Take time for your self

Hi everyone

The May newsletter's out and it's all about self-care. So take 5 minutes right now and head over to read it.

You can find out my favourite form of self-care! And of course, I'd like to know yours.

Leave a comment and let me know.

And don't forget - bookings for the Organise your Life workshop close this Friday so register now.

(I am still on holiday so I'll blog "fresh" next week)

Love and success

April 26, 2007

How do you deal with your critics?

Received Alexandria Brown's newsletter today and the topic really resonated with me.

I know I’m not for everybody and am actually quite comfortable with that.

I’m quite a straight talker. Some people don’t like that and that’s okay with me.

I started off my newsletter in the very beginning (2002) by sending it to friends. They, in turn, sent it to their friends and of course, my mailing list grew quite a bit once I went online. When those same friends unsubscribed, I would feel hurt and have to deal with feelings of rejection just the same as anybody else. (Incidentally, I have very few of those original friends on my list now. Why is a question for another day!)

I run lots of workshops and I have always had raving fans until one particular workshop. Now I know that you can’t always tell by someone’s facial expressions because some people who seem very quiet are actually just absorbing everything and do give me glowing testimonials later.

But this lady was definitely unimpressed by me. She participated but was not very open. I don't know what I did or didn't do that she liked. Usually people get my "style" from the weekly emails I send out so if they buy a workshop spot, they already feel quite comfortable with me. Of course, it is always WONDERFUL to put faces to all the email contact.

Well, this one lady wrote on her feedback form that I talked too much and I kept babbling about personal examples. Objectively, I know that’s true and in fact, that’s what people seem to like (lots of examples). And of course, people are paying to hear me talk.

But the way she said it (which you could pick up in her written tone) just didn’t sit well with me. I do have quite a tough outer shell so most things just don’t bother me but quite honestly, I had to keep telling myself that it was just 1 person out of many.

So how do I deal with my critics?
1. I try not to take it personally.

It’s a lot easier now with a big mailing list and you can see the subscriptions rolling right on in. I must be doing something right, right?! In the beginning, with my friends, I just told myself, “it’s not me they’re rejecting; it’s my message” and that’s okay. Really. Not everyone wants to improve their life. I couldn’t understand this at first but it is true.

2. I try to get constructive criticism out of it.

For instance, because of this lady, I am now conscious and make sure that I don’t babble too much ;) and I also check with the group if they want more examples before just bombarding them.

3. I look at my positive feedback document.

This is a good self-esteem booster for anybody, but especially business owners. Everytime someone sends me a nice email, I copy and paste their words, with the date into my document. Then when I feel a bit grumpy or “is anybody out there? Does anybody actually read this stuff I spend hours slaving over?” I just open the document and encourage myself. [The Bible says we must encourage ourselves so that’s what I do ;)]

4. My goal is just one
I hold myself accountable to the Starfish principle where if I make a difference to just one person, I'm a success.

I learnt this principle from Alison (SA moticational speaker) and she ends her talks by talking about the man on the beach throwing the individual starfish back into the ocean. She then says "if you're my starfish today, come tell me afterwards".

How do you deal with your critics? And are you my starfish today?

April 23, 2007

Spring Reading Thing - book #6

Little earthquakes - Jennifer Weiner

I didn't realise until I went to her website that this is the same person who wrote In Her Shoes (was made into a movie with Cameron Diaz). Which I loved, by the way. I expected a 6 out of 10 movie and it was an 8 for me.

It was just the same with this book. I thought it was typical chick fluff but it was a lot more serious and compelling. Still funny in places but thought-provoking and very real.

It's about 3 women who meet at a ante-natal yoga class and their journeys into motherhood. Everything is not all hunky-dory with them; they each have something to bear. And then there's a 4th woman who is drawn to them because her baby died and she returned to her home town.

It's a very good read - go get it - and let me know what you think. As I mentioned above, I gave this one an 8 out of 10.

Can you believe that I've read 6 books and only 1 non-fiction? This is exactly what I was afraid of.

So before we go on holiday on Friday, I'm going to be disciplined and read The Seed Book this whole week. Wish me luck - I've only completed one chapter so far!

April 22, 2007

Weekend cooking - kidney bean soup

This is a totally vegetarian soup with kidney beans, a wonderful source of low-fat protein.

120g onions
200g carrots
70g marrow
210g broccoli
200g pumpkin
1 X 410g can tomato & onion
300g cooked kidney beans
Tomato stock cube
1 tablespoon garlic1 teaspoon salt (or more, to taste)
Worcester sauce
2L water

Follow a normal soup recipe. In fact, with soup you honestly can't go wrong (unless you add too much salt or something like that).

I always liquidise my soups so they come out nice and creamy.

Serve with bread rolls and enjoy!

Aren't these little Portuguese rolls cute?

And of course, I freeze the rest of the soup.
For any tomato-based soup, spray your container and lid with an oil-based spray like Spray and Cook (I think you guys in the US call it Pam). Then your containers stay nice and clean forever!

For more vegetarian recipes, head on over to Overwhelmed with Joy.

April 20, 2007

Blog friends!

As I mentioned in this post, my blog friend, Ali, came over to stay on Wednesday night on her way to Brazil. Flights from Maputo, Mozambique have to come through Johannesburg before departing for South America.

We’d planned to go salsa dancing together but her flight was delayed because of the bad weather and we missed the class.

Nevertheless, we had a wonderful time chatting and interrogating her about all things American.

What are grits?
What’s your medical aid like?
What is American
Tell us about racism in the south.

Time with friends is always too short though and the taxi was prompt outside our house at 7.20 the next morning.

But even though I was still in my pyjamas, I managed to take a quick picture of her before she left. Don’t you love the hairstyle?

April 19, 2007

When should you leave your job?

My husband emailed me this great question.

What's your one secret to success at work?

I believe that you can be happy at work for a number of reasons. Here are some of the main ones that come to mind.

  1. you do what you love
  2. your skills are being used
  3. you're being paid what you're worth
  4. you have a great working environment

On the other hand, there's not happy and then there's REALLY NOT HAPPY.

I personally believe you should leave your job and get something else when you find that your workplace has changed you such that you're not yourself anymore. In other words, you are not the person you know yourself to be.

Now, I LOVE dealing with people. You may or may not have noticed that about me :) So for me to become irritated with everything to do with people is just NOT right.

Years ago, I noticed that every single call I was taking at work was irritating me and every single client was just getting on my nerves big time. And this was over a few months.

That was like a light bulb going off saying HELLO!!! YOU NEED TO MOVE. And I did.

Now my question for you is this - when do you know that it's time to move?

I asked someone this question and he said, "when I don't look forward to
coming to work anymore". Great answer, Xolani.

By the way, I can recommend a really excellent blog on this type of thing called Escape from Cubicle Nation. In fact, I've blogrolled it over on the right in my sidebar. It's Pamela Slim's blog under Professional Blogs I love.

April 18, 2007

Reach out today

I'm so happy because we have a gorgeous, overcast, rainy day here in Johannesburg. Hope the weather is great wherever you are.

You know what? Too many times I come across stressed clients because they don't want to delegate or ask for help from others.

Is this you? Are you a lone ranger?

Some worry that they'll be perceived as being incapable or inadequate just by asking for help. That's not so.

Of course, we all know people who are at the other end of the extreme so if you do ask others for help ALL the time, then that's another matter entirely! Call me - you may need some help :-)

More often than not, you may end up taking a long time to finish something just because you want to do it all YOURSELF. Let go of your perfectionism.

When you're used to reaching out, it becomes easier to ask someone for help. And to get you in the mood, start doing one SMALL thing every day to connect with someone else.

1. Smile at a stranger
2. Wave at a fellow motorist!
3. Talk to the car park attendant
4. Say hello to a blogger you don't usually talk to
5. Talk to the person in front of you at the bank or the shops
6. Send an email to an acquaintance and build a relationship

Some quick examples:

There is a guy I see regularly who has the most beautiful smile. So one day I told him ;) And since then, he and I regularly exchange a bit of small talk.

Last year when blogging was all still fairly new to me, I happened upon an interesting blog. One day I emailed her, we exchanged some emails and made friends, and she visited me from Maputo when she was on holiday in South Africa last December. And how cool is this? We're seeing each other again today when she sleeps over in Jhb for one night.

Okay, so leading by example, how am I going to reach out?

Heather, quite a well-known blogger (although I'd never heard of her), was diagnosed with a form of brain cancer. The blogging community has really rallied round this family in a remarkable way to raise funds for the treatment. The internet is such a wonderful tool. So even though I don't know her at all, I am going to reach out by sending her an email, my prayers and some money. Oh, if you're interested, go read the story over at Boomama's place.

Edited to add
After battling with Paypal most of this afternoon (it doesn't like my two main credit cards), I was finally able to donate some money ;)

19 April - edited
Oh my word, when I checked tonight, over $10 000 had already been collected. Awesome!

April 16, 2007

What’s not serving you?

Sometimes we keep on doing things simply because we're in the HABIT of doing them and not because they actually serve us anymore.

I'm not talking about the good habits as in this month's newsletter.

Let me explain.

You go through a really busy period at work and work until 6pm every night. After that, it's become a bad habit so you continue to do so even though there's really no need. But it's no longer serving you. You could be enjoying the extra time at home with your family, exercising, taking up a new hobby, etc.

Or you might have a bookshelf full of books you don't like or need to have. It's no longer serving you.

One more...you have 5 sets of bed linen for your guest bedroom. You have guests twice a year and never even get past set 3 on the shelf. That's no longer serving you.

When we first got internet at home years ago, we were happy enough with dial-up. But as my business got increasingly busy, it has definitely NOT been serving me ;) I've been spending hours on the computer writing blog posts, newsletters, e-courses, and so on.

I finally got my act together this week and got us fast, wireless internet. Wow - the difference is amazing. I've already shaved hours off my computer time.

So my challenge to you is to jot down 3 - 5 things in your life that are no longer serving you. And let them go.

They can be anything from kitchen utensils, crockery and table linen to old appliances to bad habits. Anything.

Tell me what you're going to let go of in the comments below.

April 15, 2007

Spring Reading Thing - book 5

The hundred secret senses - Amy Tan

This is my 4th Amy Tan and she NEVER disappoints.

The story is about two sisters, Kwan and Olivia (Libby-ah) who only meet one another when they are 18 and 5 respectively. The older one is from the father’s first marriage in China.

Kwan can see into the land of Yin (ghosts) and the story dips back and forth from current day to the past. You know the supernatural is NOT my thing at all but this is so beautifully written.

As I was reading, I told Dion that it’s not so much about the story; it’s HOW she tells it. The words and phrases she uses are so beautiful and you feel so privileged to read something so well-written. As I go about my day, I can’t wait to get back to my book but also as I see how quickly I go through it, I get sad because I don’t want it to end.

They eventually take a trip to China with Olivia’s estranged husband, Simon. And that’s where things get really interesting.

I’m also all about the good ending. This ending is quite sad but very fitting too.

I gave this book as I did all her others a 9!

(Strangely enough Beth, I have still not read The Joy Luck Club. Must read it after the Spring Reading Thing)

Weekend cooking - pizza pasta casserole

500g mince (I only had 280g so I added 220g lentils)
1 Onion, diced
Carrots (I buy Pick & Pay’s prepared julienned carrots and then roughly chop them)
Bottle bolognaise sauce (I used the low-fat Royco one at Pick & Pay – about R15)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt, garlic, pepper to taste
500g spaghetti (I didn’t have spaghetti so I used the twisty pasta)

Heat pot and then add oil and onion.
Add mince, spices and brown.
Add carrots and then bolognaise sauce.
Cook for about 10 minutes.

Add pasta and mix thoroughly.
Pour into a casserole dish.
Add cheese to the top and top with your favourite pizza toppings.

I use mushrooms because I don’t like mixing meats but you can top with salami, bacon, sausage, etc.

Serve with a side salad and some bread.

About the picture
I forgot to take a picture of the completed one before I started serving and I couldn’t blog an ugly one, now could I?

April 13, 2007

Weekend cooking - Almost home-made pizza

What you need
Wholewheat pita (at Pick & Pay, you get 6 in a pack for R7,99)
All-Joy pasta sauce - any flavour
Lots of vegetables - believe it or not, even pumpkin works well

How to make it
Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
Spread the wholewheat pita bread with All Joy pasta tomato sauce and garlic.

Top with chicken, spinach and mushrooms. Or whatever veggies you want.

Then top with cheese

Bake for about 5 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.

I cut these in half so that they're easy to hold in your hand.
Serve with a side salad and enjoy.
For more Favourite Ingredients, visit Overwhelmed with Joy and her cute Snuggle Bug.

April 12, 2007

My first traffic fine

Yesterday I received my first traffic fine in the mail. R100 – not too bad. For travelling at a speed of 83km in a 70km zone.

The only problem is that the picture displayed was not of my car. This one was silver and had a tow bar (mine is black with no tow bar).

The registration number was correct, perfect to the last number. When I read the “first notice’ carefully, I saw that I was supposed to have been in Roodepoort (Ontdekkers Road) on 7 March when the incident occurred.

That was definitely not me. I never go to the west rand. Just to make absolutely sure, I also checked my diary and saw that I didn’t even leave the office. That was the day of the Stephen Covey talk and I left the office at about 5.45 for the first time that day.

So I phoned up the nice people at the Roodepoort Metro Police and explained my story to a guy there. He suggested that I put all that (my looong story) in a letter and fax it to the Prosecutor, together with the notice of the fine.

Which I did. So now I wait and see.

Just to feel safer, I made a photocopy and am keeping it in my car, just in case I get stopped.

I sent the letter to Dion to have a look at (after it had been faxed) and he writes back

V. nice. I like your spacing.

Such a romantic!

April 08, 2007

Spring reading thing - book #4

Book review - Bed of roses by Daisy Waugh

Amazon synopsis
A fun, feelgood romp of country life from bestselling author Daisy Waugh.

When the restless, rootless Fanny Flynn lands the job as Head Teacher of Fiddleford Village Primary School it feels more like a last resort than another of her new beginnings. She's a great teacher and all the villagers claim to be behind her. But are they really? In no time she's locked in a feud with the gruesome Mrs Guppy, stalked by the pushy newcomers from the Old Rectory, plotted against by Kitty, the predatory children's author at Laurel Cottage, and demonised by her pathologically lazy Deputy Head! Yet Fanny has fallen in love with Fiddleford. Together with her troublesomely handsome best friend, Louis, and with a little help from the deliciously scented Solomon Creasey, Fanny vows to make this new beginning her last!

Marcia's review
I read the 5 reviews on Amazon and wondered if I read the same book.

This book irritated me quite a bit. Everything was too la la la, if you know what I mean, and not real enough.

I actually felt zilch for the main character and really only kept reading because I wanted to find out what happened to some of the minor characters who I liked.

And another thing I realised - I don't like books being written in the present tense. Ughh! It just doesn't feel right. Fanny tells herself, Fanny thinks, and so on. I'd be interested to know if anyone else agrees with me or if I'm the strange one.

I gave this one a 6.

And after this disappointment, I started my next one - the Amy Tan. So far, so good. As usual, she does not disappoint. The storytelling and language is SOOO beautiful!

Spring reading thing - book #3

Book review: State of the Union - Douglas Kennedy

This picture is courtesy of Amazon and so is the synopsis. Read on and then I'll tell you what I thought.

Amazon synopsis

America in the Sixties was an era of radical upheaval - of civil rights protests and anti-war marches; of sexual liberation and hallucinogenic drugs. More tellingly, it was a time when you weren't supposed to trust anyone over the age of thirty; when, if you were young, you rebelled against your parents and their conservative values. But not Hannah Buchan. Hannah is a great disappointment to her famous radical father and painter mother. Because instead of mounting the barricades and embracing this age of profound social change, she wants nothing more than to marry her doctor boyfriend and raise a family in a small town. Hannah gets her wish. But once installed as the doctor's wife in a nowhere corner of Maine, boredom sets in ...until an unforeseen moment of personal rebellion changes everything. Especially as Hannah is forced into breaking the law. For decades, this one transgression in an otherwise faultless life remains buried. But then, in the charged atmosphere of America after 9/11, her secret comes out and her life goes into freefall.

Marcia's review
Before this book, I’d only read one other Douglas Kennedy (The Big Picture). I enjoyed that one very much so decided to take a chance on this one and...

I absolutely LOVED this book. I loved the characters (flawed as they were), especially her best friend, Margy. Razor-sharp wit and an NYC snarkiness.

I'll be quite honest - the first half of the book (in the 60s) was much better than the second half but it was unputdownable (?) and extremely page-turning!

You know I have a book that I've kept since 18 November 1991 (the day I finished my last school exam - I think it was Biology) where I keep a record of all the books I read. If you ever thought I was weird, there's the proof.

Of course I'm onto my 3rd or 4th book by now.

Anyway, I gave this one a 9!

April 03, 2007

From Drab to Fab pics

Remember the workshop we did on 24 March?

Here's Angie, doing her stuff...

And here are some other pictures...

Sorry - none of me. I was so busy snapping away; I forgot to ask someone to take a picture of me!

April 02, 2007

Spring Reading Thing – book #2

Book review
1000 best quick & easy organizing secrets – Jamie Novak

This book is chock-full of great tips!
It is divided up into many different areas like rooms (and then she goes room by room, giving you tips in each area), paper, the office and computer (my favourite), different types of clutter (mental [we are going to deal with this on the Simplify your Life e-course], family, financial).

My favourite section was the last one, which is how to maintain it all once done. I haven’t read many organizing books that deal with the last, and often most critical step, so well.

I’ll share just one good tip from this book.

When you give directions to people, attach a photo of the front of your house so that it is easy for them to find.

I am going to be taking a photo of my house this week so that I can attach it to my Directions document on my computer. I always say “it’s a big green wall – you can’t miss it” which is true but a picture is even better.

Have you joined the Spring Reading Thing?

How are you doing with your reading?

April 01, 2007

Movies seen recently

Music & Lyrics
Dion and I went to watch this movie last Sunday night and... I loved it.

A lot of the love was due to the fact that the main lead had hits in the 80s and of course, I grew up in the 80s so can totally relate! Those skin-tight pants and the hair! Oh my word!

It was very funny and truth be told, a lot better than I anticipated. And I usually like anything with Drew Barrymore in it too.

The last kiss
We went to see this one yesterday at Cinema Nouveau.

It was an ensemble cast and if memory serves me correctly, the screenplay was one by Paul Haggis (of Crash - which I loved!!!!).

I enjoyed this very much too even though I didn't buy some of the casting - they could have done better.

Anyway, go see both of them. You'll enjoy them.

The reason I don't like to say a lot about movies is I don't want to spoil it for those of you who still need to or intend to see it. So if you have seen it, email me and we can talk properly about the movies.


The April newsletter's out

Just to let you know that the newsletter's out. This month, we're talking about the power of habits.

Here is the start of the article...

A habit is an action done so many times that we don’t even have to think consciously about doing it anymore.

Most people agree that it takes 21 days to form a habit and only 3 days to break it.

Read the rest of the article.

Enjoy and have a great month.