November 30, 2007

Taking risks

Do you prefer taking risks or do you like security?

I am naturally someone who likes being secure about 80% of the time and there's really only a small part of me who likes taking risks.

But I do know it's good for me to step out of the box occasionally so now I do so much easier than before.

One of the biggest risks I ever took was putting myself out there by starting a newsletter. I never labelled myself a writer so I thought I had nothing to say. I've always been a talker though so eventually I just started writing as if I'm talking to one person. Yes, you :)

I wrote my first monthly newsletter in July 2002 on my favourite topic (goal-setting), sent it out to 20 of my friends and that's how the whole thing started!

And from just writing the monthly newsletter, I now write ebooks, ecourses, articles and blogs. All of which would never have happened if I hadn't taken a risk.

If you're also not a natural risk-taker like me, start small and build up.
  1. drive a different way home once a week
  2. speak to a stranger in the supermarket
  3. tell your hairdresser that no, you don't want that hair cut :)
  4. volunteer to do something difficult for you (like make a presentation)
  5. apply for a job just out of your reach
  6. ask to do a guest post on someone's blog (oops - that reminds me, I need to do a guest post!)
  7. be honest about what you want and don't want for the holidays

BTW, there's an e-book in my store that deals with this topic, your strengths, self-esteem, etc. in a lot more detail. It's called Who am I? - a guide to discovering yourself

Are you a natural risk-taker? What other things can you do to step out?
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playing on my iTunes: If you leave me now - Chicago (this is a top 10 song for me - yes, I'm a big sop :))

Finally - 7 easy steps to organise your office

Special offer for blog readers - use discount code blog to see your 10% discount! Offer valid until 30 November.

Work through the steps from 1 to 7, or tackle your problem area first.

You will learn how to
{ set up your office area
{ determine your organising style
{ control the clutter
{ set up filing systems so YOU can find things
{ align your physical and electronic documents
{ get control of your inbox
{ deal with the mail
{ organise your finances
{ prevent overwhelm
{ make your favourite office tools work for you

In this e-book, I show you, step-by-step, how to organise your office.

The system has been tested for both a home and business office and works just as well for both. I also include plenty of worksheets and tell you exactly how to set up your Office Notebook (if you don’t already have one).

Finally - an e-book that helps me organize in a way that works with my style!

Marcia addresses the different learning styles and personalities with organizing tips that work for each of them. So many other organization tools focus on one "right" way or one "perfect" system to organize with but this e-book presented different strategies that work for different people.

Practical, useful tips and great worksheets make it easy to apply as well.

I'm already saving time and feeling more organized!

Michelle Shaeffer


I also give you a sneak peek into my own office set-up to spark your ideas. More than that however, I empower you to make your office work for you. After all, you’re the one who has to work there!

Marcia, I really enjoyed the 7 Steps e-book! The comments, strategies and worksheets were really helpful and I could easily implement your ideas to fit me.

I really loved the organizing personality section. I had never thought about that - I am clearly a visual learner and that made a lot of sense.

Your details about handling electronic information and clutter were super helpful. I liked how you gave examples of what you do/what folders you use. That helped me think about my needs and how I could incorporate the information into my life.

I love all of the planning pages you put at the end. They are awesome - I printed them out and can’t wait to start using them.

Thank you for putting together this e-book. I got A LOT out of it!!!
Mary Anne Hutcherson


And remember, you get the 14-page Christmas Planner at NO COST with every purchase of R50 or more from the store. Offer valid until 14 December.

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November 29, 2007

Overcoming bad moods, grumpiness & pms

My biggest challenge is my moods. Sometimes it gets in the way even if I
convince myself PMS is not real.

Isn't that something we can all relate to?

Even if you're not female, sometimes you just don't feel like being productive. Or you're having a low-energy kind of day/ week.

I have a few ideas:

1. Work with your moods and not against them.

We women have an idea of when those PMS moods will hit us ;) so work around it. I actually plan for my days of low activity by having some low-key, low-thinking activities lined up to read or watch.

There's not much point planning a 2-hour stint in the gym if you can't even think about dragging yourself from the couch!

2. Eat properly even if you don't want to.
Speaking specifically to women now, I purposely cook meals with spinach to keep my iron levels up when I know that time of the month is approaching. It just helps to keep me "up".

3. Drink enough water.
Many times we're dehydrated and we just don't know it. Just the other day I was feeling really blah and I realised I'd only had one glass of water and it was late afternoon. Once I'd had some more water, I perked right up!

4. Play some nice 80's get-up-and-go music
I sometimes think we underestimate the power of a good song. As I type this blog post, I'm listening to some lovely Crowded House. Not that blogging is a chore, because it's not, but because it makes sitting here that much more pleasurable.

But talking specifically about when you're feeling grumpy or just don't have much energy, put on some of your favourite get up and go music and watch - you'll perk right up!

I need to make a specific folder in my iTunes but it's mainly 80's that do it for me. And I'll confess that You Can't Hurry Love by Phil Collins is my number 1 get up and go song.

And now, everywhere you go, you always take the weather with you....

Which songs get you up and moving again?

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November 23, 2007

How have you changed in 3 months?

This is the same tree.

The first picture was taken on 26 June, in the heart of winter, and the second picture was taken on 29 September, in spring.

Can you believe the only difference is 3 months?!

How have YOU changed in 3 months? Have the changes been for good?

For me, I have
  1. gotten back on the weight loss wagon :) and lost 2 kg!
  2. undergone surgery :(
  3. joined a VIP circle to accelerate my business progress :)
  4. signed up 5 new coaching and organising clients :)
  5. launched the beading business and sold 60 bookmarks (my goal is 100 for the year so if you need some Christmas gifts, please take advantage and buy some)
  6. started writing down my life list and started sorting out my pigmentation on my face :)
  7. spent more money on my skin in 3 months than I have in the last 3 years!
  8. developed my Signature Speech (how to manage your time and take back your life)
  9. taken a holiday and booked another :)
  10. figured out Skype!
  11. developed 2 new products - the Organise your Business system and my new e-book, 7 easy steps to organise your office
  12. made a Facebook profile and been a bad Facebook friend :)
So, how have YOU changed in 3 months?

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November 20, 2007

Talking about Stay at Home moms - part 2

This is the second part of the talk-about discussion.

Read part 1 here.

Would you prefer to work part-time?

  1. Yes, half day. Then I can fetch the kids from school.
  2. Maybe. I BELIEVE ½ days would be ideal for me…3 kids??
  3. Probably - 2 or 3 early to home afternoons a week would be very suitable.
  4. but only half day
  5. I think this is probably the ideal situation as it allows me to still use my intellectual capacity and have time for my kids.
  6. I would love to work part time as it means that I will earn an income but get time to spend with my daughter as well, but am unable to for the same amount of income earned for full day
  7. Yes
  8. Yes, that is why I do.
  9. yes

Do you work because of need or because that's just the way it is over here?

  1. Need!
  2. Definitely because of the need
  3. That's the way it is over here
  4. Having kids is expensive, there is definitely a need for 2 incomes. SA is also big on status so most people want it all - the house, car, job & kids so they compromise time with the kids to be able to afford all the nice stuff.
  5. Both, I can't not work as we wouldn’t be able to afford the things that we have by surviving on one income!
  6. Need
  7. We definitely need my salary, but I would work even if we didn’t.
  8. because of need

Do you feel conflicted about having to work (if you do)?

  1. No
  2. YES!!
  3. Not at all. My mother worked - I would not have gone to school otherwise, my grandmother worked - just with no financial pay for it.
  4. Yes I'm missing out on my son's childhood & I have debts to pay
  5. I definitely work because I need to
  6. Yes, as I feel guilty about not being able to spend enough time with my kids.
  7. At stages in my life I do feel conflicted, I feel guilty to work sometimes as I neglect my family in so many ways, it is also difficult to balance work and family in this day and age to ensure that each gets the correct amount of work and attention. I also feel guilty because the area in which I live has many stay at home moms who collect their children half day, it is difficult for me as my daughter is friends with most of those children and she often goes home with her friends half day to play, when she comes home though I am asked why I work long hours and pick her up late when her friends get to go home early and do things with their mothers!
  8. Yes, working full day puts a Mom on a helluva guilt trip most of the time which is why a half day position would be perfect if one can afford it (the best of both)
  9. NOT AT ALL. My kids get spoiled rotten because we have a little bit of extra finance to go around. They also appreciate me more when I come home as they don’t see me all day.
  10. yes, now that I am a mom

Here are my observations:
A large part of the debate seems to be a cultural thing due to the inequalities rendered by apartheid. Black and coloured people really didn't have much of a choice about whether or not to work. ("we've worked so hard to get into good positions at work; why would we want to mess that up by staying at home?")

There's confusion in people's minds about essentials and luxury items. Many people think that giving their child(ren) everything they want is necessary and that's why they "must" work.

At the end of the day, we all make our own decisions but all I want to do is highlight the fact that there are other options and maybe we should all think about what's possible!

I'm keen to hear what YOU think.

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November 19, 2007

Portion control

I'm back at Weigh-Less which means I'm being careful about portion control again. Instead of using different dishes to keep mine and Dion's food separate, I sprinkled some italian herbs on my chips so that I know where my food ends and his starts.
I thought this was quite clever so thought I'd share :)
Also, I can't stop raving about Glad's baking paper - it is THE best thing since sliced bread!

Progress so far

  1. Week 1 - lost 0.8
  2. Week 2 - gained 0.6 (CT trip)
  3. Week 3 - lost 0.6

Net loss 0.8kg

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November 13, 2007

Talking about stay-at-home moms in South Africa

This is a Talk about Tuesday post.

I’ve been wanting to write this post for weeks! And now that I see how long it is, I’m going to have to split it up over two weeks because it’s LONG!

You know how it is when you take blog conversations offline and start emailing back and forth? Well, in one such conversation, Laura and I started talking about stay at home moms and I mentioned that they’re not that common in South Africa. Apparently in Canada, most women stay at home and those that do work, work only about 30 hours a week.

Laura asked me, “How do moms feel about that? Are they conflicted about it and wanting to stay at home with their kids? Are they working because of need or just because that's just the way it is?”

My non-scientific opinions were that that’s just the way things are and for the most part, everybody works. We consider some moms “lucky enough” to be able to work a half-day job from 8 – 1.

We have good friends in Australia and aside from the BRILLIANT maternity leave (one whole year whereas in SA, generally 4 months is standard and people add onto that by taking all their annual leave and sometimes taking unpaid leave, but it is rare to find someone who takes maternity leave for longer than 6 months), they have a thing called job sharing. My friend returned to work after her first baby working 2 days a week and then changed to working 3 days every 2 weeks. After baby number 2, she is again working 2 days a week.

But, I thought it was an interesting discussion so I made up a little 5-question survey and sent it out to all the moms I know. Carry on reading below…

This is from a mom of 4 who added some lovely comments for me to understand her answers…
A while back I read a passionate write-up about the stay-at-home debate with 2 other black working mums and we laughed! To all 3 of us there was no debate to be had - none of us had dreamt of staying at home as a truly viable option (and all of us with professional husbands to boot!). We think about it when the baby is 4 months and maternity leave is over or when the kids are sick and you wish you could be at home to look focus on them and then its 'perish the thought'.

We also have the experience of fathers who were absent one way or another but quite often financially. Apartheid made sure that a man could not earn enough to keep their family - women HAD to work. So much so that as free/mentally liberated as we are, the idea of being a stay-at-home mother ends up being seen as a white priviledge -whereas I know it has nothing to do with race!

Here’s my survey with the results below each answer. Read on!

1. If you had the option to do so, would you stay at home?
Yes I would LOVE TO be a stay home mommy
Yes I would
Probably not!

2. Based on (1) above, why or why not?
Spend more quality time with my kids. Support them in their sports, homework, playtime.
I am kept stimulated and challenged at work – love being around people
I don’t have a helper and love to do things myself. And it would be nice to take and collect my kids from school and go places with them before we head off home!!
I would work but just not be paid financially for it. I don't need it for my self-worth but there's a balance of power issue and having real options about my life (and not having to need anyone else's money).
I need the cash to give my kids a stable life and make sure they have what they need. So I want the best of both worlds, to be able to spend time with my kids & earn an income.
Due to the age of my kids and the guilt I feel at not being able to spend enough time with them.
I have my daughter, they are demanding and require a lot of attention as well as nurturing to fit in with todays society, work is also extremely demanding and requires most of my attention so I don’t give my all to family as I often take work home to ensure that I do not lag behind during the week.
I find work stimulating and need adult interaction on a daily basis
I believe any intelligent woman needs something at which she can excel, and personally motherhood is not it for me. Mental stimulation by my peers is vital to me being a better mom.
so that I get to see my baby grow up

That’s where I’m stopping this week. Next Tuesday I’ll post the rest of the survey results.

Personally, even though I don’t have children yet, my plan was always to stay at home and do something to keep me stimulated while being able to be there for my children. In fact, that’s a large part of why I started my coaching and organising business.

Now I want to hear from you.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with the responses. Do you want to clarify something? Do you have a different opinion?

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November 11, 2007

Giveaway - Success e-course CONTEST

I recently surveyed my mailing list to find out which e-courses they were most interested in.

I currently offer 3:
Take charge of your success
Simplify your life
Financial freedom

I added a few more topics that I'm interested in doing, but only if people were keen.

Out of the survey, one topic, Organise your Home, clearly emerged as the winner. So I'm busy working on this ecourse at present to launch probably mid-December. By the way, if you want in on the special price I will be offering my subscribers for just a week, please join the mailing list until then. I really don't mind if you join now and after buying the course, you unsubscribe. Whatever works for you is fine with me!

That means I am removing the 5-part Take Charge of your Success course. This course covers 5 topics:
1. setting goals
2. discovering your passion
3. clearing out your clutter
4. celebrating others AND
5. becoming money-conscious

It is only R50 (US$7/ Aus $8) and at the end of the course, I send you the entire set of notes in one convenient, 21-page e-book.

To get started, go to the store and click on E-courses in the sidebar. You only have until Friday 16th to buy your copy!

Please help me advertise this!

If you want to win a FREE E-COURSE , blog about this on your own blog, and post your link in the comments. I'll draw someone's name on Friday 15th and sign you up!

Thank you!

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November 09, 2007

Small, simple pleasures

We're often so future-focussed that we say things like, "I'll be happy when I finally lose those last x kg, buy my dream house, drive X make of car, earn such-and-such salary, ...".

Can you relate?

Today, as we go into the weekend, think about some immediate, simple, small pleasures that you can appreciate in the here and now.

Some of the small pleasures I love are:
a nice cup of tea while I update my diary
a lovely overcast day with big grey clouds
the smell of coffee
making pizza
eating an orange over the sink with the juice dripping down my arms :)
my beautiful bright orange bag (makes me happy just looking at it)
nice comments on my blog ;)
feedback after I give a talk that something (even something small to me) touched someone
salsa dancing
a good hair day
Dion sending me a naughty email ;)
biting into a crisp, slightly sour Granny Smith apple
a hot bowl of creamy pasta
a fax going through first time!
people responding to emails
touching a nice texture (I loved the feel of some beads recently so I bought some and made myself a beaded keyring - now when I'm driving, I occasionally hold the beads in my hand and that is just YUMMY) and you all read about my 2008 planner on the Organising Queen blog
creating gorgeous beaded bookmarks
children's laughter

What are some of your small, simple pleasures? Let me know in the comments

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November 08, 2007

Great Christmas Gift Idea

I was blog-surfing and then I found this comment by Clemntine (yip, it's spelt like that)

Our kids get three gifts each on Christmas:

A "gold" gift which is a more costly item they desire. When the kids were really little, their "gold" gift was deposited directly into their savings account. They got a little shiny trinket wrapped in gold to open. As they've grown older, the "gold" gift has taken the form of jewelry, iPods, and more expensive supplies for their hobbies/future vocations (solid maple bench for the harp, high quality art supplies, telescope).

A "frankincense" gift to encourage their Spiritual growth. A picture Bible for the Toddler, cloth-bound journal and pen for the pre-teen. CD's of worship music, a book by a favorite Christian author, etc. This is wrapped in white paper.

A "myrrh" gift of something to "anoint" their bodies with. Bubbles and bath crayons for the little ones; cologne and other grooming articles for the older ones. This is wrapped in brown paper and tied with string or raffia.We've enjoyed this tradition for many years.

Here's a link to a better explanation:

When I found this comment, I got ever so excited and emailed Dion immediately. He is also super-excited so we're going to do gifts for each other like this for Christmas this year.

What do you do for Christmas gifts? Do you have a budget? Do you give to everybody? What about work colleagues?

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November 07, 2007

WFMW backwards day - increasing exercise?

WFMW is hosted by Shannon at

My goal this whole year has been to increase my exercise.

I go to a dance class twice a week (well, that's the aim) but some weeks I don't even make it there so when I saw a pedometer, I thought it was a great idea to keep track of the steps I walk every day. Especially since I'm not lazy about walking.

I bought this one when we were in Cape Town and you know how easy it is to walk when you're on holiday somewhere. REALLY EASY.

Just to give you some examples...
1. I bought my one at about 10.30 and put it straight on and STILL walked 13 500 steps that day. We were at the Waterfront and we went to Canal Walk (HUGE shopping centre) so that helped.
2. Even the next day when we did a lot of driving, I still clocked up about 7500 steps

Since I've been home, I've been really battling. Yesterday I walked about 3500 and Monday was a bit better with around 5000.

Remember, the aim is 10 000 steps a day!

So my question to all you bright people is, how can I increase my daily steps? I do take the stairs wherever I can!

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November 05, 2007

And the winner of the self-confidence handbook is.....


Remember last week's giveaway?

Oh my word - I wish I could give EACH and EVERY ONE of you a copy! I loved reading all the comments and I want to help everyone.

So I've decided to give all the commenters & readers of this blog 10% discount - you now only pay R63 (US$9). Please use coupon code self to see your discount at checkout!

Here is the link to the store and to the other products.

But you, MadamSpud, win a free copy of the handbook. Woohoo - send me an email to claim your prize and I'll send you the link.

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