Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Most popular posts this year, month by month

And from this list, we can therefore deduce:

  1. Christmas is something people want to read about
  2. Blue is another...
  3. The posts I throw up in 5 minutes are more popular than things on my heart
  4. The lists still work
  5. You like to read about my shortcomings!
Do you remember a post you really liked on this blog this year? 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Glass ceilings and corner offices

So I've been feeling a little strange, career-wise, for a number of reasons:

1. I always used to think I was more ambitious and now it seems I'm not really. The ambition or lack of it doesn't really worry me in my heart, but in my head I feel like I should (!) be more concerned. I'm 14 years away from my early retirement date (55 - I'm working towards this - I can't bear the thought of working til 62 or whatever the normal retirement age is) which is terrifying because I was at previous company for 9 years and those years just flew past.

I don't plan to properly retire - sit at home watching TV and travelling - or whatever it is retired people do. I do have some skills and to be honest, despite me closing my business for now, I still have that vision of me going round speaking to large groups of people from the stage. But retire from formal employment at a company, is what I mean.

can you spot the mistake in the picture?

A guy resigned and left the division in the middle of the year. I asked him how long he'd been working there. Exactly two years, he said, because that was the plan. And so I thought, "gosh, do all these people have a plan?"

One in my team is doing her MBA next year and the next. I have zero interest in this kind of thing. Zero.

So I thought about it and I realise I don't have a plan.

I've been at this company 16 months now and at first, my goal was to just see if it was for me, and then to survive the traffic, and now 2 years will be the next milestone.

What's next after that?

I don't know.

I'm good at almost every aspect of this job (cold-calling for New Bus is never going to be my thing, but organically growing existing business, yes. Analysing new business, yes) and yet, how long can you take clients' nonsense?! I'm becoming stroppier as I age!

2. I feel like the young 'uns are nipping at my heels. In my dept there are 6 of us plus the boss. I am the oldest. The boss is 10 years younger than I am. The youngest is 28, then we have 29, 30, 38, 38 and me, 41.

I'm trying not to moan but two of the young ones irritate me so much it's unreal. I really sound old when I say this but a lot of young people these days have zero work ethic. I want to slap them down in their chairs and tell them to work.

We are all called the same thing but I'm apparently a Snr so and so. I have more leave days and such.... 

I usually have no ageist issues but then again at previous company, we were 11 at one point and I was the 4th youngest. However, in that horrible position, I was again the oldest. One was 1 year younger, and there were some as young as 27 when I was 39.

So these two things combined means I'm starting to feel my age at work.

This year my prayer is that first of all, I rope in those 2 big deals I've been working on, and then that we sell tons!!! And then that God shows me the next direction (s) for me. And gives me big increases and bonuses :)

What are you hoping for, work-wise, in 2016?
If you know me, please tell me what you think of my situation. 

Monday, December 28, 2015

Talking to Cassey about her word of the year for 2015

my 2014 word
I had this bright idea to ask a few friends these questions and only one was able to respond, so here we go. Thanks Cassey.

1.       What was your word for 2015 and why did you choose it?

I had 2 phrases, not words. I had me too, and stick to it. I chose those because of the realisation that I was putting myself on the back burner. And I have great difficulties sticking to things that should be easy, but aren't.

2.       How did your word play out for you this year?

In some ways well; in others not. I didn't stick to the yoga or ukulele. But I am currently sticking to my plan to blog everyday for a year - I started that in November. I did manage to take moments for myself, so that's something.
3.       What were the good things that happened as a result of choosing your word?

Getting my depression diagnosis, and doing something about it

4.       What did you not anticipate?/ Where do you think you could have incorporated it into your life more?

Depression. It got in the way of so much. But now, I'm more me again so it goes.

5.       Do you already have your word for next year?

I'm very, very seriously considering: say yes to what scares you.


OOH, I love Cassey's phrase for next year. Will certainly be interesting.

What I really love is how she chooses phrases.

I've never done this  - I take the word of the year perhaps too literally.

So who wants to let us know in the comments how their 2015 word of the year went?

PS I will write my own (much longer) post this week. I already outlined it in the blue book so I only have to sit and write it out properly.

Scenes from Christmas

I've been a machine with the photos this week. I only have to edit today's pics (Sunday) and then I can finalise my photo projects, etc.

 I mean, who am I? I'm so used to being 6 weeks behind!

Anyway, I spent a few good hours analysing our spending/ financials, etc. this evening. Much more fun than you're thinking, because lack of clarity is decidedly not fun for me.

More on that in a few days...

I bought two strands of these beads - one went around my tree and then I had to leave for work or something, so I just tossed it on the table, and later I decided I actually really like it like this. Makes me feel all Nester-ish (you all read The Nester, right?)
hello beautiful light
cola tonic and ginger ale - try it, you'll love it. everyone drinks this with lemonade, much better with ginger ale.
post-lunch ;)
after the presents
beautiful light provided by these gorgeous overcast skies
and us!
How was your Christmas? 

I'm never completely wild about Christmas Day itself because I can't feel Jesus in all the nonsense.

But this one was a good one - I stayed off the social media and as the Bible says, God saw that it was good :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Let's talk money - budgeting for house upkeep

the wall looks navy sometimes at certain times of the day - this was taken during winter

Laura raised a good point on my previous post...

there is lots to do when you own a house and you do have to sort of stay on top of it

So true.

Of the stuff we did on the house this year, the painting outside was by far the most expensive (I don't even want to look at the spreadsheet but I'll do it for you...) - 45% of the total spend of all the home improvements went on painting - actual paint/ supplies and the painter

this is the same colour but on another section that gets a lot of sun
At the time this stressed me and annoyed me tremendously because this is how I think:

Everyone who lives in a house has to do these things every 5 years so what do normal people do?

(I don't classify us as normal because we put these things out of our mind as much as possible)

Do normal people save up for boring things like painting? Because it is a LOT of money.
or do they just cram it all into the one year and get on with it?

This is a serious question.

I guess you'd say we saved since we really don't think about these things til they're upon us and then it's like I can't BEAR looking at whatever any longer

testing out paint the way, what do you do with your tester pots?
 What do you do?

Monday, December 21, 2015

living space changes

I don't think we've ever done as much to/ in the house as we did this year.

There were two reasons for it.

1. the front pool area was on the list last year and with me leaving my job, it didn't feel responsible to go out and spend a lot of money. This year felt right though.
2. we are not DIYers or fixer-uppers or whatever. We moved into a house that was dirty (by my standards) but completely liveable. I just hate upheaval and basically, once I started my list of projects this year, I just kept going while I had the motivation.

(I still have motivation but I'm saving that for the dampproofing...............and a few small plumbing issues - the boring stuff - which has to happen next year)

  • we painted the outside of the house, walls, pool area, everything. You've seen my divine grey walls in the kids' 52 project photos - 2nd favourite thing.
  • we ripped out the carpets and put in laminate flooring (this is my favourite thing we did)
  • we ripped up two trees (this was the cheapest thing but the most stressful by far - it's because of the guy who did it)
  • we bought a whole new lounge suite, an occasional chair, ottomans and cushions, and a rug (3rd favourite thing!)
  • I gave a lounge suite, fridge, microwave, vacuum cleaner to the gardener 
  • I went through a thorough Konmari of the house which was awesome. I've always loved tossing out things and I really, really love the book. Big picture thinking meets practical steps. I could happily do another session but the main thing is done.
  • I also closed my business nearly two weeks ago (more in a future post) and because I no longer need a private space for coaching, the kids now have their own bedrooms. By the way, there's a closing down sale if you've ever thought of getting one/ some of my products. Use the code CLOSINGDOWN to get 50% off - only valid till Christmas Eve!
  • we bought a little 3-drawer wicker unit for Connor's clothes since all my office-y things are still on the shelves in the study. Amazingly, due to all my Konmari-ing, everything fit!
see floors and rug!

Next year once we're back I really need to tackle that dampproofing and get someone in to do plumbing/ putting up blinds, etc.

And then sort out a little space for me again.

my new temporary space - I need to get blinds in the sunroom before I can work on the laptop there, so I'm in between spaces, both physically and emotionally.
Did you make any changes in your living space this year?

Friday, December 18, 2015

Are you the lighthouse keeper?

I had a conversation recently where someone mentioned the phrase lighthouse keeper.

A lighthouse keeper is the person within the friendship circle that makes things (lunches, suppers, get-togethers, etc.) happen. 

Some people land up in this role quite accidentally. And others choose to be that person.

I'm actually a lighthouse keeper in a lot of my friendships for two reasons that immediately come to mind:
  1. I like to get things done. If we say let's get together, I'm the one who actually sends out a meeting invite and schedules it. 
  2. I have the spreadsheet, so when I do my monthly goals night wrap-up and I see I haven't seen someone for a while, I initiate contact.

Here's the thing: I don't actually mind it because I feel more "at sea" if there isn't a firm plan. I don't mind if the plan is 2 months out - I just like having it in the diaries and scheduled.

However, something happened recently that made me question my lighthouse keeper role a bit.

I scheduled a lunch with 3 friends. At the end of our time together, one said, "okay, well, Marcia, we'll wait for you to set the next one up" and I said, "what?...." and she said, "well, you know that you do these and without you, it won't happen"

Maybe that was intended as a compliment but something niggled at me. 

I've decided to set the first one up for next year and then say, "okay, your turn next".

As I said, it's not the work of doing it. I think it's because it feels like only I want to see them if I keep organising it. If someone else initiated, I'd be happy that they wanted to spend time with me, not that they felt like it was easier to just click accept. :)

I've decided some things about friendship and me, and ....I'll have to share that in my recap of the year. I see some recaps of 2015 around the internet and I'll have to get cracking on mine soon.

Anyway, are you the lighthouse keeper?
Does it bother you in any way?

If you're not the lighthouse keeper, what's keeping you from sending the first email/ text/ whatsapp? Are you afraid of being rejected? Or just don't enjoy the admin of setting things up?
PS I recently stumbled upon this site and of course, I read every single post and most of the comments... and am now subscribed. If you're into talking about friendship like I am, have a read. Nina gives great advice and I've learnt a thing or two about myself too!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Christmas talk

Connor asked for a specific item and I should have actually just got it for him the next time I saw it.

When I started thinking about it again, I couldn't find it anywhere.

I went to a different mall after work on Tuesday - the mall was packed, I bought lots of clothes for me (I'm taking all but 2 things back tomorrow) but they didn't have the thing.

Today we went to a movie (Snoopy) with the kids at yet another mall, I popped into that CNA and lo and behold, the elusive item was there. The version is not the one I wanted but I bought it anyway. If I find the fancier version, I can always return this more boring one.

Anyway, the point of all that blathering is to say.... this trawling the malls thing is for the birds. All I want to do is listen to O Holy Night and eat mince pies with my tea. For real.

I looked at the people in the shops on Tuesday and no-one actually looked happy to be mindlessly spending all their money. It was such a pleasure when the cashier said something nice to me and we bantered a bit back and forth.

So what's done? 
  • Tree was up last weekend of November but strangely I haven't whizzed around the house taking photos. I only took photos of some "sparkle" for day 1 of December Reflections.
  • We've baked a bit. By the way, where does one buy All Spice? Pick and Pay doesn't have....and I want to try your gingerbread cookies, Se7en.
  • Very few presents are under the tree. My mother brought 3 of them, and I bought the other 3. 
  • We did all the nativity plays/ Christmas carols.
  • Work Secret Santa was B O R I N G. Shall I talk more about it?
I'm working the entire month of December. Don't feel sorry for me - I love it. I come in late, work hard for a couple of hours, then I catch up with my colleagues who want to chat, and then I work on my personal stuff. My budget is done, I took photos of my Amazing Life workbook for the blog and I even bought a digital Project Life kit. And that is in two days.

Also, I'm obviously highly responsive, like an email came in yesterday, I whipped up a spreadsheet to explain, wrote the email and it went out in 10 - 15 minutes. Good for the self-esteem when normally the volume of stuff means it's at least a full day before one can do proper work on an email like that.

I expect to do all my reflective blogging during the day so I can relax and read at night. And I have big plans to tidy up my flash drive and all my work folders. I did my filing (for me this means chucking out tons of paper) the other day because I just could not think with all that paper around me. Arghhh!

I don't actually plan to brave the shops again, except for some grocery shopping this weekend, but that's it.

Are you ready for Christmas?
Are you on holiday yet?

PS I've lost my list with the deep questions. Don't give up though - I will look for it because I love chatting to you about it.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Lazy weekend days and word of the year

I haven't done one of these weekend posts for a long time.

here's what life looks like for us some weekends.

I never cook "Sunday lunch". It's always rolls with a salad. Years ago our one pastor told me that they always had ham rolls for lunch because between morning church and evening church they wanted to eat and rest, not be in the kitchen. I grabbed that idea, obviously.

On this day I took their lunch outside on trays to be fancy :)

waiting for the kids so taking window selfies

I love this green nail polish... and this necklace. I bought it a good few years ago (maybe 3 years now), had it shipped to Mandy, and she posted it to me with a few other goodies. I probably need to do something like that again soon.

The necklace has 4 things God thinks of us, one on each side - chosen, celebrated, created and cherished. Isn't that nice?


These are blocks from when the kids were babies (real babies). They still use them!

So have you started thinking about your word of the year for next year?

If you chose a word of the year for 2015, I'm looking for about 3 - 5 people. I want to send you questions to ask you how your word worked for you, etc, etc. and then feature you on the blog.

My word enough has been a difficult but a great word for me. I will have to devote an entire navel-gazing post to it soon.

Friday, December 11, 2015

{Friendship Friday} Support during hard times

When you're in your early to mid-twenties, your friends are all getting boyfriends, then fiances, and then they all get married.

Then everyone starts having babies.

And as I said to someone at work, this seems to be the time when friends' parents are getting serious illnesses or dying.

Or, worse, when friends are divorcing.

Can I tell you something?

I've been stunned for most of this year and I couldn't even talk about it.

This year I heard from FIVE friends who are now either getting/ have gotten divorced.
  • friend is a casual one
  • work friend from old company
  • one set of really close friends 
  • one set of good friends
  • an online friend
Then I ask myself why I am so surprised because we all know the stats in South Africa - 67% of marriages end up in divorce.

I still cannot believe this of two of the friends. I'm devastated by the one - we know and love them both. He will not take anyone's phone calls. She is being amazing, carrying on and focussing on the necessities of life - getting kids fed and to school.

And I have not been the best friend because I don't know what to say. We have had conversations on the phone and I've said sometimes, "I can't believe we're even having this conversation!" It's completely surreal.

Anyway, I eventually wrote a card and she sent me a message when she received it - we are okay.

The other friend unfriended me, stopped answering SMS and whatsapp (you know my feelings on whatsapp but the great thing is you can see if people are blatantly ignoring your messages) too. I sent her a card too but no response. I didn't expect a response but I'm saddened by this.

Have you had friends go through hard times like this? How do you support them?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Grade R graduation - 10 reflections of our year

My word, it felt like a long time since I'd blogged and yes, 6 days!

The weekends go so quickly these days and I can't even say we're that busy.

So my kids graduated Grade R yesterday officially although the ceremony was last week.

It was the cutest thing EVER. Picture 50-odd little kids in their gowns, and two of them mine.

Connor pretended not to see us. Afterwards I found that they were told to focus on what they had to do, and not on looking for the parents.

Kendra doesn't care about rules so she waved furiously and even lunged in for a quick hug when they left the hall.

CUTE. All of them.

Too darn adorable.

So here are the things I want to say about Grade R:

  1. It has been the best year ever for the kids.
  2. They have learnt so much, and grown, and I'm so impressed with them, and then I get a slight shock when I realise they're mine! 
  3. Their teachers have been wonderful - exactly what Connor has needed this year after his two hard years at the pre-school. They have nurtured him, seen him for who he is (the teacher told me he is actually the brightest child in the class) and helped him along. He is a questioner which I love, but that's not always welcomed in school....
  4. He had a little wobble with bad behaviour. Many reasons but he also is friends with a boy who is a bit rough. I'm not ashamed to say I told him I'd give him money if he behaved for the rest of the term. And he has done it (he is a boy who loves a goal - I can't think where he gets that from?), so we have a date this weekend.
  5. Kendra is an obliger (a la Gretchen Rubin) so she is the perfect "good girl" who will always thrive in the school system. All teachers love her, she works well, is helpful, etc.
  6. They had amazing reports and both got principal's awards again (they've both had every term). I say that not to brag, but it's interesting because D and I are so blase about stuff like that, so much so that the first term I asked the teacher if they just hand them out, and she set me straight. They only get given out to exceptional students. Okay then. I'd still like more listening happening at home :)
  7. They settled into their routines well, didn't lose a single item of school clothes (well Kendra did for a day and I freaked because that is what I do when you lose something that cost me R335, and the next day she had her jacket again) and only lost one small container I use to put raisins in. SUCCESS!
  8. The only little snag I have about this year is that I didn't make friends with any parents. I have three parents I email if I have questions. One is friendly enough when we see them but it's clear there's no friendship business going on, one is lovely and I want to befriend properly but she is too busy, and one we have been to their house but they are always busy/ away/ at parties when we offer. I'm not great at taking hints (HA! understatement of the year) so I will try again and then just call it a day.
  9. I've loved making lunches and doing homework with the kids. I knew it wouldn't be an issue, but am surprised that I loved it.
  10. We also had a healthy school year - I think K & C went to the doctor only once this year. They each only had 1 day absent the whole year, and 1 day late each. They are completely not concerned with being late (!!!!). Suggestions? 
Anyway, that's me.

How was your child's year at school/ pre-school?

I'm blogging from work (reward for working on two legal agreements) so no pictures - let's call it "old-school blogging".

Friday, December 04, 2015

And so it's the last month of the year. Will I make it?

This has been such a busy week for me.

November ended (which means it was Goals Night), I had a function at a very smart hotel (with not-great food - isn't that so annoying?!), the kids graduated from Grade R and had their prizegiving (two different days) and we had our Secret Santa today.

Oh, I was so confused about the days I thought Monday was the 1st so I powered on ahead with my Instagram challenge til I realised one morning at work that I'm a day ahead.


I also went to a library sale today and bought six books for R60. Yes!

They're all books I haven't read because I check on Goodreads before I buy any.

Speaking of books, fun fact - on 18 November many, many years ago, the day I wrote my last matric exam, I started keeping a record of the books I read.

Many years ago, I paid my lovely virtual assistant to add all these books to Goodreads (but I only did the 5 years before) so I now check if I've read the book (they all sound the same to me) before buying or taking from the library.

In fact, the other day, my phone died while I was at the library and sure enough, I got home only to find I'd read one of the books 5 years ago.

Here are the books I read in November...

3 was actually the best and I should have abandoned 2 for sure, but I'd have lost that reading time....

And now I have 10 books to read to reach my goal for the year. The thing is we're only going on holidays in January and I need holiday time to read to get there.

Still, I'm going to do my best. I'm listening to the Tiger Mother book in the car, reading another and we do have a public holiday coming up in two weeks.

I'm already happy with the number of books I've read thus far, which I'll break down into physical books/ audible books & fiction/ non-fiction books when I do my reading write-up post for the year :)

How was your week?
What are you reading?

PS I bought this book tonight. I love this entire series. Get it and read - you won't be sorry :)

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Time or money?

There's a bit of a celebratory event at work so everyone was given an additional day off (for free).

I am ecstatic.

I love leave days.

I love free time.

When I got into the office today and discussed this "free leave day" with some of my colleagues, they weren't all that excited.

A previous company was mentioned by my one colleague who gifted each staff member with a R amount on a gift card every Christmas.

I told her, "this leave day is worth more than that". She looked at me a bit suspiciously and then I said, "just work out your daily rate".

At our last salary increase, I worked out my daily rate and it's a nice round number. This is rather useful when you feel like you've worked like a slave because, "at least I earned _______ today".

Well, that's how I think.

And so while I really just like any time off (seriously!), this gift is also actually worth a lot of money even if I'd received it on a gift card.

It's a useful exercise to do if you earn a salary. Divide your monthly net salary by 21.67 and there you go. When you know this information it changes the way you think about time at work.

Have I delivered output worth this R amount today?

Most days I feel like I've more than earned my salary and then there are days when it's a complete write-off due to useless meetings. But I like to believe they even out, and on the whole my employer gets from me what my actual salary deserves.

Back to you.

What would you prefer if you had the choice - an extra day's leave or the equivalent in cash (taxable)?


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