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The beauty of South Africa

This is the post excerpt.

My name is Liziwe Ndalana, I’m a writer and I’m passionate about personal development. The aim of this blog is to showcase the beauty of my country, South Africa.

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Self-care: the real deal

It’s Tuesday afternoon and I’m currently sitting at my friend’s bed, at her Rondebosch home. She’s not here. Her kids just got back from school. I just finished watching a romantic movie on YouTube. I’ve been sitting here for the past two hours, since we returned from the bank earlier. When we got back, I made myself coffee and a peanut butter sandwich. This cup of coffee was my second for the day, and this is less than what I usually drink when I’m home.

Why am I telling you about my day, you may ask? Because this is a form of self-care for me. Self care, for me, means taking time off my business and being in a loving environment, to be held and nourished emotionally.

Entrepreneurship is hard, it’s emotionally and psychologically taxing.  Every now and then, I need to take time out for myself. While I was making coffee, I checked my phone and I saw a WhatsApp message from my friend who is based on Joburg. She was checking up on me. I told her what I’m feeling: tired. She told me, “you need to take time out for yourself.” It quickly dawned on me that I need to make this a norm. Not just a ritual, like ticking off a to-do list, but a way of life if I want to remain sane. So, I’m sitting here and I’m blissfully going through memories on my phone,  reminiscing and relishing on these moments. I realise that self care is about nourishing your soul, while manicures and spas may qualify as self-care, the most important tool is love. Self love and self compassion, at least for me. This includes allowing myself to feel tired when I am and allowing myself to take time out and chill.

I am practicing self-care against my mind, which is screaming judgment at me for not being responsible enough. Against the noise in my head, I am taking care of myself. I am choosing me so I can serve both my business and my customers better.

Till next time,

xoxo.

Meditation for better mental health

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When I made a transition from leaving my job to becoming an entrepreneur last year, my habitual worrying turned into depression, but still, I was unaware because I was so used to living with angst. It was rather characterised by my behaviour, which included binge drinking episodes at night and alone, at home. Later on, it was characterised by lack of appetite, which I quickly got used to and not only that, but I wore it as a badge of honor. I relied on coffee for sustenance and my system got so used to it that on occasions when I was out, I would order food, but it wouldn’t taste nice and I’d end up not eating it. The waiter would gently suggest that she packs it so I can eat it later at home. I would gratefully take my food home and keep it…

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Meditation for better mental health

background balance beach boulder
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

When I made a transition from leaving my job to becoming an entrepreneur last year, my habitual worrying turned into depression, but still, I was unaware because I was so used to living with angst. It was rather characterised by my behaviour, which included binge drinking episodes at night and alone, at home. Later on, it was characterised by lack of appetite, which I quickly got used to and not only that, but I wore it as a badge of honor. I relied on coffee for sustenance and my system got so used to it that on occasions when I was out, I would order food, but it wouldn’t taste nice and I’d end up not eating it. The waiter would gently suggest that she packs it so I can eat it later at home. I would gratefully take my food home and keep it in the fridge until it got rotten and then throw it away. I guess that made me feel better because at least I had made an effort to eat, even if I wasted money in that process. As a result, I lost a significant amount of weight, which I subsequently obsessed over.

As long as I can remember, I’ve always been a chronic worrier. I remember in my last job that whenever my editor called me into a small meeting room at the back, I always felt panicky. The first thought was always, “is she going to fire me today?” I lived with this dread as a daily companion. This was not due to incompetence on my part, but due to my mind always finding a reason to worry.

My mental health was being affected badly by my lack of nutrition and I tried to find a remedey: running. I joined a running club and dedicated myself to run each morning at 5:am. I did this for a good five months while not eating. I was relying on one banana a day and coffee throughout the day. Oh, I managed to eat a small portion of Future Life growth cereal which I struggled to finish most times. Eventually, it was just a banana a day and coffee from morning to evening. My mental health was detoriatong almost as I was now worried about my weight. One day as I usually do, I was browsing for books to read and I stumbled upon Eckart Tolle’s book on mindfulnesmindfulness, the Power of Now. I was hesitant at first because I grew up as a staunch Christian and I was properly indoctrinated against anything New Age. But curiosity got the better of me and I read the sample. I couldn’t stop reading. The first few chapters described exactly what my mind has been doing all my life: tormenting me. Finally, I had the vocabulary of what I’ve been experiencing all my life. The book also offered me strategies on how I could turn the wheel on my mind so I could experience peace. This process, Tolle calls it “presence” or being present by watching the mind or observing the thoughts instead being consumed by them. I was still not eating, but whenever a thought of dread attacked me, I suddenly had tools instead of being overtaken and swallowed up in that stream of thought. Gradually, I was gaining control of my mind by watching it and doing breathing exercises.

A few months later I discovered a lady called Abraham Hicks through a friend, who teaches further on how to watch the mind by keenly observing how you feel at each given moment. She uses guided meditation and by doing breathing exercises for twenty minutes max. I’ve been doing this practice now for a month and my mental state has improved dramatically and my appetite is back in full force. I suddenly enjoy food and I constantly have hunger cravings. I no longer live on coffee; in fact, I’ve reduced my coffee intake to one cup a day. I’ve also changed my diet to eat super foods, like broccoli, greens, etc. Yesterday I bought spinach for the first time in more than five years. I’ve also stopped running; instead I do 20 laps in my skipping rope. I try to do it daily, but I’m not always committed. Added to this, I do my monthly hikes with my hiking club. I am happier and less of a worry wart. Thank you to reading that I discovered meditation and mindfulness. Meditation has taught me that everything I need is within me and that I don’t need external validation of any kind to feel whole and happy.

Here’s to more living and thriving.

xoxo

I got paid today

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Last week, I went to the mall to buy stuff for the business and I also needed a cereal. I paid with the business account the stuff I bought for the business and I took out my personal bank account card to pay for my cereal. I knew that I didn’t have a lot of money in personal account, but I knew I had enough to pay for my cereal, R37.00. To my surprise, my card bounced back and, together with the teller who was surprisingly patient, tried several times but with no luck. Eventually, I pulled out my business card and paid for my cereal. I never do this even tough I always carry my business card. I respect my business account. I’m working at separating my personal finances from the business finances. This is due to my experience in writing about entrepreneurship for a long time and my personal experience when I didn’t make money from my column for a few months. I relied on the money the business made for food and other basic necessities and I hated every moment if it. It felt like stealing.

I know how easy it is to blur the line between personal and business finances. This is also something I’ve heard a lot since starting my business in May 2018. That if you do, it’s a recipe for disaster. I also learnt that if you don’t curb this problem early on, while the business is still making a couple of hundreds or thousands, it will be impossible to do when it makes millions, and that’s how many businesses go bankrupt. My mentor also emphasised that I open a business account to help me manage business finances better. I guess he was also saying I should separate my personal finances from those of the business by suggesting that. Now, I see why this is important.

When I confided in my friend that I had used a business card to pay for my cereal and I said this with guilt. She said, “pay yourself a salary”. I stood there, thinking that the business isn’t making a lot of money still so how can I pay myself? She actually suggested that I buy food or stuff that I need from the business account, but list or credit that to “salary” when I do my recoding.

So, I though instead I’ll withdraw money from the business account and put it in my wallet and then buy what I need. This will help me not be in the habit of using the business account for personal stuff. Today is payday, yay. I’m both excited and nervous. It’s not a lot of money, but my business is paying me nonetheless. This is a mindshift for me. The business isn’t doing badly either. We have two or three customers every other day. What boosted my business though in the past month was getting a business client, which brought a big chunk onto my business account. So, I look forward to getting paid by my business every month.

Why I’m not afraid of failure, anymore

“Failure is inevitable”, but so is success. I never liked associating myself with failure. In fact, just a mere mention of the word invoked all sorts of emtions, which were mostly negative. This is partly due to the fact that I come from a family that doesn’t really believe or practice praise. I grew up mostly not knowing what I’m good at because no one in my immediate family was adept at using words of affirmations.

It was only a few years ago, through my curiosity and love of reading that I came across a book called 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman, a Christian author. Form the book, I learnt that one of my love languages is words of afformations or praise. It all made sense why I’ve been struggling most of life with unworthiness. I realised that this particular love language was starved of attention from a young age, hence my struggle to embrace failure as part of life, not only that, but a stepping stone to success as Oprah Winfrey coined it.

Since starting my laundry business last May, I quickly learnt that failure is something I can no longer avoid or prevent. When it’s time for it to pay me a visit, it will come knowing. When I first realised this, I panicked and tried everything to ensure fear will never come knocking on my door. However, it quickly dawned on me that this was a useless exercise and that I can never control failure from happening.

I remember a few months into the business, and that time customers started dwindling down. I remember the panic I felt, mostly it was fear. I was afraid of having started something only to have it fail. This is in spite of hearing many successful entrepreneurs recount failure as a common occurrence in entrepreneurship.

One day I had an epiphany that even I fail at this venture, I’d done something many people are afraid of doing: jumping off the boat and diving into the deep sea. This realization instantly brought me joy. It changed my whole perspective on failure. I realised I already achieved by starting my business and that will always be in the history books. Well, maybe not books that will be displayed at a museum for other people to read, but you get me. This will be my legacy whether this business succeeds or not. Of course the goal is to make it a success, so I’ll do my best to make that happen, but anything beyond that is out of my control and I’m at peace with that.

Living within your means as an entrepreneur

I quit my job at the end of March 2018, without a plan or savings. Although the decision came promptly, the build up towards it has been steady. For two years I’ve been feeling a deep craving for ‘more’. Thanks to my stress levels and a visit to the doctor twice in six months, that gave me the reason to take the plunge.

While it’s not advisable to quit your job without a solid savings plan, experts recommend up to six month’s worth of income saved up, it is important to listen to your gut. Your body will also give you signs that it’s time, like it did in my case. Quitting without savings is extremely difficult and sometimes downright stupid. This means there has to be a way for you to survive. These few factors helped me to survive the transition.

The first factor is that I do not have children, so no worry for school fees, uniform, medical aid and other related costs which come with having children. The second point is that I live at home, this reduced the pressure for rent. I made this decision when I was still working and hadn’t even thought about quitting my job, or starting a business. I don’t need to worry about rent; I only need to make sure I have electricity. Initially, I managed this fine as I still had money from my salary payout. Later on when I ran out of the little money I had, the business helped me. I run a laundry business and it consumes electricity, but I still contribute when I have money; not relying on the business.

The third point is to make sure you do not have debt. Thank God that I had sensibility to eliminate debt in my life completely, in 2014. This came through my work as a personal finance intern at a local newspaper. Learning and writing about credit and debt motivated me to never waste my money through buying things on credit. This education saved me a big deal. It even prevented me from buying a car on credit, well, I don’t have a car.

The fourth factor is that I opened an investment account with Momentum, and authorised them to debit R500 monthly from my account as soon as my salary comes in. I took this investment in order to save for my holidays. When I stopped working and couldn’t continue with my contribution, I left the money with Momentum. I only took a large portion of that money to invest in the business and left some to keep the account open, so it can resume once I have regular income again. Even now, that small portion that was left is still loitering in that account, waiting for the worst of rainy days. I’ve been tempted a number of times to withdraw it, but I haven’t. It gives me peace of mind to know that some money is locked up somewhere as small as it is.

This last point has been my saving grace. Leveraging my writing skills to freelance has helped a great deal. In my first month after leaving employment, I wrote an article for my former employer. I also got myself a writing gig. This is a BIG DEAL. I also kept my online profile alive, keeping my name top mind. This has not only kept name alive, but has led to more writing opportunities. However, I’ve done this prior to quitting my job. I worked hard at using my social media platforms to establish myself as an authority in my field of writing, entrepreneurship.

Lastly, work on your LinkedIn for more opportunities that will bring you work on your area of expertise. This will alleviate the stress which comes from the volatility of running a business.

Things I learned from running a business

I know the title said “things I learned”, but I want to share one key element that I learned about myself from running my own business. One of these things was that I’m bad with money, I mean really bad. I know that I’ve always been scared of running out of my money. Having limited income from my writing on the side, while I have someone I need to pay was a no brainer for me. I quickly learned that I’m bad at financial management. Now that I’m aware, I’m no longer a slave to this bad trait.

I also learnt to openly acknowledge that I don’t know something. This is very hard for me. As a result of this, I’ve always been hard on myself, giving myself limited opportunities to fail. If you knew me personally, you’d know I’m that “strong friend” who is always ready to listen, but not only that, but to offer meaningful advice with a dose of empathy. Speaking of empathy, I learned to cut myself some slack. Meaning, I learnt to be more kinder to myself.

This is probably the biggie: I discovered that love is all around if you look hard enough. I’ve learnt to be self-sufficient early on in life to avoid ‘burdening’ people. Running my business with no prior knowledge or experience forced me to give up this trait. Well, not completely, but I’m learning to ask for help and people are too generous with their time, knowledge and skills. Running my own business also taught me to let go of control as a business is unpredictable and beyond my control. Now, I pray, believe and wait and let go. I’m a better human being except for irritability here an there, which I think is normal.