Rekindling my first love

Since growing up in the village back in the early 80’s, the only form of entertainment I had was the now Umhlobo Wenene FM (formerly known as Radio Xhosa). Because of this, radio will always and forever be my first love. In fact, radio inspired me media career. Recently, I’ve reconnected with my old friend, the radio medium, in case you were confused. In South Africa, we have different radio stations, which cater to different audiences. I think we have more than 30 radio stations, I’m not sure. I guess this is standard in every country all around the world.

I like to think that I’m an intelligent, cool person, leaning towards the hippie side (side eye, I know). This means I listen to the cool English radio stations, which cater to the urban, Instagram-obsessed generation. I have long abandoned my old companion, which entertained and kept me informed growing up. I no longer relate to that radio station. While I still relatively understand my home language, isiXhosa, since moving to the city many years ago, I use English for everything. English is now like my first language, even when I’m angry, the first words that tumble out of my mouth are in English. Crazy, I know!

Anyways, last week, my smartphone broke. Well, more like, it just stopped working. It just shut down with no warning. I only own one smartphone, unlike many in my generation. This forced me to use a feature phone. And since I don’t have TV and I live alone, to keep myself entertained because now I don’t have Facebook or Instagram, I turned on the radio. I tried to locate my favourite radio station, but my little feature phone had a will of it own. My phone just got stuck on 89 point something frequency. I was just annoyed with this phone, so I left it on this unfamiliar frequency. Lo and behold, unbeknown to me, I had just tuned in to a radio station, which would become my fave, fave. Well, there’s only one particular show I like so much. It’s in the evenings, best time to be honest because I’m also single and it’s very cold in Cape Town. Winter has settled in, too early, if you ask me. This radio station is called 5fm and the show name is called 5nights, from 7 to 10 pm. This is the best show ever! The show host is called Smash Africa. He introduces himself as “Smash Africa for the babies” and he has the most beautiful of voices. He’s what I call the original radio person. He also has the most infectious laughter, ever! I love him and my nights are way better because of him. This is going to be my best winter, thank you to Smash Africa for the babies! The topics are hot, entertaining, empowering and informative.

Hope you enjoy this. How do you entertain yourself apart from social media, let me know.

Money-saving hacks when going out

Whenever I go out, which is at least once a week when I do drop off and delivery of dyeing for my laundry business. As a cash-strapped entrepreneur and an adventurer, I’m always looking for coffee hotspots that won’t break my already severely depleted bank account. I usually budget for at least R100 at most, to spend on my outings, excluding transport. These outings for me are a much needed break from my usual environment of being stuck at home seven days a week, because I work from home. On these outings, I make sure to find new and exciting coffee shops, with Wi-Fi so I can do my write ups.

(Credit: Damir Spanic/Unsplash)

The number one rule when I go out is to make sure I eat breakfast before I leave home. This will ensure that I don’t spend money on food unnecessarily. Generally, my breakfast varies, depending on my mood. It can be a bowl of oats or Kellogg’s All Bran with cold milk. Sometimes, if I feel like cheating I eat amagwinya (vetkoeks) with eggs for breakfast. On the days I intend to go out, I make sure I have proper breakfast.

The hack number two is to always carry my own fruit. I buy fruit from the vendors on my street, which makes it cheaper. I can get a mixed bag for R20 and this will consist of bananas, apples, pears and my favourites, nectarines and plums. This hack works alongside the breakfast one. This means that between the time of getting home and being at the coffee shop, I can just nibble on my fruits, even on the bus on my way home. This means I don’t have to buy a giant vetkoek as soon as I get home because I’m too hungry to wait for my food to get ready. While I always strive for healthy eating, living alone can sometimes be a downer because it means I’m the only cook. I am therefore, forced to cook whether I feel like it or not, or even when I’m tired.

The third trick is to carry my own water. At home, I keep a 1, 5 bottle of water filled up, to ensure I drink enough water for the day. Now with the recent call from government that we should boil our water before we drink it. I must say this has been a saving grace for me because prior to this, I didn’t drink enough water as I now do.  It’s been a few weeks now since I started boiling water before drinking it. A night before I’m due to go out, I boil water, cool it and then put it in the fridge. In the morning of the outing, I simply grab my water bottle and head out. This hack not only does it save me money, but it’s helping with my skin, which has been suffering from constant breakouts, which leave stubborn dark marks.

Let me know in the comments below what hacks do you use to curb unnecessary spending.

An AA meeting for entrepreneurs

Today I went to my favourite coffee shop, Ground Zero in Observatory. I usually drink a cappuccino whenever I’m at a coffee shop, but today I saw something new on the menu: Vegan Zhang Mocha. While I’m not really vegan, I am always trying out new, healthier beverages. This Vegan Zhang Mocha sounded jut like a thing to try out.

What I love about going to Ground Zero is the conversations I get to have with the owner, Paul. He is friendly and interacts with his customers like friends. His baristas are no different. Whenever I get there, I always ask if Paul is in. It must be obvious when he is not because he is always among his patrons, chatting to them while flashing his staffers a friendly smiles every now and then. They also take regular customers seriously; they make you feel like you’re family. This is the reason I keep going back. This may sound a bit far-fetched, but I mostly go to Ground Zero for the friendly chat, be it with Paul or one of the baristas. Coffee or any beverage I end up buying becomes a bonus. Today I had a chat with one the longest serving baristas there, Glodie. He even gave me a free muffin, to go along with my coffee.

I need these friendly chats; they keep me alive and sane. I live alone at home and I’m running my own business from home, it can feel suffocating because my personal space is also my business space. Sometimes it feels like a prison and I need to escape once in a while. Listening to Paul reflect on the state of his business, even though we run different businesses, is very refreshing for me. After the chats, I leave feeling excited and ready to labour in my business one more time and not give up. It is these conversations that keep me going and strong on this entrepreneurship journey. Also, the idea of being in a different environment other than being stuck at home, doing laundry as I work from home, is a welcome relief.

Honestly, visiting Ground Zero feels like attending an AA meeting for entrepreneurs.

Love and motherhood

(Photo by Unpslash)

Recently, there was a hot debate on Twitter on whether or not R3k is enough to raise a child on. A large number of men in this debate thought this was enough, while many women, some of which are single parents, or are helping someone who is, were greatly enraged by this. I was just there, watching on the sidelines as I have no first-hand experience of this, but it made me think about motherhood and brought it to closer to home. The thought of children has always been a distant one for me. This is mainly due to my upbringing, which was heavily influenced by church. At church I was taught to first find a husband before I can even think about having children. Even that was entirely in God’s hands. In my naiveté, I never considered the when and the how, never factoring miscarriages and infertility. I thought about it in the Cinderella kind of way. In my mind, once a husband came children would automatically appear. How they would be provided for was not my responsibility either. I guess at the back of my mind it was a husband’s job to figure out such details. The church taught me that a husband is a provider of his family. Now that I’m approaching the 37 year-old mark and also my conversations with friends, I’m thinking about children a lot lately. I also never thought I would still be single and childless at this age and, that it is my own decision to make if I want children or not, before I meet someone. I also never thought that not having children could be another option. This option is still seen as taboo though, especially in the context of African culture. In the olden days, not being able to bear a child, particularly in marriage, carried a stigma. I have people; who, when I tell them I’m not really sure if I want children tell me I will regret it one day. My mom on the other hand, in spite of her strong beliefs that a child should only be a product of marriage, told me it’s okay for me to have a child while not married. Her reasoning was: what if the husband never comes?!

The most important factor I never considered before was the cost of raising a child. Raising a child in the modern age is different from when my parents raised me. When I was growing up my family dynamic was pretty simple: my dad worked and my mom stayed at home to raise us, like many women in that era. Now things have changed. Today it is not only a man’s responsibility to provide for a child; it’s also mine. I want to make sure my child has a better life experience than I had growing up. I want my child to grow up in an environment that will enable him or her to thrive in life. The reality is that I’m an entrepreneur and my laundry business (https://www.changeexchange.co.za/Change-moments/Landing-that-Job/washing-my-way-to-fortune) is in its infant stage, and that means I’m not financially ready to take care of a child alone, at present. The business is not yet in a position to pay me a salary. The laundry business concept is still new for the township market, where customers only bring in their laundry and we provide everything else that’s needed to get it done. This means that the price is slightly higher than what people usually pay the ladies who do the same thing, but informally. This makes my business profit to fluctuate from month to month and I am still studying the customer behavioural patterns, which will ultimately determine whether or not I have a viable business. I cannot factor a child in this; it’s a lot of uncertainty. The business itself is like a baby.

In spite of my mom’s affirmation, I still don’t feel a strong urge to have children. Honestly, sometimes the option of not having them at all is more appealing to me. However, as much as I’m leaning more towards the “no children” option, I’m still keeping an open mind. Maybe if I meet someone who is ready and willing to be a present and an active father to my child, not only financially, but emotionally too, I may take the plunge. I guess motherhood remains a far-away dream for me just as the church taught me. For now, I will focus on building my business into a profitable enterprise.

This was first published on http://www.changeexchange.co.za website, for which I wrote a monthly column, three years ago.

Six months blogging hiatus

Today I’m blogging after almost six months of a hiatus. This hiatus was not by choice. Firstly, my phone got broken just after lockdown was announced. During this time, you would think I was doing nothing…well, to an extent, yes I was doing nothing. But on the bigger scheme of things, I was attending to my emotional health; nurturing myself by connecting with myself and people I love. Although lockdown was extremely difficult in the beginning for me, I learnt to adapt to being at home even when I wanted to be out of the house. If I’m being honest, the announcement of lockdown felt like a lifelong prison sentence for me.

I’ve been working from home since 2018 when I quit my media job and soon started my laundry business, operating from home. This meant that I had lost my social connections which I had forged through my work. I also do not have a lot of friends; my closest friends live in Johannesburg and we chat regularly on the phone, but it’s not the same. My family also lives in Hermanus, which is one and half hours away from me. When quarantine rules were firmly in place, this meant that I was on a government imposed exile from my family. I live with my nephew in the family house, but when lockdown was announced he left for Hermanus to be with family. At first, this was great to finally have the whole house to myself as someone who thrives in being alone. The first few weeks were extremely hard that one time I called my mom, telling her that I felt alone and just broke down. My mom has never heard me cry on the phone…. except when I resigned from my job after feeling overwhelmed by the weight of my decision, doubting if I made the right decision. She told me I was not abandoned and that they loved me as the family. It’s the assurance I needed and it did comfort me, given that I’m the go to person for everything in my family. It felt great to be on the receiving end of my mom’s love and support.  I often jokingly tell everyone that in my family, I’m the doctor, counsellor or therapist, a financier of all sorts of things, an adviser and a mediator when there are disputes. I’ve accepted all those roles and have played them well until lockdown. I felt alone, vulnerable and weak for the first time in my life. Solitude felt like torture and not the joy it usually is. I couldn’t go out to my favourite coffee shops. I couldn’t just go out and be near a beach even though I’m not a swimming person. When I do go to the beach, I usually just dip my feet into the water.

This feeling of being trapped at home heightened my anxiety and the constant reporting of the death toll rising due to the virus were not helping. People on social media were also hysterical. I then decided to go off social media, including deleting my WhatsApp. I informed my friends that if they needed to reach me, they would have to call me. My friends are kind, loving and supportive. They understand my struggle with anxiety and they had no issues with me leaving WhatsApp. They called and texted me every now and then, checking up on me. I also decided not to watch news as I didn’t want to worsen my anxiety. This was a welcome break and being off these platforms gave me time to tend to my emotional health and be more in touch with myself. The only unfortunate thing was that I couldn’t write as my phone was broken. I mostly blog from phone as it easier than blogging from my laptop. So, now it feels good to be back into blogging again.

Xoxo:)

Blogs I follow and enjoy

screenshot_20200316-135528I love reading, especially reading blogs or other people’s views and thoughts. Ever since discovering the online world those many ears ago, the greatest joy for me was being able to read stuff while sitting in a taxi or bus on my way to or from work. Thank God for smartphones, the reading got easier. I would use all my two gig monthly data allocation from my service provider just on reading at night. This hasn’t stopped, except now my special interest is in blogs. Below is the list of some of my favourite bloggers in no particular order. I subscribe to these blogs, which means I can read them on my email even when I’m not connected to the internet.

1. Freckels and frowns is a blog by my friend Neli Tshabalala. Neli blogs about friendship, relationships, goals and life in general. I love the quirky name of this blog. I love Neil’s writing style is easy going and, nice short pieces which are easy to digest. Neli is also a digital editor for Financial Mail, a financial magazine, owned by one of South African media publishing houses. I’ve been friends with Neli since 2013 and we met at work and a few years later, I replaced her at her previous employment.

2. Brevity is a non-fiction blog. I particularly enjoy reading pieces by Allison K. Williams who is also a social media editor for the platform. Allison writes moving pieces about life in general. The last piece was about social distancing due to the pandemic. In the piece she also shares her gut-wrenching experience of her packing her friend’s who had passed. Stories like these give that sense of “togetherness”. You share in other’s joys and griefs.

3. KDD & co is a platform that features different bloggers, mainly published writers. I love getting lost in these stories.

4. Blogvlovin’ is another platform I had spent years reading. This platform has a variety of content, including fashion and food.

5. Normandy blogger is a UK expat living in France. I was first drawn to the blog by the name. Her blogging style is light hearted even when she shares about serious stuff. I particularly enjoyed the piece she wrote about burglaries in France. This was a shock to me.

6. Workout tips by Digital nomad (that’s the blog name). This is a go to blog for all things fitness, outdoors, hiking, sports nutrition, etc. As an outdoor enthusiast myself, I love reading this blog. This guy can write! He writes long pieces and gives ou useful information and guidelines. He also wrote about hiking in Cape Town.

7. Roche Mamabolo is a South African blogger who blogs about entrepreneurship, business and life in general. Roche is an entrepreneur mentor and thought leader. He is also the founder of his entrepreneurship academy, which teaches seminars on entrepreneurship. He recently launched his podcast: Sawubona, which features leading entrepreneurs in the country.

8. Travel with Karabo is another South African blogger, whom I know personally. Karabo is a travel, lifestyle and wellness blogger, with the main focus on travel. If you are looking for cool things to do around Cape Town, she’s the go to person. I always celebrate my birthdays with a hike and she acommpanied me for my 2018 birthday hike. We hiked Lion’s Head, it was super fun and epic.

9. Rendani Mampiswana is a very good friend of mine. He blogs about innovation and the 4th Industrial revolution (4IR). Now he writes about his Ph.D. journey. Oh, he also does his yearly reading challenges. He sets himself a goal to read, for example, 30 books this year.

10. Lindi Mlandu is a South African blogger who documents her travels, both local and international. She’s Neli’s friend. Check her out on Lindi Mlandu on wordpress.

Buchu and other herbs

In the journey to healthy eating and healthy living, you soon realise that there are healthy options, but there’s also organic options. This, supposedly, means that it’s the healthiest option. Like any disciple to a new religion, you devote yourself getting the best out of your practice to ensure you get the results promised to you. Since I was introduced to that Nettle and Hibiscus tea fusion that fateful afternoon, in that little coffee shop in Observatory, I cannot count how many times I’ve noticed various teas I wouldn’t otherwise notice prior my discovery. It’s called “Law of attraction”. Now my healthy eating antenna is on high alert. I see healthy foods everywhere I go. Ingredients scream at me from product packages. I could easily spot them in the trash bin if they were stuffed in there.

My most recent found is buchu tea or leaves. I bought the leaves from the Rastafarian guys who sell sage and other natural herbs on the streets in Claremont.  It is bitter to the mouth but drinkable still. My friend also introduced me to the wonders of turmeric, mixed with cayenne pepper, black and white pepper and ground ginger. I drink this mix when I have an upset stomach. I also gave it to my neighbour the other time she had an upset stomach (not running stomach). She was so pleased with the results that she said she’d buy a pack and take   it with to the Eastern Cape during December holidays. I sometimes drink ground ginger alone. It tastes delicious with a little bit of sugar. I’m yet to quit sugar all together.

I also drink warm water with crushed garlic and apple cider vinegar regularly. I’m easy on apple cider vinegar as it can be harsh to the intestine lining. I make sure I drink a lot of water before I drink it. This is important. I drink all these for fun mostly, but I’m also aware of its healht benefits.

Healthy eating vs starving

We put too much emphasis on over eating and fatness. Rarely do we highlight the problem of low or under eating. Probably we think it’s a Holywood thing to not want to eat or have low interest in food. We hardly recognise this problem even in ourselves. A majority of people who go to gym go there to lose weight. In fact, I think the entire gym industry is tailored around weight loss. This begs the question: what about those of us who don’t necessarily need to lose weight, but want to maintain a healthy body?

I’m not a big meat eater, in fact, I always say, “I can easily become a vegetarian”, except that I love pork so much. In a quest to balance my anxiety, I embarked on a “healthy eating” journey, but without proper knowledge or plan. This meant that I didn’t eat properly and didn’t prepare my meals. Instead of eating healthily I almost starved myself. This was not intentional, of course. I didn’t realise that I had a problematic relationship with food. First, I don’t really like food. I often brag to people, saying that “I only eat so I won’t starve”. I even forget to eat at times, until my stomach starts grumbling. Then I would remember , “Oh, I haven’t eaten anything”. This is usually around 1 pm. What makes me forget eating also is my strong relationship with coffee. Drinking coffee often makes me believe I’ve eaten something. This was a common theme for me in 2019. This was not until July, when I hit an almost rock bottom. That’s when I became intentional with eating and the kind of food I ate. Soon my intentionality became neuroticism. I treated food like an enemy. This only intensified my warped relationship with food. I told friends and neighbours that I was becoming vegetarian. I even started planting my own food, which is now blooming nicely. I was proud of myself, thinking I was being good to myself by trying to eliminate meat from my diet. Thankfully, that was not hard work for me to do as I was already not eating much anyway.

In the beginning of 2020, I started feeling extremely exhausted with serious hunger pangs. I would wake up feeling like I haven’t eating for days. I would find anything I could just to keep my “breath”. That’s when I became intentional about eating breakfast. I make sure I eat something no later 10am. I bought oats and it only takes 10 minutes to prepare. It’s less complicated and it is also low in carbohydrates and rich in energy. I also do energy mditations in the morning, which include breathing exercises. These exercises help with digestion. Since starting this routine, my stomach is more peaceful now. On top of meditations, I do jumping squats as part of my excercise. This helps with my heart rate. I also eat a proper lunch, which includes 70% vegetables. I cook during the day, something I used to hate doing. I also snack on fruits and drink water.

20200310_112516

I came across an article, posted by a friend on her WhatsApp status update. The article talked about what is called Aryuverda.  The concept talks about a cluster of daily activities that a person can do to maintain a healthy balance of the body. It also explains different body types and how each body reacts differently to stress. This concept is based on ancient Indian philosophy which denotes that, “I’m a spiritual being having a physical exprience”. It makes sense that when we are stressed our bodies react because the two are interconnected. I’ve also incorporated some of these daily practices and the exhaustion is completely gone. The debilitating hunger is also gone. I’m freer and happier. My body is feeling healthier, too. I also went back to my morning runs. You can read more on the Aryuverda concept on Deepak Chopra website: http://www.https//chopra.com/articles Chopra is a trained medical doctor and a mind/body philosopher.

Simple home workouts

img-20200229-wa0037

When I quit my job, I couldn’t afford gym anymore. I had to come up with innovative ways to keep me fit and healthy. I joined a running club and ran each morning from 5a.m. to 7 am. When I started meditation last July, this interfered with my new found process and schedule. I recokend that feeding my spirit and calming my mind before starting my day was more important than being physically fit. However, I still needed physical activity.

I downloaded YouTube videos on different forms of exercises, ranging from cardio exercises, to breathing exercises, yoga, etc.

1. Full body cardio excercise

I downloaded a 10 minute full body workout video. This video consists of deep squats; wide squats; plans; mountain climbing; kick squat; jumping squats this work out involved the whole body.

2. Focused breathing

In the afternoons, I do a 13-minute breathing called prana yama. This breathing is made up of passive inhaling and active exhale. The purpose of the breathing is to stimulate and strengthen the lungs. It is said that as humans we’ve been breathing incorrectly. This breathing focuses mainly on the navel: you isolate the navel in order to bring energy into the skull (also known as illuminating the skull). The benefit is that if your skull is illuminated, you have more oxygen in the brain, which is good for your overall health.

3. Body stretch yoga

I have different types of yoga vidoes on my phone, which target different body parts. Sometimes I do lower back and neck pain relief yoga. The stretched are focused on  easing pain on these targeted areas. Other times, I do anxiety and stress relief yoga. I realised this type of yoga is mainly about self soothing. The focus is to be kind on yourself and be mindful of your body as you do the practice.

4. Mindful eating

As much as eating is not a physical excercise, I realised that you cannot exercise without being mindful of what you eat. I call this mindful eating. It involves watching the amount of sugar I consume; how much vegetables and fruits I consume on a daily basis. I make sure I eat a banana before I eat breakfast. I eat my breakfast at 10:00. Eating banana before I eat my breakfast helps me my eat early. This is good for digestion. I also eat foods, which are rich in nutrients and anti-oxidants such as spinach. I feel energetic each day and my body feels strong and agile. I’m also mindful of beverages I consume. I’ve increased my water consumption and drink less coffee – and more tea.

Grounding for productivity

brendan-church-pkef6tt3c08-unsplash-scaled-1-1

I love being spontaneous or going with the flow as the saying goes. When I was still employed, I used to boast that I’m a morning person. I lied. I am not. I still wake up early though. My alarm is set for 5:00 each morning. Sometimes I wake up before it goes off. I run my own business from home. I have no boss to answer to. So, this means I don’t need to set my alarm for 5 am, but I do. Working in corporate gives you stability, not only financial stability, but a foundation for productivity. When I was still employed, I started work at 7:00. I was the first to arrive in the office. This gave me time to ground myself before people came in with their energies. It helped set my day. If I happened to be late, I would feel flustered and would spend half my day trying to ground myself. This was time lost that I could have used to be more productive. Grounding is more important than rushing to tasks. The first year after quitting my job, I woke up aimless. It took me a year to develop a daily routine that works for me. This routine includes waking up to meditate. I use guided mediation audio to help me with my practice. I then open my business at 7:00 and expect customers to start coming in. I water my plants before I make myself a cup of coffee or tea. I then do my daily squats of 50. I then proceed to make my bed, clean the house so that it’s clean when customers come in, to drop off their laundry. I eat my porridge at 10:00. From then on, I’m free to just cruise through my day because I’m settled in my grounding. This helps me handle anything that comes my way, including rude or difficult customers. I’ve also noticed that I’m generally in a happy mood when I do this grounding. If I don’t, just like when I was an employee, I get flustered and sometimes grumpy. At the end of each day, I journal. I reflect on the day. I also do gratitude journaling, which helps me recognise what’s good in my life. These little things help increase instances of joy. Since I established a routine, I’m less anxious and more joyful and energetic. They also give me direction for the day, showing me which way to take – what tasks are more important and which ones aren’t.