2017 – A Year to Remember

2017 review

I write this as I wing my way back to Cape Town having spent a soul feeding week in the African bush with my family.

My dad reminds me today would’ve been gran’s 100th birthday. I don’t believe in coincidences. I’m about to embark on an ambitious year – and this is another heart warming moment of synchronicity to experience.

2017 has been one heck of a year.

I love the opportunity of hindsight to explore the events of the previous year. To “connect the dots” as Steve Jobs once said.

Here are the six most impactful events of my year and what each of them taught me.

1. Starting my year in Jokulsarlon, Iceland

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I chose to spend New Years in Iceland, in a tiny village called Vik. I shared the most incredible NY eve of my life with two other intrepid travellers from France. Never in our wildest dreams could we have predicted we’d see the northern lights dance above our eyes as Icelanders set off fireworks lighting the snow covered mountains up in red. Nature and man combined to create a show I will always remember.

They suggested I visit the area further east called Jokulsarlon, Glacier Bay.

A drive that belongs in the National Geographic Hall of fame awaited me and my prize: a receding glacier that’s created a deep bay filled with icebergs effortlessly floating. Ice that breaks off is ushered out to sea where the Atlantic uses its creativity to place blocks of ice across the black sandy beach as if it is it’s private art gallery.

Here – some 15 906 kilometers away from home as near to the edge of the world I’ve been – I feel for the very first time a tremendous love of my home. Our home. Earth. What a gift this planet is for us. My heart was expanded standing mesmerised by the beauty around me. Being so alone and yet incredibly connected all in an instant.

What changed in me: alone and in the harshest conditions I’ve ever experienced, I felt a realisation that we are never lost; just temporarily unsure. All it takes is asking for help and we can immediately be back on track. That sometimes its in being lost that we get to experience incredible surroundings with heightened senses that we’ll look back on with fondness and appreciation.

2. Having to find a new place to stay

This would be my seventh year in my flat and around February/March I had a thought “at some point I’m going to have to find another place to stay”.

I had no idea a few weeks later my owners would message me to say they needed to move back in and I needed to be out by end of May.

The rental market in Cape Town, and specifically the Atlantic Sea Board, has become a nightmare. Rental prices have sky rocketed and availability of units has all but dried up like our water due to people preferring AirBnB instead.

A dear friend suggested I write down absolutely every detail of what I wanted in my new flat. I was incredibly specific. After two months of searching with no success, it appeared I may have to take friends up on their offer to put my stuff in storage and stay in their spare room.

I looked at my list often and held steadfast in my belief I would find a place that met ALL the requirements. I had some wobbles where I thought “maybe I should just be happy with a few?”

Two weeks before I need to be out the managing agents of my current building send me a text “813 will be available beginning of June – do you want it?”

This came moments before I left for a weekend away. I was desperate to see it soonest and had to be happy with arranging a viewing Monday night. It was dark and with belongings all boxed up I didn’t quite fully grasp how perfect the flat was. I did get a good feeling about it and immediately messaged to say I’ll take it.

Only once they’d cleaned carpets and repainted and I moved in did I fully grasp how much of my list it satisfied – one of my favourites being able to lay in my bed and see Lions Head (those who live in Cape Town will understand what a rarity that is)

What changed in me: my absolute faith and belief. I was tested for sure; but being tested is how we gauge where we are in life. That I’d be in my same building, six stories up (literally moving up in the world) with my flat directly opposite the lift to move my furniture into is almost too good to be true and yet – here I am.

It’s been another massive stride for me to completely accept that whatever we want, we can get. Which is especially important for point number 4 coming up.

3. Going through a retrenchment

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I was emailed by a head hunter barely an hour before our department was going to hear what changes were being made. Before that point, based on the importance of my role, I confidently assumed I was going to be safe. That email triggered an immediate awareness that not only was my role in the firing line – but that this was the end of my time at Distell. My gut was speaking loud and clear.

My role had become a ‘promotion’ and even as others confidently suggested there was no one else qualified to do the job; I just knew it wasn’t going to happen.

I was right.

I was offered other roles but knew it would be disingenuous to myself and Distell to take them. I had lost faith in the company and didn’t feel any of the other roles suited my career progression. I’d just be taking it to have a job. I had a funny feeling something big was coming from this. I was terrified, especially at the fact that my future’s slate had been wiped clean.

I trusted it would be the best thing that ever happened to me – and I was right.

What changed in me: I started trusting to my gut and I also made a conscious move to start making decisions based out of love and not fear. Worrying about a pay-check and where money was going to come from was staying out of fear. I was done with that.

With uncertainty abounding I was a week from leaving when an idea dropped into my head that would (and subsequently already has) change my life.

4. Receiving the simplest idea

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Driving past Table Mountain the idea to hike up every day for a year was given to me and so 365 Ubuntu Climbs (Ubuntu is the spirit of humanity) was born.

Henry Ford said ‘whether you think you can or you can’t – you right’

I believe I am the luckiest traveller in the world, and that is why I saw the northern lights on New years eve. I have countless stories I can share about that. If you believe nothing good ever happens to you guess what…… nothing good ever will.

Taking the retrenchment with the faith and knowing that something amazing was going to come from it was rewarded a mere 8 days before my final day.

The idea set my soul on fire. Even when most people couldn’t grasp the enormity of what this meant, it didn’t waiver me from the endless possibilities it would create – both for me and others.

The idea was a simple one and using it as a platform to show people how easy it is to give by sponsoring me R1 a day would later develop into an audacious goal to use that money to positively empower 1 million people. Even as I sit here I can tell you that with each day that passes new ideas and exciting ways to achieve this goal flood my brain.

What changed in me: For the first time in my life, nothing but absolute self belief in achieving this feat existed in my psyche. This would be tested as the six month countdown began to such a degree that I almost allowed myself to get talked out of it from people who hardly know me. This taught me about how others can only see things from their perspective (which is based on their value system and experiences). They were looking at a piece of the puzzle telling me why that piece was a waste of time; while I was looking at the finished picture. It’s like arguing with a baker that egg, flour, milk, coco powder and villa essence mixed together will taste disgusting. Until they eat a slice of the cake created.

The greatest gift of all this year has been born from this idea. A deeper understanding of human behaviour, and not taking on others limited beliefs as my own. Just because you don’t believe you can do something doesn’t automatically mean that I can’t. In fact, I can see all the naysayers faces when everything I can see crystal clear in my mind comes into physical form.

It’s not about proving how right I am – it’s about following through on a simple idea that has the power to change a million peoples lives. Isn’t that something worth pursuing and being part of in 2018?

5. Speaking in front of 2000 people

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Once the 365 Ubuntu Climbs idea was given to me, I believed I could take this globally never mind to the rest of South Africa. I was introduced to a pioneer called JT Foxx, a man no stranger to naysayers and trolls, blazing trails across the world and giving people opportunities to elevate their success. A man who’s organisations credo is ‘powered by your success’.

He was hosting a Global event called ‘Money Wealth Business conference’ in Johannesburg on August 12th. People from as far as North America, Australia, Europe and Asia attended with the many local South Africans. It was the opportunity I’d asked for.

Not only had I spread my message to Johannesburg, but I now also had international supporters donating in support; even travelling from Switzerland to walk up with me.

What changed in me: I realised the power of following your heart and what you can accomplish when your soul’s been set on fire. What can feel like simple self development choices a year ago; like doing the “Courageous public speaking course” with Simon Ekin, could turn out to be instrumental later on. Like giving me the platform to speak in front of such a large audience. Passion speaks louder than being polished – and authenticity creates connection.

This has become the catalyst to show me how important to it is to have the courage to follow our hearts desire. That sometimes the worst thing we do to ourselves is over think things and the best gift we can give ourselves is to go for it. Take action. Move forward. That stumbling is better than standing still.

Nelson Mandela – who’s 100th birthday would’ve been in 2018 — said “it always seems impossible until its done”

My question is: Why couldn’t you be that person?

6. Traveling (again) to America over my birthday

JT Foxx hosted the Mega Success event at Disneyland in November and I’d have the opportunity for more coaching at his house afterwards. With no travel in 2018 I took the plunge and dipped into my bond to pay for the ticket. Something most people would frown upon as careless; but my gut said there was opportunities waiting for me I’d never otherwise get staying behind in Cape Town.

Ten months after arriving back to the day from my European vacation, I boarded a plane on my 38th Birthday bound for the US for the second time in my life.

Thanks to an amazing human being, Jessie Stuart, I was able to extend my trip by a week and stay with her in San Francisco. She’s an incredible human being that does fantastic work with Pencils of Promise, a non-profit dedicated to building schools in the poorest countries around the world. Her passion and enthusiasm for life, travel and focusing on what we can do instead of what’s wrong – is what we need more of in this world. Throw in the opportunity to travel with one of my best friends Lisa and without stepping foot off the plane, I already knew what a transformative three weeks these would be.

What Changed in me: my openness to listen to people with varying opinions to my own expanded. Life is about evaluating all the available information at our disposal and making our own informed decisions. Too often we follow one set of principles blindly or as gospel (religion, politicians, self help gurus, business giants, health experts) instead of understanding there is no one right way; but there is a right way for us – listening to our intuition and developing a deeper trust in our own decision making.

Success, much like happiness, is not a destination but rather a result of what we do and how we live our lives. Chase excellence, and success will follow. Chase fulfilment in everything that you do and happiness will abound.

We’ll never live in the absence of fear, of pain, of doubt, of difficulty.

But we can choose to push through bravely with love in our heart; with an understanding that pain can create drive to improve our lives; doubt is is just a made up ; difficulty is essential to develop appreciation and gratitude.

Stop hoping trying and wishing and start doing.

2018 will be a success because I will work and act in a way that I will create it. I won’t try I just will. Thoughts are nothing without actions. I am climbing Table Mountain every day in 2018 as living proof that powerful ideas while powerful – are meaningless without doing something with them.

If you had challenges in 2017 – be grateful for them.

My wish for you in 2018 is not just to feel inspired; but to feel inspired enough to act.

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I’m having a Bad Day

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Bad days are just like commercials; they annoy everybody but eventually they go away.

Don’t you hate it when something goes wrong and someone says ‘everything happens for a reason’?

Yes they’re right – but it’s not what I need to hear in that moment.

The focus is largely always on the positive side of life, as if that’s the constant normal state that exists. The ‘bad days’ are neatly forgotten or ignored when they are an important part of our lives.

How do you generally feel about negativity or the ‘bad days’ you have? Most of us try and push through or suppress them and pretend everything’s ‘fine’. Get on with it, so to speak.

I know this. I’ve lived it, but the reality is we wouldn’t know what a good day feels like if we didn’t have the bad. We wouldn’t know what happiness is without experiencing sadness and pain.

I know what you thinking – do I really need to have bad days?

Short answer: yes.

Long answer: Try this

  1. Get a blank piece of paper.
  2. Draw a Y and X axis – 0 being sad and 100 happy on Y axis and 0 to 100 being years on X axis.
  3. Think of your earliest happy memory and plot that.
  4. Now think of a sad time after that and plot that.
  5. What was the next happiest memory after that? Plot that too.
  6. Keep going until the present day.

Welcome to the cycles of your life.

Point number one: Every bad experience is always followed by a good one. And visa versa.

You might still be asking ‘Yeah but do I really need to experience the bad??

Absolutely! Why?

Appreciation

If happiness was just dished out willy nilly no one would appreciate it. Just look at this planet we’ve been given: pollution and abuse run rampant.

Think of someone who just gives their children whatever they want whenever they want. On a scale of 1-10 rate how highly those kids appreciate what they have… or are they always asking for the next thing?

Life becomes easier when we accept there are going to be bad days; maybe weeks (Anything longer than that and deeper questions need to be asked – nobody is supposed to have sustained misery)

I’d like to offer you my tip when these bad days roll in.

Embrace them. Don’t fight it. If it becomes the absolute worst day ever, let it. Swear at the world if you have to. Curse everything and everybody out of frustration. Be the spoilt toddler that isn’t getting their ice cream.

It’s like doing a controlled burn so you don’t have a runaway fire later on.

Get. It. Out. Of. Your. System.

Deep down you know it’s not going to last and that when the sun shines tomorrow it will be better (even if its just a tiny bit) Allow yourself to feel what its like to be down, depressed, angry, hopeless, fearful and disillusioned.

You give yourself such a hard time when these days occur and feel you should push it down; put on a brave face and soldier on. Tell everyone how ‘amazing’ life is while secretly dying a slow death inside. I’ve even told a friend to rent ‘Schindler’s List’ just so she could cry even more and really release everything that was bottled up inside. (It worked by the way)

By embracing these days you allow yourself to move on quicker. All the while moving forward with less baggage. We’re ‘human beings’ not ‘human nofeelings’.

What have I learnt by doing this when others are having a bad day?

Listen.

Too often we try (and I’ve been guilty of this too many times) and jump into solution mode. When actually maybe all they need is an empathetic ear to listen. I’ll never forget my mom telling me ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’.

Just remember there’s a difference between sharing and whining; this isn’t about having a pity party and bemoaning how tough your life is – because then the next question coming your way is: ‘okay, so what are you going to do about it?’

You have all the strength and power within you. Believe in that. Empower yourself when times are good so that you know you can make it through the bad ones.

You going to have another bad day. Make peace with that, and don’t get stuck thinking that it’s going to last forever. Who knows – maybe there’s a lesson in those days that will change your life forever.

You’re allowed bad days, so don’t be so hard on yourself when the next one rolls around. One magical thing this mind-set allows you is perspective; it allows you to look deeper at what is happening and why.

After all; everything that happens to us is based on a decision we’ve made at some point.

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Climbing Table Mountain every day in 2018

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I have a dream to help South Africa.

I have a dream to inspire people to discover what it feels like to live with passion.

I have a dream for love to fill people’s lives in spite of what life throws at them.

What is your greatest dream for your life?

 

Next year I’ve decided to climb Table mountain every day . That’s 365 ascents come rain, shine, heat, snow, hail or wind.

 

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The route I will take up each day – Platteklip Gorge

 

The idea was inspired by three main things:

1. Recently retrenched I, with no desire to head back into corporate, have no time restrictions any more.

2. I’ve been raising money and awareness for worthy causes actively for the past four years now and I want to do it every day.

3. I was introduced to a woman a month ago who’s climbing Table Mountain 67 days in a row for Nelson Mandela day.

On the 22nd June 2017 my idea was born as I drove past Table Mountain.

It’s a spectacular sight. It’s even more of a privilege to live in it’s protective shadow. What an honour it will be to face it daily and be tested.

I’m already learning lessons and I haven’t even taken my first step.

I’m raising money and awareness for three organisations that build homes; educate children and build on the existing database for Leukemia. Empowering people to take ownership of their lives.

I resonate with people that have taken tragedies and turned them into positives; improve peoples lives by not just giving handouts – but teaching them to become self sufficient. There are initiatives I’ve recently heard about in our townships I’m excited to learn more about and work with. I’ll keep you posted on who the twelve organisations will be.

Where do ideas come from?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this and how some people have amazing ideas that launch companies or products that change the world. Internet, flight, Virgin, medicine, take your pick there’s tons. These were all just thoughts in someone’s head that they then materialised.

I remember a colleague at The Pro Shop (a golfing sports store) constantly walking around proclaiming “all you need is ONE idea… ONE IDEA!!”

He’s right.

They don’t even have to be complex – like this one.

Just do one thing consistently for a full year.

I’m 37 now and I have no doubt that my life experiences (good and bad) and beliefs have shaped what, is for me, this perfect opportunity to do all the things I love.

This statement rings truer than ever now:

When the voice and the vision on the inside is more profound, and more clear than all the opinions on the outside, you’ve begun to master your life. ~Dr John Demartini

Powerful.

 

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The view from my 3 Peaks Challenge January 2016 (Lions head / Devils Peak / Table Mountain all in one day)

 

Self Belief

Last week I talked about ‘what defines your self worth’ and that plays a big part in this too. How many times have you had an idea, shared it, and been shot down by someone? Most likely you suddenly lost your shine and the idea started to fade. Ag it probably isn’t a good idea anyway We’ve all told ourselves that.

We allow others fears; their anxieties and their way of living to become our own – and it will cripple you if you keep allowing it. That’s why its important to surround yourself with people that continue to inspire you and share your passion and enthusiasm for life and support your dreams. Not their version of them – but your dreams; whatever they may be.

There’s no right or wrong way really; there’s just your way.

It’s like someone telling you who you should date based on what their own criteria is. You wouldn’t do that, would you?

The converse is just as important; it’s not just about how you are supported – but how you support others.

This idea opened a door to a new way of thinking. I stood on the balcony of my friends holiday home this past weekend enjoying the sunset. Surrounded by his best people for his 30th celebration, I took a moment to watch it alone. As if one of the mighty waves in front crashed over me; I realised all the work we put into ourselves – physically, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually – eventually pays off. It’s like making a cake, it only tastes great when it’s finished – not when you’ve mixed half the ingredients.

Impatience is our false shepherd. We want results now and the “success” of having our dream job or home. We lose sight of the fact that all our perceived failures and disappointments are helping shape who we are; that we’re learning from them.

I’m one of the lucky ones – I absolutely love my life and have pursued it with gusto and relentless passion. I’ve dreamt big; still dreaming big! I’ve learnt to forget about worrying ‘how’ something will happen and just keep moving forward and try new things and explore. Even through the difficult times. In fact it’s in these times I’ve come to realise how we don’t need much to be happy either. My measurement of success has been how much I’m fulfilled and the positive impact I can make in others lives. In fact, I prescribe to the new definition of a millionaire:

The number of lives you’ve positively impacted.

Let’s change the World.

Our actions always have consequences. Just look at some of the pain being experienced right now. People are dying of starvation and yet half the worlds food is thrown away? We’ve ignored the negative consequences and now profit is more important than people.

What is your dream at the moment?

Do you feel you’re doing whatever you can to achieve it? Even discover it?

Does your soul feel like it’s on fire when you think about your dreams?

What’s stopping you?

I think we believe we have to do massive things once to achieve our dreams; I, in fact, think the opposite is true.

We need to do little things consistently every day – and the cumulative actions generate massive success.

Start today

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Is Change really ‘As Good as a Holiday’?

Change & Holiday

Where did this saying come from??! I ask this because, based on University Hospitals website, I’ve had two out of the five ‘Most Stressful Life Events’ in the space of a month:

  • Moving home
  • Job loss (retrenchment in my case)

With an overseas holiday as recently as December 2016 in the memory bank, I can safely say this move hasn’t left me feeling like I’ve had a holiday.

Or has it?

I can’t deny that my move was probably a far cry easier than 90% of people who move. Three months back the owners told me they were moving back into the apartment. Incredible how six and a half years can evaporate in an instant – and the hunt began.

Thanks to AirBnB, Cape Town rentals have gone through the roof AND the number of properties available is drying up like the dams in the Western Cape. Pickings are slim and what is available is tiny and waaaaay overpriced.

Two weeks before I was due to move, and still without a new abode to call home, I was sent a message from the agents for my building. It seemed like it was heaven-sent:

813 in your block is available from June.

Happier: yes

Holiday vibes: nada

After inspecting the apartment I was happy it ticked most boxes. Not only was I moving into a bigger place with better views, all my furniture fits and cheaper than anything I’d looked at – it was six stories up from my current location and more importantly directly opposite the lift. A godsend when moving furniture!

Enter Gratitude on levels never experienced before.

Still with a degree of stress though, mind you. With minor renovations needed to the new apartment overlapping with renovations starting in the old apartment, I effectively lived out of three apartments for 10 days staying in a friend’s spare room while betwixt abodes. I’m only now, as I type this, 100% in 813 having had my first night’s sleep there.

Still, no holiday vibes yet.

The person who invented this saying lives where? I’ll be there in 5 minutes”

If moving is not stressful enough, how about we throw in a lapse in brain functions resulting in locking myself out of the new apartment for good measure? Even after being so vigilant and ALWAYS checking my pockets for the new keys and yeah, this is one of those ‘dream’ holidays you wake up from and exclaim ‘Thank f@#k’.

But you know what? While moving ranks up there with death, divorce, disease and destitution for stress – now that I’m in, I finally see what the proverb is trying to teach us.

Different scenery evokes excitement for what will happen. It ignites our soul. It brings the promise of new experiences. A time to reflect on our power to create new experiences.

  1. The start of a holiday brings back memories of previous holidays; moving reminds you of all the great memories you created inside of those previous four walls (apparently it triggers the same parts of the brain as when you actually experienced it too, so no wonder)
  2. A holiday gives you a break from the bustle of life and a chance to rejuvenate; moving shows you that even though it’s stressful – that stress does, in fact, end and calm is restored.
  3. Holidays remind you what you love about your life and what you are thankful for; moving reminds you that while your house is made of brick or stone, it’s love that turns it into a home.

Thank you, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, for your quote. Understanding change and the opportunities it brings can – in fact – be as good as ‘rest’ as you may (or may not) have said 122(ish) years ago.

Sometimes the best insights will only come long after the fact. Don’t get caught up in life’s shenanigans to throw you off being you and enjoying all that life has to offer.

Everything in life is a choice – these experiences help remind us to choose to focus on the positive side. It’s contributing to my feelings of invigoration and inspiration at the moment.

That being said, I can’t wait for my next overseas trip!

Change inspiration