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Hold on

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I know this pain. Why do you lock yourself up in these chains?

No one can change your life except for you. Don’t ever let anyone step all over you.

Just open your heart and your mind. Is it really fair to feel this way inside?

Some day somebody’s gonna make you want to turn around and say goodbye.

Until then, are you going to let them hold you down and make you cry?

Don’t you know? Don’t you know, things can change.

Things will go your way. If you hold on for one more day.

Can you hold on for one more day? Things’ll go your way.

Hold on for one more day.

Couldnt resist blogging this. Yes, it’s THAT song by Wilson Phillips – remember them? I thought I’d revive that again in the 21st century. As corny as this sounds, this song’s lyrics gave me inspiration.

Sometimes we all need to look back in order to go forward. Never forget where you once were, and never lose sight of where you going. Who you are, and what you stand for. It sounds petty and small for some, but in this world, its what either makes or breaks you.

These are called values. A word too often loosely used in businesses who dont value, value enough.

I hope this brings you one more day to hold on to whatever it is you are hoping for in your life. Giving up on something or even someone is so easy. Holding on and persevering is hard work. It looks easy on the outside, but it can kill all hope on the inside if things don’t go your way – or gets worse – over a long period of time. I felt that recently. But somehow, someone and something comes along and inspires you. In this case, my ‘something’ is this song so … hold on for one more day…

You gotta smirk or giggle a little when you watch this video again… 🙂

Precious Time

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‘Jou ma’ is a phrase in the Afrikaans language usually used as ‘jou ma se’. It’s a swear phrase in Afrikaans slang. Which leads me to my story …

I took a few days off from work to spend with my 5-year-old during the school holidays. This was what I heard all day sung in a song-like manner, “jou ma, jou ma, jou ma”. Those were the only words sung. And she sang this with pride. Little did she know what it meant. So I’d be in the kitchen, and she’ll be walking pass singing that song. She’d be in the bathroom, and as I passed by, I’d hear that song again! Can I even call it a song?! While drawing. While playing. That song wasnt far away. Just those two words. Where she picked it up from, I’ll never know. What I do know is that by day 5, I was starting to say in my head “jou ma se”! 🙂

That was one of the things that made me smile (and sometimes cry) during my time at home with her. But I realised one more thing. And I love to think about stuff. Too much for my own good sometimes.

I realised that in those 5 wonderful days, I had a lot more patience and took time to listen to her more. I think she felt the same way too. We had time to have fun. We had time to spend with things that matter like baking a chocolate cake together.

The business of our lives is what shortens my patience. Not work or school.  It’s the rushing around from home to school to work. Then rushing back to school to fetch child – on time, and the rush back home to make supper, do homework, spend a little time with the kid, and off to bed – on time – because we don’t want her falling asleep in class! Then its my time, and that usually goes into early hours next morning.

The time we get on a week night or over a weekend, is only enough to refuel, but not reconnect.

For now, there’s nothing much I can do about this. Except this:

The little time we make to spend with the important things of this life is, precious time. Thats why its precious, because it’s in limitation.

So, I’m grateful for precious time. I never wish it away. What I do wish away is that ‘song’ in my head… ‘jou ma, jou ma’!

 

How to write effective emails

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This is a book I am currently reading. Its recommended by David Ogilvy to read. Twice! These are some of the learnings I liked.

1. Make the subject heading clear and compelling

  • Its worth studying newspapers, particularly The Wall Street Journal, to understand what kinds of headlines convert scanners to readers.
  • Oh, and caution against marking emails URGENT.

 

2. Get to the point

  • Chip away at anything that isn’t your point. Anything over one screen risks not being read. If longer then send as an attachment.

 

3. The right tone

  • Sometimes its wise to respond, “Let me think about it overnight. I’ll get back to you in the morning”.
  • Compose yourself, then compose your message.
  • Nothing is private on a work email. ALWAYS remember that.
  • Never put anything personally negative in an email. EVER. Hard to resist I know, but let’s try this together.

 

4. Email etiquette

  • Dont broadcast supposedly interesting email material unless you know their interests. It’s the e-mail equivalent of junk mail.
  • If you want action, list only one name in the TO: field. With more than one name, it is not clear who has the responsibility to act and becomes likely that no one will take it on.
  • Reply All may be the most dangerous button on the screen. Count to ten before you unleash this plague on your victims.

 

5. Email tag – Avoid it.

  • Dont forget the context of your mail to avoid email tag. Be clear about the purpose of your mail. Ask yourself: What do you want the reader to do?

 

I loved this section in the book on email. Its hard though. All I want to do is explain myself on email, and then I remember to stop. With practice, it becomes second nature. Can’t wait to absorb the rest of this book.

Enjoy practising!

You should enjoy it

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Recently, a friend of mine quit her job. She didn’t have another in place. She decided to freelance.

Her motivation? No different to many out there. Tiredness. Tired of the office politics. Tired of seeing the negative effects of her regular overtime hours taking its toll on her family. Just plain tired of being tired.

I admire her.

To make that kind of decision is the hard part. Sticking to it, even harder. Doing it, in my mind, has to be pure liberation. The hardest part is finding herself in the world of freelance. That’s the most interesting part (for me at least). I can’t explain it. It’s a feeling I struggle to mould into words. Maybe it’s because I feel too close to the subject – friend and freelance. Or maybe the only words that explains it is this by Lewis Carol “ If you don’t know where you going, any road will get you there.”

The point is…

you should enjoy it…” is advice given to Neil Gaiman (a talented comic book artist) by Stephen King. Given when his career just lifted off. Neil said he never did enjoy it. Instead, he worried about his freelance career. He worried about the next job, the next pay cheque, the next story he’d have to write. (link to his speech to art graduates: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikAb-NYkseI)

Most permanent workers dream of a freelance life. Most freelancers dream of a permanent worker’s regular pay cheque! …minus the regular hours… OK, freelancers also put in the hours. In fact, more. Why is that? Because its their bread and butter. It’s the next meal on the table, and for some, it’s for the pure love of it.

The point, again, is you get to know what you want to achieve…. Sorry, actually that’s not the point either.

The point is this, when you start doing the things you love doing, the stuff that makes you tingle, do it for the love, NEVER the money. Another thing Mr Gaiman said, and one I truly believe in. Some might not agree with this. And some might agree.

The How and But, on this, are not important. Whats important is keeping your eye on the ball. Set goals and keep to them. The only person you’ll disappoint the most, is yourself. And to me, that’s the greatest disappointment of all.

To all freelancers out there, don’t forget this advice… “you should enjoy it…” because its one of the things that will keep you happy in what you do. And if you happy and enjoying it, then there’s nothing stopping you from anything you put your mind to.

Thank you Neil Gaiman and Stephen King!

Thank you friend, for inspiring me.

 

If you ever get asked “do you belong to a biker club?”, this is the answer you should give…

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… yes, I accept that.

I recently got asked this by one of the teacher’s at my child’s school. I had an emblem on the back of my jacket that made her think I was part of a biker club. Hmm… a biker?… intriguing. If its anything like the series, Sons of Anarchy, then I accept that! And I will ride that story like a Harley Davidson … that is, if I were a biker 🙂

I had an opportunity to feel – even just for a moment – like a biker. Instead what did I say? I said, “No, I’m not. Where’s my child that I came to fetch?”

Driving home afterward I thought, what if I had said yes? Where would that conversation have gone? What would that teacher be thinking of me now? Would her idea of me or my child change?

I hope not.

Often I take myself too seriously. I miss opportunities like this. Not to lie, just to play along for a while. Long enough to find out why that person asked that question. Its interesting to see yourself through the eyes of others.

So next time someone asks you “Are you a model? Or “Are you an actor?” Or “Are you a biker?” Just think about it for a second, and decide where you’d like that conversation to go. Then listen closely. You’ll be fascinated why people see you the way they do. It might even change how you see yourself.

FYI… always make a point of telling the truth. You don’t have to lie to be biker, an actor or a model. You just have to be you. How interesting that person is, well… that’s up to you.

Enjoy the ride! For me, the closest I’ll ever get to a biker is through watching Sons of Anarchy …and, I accept that 🙂

TEDx Cape Town on Education

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I recently attended a TEDx event 2 weeks ago in Cape Town, check out link: http://tedxcapetowned.org/

If you not familiar with the international TED talks, this is the website http://www.ted.com/

I absolutely love watching these videos, and for the first time I had the opportunity to attend a live event right here in Cape Town!

TED is… a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader.

TEDx is… created in the spirit of TED’s mission, “ideas worth spreading,” the TEDx program is designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level. TEDx events are fully planned and coordinated independently, on a community-by-community basis.

Now that we got through all the definitions ‘n all.. phew!… let’s get on to some inspiration!

I’m not going to go through all the speakers that inspired me – coz my post might become too long. Go check out the website.

I’d like to tell you the feeling and thoughts it left me with.

But do yourself a favour and go and have a look at the video’s of these guys and the good they are doing in education. These are ordinary citizens doing extraordinary things in people’s lives http://tedxcapetowned.org/

It left me feeling like I could make a difference. It left me feeling that I’m not the only crazy with crazy ideas 🙂 It left me feeling energized to keep on with what I’m doing.

It left me feeling.

It left me thinking that we need to work together with big organizations and find ways of benefit through education and businesses.

Businesses need to make profit. Education needs education. How can the two help each other and still make a win win for both sides?

It left me thinking how different the less privileged schools are vs the more privileged schools. How can this divide be undivided? … sounds too much like a math question to me.

It left me thinking why doesn’t the curriculum get adapted to the child, instead of the child being adapted to the curriculum?

It left me thinking.

I got the chance to engage with a principle from a primary school for disabled children. I engaged with a deputy principle of a high school, and I engaged with the principle of a college. All very different schools with different views, teachers, and children. One thing I got from all of them is that they know their kids. They know their kids needs, they know the realities of their everyday life, and they do the best they can with what they know. And they adapt. They adapt to survive. They adapt their teaching methods. They adapt or die.

Lastly, I learned that we are all still learning. It’s the willingness to do better that counts, not the money or the divide in education.

As Winston Churchill puts it “Success is not final; Failure is not fatal. It’s the courage to continue that counts!”

May these people and more, continue the good work they do for educating our children. And may my first TEDx experience lead to many more experiences and learning.

Well done to all!