Friday, 28 May 2010
See, I'm doing a workshop on personal branding and marketing next week and as an exercise before the event, we've been asked to contact 10 people we work with in some form or another (colleagues, mentors, managers, associates from places where we volunteer) and ask them for honest opinions on how they perceive us.
I sent out my email this morning and the responses I've had from people have been really touching, especially seeing I hardly know some of these people in a personal capacity. The fact they are willing to take time out of their hectic schedules to help me with this exercise is really sweet, but the fact that they are saying lovely things just makes me want to cry. I'm so grateful for the relationships I have in this world, both in my personal life and in my work capacity.
And it makes me realise how much impact a good compliment can make on someone. So I challenge you to find 10 people you come into contact with regularly and pay each of them an honest, agenda-free compliment over the next few days. You'll not only make them smile, you'll improve your relationship with them too.
Have a fab Friday.
Thursday, 27 May 2010
Let me say though, that if you have not updated your blog in months or years, if your blog is now private and you haven't invited me to read it or if I haven't stopped by your blog in more than six months, you won't be on the list. Sorry, folks. But as Run DMC said, "It's like that, that's just the way it is."
In other news, our church small group decided to go for a salsa lesson as a social last night at Marrakesh Lounge. It was good fun. You pay R50 for a beginners' lesson of an hour and then you can hang around, have drinks, watch the intermediate group and practise later on in the eve. We unfortunately couldn't stay much longer than our class as TSC had studying to do, but we had a great time and even ran into a few people we knew. The beginners' classes are great for singles or couples as you rotate partners and get to meet a bunch of people. There must have been about 40 of us there. If it weren't on a Wednesday evening when we have our small group we'd probably go more often.
Off to follow up with some difficult-to-pin-down interviewees for a big freelance project now. Seriously, some people think the world revolves around them. *sigh* Patience is required.
Wednesday, 26 May 2010
Tuesday, 25 May 2010
It's the final countdown...
Less than a week left at Red Tree! Less than two weeks until our first World Cup guests start to arrive! Less than three weeks until the opening match!
All the exclamation marks are making me panic!!!
Exciting / scary / awesome / stressful / brilliant / freaky stuff, people. Especially on a tame Tuesday morning.
Monday, 24 May 2010
The only real drama this weekend was that our cat, Marble, managed to injure his front left paw on Friday. My poor baby - I was so worried about him and convinced he'd fractured it. But once I got TSC to hold him still and had a good look at it, it turned out that it was just a small (but sore) gash on one of his foot pads. You'd never have guessed by the fuss he was making, hopping along on three legs and meowing piteously. He had managed to get it dirty, so we cleaned the wound, applied some soothing antiseptic cream the vet gave us last time one of the kitties had a little injury (why do they make this stuff lumo orange, I'd like to know?), and bandaged the leg.
After that Marble truly did feel sorry for himself and meowed as loudly as he could while hopping about and trying to shake the dressing off. TSc and I were convinced our neighbours were going to report us to the SPCA with the sounds coming from our house.
Marble took about an hour to get the bandage loose, but at least the cream had a chance to work a bit. Plus he was so exhausted from all his protesting that he just settled down in the sun and rested the paw.
Today he's walking almost normally again. I'm almost sure he exaggerates the limp when he realises someone's watching ;-)
We spent most of the weekend (aside for supper club on Fri) working and repainting some of the pine boxes I've been given from Red Tree's offices. One would think that would be an easy job. Not if you're married to uber-perfectionist TSC!
They had to be sanded on each side (that's eight sides per box), have the (miniscule) cracks filled with wood filler, be resanded, get coated with universal undercoat and then be painted with two coats of enamel paint. And I couldn't just slap the paint on either. I had to "cut in" neatly in the inside corners and then coat each side with a small paint roller.
We're not done yet. We've only done the first coat. Still, they do look gorgeous. And they were free. So the DIY was definitely worth the effort. I'll take photos once they're done.
Friday, 21 May 2010
The Cupcake Lady. Just looking at Angel's gorgeous cupcakes make me happy. And hungry. And Shayne's Yummy Mummy treats are just as tempting!
The new Pick 'n Pay website. I had NO idea that PnP offered travel packages! Plus you can coordinate all your recipes online (great for people like me who tend to lose things written on paper) and even draw up a shopping list that you can then view on your phone while you're instore.
Photoshop Disasters. The name says it all. Originally introduced to me by Phillygirl, this is now a regular hangout of mine. Makes you feel a bit better about yourself when you can see even Kimora is subject to body swaps to be magazine cover friendly.
The Secret Beauty Blogger. She works for a beuty mag, where she has to say nice things about the products, but she spills the real deal on her blog. Plus, if you are fashion and beauty clueless like me, SBB has the answers you need.
Three sites that Helen has introduced me to (not sure if I love her or hate her for these):
Sleep Talkin' Man (the insanely amusing nocturnal ramblings of an Englishman), Autocomplete Me (the bizarre crap people plug into Google search) and The Impossible Quiz (yes, it is pretty damn impossible).
Rotten Tomatoes. I'm actually quite compulsive about this site. I have to, have to, have to check out movie ratings here before I book to see a new film. I even access this site from my phone to check ratings while I'm browsing in the DVD rental shop. It has, I must admit, spared me from many soppy romcoms, action-less action flicks and pointless political thrillers.
And if I'm not on these sites when I'm online, chances are I'm on your blog.
Have a fab weekend, all.
Thursday, 20 May 2010
- Spending the whole day at one of the PR clients yesterday for no apparent reason. What a waste of time!
- Finding out that someone has reversed into the front passenger side of my car and buckled the whole panel above the wheel arch. They of course, did not bother to leave a note. I hate that I will now to pay an excess and have it fixed when it wasn't my fault.
- Realising that I will have to confront Red Tree and Orange Coffee about the arrangement with me going forward.
- Not having enough time to blog, read blogs or comment :(
- Not having a free night of the week.
- Going to Santini's for the first time on Friday to sokkie and there not being enough space to stand on the dance floor, let alone actually dance.
- Reading through all your supportive comments on my stressed out post last week.
- Getting loads of house stuff done on Saturday that will help get everything ready before the world cup folks arrive.
- Painting murals at Kitty Haven on Sunday and spending quality time with the new kittens (there are about 120 of them, so if you know someone who is looking to adopt...).
- Getting a special mention on Cam's blog when he wrote his 500th post.
- Realising that there's nothing I can do about the whole government project thingey until they actually come up with a brief and put it to me in writing, which has stopped me stressing about it until the ball is in my court again.
- Having awesome sushi at Best of Asia on Tuesday (their buy two, get one free night).
- Lighting a fire for life group last night and having quality chats with our group in the nice warm lounge with hot chocolate.
What's up with you guys?
Friday, 14 May 2010
Feeling unsettled today. There are many reasons for this:
The massive freelance project I've taken on doesn't seem to be going anywhere. I've asked the editor what comes next (he's supposed to be supplying me with some guidelines and contacts), but he's not been very helpful and I'm petrified that the deadline will arrive and I won't have been able to complete the 10 000 words of copy that I'm supposed to hand in!
I had a meeting this morning scheduled for me by my boss at Red Tree with the ad company it is merging with, let's call them Orange Coffee (in the great tradition of random agency names). She seems to have given the folk at Orange Coffee the impression that I'll be available to them as part of my agreement with her to continue writing for Red Tree clients for the two months after I leave the company on a contractor basis to assist her with the transition.
This is not my plan at all! I don't want to take on any further PR or advertising work. I want to stop doing it. To give you an idea of why... one freelance feature story for a publication I often work with pays me more than my monthly salary at Red Tree. Surely I should be pursuing the work that I enjoy and that pays decently rather than the work I dislike that doesn't pay?
Then, the man I met with at Orange Coffee proceeded to take me to a meeting with the advertising wing of one of the local publishing houses and introduce me as the copywriter on a major project they want to undertake with government, which they would pay me for as a separate fee. This meeting made me very uncomfortable. There are also many reasons for this:
- I have not signed any agreements with Orange Coffee, but will now feel guilty if I say no to this project as they've already introduced me to the client and "sold" me and my skills to the company. I know that it's silly to feel bad about something like that and will do my best not to, but I know myself.
- I don't like working with government. In my experience, they have big ideas but move incredibly slowly, are often unreliable (in terms of deadlines and payment) and I've burned my fingers with projects for them before. Orange Coffee assures me, however, that I would be paid by the agency, not the client, and that boundaries would be set in place to ensure that no work gets done without government supplying the necessary funds, information etc. Not sure I fully believe this.
- This project would mean a year-long committment to produce four sets of content at three-month periods (ie. one project per quarter). I would need to travel around the country to visit local government branches to collect the info and would probably have to give up at least two weeks of the month every third month to work on this project solidly. Now, I can't predict what will happen in a year's period. And I have other committments to keep in mind. I have monthly retainer clients whose newsletters or web copy needs to be written at a certain time during the month. I oversee a deacon team at church with TSC and lead a weekly small group. It would also tie my hands in terms of taking on new freelance clients in case the deadlines fall during those two-week periods when I would be travelling or unavailable. Furthermore, I'm not keen to tie myself to an unknown quantity for a year. But there's apparently no chance of doing the first project of the four and then making a decision - this is a package deal.
- Once again, this would essentially be PR work thinly disguised as journalism. It's not the direction I want to head in. I want to write feature stories, not ad or PR copy. I've done that and I don't enjoy it.
On the other hand, this project would pay incredibly well. As in, one of the four sets of content would probably make me more than I've earned in a year of freelancing to date. And, although I'm not about the money, I do have to consider the wisdom of turning down such a big sum that would give us more financial security while TSC is studying and would give me more freedom in the jobs I choose to tackle going forward. All the same, this doesn't sit well with me at the moment. I think lots of prayer is needed and some advice from people on the outside. So hit me with your best shot.
Off to think about how I can put together a contract for the next two months that protects me from abuse from both Red Tree and Orange Coffee.
Have a good weekend.
Thursday, 13 May 2010
So here goes:
- What is the opening rate special? R1050 per room per night (B&B for two people sharing)
- Where has the latest Southern Sun opened? Montecasino, Fourways, Johannesburg
- Who is the General Manager of the hotel? Robert Jasper
- How many rooms are there in the new hotel? 194
- When is their room service available, how many hours a day? 24 hours a day. Pretty cool.
Which item would you most like to order off the Punchinello’s menu? Hmmm.... the Lamb Manti: Turkish Lamb pastry envelopes on a Tomato Ragout with a Yogurt and Paprika burnt Butter. Yum!
Wednesday, 12 May 2010
- I got meet Damaria IRL for the first time. She very kindly agreed to give up a big chunk of her afternoon to chat through some of the things I'm going to have to deal with as a fulltime freelancer. What an awesome, knowledgeable lady! And so willing to share her experiences and the lessons she's learned.
- TSC spent the whole day studying for his first exam. He was so desperate to get out of the house that he came along with me when I met Damaria and he sat on the other side of the coffee shop with his books and an Americano coffee. His brain was fried after doing a squillion hydraulics calculations, so we decided to see a movie last night to give him time to unwind.
- We saw Iron Man 2. I was expecting to be disappointed because sequels usually suck big time. But I actually really enjoyed it. Yes, the plot is totally ridiculous (c'mon, people - it's based on a comic book, not a biography) and it probably doesn't do justice to the original Marvel characters (I'm not a comic book fan, so I wouldn't know). But the explosions are big, the CGI is impressive, there are nice touches of humour and there's even a Grand Prix scene. I was sold. If you haven't seen it yet and are still planning to do so, make sure you stay till the end of the credits. There's a (very) short Easter Egg scene that links the film to the next big Marvel adventures with Thor and The Avengers.
- I woke up this morning to find that I had managed to get rid of the mouthguard I was supposed to be sleeping with sometime during the night. I must have spat it out in my sleep. Even my subconscious objects to wearing the thing.
- I arrived at the office to find an email from one of the PR clients wanting to know how the writing is going on a piece I haven't been briefed on. The deadline for this piece is apparently Friday.
- The freelance client I am supposed to be meeting this afternoon has not responded to my emails requesting confirmation and address details. Why is everyone seemingly incapable of adult communication?!
- Is the only day of this week without meetings scheduled. I plan to enjoy that.
- I was supposed to have a cupcake order due, but it has been cancelled. I am relieved. I would have had to fit in the baking between meetings and church small group this evening, which would have been a mission.
- The day before Friday. Yay!
Tuesday, 11 May 2010
My mom also told me to try sleeping with a mouthguard, which apparently stops you clenching your teeth in your sleep, which in turn stops stressing your neck muscles that cause the tension headache.
I duly went and purchased one, which TSC finds hilarious because I think mouthguards are the most unattractive thing in the world. It took me an hour and a half to fall asleep with that thing in my mouth. And then I woke up with it hurting me at about 2am, so I took it off. I possibly should have been less of a cheapskate and bought one of the more expensive options that looked a bit softer, but I'll give it another go tonight and see if I get used to the piece of plastic in my face. Ugh.
Other than beign dazed and confused, I'm doing fine. I think. Had a great weekend - we had a bunch of people over for a potjie and red wine tasting on Sat, which went really well. We asked everyone to bring two bottles of the same red wine. We opened the first bottle of each (after I'd wrapped them in masking tape and written just a number on each so people couldn't see the labels) and used those for a blind tasting. We then voted for our favourite number before unveling the wines. The winning wine, which we all thought was a nice aged shiraz, ended up being a cheap but glorious wine that none of us had ever heard of before (Gôiya). The wine TSC and I had picked came second (a blend called Cederburger).
We then ate lunch (TSC's DIVINE lamb potjie - yum!) and afterwards played the crazy-Santa gift-swap game with the second bottle of each wine so that each person went home with a different bottle to the one they'd bought. It was so much fun and we'll definitely do it again.
Mothers' Day was also awesome, despite a touch Grand Prix for my team (Lewis Hamilton's tyre delaminated on the second-last lap). We went to Capeesh with the parentals and it was a lovely time (although my pasta wasn't great the chocolate mousse cake made up for everything). My mom, who has the flu, seemed to ilke her presents, which is good seeing I chose the one from TSC and I and then told my dad and brother what to get her when they each phoned me from the mall on Saturday ;-)
Off for coffee with Damaria now. Chat to y'all tomorrow.
Friday, 7 May 2010
But seeing Ruby and Louisa gave me this award (thank you, my friends), I'm supposed to tell you seven interesting things about me and pass this along to seven people. But you get to hear about me in almost every blog post here, so I'm just giving you all the information I would've posted today anyway in seven bullet points.
- Yesterday I got a surprise phone call from the awesome Damaria. I'd emailed her asking for any advice on transitioning to self-employment as this is something she's done successfully. She gave me a ring and we're going to hook up for coffee next week. Will be so nice to meet her after reading her blog for so long.
- I saw The Men Who Stare at Goats last night with TSC. It was ok. There were some hilarious laugh-out-loud moments, but there was lots of randomness and mediocrity too. I'm glad we saw it, even if the story doesn't really go anywhere. I'd give it 6.5 out of 10.
- While we were at movies at Montecasino, I ran into a girl who was at highschool with me. In fact, we were both in the boarding establishment for grades 11 and 12, so we saw loads of each other. I haven't seen her since. And seeing we went to school in Durban, which is about 600km away from Johannesburg, it's quite a coincidence to run into her at movies on a Thursday night in my neighbourhood after eight years. She's now a doctor, doing her internship. She couldn't believe that I've got married (probably because last she saw me, I was convinced I'd never get hitched). We swapped phone numbers and will hopefully make a plan to catch up soon.
- TSC and I are hosting a red wine and potjie lunch tomorrow for a couple of people we haven't seen in too long. I can't wait! This winter weather is perfect for a potjie.
- I managed to get half of my mom's mother's day present yesterday. Seeing she and my dad have taken to occasionally lurking here, I can't mention what it is.
- I heard a new term this week: vajazzling. I find it a bit freaky actually.
- I am going to suck up my OCD just this once and end on seven points and not a nice, proper even number. Rules are rules.
Although rules are made to be broken, aren't they? I'm not going to nominate seven people to pass this along to because a) so many of the bloggers I would nominate have done this already and b) I don't want anyone to feel obliged to do this meme. But know that if I read your blog, I rate you as a Beautiful Blogger (substitute a suitable adjective for all the men bloggers). So please go ahead and do this meme if you like.
And have a good weekend.
Thursday, 6 May 2010
Right. Cam, Po... take your pick. What colour and which type of attachment at the bottom?
In other news, today has been one of those days that starts off slow and then snowballs into craziness. Clients who think they can send you a meeting request on the day of the meeting without any explanation as to why they want a meeting... they suck. So do clients who consistently leave it until the day before they need something before letting you know. And clients who pay late.
Thankfully the sun is shining today, which has had a positive influence on my mood. Also, I just had leftovers from last night (curried chicken pancakes) for lunch, so I'm now feeling warm and sleepy and not particularly in the mood to fight with anyone. Or throttle them with a lanyard.
Wednesday, 5 May 2010
Out of these 99 things, I've bolded the ones I've done. What about you?
1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to DisneyWorld
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bunjee jumped Does bridge swinging count?
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own veggies
19. Seen the Mona Lisa at the Louvre We visited the Louvre on a Monday. It's closed on Mondays.
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillowfight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not sick
24. Made a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Ran a marathon
27. Went skinny dipping
28. Rode in a gondola in Venice
29. Witnessed total eclipse
30. Seen a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run Does a home run in Rounders count? Have never played actual baseball.
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace/ home of your ancestors Some of them.
35. Seen an Amish country
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David in person
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa Duh.
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Taken a ride in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower
50. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
51. Kissed in the rain
52. Played in the mud
53. Gone to a drive-in theater
54. Been in a movie
55. Visited the Great Wall of China
56. Started a business
57. Taken a martial arts class Does kata-box count? Probably not ;-)
58. Visited Russia
59. Worked at a soup kitchen
60. Sold Girl Scout cookies
61. Gone whale watching
62. Gotten flowers for no reason
63. Donated blood, platelets, or plasma I can't.
64. Gone sky diving
65. Visited Nazi concentration camp
66. Bounced a check
67. Flown in a helicopter
68. Saved a childhood toy
69. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
70. Eaten caviar
71. Pieced a quilt
72. Stood in Times Square
73. Toured the Everglades
74. Been fired from a job
75. Seen the changing of the guards in London
76. Broken a bone
77. Been a passenger on a motorcycle
78. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
79. Published a book Hopefully soon!
80. Visited the Vatican
81. Bought a brand new car
82. Visited Jerusalem
83. Had your picture in the paper
84. Kissed a stranger at midnight on New Year’s Eve
85. Visited the White House
86. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
87. Had chickenpox
88. Saved someone’s life
89. Sat on a jury
90. Met someone famous
91. Joined a book club
92. Got a tattoo
93. Had a baby
94. Seen the Alamo in person
95. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
96. Been involved in a law suit
97. Owned a cell phone
98. Been stung by a bee
99. Swam in the Black Sea
I think I have 40. Not bad, I guess. There are some I never plan on doing. Like selling girl scout cookies.
Tuesday, 4 May 2010
Monday, 3 May 2010
So I would like to use this post to say the following:
- Happy belated 30th birthday to Phillygirl. Sorry it's a week late. I promise that I thought of you on 26 April all day. Hope the year ahead is super awesome in every way.
- Sorry to anyone who has emailed / SMSed me and not received a reply yet. I am working my way through the backlog and hope to get there soon.
- Where the Wild Things Are is one of the weirdest movies I have seen. Ever.
- Packing up a company takes more work than I would have believed. And more boxes.
- Throwing things out / donating old stuff / recycling is cathartic.
- May scares me. There is so much I need to get done this month that I just want to crwal under my winter duvet and keen. It's less than a month till my World Cup visitors arrive. Eep!
- This freezing cold weather is making me grumpy.
- I have no idea what to get my mom for Mothers' Day.
- I am tempted to click "mark as read" on the hundreds of items in my feed reader.
- I managed to get to 10 bullet points. Yay! 10 points for me.