Although most blog posts are accompanied by a cup of tea, some courageous ones need a glass of wine or three and an over indulgent bowl of chocolate mousse. I’m trying to get through the post before I get to the bottom of the bowl or the glass … so here goes!
I can’t be sure, but I’m thinking that most people (not just girls) who are single and have just arrived at 40, are very aware that this decade is supposed to be filled with all things fabulous. I’ve slowly come to realise that we don’t wake up one day after our birthday and everything is different. I hope it would be like that, but alas, it felt like I had dragged my 30′s with me, kicking, screaming and crying.
The clock struck 40 is September last year and I was filled with excitement and the thought of being braver, bolder and … well … a little like Shirley Valentine. If you’re a whole lot younger than me, don’t have a romantic bone in your body or have been under a rock since 1989, don’t read any further until you’ve watched this amazing movie …
I manifest the oddest things! It’s a known fact that I decide I want something and I kinda harp on it for a ridiculously long time, then POOF, it arrives on my doorstep. I’ve wanted crazy things from specific material stuff, to Rome to Ronan Keating in London. I’ve held onto visions in my career and wanted very specific moments or people that I’ve been determined to meet. Then I’ve wanted my Shirley Valentine experience.
I’m a nerd!
You know that right?
When it comes to relationships and relating … I’m such a nerd! Well, maybe I’m ultra cautious and very protective of both my heart and my reputation. Then there’s this other side of me, who has been woken up by the combination of my project me journey and this magic number, forty!
Everything has shifted. I want bolder things. I want more exciting experiences. I want to manifest wilder moment in both my personal life and my career. I have discovered that I can have abundance and now I want it in many different forms.
Somehow, the thing I seemed to want to pursue most of all (except my very fancy Paul’s Boutique handbag, which I finally got myself for Christmas) was this escape from the world, with a man who would mean something very dear to me, until the credits were about to role and I realised that I’m really happy in my real world. I even went as far as nearly sending myself off to Italy early this year. I got hold of a charming Italian friend who owns a guest house, told him to reserve me a room and start thinking about all of the single men he know. I kid you not!!!
Life and circumstances change and I couldn’t just hop on a plane and live out my bizarre idea of a healing journey. It’s like that song by Carly Simon, “I’ve been to paradise, but I’ve never been to me.” I wasn’t going to rest until I let go, took some risk is THAT department and felt a little like I had set myself free from my own rules and boundaries.
There’s different degrees of detail, but in a nutshell, I ran as far away from my life as possible, checked into a hotel, for 5 days, without any plans … and then made one! It was a whole lot of fun spending time with a near stranger and getting lost in a world that we both knew would only last as long as the holiday.
I contemplated sharing this story, but if it hadn’t been so life changing and empowering, it would have been one I preferred to keep under the radar. However … the turn of events ended up having one of the most profound Project Me impacts in a very long time.
So here goes …
I spend my life thinking that men will overlook me for my weight. Then they don’t and I spend the rest of my time thinking that far more wouldn’t overlook me … because of my weight. Sometimes I’m sure I am, but this weekend not. This weekend it didn’t even feature.
Instead there was another obstacle.
I always try convince myself and everyone around me that my life is pretty simple and I’m just an average girl. I really try and fit into that role and turn the focus to how chilled out I promise I can be.
I’m not …
I get given cars, hotel suites, champagne when I call for it. I hang out with celebrities and influencers and everyone wants a moment of my time when they figure out who I am. I NEVER would have admitted this was an okay part of my life before, because I’m so stuck on the fear of the world misunderstanding me. There’s this humble part of me that began this journey online and I spend my days worrying that someone’s going to miss it that humility.
I spend my life telling men I’m just this simple girl, but when my holiday adventurer freaked out about the abnormality of my life and referred to it as Hollywood and me as intense, I had to start admitting some truth to myself.
In steps the real Shirley Valentine lessons. Again … if you haven’t watched the movie, do so now to avoid the spoiler.
Going away and leaving your world behind, stepping into a character you thought you had, but weren’t sure. The best that can happen is loving that side of yourself and knowing you have to come back to reality with it awakened. The worst than can happen is loving that side of yourself and knowing you have to come back to reality with that side of you awakened.
I loved that side of myself!!!
That absolute true Shirley Valentine moment, where you know you are changed forever, because you let go and took the time to be the woman you tried so hard not to be. That even truer moment where I knew that I had some things to admit to myself …
I’m an influencer! I’m not simple and my life is a whole lot of outrageous and in the spotlight at times. My ordinary is not someone else’s everyday. The events that transpired made it clearer … and clearer, until I was finally lying in the king size bed of a luxury suite, with a glass of champagne in my hand and I realised, I will never be the same again after admitting that I’m not your Average Jo!
With courage, consciousness & a sense of humour
I began planning a lavish event, with venue, drinks, guests and maybe a touch of press coverage. Instead I’m sitting, humbly, in a hotel room with a cup of tea and overlooking the Cape Town Table Mountain.
A thousand posts!!!!
I remember the day it began on the 1st of January 2010. The only thing that’s the same is the tea. Everything else in my life has transformed & shifted into an extraordinary story that has morphed my life with every passing Project Me post.
It’s amazing. The Oscars are on right now, while I try not break out into dramatic lists of gratitude to everyone who has made this all possible (oh crap, it’s starting already) …
I had a vision, which I still have today. I also had a crazy idea, which I still have today. All I wanted was to be noticed enough to get my books published (not published yet) and this idea to blog, daily, for 365 days or until someone noticed me.
I share the most special business, Lifeology, with my incredible business partner, Greg Arthur, and we have plans within the people development and change management space that is thrilling. We both went on our different paths, to get our brand noticed and have both done just that. Mine … Project Me!
A blog about living with courage, consciousness & a sense of humour. A life story that tries to show that it’s possible to live totally goalless but absolutely purposefully.
I’ve been on top of the world, come crashing down. I’ve succeeded & failed. Loved and lost. My career, weight, relationships, visions, hang-up, let downs, shining moments, are all amidst these 1000 posts.
Okay, I can’t get through this without one massive thanks!
As the days drew towards January 2010, I sat on he edge of my best friend & business partner’s couch, while he worked at his laptop. “I’m going to blog daily, for a year,” I told him.
It took a long time for us to establish an understanding of how we operate in the world and at that stage my Greggie wasn’t super well adjusted to me coming up with an idea that had no beginning, middle or end. It just had a hazy idea of what it could bring me or what I wanted to achieve. I think that will always be one of my greatest qualities and the fact that Greg trusts enough to let me run with them will be one of his.
So I did … and I don’t know how to thank him enough for the support, through every post, but also through every project me moment of my life!!!
Beyond my story, this blog has been read by the most special people. Some are still around from post one and others have met up with me somewhere along the way. I’ve made friends from all corners of the world and had support from the least expected humans. I’ve also slowly discovered that there are so many who have quietly followed my story and have been told over a dinner or in the isle of supermarket, when people put a name to my project me journey.
Hundreds of posts have taken me to places I could only have dreamed of, from travel destinations, movie premiers, awards ceremonies and given me an array of opportunities I would not have been afforded.
Some of it is tongue in cheek when I say that all I want is to feel like a princess, and write! Some of it’s very real!!
So while I sit, feeling exactly like a princess (the happy, Disney kind) in a lavish suite at the Tsogo Sun, Southern Sun Cullinan Hotel, doing what I love best, writing, I can’t begin to express my happiness, pride, gratitude and love that has me living my story in real life.
Special thanks goes to the brands who have so graciously supported me in my project me journey and have made both this perfectly timed trip to Cape Town and this special post, be so possible:
Microsoft SA for providing me with a smart Twist Lenovo ThinkPad, powered by Windows 8
My bright pink travel partner Sammy, my Samsonite suitcase
Peugeot South Africa for my 208 GTi ride through the gorgeous Cape
Tsogo Sun, Southern Sun Cullinan Hotel for my home while on holiday & for hosting my get together of all my Cape Town peeps while I’m in town.
With courage, consciousness & a sense of humour
I can’t believe it’s post 999 … wow! One more to go to a thousand!
It’s 5am and my day was started by the usual gazillion thoughts that flow through my head and have been prodding me awake and into another day filled with hours of work, Tweets and glimpses of remembering it put me first.
When project me began, it was a very interesting time in my life. I was this girl with big dreams. The more I chat to people the more I realise that all they were, were dreams. At that stage I was shy, insecure and faking my success with a pretty dismal attempt.
I dreamed of being a public speaker. Well, I actually dreamed of imparting life changing lessons to the world, and I would take any platform I could get. What started as a few Tweets and one raw, emotional blog post has been 999 incredible steps closer to me.
Along the way, my story has gained momentum and I get to fake it a little less with each passing day. Now I really can speak, I truly am confident (most of the time), but mostly, I’m living my dream. I’ve done it with most incredible support and people who have stopped me in passageways or cornered me at dinners and thanked me for keeping the blog going.
Amazingly, I could have stopped 999 times.
Of all the things that nearly made me give up on the journey is the drama that I’ve faced with the actual tools I’ve had (or haven’t had) to keep this blog going. When the story began, I was working on a second hand laptop that died on me eventually a little over a year into the story.
Let me remind you that saying, “you can pick up a laptop for really cheap” means nothing but anguish to a newly born entrepreneur who is battling to find petrol money, let alone buy a new laptop.
So in early 2011, my hunt for a laptop sponsorship began. It also failed! Eventually, my IT support, Biz4All offered to carry the load of the funds because he could see that I literally couldn’t function with one, and he got me up and running with a trade exchange. Magic .. I was set up!
No … wait … on the 24th of September 2011, the day of my birthday, I went away to celebrate another great milestone in my life and our home got robbed and the laptop was stolen. Oh please, I never claimed to be the smartest and of course I assumed it was insured. It wasn’t!
I started the hunt for a laptop again, and eventually, after days of frustration and trying to keep my life going, my mom loaned me her old. Again … back to a second hand laptop. I hope that doesn’t sound ungrateful at all.
Believe it or not, I’ve been on that laptop ever since. Yes, I am now in a position to get what I like and so the hunt, with a different esteem, began. This is a project me story, so there has to be a lesson in it somewhere and this one is about being patient in the wait for what you have worked so hard for. Nothing comes when you expect it, it always arrives when you are most ready for it. It took me years to understand that and I even tried to trick the universe and affirm that I was READY. We don’t consciously get to decide that … horrid life lesson, I know.
But now I am. Now a functioning device is not because I desperately need it, but because it’s a game changer in both my project me journey and living is an entrepreneur with the next level of blossoming dreams.
When Microsoft South Africa called to say they wanted to be a part of my project me story and my online journey, it took my breathe away. The main reason is an interesting one.
When I started in the social media space, I came from nowhere and it was a bumpy ride to where I was going. There were other players and some of them were much bigger and tougher than me, but I kept having to rise above it and get to where I wanted to go, because I believe in myself. Mostly, because I’m driven by passion!
To me, that sounds a whole lot like the world of technology. It sounds a lot more like the story of Microsoft and now the journey of Windows 8.
Yesterday, I walked into a meeting with a powerhouse of corporates, sat down and whipped out my Windows 8 driven Lenovo ThinkPad. It twists and transforms from a laptop to a tablet. It’s touch screen. It swipes and manoeuvres from all corners of the screen … and it got everyone’s attention. I have to admit that I did wait for the perfect moment to do the transformer move from laptop to tablet … but that’s just because I’m so freakin’ chuffed that I can confidently walk into a room and my technology meets my space in the world.
I have a support team when I need it and have become accustom to being welcomed into the Microsoft family, as if I was always meant to be there.
Dear Microsoft, thank you for your belief in my journey and for finding the perfect match with my smart and sexy Twist.
I have plans to write incredible blog posts, simply perfect Tweets, create mind blowing presentation and keep in touch with my world, with a new found love for technology. Your partnership with Project Me and my online story has opened up many exciting windows in my life over the past few days and I have no doubt that each day will be filled with new windows opening to my world!
With courage, consciousness & a sense of humour
Oh crap … I’ve regressed!
Okay, that goes slightly against my belief that we can never go back. Well, we can never go completely back, because each day we learn something and should be that little bit wiser and more progressed. That’s great in theory, but seriously, I had to admit that I’ve fallen back into some really bad habits and gotten consumed by things I worked so hard at turning around through Project Me.
Let me catch you up to speed. When I started this project me journey … way before the blog, in 2004, I was an overweight workaholic without any direction.
Let’s get the positive out the way … I’m definitely not directionless anymore. One place where I have worked so hard and really maintained my focus has been in setting the compass in my life and working, passionately towards my dreams. I’m on track and I’m loving it!
Let’s get to the other stuff!
We all have repeated patterns that keep on creeping up back to haunt us. There are dozens of self help books that are supposed to explain it and some are even supposed to help us get over them so that the past doesn’t come back to haunt us.
Well, I have managed to get past the two biggest hurdles in my life as yet: The workaholic and the over eater!
I don’t have to explain either, but I do have to tell you the space that I am currently in, where I’m finally sitting and staring at my life in absolute dismay.
That picture mortified me.
I’ve picked up all the weight I worked so hard at losing and if you had to take a glimpse into my average day it would be sadly obvious that the workaholic in me has flared right back again. It’s manic! It’s late nights. It’s binge eating to get surges of energy … it’s a mess!
Every day I have been waking up with the full intention of finding a glimmer of balance. I start off with all good intentions and by the middle of the day I’m drowning in the workload and craving anything to spike my sugars. Then I’m working at night and wishing I wasn’t because of the part of me who remembers what it’s like to have balance … so I eat.
I love what I do and wouldn’t do anything else, so I canceled out depression very early in the game. My mind then started to play tricks on me (as it does best) and I started to watch the determination and then the desperate craving for starch and my NBF .. cappuccino!
I wasn’t finding time to do anything I want to do. I just bought a mountain bike at the beginning of this year and have ridden it 3 times. I want to go to yoga just once a week and have not been able to get there once. I plan to wake up early in the morning and get a touch of exercise done, but I’m too exhausted to even think … I must be sick!!!
Yep, that’s what I did. I convinced myself that something was out of whack and I took myself off to the doctor. Interestingly, and not to be dramatic at all, he did find a slight heart fibrillation, that he said a little asprin should keep in check.
But back to the drama of the blood tests and the fact that I had totally convinced myself that the cravings were either linked to diabetes or low blood pressure. I was so ready to pop a pill that would stop all the cravings and help me to calm down to half of the manic energy I run on all day.
Yep … I’m normal. Every test result came back clean as a whistle. My sugars surprised me most, because of the weight I’m carrying, but Murphy’s always a sneaky bastard!
So this is the doctor’s diagnosis: I work like such a crazy person that my body thinks the surges of energy are equivalent to me running a marathon. Then I crave things, just like an athlete who would want to replenish their body, except I’m not doing much moving besides running to meetings.
When I asked him what he could give me for that … oh yes I did!!! He told me to take natural calming tablets to take the edge off and CALM MY LIFE DOWN!!!
That’s so much easier said than done!
I have no idea where to start!
I could list a dozen thoughts right now … but I have to end this post because I have work to do.
But, jokes aside, something has to give. I pride myself in encouraging others to live their project me by being conscious, telling themselves the truth, facing their fears, doing something different and living with abundant happiness.
That was my biggest frustration when the doc filled me in … because I am happy! Well, for the most part!
I look at people who publicly do these days of gratitude or their countdown to their eating plans and I think it’s the last people want to see. I don’t see the need in making it public (despite my life being so public) but then I think that maybe getting through each day with a touch of exercise and no crazy eating will be encouraging if people support me along the way, because I’m really feeling like I can’t do it on my own right now.
It’s scary! I’m miserable! I have big opportunities ahead and it throws me onto stages and into the public eye … and not one thing in my cupboard fits me … so I’m turning to you for some guidance. Not on what to eat or how to stop working, but on whether it helps to put it out and get the encouragement as one day at a time I begin to reclaim my project me journey?
With courage, consciousness & a sense of humour
I’m doing the every thing I said I wouldn’t do to myself this year.
While sitting with a dear friend a few days before New Year, we chatted about what we wanted to do differently in 2014 and mine was (is) very simple. I just want to make time for me.
I have one of those addictive personalities and run the risk of falling back into old patterns very quickly. If you’ve been around here for a while, you’ll know that I have workaholic written all over me. Simple things like getting to yoga once a week or actually having time to pack lunch for a day at a client’s office is completely necessary but something I just haven’t managed to do at all since the beginning of the year. All I really want to do is love me enough to take some time out and just relax.
Okay, so I’m not getting that self loving right, but I’ve also come to learn that sometimes nurturing from others is the best trigger to help turn your attention back to yourself.
A gentle smile, a cup of tea, a loving embrace … all the things that body, mind and soul craves the most. Okay, the body craves the occasional glass of bubbles, but that’s for later in my story!
Twice this year, I’ve had that all encompassing reminder of how important it is to just stop, relax and reconnecting. Twice I’ve had the smiles, the tea and the embrace, because twice I’ve been a guest with Tsogo Sun this year.
About 15 minutes from home is the hustle and bustle of Sandton City. There’s construction and traffic and the reminder that life is intensely fast passed. But then the door is held open, silence falls and the world of the Tsogo Sun, Sandton Sun welcomes you in.
The San Deck, on the roof top of the hotel, has the most spectacular view, with the added bonus of the air filled with quiet.
There is a perfect variety of a full menu and a really trendy bar type one, with a variety of cocktails that are begging to be tried.
Because taking a breather isn’t complete without a little pampering. I was treated to a pedicure at the gorgeous Sandton Sun Spa and am a firm believer that having your toes pampered is like a spoon full of happy.
I’m not sure how many of you know, but I used to be a spa owner for many years. Before that, I taught beauty therapy and event went as far as eventually opening a recruitment agency for the industry. I was obsessed with refining graduates straight from college and putting them back into the industry. Because of that, I usually work my way through a treatment with a slightly critical eye, but didn’t manage to do that at all. The experience was too perfect, from being greeted at the door, having my shoes removed for me and placed into a gorgeous box and having my feet treated to a perfectly heavenly experience, in the lap of luxury.
The spa really is amazing, with each room being bathroom en suite and having it’s own unique theme. There a little hideaways everywhere, to just relax and unwind. The extra touches don’t stop, with even a coffee machine nestled (hahaha … slight pun there) away in the chill out room. My whole body was grateful for the quiet lazing on the couch while my toes took their time to dry.
I was supposed to have Valentine’s plans, but as life goes, plans change. Plan B wasn’t looking too fantastic until I received an exciting invitation to be whisked off to Durban thanks to Tsogo Sun with Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani
Way up on the 31st floor is an old venue brought back to life. After many years the Sky Venue was relaunched and it truly was an honour to be among the best of Durbs in the most exquisite venue. Everything is breathtaking from the decor to the view and Tsogo Sun sure know how to throw a party.
Parties end and it’s time to go home. That place to rest my head and wake up on Valentine’s day was a gorgeous room in the hotel, on the 27th floor. I must interject and say I’m so proud of me for getting over my lift phobia. I have a beautiful love affair with the Tsogo Sun beds and slept safe, waiting to awaken to day that had the potential to be pretty bad as a single girl. Well, that can’t happen when pulling opening the blinds and the windows and waking up to this …
I might not have woken up with a valentine, but the warm embrace of hospitality and service made me feel the love.
And wherever I go and enjoy the moments with the Tsogo Sun family, I’m always so grateful to have the most amazing host. Sheena Gates is the awesome @SheBeeGee in the Twitterverse and I can’t thank you enough for giving me the most special opportunities to share in the hotel’s passion and pride. You make me feel like the luckiest girl under the SUN!
With courage, consciousness & a sense of humour