on how to pack for a bikini vacay…

So the plan is to usher in the New Year from Cape Town. I haven’t smelled that Cape Town air since 2009 when I graduated from university so I am super excited to go back after so many years.

A few of the things I’m looking forward to doing (provided my travel buddies are game) include

  • going to Mzolis (who can resist that meat!)
  • the J.C. Le Roux Bubbly and Nougat tasting
  • cherry picking – one of the farms I looked into says cherry time is from the last week of November until the end of December

Also, here are my top 5 tips on how to pack for a beach holiday:

  1. Pack 3 bottoms that are easily interchangeable and then pack tops/t shirts to go with the bottoms
  2. If you’re like me, you’re likely to spend more time in bikinis than wearing actual clothes so minimise on the clothes and bring out all those bikinis.
  3. Travel wearing sneakers. They are bulky so this way you free up more space in your suitcase.
  4. You need 1 pair of sandals and 1 pair of slippers. I learnt this lesson the hard way after being over weight for a 1 week trip. Yes I packed more than 20 kg of clothing for 1 week. Trust me on this one! That’s all the shoes you need.
  5. Don’t forget the sunscreen and the insect repellent spray. Those mosquitoes, insects and bugs can be really brutal!

Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas

christmas-baubles-vector-28769I think I am a lot more excited about Christmas this year around. Not because of gifts but because the build up to Christmas was just so entertaining this year. I attended concerts in the park, sang Christmas carols with the neighbours, watched the Drakensberg Boys Choir in action and I was really immersed in the music of this season.

On the topic of music, when I was in primary school and high school, I was a part of the choir. Every year there was a Christmas Carols concert held at the City Hall and various schools would practice for months and then perform songs there. There was an afternoon show and an evening show. The primary school kids would perform during the afternoon show only. It was so much fun! And I remember some German song that our Choir Mistress once taught us and how we loved to sing “Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat, FAT” and there was another song we once performed whose lyrics went like “eBethlehema lase Judea, Judea”. Writing this post has brought back a flood of memories – I’m off to look for all this music!🙂

I wish you all a Merry Merry Christmas. As we remember the birth of our Lord, may it teach us to be blessings to those around us and fill our spaces with love and joy!

on gym, weight & stuff…

I’ve always been a lazy child – well, lazy when it comes to exercise! I was that child that got detention in high school for not attending my 1 hour of sport every week. When I did attend sport, I opted for aerobics because it was the “easiest” way to get out of detention. And I was in pretty decent shape back then. So I didn’t really need to work out.

And then university happened and then first year spread happened and then life happened and then stretch marks and then cellulite became part of me. At my heaviest, I was 25 years old, 78.8kg and wearing size 16 clothes. I had tried the gym thing before with a friend of mine but my eating was still messed up so all the hard work I was putting in amounted to zero because of bad eating habits.

It took 1 real life threatening conversation with my mum to get me back on track. This chat spurred my weight loss journey and now almost 3 years later and over 12 kg lighter, I’m better for it.

Looking back, I wish I had cultivated the habit of working out and eating healthy when I was younger. I think it would make waking up to go exercise every morning much easier. If I have kids of my own, good eating habits and fitness will be a part of their life growing up.

I initially started my fitness journey with just walking. Walking then progressed into running on Saturdays & Sundays. I stopped running when I developed runner’s knee and had to spend a huge chunk of my savings on physiotherapy. I also used my knee as an excuse because let’s not forget I am lazy when it comes to working out! I stopped running but I continued to watch what I eat so I wouldn’t gain back the weight.

Fast forward a lot of months later, I’m now going to the gym at least 5 times a week and I also use the Nike Training Club (NTC) app. And now exercise for me is more than weight loss. It’s for my health. This is the only body I have and I might as well keep it in the best shape possible. And with the big 3-0 fast approaching, I want to be in the best shape possible! Especially now that I’ve learnt that you can create the body that you want through exercise and proper nutrition.

What inspired this post was actually tips for gym – stuff that I’ve picked up and wish I knew before I started. I am by no means a gym expert. I’m just someone with fitness goals who is trying to stay in shape. So here are my 10 gymbie (gym newbie) tips:

  1. Get a gym buddy. Someone whose opinion you respect and who you can be accountable to. They don’t even need to be in the same country as you. They just need to know that they have to check in and help you get up on some mornings.
  2. Gym instructors are your friends. If you are struggling with a move or feeling pain, let them know. They can help you. It’s not only personal trainers that can be approached.
  3. Push yourself. Your mind limits how far you can go. Start with your 1kg weights but push yourself and go for the 2, 3, 4 kg in approaching weeks. You are stronger than you think!
  4. During class, focus on yourself and the trainer. There will be fitter people than you in class. There will be show offs in class and there will be lazy people. Focus on getting your techniques right and look at yourself in those mirrors. It’s about your progress!
  5. Don’t walk out of class.  I’ve seen people doing this a lot halfway through the class. But by then, the hardest bit is almost over. If the instructor is doing 15 burpees and you can only manage 3, do your 3 and condition your mind that next week you will aim for 5 and the week after that for 7 etc. Don’t give up!
  6. Remember, it’s just energy and energy is never destroyed. It is only transferred from one state to another. You’ll feel tired at the end of a session but  the next day you will have enough energy to do it all again and again and again…
  7. Don’t overdo it. I go to the gym between 4 to 6 times a week. Some weeks are busier for me than others so if I’m functioning on 3 hours of sleep, I tend to skip gym because my body is exhausted and I don’t beat myself up about it. The idea is to continuously exercise for the rest of my life and I don’t want to burn out at the beginning of the journey.
  8. A good pair of trainers is important! And it doesn’t have to be a fancy brand! When I’m running I need a fairly flat soled trainer. This is the most comfortable for my feet but when I’m in the gym, I need something with a bit more sole. Your feet will tell you what kind of trainers are best for what. If I use my gym shoes for running, my feet hurt and I get blisters. If I use my  running shoes for  gym, I also develop blisters and sore feet. So listen to your feet and invest in the right type of footwear.
  9. If you sweat a lot, wear dark coloured gym clothes – black, charcoal etc.. These hide the sweat patches and you won’t have to walk around looking like you peed on yourself.
  10. If you are exercising to lose weight, nutrition plays a huge role. You have to watch what you are eating and make good decisions. It’s a lot of trial and error but find a plan that works for you. And the rules are generally the same, lots of veggies and lots of water will go a long way!

    I hope my tips will help out someone along the way.

Happy Exercising!

On house sitting and baby sitting

It’s that time of the year again. Silly season! Where parties are plenty and there is a plethora of travel plans.

black-sheep-clipart-sheep_black
As the unemployed black sheep of the family, I usually get asked to help out here and there with house sitting and baby sitting.

At the end of every house sitting or baby sitting session, I always swear state “I’m never doing that again!”

While it’s fun, it’s also a lot of responsibility and a lot of work. Kids are hard work. You literally spend the entire day running around and cleaning up after them, it’s like a full time job and I applaud all mothers and nannies/house helps/maids/domestic workers out there.

To avoid any awkward situations, I’ve come up with a few ground rules that parents can benefit from in making their lives and mine the babysitter’s easier.

One
Parent’s must not LIE to the baby sitter. When we ask if the kids don’t eat anything, this is an opening. Take it! Use it! This is your chance to let us know whether they are fussy eaters, what their favourite food is, what tactics we can use to get them to eat etc. This is not the time to be shy and say no, they eat everything. And letting us know they are picky eaters 2 days into the babysitting gig is NOT ON! All it causes is frustration on both mine and the child’s part. I have dealt with babies that want you to “fix” a fruit after cutting it, I’ve dealt with babies that need to be coaxed into eating by offering dessert and/or pancakes for breakfast the next morning, I’ve dealt with babies that walk all over the house and I have to follow  them around and give a spoon of food every now. But that’s ok, because I’m patient. I can spend two hours coaxing the child to eat provided I knew beforehand what I was working with!

Two
I am a babysitter. Not the house help. I will cook and feed the kids. I will bath them. Heck I will even do the dishes and clean up after the kids but I will not do their laundry. I will not do thorough cleaning. You know that spring cleaning that our Zimbabwean mums love to spring up on us! Yeah… that one. No… I won’t be doing any of that.  If you want these additional extras, we now have to talk money!

Three
Unless you are 1 of my 4 siblings, I will move in and help with the kids for a maximum of 1 week. Siblings get more time. My role is to help you while you organise yourself and organise your lives! After that, you need to have sorted yourself out.

Four
For house sitting gigs, please understand I will not be a slave to your house. Meaning I will leave the house. I will go and meet friends. I will go out. I have a life and I will live it but I will always sleep at home. And I will make sure doors are locked, windows are closed, bins are taken out and lights are switched on and off so you don’t need to worry about the general safety of your house.

Five
Please leave your house in a decent manner. I will keep the house neat and tidy meaning I’ll clean up after myself and I might even spruce the place up just before you return home but if I feel you left too much of a mess in a certain room, best believe I will not step into that room or even attempt to get things in order.

Six
If you are particular about how  a babysitter must take care of your kids during your absence, it helps if you leave a schedule with an indication of meal times, bath times, bed time routines etc. One of my sister in laws has a schedule and during the early days when I had to be home alone with my nephew, it helped to know what to feed him and when, when to schedule playtimes, when tv was allowed etc. I will try to stick to it as much as I can within reason.

Seven
Please book my services in advance. By the time  you book your flights, let me know your plans because I’ll also be making my own plans and gone are the days where I’ll be cancelling my own plans to accommodate yours.

So darling friends and family, before you ask me to take care of your place or your kids this festive season, please give the above guidelines some thought. It’s all peace and love!

DISCLAIMER: My baby sitting duties come free of charge. These duties are also only for family or really really REALLY close friends.

on bikinis, cocktails and zanzikini…

My girlfriends and I have decided we will have 1 big trip every year to a destination none of us has ever been to before. This year kicked off this decision and we travelled to Zanzibar, Tanzania.

Zanzibar is such a beautiful Island and the people are extremely friendly. There is so much to see and do and before I knew it,  1 week was over and I had to head back home.

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We met such colourful characters and I even had an aha moment. If you follow my blog, you will know that I have shared some dreams of mine  but I’m not yet close to achieving everything on my list. Which is where the aha moment comes in.

During a trip to Prison Island, as we walked towards the beach on the wooden bridge I happened to look down. The bridge was very sturdy and it was one of those that has gaps between the planks and one can see the stones and ocean underneath. Every time I looked down I panicked and felt that I would fall through the little  gaps (irrational I know but that’s exactly how fear operates!). So every time I looked down, I felt fear and couldn’t move but as soon as I raised my head and looked at where I was heading to, that fear disappeared and I walked with ease towards the beach. This happened a couple of times and the verse  For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord came to mind. I felt God speak to me and in that moment I realised just like life, if you look down  and focus on the stones and ocean you get paralysed by fear and you can’t move forward. However if you keep your eye on the prize (your dreams and goals), you will achieve them. The trick is to focus on where you want to be and work towards it by making that your focal point and not putting all your attention on any setbacks or challenges you may encounter.

For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return – Leonardo da Vinci

On every dark having a silver lining…

I saw a newspaper headline the other day that dubbed 2015 as “year of the #”. I think that headline was pretty accurate. The ability of people to hash tag events was a big game changer in social media trends this year. If I had to pick a hash tag it would be #silverlinings. I decided to look on the bright side of everything that has happened to date. So while unemployment may have been my biggest challenge, the bright side is I got to spend a lot of time with my family and share invaluable moments. I made new friends, reconnected with old friends, started going to the gym regularly and I even went on vacation with another group of friends.

http://jordan-austin.deviantart.com/art/Silver-Lining-281461718

I’m  not oblivious to the fact that it has been ages since my last blog post! Partly due to the creative juices not flowing and partly due to the way I handle things. I tend to withdraw if I feel I’m not in control and sadly my blog suffers the most. There were so many stories started but never finished and I just seemed unable to complete a full post. So much has happened since that last post. I finally got the balls to face my fears and quit a job that was draining me. It’s a remarkable feeling when one gets the courage to let go of situations that no longer bring joy. One of my greatest fears was unemployment and I faced that twice this year. I’ll share a little bit behind why I quit one of the jobs in a blog post later on. So after I left the other job, I got another one and left that one too for totally different reasons to the other one. But unemployment actually wasn’t as bad as I imagined. Granted there are certain things I’ve had to forgo because I have no constant stream of income but I am blessed with an amazing family who have supported me through everything so I cannot say I was in lack. Also the saving lessons my mother taught me from a young age came into play a lot during this year.

I had a disagreement with someone a few months ago but my unemployment status. I felt attacked and he made it sound like I was content in my current state. My response to him which at that time probably came across as very defensive also led me to have an aha moment.

I can either be depressed about unemployment and cry every single day and feel sorry for myself or I can accept that this is where I in this season and react accordingly. In those few minutes of having to justify myself I realised that how one waits during a setback is just as important as how one will react once the situation has changed.

I choose to be the best version of me – which is the best route to embrace hence my hash tag silverlining. Considering I’ve done the other route before and that just led me to be frustrated and sad and overweight, silver linings are the only option for me this time around.

Every challenge or setback also contains potential for a positive or negative outcome. By focusing on the positive, I feel more inner peace thus being able to accept that which I cannot change immediately.