Zunshine

Zunshine

Be Present In Every Moment of 2018

I haven’t been quite ready to let go of 2017.  We were closing out the year in our favourite place, Struisbaai, Western Cape, with our fur children, and saying goodbye to 2017 meant saying goodbye to our little piece of paradise and coming back to reality.  Our immediate reality meant packing up our lives and moving house.  I know – who goes on holiday for three weeks and then comes back all rested only to be exhausted by moving?  I guess we are those people then.  And I haven’t been ready for 2018 because instead of finding inspiration for the year to come while suntanning on the beach, I was ‘pulling-myself-towards-myself’ (as my husband usually says) after the challenging (but good) year that was.

 

I haven’t been too excited for the new year either because I felt I didn’t really have a vision or a direction for 2018.  I have been holding on to those sweet moments in Struisbaai because I didn’t want a clean slate.  I had pushed so hard to get through 2017 and survive what life threw at me (us).  I was also proud of how far I (we) had come that I wasn’t ready to have the slate wiped clean and start from zero again.  I didn’t want to forget all that I had achieved and file it under “the year that was” and start over again.

 

But as I write this, I realise that it doesn’t have to be a clean slate.  I don’t have to start from zero.  I don’t have to reset everything.  It might be a new year, but my achievements still stand.  All that I had survived in 2017 are scars on my body to remind me daily how strong I am.  Each and every life hurdle, moment of joy, happy memory, and all the blood, sweat and tears from last year are building blocks for the new year.

 

I don’t have a “how to be a better me” list of things I want to change this year.  I am looking back on last year and realising I am so much stronger,  I can endure so much more,  I can be so much happier with less, and I have capacity to be content with life when everything around me points to complete chaos.

 

I am brave.

I am fierce.

I am strong.

 

I don’t have new year’s resolutions this year.  I just want to be the braver, fiercer and stronger me that emerged from 2017 and be fully present every single moment of 2018.  My advice for the new year then – don’t become overwhelmed with a long list of things you ‘have to do’ this year.  Rather, realise how amazing you are and use that as building blocks for the next 365 days.

 

 

 

 

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Summer: A Season for Growth

Summer!  Glorious, hot, summer!

When someone mentions summer, I immediately think – lazy days on the beach.  The smell of sunscreen.  Playing in the waves.  Eating watermelon.  Fun and more fun!  Jip, that pretty much sums it up for me.

Just like summer is synonymous with relaxing, having fun, and not having many cares in the world; summer seasons in our lives are quite similar.  Yet, summer isn’t just about glorious sunny days on the beach.  Before you can go off and enjoy your summer holiday, you need to finish up the last things on your to-do list, give that final push at work, and then your reward awaits.

Summer is a combination of work and play.  Just like spring is a season of planting and working really hard, summer also requires some work, but there is more time to relax and have some fun as well.

The following stand out for me during a season of summer:

Water what you have planted

The weather can be quite hot right after you have finished your planting, so it is important to water your garden.  Your plants can only grow properly if they are watered regularly. 

The way you water what you have planted in your life is by spending time and energy on it.  What you put in, is what you get out.  Spend time nurturing relationships, new business ventures, your children, your marriage, etc.  Nothing can grow without water. 

Protect what you have planted

Once your seeds have been planted, birds will be on the lookout to sweep down and peck them up, or snails might start nibbling on the first leaves as they start growing.  You need to plant a scarecrow, or put up a fence, or spray some pesticide.  Plants are quite eager to grow when they’ve received enough water but need some help (protection) to push through the initial stages of growth.

In our lives it is important to put up boundaries to protect our investment and ensure growth.  During the initial phases of growing something in your life, it is very much like a child – it needs guidance, direction, and protection while it grows strong enough to be stand on its own feet.  Protection will look different for everyone, depending on what you are trying to grow in your life.  But irrespective of what you are growing, it will need some protection from external forces.

Learn from the growth phase

Not everything you plant in your garden will grow.  In some instances you’ll plant the seeds too deep (not reading the planting instructions properly), so they’ll struggle to push through the soil.  In others, birds will peck up the seed.  Although you will initially be disappointed, you must learn from it and do better next time round.

Learn the valuable lessons in your summer season early on, as you don’t want to repeat the process again later on.  The proverb “Bend the tree while it is still young” rings true here.  During the first stages of growth, you can still change, re-route, implement it differently, and shake up the whole process.  You don’t necessarily have to stick with what you set out in the beginning.  If you learn from the growth phase, it will nurture wisdom for seasons to come.

Pause, appreciate and enjoy

There is immense pleasure and satisfaction in watching something you have planted, grow.  Perhaps it is because you have planted it yourself, spent afternoons in the sun taking out weeds, and making time to water and protect the little plants as they break through the surface.  There is great contentment in pausing and appreciating the result of your hard work. 

Pausing during a summer season is really important.  It gives you time to really appreciate how far you have come (through a winter of no growth and a spring of working hard).  Stop and smell the flowers; slow down after the hard work you’ve put in during your spring season.  Appreciate the things that are going right in your life.  Relax.  Take some time out.  Enjoy the less stressed season – you have earned it. 

 

Summer is a combination of fun, enjoyment, and a little bit of hard work.  In summer you need to invest time in what you have planted during spring, protect your investment, learn from the process, and enjoy the growth that will take place by itself.  A summer season in life is definitely an easy season.  So take some time out, relax and enjoy!

 

Remember: be the BEST you.

This post is the fourth in a series I am currently writing, titled “Seasons”.  Keep an eye out for my next post – “Autumn: A Season for Harvest”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Spring: A Season for Planting

During winter we crave warmer weather and when the season starts changing, we become very excited. We however forget that when spring comes around, we need to start putting some energy back into our lives because spring is all about hard work.

We (my husband and I)  planted a garden to mark the transition from winter to spring in our lives. We planted two gardens;  a vegetable patch and a flower garden. It was hard work, but it was a wonderful experience. It was so rewarding to stand back, wipe the sweat from our brows, and see the end-result of our hard work.

Spring marks the time to come out of the darkness of winter and be reminded of renewed life. It marks the transition from winter to summer. During a winter season of rest, you should have gathered enough strength and vitality to roll up those sleeves and start digging into the soil of your life and work it.

Spring is really a season of hard work and here are a few keys that I think will help you make the most of a spring season in your life.

You need to put in the hours

Planting doesn’t happen by itself, there is quite a lot of preparation and hard work that needs to go into it. If you want to plant something new or pursue a new venture or opportunity, you need to be willing to work for it.  If you took some time during your winter season to do planning for spring, then this is the season for implementation.

Maintain the discipline and healthy habits that you cultivated through your winter season, as these will help you with the transition and consistency needed in a spring season.

It is a transition

Spring isn’t always a smooth transition. While planting new things in your life, some ideas will work (the seeds you have planted will grow beautifully), and others won’t (birds might eat your newly planted seeds before they even push through the soil properly). This just means that you need to get back to basics, make a new plan and execute.

Keep the energy flowing by continuing to engage in activities that fill your cup. And when things don’t quite go as planned, don’t lose hope. In the famous words of Marilyn Monroe, “Sometimes things fall apart so that better things can fall together.” 

New things

Spring marks the start of new things. Which means you need to do new things. You cannot keep on doing the same things and expect different results.

Be brave.

Venture into the unknown.

Cultivate new habits.

Explore new avenues.

Take the road less traveled. 

Consistency

Once you have done the initial hard work and planted your new venture/opportunity/business idea, keep on working on it. Consistency is the key to growth. You need to ensure you are following your planning, stay aware of new trends that might impact your venture, remove anything that is not working, and keep on investing your time into it to ensure that it keeps on expanding.

 

Spring is all about hard work

We had so much fun planting our vegetable patch and flower garden, but now we need to consistently work in them. Remove weeds, regularly give water, remove more weeds, track the growing of our plants and vegetables, turn the soil, remove more weeds… And so the work continuous, but we are preparing the soil for the growth that will surely come in summer.

It is lovely to come out of a winter season, come out of resting and stretch ourselves out, but spring is a season of hard work. So get ready, mark out your ground, and start digging so that you can plant something new in your life, tend to it, and watch it grow.

 

Remember: be the BEST you.

This post is the third in a series I am currently writing, titled “Seasons”. Keep an eye out for my next post – “Summer: A Season for Growth”. 

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Winter: A Season for Resting

In today’s busyness, we rarely make proper time for rest.  Even during weekends, there is shopping to be done, social engagements to attend, and it seems that the to-do list just never ends.  We have inevitably become human-doings instead of human-beings.  We do, do do, instead of just being.  And that is exactly why I think we are sometimes forced into seasons of rest, as we will rarely choose this season for ourselves.  There is a purpose to winter, and of all the seasons, it is probably the most important one that sets you up to be successful in the others.

When I talk about a winter season, what exactly do I mean?  It is a season in your life when your inner being grows cold, you don’t experience growth in any area of your life, you might wonder about your purpose and the road you are on, you might feel alone and lose your faith, and it feels like nothing good is happening.

Here are a few key thoughts that I have held on to during winter seasons in my own life, which I believe will help you too, especially when things get really hard.

A Time for Rest

Just like nature rests in winter, so we also need to rest during our winter season.  No growth happens in winter because the cold temperatures slow down metabolism in plants.  This allows plants to go into a dormant state and it is a survival mechanism to help them gear up for spring and summer.  Instead of resisting a winter season – lean into it.  Embrace the time of rest, gather your strength, engage in activities that will revitalise you, eat healthy and start cultivating healthy habits.  

A Time for Cultivating Discipline

When there are fewer demands on you, it gives you proper time to start cultivating some discipline in your life.  Cultivating discipline is sometimes challenging, but if you can become disciplined in every area of your life, you will be better equipped to handle bigger responsibilities in the future.  Cultivating discipline also shapes and develops your character, which is essential for withstanding storms that will come during seasons of growth and harvest.   You need to get yourself into a new state of thinking and doing things, as part of the preparation for the next season.

A Time to Shake off the Excess

When you cultivate discipline, you also start identifying habits, thinking processes, things, people, situations, etc., in your life that you can (and sometimes should) do without.  Plants keep the most basic processing running and also change the way these processes run in order to save energy to aid in surviving the winter.  You also need to change the way you do things in order to survive a winter season.  It is a great time to look at the excess in your life, and clean out.  Similarly to when you clean out old cupboards, or throw out clothing you don’t wear anymore, or chuck away old kitchen appliances or clean out the garage; you need to shake off the excess in your life that will hinder you from moving into the new season.  Shovel snow and ice from the driveway of your mind and learn how to actually drive well on the icy roads of life.

A Time for Re-evaluation

During your time of rest, your mind gets time to just be quiet.  This is a great opportunity for you to re-evaluate where you are, where you’ve come from, and where you are going.  Specifically look for positive things in your life, because this fuels hope in your heart that is necessary to carry you through winter.  During a time of re-evaluation, you need to check in with your core values, work on your mindset, count your blessings, nourish your soul, and be patient for the season to come to a close.  

A Time for Planning and Preparation

The most important part of winter, besides resting, is planning for what comes next.  Winter doesn’t last forever, and if you use the time during this season well, you will pick the fruits in your harvesting season.  In your quiet moments, when you are re-evaluating where you are going, start planning for spring (which is the season for planting).  During winter, your character will be shaped which will make you a stronger person, ready for the work that comes with planting.  But you can’t just start planting, proper planning and preparation is required, and if you do this well during your winter season, when the season changes, you will be ready for it.  

A Time not to Compare Yourself with Others

In winter seasons it is so difficult to not compare yourself to others who might be in a harvesting season.  Remember, we are all going through our own seasons, and someone who is harvesting is probably gathering and preparing for a winter season.  So don’t compare yourself to anyone else during a winter season.  Rather focus on what is necessary for you to get through the season stronger and ready for what is to come.  Remember – comparison is the thief of joy.  So, don’t go there.

 

Winter might not always be a fun season, but there is definite purpose in going through it.  Lean in, don’t resist it, and gather your strength for when the season changes.  Take the time to prepare for the new season, seek balance, eat healthy and take care of yourself.  Don’t loose hope, there is always a silver lining to every dark cloud.  Keep the faith, rest, and prepare for the new season, because it will surely come.

 

Remember: be the BEST version of yourself.

This post is the second in a series I am currently writing, titled “Seasons”. Keep an eye out for my next post – “Spring: A Season for Planting”. 

 

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Just Be in the Season

 

Don’t you just love the start of a new season, especially spring.  The trees are sprouting new leaves, sweet fragrances start filling the air, and birds start returning after their migration to warmer countries during the South African winter.  I actually love the change of any season into a new one.

I love the anticipation of ‘newness’ that a new season represents.  And every season brings something new with it;  spring, summer, autumn and winter.  Nature changes with the seasons, and so do our lives.

Most of the time we are not very satisfied with the season that we find ourselves in.  Even during the natural seasons of life, we always want something else –  when winter is too cold, we wish summer would come;  when we are too hot in summer, we want the winter to return.  It seems that we generally struggle with just embracing our current season, and just being.

Of course some seasons are great to be in however, others are less enjoyable.  When you are in an abundant season;  your business is prospering, your career is sky-rocketing,  your kids are happy, friendships are flourishing, your marriage is bringing you joy, and life seems to just flow, easy, like a river without any obstacles.  When you are in a season of trials;  life gets a little tougher, it feels like you need to work extra hard just to get every day life to not fall apart, and things in general just feel like one big test, that you seem to be failing, most of the time.  Other seasons bring rest, and other complete change.

But no matter the season, you have a choice to be in it and to be present.  It is wise to buckle down and learn the lessons of your current season, as every season prepares you for the next one.  And if you haven’t grown and changed with your current season, you will not be ready for what the next season holds.

Being present in the season doesn’t always come naturally to us and I would like to share some ideas I think will help you be present in your current season, until it is time for your next season to begin:

Fill Your Own Cup

This might sound selfish, but truth of the matter is that you cannot pour from an empty cup.  If your cup is empty, you are not able to give 100% in the areas that require your attention and energy;  whether it’s your marriage, kids, work, career, friends, or any other area of your life that demands your time.  YOU need to take care of YOU!  You need to figure out what the best way is to fill your cup.  It might be taking time out to read a book, go shopping, enjoying a spa treatment, playing golf, go running, dancing, spending quality time with your significant other, quiet time with God, or whatever activity it is that you engage in that fills your cup.  When you engage in these filling-your-cup-activities,  it will give you the energy to look life straight in the eyes and say ‘Bring. It. On!’.

 Schedule Time to have Fun

Yes, you read that right – schedule time to have fun.  Life demands so much of us and if we do not schedule time for certain activities, life will happily continue to dictate what we spend our time on.  So sit down with a calendar and your diary, and book time out for fun activities, weekends away, bucket-list items, picnics in the park – whatever you consider as fun.  When we engage in activities that make us happy, our brains release four feel-good chemicals – endorphins, oxytocin, serotin and dopamine.  Each chemical does something different in your brain and body, and you can read more here.   But remember, life is as much fun as you make it.

 Practice Appreciation

When you are in a difficult season it is so easy to get lost in everything that is wrong.  We can easily get wrapped up in self-pity or negative thinking by focusing on everything that is wrong with life in that moment.  Instead of looking at your current season through a negative lens, change the lens to one of appreciation.  Be mindful of what is going right, even if it is something small like getting a parking spot right in front of the shop you need to go to.  There is always something to be thankful for.  Appreciate your life.  Appreciate the people in your life.  The more you focus on the things you can be grateful for, the more you will train your thoughts to focus on the positive side of things, irrespective of the season.

 Share your heart with a Friend

Life is best when shared, and in every season of our lives we need some friends.  Have at least one friend who you can confide in;  someone who you can trust with your heart, but mostly, someone who can hold you accountable.  They’ll let you moan for a while, but then remind you to get up, dust yourself off, and keep on fighting the good fight.

A true friend sticks it out with you, no matter the season.  They can be a sounding board, someone who can listen to your fears and worries and tell you it will all be okay, that YOU will be okay.  Your friend will encourage you through the tough spots, celebrate with you when you win, and importantly, they will witness your journey and remind you of how far you have come, and how far you can still go.

 So Be In The Season!

You get one life, and your life will always be going through seasons.  Just like we cannot control the seasons of nature, we cannot control the seasons in our lives.  But you can decide to be thankful for what you have, spend some time on activities that energise you and choose the people you share your season with.  The best thing you can do for yourself is to embrace it, grow with it, and just be in it.  Because whatever is happening in your life right now is making you stronger, helping you grow, and teaching you valuable lessons for the next season that will inevitably come to pass when it is time.

Remember: be the BEST version of yourself.

This post is the first in a series I am currently writing, titled “Seasons”. Keep an eye out for my next post – “Winter: A Season for Resting”. 

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Ubuntu

I was planning to write a different post, but then Knysna started burning.  The devastation is staggering.  People, animals, vegetation, property…  The list goes on.    Six lives claimed by the furnace and the damage is currently estimated to be over R 4 billion.    This drone footage gives you a glimpse of the aftermath left by the fire monster.

 

My heart breaks for everyone affected, and I am saddened that there is a possibility that the fires were started deliberately.  But what is really pulling on my heart strings at the moment are the people of South Africa.

 

Ubuntu.

 

Ubuntu is defined as “a quality that includes the essential human virtues; compassion and humanity”.

 

A phoenix rising from the ashes

We had supper with friends last week and of course conversation turned to the state of our country and how many people are leaving and immigrating.  Many people we know still come home to visit family and friends, but others have completely turned their backs on South Africa because of  the rampant crime and corruption.  We have toyed with the idea of immigration, but I have never had a “pull” to pack up my life and start over elsewhere.  I am not judging or saying those who have left is wrong, as we all make decisions that we deem the right ones for our families.  But as for me, I will have hope.  I will have hope for South Africa.

 

When I express this hope, people start quoting crime stats, and think that, if they merely mention the Gupta’s or Zuma, my hope will diminish.  But I haven’t felt such a strong sense of hope for our country since Knysna started burning.  The fire is a tragedy, yes, but from the ashes a phoenix is busy rising.  A phoenix that is the spirit of Ubuntu in South Africa.  When people sent out cries of help for food, clothes, and basic necessities, those who were donating didn’t first check what race or social status those in need were.  No, they opened their hearts immediately because a fellow South African was in need.

 

The spirit of Ubuntu

In this time of loss and destruction, South Africans are pushing the politics, the discrimination, the racism, the Gupta’s, and the Zuma’s aside, and we uniting in the spirit of Ubuntu.  It didn’t take long for people to start Facebook support groups, set-up disaster management funds, get people to run and man crises centers, all in an attempt to help those affected by the fires.  The response has been amazing – people are donating money, clothes, food, and whatever else is needed.  Everyone is pitching in to help those who lost everything.

 

I don’t know about you, but I do not want to be defined by the colour of my skin, or my social status, or the job I do, or any other measuring stick that the world can come up with.  I want to be defined by the fact that I am a human being.  I want to be defined by my heart for people.  I want to be defined by my actions when others are in need.  I want to be defined by Ubuntu.

 

Hope is alive and well in South Africa.  It is rising from the ashes and it is bringing people across our country together like I haven’t seen in a while.  People came together on the 22nd of April in Bloemfontein for It’s Time to pray for our country.  And it is in moments of fire that our prayers have an opportunity to go over into action and we can really show how we care for each other.

 

Some may have lost hope in and for South Africa, but my hope is stronger than ever before.  Hope is rising in our country and that is exactly why I will stay right here.  This is what makes South Africa great – people standing together and reaching out a helping hand in moments of need.

 

Ubuntu.

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Setting Someone Up To Win

 

Let’s be honest here – we all need to win.  Win at having a successful career.  Win at being the best mom.  Win at being the best dad.  Win at being a good friend.  Win at adulting well.  The list goes on.  And the more we win, the better we get at winning.  However, it seems that generally we rather apply the ‘there-can-only-be-one-winner-in-this-race’ kind of thinking, which only makes most of us losers.  And losing sucks!

 

At some point in your life, you have uttered or thought one or more of the following phrases…

Life is hard.

Life is busy.

There are not enough hours in the day.

I wish the weekend had an extra day.

I really could do with a holiday right now.

I wish I could spend more time with my kids.

 

But have you ever tried thinking about it in a different way:

What can I do to make someone else’s life easier?

How can I help someone to make their life less busy?

How can I help give someone that extra hour they need in their day?

Can I do something for someone to make them feel like they had a full weekend?

I have time-share but we already took a holiday, can I give it to someone who really needs a break?

Can I run someone else’s errands so they can spend some extra time with their kids?

 

When you start thinking like that, you are taking the first steps to setting someone up to win, and then the phrase “when you win, I win” never seems more fitting.

 

I attended a woman’s conference a few weeks ago and this was where I heard the concept of setting others up to win.  It was something that really spoke to me, and my gift of helping others, so I wanted to do this right away.  And its interesting how, when you open yourself up to things, opportunities just start coming your way.

 

A young professional contacted me on LinkedIn and asked if I would meet up with her for coffee, as she is about to start her own business and would love to hear me story.  What a wonderful opportunity for me to help set someone up to win!  We met, hit it off, and I had just the best time sharing my journey and answering her questions.  It’s her last day of full-time employment today and I just know that when she spreads her wings to fly, she is going to soar higher than she thought possible!  (You go Angie – I am so proud of you!).

 

I have a very close friend who has been married for 7 years, have 2 beautiful, busy boys and runs a business with her husband.  She manages all of this with a serenity and peace that I hope to master one day.  Regularly, when we get together for tea, she’ll mention how she struggles to find time to get to the grocery store and buy proper food to cook healthy meals for her family.  Perfect opportunity to set her up to win!  I shared my meal-planning strategy with her and offered to buy her groceries for her when I go shopping for my own.  We are in week one and she is cooking up one delicious healthy meal after the other.

 

I think we underestimate the things we can do for others to help them win.  Most of the time, it’s not the big things, but the small things, that brings on the biggest wins.  This thing – setting someone up to win – is also about legacy (a previous post – if you haven’t read it yet, click here).  You are taking your gift, your flame, and sharing it with someone who needs it.

What can you start doing today to set someone up to win?

 

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Ignite Your Fire

Fire.  What is it that burns inside of you? What moves you? What is the sparkle in your heart and soul that is weaved into everything you do? What is the flame that defines you; that gives you motivation, that pushes you forward, that inspires you? And how do you ignite it?

 

Finding your sparkle

Before we can talk about firing you up, we need to know what we are working with. Sometimes it takes people quite a while to figure themselves out, to understand how their hearts are put together, and to understand what makes them tick. There are numerous ways to figure this out, but the easiest way for me is to ask you this question: “What is your favourite movie and which part(s) in the movie moves you the most?”

The answers to these questions will reveal much about your inner spark and what the flame inside you looks like.

My favourite movie is the animation How To Train Your Dragon. I have lost count of how many times I have watched it, and sometimes I even have it on repeat. I smile at the same scenes every time, and cry in exactly the same places, even though I can recite the movie from start to finish and know exactly what is going to happen in the end. I get emotionally invested in the characters and what they are going through; their triumphs, their trials, their joys, their heartache. I relive it every time I watch it.

I really do love the whole movie, but one particular scene stands out for me. The first day Hiccup (the chief’s son, who is a misfit, wanted to kill dragons but then realises that he can’t) spends with Toothless (the most feared dragon, who no one has ever seen, or knows anything about) in the gorge where the dragon is grounded after losing a tail fin. Hiccup really wants to make a connection with Toothless, but the dragon will have none of it. Every time Hiccup comes close, he moves away or just gives him a scary glare. Then, at the end of the scene, they meet face-to-face. They are so close that Toothless’s breathing moves the hair on Hiccup’s head. Hiccup tries again, reaching out to Toothless, but again, the dragon moves away and won’t be touched. Hiccup realises then that he can’t make Toothless do what he doesn’t want to do. He keeps his hand outstretched, closes his eyes, bows his head, and, gives the dragon the choice.

Toothless hesitates for a moment, moves forward slightly, but draws back again. And then something heart-warming happens. He makes a choice. He leans his head into Hiccup’s hand and closes his eyes. They connect for a moment. Hiccup breathes a sign of relief, Toothless wriggles his nose, and stomps off.  B E A U T I F U L!

 

Unleash your sparkle

The movie has so many amazing moments and unleashes so many emotions in me. It makes me think of the sparkle that each of us has inside and how the world tries to snuff it out. But if you push through, the fire inside is ignited and you change the course of history.  The story of Hiccup and Toothless provides a blueprint of five things that you can do to identify and unleash the fire inside.

First and foremost, I believe we always have a choice. No matter the circumstances, you have a choice in how you are going to respond. Hiccup tried to force a connection point between him and Toothless, but when he changed the situation into a choice, a connection happened. You need to make a choice whether you are going to find your sparkle and allow it to turn into a flame.

You might be stuck in a position that makes you really unhappy, or you have a dream, but fear is keeping you back. You are the only one who can change how you respond to the things in your life. You always have a choice.

Secondly, we need to persevere when we really want something. Hiccup could have given up the first time Toothless growled at him or moved away when he leaned towards the dragon, but he stuck around and finally an opportunity for a connection presented itself. In the beginning, the friendship is beautiful but unfortunately things turn ugly as the story unfolds. His father disowns him, his beloved dragon is captured and bound, and he is an outcast. Only through perseverance does he save his tribe and become a hero.

If you want something, keep at it. Obstacles will come and at times you will struggle, but keep on pushing through. You are stronger than you think you are. Follow your fire.

Thirdly, sometimes your destiny, looks different than how the world says it should. Vikings were in battle with dragons since the beginning and they were taught to fear them, fight them, and kill them. But something inside of Hiccup compelled him to seek out a connection with Toothless. And as he pursued this, he realised that everything they were taught about dragons were built on the basis of lies. Even when an opportunity arose for him to show the village the truth about dragons, the voices of how things are usually done, shouted louder than his.  He was born to be different but ridiculed for it. The voices made him believe that he had to deny himself and live up to everyone else’s expectations. But only when he started being true to his heart, he unleashed his sparkle, which changed the essence of his tribe.

Don’t let the voice of the world tell you that you don’t have a sparkle, because YOU DO! Follow your destiny and be bold enough to do so even when everyone around you tells you differently.

Fourthly, you need to have courage to go up against fear. Fear will always speak out against you. There will always be fear when you start walking down the road less traveled. It may be your fear, it may be the fear of those around you. You can either listen to the voice of fear, or you can push through it into a place where your sparkle will catch alight and your flame will be born.

Later in the movie, Hiccup rounds up the other teens and he needs them to fly on dragons, but they are afraid. This has never been done before and even though Hiccup had time to build a relationship with Toothless and learn that he doesn’t have anything to be afraid of, the others don’t have the luxury of time. They need to have courage and go against everything they have been taught.

Trust your sparkle. Push through the fear, have courage, persevere, and your sparkle will turn into a flame. 

Lastly,  find at least one person who can challenge you to be true to your sparkle. Astrid challenges Hiccup from the beginning. I love the scene where they stand on a ledge and watch the boats sail off to Dragon Island, and she keeps on asking him questions that remind him of his sparkle.  Finally, through her pushing, it ignites the flame in his heart and he comes alive.

It is so important to have people around you who will challenge you to rise to the occasion. Through these challenges, what sets your heart on fire will be unleashed.

Spreading your fire

Once you have identified what your sparkle is, and how to turn it into a flame, you have to do something with it. Your fire is your gift to the world. Just like a candle under a bucket is no good to anyone, your gift, if not shared, doesn’t help you or anyone else.

If your sparkle isn’t discovered, and turned into a flame, it will just remain a sparkle. You will go about your daily life, you might even be happy, but you will miss out on a great adventure.

My gifts are motivating others, asking challenging questions, walking the journey with someone, celebrating victories, and helping others to keep their flames alive.

That is exactly what I want to offer you. If you would like to embark on a journey to discover your sparkle, igniting your flame, and ultimately unleashing and spreading your fire – give me a shout and we can have some tea together.

Remember,

Find your sparkle.

Let the flame be ignited.

Bring light to others.

Share your gift.

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Leaving a Legacy

In closing off my previous post, I mentioned that the hard work and long hours of running your own business is all worth it in the end. Irrespective of whether you own your own business, work in a full-time job, or you’re a stay-at-home-mom/dad, the time and energy you are investing is worth it, because you are building your legacy.

Today I want to talk about legacy – what it is (from a dictionary point of view), my definition, and what legacy I would like to leave behind. My hope is that you will start thinking about what your legacy is looking like at the moment, and if you haven’t thought about it, that this will be the start of that journey for you.

 

Inheritance

One definition states that legacy is “a gift of property, especially personal property, as money, by will; a bequest” and further that it is “anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor.”

Another definition puts it this way, “something such as a tradition or problem that exists as a result of something that happened in the past”, and “something that someone has achieved that continues to exist after they stop working or die.”

I particularly love this definition –  “something handed down from one generation to the next.”  Legacy can also mean “gift – which is something acquired without compensation.”

Legacy refers to receiving or inheriting something from someone, without having to work for it. One of the definitions even refers to inheriting a problem, so legacy isn’t always positive. And that is exactly why we need to deliberately make a decision about the legacy that we will leave behind.

Planting so that someone else can harvest

Taking the above and adding a Zunshine flavour to it, I believe legacy is building something for those around you (current and next generation) so that they don’t have to start from scratch. Building a legacy is being a forerunner, laying foundations so that those who come after you can continue building. Making a path where there wasn’t one before. Sharing the wisdom and insight you learnt from making mistakes so that others don’t have to go through the same (painful) process.

Starting so someone else can finish well.

Planting so that someone else can harvest.

Investing so someone else can benefit.

You labour so that someone else can enjoy the fruit. You build, you sweat, you invest everything of yourself, so that the next generation can be victorious. Legacy is about investing into the future. Of course we can’t forget about today, but the plans you are executing today were plans made weeks, months, and even years ago. By bringing them to life today, you are living legacy now.

 

Being legacy-orientated

To live legacy, I believe you need to start by changing your mindset. We currently live in a fast-paced, instant-gratification world. However, being legacy-orientated means doing today so there will be benefit in the future – delaying the gratification and ultimately being altruistic in your efforts. It is about taking off the blinkers, and having a big-picture view.

It’s like race horses who get blinkers when they race so they can maintain tunnel vision, however, in order to be legacy-orientated, you need to stop being a race horse and get into the hot air balloon to see things from above. In the hot air balloon, you are positioning yourself to see the horison and the wide open spaces around you. Look far into the future at what the end goal looks like, and plan for the actions that need to be taken now that will ultimately get you (or those that come after you) there. Remember, legacy is not a sprint, it is more like a relay that goes on into eternity. The one runner hands over the baton to the next runner, to the next runner, to the next runner…

Before I started my business, I had to sit down and define what the purpose of my business would be. The heart behind Zunshine is, and will always be, people. I want Zunshine to help people unearth their true identity, polish off their dreams and goals, and journey with them to become the best version of themselves. By being the best version of ourselves, we are laying foundation for legacy in our own lives and ultimately preparing to pass on the baton to the next runner.

Of course legacy will look different for everyone, and this is merely my take on it, but we all want to work towards something. So take some time, explore your heart, dreams and passions, and start working on it so that your legacy will echo into eternity.

If you would like to start your legacy journey, give me a shout (zazel@zunshine.co.za) and we can get together for a cup of tea. 

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How I Started My Own Business

Today I want to share the basic principles I applied when I started my business, and how its helped me. I realise that everyone’s journey will look different but I am sure that you’ll be able to apply some of the principles I used, even if you are not looking to start your own business.

 

The Dream

In December 2014 I was sitting on the beach in Struisbaai (a beautiful little piece of heaven in the Western Cape, South Africa – 8km from the most southern tip of Africa), just letting the gentle waves wash over my soul. As usual, I was reminiscing about the year that was, and the year that was to come, and I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me in the direction of starting my own business. That was the first time I seriously started thinking about going out on my own.

I can be quite impulsive, but I knew that if I was going to go out on my own, I would have to take some time to plan this properly because let’s be honest – quitting your day job and just starting your own business is actually quite scary. Some people quit on a whim and jump right in, but my process took planning and some time.

 

The Principles of Preparation

It took me 15 months, from having that first nudge, to actually handing in my resignation, but I am glad I took my time to put solid building blocks in place for the foundation of Zunshine Consulting. I believe that the house you build is only as strong as your foundation, so I wanted to make sure my foundation was solid. I didn’t want to do things hastily and build a shaky foundation only to have to re-do things a couple of years down the line. I was fortunate, I had the time to put specific things in place before I took my leap of faith.

There are actually loads of things that go into thinking, planning and doing when starting a business, but the following 5 principles highlight, for me, the most important building blocks.

PRINCIPLE I – NAMING YOUR BUSINESS

You have to choose a name for your business. I believe there is so much power in a name, and therefore choosing a name for my business that expressed my vision and heart for Zunshine was important to me. Whatever your motives behind your name, make sure it means something to you and will to your clients too.

When I was a toddler, my parents used to say I brought sunshine with me whenever I entered a room. Even during varsity my close friends called me ‘Sunshine’.  I felt it fitting as I want to help people find their own sunshine (the light inside that makes you shine = potential) and shine brightly in their own lives. So I decided I would start there and go with ‘Sunshine’ for a business name.

And somewhere during the choosing-a-name-journey, the ‘S’ turned into a ‘Z’ and Zunshine was born.

PRINCIPLE II – YOUR DESIGN = YOUR IDENTITY

I went to see a graphic and web designer to help me express in my logo and website design the identity I wanted people to associate with my business. You can obviously design your own, but I wanted a professional look and feel right from the beginning. I wanted to do things properly. I loved working with Angie from Daniel+McKay.  Angie is funky, really listened to my heart for my business, and  made magic happen when we began to play around with some concepts (warm orange and yellow, circles like the sun, stabilising gray, and it’s all about the journey).

I read about the psychology of colours in marketing only after I had chosen the colours for my logo but it’s worth doing this before you choose your colours. I was fortunate, the colours stirred exactly the thoughts and feelings that I wanted people to experience when engaging with my brand:

  • Yellow:  happiness, optimism, clarity, warmth
  • Orange:  energetic, enthusiastic, fun
  • Gray:  balance, calm

PRINCIPLE III – GET THE ADMIN DONE 

Irrespective of the type of business you start, there will always be admin. Get the initial admin done quickly and put templates in place for recurring admin.

From all the things I spent my time on while getting my business up and running, admin took up most of it. Things to think about, admin-wise include:

  • Get a good accountant
  • Register your business and business name
  • Register a tax number (my accountant did my company and tax number registrations)
  • Write content for your website
  • Design a letterhead
  • Design a business card
  • Design a proposal template
  • Design a quote template
  • Design an invoice template
  • Design a presentation template
  • Design a quote and invoice register (to keep track of the amount(s) you quote and the amount(s) you actually invoice, as well as for document numbering)
  • Put a marketing strategy/plan together (my strategy wasn’t much of a strategy in the beginning, and to be honest, it is still evolving and changing on a monthly basis, but you have to start thinking about where you want to advertise your services/products, the social marketing channels you want to use, the content you will post, etc.)
  • Register a domain name for your website and email address (Angie did this for me)

The above is not an exhaustive list and I am sure we can spend time elaborating on each point mentioned, but that is not the purpose of today’s post.  Also, company and tax registrations mentioned above are applicable to the South African context.

Last thought on this point though, having templates in place made the actual work (writing a proposal, putting a quote together, sending out an invoice) so much more enjoyable because I didn’t have to spend time on designing documents when work started coming in. It might be time-consuming in the beginning, but it makes things so much easier later on and allows you to focus on the client and the actual work and not waste time on admin.

PRINCIPLE IV – RELATIONSHIPS ARE WORTH MORE THAN GOLD

Networking. Networking. Networking.

From all the principles that I applied, this has been the most important one. I am all about relationship-building as any business is ultimately built on/around people and you need good relationships to get people to work with or for you. My inner-introvert obviously don’t love big networking events (breakfasts, conferences, workshops, etc., although I try to attend at least one of these a quarter to stay up to date with what’s happening in my industry and to get my CPD points) but I love one-on-one tea dates with people. So that is exactly where I invest my time and energy when building relationships with others.

I also believe there is more than enough work and money to go around for everyone and if you have good relationships with other professionals in your industry, they are likely to refer work to you when their own plates are too full, or pull you into projects when they need a hand because they know you and have a relationship with you.

Relationships (building and maintaining) obviously look different for introverts and extroverts and you need to do what works for you. I met and built relationships with a lot of people and businesses during my tenure as a full-time employee, and from those relationships I have been able to establish one stable and consistent stream of income since I started my own business.

PRINCIPLE V – LEARN FROM OTHERS

There are many people out there who started their own businesses and you may already know a few. Call them up, arrange a tea (or coffee) date and chat to them. Make a list of things you are wondering about, things you are looking forward to, and things you are afraid of, and share them with this person. They are more than likely to tell you about their own journey and you can learn valuable lessons from them.

I had such a person – Marzenna (founder and owner of Holistan) who freely and eagerly shared her journey of starting her own business. She even ran a workshop on starting your own business in our industry, and wrote an e-book (Chasing the Dream which is so worth the purchase if you are a professional wanting to start a practice or consultancy based in South Africa). This gave me immense insight into the world of starting, owning and running your own business. She shared her wisdom and knowledge and I could apply some of the golden nuggets on my own journey.

 

Being Zunshine Every Day

In February 2016 I wrote my final board exam to register as an Industrial Psychologist and that, for me, was the final milestone to pass in order to get to a place where I could step out and start my business. After my exam day, I typed up my resignation letter and resigned. My notice month was bitter-sweet as I had joined the company as a graduate and had grown and learnt so much during the 9 years I spent there. My timing was somehow perfect as well, as the company was down-scaling and my job wasn’t big enough for a full-time person anymore, so they offered me a part-time contract.

After 15 months of dreaming and planning, spending time putting proper principles in place, and getting ready to take that leap of faith, I strapped on my parachute and on 1 April 2016 jumped out of the employee plane into the land of business ownership.

I make sure that I do every job with passion and energy, and let my ‘zunshine’ shine through to all my clients. Getting up in the morning and going through the day is really so much easier when you enjoy what you do. It is true though; working for yourself often requires more hours and working harder than ever before.  However, the reward lies in getting home after a long day, kicking off your shoes, enjoying a cup of tea, and knowing that your time and energy is being productively invested into building the legacy that you want to leave behind.

 

I hope this post helped you in some way – whether it’s to start thinking about your own business, setting new business goals, or pouring your energy into your current job, I would love to be part of your journey.

Drop me a comment or an email (zazel@zunshine.co.za) and we can have a cup of tea together and start chatting about getting a coaching relationship started. I look forward to hearing from you! 🙂

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Let’s get to know each other over a cup of tea

Life is like a cup of tea

I guess I should properly introduce myself before I ramble on. That would be proper manners. Go make yourself a cup of tea and enjoy a glimpse into the life that is mine.

I live in Johannesburg, South Africa. No, there aren’t any lions roaming around in the streets and I do not know Pieter Labuschagne that lives in Cape Town. South Africa has a population of 54 million people by the way.  I have just turned 33 and I am the proud proud owner of my own business for a whole year now in April. I am an Industrial Psychologist and specialise in psychometric assessments, people management and development, and woman’s coaching.

I have been married to the most awesome man for 4 years and 7 months. Very corny, but he really is the best human that I know (will refer to him as ‘my human’ from hereon). We met on a blind date, got engaged 3 months later and said our “I do’s” 9 months after that. It was just right and I knew that he was my person, but often when we talk about it now, we can’t believe that our parents didn’t send us off to a crazy institution for rushing into things. But like good red wine, being married just gets better and better with time. We are trying for little humans, so hopefully our human clan will be growing some time soon.

We have two non-human children – a German Shephard, Zara, and a Husky, Kiara. Zara is two and a half and Kiara is fourteen. Zara is the goof ball, with only one upright ear (her one ear didn’t get the growth memo). She loves attention, cuddles and playing fetch. In hind-sight we should have called her Shadow, as she follows me around EVERY WHERE! Kiara is our old lady, with a big attitude, but a bigger heart. She will come to you for cuddles when it suits her and you better not dare touch her when she hasn’t asked for it. Although she is old, and does a lot of face planting when her front legs give in while running, she still loves going for walks and runs, just at a slower pace.

My parents have been married for 35 years. Happily married and often act like teenagers, which my human and I find very inspiring, as we really learn a lot from them. I have a younger brother, who just turned 30 (gosh, I am getting old!).

I love to laugh, I am a tea cup fanatic, and appreciate a good book. I can eat copious amounts of popcorn, drink just as much tea, and love being outdoors. I avoid conflict, and when I can’t avoid it, I tend to be quite harsh with my words. I am a typical introvert, as per my previous post, and there’s usually more going on in my head than what is coming out of my mouth. I value honesty, realness, and honour. I can be quite impulsive. I believe in boundaries in your life and that you always have a choice. My life is grace and I am an eternal optimist. Holding on to hope gets me through bad spots, and for everything else my human makes me laugh and I drink a cup of tea (I really do love tea!).

Take me to the ocean any day, and I am a happy person. I love taking photos, (which my human doesn’t always appreciate), notice details when people change their hair or buy a new item of clothing, and love birthdays! I cry at weddings, I cry in all movies (even when I watch a movie for a second time, in the same scenes), and I cry when someone does something thoughtful for me. I love getting flowers (my human needs to still work on that one a bit), do hand-written letters to friends (yes, I am old-school), and sticking inspirational quotes and pictures on my motivation board.

My passion is to help others identify potential in themselves, or cultivate what they already have, and then journey with them from point A to point B. Helping others find their true identity is what it is all about for me. I am a motivator and love bringing positive energy into any situation. That ‘A-ha moment’ that people have makes it all worth it for me.

And, that is me.

So, welcome in my world. I hope that we will have fun on this journey together!

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First Attempt

Stepping stones(1)
Gosh, I badly want to start writing a proper blog. Not just ramblings (which this is probably going to be for a while) but a good, worth-while, people-actually-want-to-read-what-I-write, type of blog.

It’s not like I don’t write at all. I even have a little blog-notebook that I carry around with me. I’ve mapped out a couple of posts, even typed some up, but somehow I’ve never posted anything.

Hence, finally, this first attempt.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret…. I am an extreme introvert. If you know me well you would be shocked, as I laugh quite loud, love having weekly tea dates with my person, and can be quite funny, direct and sometimes overpowering and controlling, so people assume that I am an extrovert. Not true. On the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) I scored a 10/10 on Introversion. I do think the misconception is also related to the meaning of introversion and extroversion. It is not about how quiet or loud you are – it is all about where you get your energy from.

Answer this quick question: After a tough day, do you prefer to a) go home, be by yourself or one/two other people, and enjoy the quiet to reflect on the situation; or b) gather a bunch of people, socialise with others and talk about the situation to a group? If you prefer option (a), you are likely an introvert – you generate energy by yourself, think and reflect on situations and choose to spend your time with one or two other people at a time. If you prefer option (b), you are likely an extrovert – you generate energy by being with others, sharing your experience with a group and generally do not want to be alone.

Okay, so back to my previous thought – being an extreme introvert means that there is a heck of a lot of thinking going on, but not a lot of talking. Which results in me putting down my thoughts on paper or typing them up, but rarely sending them off into the glorious vastness of cyber space. The thought actually terrifies me slightly, to be honest. Am I brave enough? Can I actually write something for anyone anywhere to read and perhaps comment on?

I’ve read so many articles on how to write a good blog. What the do’s and don’ts are. Pinned things – I even have a board on Pinterest dedicated to writing a blog.

Have I blogged?

Nope.

Will I?

I will remain outrageously hopeful…

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