Making time

It’s been a quiet few weeks from me over the last few weeks!

For the last three years, April/May and September/October have been exam season for me. It is always a stressful time. I don’t study nearly as much as I should, but every waking moment is consumed with thoughts of what I should be doing. During these months, especially May and October aka crunch time, I feel the need to limit my outside interests, so as to really focus on what I should be doing. Even the little obligations and commitments that don’t take up loads of my time sometimes feel like they are too much.

I really am grateful to my friends and family during this time for being patient, checking in regularly and just being super-supportive of my academic endeavours. 

Exams are over for now and it’s a good few weeks before I get my results and enrol for what will hopefully be my final semester. 

Over the last few days, as I wishing away the exams, I was thinking about what I really wanted to be doing instead of cramming information on financial forecasting and cost-benefit analyses.

What I desperately wanted to do was to be creating. And with creating, I wanted to be sharing my creations. I love the making and the creating, but I also really do love the sharing part. It’s a big part of what inspires me. 

Having said that, I have a little idea brewing about some things I want to create. And there are even some little clues in there as to what my creations may turn out to be. Follow me on my social media pages for more. 

And in the next few weeks hopefully, I’ll be catching up on some long overdue blogging.

Till next time! 

Hil. xxx

Coffee or Tea?

If you had to pick one only hot beverage to drink for the rest of your life, what would it be? Coffee or tea? I wouldn’t want to have to choose!

Coffee is easy.

Coffee is go go go.

Coffee is wake me up and keep me going.

Coffee isn’t fussy. Coffee does her job in mugs, flasks and paper cups.

Coffee can be black, white, frothy, cheap or real. Sweet or bitter.

She is a dance partner for vanilla, cream, chocolate, toffee and ice cream.

She loves a dunk. A rusk or just buttery bread.

Coffee is quick, moving, grab on the go.

Coffee works.

 

But tea – ah… tea.

Tea is pure.

Tea is ritual.

Tea is soothing.

She is specific. Ceylon and China only.

Tea is same. A drizzle of cold milk, less than a teaspoon of sugar. Hot and strong. Always the same.

She is soul. She is calm.

Tea fixes. Just putting the kettle on for tea is the beginning of the solution.

Tea is slow and calm.

Ah… tea.

And Rooibos – never ever!

 

When last did you go on a Soul Date?

In Julia Cameron’s wonderfully inspirational book The Artist’s Way, she recommends having a a regular “Artist’s Date”. You can listen to her describe it here. Essentially, an artist’s date is an hour or two, dedicated to feeding your creativity and doing something that nourishes your soul.

I like to think of it as a Soul Date.

soul
səʊl/
noun
1. the spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal, regarded as immortal
2. emotional or intellectual energy or intensity, especially as revealed in a work of art or an artistic performance.
date1
deɪt/
noun
2. social or romantic appointment or engagement.

I’m not particularly regular with my Soul Dates – they’re more impromptu than organised. I really need to make an effort to be more intentional about taking this time out. Playing with beauty, art and design gets my creativity going and makes me a happier person.

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” Maya Angelou

Over the long weekend, I had a soul date with with my friend Jeanette and my sister, Jessica and our kids. As we head into autumn, Cosmos flowers are making Jozi look particularly pretty and a public holiday seemed like the perfect opportunity for some beautiful photos of the flowers. And our girls do so love a photo shoot. Connor loved it too – he’s all about outrageously funny faces and photobombing!

Jeanette is a professional photographer  and Jess and I love to fiddle around with our cameras as a hobby. We had the best afternoon, traipsing through the veld, searching for good photo spots, and experimenting with the light and poses as the kids came up with ideas for shots. Of course, their ideas included tree climbing and some action gymnastic shots.  My nieces tried throwing little bouquets of Cosmos that they collected into the air, and trying to catch the moment as they fell to the ground. I didn’t get great shots, but it was fun trying to time the moment.

I love taking photos on my iPhone, and I am still learning to play with my new toy, a Canon EOS mirrorless camera. The pics I took with the Canon haven’t been downloaded yet (lazy me) but in the meantime, here are a couple of my iPhone pics.

I’d like my next Soul Date to be a First Thursday at the Keyes Art Mile. What will yours be?

 

Touching base with your team

How is it almost April?  This year seems to be flying by at a ridiculous pace and we are almost a quarter of the year down!

At the speed that we have become accustomed to working at, it is so very easy to get caught up in the urgency of the daily running of our businesses.

The important, but less urgent tasks sometimes fall by the wayside, with all our good intentions of dealing with them later. When they are looked at, it is in a rush and perhaps without the care and attention that they deserve.

One of the tasks that I am thinking of is internal communication, particularly written internal communication.

Keeping your team updated on developments, events, industry news and progress is essential!

The advantages of excellent internal communication

• Encourages trust and ends the rumour mill

• Maintains staff engagement and decreases staff turnover

• Boosts morale

• Builds company culture

• Ensures that your customer has the best possible experience with your brand, through your informed and well trained front-line staff

And most importantly:

It is key to achieving your organisation’s purpose!

Think for a moment about social media. We have become used to receiving a constant, bite size flow of information and feedback. Social media engages us and keeps us coming back for more. Similarly, your team want to know what is happening, why and how they are contributing. Your regular communication with them keeps them engaged and motivated.

But… regular, positive internal communication is tricky and time consuming.

How I can help?

Let me do the writing for you!

I have years of experience in working with various organisations, from the very small to the very large corporates. I have studied strategic business management, so I understand what goes into making a successful business tick! This experience, together with my flair for the written word and my natural ability to adapt to tone and audience means that I can easily and effectively help you communicate with your team.

How do we do this?

I can write your staff newsletters, informational displays, resource documents, event updates and even scripting of oral communication.

I can work with you on an ad hoc project basis, or on an hourly or per word rate, or we can do this on a contract basis, for a reasonable monthly fee.

Let me know what you want to your people to know, and let me figure out the rest!

Contact me now and we can set up a time to discuss your needs.

A writer must write, right?

My little blog has gone through quite a metamorphosis in the last few years. My earliest blogs were on Tumblr. Then I created a WordPress blog entitled “RunRoundGirl” where I chronicled my journey from couch potato to runner (amongst other things). After that, a brief spell of being “In Hil’s Head” and now finally, my blog is at home here on my official business website, www.hilarygreen.co.za.

Time out!

As is typical of a metamorphosis (or so I recall from biology) it might have appeared to be quiet from my side over the last few months. I certainly haven’t blogged in a while! But there have been loads of things happening behind the scenes.

I’ve been considering my career aspirations, crystallising some ideas, adding to my experience and working on my degree. I’ve also been dealing with some challenging family stuff. I’ve been writing a regular monthly column for a couple of community magazines. Oh, and I’ve been learning to ride a horse. More about that in another post!

Writing has always been one of my favourite things to do. I absolutely loved creative writing in high school. I remember one project that we had to do for English class – I think I was in Standard 6 or 7 at the time (that’s Grade 8 or 9 if you’re a millennial). We had to keep a journal for a week. My teacher insisted that I kept writing long after the project was over, and the marks were in. She believed that I wrote well and encouraged me to write as often as possible. On another occasion, we had to write a parody of a fairy tale. I wrote a long, extremely rude and funny poem about Cinderella. It was a huge hit and was published in the school magazine. From those early days in English class at school and sharing my teenage angst with Dear Diary to dreams of being a journalist – words have always featured strongly.

Side note regarding the journo thing: I could never make up my mind whether I wanted to do serious hard news (think Christiane Amanpour and the photojournalists of The Bang Bang Club) or work at a glossy magazine (I loved The Devil Wears Prada before it was even a movie!)

The journalist thing never happened and a career in insurance did. I’m not sure why it took me so long to connect all the dots to realise that maybe, just maybe, I could turn my love of word craft into a career. Now it’s time to put my words into action. I am officially launching my writing career.

Onward and upward

Thank you to all of my cheerleaders on this venture, you know who you are! If anyone needs a good great writer, you know who to call! And please share my Facebook page, my website and my blog posts. Sharing really is caring!

I might not be Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada (although I am sure she would play me in a movie about my life) but dreams do come true. You just have to make them.

2018 – My year of ME

New year’s resolutions are so 90’s, don’t you think? In this age of TED talks and enlightenment, we’re all about setting intentions – choosing a word for a year, a theme. It is so much gentler than swearing off chocolate, or swearing off swearing, for that matter. And more productive too.

This will be the third year in a row that I’ve chosen a word for the year. I can’t for the life of me remember my word for 2015. I had to go back and check my blog archives for 2016’s word.

This year is a bit different. This year, my word is ME. A reminder to put myself first in all aspects, so that I can be so much more to those around me. I don’t think I will have to go back into my blog archives to remember my word. Why? – I hear you ask

Late last year, I took some “MEtime” to attend Briony Liber’s “Career Women Moving Mountains” workshops. The information that Briony shared with us and the collective wisdom of the women attending the workshops with me was invaluable for my career growth. There is something so magical about a group of women getting together to share.

My highlight was the final session. We took a little time to explore some tough questions about our experiences in 2017 and our expectations for the year ahead. Then the fun began.

Sitting around a vast table covered in magazines, washi tape, coloured pens and glue and other beautiful creative tools, we began to create a vision for 2018.

Using ME as my inspiration, I searched for images that illustrated what putting ME first meant. Things like making time and space for myself for the things that make me happy, getting on top of my budget, looking after my health, celebrating all victories – big and small, and a reminder to remain hopeful and optimistic.

My vision board is now hanging inside my wardrobe, catching my eye as I search for something to wear each morning. It’s a daily reminder to focus on ME.

I am also trying to turn the intention into action by setting myself a little resolution for each day as suggested by Rich Mulholland here. In essence, instead of grand resolutions, he suggests that we set a few good intentions. Then we think about what actions we need to take to make those intentions a reality. And each day, set a little goals for something that you can do to realise the intention. And if you’re doing this 4 out of 7 days in a week, you’re winning.

Little goals, tiny steps and an awesome year. Cheers!

If you are keen for a 2018 on your terms, check out Briony’s website and her vision board workshops.

#GreensGoTroppo – all about our Mauritian adventure

If you’ve had any interaction with me at all, both in real life and online, you’ll know that I’ve just had the best vacation E.V.E.R! It’s all I spoke about for months beforehand and it’s all my sweet dreams are about now.

A couple of months ago, Belinda, based in Dubai, decided that the very best way to celebrate her milestone birthday was with her family on a tropical island. Cue a ton of excitement from all of us and a mad panic to renew passports and get kids’ unabridged birth certificates. That, in itself, is the subject of an entirely different blog post.

July seemed a very long way away back then, but time flew by and before we knew it, the big day had arrived and the Dubai Green and the Jozi Greens were jetting off from ORT to meet the Perth Greens in paradise.

Ready, steady, fly!
Slightly dishevelled!

We stayed in the most fabulous resort – Beachcomber Trou-Aux-Biches – worth every single star of its 5 star rating. The 13 Greens shared two villas, each beautifully furnished with ALL the creature comforts including a private pool, outdoor showers and more Nespresso than even my caffeine addicted body needed. The beds were incredible – Jon reckons he should have worn his fitness tracker to roll over and kiss Jess goodnight – they were big, like super king size! The whole hotel, from the villas to the restaurant restrooms, was scented with the most unbelievable fragrance. I found out later that it’s a Beachcomber fragrance called Royal Orchid.

Basically, our days were spent as follows:

  • Wake, Nespresso, dress in appropriate resort wear – ie bathing suit, shorts, sarong.
  • Buffet breakfast where you have no choice but to try ALL the food then swear you’re not eating until supper.
  • Beach/pool, read, roll over, repeat.
  • Decide you’re peckish and might head up to the restaurant for a bite of the buffet lunch. You have no option but to try ALL the food. Wonder if you’ll possibly be able to eat dinner?
  • Back to the beach/villa to read nap.
  • Sundowner drinks and the butler arrives with a plate of pre-dinner snacks. Amazingly, you’re able squeeze one or three of the spring rolls.
  • Dress for dinner and a golf cart to take us to one of the numerous hotel restaurants – Italian/Thai/Indian/Gourmet Seafood/Themed buffet)
  • Drinks and chatter after dinner at one of the villas and blissfully to bed.

The Greens did mix it up a bit by snorkeling, canoeing, pedal boating, stand up paddling, a glass bottom boat trip and a trip into Grand Baie and a few walks to the Trou-aux-Biches village for some retail therapy. We could find pretty much anything we may have needed at Chez Popo supermarket.

That’s not me…

So snorkeling. Can’t say that was my favourite thing ever. I am a massive scaredy-cat when it comes to swimming, especially sea swimming. So the first time we went out on the snorkel boat, I decided I wasn’t even going to try. Then FOMO struck as I watched everyone bobbing about, so I borrowed a pair of flippers and tried to climb off the boat. Panic and nerves set in and I just couldn’t do it. The next time we all went snorkeling, I decided to try again, this time with the safety of a life jacket. I actually got off the boat that time. But I was too busy popping my head out the water to find Nemo. I had to make sure the boat hadn’t sailed away without me! I am quite comfortable to now admit that snorkeling is not for me. I am quite happy to marvel over the wonders of the ocean floor from a safety of a glass bottom boat.

We decided to celebrate Belinda’s big birthday on Friday night and we were treated to a barbecue in our villa, cooked by one of the chefs and served by our amazing butlers. The hotel staff made the most incredible effort and it was a special night. We spoiled Belinda with some bling in a teal box and a photo book of memories. I think the photo book that we created for her was a hit! 

Wasn’t the table setting just gorgeous?

On Saturday we had to say a sad goodbye to the Aussie Greens, so we had to take a traditional family selfie before they left.

After that, we were all very subdued. Cocktails were necessary…

And on Sunday – it was all over. My only regrets – that the hotel shop had sold out of the Royal Orchid fragrance diffusers – the little memento I was planning to buy myself to evoke memories of my week in the tropics. Oh and that I didn’t get to meet our celebrity neighbours.

Yes – I almost forgot to tell you – we had celebrity neighbours, just a few villas away! Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway are staying at the resort to film a movie. Sadly, I only got to spot the back of Anne – but other family members got really good sightings and Jess even made eye contact with Ms Hathaway. I did consider doing some real stalking, but that would be a bit uncool, you know?

A resort holiday is absolutely indulgent from the minute you set foot on the resort, but everyone agreed that by far the biggest treat of all was spending a full week together as a family. The cousins bonded, as did the mom, siblings and siblings-in-law, and we all treasured the quality time together.

I am also so grateful for the opportunity for my kids to experience an overseas trip. Travelling broadens your horizons in so many ways. I am pretty sure an overseas gap year is definitely on Ewan’s to do list now! He’s even talking about wanting to be an exchange student.  And I have a travel bucket list as long as my arm, so it’s time to start doing some planning and budgeting!.

P.S. I wanted to call this post How the Greens got marooned – you know… marooned on an island and a play on the colours – geddit? Instead I chose #GreensGoTroppo – that was our chosen holiday hashtag for all pics we shared on social media. “Troppo” is a nod to the tropical island experience and Aussie slang for going nuts. And since we shared the week with the Aussie Greens, it seemed appropriate!

Ta-daaa

I’ve hinted a couple of times about a big and exciting change happening in my little corner of the blogging world.

Finally, after much deliberation and procrastination, I have taken my blog to the next level. From a .wordpress.com site to my very own domain. And here you are… www.inhilshead.co.za!

I am so, so happy be able to share this space with you! A lot of time and love has gone into creating a space that’s all mine, from the design to the written content.

So what’s going to be happening InHil’sHead in the coming months? I guess the best way to describe this space is as a lifestyle blog… about my life as a busy, working mom, trying to live my best life. From my food and life hacks, to parenting, my efforts at fitness, the books I read, the places I go and the thinks I think. And everything in-between. I even have my first giveaway lined up – super exciting and I can’t wait to share it! I’ll be sharing my monthly column with you too – a light-hearted look at parenting tweens and teens. I have so much news to share about what I’ve been up to recently – expect loads of tropical island pics!

Oh – and my old posts are all here too, so you’re welcome to take a look through those while you’re here!

Click subscribe below so that we can stay in touch! You can also follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. And please, please let me know what you think in the comments below!

Loads of love,

Hil xxx

The Hanging Gardens of Walkerville

I haven’t been in the most chipper of moods lately. To be honest, I’ve been feeling quite cynical and disillusioned. But the cloud is lifting – it always does – and there have been been a few rays of sunshine this week. The biggest was a little bit of CSI work I got involved with, through the company I work for.

We have this campaign on the go at the moment about “sustainable growth” and how we are all about building better futures and making positive change. There’s been much publicity internally and externally about the various CSI initiatives we are involved in.

The growth thing began with a tiny little box placed on each of our desks with a plant kit inside. After staring at it for a few days, I finally delegated the planting of the seeds to Claire. We were overjoyed when our little Swiss Chard finally sprouted a teensy Swiss Chardling! Now if only I could remember to water the damn thing!

Plants are so not my thing… I could probably find a way to kill a plastic plant if I tried!

Last week we were invited to watch Bongani Bingwa, of Carte Blanche fame, interview one of our CSI partners. We were also invited to participate in a mystery CSI project during the course of this week. I, being the corporate good sport I am, stuck my hand in the air for the mystery project.

The person that Bongani interviewed was an amazingly inspirational woman named Nonhlanhla Joye and her story is just incredible. And while what she does is seriously clever, it involves gardening. Did I mention that gardening is not my thing?

So guess what the mystery project was?  Gardening, obvs! We were building Mama Joye’s raised food gardens in various underprivileged areas around Jozi.

Yay… I guess.

So off I went to Walkerville with a bunch of colleagues who I barely knew, brimming with fake enthusiasm and trying to ignore the fact that I’m now too fat for my purple volunteer t-shirt ignore the sniffly cold I’d developed overnight.

Well nothing like a bit of charity work put things in perspective, right? Right!

The garden-making was pretty cool. The concept really is very clever:

All we really had to do was hang recycled, soil filled bags on the wooden frames and then plant seedlings in each. I hardly even got a dirty hand.

We finished by giving each newly planted seedling a drink of water to bed it down properly. For that part, we had assistance from some little kids from a local care centre. These kids have very recently tragically lost a fellow learner in a road accident and they are going through a very sad time. The sadness was almost palpable.

But whilst they were sad, they were also incredibly sweet and earnest and enthusiastic and they were the highlight of my day! For a while I forgot all my un-chipper nonsense.

We showed them what to do and each child dutifully filled their beakers with water and took turns at watering each bag. Ok, so some seedlings got more water than others – but all is fair in love and gardening. One of the guys who was busy building the frames assured me that once they make the holes in the bags for drainage, the lettuce would be just fine.

I really needed this afternoon of simple innocence to gain some perspective. And I’m almost convinced that I could manage an Umgibe veggie garden in my backyard… almost.

Check out Mama Joye’s website here.

And speaking of websites… I have exciting news about my blog changes. I’m one step closer to the big reveal. Watch this space 😉

My Top 5 TED talks

I don’t know if this makes me super-geeky, but one of my favourite ways to pass the time, especially when I’m looking for a bit of a pick-me-up-slash-kick-my-ass-into-gear, is to head into the black hole that is YouTube and watch a TED talk or four. 

They also make for pretty cool podcasts to listen to while driving. The nice people who curate the podcasts on my iPhone have made sure that the podcasts are suitable for audio only and you don’t need the visuals to enjoy them.

Going to a TED conference is on my ever-growing bucket list, so I was very keen to hear Carel Nolte of CN & Co give some feedback on his recent trip to the main TED event in Vancouver. 

I was amazed that Carel was the only South African in attendance at the event this year! Unless you count Elon Musk who was one of the main speakers.

I was also intrigued by the idea of TEDx events – which are independent TED-like events held all year round, all over the world, provided you have a license to host such an event. I’ve always thought that a TEDx event would make for the most awesome corporate conference! 

I have a couple of TED favourites and I thought I’d share them with you: 

  1. Liz Gilbert’s talk on creative genius. 
  2. Brené Brown on the power of vulnerability.
  3. Amanda Palmer’s Art of Asking – I’ve also blogged about her audio book
  4. Sarah Kay’s amazing poem. Oh man – Sarah Kay is just the most amazing poet – I could listen to her forever!
  5. Shonda Rhimes on saying Yes!

If you haven’t discovered TED yet… then where have you been? 

And if you have… please share your favourites, I’d love to hear about them!