• Life Lessons

    Let the unfamiliar become the familiar…

    Words & Pics by Mandy Antzoylatos

    Hi lovely people,

    Welcome to my first newsletter for 2021!  It’s way overdue, but I’m so excited to finally share it with you.

     I’ve been wanting to write, for a while now, about some of the organisational work I do, how I work, and some of the methodologies and tools that I work with.

    One of the premises of my work is the understanding that our personal and professional lives are inter-linked, and often the patterns of behaviour in my coaching client’s professional lives play out in their personal lives too.

    We are not truly able to separate these parts of ourselves into two divided sections, and I think for years society has wanted us to.

    If anything, lockdown has shown us that it’s not really possible to sustain the ‘great divide’, and more than ever, we are seeing leaders within organisations and corporate’s recognizing this.

    I feel that when we leave a part of ourselves behind, there is a high possibility that the organisation is losing out on a part of the richness of our life and experiences.

    So, over the next few newsletters and blogs I want to explore this a bit more, and the different lessons we learn between our personal and professional lives. This one may be a little longer than usual, but hopefully worth the time xx

    What I’m going to look at today, I suppose is front of mind, with children having just returned to school, and many of us heading back into offices again as lockdown eases. 

    The topic was highlighted by a friend of mine when she posted on her Facebook page with a plea for her child’s name to be pronounced correctly.  In fact, she had even developed a little card to help her child’s new teachers pronounce her name correctly and understand the meaning.

    She did this because in the lead up to school starting, her child had been expressing anxiety about what the teachers may do to her name.  In the past, she had experiences of her name being mispronounced in ways that changed its meaning.  This young child was also asked by her teachers and peers if a different or shortened name could be used, and in general, experienced struggles with the mis-using her name.

    I am deeply struck by this and in all the years I have been practicing as a DE&I (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) practitioner, the issue of names as a sign of respect has been the very first step in our workshops.  I have been doing these sessions for nearly 20 years now, and it is still needed.  I am saddened and struck by this, as it is not only an issue in schools, but very much so in the workplace too.

    An article written by Tinyiko (pronounced Ta-nee-ko) which highlights this exact issue as one of the reasons for her choosing to move cities.

    In reality, we have many different languages in our world, but somehow, there seems to be more priority regarding the pronunciation of some vs others. In the South African context, we are often able to pronounce European or foreign names like Schwarzenegger, but do not always make the effort with names from our local indigenous languages.

    What we are speaking about here is hundreds of years of oppression where groups of people, predominantly people of colour, were given a “Christian” or easy-to-pronounce name.   This would often happen on the first day of school or in order to access economic opportunities like jobs.

    A perfect example of where a dominant culture had the ability to change people’s names for their convenience is:

    • Rolihlahla Mandela was given the name Nelson Mandela which was the custom at the time where all school children were given “Christian” names.
    Rolihlahla Mandela 
    Also known as Madiba which means Father in isiXhosa…a term of endearment used by millions of South Africans for this remarkable man.
    Photo credit:  Mail & Guardian

    So, if this resonates with you, or even has you feeling a little uncomfortable (perhaps there is a gift for you on the other side of that discomfort 😉), here are some tips that might help us all on this journey of greeting each other with respect:

    • When you first meet a person whose name is unfamiliar to you, write the person’s name down, making sure you are spelling it correctly. Ask if need be.

    •  Next, write their name in a way that you would say it… sound it out phonetically. If I’m going to be seeing the person a lot, I may even write it on my hand so I can glance at it easily, or on the top of a page I have in front of me. For example, my friend’s son’s name is Yasien which I would automatically pronounce Ya-seeen, but actually is pronounced Yaa-sien;

    •  Sometimes, a person’s name is not necessarily difficult to say, but unfamiliar, and so we avoid using it. In South Africa we are privileged to live in a very diverse society and even globally we have access to so much information.  So apart from practicing different names, I invite you to widen your circle of reading, listening and your social circles.

    •  Remember, in many cultures and languages, the same looking name may be pronounced differently.

    •  Language and pronunciation can change the meaning of a person’s name.  For example, the Xhosa name Nosipho (pronounced Noh-see-poh) means gift, but if pronounced with the English ‘f’ sound for ‘ph’, it would be said Nosifo which means poison.

    So, my plea to us as adults, first of all, is to consciously make an effort when using a person’s preferred name, and then secondly, pronounce it correctly.  When we ourselves are doing it, and our children witness this, they themselves will make the same effort and the positive shifts will start to happen.

    There is something quite precious when we do the ‘unexpected’ and connect with a person with respect. Even if it is a stretch outside of our comfort zone, it is profoundly powerful, and one day, I hope it becomes ‘the norm’ (whatever normal is).

    Names are such a core part of our identity, in both our personal and professional lives. You may literally see a person’s eyes light up when they hear their preferred name pronounced correctly and with respect.

    I invite you to start today.

    Let the unfamiliar become familiar…

    Wishing you a wonderfully connecting day, week, month and year.


    P.S. I would so love to hear from you, perhaps about your own experiences with your name, or how it goes with the tips we’ve offered above. 😊

    P.P.S.  If you’d like to have some individual or group coaching around this topic or any other diversity related matters, please give me a call or email me.

  • Life Lessons

    Fertilizer For Growth…

    Words & Pics by Mandy Antzoylatos

     I was chatting to a client recently about the parts of her job that she’s not loving, and I shared an insight with her that I’d heard from another client which I think is brilliant. 

    She said, “Sometimes the sh*&#ty parts of our jobs are the fertilizer for growth and the good to come…”.   So True!

    If you think about that statement, it really is about our own mindsets.  How we view the situation. How we choose to be present with it and what we choose to do.

    So, it had me thinking about some of the ‘fertilizer’ from this year.
    What might we want to release, and what may grow from it if we see it as fertilizer rather than sh%t… 😉

    Perhaps some questions to ponder on are:

    Where have you felt frustrated or stuck recently? Or what parts of your life are you needing to do but not loving?
    How has this stretched you to do something different and to make a change with regards to that situation?

    How could you use the ‘fertilizer’ from that frustration to nurture new growth?

    If you continued to fertilize and nurture, what might start blooming?

    For example, I have a client who loved her work but was really triggered by her manager.  Our first session was about the work messages she used to receive on a Sunday afternoon which just paralyzed her!

    The ‘paralysis’ made it so clear to her that she didn’t want to work for someone, and actually wanted to have her own business.

    That clarity helped her stay in the job (we did a LOT of work on clearing her resentment and irritations with the ‘boss’ so she could function on a daily basis) while she saved furiously.  At the same time, she learnt as much as she could about running a business.

    Fast forward a couple of years, and she and her husband now run a successful food business, and even opened a new shop during lockdown!!!

    She sat with the sh*#t for a while, knowing it would fertilize her dreams 🙂

    I’d love to hear what you’re planning on fertilizing and nurturing as we head into the New Year.

    Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season and please stay safe…

    Warm wishes,

    P.S.  Thank you to those of you who have had, or booked the Mini-Retreat Reflection Sessions…
    Such interesting and meaningful reflections so far!


    If you’re wanting to invest in a friend or colleague’s well-being, perhaps some personal time with a life coach may help. 

    If you think they may connect with me and my coaching style, feel free to purchase them a gift voucher for a session or two. xxx


    We’re celebrating another successful online vision boarding session, with messages coming in the day after saying, “I met my artist friend last night and she’s facilitating a 6 week online art course starting January…so I signed up! ”  and then she said, ” Oh…..and I’ve booked in a new client!”.

    For groups of 6 – 10 people: R595 each
    Less than 6 people: R695 each Whoop whoop… let’s create more magic together 😉


    The honour of witnessing a mountain rescue in January 2020. P.S.  Just in case you didn’t know, Mr. J is CRAZY about helicopters!!1
    Our last day on the beach before lockdown in March 2020…
    The creativity of ‘early’ homeschooling…when it was still fun 🙂
    My view never got boring…every day the sunrise and sunset had a different story to tell.
    Suddenly we were allowed three hours of ‘outdoor’ time in the mornings.  I have never appreciated my ‘freedom’ as much as I did that first day!

    Mr. J has mastered the creating of the most magnificent cappuccinos.  What a treat for this to be delivered to me while I’m in an online meeting (many envious colleagues looking forward to one when they next visit 😉
    After so many months of being inside my apartment, I had a new found appreciation of the natural beauty we have in Cape Town as well as South Africa.  
    This is an early morning panoramic of the Camps Bay beach…one of my happy places!
    Community became a super-strength during the lockdown.  My neighbours have been an extraordinary support to us.  Thank you, thank you, thank you…you’re all magnificent!
    Blue sky, beach and bubbles!  A beautiful moment and special friendships to treasure.

    I want to say a BIG thank you for your support and connection this year. 
    For those who have holidays, I wish you “Happy Holidays” and all the best for the New Year!

  • Life Lessons,  Reflection

    Focusing Forward…

    A few years ago my son was taking part in a pre-primary school sports day. There was great excitement!
    When it was time for his race, I was cheering him on like the wild Greek mama I am (NOT quiet 😉!). He was doing so well, until he turned to look back to see where his friends were, and needless to say, he lost focus and slowed down.

    This incident came to me as I sat down to write to you all for this newsletter. I had serious writer’s block, and I realized I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting back on this year and our Covid-19 experience.

    There have been many lessons and insights… but to get myself to the finish line of the year, I need to focus forward too!

    So, here are some self-coaching tips I used on myself to re-focus forward, and perhaps they might be of use to you too 😊….it’s a short ‘run’ till the end of the year:

    Be selective
    Look at all that’s on your list and decide what you can let go of for now. Select one project that really excites you and gives you energy as you think about it (even gentle energy).  Consider what you can say, “No” to and what you want to say, “Yes” to.

    Hyper-focus, for small chunks of time
    Block time in your diary, clear space in your home, close tabs on your computer and give yourself space to hyper-focus on your top priority. Put your phone out of sight and gift yourself the gift of 100% presence and focus.

    Connect with your “WHY”
    Consider why this is important to you, and not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind.   Ask yourself why it’s important to you, at least 3 times with a deeper answer each time.   This will connect  you with the deeper purpose that inspired you to take a step in this direction in the first place. 

    When you sit down to work on it, reconnect with that deep purpose and it will feel less of a ‘chore’. 

    Pause and appreciate your completion of the small steps along the way.  Acknowledge yourself, and make sure to celebrate what you have achieved as you get to the finishing line.

     *If you want a celebration partner I’m always open to a glass of bubbles.  

    I’d love to hear what you’re choosing to focus on as we head to the finishing line of 2020.

    Oh, and by the way, the nugget of the school race was the winner turning around and running back to the start line again because he was having such fun!  And all the other kids followed! It caused complete chaos for the teachers but was a delight to watch 😊! 

    What a blast!

    I hope you get to make time to explore what inspires you to run back to the beginning and start all over again too.

    Wishing you all a wonderful week…

    Warm wishes,


    Photography is a true passion of mine….capturing sunrises, sunsets, the beauty that Cape Town serves on an exquisite platter on a daily basis, and of course the special people in my life.

    What are some of your passions?

    I’d love to hear, and who knows, we may even talk about it in one of our future newsletters…


    Just in case you didn’t see my last newsletter I’ve reposted a wonderful experience I had with a friend and colleague from Ireland, James Sweetman.

    One of my previous newsletters titled ‘Gifts in the Discomfort’  and  ‘Resilience & Growth’ (which describes my journey to creating the Career Crossroads course) caught James’s eye and he invited me to be interviewed for his podcast ‘Your Time’ with James Sweetman.

    James is not only a internationally recognized motivational & keynote speaker, but also a fellow trainer, writer, coach and lover of nature!  

    I had the BEST time!!! It was so exciting and a little nerve wracking, but a healthy stretch out of my comfort zone.

    We laughed, got serious and both shared some insights, tips and wisdom.

    If you enjoy podcasts, click on the button below to listen to the full interview.


    Invite friends, family or colleagues to do an online Vision Boarding session….such fun with amazing results!

    • Time requirement:  4 hours
    • Online with Mandy facilitating
    • Fee per person:  R550

    Copyright 2020 / All photographs are the exclusive property of Mandy Antzoylatos

  • Spring Inspiration...
    Life Lessons,  Reflection

    Seeds we have sown…

    Words & Pics by Mandy Antzoylatos

    I feel as if I’m coming out of hibernation…
    Spring has sprung here in the Southern Hemisphere, and me and my precious family are making the most of being surrounded by mountains, sea and nature here in Cape Town.
    It has been a real indoor winter, with staying in our bubble to stay safe from the COVID-19 virus.  So, now that shutdown is lifting slightly, we are making the most of being outdoors.

    Seeing the beautiful flowers blooming, veggies flourishing, and my houseplants thriving (having had plenty of TLC with all the hours we’ve been at home) got me thinking about what lifestyle seeds have been planted in our life over the last few months of staying-home-safe.

    Yes, this may be literal planting and harvesting if you have a garden, but there may be other ‘seeds’ you’ve planted that are now bearing fruit, whether you realised it or not…

    We don’t see every flower opening or green shoot growing, but suddenly there is a plant there.  So, a few questions to ponder might be:

    • What seeds have been sown in your life over the last few months?
    • What are you harvesting now?
    • What has been pruned or trimmed in order to enhance your life?

    Personally, as I look back over the last few months, I realise there have been a few seeds I’ve sown which are now seedlings or are starting to bear fruit.

    Being me, they cover personal, professional, parenting and coaching insights, all of which are integrated in different areas of my life:

    • Tackling small corners of my home that I’ve wanted to attend to for ages.  This has led to a greater appreciation of my space and has inspired me to continue enhancing our home.
    • Introducing small meditation practices throughout our day from early on in lockdown, and then finding my son meditating on his own on the balcony recently.
    • Regularly reminding my son about the importance of being a team in ‘housekeeping’ from the beginning of lockdown.  That process has him now playing his part in the running of the home as if it’s second nature.  Well, most of the time anyway ;). 
    • An investment in our emotional and mental well-being early on in lockdown which resulted in us getting through it pretty well.  Part of that was taking a pause from work for the first few weeks.  A risk, but worthwhile.
    • Shifting and tidying a bookshelf had me finding old favourites that I have been re-reading, and reminding myself of the wisdom they add to my coaching and facilitation practice.
    • Having more time for morning and evening chats (without the pressure of the school run) has made them such a part of our lives. Even now we’re back into the school run, they’re still a big part of our time together.
    • And then yes, taking cuttings from the garden, rooting them, and now having more plants around the home than we did before 🙂
    When climbing the steps towards the lighthouse at Cape Point, I was struck by this plant growing up the stairs…. Who knows how long ago, the first shoot grew onto the steps, or how long it has taken to get this far, but it will keep on going. Just like you (and me!).

    I’ll end off by gently reminding us all to:

    • keep planting your seeds,
    • nuture your seeds, yourself and those around you, and 
    • doing the small things that take you on the path you want to follow, with purpose.

    The benefits are sometimes unseen at first, but will come!

     I’d love to hear what’s growing and hopefully
    thriving for you at the moment?

    Or, if you’re hunkering down for winter, what are you taking from summer and spring to get you through?

    Wishing you all a wonderful weekend…

    Warm wishes,


    My previous newsletters titled ‘Gifts in the Discomfort’  and  ‘Resilience & Growth’ (which describes my journey to creating the Career Crossroads course) caught the eye of a friend and colleague from Ireland, James Sweetman.

    James is not only an internationally recognized motivational & keynote speaker, but also a fellow trainer, writer, coach and lover of nature!  

    James invited me to be interviewed for his podcast ‘Your Time’ with James Sweetman…..so exciting and a little nerve wracking, but a healthy stretch out of my comfort zone.

    I had the BEST time!!! 

    We laughed, got serious and both shared some insights, tips and wisdom.

    If you enjoy podcasts, click on the button below to listen to the full interview.


    Here’s to more podcasts on the horizon! 


    Invite friends, family or colleagues to do an online Vision Boarding session….such fun with amazing results!

    • Time requirement:  4 hours
    • Online with Mandy facilitating
    • Fee per person:  R550


    A big WELCOME to all the new subscribers to my newsletter!

    AND a huge THANK YOU to all my regular newsletter receivers…you are my inspiration!


  • Lessons from Life
    Life Lessons

    Are you cutting off your nose to spite your face?

    Words & Pics by Mandy Antzoylatos

    “Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face!”

    Oh my gosh! These are words that ring in my ears from my childhood…my Gran said them to me so often!

    And yep, I find myself saying the same to my son 😉.  You know that feeling when suddenly we find ourselves ‘being and sounding like’ our parents?

    My moment was when we were at a Freshly Ground concert at Kirstenbosch Gardens, and they were playing Mr J’s all-time favourite song ‘Doo Be Doo’, but because I had said something he didn’t like, he spent the whole song curled up in a ball at my feet!

    We were literally 3 rows from the front, almost able to touch the gorgeous Zolani Mahola, but he missed out on seeing her sing his favourite song …right there… on the stage… in front of him!

    Ok, luckily, at the end of the concert, Mr.J got to meet and greet the incredible Zolani.

    I didn’t really understand this saying when I was a child, but when it ‘clicked’ and I understood what it meant, it made so much sense…

    These days, if we see someone doing something that makes a situation worse just so they can hold onto their self-righteousness, we might feel frustrated for them, label it as ‘self-sabotage’, or have a good laugh at their expense.  But how often might we be doing it to ourselves? Particularly in our very polarized political climate that we are experiencing right now.

    Yep, it got me pondering… where might I still be doing this in my life? Where might I have blindspots without having my gran to point them out to me?

    How about you?

    Are there areas of your life where you get upset about things and react to them with high emotion at a cost to you, or ‘cutting your nose off to spite your face?’

    So, if you’d like to ponder further with me, here are some thoughts…

    • Where are you insisting on being right at the cost of an important relationship? For example, not apologizing to your significant other, best friend or colleague, or not hugging your angry teenager?
    • Where are you not following up with a potential client because you are too proud?
    • What biases are you holding onto because it’s too uncomfortable to acknowledge you might be biased at times (or racist or sexist, whether unconscious or not)?
    • What situations are you staying in, even though you know it’s not right for you anymore, but you’re being stubborn about ‘showing them’ you can do it! It might be at work, in a relationship, your sports club, studies or even a place of worship?
    • Where might you ‘collude’ with others laughing at sexist or racists jokes in order to ‘fit in’ but actually it feels ‘off’ in your belly, and costs you your integrity?

    These are just some ways in which we might ‘cut off our nose to spite our face’…

    Can you think of any others?

    I’d love to hear from you because I may be doing it too, and I’m always open to feedback on my blindspots.

    I hope you get to uncover some insights, connect more to yourself and to other important and precious people around you.

    Thank you for listening 😊. This is lifelong work xx

    Warm regards

    PS: Stay home if you can, and please stay safe.

    P.P.S:  If you’re keen to work with me here’s some of what’s on offer:

    • Professional online coaching – both individually, or in groups,
    • Inclusion and unconscious bias facilitation and coaching,
    • The Career Crossroads workshop is now offered online, and can be adapted for the workplace, particularly where retrenchments are taking place or are imminent,
    • Lockdown support to individuals, work or sports teams.

  • Resilence & Growth
    Life Lessons

    Resilience & Growth


    Words & Pics by Mandy Antzoylatos

    A week before my son was discharged from his three and a half month stay in NICU (Neonatal ICU) my job was made redundant, and I was retrenched…hmmm, not great timing!!!

    Friends and family were upset! Me? I was grateful my son was alive and compared to that, not having a job didn’t seem such a big deal.

    Then I got home (he was still safely in the care of the amazing nursing staff at the hospital) and I thought, “Ok, where to from here?” There was no way I wanted to go job hunting, so I was going to give consulting my best shot! 

    Owning my worth:
    I pulled out a notebook I had been saving for a special day, opened up the middle double page section and started mind mapping.  What skills and experience did I have to offer that could help me generate income to stay at home with my precious boy?

    I considered the different areas of facilitation I had skills in, the type of coaching I was offering to private and business clients and the courses I was licensed to run. Plus, I included all the different jobs I had held throughout my life.
    Then I brought my life experiences into the mix and for example, I created a special coaching package for parents with babies in NICU, having gone through that process so recently myself (with some serious self-coaching!)
    And so, I developed what later became one of the tools I used in supporting clients who wanted more from their career path.

    This sketch was my moment of inspiration in 2014 when I was in a work contract which I felt was stifling me and wanted to expand my business…

    Since then I have spoken to many other people, in both my professional and personal life, who were reaching a crossroad in their career too and not sure where to go next. They wanted to make a change and when I got excited for them and said, “Yay, what are you wanting to do?”, I would often see blank eyes looking back.  Their response would be along the lines of, “Well, I studied … ” or “I’ve been working in ‘…’ sector, so that’s what I know”.  But there was no excitement or sense of possibility.

    Being able to work with them and create a sense of purpose, passion and possibility was thrilling.  As I coached some to open up to ALL they had to offer, the light came back into their eyes, new ideas and opportunities popped up, and suddenly there was a clear and conscious path to what they wanted for their life NOW (not what they had decided as a young adult).

    The transformation was powerful.

    And then, when a few came together in a group and the magic really sparked… it was deliciously delightful to see!

    And BAM! The Career Crossroads Course was born.

    It has been running since 2016, and now, Whoop Whoop I’m so excited to be launching the Career Crossroads course ONLINE!!!

    It is a fascinating and deeply rewarding process to have a look at how much more we have to offer than the jobs we have had or what we studied in the past. Beyond this, the workshop unpacks multiple layers to support people in making conscious career choices and opening up possibilities.

     I would love for you to own your worth fully and live up to your full potential! 

    What might you want to acknowledge about yourself today?

    And when facing tough times, what strengths and experience can you draw on to become more resilient?

    Sending warm wishes to stay safe, take care of yourself and others, and be kind…


    PS: The online Career Crossroads course will be starting up in July, with both the Career Crossroads Foundation course, as well as the Career Crossroads PLUS option. The Career Crossroads PLUS course includes the benefit of ongoing coaching for 3 months. See below for more details.

    PPS: We’ve also run two online Vision Boarding sessions… see some of the pics below. They were great fun and truly inspirational!!


    Workshop options available:

    Option 1:  Career Crossroads FOUNDATION course includes:

    • 3 x Live group calls with Mandy Antzoylatos.
    • 1 x 30 minute personal coaching call during the period of the training.
    • Course content and workbooks
    • You will leave with a set of practical tools you can use again for yourself in the future.

    Option 2: Career Crossroads PLUS offers all that is above in the Foundation course, as well as an extended 3 months of support in a group and individual format, to:

    1. Address obstacles preventing you from identifying and seizing opportunities crossing your path,
    2. Create mindset shifts where needed,
    3. Be taught new skills and tools to support you as you create changes in your career path, and
    4. Inspire and support each other.

    In the 3 months following the Career Crossroads Foundation course, you will receive:

    • 2 x One-on-one 60 minute online coaching sessions with Mandy,
    • Email and WhatsApp support,
    • Sharing of opportunities and inspiration,
    • 3 x Live group calls.

    Career Crossroads PLUS aims to make sure you are well on your way to consciously creating the career outcomes you identified in the Foundation course.

    Feedback from previous participants:

    Please note:  Group rates are available for organisations that would like to offer support for staff who are being retrenched due to COVID-19.

    Are you interested?  Click on the button below to find out more information.


    Online Vision Board Workshops

    The first Freedom44 online vision board session was held in mid May, swiftly followed by a second one in early June… my first all male vision board group!   

    Both sessions were rich and enlightening with beautiful, powerful vision boards being created by all attendees.  They appreciated the break from ‘lockdown’ routine and being able to tap into their creativity.

    The process worked well online with feedback from some that they are already experiencing shifts and creating results. 

    If you’re interested to get a group of friends, family or colleagues together click on the button below to find out more.


    Read the latest Freedom 44 blog…..

  • Life Lessons

    How Life Has Prepared Us For Today…

    I had a crash course in infection control when my baby was in Neonatal ICU (more commonly known as NICU):

    • There was no entry to the ward without full blown hand washing (at least 20 seconds and preferably up to your elbows),
    • We practiced social distancing before it had a name, as in “don’t go near ANY babies other than your own”,
    • D-Germ hand disinfectant was our friend.  We sprayed it on our hands regularly and definitely before touching our preemie babies,
    • If we were feeling even slightly ill, we didn’t think twice about wearing a surgical mask,
    • We got used to disinfecting everything, especially vessels for food (okay, breast milk 😉), 
    • And we relied heavily on our front-line workers… Those amazing, essential teams who work on the NICU ward. The nurses were like second mothers.  The infection control staff who are often unseen, but are actually the heroes in protecting our little ones, and the doctors who related to me with such respect.  In my book they rule the world!

    And then 3 and half months later we came home…

    • We quarantined!
    • No one was allowed through our front door unless they were in 100% good health (along with everyone else in their home),
    • Strict protocols were in place… instructions to visitors as they walk through the door were to not touch anything until their hands have been washed for 20 seconds and then sprayed with hand disinfectant.
    • Some people stayed away.  There were some friends who we didn’t see for many months and I am so grateful they didn’t take it personally xx

    So, it’s all feeling very familiar right now…

    I gained so many lessons during our time in NICU (there’s a book in there somewhere!) but I have a sense that for many of us who lived this journey, we were a little more prepared for what everyone is going through now… staying safe during the Corona Virus Pandemic.

    I am vigilant about maintaining our ‘bubble’, and some might think I’m paranoid, but having held my child while on a ventilator before, I will do everything in my power to prevent him from being hospitalised – especially without me alongside to comfort him.

    So a gentle reminder that no matter how we are responding to being at home, it’s okay. We are all doing the best we can, for now. Before we judge another person, perhaps remember we never know their full story.

    What has happened in your life to prepare you for today?

    I would love to hear… 😊

    Best wishes

    P.S: Please stay safe. Take care of yourselves and those within your circle of influence… taking care of each other is critical right now xx
    PPS: In case you’re wondering, we’re doing okay in our bubble 😊

  • Life Lessons

    Connection through Separation…

    Connection looks different right now!

    I’ve been wanting to post this blog for weeks now, but it keeps growing because I’m so struck by the innovative ways people are connecting!

    So, putting into practice my workshop principle of “Done is Better than Perfect”, I’ve decided to say less and share more…

    While we may be physically separated during lockdown, connection is certainly still happening…

    • I’m hearing stories of old school friends connecting weekly on a Zoom call after not having been together since 2011.
    • A friend was saying today that all the neighbours in her apartment block are now chatting, though they hardly knew each other before. Plus, she does daily gym sessions on her balcony with a personal trainer one floor up from her.
    • Another friend is offering online Italian cooking demonstrations, and when I joined the session, I connected with mutual friends I haven’t seen in years.
    • I’ve also had an online dance party with some other wonderful women.
    • I’ve had many more connecting telephone calls (even old-school land line calls!).
    • Virtual coffee and bubbly dates with friends.
    • Drive-by chats.  A friend drove past after she filled up with petrol around the corner from us and drove past our gate for a quick hello wave😊.
    • Family zoom calls, with an extra special one to toast my sister for her birthday.
    • And when I didn’t get to arrange a delivery gift in time for her, I created an ‘e-book’ of our special memories, including pictures, a soundtrack and even some favourite recipes. (Hmmm… I think she has enjoyed this more than many of the other gifts over the last couple of years)
    • And special virtual hugs! (There’s an art to it, by the way 😉)

    On a professional level, connection has been really interesting, challenging and wonderful (sometimes all at once!).

    Although I’ve been using Zoom, Skype and WhatsApp Video for coaching for a while, it’s interesting to see how ‘normal’ it is becoming with colleagues and clients.

    • I have had a couple of calls with a Johannesburg based team who usually meet in person, but because I’m based in Cape Town, if I join them I’m often the only one on Zoom. This time we were all on Zoom and I felt so much more included and part of the conversation.
    • I had a call with a London based client and associates from across the globe, and the MD (who we don’t get to see every day).  It was a great way to catch us all up on the moves they are making to offer their programmes online, to share some humour, and we all agreed that connections like this are going to be continued beyond lock down.
    • There has been an upsurge of online coaching with new and existing clients,
    • and numerous online meetings with existing clients who are used to meeting with me face to face.

    Another real gift is the wide variety of free classes available online like Henley Business School www.henleysa.ac.za/sme-series/ offering support for small and medium businesses during this time, AND they’re including a forum for participants to continue networking beyond the classes. Another great way of connecting, and learning!

    And while it’s definitely not the same over a screen, we have been finding ways of connecting differently.

    • One of the teams I consult to is going through some structural changes, and they are working full steam ahead through lockdown as their clients are in the food and beverage industry.  As a way of connecting (while social distancing), I circulated an email to the team where they each took a moment to acknowledge each of their team mates anonymously.  I then collated a slide for each person which I sent to them privately and the response was profound!  “Wow, I didn’t realise people saw that in me” was one of the responses. “So important right now” was another.
    • Another client, whose team is in the frontline of feeding and distributing food parcels, and who just doesn’t have time for long calls of connection and support, I sent them a short video expressing my gratitude and ongoing support.
    • A short video of encouragement to the Grade 12’s I’ve been working with for the past three years, and many voice notes and calls to ‘my’ soccer guys 😊.
    • Another video was created for the hospital staff I worked with many years ago in various different trainings.  Even though it has been a while since I last saw them, I wanted to let them know how much I appreciate them being up front right now.

    Connecting differently…Two words that have such gravitas, and I think it’s going to be the ‘new normal’. 

    Being clear on my purpose for connection is important to me… ‘checking in’ rather than ‘checking-up-on’ or ‘hard-sellling’. For me, this is time for human, heart and soul connection.

    As a way of closing off, I wanted to share this pic of my son and his little friend from next door having an afternoon lockdown ‘playdate’. Much chatting through the window, drawing on the window, cars driving up and down the windowsill, and this beautiful connection which needs no more words. ❤️

    May you and your family be safe and healthy.