Outside my comfort zone

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Tomorrow 5th of July marks exactly a year since I accepted a work assignment that saw my family and I leaving our country of birth Zimbabwe and settling in Nairobi Kenya. Initially I thought this would be easy. I told myself I was still with the same organization, I was still in Africa, English was still the official language and we even drive on the same side of the road…so nothing could be difficult about this move so I thought.

I look back and I have to admit how wrong I was. There were a lot of things that I took for granted. Our whole social support structure was always with us back home. When I travelled outside Zimbabwe on business trips, my mother or my sisters would look after our young children. If we needed “us” time with my husband, we would call my nieces or nephews to come look after the children. Our friends were around us and everything was familiar. We were in our comfort zone.

It did not take me long to realize we had “uprooted” ourselves from the familiar. Yes we were still in Africa, yes there was no language barrier and I was still with the same organization but our usual support structure was no longer easily accessible and this took a while to get used to.

A comfort zone is defined as a psychological state where one is at ease, there is familiarity and sense of control of one’s environment. Over the past 12 months, we have learnt to adapt to our new environment as a family. Everything I thought I knew about balancing my roles as a working mother has been challenged and I have had to come up with creative solutions to manage. Allowing yourself to get outside of your comfort zone allows you to grow, requires you to take risks and hopefully reap the benefits. As we are in the second half of the year, challenge yourself, stretch yourself and your faith. Get out of your comfort zone.

TSB

Cheers….to 5 years of motherhood 

Today is the eve of my first daughter’s fifth birthday. She has been talking about her 5th birthday since Christmas and the excitement rubbed off on to me. I am really excited more than I have been on her previous birthdays. Maybe it’s got something to do with me also growing older…. but that’s not my story for today. The day she was born, a mother was born and today I celebrate 5 years of motherhood as I reminisce  on the night that changed my life forever. I am not going to get graphical but I will use my birthing experience to share lessons learnt. It’s amazing how the birthing process has lessons for daily living.

Lesson 1- Pain in general is bearable

Without getting into too much detail or getting graphical,the first lesson for me was that pain is bearable. Once I learnt this from the miracle of the birthing process I also learnt that any form of pain can be borne if you go through with it and if you don’t give yourself the choice to quit which at times is not even an option to consider. It’s better to go through and come out the other side.

Lesson 2 – There is something called “fullness of time”

You see until our baby was ready to come,  there wasn’t anything I could do but wait and pray. In the fullness of time she would make her appearance. In life there are things that can be accelerated and there are things that you just have to wait out. Infact  even when you try to accelerate at times its in vain. I have head stories of women who were induced in order to accelerate the birthing process without any success. Acceptance of the concept of fullness of time eliminates unnecessary anxiety and allows you to enjoy your here and now.

Lesson 3 – Trust the expert, your midwife 

Midwives are the trusted experts when it comes to the birthing process. I had a one assist me during my birthing process. She would tell me when to breath, when to push and when to stop pushing and even how to push. I believe for your dreams to be birthed and for history to be made, you need midwives who have the expert knowledge. You have to learn to trust your midwife. Not only are they experts, but from where they stand,  they have a better view of how the process is evolving.  This was just too much surrendering for a control freak like me and I was doing it my “own way” which caused me more pain.

Lesson 4 – Some journies are just for you

My husband was with me in the labour ward the whole time together with the midwives and gynaecologist. As much as he loves me this is just something that I had to do alone. He could not take some of the pain even if he would have wanted to. And even my trusted experts could only do so much….because this was my “own cross to bear”. There are moments like that in life that you will just have to go by yourself. Be prepared for that. Even after seeking counsel, you are still the one who needs to make a decision. 

Lesson 5 – Don’t sweat the small stuff

Like most first time moms, I had my own ideas of how I wanted the birthing process to evolve. I had my playlist chosen and it was to be played during the process  (😄😄😄I really have to laugh at myself…excuse me). Infact I was going to be cute and not be like the crazy screaming women I had seen on TV. No playlist was played…. It was too much noise for me and I did scream at my husband to shut it down. Perspective guys. Who cares about a playlist or looking cute when there is a life to be born and the  pain associated with this? Don’t sweat the small things in life. 

Perez Minana was born at 4:45am February 22 2012. Happy birthday princess. Love you to the moon and back..and back again …and back again….. 

Blessings!

What I do for fun?

Well that is a question i hope I am never asked because I would not know how to answer it.

You see it’s really because  i think my kind of fun is probably not what many people would consider fun but that is just me… with my amazing twins (2,6 years) and their older sister  (5 years next week) and a career I really love that involves travel in half of the African countries…here is a list what I do for fun.

1. These days I actually get to soak myself in the bath and half the time I will get a soft knock on the door. As I take my bath, i hear interesting stories and updates of  what was happening at school and who was not being nice and who was being silly and…..that is just my kind of fun, an update from my daughter as I take a soak. 

2. After almost two years of sleepless nights….with frequent night feeds, just being able to have uninterrupted sleep is bliss. 

3. Lion Guard, Paw Patrol, Blaze and The Monster Machines, Sofia The First…. that is my kind of fun. If you don’t know what I am talking about make use of Google and see what my kind of fun is.

See it’s a short list and this is really my kind of fun and actually I live for these moments. 

Do share with me what you do for fun as a mom.


The year that was 2016

Given that we are almost in the final week of January 2017, some might consider the heading for today’s post “too late” but i do believe it is important to do a “post mortem”of 2016. It helps as you continue with the rest of 2o17.

 From a writing perspective, 2016 was not very fruitful for me. I had many conversations with myself on why i could just not bring myself to write another post. I don’t think it was “writers block” apparently a season when the creative juices will just not flow.

I think sometimes we just want to move on with our lives we actually do not take our time to go through and take lessons from our failures or mistakes.  I think that in itself is a mistake. I might have written elsewhere on this blog about a story i heard years back about the young men and women (well mostly men) who travelled to South Africa to work in the gold mines.  The journey was normally on foot and would take several weeks following the railway line. The problem was that when they woke up each morning in the middle of nowhere, it was not easy to tell which direction they were suppose to be going. By the way I am referring to a period when there were no mobile phones or any such gadgets to provide directions  (😊😊Just so my millennial readers are clear). Sometimes they only discovered hours and miles later that they were going backwards.  So to deal with this problem, they would light a fire on one side and sleep on the opposite side of the fire. When they woke up in the morning, whatever side the fire was on, that is where they were coming from and they could continue with their journey confidently. 

There are still many months left in the year. Reviewing the last  year,  gleaning lessons and seeking for areas of improvement will ensure that you don’t get to July only to discover you are doing exactly the same things that have not delivered results in the past.  

Based on a review of my 2o16, I now know why I did not post as much as I would have wanted to in 2016 and i will be sharing on this in the coming days. 

So it’s never too late to wish you a successful 2017. 

Lets journey together 

TSB

You can reach me on SheJournies@gmail.com. 

Managing expectations

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A few days before the end of the school term, our four year old had a sports day at her school. As it was her first, we were really excited about it and we both  took time off work to attend it. My conversation with her on that morning went something like this:

Me: Mimi mummy and daddy are coming to your sports day…
Her: Yes mummy. Our teacher told us we are going to have a lot of fun.
Me: I am really looking forward to it.
Her: But mummy do you know all my friends are faster than me?
Me:…. ee( i was still trying  to find the right words to encourage her but she continued)
Her: But i am very good at colouring and numbers and balancing also…

So we went to the sports day and she participated in three events and came first in one and second in another. We were really proud parents and i might have irritated my sibblings with my constant updates on the family chat group with little videos and photos and ofcourse my hashtag that i created especially for this #livefrombelgravia.

As i reflected on the day later, i realise there is a lot to learn from my four year old about managing expectations in the workplace and i guess anywhere else in life. I am sure we have all defined our key performance objectives for the year. The question is what have you promised to deliver?

There is a fine balance that one needs to strike. I do not believe that one should underpromise knowing well they will overdeliver. I also do not believe one should promise things they know will not be achieved.  A real and clear understanding of the macro environmental dynamics and how they  impact  on your delivery of your KPIs is needed. Its important to be realistic BUT still having a stretching target that takes you out of your comfort zone.

I had an opportunity to talk to one of my daughter’s teachers who confirmed that during the school practice sessions, our daughter had not really been the fastest. When she told me her friends were all faster than her, she was not underpromising. She was just telling me what had transpired. Obviously it was unintentional on her part but my expectations for the day were managed. I also believe despite this, she still wanted to do better and still believed she could and hence her really great performance…. well according to me her mother:):):).

Quarter 1 of 2016 is already gone but if you are still aligning with your line manager on your 2016 objectives, take a learning from my four year old…..manage expectations, promise what you can deliver and still do more to exceed the stretching promise you made.

Enjoy your journey.

TSB

Confessions of a career loving mum

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I am a mum to three amazing children all below four years of age. My job involves a lot of travel that takes me away from them a lot of times. I have a confession to make…i love my career … and i do not feel guilty at all.

In writting this post, i am hoping one mum out there is helped to ditch the guilt and embrace their here and now.

1. Use of  the right words.
I have often heard words such as “full time mom” being used. I have always wondered what that means. Honestly despite being a mum who goes to work, i am still also a full time mother to my children. The fact that sometimes i am away for eight hours does not make me a “part time” mum. And  because i embrace my full time motherhood responsibilities and passion for my career, i do not feel guilty.

2. Do not judge yourself
When it comes to motherhood, the tendency is to judge ourselves based on what our children can or cannot do. One mother spoke of how their 10 months old baby is already potty trained. My twins are nearly twice that age and we are not there yet. For a moment i felt i was not doing something right…maybe if i spent more time with them….And then it occurred to me that i am not in competition with anyone and neither are my children. And so again i feel no guilt.

3.Block the naysayers
My first business trip was when my twins where four months old. My mother came and looked after them for the four nights i was away. Thank God for mothers. When i got back one “not so gentle collegue” asked what sort of mother i was to go away and leave such young kids… Honestly if its not to build me or encourage me i block my ears. Its a choice i made and i have no regrets and so the guilt adds no value…so its best to ditch it.

4. Do not be pressured by what others believe you should do
People and society in general will always have opinions of what you “should” do.  You should do X by yourself, when it comes to your children you should do Y and not the nanny. To avoid overwhelming yourself and ending with the useless emotion g…..,because of the pressure, decide for yourself what you can and cannot do. And do not be pressurred.

And finally…
5. I am no superwoman
I am grateful for our culture and the role of extended family where i can always call for support and help with my children when i need it. Elsewhere on my blog i always advise working mothers to ask for help. Its for our own good..

Enjoy your week ahead… with your baby(ies) and at work.

TSB