Wellness is a choice

So, there I sat.  Listening to everything the wellness guru is saying.  Hanging on her lips and realising, uhmmmmm I’m not there yet.  Don’t get me wrong, I do cycle when I get the chance, attend spin classes every Tuesday and Thursday and take the stairs sometimes instead of the escalators.  That’s enough right?  No, not even remotely.

I was fortunate to attend a wonderful PR launch of the Wellness Warehouse Brooklyn branch where they presented a lovely menu from the #BrooklynBuffet range.  My fellow bloggers and I were enticed to a delectable menu of roasted vegetables, lovely lasagne, Quinoa salad, Broccoli bake, grilled chicken and off course, the Tofu was the best I have had.

We can have a lot of discussion around what a healthy lifestyle is and what we understand around the term ‘being healthy’.  Sharing a meal at the #WellnessWarehouse Cafe in Brooklyn Mall Pretoria with fellow lifestyle bloggers, you do get a sense that they (and yes, I say they) are so sensitised to living healthy lifestyles because some of them have children and want to offer them the best opportunities to grow healthy.  The question popped…. how healthy am I living really? I don’t have children and therefore I don’t have that motivation, but the motivation lies in the sole fact that I need to be less heavy (see my choice of words there?).  Adapting to a new diet is only one dimension in a multi-faceted pool of dimensions when we talk about healthy living.

Being healthy or looking after your own wellness has less to do with dieting and more to do with making conscious choices.  Being a food & lifestyle blogger it is increasingly more challenging to ‘go healthy’.  Visiting restaurants, enjoying food and writing about it has become a part of my routine, but picking the right meal from the menu is still IN my power.  This is a harsh reality to face when you are a few kilo’s (ok, quite a few) heavier than usual.

So what am I to do then?  Here is my list of the 5 steps I am taking towards looking after my own wellness:

  1.  Realising that I am not a gym junkie:  I am never going to be one and I think this has more to do with acknowledging the current reality of my health and knowing what I’m dealing with.  Getting a grip on my current wellness and as my friend always say: “know your demons and then face them”.  So there we have it, a reality check!
  2.  To eat or not to eat:  I say EAT! Diets already puts one down emotionally and therefore I say, stop dieting and just start eating right.  Looking at the Wellness Warehouses #BrooklynBuffet, there were options and they were colourful and wonderful.  More colour means less processed.  So eat a colourful meal and try to have it as unprocessed as possible.  Freshness is key!  To all of you saying “I don’t have time”, MAKE TIME!  I’m not a super model and I realise it’s going to be challenging, but there is always a way to make things happen. O ja, go easy on the starches.
  3. Chill:  No, not talking about chilling the wine, I’m talking about taking some time out.  Make time to spend time, doing nothing.  Meditate, write, read, sleep, or do the things that fuel you.
  4. Join a club: A gym is great, but it’s expensive and the idea around going to the gym can sometimes be a bit daunting.  Rather join a walking club or a group of friends doing something active.  It shouldn’t cost you an arm or a leg and if you go about it the right way, you can have a good support structure in place to keep everyone motivated and ready to go walking, cycling or running.  Group motivation can work wonders.
  5.  Dream:  It’s important to escape from reality sometimes and start dreaming up things for the rest of the year.  Make that dream of going to Greece a reality by planning for it.  Dream of all the things you still want to achieve, do, experience and start making plans to motivate yourself to get to it.

Wellness in my view is a shotgun approach and should be handled as such.  Health shops like the Wellness Warehouse, gives us necessary tools to live more healthy, but in the end, we need to make the choice to be more healthy.  Choice is the bugger here, but choice is also the golden opportunity that you have power over.  I am not a wellness guru, but strangely enough, we all know what we ought to do.  So my advice to you today, is go do it.  Live well! Go! Now!

Simplicity. Is that a thing?

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Looking at the media, one cannot play the ignorance card when it comes to the state of our country, politics and heck, even the fuel price!  Instantly my throat feels like it’s victim to an invisible grip that keeps squeezing ever so tightly.  Reality to knocks when you are in the supermarket and the same tin of Tuna that was R12,00 last week has jumped to a staggering R13,90.

So, no, I am not breaking out in Harry Styles’s new song “Sign of the times”, but I do get the sense that we need to start living smarter.  We need to look at our routine, interactions, work, home life and our social game in a whole new light.  Is it possible? Do we re-evaluate our priorities? Can we amend our long-formed patterns and live life anew? Simpler?

Sure, people are adaptable.  You and I both have the capacity to learn new ways of doing, altering our normal selves to new better versions.  Immediately another question pops up, do we need better versions of ourselves?  In my opinion?  Yes we do.  We should never arrive at a point in time where we are fine with who we are and where we find ourselves.  We should keep pushing, keep shaping and keep dreaming of becoming better people.  Not because the budget is small and we have to save money and stop buying take-aways (or may that is the reason), but because we can.

Bottomline, although most people are experiencing a constant cash crunch, this shouldn’t be the operative way of thinking on scaling down, living simpler and using less.  Living life more simplistic requires us to look back at ourselves and ask the very needed question, “do we need all our stuff”?  I love my SUV, I love Netflix and a good WiFi connection, I love my trips abroad, I love eating at restaurants that I haven’t been to, I love pouring my energy into my digital self and build cyber relations, meet new people.  Simplicity isn’t about scaling down, but rather about re-scaling ourselves.  Realizing we all just need the same stuff in lesser volumes.  We need to look at our lives on a singular level.

Let’s not beat around the bush, life is detrimental in most cases.  It’s detrimental to our health, our budgets, our way of thinking, the way we drive and our reaction to most media and stimuli outside of ourselves.  The beauty however is that the power to the way we CHOOSE to live our lives and conduct ourselves will always be ours.  It all boils down to a simple choice.  Have you heard about Dr. Viktor Frankel?  (Awesome dude by the way), a legend in the field of Psychology (o and he was a holocaust survivor), reiterated the idea that every thing that you own and have, can be taken away from you EXCEPT the power you possess to control your attitude in any given set of circumstances.  Choosing to be non-detrimental to the fuel price, to not kill anyone when your insurance goes up and to be smarter about living life and choosing to live simpler.  This week I want to urge you to make a list of 3 things you can easily discard from your life.  Things that takes your joy away, that eats you up, things that sucks the energy right out of you.  We need to make these lists every now and then to make sure we are alive, because we only need to breathe, eat, sleep and dream.  (Yes I hear you… other essential life-activities are a given).  Go! Now!

 

What’s in a space?

 

So there I was, walking through the Sandton (Johannesburg’s Business Disctrict) CBD on my way to attend a session hosted by Equinox and Cerebra.  It was windy and I almost felt a bit like Batman, pacing from the Gautrain station upwards towards Maude street, with my coat dangling in the wind.  Jip, winter is definitely here and I craved shelter from the taunting wind.

I found a cute little roastery that sold coffee and I was sorted.  With warm comfort (coffee) in hand, I walked further.  The shade cast by the towers and business buildings made me a bit grumpy as they were stealing the warm sunlight.  If it wasn’t for their beauty, Batman (that would be me for the moment) would roundhouse kick them to let through some vital sunshine D, aka the sun.  I arrived at 15 Alice Lane and the corporate energy can be felt in the expensive vehicles, people’s suits and the way they queue to get through security.  What mattered more was that I was inside, away from the wind.  “You need to go down to level -1” the lady at reception remarked.  -1? Surely if this is a corporate session, why do I go down to the basement? Shouldn’t it be in the professional, corporate auditorium further along? It struck me as odd, but I obliged and took the elevator down.

The doors swallowed me up only to spit me out again a level down.  PING! the sound almost ripped me from my thoughts.  There I was.  I was baffled.  I am almost sure I took a wrong turn and arrived at the Underground in London somewhere.  The distinct styling, tiles and signage teleported me to a different place.  The friendly man told me to ring the bell.  No more Batman vibes, these are James Bond vibes! The door opened and closed behind me and I was cubicled with a lovely wooden clock to keep me company. Another door swished (is there such a word?) open and I entered an old library, complete with seating, dimmed lighting, books, knick knacks on the shelves and I was no longer in Corporate Johannesburg.  I was in the underbelly of a creative thing.  What magic is this??!

There it was again….. swiish… another door opened and I am greeted by lovely receptionists clearly enjoying my baffled expression as I sign in.  Through the doors again and I entered a room where circling television screens greeted me, empty apart from the beanbags scattered to the side.  This is literally a mind@#%$,  (a good one might I add) and through the worm hole I arrived at the reception area with artificial grass and seating.  After I collected my Americano, I sat down.  How is it possible that within the corporate structure that imposes, impresses and almost intimidates, flows a space where I can breath, absorb light, sights, sounds and a plethora of creative energy.

We were greeted and guided to the session hall.  There an ensemble of seating awaited us, unconventional, different, colourful and on wheels.  Yes, the seating moved the moment you put your weight down on it.  Think it’s that way for a reason, to blur lines, make you aware of how out of control and IN control collaboration can be sometimes.  I enjoyed my morning on Internal Collaboration hosted by Mike Stopforth from Cerebra a lot.  What I enjoyed even more, or shall I say appreciated, was the creative space that was born from a need by the Corporate sector in Sandton, to use space to create, dream, make mistakes, ask silly questions and a space that can be the catalyst to exceptional collaboration.

The question still bugged me.  What are we doing with our spaces?  Can we do the same? Are we utilizing spaces to serve us or are we doing things to serve and justify the space we use?  Surely creativity cannot be boxed, but it can be found.  It can be found in the creative underbelly of the Corporate towers called Equinox.  It can be felt at the Roastery just off West street, where I bought my coffee from earlier, it can be found in the garden, kitchen, on mountains and so I can go on.  WE (us), need to use our spaces better, utilize our spaces to service not just us, but others.  Well done Equinox on being a catalyst and thank you for the challenge to create and collaborate and create spaces for people to be baffled in, to dream in, to meet in, to work in, to play in, to bring change about.

PS. They are open to host your meeting, go Google them! Now!

Meetings are like chameloens!

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We all are on the drill, get to your desk, switch on your technology and await instructions on your workday as the emails roll in.  Wait for it… wait for it…. and there is the knock on the door and you are summoned to your first meeting for the day.

As you enter the board room, you do a double check to see if you tagged along everything you need to make your spot relevant.  Laptop: check, Phone: check, a positive attitude…. hmmmmm and there it sometimes fall short on the tick list.

Why are we so allergic to meetings?  Yes, some meetings require all the above mentioned, but then there are meetings where you need to break the mould of the corporate tradition and start asking:  Why do we have to have meetings in a boardroom?  Some of my best meetings are being conducted in the hallway on our floor, the kitchen while brewing a cup of coffee for the team or taking a walk outside the office.

Energy are being ignited when we change the setting, rhythm and format of meetings.  One of my interns in the past suffered from Narcolepsy (uncontrollably falling asleep) and that was an amazing trigger to me on how I should conduct meetings.  Here is my list of triggers you should watch out for and make meetings worth while:

  1.  Check your teams non-verbals

You see, my narcoleptic intern helped me to monitor the speed, relevance and format of the meeting.  That moment when her eyes started to droop I know the meeting need to either speed up, or take a break.  This wasn’t just because of her, but we loose and draw energy from people in poor conducted meetings.

2.  The end result

Clearly stipulate with your members what the end result of your meeting will be.  What goal would you like to reach?  Stick to the theme of the meeting and when the meeting get side tracked, refocus the team.  It will only be natural that the discussion will grow into smaller points of discussion, but keep the conversations relevant and in some cases it’s fine to start sub-committees to meet in their own time to sort out the nitty gritty and rather report back to the main meeting.

3.  Time

Keep to the time!  There is NOTHING as irritating as being late or keeping the meeting going beyond the said times.  Everyone is on a schedule and that should be respected.  Should important points arise, either note them down in your minutes, or have a sub-discussion to give feedback.  If that’s not an option, agree with your meeting that you will go over ‘x’ amount of minutes and stick to that.

4.  Minutes

Keep minutes and always reflect with your ‘minute-taker’ that the right content is minuted and formulated correctly.  Many meetings had minutes, but it was so vague and meaningless that it served no purpose at all.  Constantly reflect the decisions and make sure the ‘minute-taker’ jot that down.

5.  Space

Choose your space for meetings.  One on one are usually done off site central to both parties or closer to your clients, but for internal meetings, why not chuck the formal setting all together and rather opt for an informal space away from disruption.

6.  Temperature

In some cases meetings might develop in tension between members and it’s of vital importance to acknowledge everyone on their views and to remember that it’s not a popularity contest, this is about getting work done.  In some point in time, conflict will arise and it’s critical that the focus should always be on the issue at hand and not the person.

7.  Creative

Have fun in meetings.  If someone made an exceptional contribution, why not commend them for it a give them a candle and call them the ‘bright spark’ of the committee.  When we laugh and have fun, our brains heighten the production of Serotonin and Dopamine which ends in a ‘feel good’ experience.  It lies with you as the chairperson to make sure everyone leaves feeling productive, accomplished and good as far as you can.

THEN….

Remember to have good coffee (ok, it’s not the pre-requisite for a good meeting, this is just my addiction speaking).  Bottomline, meetings cannot be conducted in the same format, space and rhythm for each of your audiences.  They need to be different, they need to be creative when it’s a creative crowd, they need to be straight to the point when you have focussed people that are always in a rush.  Keep your finger on the pulse of your group and make the effort to acknowledge each member and their contribution to the table.

Have a good meeting today!

 

Time time time

Almost immediately when you leave home and drive through the gate facing traffic and all these big bullying buses, we start planning this day.  (Ok ok, to me it works this way).  Although strategising a bit on what needs to be done, I sit idle and wait for the red chameleon to turn green so I can be on my way. Hopefully faster than a chameleon!

There are so many stimuli that we encounter it’s almost sickening.  According to a leading marketing research study, we are bombarded with more than 30 thousand marketing logo’s, images and banners on a daily basis.  I’m getting worried, NOW I KNOW, it’s not a case of needing a Rittelin induced coma to focus, but rather a sifting process.  Knowing what’s important.  My schedule seldom pans out the way I see it in my mind’s eye, but its happening and yes, things get done!

Put into this equation, friends, family en mom that need an update every now and then, I suddenly feel ALOT closer to just locking myself up and take a breath!  Then reality hits, LOL! We cannot escape time! I’m wasting time wanting to go ello al secluso! We need to make time.  Running around, we need to make MORE time, juggeling the schedule, we need to push in some more VALUABLE time.  ‘Coz you see, time is valuable and we need to make the most of it!

Now about that Rittelin induced coma …….