What’s with the Silence?

 

To all my loyal followers and to all the new ones who have come on board wondering what in the world is happening here? Why no blog posts?

 

I’m really sorry for neglecting all of you but if you read what my life has been like lately, you will understand, I’m sure.

 

During the day (full day) I work as a Virtual Assistant for the Western Cape Network on Disability Find us on Facebook as Provincial Co-ordinator, including attending meetings and all related Secretarial duties.

 

In the evenings I’m a Virtual Assistant for Retina SA Western Cape Find us on Facebook as temporary Branch Administrator and Events Co-ordinator. We have three big events coming up: AGM on 4 August 2018, High Tea 2018 fundraiser on 9 August 2018 and Ripped Genes 2018 Music Concert fundraiser on 28 November 2018. More information on our Facebook page.

 

https://www.facebook.com/retinawc

Fundraiser

 

Evenings are broken down even further working as Project Manager on special projects for a private company broken down into a certain amount of hours per week.

 

I’m also an Executive Board member (not paid) for a non-profit organisation called Institute for the Promotion of Disabled Manpower (IPDM) which requires me to do loads of reading amongst other things.  More info here

 

Last year (2017) I was approached by WordPress South Africa to assist them with their annual WordCamp Cape Town event as an Accessibility Wrangler (help them ensure that the venue for WordCamp Cape Town 2018 is accessible to persons with disabilities (not paid).

 

WordCamp is a conference that focuses on everything WordPress.

WordCamps are informal, community-organized events that are put together by WordPress users. Everyone from casual users to core developers participate, share ideas, and get to know each other.

 

With an estimated 250+ attendees, this 2-day conference will have 2 tracks, 20 speakers and more than 20 volunteers making it the ultimate event for WordPress users, developers and enthusiasts in Cape Town. More details regarding this event will follow as soon as we’ve finalised the details.

Pencil 1 and 2 November 2018 (Save the Date) into your diaries in the meantime.

Party time!

Balloon Circle

Don’t you just love parties? No party is ever the same. Everyone has their own interpretation of what the décor, food, cake (birthday cake, wedding cake – any speciality cake) should look like. The guest list is made up of a whole array of people – you have the family, friends, sometimes neighbours and/or work colleagues are included on the guest list.

In spite of all the excitement surrounding any celebration there is an awful amount of preparation and behind the scenes work that takes place to make the celebration a reality and, sadly, so many things can go wrong in the days leading up to the event and even on the day itself which is why planning is so critical. Not only the final plan but a Plan B and Plan C and maybe even a Plan D may be required.

Delegation of tasks is critical – it is impossible for one person to do everything on their own. For example:

Connectivity (telephone accessibility) – is your mobile phone charged? Do you have sufficient data and/or airtime? Do you have all the relevant suppliers/helpers telephone numbers stored on your mobile phone. Do you have a (paper copy) list of these contacts and their telephone numbers in case something happens to your mobile phone and you need to use someone else’s phone or a public telephone?

Event Manager/Co-ordinator: Delegation of duties at the venue on the day: Who will be responsible for co-ordinating everything? Who is in charge of the kitchen to make sure everything runs smoothly and that the food is served on time? Who will be at the door to meet and greet your guests? Who will usher the guests to the relevant space at the venue (cocktails/drinks in one space and eventually moving into the main venue where the event will actually take place)? Who is responsible for sound and lighting?

Venue – will the event be indoors or outdoors? Is the venue accessible to the disabled/frail, those incapacitated by recent injury or surgery? What is your backup plan if the weather changes and you cannot use the venue of choice? What happens if a fire breaks out the night before your function and you are unable to use the venue? What is your backup plan? What happens if there are power cuts? Do you have access to a generator at short notice? How early on the day of the function will the venue be available to you for setting up? Décor, sound and lighting all need a few hours and cannot be done an hour before the function starts.

Bathroom at The River Club Obs 10.09.2015

Bathroom facilities at your venue of choice – are these facilities easily accessible to everyone? Will the frail, disabled, or those who have had a recent injury or surgery be able to access the bathroom i.e. is it on the same floor as the function or will they have to walk up steps/stairs to access the bathroom?

Parking – do you have parking marshals to direct people to parking facilities available and to ensure the available parking is utilised as efficiently as possible? Have you arranged special parking for guests with disabilities or for the older generation who may not be so steady on their feet? You may have a guest who has recently had surgery preventing them from walking too far – have you made allowances for this?

Sound and lighting – do you have one person responsible for sound and lighting or two? Do they know exactly what you want and are they able to do exactly what you want in terms of equipment, skills and expertise? Do they know that they cannot arrive five minutes before the function is due to start to set up?

Catering – who will do the catering? Have you hired a professional caterer? Is your appointed caterer a friend or family member? If so, will they take direction and follow your instructions or will they force their opinion and strong will on you? Will they only do the catering or will they do the venue décor as well? Will there be an extra charge for venue décor or is this included in the price quoted? If you are doing the catering yourself, do you have sufficient people to delegate to? You cannot bake, fry, plate the final product all by yourself – who will help you? If you have outsourced the food – who will collect the food from the various suppliers? If you are doing the décor yourself – who will collect the tablecloths and overlays, the centre-pieces for the tables, the flowers etc? are you expecting one person to do all the driving around on the day or do you have more than one? Do you have a backup plan in case one of your drivers cannot help on the day?

High Tea tray at my birthday

The special occasion cake – it has become a trend that a special occasion cake is ordered either from a retail bakery or from a professional work-from-home baker. Here I’m referring to (for example) a cake for a milestone birthday (1st, 21st, 50th, 60th, 70th etc), a wedding cake, a milestone wedding anniversary (25th, 50th, 60th etc) or maybe even just a fun and funky cake to spice up the event. Who will collect this cake on the day? What is the backup plan if this nominated person cannot collect the cake on the day at the agreed time?

Photographer/Videographer – have you arranged for someone to take photographs and/or a video (DVD)? Is this one person for both or two or more people? Are they professionals or just doing this for a hobby? Do they know your specific requirements (if any) of specific photographs or video shots you would like of specific people or particular moments of the event? Do you have a backup plan in case this person (or one of them) is not able to attend the function on the day for some reason? Do you have a few friends or family members with cameras of their own to capture unexpected moments the photographer or videographer might miss?

Let me know how your recent function went. What crises did you face and how did you handle it?

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Conversations with Myself: Whatever shall I wear?

Dress Code

Are you like me always wondering what the different dress codes mean when you receive an invitation to a function or an event?

Do you ever get that sinking feeling in your stomach? What do I wear? Will I be over dressed or under dressed?

Dressing appropriately for each occasion will ensure you feel more comfortable and also adds an element of respect for the host. There is nothing worse than arriving at a function dressed inappropriately.

Here is a short list of recommendations for common dress codes for functions, events, meetings and parties.

BLACK TIE
This is formal dress code. Ball gowns, long evening dresses and dressy evening separates are expected.

WHITE TIE
Ultra formal. Requires long evening gowns only.

FORMAL
This is reasonably similar to black tie, but without the more strict guidelines to follow. Women should probably still wear a long evening dress, but shorter dresses are still acceptable. Events after 6pm require gents evening dress suits to be dark.

COCKTAIL
Generally cocktail means short, elegant dresses, or dress suits.

LOUNGE
More relaxed. Very similar to cocktail dress code.

SEMI FORMAL OR AFTER FIVE
This takes a more casual stance on the formal dress code. Women can afford to shorten the hemline of the skirt of their dress and wear more of a cocktail length dress.

SMART CASUAL
This can be quite general. Women could wear dress pants with a pretty shirt/top, or a more casual skirt or dress to that of the cocktail dress. Generally we would choose not to wear denim jeans to a smart casual event.

Always remember – the way we dress is an unspoken expression of ourselves.

Source: Sorry . . . can’t remember where I found this information (Apologies to the original author)

In Pursuit of my African Dream – Time, like the wind, those are hurrying by and the hours just fly . . .

mr_alarm_clock_jumping_md_wht

 

 

A song which was a hit in the period 1965 – 1969 sung by John Rowles called “If I only had time” is what sprung to mind when I thought of writing this blog this week. The song goes something like this . . .

. . .  so much to do, if I only had time, if I only had time. Dreams to pursue, if I only had time, they’d be mine.

Why is it that some people think I always have an endless amount of time on my hands? I always make time to answer SMS messages, e-mails, Facebook (and other social media requests)? I’m the “walking yellow pages” for some and the endless event co-ordinator/organiser for others? Whenever my brain is “picked for ideas or contacts for a whole range of things” I can always come up with something in terms of an idea or contact – even it I have to get back to the person later.

On the other hand, when I ask for information or help (which happens so seldom I can count it on one hand and only if I cannot find the information or item anywhere else), nobody seems to have the time to respond?

A few months ago I sent an SMS to a few people asking for something specific – to date, nobody has responded. Today, I saw one of the people I sent this SMS to and she said “I know I have not responded yet but I’m still working on what you asked – is there still time for me to respond?” This information was required for something specific with a specific deadline . . . 

I recently sent out an SMS to one specific person (again, for something specific having a specific timeframe), the person responded saying they would give it to me later, then silence. I sent a reminder, an apology followed with a request to send them a reminder the next morning (which I did as per the request) and still nothing has been forthcoming. I’m giving up on this request now and, as usual, will make an alternative plan – which is generally what I do.

Are people really genuinely so busy, they cannot respond? We are all given exactly the same amount of hours each day i.e. 24 hours. Granted, some are wives/husbands, mothers/fathers but being single with a full time job and studying part time does not mean I have any more time on my hands than anybody else. The time wives and husbands spend on household chores and family responsibilities, I spend studying which makes us about equal in terms of free time available, I would think – or am I delusional?

I have been told on more than one occasion that when you are married and a parent, your priorities change. This I understand completely – my priorities would change too but remember, working full time and studying part time, my priorities have changed too!  Yet, I try to keep my family and friends included in my life as far as possible – even if it has to be via SMS, e-mail and social media. I do my utmost to still be the daughter, sister and aunt I am expected to be.

Parents usually have to wait until after 8pm to catch up with chores, bills, preparing for tomorrow and hopefully, spending some quality time with their spouse. I, working full time, by the time I’ve done one hour of gym, had supper etc it is after 8pm when I can “hit the books”.

I also have deadlines to meet in terms of assignments which need to be submitted timeously. I also have bills to pay, budgets to calculate to ensure that I have the money to pay the bills, exams to prepare for etc. so I’m still trying to find out how come I supposedly have more time on my hands than anybody else?

Oh, I also forgot to mention that I also do voluntary work for a group called Women Demand Dignity (http://www.womendemanddignity.co.za) and I’m also part of a Disabled Women’s Leadership Development Programme (DWLDP) which runs for three years (2011- 2013) being trained to become a leader and facilitator which involves assignments which takes up a lot of my time. When I’m studying I usually only get to bed at around 01:00 and have to be up at 05:00 again to leave home at around 06:30 otherwise I would never get to work by 08:00. I am at work for 8 hours per day, I’m on the road travelling for 4 hours – 2 hours to work and 2 hours back home. That’s a total of 12 hours of my day gone already – need I say more?

In spite of being single with a full time job and studying part time, I am also a daughter, sister and aunt which means that I also have family responsibilities. I’m expected to spend a certain amount of quality time as a daughter, sister and aunt (whether weekly or monthly is not relevant) and this is in addition to my daily responsibilities. I make the occasional telephone call to keep in touch and physically visit from time to time to keep the physical aspect of relationships going. I try to attend as many functions I’m invited to as I can, when I can summon the energy to actually go anywhere. I make the time to come up with ideas for personalised gifts for everyone as often as I can so I break the cycle of giving “another bottle of bubble bath or shower gel”.

I started reading a book in 2007 which I desperately would like to finish but keep putting it down because there is always something more important or urgent to do. I invested in a laptop and an Android phone so I can multi-task while watching TV which is usually the only time I have to work on my social network connections, respond to e-mails etc except for when I decide to “steal time” at the office doing this during office hours.

I read just about every article I can find on time management and organisational skills to find better ways of doing things, I spend a lot of time on the internet doing research either for my studies or on ideas I have or look for sources of suppliers who can fulfil my desire for personalised gifts for everyone.

So what exactly am I missing here? Is there a big chunk of my 24 hours that I just cannot explain?

Going back to the song I started with earlier . . .

. . .  so much to do, if I only had time, if I only had time

Dreams to pursue, if I only had time, they’d be mine.

Time, like the wind. Those are hurrying by and the hours just fly

Where to begin, there are mountains I’d climb, if I’d time.