A very South African Thanksgiving (or why South Africa is like a drug)

As some of you may remember, the prowler is not my best friend. I went to the workout this morning hoping to do weighted situps, resistance sprints, and overhead squats. Yes, I prefer this torture to the beast that is the prowler. But even at 32kgs a round, it wasn’t so bad because we had a good amount of rest in between. Our coach was asking “who wants more weight here, except for Ellie who I know does” and I looked at him like he had two heads and said “are you kidding” (usually I want more weight but in the case of the prowler I am afraid). Unfortunately after one round he made me increase. There is just no winning, is there?

So today was more like a typical day. Within the first hour I was inundated and I think the only thing I really accomplished all day was writing an email off to a key client. Well. Ok yes, that’s pretty well true. Everything else was coordinating deliverables, providing guidance to other people, and checking in with my boss via phone (he was trying to get some work done by working from home). In other words, managing. Whee.

I guess the big intellectual excitement for the day was reading about BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) structures and asking questions to our lawyer about legal structures and so on so forth. But actually it is important in an NGO context to understand the exact legislative definition of “profit-driven.” For so many reasons.

What else did I do today? Check in on the market research for our low-cost housing initiative, set up some next steps there, mentor meetings with some interns, talk to my boss a few times on the phone, review some more budgets, talk next steps on recruiting, Purple Heart business coaching, um, well it’s a bunch of simultaneous startups perhaps I should say what didn’t I do today? In retrospect, yesterday was a bit chill. After today I remembered a) the ambient stress level and b) the excitement level getting call after call about things coming through. Well, I am never one to count my chickens before they are hatched … a call to my local lawyer capped the day off.

So afterwards I went to the house of a couple of American friends who were hosting a Thankgiving potluck. Note, for the record, the incredibly tiny size of the South African turkey! Heck I have roasted chickens here bigger than that! I had made some roasted veggies last night so that I could have something paleo; as it turned out other than the meat there were two other acceptable dishes. Well, plus wine because what is a holiday without wine?

As is suited to Thanksgiving we went around the table to say what we were thankful for. I was very moved by the person who said he was thankful for the arts because I frankly didn’t think of that. Self-centered person that I am I said the following:
1. I am thankful for my family for the love and support they show for me, and that I know they want the best for me
2. I am thankful for my friends both here and actually around the world: in Africa, the Middle East, America, Europe, and Australia, who love and support me
3. I am thankful for my health; the more so after each injury I get where I am thankful that I can do things like run 400 meters (not as fast as I want), deadlift 100kgs, do pullups, and yes do a bunch of pushups even when I get mad at my body for not doing what I think it should!
4. I am thankful for my job. Thankful that I love what I do, thankful that I am good at what I am doing, that I am appreciated for it, that I think it’s both important and the start of something big. I’ve been here before in my career where going to work every day was a joy, and when you have that once you know how much you are missing when you don’t have it, so to have it again is a blessing. Really.

The best quote from the evening from a fellow American who is also head-over-heels in love with South Africa relating what she told her cab driver when she moved here: “South Africa is like a drug. Once you get a little taste you can’t get enough!”

Then, again, I realized what a nerd I am by teaching a five-year-old the proper form on pushups, and helping I think a four-year-old to do handstand pushups.

After dinner, I somehow avoided dessert and talked first politics, then CrossFit, then work. And so it goes, there are my main subjects of interest I suppose, and not necessarily in that order!

One of these days I should really explain in more detail what I do, and what my organisation does. But right now I need to go to bed or else even 21-15-9 burpees and thrusters @24 kgs is not going to be easy!


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