So tomorrow (Wednesday) is our last official working day of the year. Of course, I’ll be working after that day.
Nonetheless. It hasn’t escaped most people, probably, that if my original plans were still in place this would pretty much be it for me in terms of working here in South Africa. I don’t know a lot of things, but I do know this: I am very, VERY good at what I am doing right now. Am I perfect? Hell no. Do I make mistakes? Absolutely. Do I let some things drag on longer than I should? Yep. But as my co-worker once said, he’s seen people crack under a lot less than what I’m doing, and I’m totally fine with it. I do wish some things were different, and I wish there were more hours in the day, more days in the week, and I wish that my own level of mental discipline could approach that of my boss. But, I’m a work in progress. Aren’t we all?
One thing I am learning through external feedback is that whatever I’m getting from here or from my own spiritual/emotional/intellectual development is that I am developing a comparative advantage at working with people. Not always, certainly, sometimes when I have too many things going on I miss certain signs or I’m not as gentle as I should be. But this is why I need coaching: it’s great that I’ve developed the capacity to be self-critical over the years but just as coaching at the gym will only make me better, so will spiritual and business coaching. I think I know my spiritual coach; I met her a few months ago and keep thinking I need to reach out to her. Well, the universe is probably trying to tell me I do because she came up as a subject of conversation after dinner last night. I also think I may have found my business coach, or possibly two; I’ll be exploring both options in January.
The two days of this week so far were a bit unusual:
• Monday started off with a visit to the N2 Gateway RDP housing project in Langa with a bunch of SA property bigwigs. This is an interesting case study of low cost housing gone wrong, and there are lessons to be learned here in terms of what not to do. Also, we keep hearing the same advice over and over again, which means we’d be fools not to follow it. Always good to pick the brains of experts!
• I was back in the office for all of an hour before having to take my co-worker to the airport. I said it would take me 15 minutes to get there, and it took 14. Stupidly I took the M5 back so it took me 20 to get back to the office.
• I squeezed in a few hours of work and a soul-crushing phone call with Orbitz before heading to Hout Bay for a meeting with GreenLiving about a potential collaboration.
• I went to the gym in the evening Monday which is unusual for me. We were doing power cleans and my form was improving a little bit and I didn’t go crazy with the heavy weights. The second part of the workout was Tabata front squats (20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest), with in my case 24kgs. Erm, may I just say that my legs felt like jelly after that!! That is unusual for me, so good for the workout to do that to me.
• Monday night dinner with friends in Muizenberg. Something I ate (either the cheese or the chickpeas) gave me an incredible stomach ache! Moral of this story: stick to the paleo stuff …
• Tuesday morning’s workout was actually really fun! They always are of course but there are levels! After max ring dips we moved into a workout of 1 minute on, 30 seconds rest of in my case kettlebell swings, ring dips with band assistance, and weighted situps. Super fun workout!
• Tuesday had some FoodTents discussions including such quotes as “I wanted just to say ‘deflate yourself here china!’” (you had to be there, but I will remember this with amusement), and then a group of us headed out to Khayelitsha to meet with the Masikanye Food Garden crew where we are putting in the 10 tents of a GrowZone tomorrow. We took them over to Mama Rosie’s in Philippi, then went to check their other garden including some hydroponic tomatoes in Macassar. Driving in the Cape Flats is always interesting; today I had to dodge not just the usual people and vehicles but also goats! Usually those stick to the side of the road and don’t decide to come running into the middle of the road but then again you never know … I saw a black bear in Bolton Mass. less than a year ago.
• Then we moved the Purple Heart furniture which was actually incredibly heavy! Workout of the day #2 …
• The afternoon was a bit chaotic but I did manage to change my flights on Orbitz (apparently the fourth time was the charm…). Eish.
• I went to yoga because I wouldn’t have much of a chance to go the next few weeks, although there is a place in Cambridge or Somerville somewhere. But anyway. This teacher is usually pretty chill; today’s session was not! Something about power, so I guess it figures…
I also got two incredible compliments these last two days. Last night my friend who I really have a lot of respect for an in intellectual and emotional level said that she didn’t know anyone more sure of what they are doing than I am. This means a lot coming from her (right up there with one of the real athletes from the gym giving me respect as an athlete). Then today I had a brainstorm for which I can thank McDonald’s actually, that may revolutionalize the business model of FoodTents (I won’t get too excited until I dig into the numbers for myself!), and my boss called me a few hours later to thank me for my brilliant insight for over 6 minutes. But then again, what is actually important is not the acceptance of other people, that is just my ego being interested in that. However, I’m not completely over my ego I’m afraid!
Actually one interesting thing I have found about working in South Africa is that while there are a lot, and I mean a LOT of strong women here, it remains quite a paternalistic society in a lot of ways. I think it surprises a lot of people when they meet me that someone both so young and female is doing what I’m doing, for one thing, and for another thing, not afraid to challenge them. I was joking the other day with my co-worker that I am developing a bit of a fan club, but I won’t complain. It’s a good thing, because it’s these tight personal bonds that enable you to get things done. And if the respect is mutual, it’s exactly what you need!
Some fun stuff planned before I head back to New England!:
• Planning meetings for 2011 (starting tomorrow morning and continuing on Sunday and possibly Friday afternoon as well)
• Work braai
• Christmas market at the Biscuit Mill
• Public holiday Thursday … I have a couple of things I may do; not sure yet
• Checking out some potential sites for our affordable housing development Friday morning
• Errands Friday afternoon (getting forms filled out at Mediclinic, and getting some documentation certified by the police, which should be an experience in and of itself!)
• Saturday beach workout then the final lunch at Sandbar for a while 😦
• Concert at Backsburg wine estate (featuring Die Antwoord, Jax Panik, Goldfish, and Locnville, so should be a ton of fun!)
• Track workout at Stellenbosch (it will be too cold and snowy to sprint outside in New England)
• Party Monday night so I can see a bunch of people before I go
I really want to get a hike in at some point before I go; we’ll see if that works out for me…