Monday, December 2, 2013

The Manic Month Ahead: 26th of November :-)

So this month of December was going to be crazy.... i knew that.... We are going to be open on the 23rd of December... but the question was how do i embrace the craziness and make it fun rather than push against it?

And from this inquiry I decided the best way was to document & celebrate it... have it be have anyone reading this to be a part of it (the idea of this gives me so much energy, somehow like i have invisible helpers in the background wishing me well!) . So here goes. This is the second day i arrived back from Dubai...and here is what it looked like.

My aim is to write about every day, but forgive me (please! I have enough on my plate alright) if i do not :-)
Soooo... come with me on my journey to the countdown to the 23rd of December - to opening the doors of EBB & FLOW, our Sri Lankan dream and adventure....  (I SO need a cheesy theme song...)

26th of NOVEMBER
Morning site visit! Off to see what action has taken place when i was away in Dubai for 10 days.
I am nervous and excited. The beautiful sunrise on the way to site certainly helped start the day right ...although its at times like this-  so bloody early in the morning that i miss my loyal costa coffee.
Sunrise on the way to the building site at 5.30am...just jumped out of the TukTuk to take a pic!
Got to site just before 7am, before all the guys arrive to start working on site! Although we have a resident carpenter (he has set up a temporary shelter for the next 2 weeks) who is happily brushing his teeth when we arrive......

Phew! I am quite blown away from the changes and how awesome the jungalows look (was quite surprised... as self criticism being what it is!)  ...all the stairs have been finished now... and all the polished concrete floors...., the roller blinds on the terrace are just time for painting inside! Just a bit frustrating as there is so much MESS everywhere (well IS a building site) and so photos just do not do it justice.... i resolve to wait a few days.

G gets back from his surf and we walked around site and discussed small changes. Everyone has arrived now and there is over 20 guys on site! we leave so we are not in the way!
Head back to the house and get cracking on what i call my "computer work" -
updated all the business listings - Trip Villas, Air B&B, Trip Advisor ... Flipkey will not let us advertise yet as construction is not complete! Responded to some inquiries - got to LOVE those people that are interested in what we are doing even with in-process construction photos on the websites. Gives me faith that when we have a finished project and a professional photographer we are going to sweet with bookings!

Garrath picked up some amazing hand made plates... found these in Barefoot 3 weeks ago and made a special order. Seemed in some ways like a silly thing to spend money on (could of got plain white plates for half the cost!) but when you need so few of them and when you are putting your heart and soul into the details... it is necessary....  (PS: if you ever come and stay, make sure to compliment the plates... make sure Garrath is within earshot, deal?)

I am a sucker for a swirl... these plates got me ... gorgeous hand made sri lankan product

 I requested the 24th to be a "day off"  - as in Garrath please let us not talk about budgets and timelines (as i had just come back from being away) but today all it is ALL ON, so we spend a good 2 hours running through all the changes, things that need to be done and when. We create a master list - now stuck on the wall with a big explanation mark next to it.

OK... even though it is a bit of a mess... see a photo of one of the rooms... floor still needs to be cut & polished but it is in! Skirting is next!

One of the bedrooms - soon to be finished!!

And just because she is cute... and because i had not seen her in 10 days! here is the crazy munchkin that is Khush

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Value in this "Business Stuff"

So here is what I have come to realize
I need to get back in touch with being a "Business person".
I have been on a journey where the call to adventure (check out Joseph Cambell for more on the "Hero's Journey") was to experiment, to get creative and to have lots of variety... to move to Sri Lanka and have the time to play! Done, Done and Done (and still doing).

But NOW the result of all this experimenting and being creative and getting in touch with what is important has given me 3 businesses still in the early stages. The "lets see what happens and just experiment" attitude is not so helpful in this place. At first I somehow resented being back drawn back into business "I was supposed to be on a beach, cocktail in hand - contemplating life, WTF is this?"  Next came a slightly more grown up approach... telling myself first "Good Shit! Well done" and then asking myself... "What do I need to do and who do I need to be to make this work?"

First thing I realized is playing small aint going to work here
The second thing was that I have not really articulated where it is I want to go (as before in "experimenting" the whole idea & challenge is not to have a goal!)
The third thing was realizing.... if I was the CEO of any of those businesses I would have fired me by now- for lack of commitment... ( a rather big realization that one!)

So here is my new "starter" map for the new journey - the call to adventure...the vision not just to experiment but to have successful (feel good) businesses that allow me the flexibility and resources to travel this bloody amazing world!

The "business brain" has been put back into my head (and heart) and this is what has come out...
All rather obvious but indeed very hard to see it when you are in it :-)

1) Get the Basics right!
Know where you want to go, know what the brand/business stands for, know how you want to share it with others
Respond promptly to opportunities (momentum is important in this stage for confidence & profitability!)
Double check, get the email/contact whatever it is right first time

2) Make it easy on yourself
Automate, create systems - make sure the stuff in the background works

3) Ask for Help
There are allies, friends, family,professionals... & people that are curious and want to contribute!

4) Step UP
Step into the CEO perspective - would you keep you employed?
Step into the customer perspective - would you come back?
Make financials your friend
Think as if it is a business because it IS a business, no matter how in the early stages it is and if it is JUST you

Wish me well on this next journey, and if any of you see or hear me playing small - feel free to call me up on it!!!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

But what do you actually DO there?

Yup is something I get asked quite often, especially by family, friends and ex colleagues in the UAE and NZ. It was even something I struggled with before I came to Sri Lanka.... the move from a 9 - 5 (lets be honest more like 9 to 8 in Media!) to having "all this time" was something i could just not get my head around.

Well turns out "all this time" was a bit of an illusion! My days here in Sri Lanka are longer and fuller than many I had in Dubai, although the flavor of them is quite different. So in order to attempt to answer this question and to invite you into my world a little more... here is a "typical weekend day"....

SUNDAY (2 weeks ago)

Wake up at 6.30am... those squirrels (or "TinTin" in Singhala) are surprisingly loud and persistent alarm clocks... and if it is not the squirrels it might be the Buddhist chanting from the next door neighbor (he is quite devout it seems). G brings me tea in bed....

Early morning dance to Bob Marley (must remember to position myself so Bus's going past do not see me mid "skanking". This is part of my experiment to start with a dance in the morning for a week and see what is different!

Head off to Unawatuna with Garrath (in the Tuk Tuk) for breakie at Sunil Guesthouse. After that we check out a hand-loom fabric place as the time has come to make decisions on fabrics (eek!). Time is ticking with the project but have to remind myself that I have designated Sunday as a "weekend" so I want to allow myself to relax!

Come home belly's full, read on the Hammock (a birthday pressie from G) for a bit and then decide to head  5 min down the road to the auravedic  place for a massage.

Come home and wake Garrath up with a coffee... he has been enjoying an early afternoon nap...

Head next door to the "wizards house" - maybe worth noting he is not a wizard...but an old, crazy haired insanely happy man (when he rides his bike it looks like he is grinning at the wind) with an awesome rambling garden and 5 dogs! His daughter is home on Sundays so just wanted to go over and say hi...and check out his garden again!

(late) Lunch time! again jump on my trusty bicycle... noting that the basket needs to be fixed and bike needs to be serviced (it costs a grand total of about 2 dirhams for the later). Pick up bread (pan) from the local shop 5 min away to make toasties for lunch (no matter how many times i say "plastic is bad" in singhala I always seem to get a plastic bag! ) . FYI NO ONE on a bicycle has ever overtaken me here in Sri Lanka before.. I am FAST! ( i am ridiculously 5-year-old-ish proud of this fact).

Garrath and I decide it would be great to speak to his mum in SA so we arrange a skype call!
Then we get a little guilty that we have not done anything for the business today (really....looking at fabric does not count) so we sort out the email database and send out an email to those people that gave us their address over the last few years when we told them about our crazy plans!

Homemade vege pizza for dinner (we now have a very small oven woop woop!). Poor old garrath has become designated chef as a direct result to my lack of inspiration in the kitchen... (Sorry G!)
PS: Buffelo curd is THE FOOD OF THE GODS!  and with a bit of lime juice it becomes just like sour cream... amaze-balls on pizza!

Then watch a movie on the couch...thanks to a lovely friend in Dubai that loaded up a hardrive for me! (I know someone that would call "conveniently useless" on that one)  A few Araks (the local spirit)  and a ramble on the couch and it is bed time....

The standard joke/squabble about the speed of the fan (g likes it high...i like it low) and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Friday, September 6, 2013

Makena & Me

They say that dogs are like their owners, or is it they say that dogs look like their owners? hmmm
As Garrath and I laughed and cried yesterday (and yes the day before..) as we talked about Makena... we could not help see just how similar Makena and I were!

I hesitate just a little as I don't want to sound arrogant (goodness knows i have told anyone and everyone how awesome she was) but if there is ever a time to not worry about such a stupid bloody thing such as what "people think" it would be this one :-)

So here it is - Makena and Me...

- Strangers... LOVE EM! they are so interesting, you have no idea what they might offer - it is exciting to have a new perspective (or in Makena's case new smells)...strangers are simply friends you have not made yet. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt....

- Eat with relish, really do not worry about making a mess.... eating with your mouth open (just sometimes), getting curd on your nose (Makena) and Nutella over your face (erm Me)...

- Nothing beats carbs, its all about the carbs... especially bread.... Makena loved bread (a strange thing for a dog to like?!).... so do I... in fact I do remember being referred to once as the "carb queen"

- Having fun is way more important than being clean...get your hands(paws) dirty... play in puddles and the mud if it is raining... just generally get in there... can always dry off later..

- A bum wiggle is a great way to celebrate being alive... get down on the dancefloor and shake it or just wiggle it because you are excited to be awake... damn even getting fed can call for a bum wiggle! Makena and I both had extremely pronounced and high quality bum wiggles!

-Compost.... yes any kind of compost.. the more kinds the better. Love all of it... Makena would climb on them, burrow... i just loved mixing them... coconut, organic waste... even buffalo poo....

- Plants and gardening....small difference here... I liked to plant things IN the ground... Makena liked to take them OUT (or maybe she was just transplanting?!). We had similar taste... she particularly liked tropica lilies

 - Naps are important... Makena liked hers a bit longer, but she too dreamt a lot... running and squeaking in her sleep. Not sure if she was as good as remembering them as I was?!

- Body wash, Body lotion... eye cream... I love my potions and lotions... and Makena did too... when she was little she would follow me into the bathroom and lick the body wash off my calves! and moisturizer off my toes! It only became a bit awkward in recent times as she got bigger and instead of my calves i would get a long lick on the thigh! quite a shock when she sneaked in behind you...

- She loved learning and was eager to please...  She also liked experimenting with languages and knew a bit of Singhala including the meaning of wait, stand, don't bite, and talk.... (about as many words as i erm currently know)

- She was nosy and curious about peoples houses... walking in and having a look around every room to satisfy her curiosity.... I LOVE being shown around peoples houses...although i usually ask permission first, Makena was not so big on the formalities

- Makena was always up for an adventure - any trip out on the tuk tuk was just that... Anything can be an adventure if you have the right perspective. Must admit Makena was a bit better at this than me... must practice..

- Makena's nickname was yellow girl, as that was the colour  she had around her neck when she was with the other pups... my favourite colour is yellow and I love wearing yellow.... together we were Garrath's yellow girls!

- We were both blonds, although her colour much more natural and without erm chemical intervention..... (lucky minx, would kill for that natural colour!!)

- She also loved nature... she spent time chasing and appreciating fire flies and butterflies in the garden... as do I... Garrath told her off once ("Kano Bah" ..or don't bite) as he was worried she might eat one (firefly) she stopped immediately in her tracks .... just a tiny blinking light on her nose as she stared out earnestly at G

All I can do now is celebrate her, and share stories about her. She was in our life for a few short months but she gave us SO much in that time...

Thank you Makena for rocking our world and even now the world is all the more sweeter for the fact you were in it - love you and miss you so so much xxx


Loving some down time in the garden....

When life gets tiring.. nap (simple)

A kangaroo crossed with a seal and a teddy bear... that was Makena

Impossible cuteness
Check out that (hair/fur) natural colour.... jealous!

Makena and Ushadi - best friends from day one

Monday, August 26, 2013

My Neighbourhood

The Bad fringe to beat all bad fringes...

I came home one day recently after being out and about on my bike with this rather warm feeling in my belly, something rather feel-good zooming around in there that i could not really articulate or attribute...
Then it hit me - so obvious. I feel part of a COMMUNITY, and part of the fabric of "this place". I loved that I felt this way but it was also quite strange how much of a surprise it came.... how new and unusual it felt.

I never really had it in Dubai. Sure - Seattle's coffee gave me a pretty good run for my money by remembering my name and even using it in a sing-song sometimes. Oh and playing along with me when I asked if there was love in the coffee... even checking it was "low fat love"....? (props to the guys and girls at Seattle's Media City building 8 for rolling with my silliness with such grace). But beyond that... not really...

But here it is different. Or maybe I am?
With a shift to simplicity the most satisfying thing I have found is that you have life right in front of your nose - feel it around you. You gain parts of life that are otherwise inaccessible.... there is less STUFF in the way (including ego, and material possessions) so you can get closer to people and places.

Also a  few months ago I decided that I had a choice. I could either doubt, and "watch out" for being taken advantage of  (a favourite of some not surprisingly not-as-happy-as-they-could be expats here) or I could believe  "I only meet good people".  AND apart from the hairdresser (insert expletives here) that sacrificed my fringe has been absolutely true.
A pretty sweet article that backs up the solidness of this "people are good" approach here

So let me give you a taste of what goes down in my Hood ;-)

.......Stopping by on my bicycle to talk to Keerthie - the IT man to see and all round nice guy. He has helped me with free compost, installing 20 meters of wire to get my internet working, computer advice and even a suggested new bike route we bonded and pondered over the regenerating powers of a bike ride through the paddy fields

...A stop off at the Podi Kade (small shop) to get some fruit. The grandmother has made it her daily mission to teach me Singhala and so I get at least a new word a day (bless her she is VERY patient), love how if I don't have enough money it is "pase pase" (later, later) and that we can exchange our spare coconuts for store credit ;-) Compliments on my varies polka dot dresses (Sri Lankan Ladies often love Polka Dots?!) and inquires about where "suda mama" (white uncle) is from a 2 year old cutie called Benuti round off a charming typical visit

....I borrow some bikes from Chameera - who is starting his own cycling tour business, I have a friend in town... no worries - he lends me bikes  AND gives me some guppies (fish) as he remembered i wanted some... and while leaving his wife hands me a bag of passion-fruit as they remember me saying that they were my favourite. Fruit and thoughtfulness go together rather beautifully I have found.

....I bike past a gorgeous old crumbling house that i admired from the road... but then as often happens in Sri Lanka I got invited in to have an explore (excelent! as I am a nosy minx), with tea and fruit to enjoy with a beautiful family of 3. Yup I do believe unexpected and uncomplicated generosity is always available if you are open to it....

And for me this community, these interactions all link back to something which I believe is so powerful: Simplicity. A desire for simplicity is one of the reasons for me moving to Sri Lanka. Although this word simplicity is hard to define and easily misunderstood.

I for one am glad that simplicity is increasingly being defined for what it is for (connecting and caring for life) instead of what it is against (destructive consumerism). In the 1980's it was seen primarily as "downshifting" or pulling back from the rate race of consumer society. Several decades late there is a growing recognition of simplicity as "up shifting" or moving beyond the rat race to the human race. (Voluntary Simplicity, Duane Elgin)

I guess that is what I am working towards - and as long as my community interactions and daily experiences include free fruit, impromptu singhala lessons, bicycle rides and welcoming smiles I know I am on the right track...;-)

The beautiful old house i got to nose around...

My Daily Bike Route

Fruit tastes best when eaten with friendly strangers

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Reluctant Entrepreneur

Let me explain
You know I was never one of those inspired, independent or brave individuals that had a dream to own their own business. I can clearly remember 2 or 3 occasions in Dubai sitting in front of a young man of some 20 something years incredulously asking/telling - "but you are so young?"  "isn't it scary?" "how did you decide to go our on your own?" It seemed so BIG, to leave a full time job or to start a business when so new in the business world.

My core reason for doing my own thing was maybe a bit different than perhaps some... I wanted to have an adventure and I wanted to learn HEAPS about myself and grow as a result.My intention was to never become an entrepreneur but somehow I have fallen into it...and damn I have fallen hard.
The thing is... you get addicted (no one warned me about that part!) and once you open the door to it (entrepreneurship) the bloody door won't shut! and you start to see other interesting things back there down that hallway and that path.... and you have this new found bravery (because you are still on a high from "oh my goodness i actually did it!") that you go off exploring......

And then... children...(am getting to the moral of the story)... you might just find yourself really FULL a fat kid that has got over excited by too many cake types and topings....who eventually makes herself sick. That is where I am now - realizing I need to tame this monster of "opportunity" - because believe me (and it may sound cheesy), when you tell the universe you are open for business ...some crazy sh*t starts to happen and so many new opportunities and partnerships come your way.

As a result I have taken a big breath and gone back to the drawing board (hence the all important team meeting with myself on Monday) and remind myself there is no need to say Yes to everything and everyone and no need to take everything that comes my way. Warning: when you do not have a "proper job" your inner critic (Saboteur) will tell you all sorts of reasons why you need to take every opportunity that comes your way, and that you really SHOULD be doing more because you know you are not doing 9-5 and earning big bucks yet by any means.

So in the end I decided to do what any self respecting ex media planner would do when overwhelmed and trying to reign in and organize their life  - I created an excel spreadsheet ;-)

Now this I used for me and my new Entrepreneur addiction/mindset but it could work for any of you that feel you have too much on and are no idea where to start or where to cut.
I call the sheet... drum roll please ....... "Making Good Sh*t Happen"
It Includes the Columns:
  • What - what is the project/thing that you have taken on/agreed to/embarking on
  • Priority - give it a ranking (but do this part last after you do all of the below)
  • Why - why the hell are you doing this in the first place? what does it give you? (an obvious and important question)
  • Values fulfilled - how does this feed who you are and what is important to you... eg) creative, social, giving back, family
  • $$$ - does it generate ding dongs...or dollars or whatever . Is it profitable? (just important to recognize if it does or not...)
  • Time Dedication - what are you dedicating per week... is it stealing your time? are you not dedicating enough given its importance....
It was erm quite fun to do (again ex media planner... not my fault) , and you know it was really valuable for me! I believe sometimes we get stuck in the details of being busy and trying to gain approval from everyone and everything that we do not stop and actually assess what we are doing and taking on and why.
So take stock, have a meeting with yourself and see what you really want to dedicate your time and energy to - life is too short to be busy for the sake of busy!

PS: if you are interested to find out more about the coach-ish sounding terms (value fulfillment and Saboteur)  in the above flick me a mail and can give you some resources to play with ;-)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Enough-ism & Concrete

Nothing puts the gravity of permanent decisions to the forefront of your mind like choosing concrete samples.... they are by nature "concrete", can't just paint over them (they are polished and waxed...) And just to make things more complicated there is a real "chemistry" involved too... which means ... today you get light concrete colour and 4 months down the road you might have a sandy yellow... depending on variables such as light, amount of rain... sun.. and for all i know the number of monkeys that stand on it?!
What this has done (get to the point right!?) has really highlighted again this idea of enough, enough information, enough thinking, enough options... How do we know if we made the right decision/s.
And like the Virgo and ENTP I am this opens up a whole can of worms!

How do you reach the holy grail of  "Enough-ism" in your life? or "what is the magic point of enoughness?"

Some of you may know that i am a coach, a certified CPCC and ACC coach... but is that (wait for it) "enough". When i was doing the core curriculum i thought... "when i am certified i will be a real coach" or 'when i am accredited with the ICF professional body i will be a real coach" ... of course then it was "when i have done CTI leadership"  - and the list of things to strive for never ends....

The same thing with actually making the move to Sri Lanka, when we had ENOUGH money, when we had ENOUGH information, when we had ENOUGH of a plan.... luckily I realized this elusive enough did not exist and made the move anyway. Otherwise I would still be sitting in Dubai not following a dream!

So here is the only thing I have figured out that works.
STOP, breathe and just be where you are for a moment, be with yourself (scary as it is) for just a moment and BE
Go oooooonnnnnnnn try it . You can always get started again and start chasing ...(that's a promise)
But you know what, once you stop  you might just feel a different awareness has settled and you might find you are not so in a hurry, or maybe the tension behind the chase will just change. So many of us spend time looking at the past (I WISH we made that wall .3 inches thicker) or in the future... (WILL it be good ENOUGH that my fancy pants friends in Dubai will want to stay) that we forget who we are, what we know and what is important to us.

Finding Enough-ness is a tricky bloody business and there is no magic point that i have found (yet) but looking out for it with curiosity and stopping every now and again has certainly had a profound impact on my happiness.

I love these excerpts from the Book "Enough"by John Naish....
(my first use of hyperlinking on this blog too - woop woop)
  • "The challenge is our old wiring tells us "I want more" the challenge of living in abundance when our brains are programed to fear scarcity is to consume everything we can"
  • Don't let your desire for perfectionism ruin your appreciation for all that which is just "good"
  • There is a spiritual aspect to practicing restraint in the face of more, more, more