When entrepreneur, Laura Gassner, was offered generous remuneration for a 40-minute speech, she was astounded … until her husband reminded her, “No, you are getting paid for 25 years and 40 minutes of work.”
That is when this truth came home to her: “We are not just the person we appear to be in the moment; we are the sum total of all that has come before us.”
Laura says, “For those of us later in our careers, it is the compounded wisdom of decades of experience, of successes and, yes, failures, too. At any place along our personal and professional evolution, it is never the momentary glimpse of genius but the hard yards that came before it.”
My favourite take-away from Laura’s article is this: “We have to think in terms of value and not just price.”
Value what you bring to the marketplace – stay open to learning and growing, but know that you have a valuable contribution to make.
When Olga Flanders life took an unexpected turn when her husband developed early onset dementia, she was tempted to feel sorry for herself. This was not the life she had planned for them in their second chapter. Also, she needed to generate additional money, and to combat her own loneliness.
Here is Olga’s own account of how she gathered her courage and created a fulfilled life … making lemonade when life gives you lemons!
Jeff, my husband, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in his early 50s. I was still working in a corporate job and needed to balance that with taking care of him. I knew I would need to generate more money, especially when the time came for him to be admitted to a care facility.
I considered what I loved doing out of which to create a parallel career. I love animals, and am not afraid to try something new. I started to work for a small house- and pet-sitting company, but was soon put off by the fact that the company manager did not check on the quality of care being given. I resigned after an assignment that required me to care for 12 dogs at once. After my one-year restraint of trade expired, I started my own house- and pet-sitting service.
There was no need for me to advertise. I was still working in my corporate job, so that’s where I got the word out. I currently have 18 clients on my books, and my business is small and contained. My corporate managers don’t mind my ‘side hustle’, if I am getting my day-job work done.
In peak seasons, the demand grew so much that I decided to employ my sister, Suzy. We work so well in tandem: Suzy prefers smaller dogs, and is more a people person. On the rare occasion where there is, for example, an older person living on the premises while we are house-sitting, Suzy happily chats with them and is more nurturing; I, on the other hand, am happiest among animals. I am happy with my own company. Suzy is not comfortable with the bigger dogs, while I have no problem managing them.
The software company I work for is based in Melville, but I can work remotely, so seldom leave the pets in my care alone for longer than a few hours per day.
I still enjoy my day job. I am appreciated and do whatever is required. My primary role is to monitor tasks and ensure they are delivered on time, while managing any customer feedback; however, I take on admin tasks, tidy the kitchen, check the food for the former feral feline, Sabre (now our company mascot). The owner of the company has an additional business in medical supplies, and I assist with administration there also, and will grow with that company. So, you can see that I am adaptable and willing to set myself to work. This flexibility is partly why I have been able to create my own successful business.
I wouldn’t do anything that violates my principles and values; I don’t accept assignments, for instance, where the pets are left alone, and I only need to pop in to feed them daily.
Setting up for success
I bring my administrative strength to my business. When a client is referred to me, I obtain their full contact details – email address and phone number. I then send an information document that includes tariffs and exclusions. Clients also are required to fill in a form listing emergency contacts, their vet details (including if there is a client account there), and other information. I have to ensure that I can fulfil their requirements before I undertake the assignment (for example, I am reluctant to care for expensive and exotic creatures. I once had to feed owls frozen rats and chicks! I have taken care of turtles, tortoises and geese in the past. I declined one assignment where I did not feel secure on the property.
If the assignment is further than 25kms from my home, I charge a surcharge; if it is more than 40kms from my home, I do not accept it. Our services span from East to West Rand, and most of our assignments are in the Northern suburbs, with Bryanston being my favourite – there are gated areas to safely run the dogs.
Our minimum rate R170 per night for two pets, and we charge an extra R20 per pet per night. If there are special needs for the pet, such as administering medication, the client and I agree on an added fee. I like clients to be clear – the best clients are the ones who know what they want. The most difficult assignment is a single dog, who is big and spoiled. I prefer to bring my own food, and don’t mind shopping for the dog food.
House- and pet-sitting is easy work. I have done so many assignments this year that I have hardly been home (I spent seven weeks of the year at home); others might find themselves getting tired of living out of a suitcase and in other people’s bedrooms. Opportunities come with your assignments – one client, for example, wants me to help wrap up his admin affairs before he emigrates.
When Louise and Roger Ketley returned from a series of family scuba diving and snorkelling holidays at Rocktail Bay in northern Maputaland (KZN), it was with more than fond memories!
Having witnessed turtle nesting and hatchings, these Chartered clients set the goal of volunteering with a project to fulfil their hope of witnessing baby turtles’ frantic race to the sea. This objective recently found its fulfilment in a conservation programme in Greece – a volunteering project that suited both of the Ketleys, as a ‘senior’ married couple.
Louise and Roger signed up for the final two weeks of a programme run by GVI (Global Vision International), a UK-based volunteer organisation focusing on wildlife conservation and community-based projects around the world. Here is their experience in their own words.
Duties and discoveries
Based in Giannitsochori, a small, traditional Greek village, we were housed in a modest and comfortable bungalow with proper bedding, a private toilet, hot shower, air-conditioner and bar fridge. We met the other volunteers and staff members at dinner in the campsite taverna (it became a welcome oasis with superb local cold beer, metaxa, and first-class coffee!).
We were seven volunteers (the average age of which shot up to about 35 once we joined!) and three GVI staff members: two Spaniards, two Columbians, two English, and one American and Hungarian, plus us two South Africans … 10 in all, and only two men. Being somewhat older than the others, we did not know quite what to expect or how we might fit in, but the GVI staff made us feel welcome and we enjoyed mixing with the youngsters – I couldn’t help wishing that I was 40 years younger!
The project coincides with the loggerhead turtle nesting and hatching season (June to September) during the hot summer months. Although we had the weekend off, we three new volunteers received a briefing on that first Sunday, and then duties for the week were allocated to the teams. Volunteers participate in different roles depending on the time in the season, including daily beach surveys to record nesting activity and to protect turtle nests against predation by mammals and inundation by sea water, measuring the turtles and recording data, excavating nests, stacking protective nest grids, and camp duties when not on surveys. Volunteers also provide important conservation information to overseas visitors and the local community.
In the stretch of beach monitored by both GVI and ARCHELON (the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece) were over 3,000 turtle nests: the beach was segmented – both north and south of the camp site – and in the GVI areas alone, spanning roughly 10 kms of beach, there were over 800 nests. September being the end of the season, many had already hatched, but we still expected to see some hatchlings. Nest excavations would be our main task, though, as it is important to determine how successful nests had been.
Camp duties included cleaning and cooking, and stacking protective grids once returned from an excavated nest. Provisioning and cooking were interesting challenges given special dietary requirements, from vegans, vegetarians and low carb diets to straight-forward carnivores! The local water is drinkable, but we bought bottles of spring water just in case.
Each beach survey team comprised the GVI leader for the day plus two or three volunteers; the camp duty team consisted of the two remaining volunteers, while the third member of staff would have a day off, or would shop for supplies or collect the two survey teams from the beach. The plan was to be back at the camp site for lunch. On occasion, after dinner, we would enjoy a spectacular sunset swim together.
The Ketleys continue to recount their adventure as volunteers for turtle conservation in Greece – proving that giving back can be both fun and rewarding.
Each nest is carefully identified with a beach sector code, a unique number and date of discovery, or laying if an earlier team had observed a laying turtle (she would be tagged and measured). Sometimes a nest is discovered by predation (by stray dogs or foxes), but in every case the nest is protected with a metal grid and anchored by bamboo stakes or flat stones. A “do not disturb” warning sign in three languages is placed at the nest, with the necessary identification information.
On our first day on the beach, we immediately saw a number of nests … and, with dismay, the many (illegal) summer beach bars (one named Caribbean Bar!) right on the beach with semi-permanent grass umbrellas and sun beds – right amongst the turtle nests, competing for beach space. The fear is that these bars contribute to light pollution and so prevent turtles from laying or lead to the disorientation of the hatchlings. Beach goers had also constructed less permanent bamboo dwellings of their own, and there was evidence too of beach fires – all potentially obstructing a hatchling’s dash for the sea! Our task was to photograph (surreptitiously) all these obstructions and count the umbrellas and sun beds for reporting to the authorities. In addition, we would come across vehicular tracks on the beach, again with the potential to carelessly destroy established nests. We were warned not to antagonise beach-bar owners or their patrons in fear of deliberate destruction of nets or nesting sites in retaliation – a delicate balancing act, complicated somewhat by the language barrier.
Safeguarding survival of a species
If we came across hatchling tracks, we recorded this, and then swept the tracks away in case there was a further hatching the next night to be added to the tally. Sometimes we came across a “mass hatching” – a nest’s first hatching of 20 or more babies – and, if even luckier, we would witness a hatching and then ensure that the baby turtles made it safely to the water’s edge. It was important not to handle the hatchlings – they had to exercise their flippers and have time for their in-built GPS systems to register their whereabouts. If a hatchling showed signs of disorientation, we could dig a shallow trench to the sea for it to follow … a necessary human intervention. Hatchlings showing signs of stress or fatigue were reburied, and the place marked with a bamboo stake.
It being the end of the season, our main task was excavating “expired” nests: carefully
Locating the nest’s egg chamber by removing the protective grid and scraping away the surface sand, then digging down into the nest proper to remove all the eggs. On occasion we found live hatchlings, later to be “escorted” to the sea. All hatched eggs are counted and recorded, and unhatched eggs broken open and examined to see if embryos existed, or if there was no evidence of fertilisation, and then total clutch size recorded.
My most successful nest was 125 hatched eggs, but the record (held for two successive weeks) was held by the American volunteer: 133 hatched eggs – a remarkable outcome. Initially, our tasks were quite gruelling, not the 5km walk, but more the regular getting down and up off the soft sand while excavating nests. I developed a “prayer mat” to protect my knees from the rough sand paper! It got better as the days progressed, and I’m proud to say that we never slowed any of the teams down, and completed the tasks assigned to us … perhaps to the surprise of our much younger colleagues! While on beach surveys we engaged with local and foreign visitors (mainly from Germany, Austria and France), many very interested in what we were doing – in some cases, they gladly offered to assist with shepherding hatchlings to the water’s edge.
Such were our tasks for the two weeks – with a visit over the intervening weekend to the local historic town of Kyparissia. We had great fun with literally hands-on work with one of the most endangered species in the Mediterranean, living in a quiet area near a traditional fishing town. With the thrill of watching the hatchlings head for the sea, we knew that, if we were not able to make a difference in the two weeks, we certainly made a lasting one-off contribution to the preservation of endangered turtles and the wonder of God’s creation!
Here are some fascinating facts about these endangered creatures.
There are seven species of sea turtle worldwide, all descended from the Archelon, a now extinct prehistoric reptile (100 to 66 million years old); this late Cretaceous turtle grew to 4m in length, twice the size of any present-day turtle. The largest Archelon fossil, found in the Pierre Shale of South Dakota in the 1970s, measures more than 4m long, and about 5m wide from flipper to flipper.
Sea turtle populations are under threat worldwide – a direct result of the degradation of the nesting beaches, accidental capture by fishing vessels, commercial use and pollution.
Greece hosts about 60% of the total number of nests of the loggerhead turtle (Carreta carreta) laid in the Mediterranean. Every summer, from May to end August, hundreds of female turtles come out at night to the nesting areas of Peloponnesus – by instinct they return to the beaches of their birth, using their internal magnetic compass. There are few places in the world where this occurs and fewer in the Mediterranean. They dig an egg chamber in the sand to deposit about 120 fragile eggs the size of golf balls (about 4cm in diameter). The eggs must remain undisturbed in the warm sand for about 60 days to incubate. The temperature of the sand seems to determine the hatchlings’ sex – warmer sand makes female hatchlings more likely. From mid-July to end October, the hatchlings emerge from their nests, usually at night, and race towards the sea. It can take up to three days for the full clutch of eggs to hatch and hatchlings to exit the nest.
A female loggerhead turtle can lay up to seven times per season, every two to three years. Sadly, even under natural conditions, an estimated one in 1,000 hatchlings reaches sexual maturity, and, for loggerhead turtles, this can take 12 to 15 years.
GVI from which can be found projects in South Africa – wildlife conservation, including Elephant research in Limpopo.
Liz is one of those people who simply inspires you by just by being in her presence. She is a “glass half full” person whose passion and energy are contagious.
You have probably heard of the Clamber Club? It’s a fun learning club for babies, toddlers and preschoolers that develops a child’s brain and body in stimulating and fun ways.
Let us introduce you to Liz Senior, creator and founder of Clamber Club.
Liz started this initiative as a side-line business and finally established the Clamber Club in 1990. Over the past 28 years, she has built this business to 65 franchises and still runs the flagship branch. She has also produced a range of CDs, DVDs and toys for babies and young children that promote exercise and movement, all available at franchise outlets, baby stores and selected toy stores.
It is a rare find to meet someone who derives so much inspiration and fulfillment from her work. Liz finds the financial independence and freedom that the business brings extremely rewarding.
But Clamber Club brings so much more than just financial benefits. It also gives Liz the opportunity to give back. She loves making a difference when parents and children connect through Clamber Club and finds it gratifying to empower the various franchises.
Liz has just about perfected the art of living life in balance and has a natural, intuitive way of filling her Bucket Wheel® to ensure that she gives attention to the other parts of her life that bring her joy. Yes, of course, there is always room for improvement, and every Bucket Wheel® is a work in progress, but you would have to look long and hard at Liz’s Wheel® to find any gaps.
To cultivate both her friendships and connections, and also her “learning” (an added benefit), Liz has included clubbing on her list of meaningful activities.
Apart from Clamber Club, here are a few other clubs and hobbies that add significance to Liz’s life: a book club; lunch and dinner clubs with different groups of friends such as the Libra lunch club; an embroidery group; a Stokvel; and a monthly gathering of former school friends. She also sings in the Johannesburg Bach choir and is part of a walking group, doing such walks together as the Wellington wine walk.
Still on the topic of clubs and hobbies, Liz’s future plans include doing pottery, art lessons, improving her guitar skills and learning how to edit movies.
We love the fact that Liz has included these hobbies and clubs in her Bucket Wheel®. Joining a club or group has so many benefits: it allows you to meet new people, or if it’s a closed club, like Liz’s supper club, spending good, quality time with your friends. At the same time, it helps you to keep engaged and to learn something new.
We can think of no good reason why clubbing should not be a central part of everyone’s Bucket Wheel®.
Our Chartered clients often share the many ways in which they are keeping themselves mentally challenged, in keeping with the LEARN category of the Wheel of Balance.
From career related learning, to leisure activities such as Bridge and photography, to online courses and games, to creative activities, like painting or dancing. And then … there is the annual Chartered Quiz.
In September, we hosted a Spring quiz for our clients at Chartered House. Teams were named after famous international pubs, such as The Crown and Anchor. Who would have thought there would be a team called The One-eyed Rat?
The competition was fierce, with teams rushing to devise the correct answers to questions across eight categories, including “Current Affairs”, “What in the World?” and “Masters and their Masterpieces”.
The general knowledge of the Chartered clients and planners proved impressive, belying the quotation from the quiz category “Who said that?”: Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe. (Do you know what famous physicist said that?)
Maritime team prevailed, and beaming team members received their prizes. David Wallington was the winner of the draw. Filled with a delectable meal and a sense of achievement, the 2018 Chartered Quiz teams concluded the evening with the promise to challenge their rivals again next year.
Retirementor, Colleen-Joy Page, reminds us that Play can help us find our Purpose.
If 20 people see a sunset, why can’t all 20 see its beauty? Is the sunset giving more beauty to only some?
Often, we don’t give ourselves permission to see life’s beauty or to free the natural playfulness within us. Sometimes we think life has taken joy from us, or that we can only have fun under certain conditions. But, remember the child within you: rediscover the joy of simple things: the feel of sunlight on your skin, the joy of dancing with abandon, or the night stars, as you lie on the cool grass and breathe in the awe of the cosmos.
Sometimes if we are willing to drop our expectations, and see with the innocent fresh curious eyes of a child, we can find fun and joy in any moment. Ask yourself: “What do I really feel like doing right now?”.
What answers would free you to play?
Don’t be a tourist to your own life; let beauty, joy and play be free within you to fill all the empty spaces.
Redefining Work makes it meaningful
Retirementor, Lynda Smith, coaches her clients to define their passion and talents.
She uses this diagram helps them to craft a new kind of work. “It is critical to experiment and plan – think of all roles your portfolio life might include: consulting, volunteering, Board member, mentoring, a whole new enterprise, collaborating,“ Lynda says.
Lynda’s approach has three steps:
1. Create your Individual Vision List of goals to achieve, dreams to fulfil, experiences to have. Prioritise the 10 most important ideas on your list.
2. Share your list with your spouse or partner: listen to each other; appreciate what the other wants
3. Create a shared vision based on both lists. Figure out a flexible timeline.
Learning to love dance … together
Our clients, Brian and Ronelle Baker, were surprised that their second foray into learning to dance was so different to their first. Now they are having fun, keeping fit, learning and growing their relationship at the same time.
Our wellness Retirementor, Joni Peddie, reminds us how essential daily health habits are to maintain physical flexibility.
Feeling tense and depleted at the end of a day doesn’t have to be the norm. Try stretching (in a subtle or deliberate way) every hour – it’s a great way to release stress and ground yourself. Stretching relaxes your muscles and increases blood flow throughout your body.
Stretch while you are lying in bed, in the shower, even in the car – simple neck turns and arm stretches will do the trick. When reaching for something on a top shelf, take a breath, move slowly and hold the stretch for 20 seconds. (www.resilientenergycenter.com)
Giving Back … to the world!
Retirementor, Jeunesse Park, blogs about ways in which we can give back, especially to create a legacy for the next generation in preserving our planet, and protecting the dignity of every person.
She says: “I have never considered myself wealthy but feel blessed and grateful to have enough to eat daily. Yet, I live with an innate sense of the injustice and inequality of our society, driving me to devote most of my working life to the non-profit sector, focusing on uplifting lives through greening and food.”
Norma and Rhys Rolfe returned from France to spend three weeks taking care of their family’s homes and pets … a bit of rest and relaxation after their six weeks on the road. Now they find themselves in Ireland for a month before they return home to South Africa at the end of September.
For the first time in over a hundred years, Ireland, a country with a sad history, is experiencing a greater number of people returning to the country than leaving it. The little towns and harbours on the coast are very quaint, and so much has been modernised and improved here since Ireland became a member of the EU. The roads, farms, buildings and facilities have improved since we were here in 1975 and 2007. We enjoyed driving down the Hook peninsular to Tramore just south of Waterford where we spent a few days.
We are so enjoying the Irish, who have a very dry sense of humour and are a very friendly people. We are in the South-East at the moment where Gaelic Football and Hurling are the popular sports. They seem to make things very casually and are certainly in no rush. I think Ireland is a very easy country to live in, without the weather. I think, even with the weather, we could live here.
During the potato famine in the 1840s, one million people died and one million more emigrated. A mass grave at Skibbereen is the burial site of eight to 10 thousand people. The population of Ireland in 1840 was over eight million. After the famine, in 1851, the population numbered 6.5 million, and today the population is 4.7 million. Interesting figures.
The first Temperance Hall in Europe was built in Skibberdeen in 1833; this has been replaced by 26 well-patronised pubs.
We visited the monument to Michael Collins, a leader of the IRA, who was ambushed by members of the IRA who were dissatisfied with the peace agreement in 1922 of which Collins was a signatory.
Markets are very popular in villages and towns, in spite of all the supermarkets. The fare on offer is fresh but more expensive. I could not resist a nice Plaice and a kilogram of prawns, plus local cheese and some veggies. All very nice. We do enjoy buying local cheese in the areas we drive through.
In Skibbereen Main Street, the buildings have been painted in different colours instead of the old cement colour, making a huge difference to appearance. We stayed in Bantry Bay, a beautiful area on the South-East coast. Unfortunately, it was raining, but the forecast for the next day was good. Yesterday we went to Mizen Head.
Our road trip today from Dungarvan to Blarney was beautiful, especially the little fishing village of Ardmore, a quaint little town on a beautiful bay. The countryside is beautifully green, typical Ireland.
The 12th century round tower is one of the best examples of these structures in Ireland, built by the Monastic monks to safeguard their valuables and themselves if attacked. The St Declan’s church stands on the site of the original monastery next to the tower. There are 9th-century carvings set in unusual panels on the western wall.
We visited Blarney, a few kilometres outside Cork, famous for its castle and the Blarney Stone. The weather remained good, fortunately, and we continued to enjoy the Irish and Ireland.