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Trim the Fat and Re-focus

November 29, 2011

IT’S ALIVE!!!!!!!!!

I know what you’re probably thinking. Or at least I’d like to think I know what you are thinking as you sit there reading. So humor me and let this delusion in my head live on just a little bit longer. Some of you are probably thinking to yourself, “Wow, Genevieve created a blog! Good for her.” While others are setting there thinking, “Third time’s the charm, I hope she sticks with it this go around.”

genevieve jooste blog

I can tell you that I’m sitting here feeling like it is a little bit of both. While this is not the start of a brand new blog it might as well be given the um, time off, I took between now and my last post. Six months. I know. It’s not something I’m proud of.

The truth is that I got burnt out. I took on too much and kept that up for far too long. I stopped practicing what it is I preach during the social media classes I teach which is to focus your efforts and energy on a few select things rather than dive in and do it all just because you feel you have to (or that it will somehow push you ahead).

Doing it all or at least trying to do it all doesn’t work. Trust me.

Because of the world we live in, we have become impatient and greedy. We’re constantly hungry for the next best thing and we have an unprecedented thirst for knowledge. We want to see more, learn more, experience and accomplish more. Right now is not quite good enough because we’re always thinking of what’s next and what’s to come. Our focus is always on the horizon.

It’s tough to slow down, breathe deep and take a good long look at what is benefiting you and what is not. It’s tough to give things up because there will always be some part of you that feels as though you will miss out on something great or something new.

We want to be everything we can be (excuse the pun) but is spreading ourselves thin the only way to get there? I’m not so sure.

For now, I’m trimming the fat and re-focusing. Getting back to the things I truly love and giving them my attention 100 percent. Blogging is one of them. I love to write and not doing so for months on end has both aggravated and saddened me.

So I’m back, I’m alive and I’m ready to start writing again. After all, third time’s the charm right??

My Trip to South Africa: The Perfect Wedding

May 13, 2011

As little girls we dress up our dolls in the most appropriate attire we can find and align them all accordingly for the wedding of the day. Then, as we get a little older, we dress up, transform and imagine ourselves into a world where we are the ones walking down the aisle to marry our Prince Charming. As time continues to pass our ideas of what we want our special day to look like may change but those changes are never extremely dramatic in nature.

Each girl has some sort of dreamed up notion, one she concocted from an early age, of what she hopes her wedding day will look like. I was one of those girls. I had a picture in my mind of what I wanted everything to look, feel and smell like. It was all about the big day itself.

That idea and picture could not be more different after having been a part of what I believe was the perfect wedding.

When I look back on Gabi and Garon’s wedding, be it today, tomorrow or years from now, what I will remember the most is not the decorations or the dress. As beautiful and breathtaking as both were, when I look back I will remember and cherish a day in which family, friends and love played the starring roles.

Gabi and Garon’s wedding brought together friends and family from all over the world. Guests traveled from Australia, the United Kingdom, South America, Texas, Pennsylvania and North Carolina to not just attend but be a part of something truly unforgettable.

I will always remember…

  • Dropping off my father at the men’s golf outing where my mother delayed tee-off because a group photo to document the moment was an absolute must have.
  • The embarrassment my mother and I felt when we discovered we were the only one’s giving Gabi practical dish towels for her bridal shower instead of the sexy lingerie everyone else and their mother had bought.
  • Being witness as darling Gabi put on one embarrassing “accent outfit piece” after another the night we celebrated her Hen’s party in true fashion.
  • Taking over the living room with the rest of the girls as we oohed and ahhed over the Royal Wedding while making the CD’s that would serve as Gabi and Garon’s wedding gift to everyone.
  • Putting on my creative cap with Emily, a fellow bridesmaid, as we nervously designed, assembled and finalized not only our bouquets but the bouquet for the bride herself (no pressure).
  • Spending a morning getting hair and makeup done with girls who had gone from strangers to good friends in a matter of minutes.
  • Everyone coming together to put the final touches on the wedding cake (which the bride made herself) and the center pieces.
  • The nerves I felt the moment right before it was my turn to walk down the aisle and the rush of emotion and tears that overcame me as I watched one of my oldest friends tell her soon-to-be husband “I do.”
  • Sitting in an open jeep with the rest of the bridal party, drinking champagne, and turning to my left to see a giant giraffe staring at me.
  • Dancing my butt off with everyone at that wedding (bride included) underneath the stars until the wee hours of the morning.
  • Tearing through the South African bush on an ATV (aka quad bike). And by tearing, what I really mean is crawling because I was the slowest person out there J
  • Ending the wedding weekend extravaganza with a low-key evening around the fire reminiscing about all the memories we had made.

A wedding is about a man and woman coming together but it is also about the friends and family they bring together. Many of us who were a part of Gabi and Garon’s wedding had never met each other before but, after the few days that we spent together, we walked away friends for life.

It is something I will never forget.

My Trip to South Africa: The Beginning

May 10, 2011

Where to even begin? I’m slightly at a loss. Trying to find the words to describe the experience I’ve just had feels like grasping at straws. There are certain moments and experiences where words, no matter how eloquent or full of meaning, just simply fall short. There are times when words just simply won’t do. Nevertheless, I vowed to blog about my trip to South Africa, so here goes nothing 🙂

For those who may not know, I was born in South Africa. It is where the vast majority of my extended family lives and while my family moved away when I was four years old and I am now an American citizen, it is a place that will forever hold a special place in my heart.

The reason for our return to South Africa this time around was for the wedding of a dear friend whom I have known since our diaper days together. She is also my godsister as she is my mother’s goddaughter and I am her mother’s goddaughter.

I can’t even begin to count the memories we’ve made together. There are just too many, the best of which include her first trip to the United States for her 16th birthday where we celebrated in style tearing up Disney World, my first solo international trip to South Africa for her 21st birthday where we rung in the New Year and her birthday on the beach in the Eastern Cape of South Africa and lastly her return trip to the United States to introduce me and family to her boyfriend (now husband).

When I learned about Gabi’s engagement, I was en route to Atlanta and almost swerved into another lane of traffic when my mother trumpeted forth the news over my hands-free Bluetooth speaker. I remember feeling so incredibly excited knowing one of my oldest friend’s was engaged and that I would be traveling back home to see her get married. 

My mom, me, Gabi and Lesley

I never expected her to ask me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding. When I read her email asking me to be one of her bridesmaids, I was overcome with emotion (I am even tearing up now recalling that moment). Her asking me to be in her wedding meant the world as our mother’s had been bridesmaids in each other’s weddings when they got married. It was finally our turn to share that moment and experience with one another.

From that moment on, I began the epic countdown till our trip. I wanted time to pass at lightning speed (my dad always tells me that I spend too much time wishing my life away) and now, as I sit here typing, I would give anything to turn back the hands of time and do it all over again, from start to finish.

So what happened during our trip? You’ll have to wait for Part II to find out 🙂

Something about Running

April 11, 2011

Last August I wrote about rising to the occasion and finding the strength to truly challenge myself. And when I say “challenge” I mean it in every sense of its definition:

  • a call or summons to engage in any contest, as of skill, strength
  • difficulty in a job or undertaking that is stimulating to one engaged in it

My “call” or “summons”, if you can even call it that, came last summer when I took a good look at myself and said, “Genevieve, it’s time to get your A into G. Enough is enough.” How many of you have had that same pep talk?

I had always been athletic all throughout middle school, high school and even college. But for some reason, when I crossed the stage to get my diploma, my athletic motivation stayed put, refusing to budge an inch. Ever since that fateful day, I’ve been struggling to regain some form of the motivation that kept me going all those years.

As time went by I got really, REALLY good at finding any and all types of excuses that would get me out of working out. Reading a book, cleaning the bathroom, doing laundry. You name it. That behavior was augmented by the fact that I, more often that not, chose to turn a blind eye to the painfully obvious.

Just completed the Raleigh Rocks Half-Marathon

After years of this unfortunate routine, my “call” came in the form of a half-marathon. That’s right, a half-marathon. They always say you have to go big or go home. I signed up for a training program (with the help of my friends) and haven’t looked back since.

Don’t get me wrong; there have been times when I’ve wanted to stop dead in my tracks. Morning’s where I’ve wanted to hide under the sheets so my roommate can’t find me and tell me its time to go run. Day’s where all I want to do is give up, throw in the towel and call it quits.

But I won’t because running has now become a part of who I am. Something about running fuels me, fires me up and let’s me go to a place I don’t often get to go.

I ran my second half-marathon this past weekend up in Raleigh. It was an unreal feeling to cross the finish line and realize how far I had come since my “Come to Genevieve” moment. I could go on and on about each step I took, the wall I hit on mile 11 and the scenery…if only to delay the moment when I have to gingerly lift myself up out of this chair. Hey, no pain, no gain right?

Setting goals can often be so much easier said than done. But sometimes it’s not the goal itself that motivates us, but rather the act of taking the plunge and venturing into the unknown that drives us.

It is important not to be limited in any capacity. – Aimee Mullins

Happy Birthday Mom

April 5, 2011

Those that know me well know that I have an unbelievably close relationship with my parents. Rarely does a day go by without us communicating in some form or fashion. Phone calls, email, text messages, Facebook and now Skype. I’m pretty sure we’d use Floo Powder if we could.

When a day goes by and I haven’t spoken to my parents, my calls are always greeted with a, “so you ARE alive!” response. I’ll inevitably roll my eyes a little but deep down I know that it is said in jest and with love.

While I talk to my parents probably more than most of my friends talk to theirs, I wouldn’t have it any other way. My parents are my best friends and my rock. We are a family that has moved more times than I can count and as a result we have had to lean and depend on each other more than we normally would have. We’ve been each other’s instant friends when we found ourselves in unknown lands and sounding board when change just wasn’t “doing us good.”

Today is my mother’s birthday (age unknown) and clearly I’ve already called and texted a few times. I woke up this morning and immediately began dialing her number to sing the traditional “Happy Birthday Jooste” song. As I was dialing I found myself reflecting on the past 26 (ugh, almost 27) years and couldn’t help but be overcome by emotion.

My mother knows me better than anyone else ever will. She knows when I’m lying by the tone of my voice and exactly what to say…even if it’s something she knows full well I don’t want to hear.

My mother has nursed me through countless bouts of illness (some more exaggerated than others) and has been there to mend a broken heart or two.

She was there to hold my hand and tell me everything would be ok when I unwillingly left for overnight camp and I was there to do the same for her when she unwillingly left me standing on my own in my college dorm room.

We’ve spent moments together where we’ve laughed so hard we couldn’t see straight (ahem PT Cruiser) and cried so hard we could barely breathe.

But most of all, my mother has been a part of every milestone I’ve had in my life; no matter the distance that separates us.

So, today I want to dedicate this blog post to my Mother. Happy Birthday Mom, here’s to the next 26+ years 🙂

Imagine Life Like A Child

March 31, 2011

A week or two ago I spent an evening catching up with a friend. We met at an ice-cream parlor I’ve grown to love for the simple fact that it doesn’t try to be anything other than a place that sells out-of-this-world ice-cream. No pretenses, no gimmicks, no grander than grand slogan to get you in the door. Just a small shop that sells delicious, no mind-blowing, ice-cream.

On this particular catch-up session my friend brought along his adorable 3 year-old son. I’ve had the pleasure of sharing an ice-cream cone or two with this pint-sized cutie before and, as someone who doesn’t yet have children, I am always absorbed and amazed by his imagination. Where it takes him, what it shows him, the doors it unlocks, how it unfolds and that it can amazingly jump from one topic to the next with little to no effort and without skipping a beat.

After ice-cream, we ventured down to a playground as much for my enjoyment as his (I have to let you know that I’m a giant kid at heart). After realizing that his unrelenting plea’s of “watch this” and “catch me now!” were falling on deaf ears he simply shrugged his shoulders and ventured off into a world only he could see. I watched and realized that not only was I mesmerized but I was jealous.

Jealous of a 3 year-old boy who believed wholeheartedly in endless possibilities. For him there were and are no barriers. No limitations. No road blocks preventing creativity or grand ideas. If he wanted the playground to become a fire station or a church he made it so. That simple.

I envy that type of imagination. As adults, we look at those who dare to dream big and scoff at them when they aren’t looking. We tell them to “reign it back in” and think realistically. We think small steps instead of big ones because we’ve been told, far too often, that thinking big could set us up for failure.

We preach about thinking “outside the box” but how many of us actually live those words every moment of every day? Not many I’m sure.

This morning, in what has become my daily habit, I watched a TED video. I have been routinely inspired by the messages these speakers put forth but today, I was blown away. A 12-year old stood in front of room filled with people 20, 30 and 40 years her senior and delivered a talk that landed her a well-deserved standing ovation.

What truly resonated with me was the idea that, like children, we must think irrationally if we want to overcome the “I can’t” or “that is impossible” mentality. We must dream first, embrace the fear of failing and use our imaginations to push the boundaries of possibility.

Walking the Balance Line

March 28, 2011

Work-life balance. We crave it. Desire it. Search for it. Long for it. Hoping that, at some point in our lives, we find it.

We devote countless hours and many a sleepless night agonizing over work-life balance but what does work-life balance even mean?

I am convinced that too many of us spend our entire working lives trying to figure out the answer to that question. I am also convinced that I spend way too much of my own time struggling to determine how that phrase applies to my own life.

As I mentioned in a previous post, my aspirations, dreams and desires have changed drastically since I was in grade school and college. I am no longer content to sit idly by. Instead, I have decided to become an active member of my generation. A generation that is more connected, driven, excitable, adventurous and likely to juggle multiple things at once due to a short(er) attention span. A generation that is made up of dreamers, wanters, doers and seers.

But (and there’s always a but) because of all that, because of everything my generation believes it is capable of; I am now convinced that we will struggle with work-life balance more so than any other generation that came before us.

We want and expect big things out of life. And, as a result, many of us are willing to sacrifice just about anything to meet those wants and needs. We get so caught up in the big stuff that we forget about the little things and, more often that not, it’s the little things that matter. The little things that help us find and achieve work life balance.

I have fallen into the habit of working on the weekends. Not the type of work that I do during the week but I read and research and read some more. I do that type of work to help keep myself up to speed, hoping that at some point, I’ll be ahead of the curve (silly me). I tell myself that it’s not work because I enjoy the reading, the learning, the researching. I’m passionate about the topic so that doesn’t make it work … right?

Wrong. Those thoughts, that way of thinking, that is exactly what prevents me, and my generation, from taking a step back to fit in and appreciate the little things. Having passion about something is amazing. Having the drive and desire to fuel that passion is even more amazing. It’s when the passion, desire and drive take over that things stop being amazing. At the end of the day my life and existence should be defined by more than just passion, desire and drive.

This past weekend I put all three aside to take time and appreciate little things. On Saturday, I played Laser Tag with my friends and on Sunday I enjoyed (a meal that I’ve neglected for far too long).

The small things matter. Being more balanced doesn’t mean dramatic upheaval in your life. With the smallest investment in the right places you can radically transform the quality of your life and your relationships. – Nigel Marsh