The lesson I learned from the ‘Eat, Love, Pray’ movie + my goals for 2017

“Connect your passion with your story so that you can connect with your audience.” – Quote by entrepreneur Maya Elious

I took a break from my blogging.

This forced me to think about my vision for the blog and what I would like to change. As a creator and leader of a platform (my blog), you constantly have to think of ways to improve your platform – you have to be innovative.

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[All images are sourced via pexels.com]
I realised that I have been kind of fearful of a lot of things and I have not set many goals. This year will be a little different.

My word for the year 2017 will be EXPLORE. I have never chosen a word to describe how I want my year to be. In fact, for the past few years I have not had any new year’s resolutions.

I want to study something, but at the moment I don’t have the money to pay for the course. Money (or the lack thereof) could be a good excuse to sit and sulk, thinking that I won’t get what I want.

TO EXPLORE means that I will look into other ways of doing things.

SO FAR SO GOOD

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During the past few days I have been part of free online courses to help with my writing. This year I want to explore more free courses that are in line with what I want to do.

The entrepreneur Maya Elious is one of the people who gave me some gems about telling my story and using my passion to help people. “Connect your story with your expertise,” is one of the favorite things I heard her say.

Also: “Connect your passion with your story.”

Another achievement: I have finished reading the first book for 2017. I have not finished a book in years!

After realising last year that I read so many blog posts daily that I could probably finish a book too, I have decided to challenge myself.

I know I won’t be able to read one book per week. I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself. Rather, I will try to finish at least five books this year.

Even if a book does not start the way I want – it might start boring, or slow in the beginning, I will continue reading it.

[That’s what basically happened in the book I read recently – later, during the middle of the book, I read so many interesting things that I didn’t want the book to end. The book had a great ending too.]

EXPLORING SOUTH AFRICA

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I went to the Northern Cape for the holidays. I got the opportunity to visit good friends that I have not seen in years. Thank you Miena Jacobs and Megan Du Plessis!

Megan reminded me of something: I should explore my love for food more. Remember the movie “Eat, Pray, Love”?

Well, in the movie Julia Roberts’ character goes to Italy and learns how to enjoy food.

Megan is the Italian teacher in my life. She loves good food and we have always gone to taste a new dish or different restaurant whenever we saw each other.

One of the most memorable meet ups we had was a cookie share event that Megan took me to. Each person who attended the event had to bake cookies – whether sweet or savoury. We all then shared and got a chance to connect with other food lovers.

Megan and I always had a long distance friendship.

Years ago when we met, she worked in Botswana and I lived in Cape Town. She returned to Cape Town and then I moved to Port Elizabeth. We would always meet in Cape Town.

At the moment I live in Johannesburg and she lives in Aggeneys, Northern Cape. My parents live in the Northern Cape, so we met this year on my way back from my parents.

This year I want to work on my cooking skills – I admit that last year I was just lazy. My focus last year was motherhood and the adjustment to it.

I think I am ready to explore new things like trying out new food and visit more restaurants.

EXPLORING MY PASSION

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The reason I applied to study journalism was not because I enjoy news. I wanted to be an author – journalism is a stepping-stone to that.

I am fortunate that I am not only learning how to write stories daily, but I am hearing and reading wonderful and peculiar stories of people.

I’ve had a few fictional characters playing in their own scenes in my head. My aim is to put them on paper this year.

One of my goals is to find a network of bookworms and other authors to connect with. I want to learn as much as I can about book publishing, and also just talk about books or favourite authors.

It’s important to have goals, because this keeps you excited about your life. Having direction means having goals. I find that I get bored easily, so it helps to have goals.

Once you’re in a comfort zone, you should challenge yourself to find a new goal, or you should have steppingstones (smaller goals) to reach the bigger goal.

What do you think of my 2017 resolutions? Also, do you have a to do list for this year yet?

South African writer: Hustle to get your books published

The first poem Melissa Rambally wrote was when she was 12 years old. The writing-bug got hold of her heavily, because at the age of 14, she finished her first short story. Years later, she is now a part-time author known as Melissa Kate.

The Durbanite says this long, hard journey to get her first fiction book published taught her to take rejection like a champ. “It’s a tough journey,” she explains. “When you write your story, it’s your baby and you cannot quite understand why others don’t love it (your work) as much as you do.

“But you must pick yourself up and persevere. Keep at it,” she advises.

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This year she debut her first romance novel, Waiting For You. Rambally recently released her second novel, Love in the Fast Lane.

When Cassarica Nadas of the Amazeblog asked her what she enjoyed about writing, Rambally said: “I just love the thrill of a new love story. I often watch movies or music videos and get so disappointed with a cliff-hanger or a negative ending, and I always think ‘I could have done that so much better!’ Who doesn’t love a happy ending?”

She also told Amazeblog that it helps that writing goals are set. “I try 5000 words per day and for now I only have Sundays to sit down and get the words on the page – the earlier the better.”

The toughest thing about writing is the dialogue, Rambally confesses.

We spoke to her about what it takes to finish your story and get it published. Is it a walk in the park or do you have to hustle?

Here is the question- and answer session we did with her:

Why the pseudonym ‘Melissa Kate’?

Melissa Rambally (MR): There was no special reason for it. I just like the way the name sounds – it’s classy and elegant.

What is your profession?

MR: I’m a Human Resources Business Partner for a Food Service Company.

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What steps did you take to become an author?

MR: The biggest step is to get the words on the page. I am a compulsive planner so I keep a notebook with me at all times. Before I even sit down to start Chapter One, I research elements of my story, and I jot down ideas and possible scenes. It then all comes together once the fingers het tapping on the keyboard.

After that, it’s a matter of having people around you who will read your manuscript and give you honest feedback.

Then it’s the editing; ensure your formatting and spelling is a 100% and submit to potential publishers.

How did you get a publisher?

MR: I did A LOT of research.

Each publisher has their own guidelines for manuscript submissions which are kind of painful because you can’t send them all a generic mail with your story.

I got MANY rejections, so very much and because I am human, I started to get despondent and feel like “What’s the point?”

By chance I sent my book to one last publisher and I assure you, the day I got the email to say they wanted to offer me a contract, I thought for sure it was a big hoax. I didn’t tell anyone I got a publishing contract till I saw my author profile on their website. Lame I know!

What do you enjoy about being an author?

MR: The achievement of knowing you have your name in print – it’s every writer’s dream. Oh and definitely when people love your books, nothing quite like it.

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What would you say are small achievements in your author journey, especially those you have achieved this year?

MR: I’m still a fairly new author – I have only been published this year so I’m still green in the game. It was quite a proud moment when my local newspaper printed an article about me.

Are there misconceptions about what you do?

MR: I don’t think so. I am a pretty open person, what you see is what you get. I tend to also share a lot about myself on my personal blog and my social sites, so there’s always clarity about what I am about and what I write about.

Before you tell us about what your books are about, share some tips for aspiring writers.

Write from the heart and write, because you have a passion to give your characters life.

Don’t give up when you get knocked down. It’s a tough road to get published, but it is achievable and it’s the greatest accomplishment. You got this!

Please share what your two books are about.

Waiting For You was my debut novel. The blurb reads:

Audrey Kelly finds her way back home to Crystal Valley with her bruised pride and a shattered dangerous past mocking her rear view mirror. What she didn’t expect was to be face-to-face with Adam Parker, resident bad boy, sexy Navy SEAL and one of the reasons that Audrey ran all those years ago.

Audrey was the last person Adam had ever expected to see back in Crystal Valley. Over a decade ago, they shared a sizzling night together before he received the worst news of his life and he hasn’t seen her since…until she moved back unexpectedly. She was no longer the sweet innocent girl he once remembered, but Adam has his own problems without having to deal with Audrey’s ice princess recital, no matter how tempting the auburn haired seductress may be.

Sparks begin to ignite between them but can they accept Audrey’s past when it threatens to engage them in a dangerous twist? Can they save each other from themselves and stop running once and for all?

Love in the Fast Lane was released in November 2016 and its blurb reads:

Race car driver, Nathan Wolf, is primed to win his first championship. A thriving career and sexy holiday fling have Nathan riding the high life. But the past haunts him and could ruin it all.

After six long years, Brielle Woods has finally put the past behind her. Or so she thought, until she bumps into the hotshot who turned her world upside down and left her…to raise their son…alone.

Can they overcome baggage from their past and give into the passion that still burns between them? Or will they lose the chance at true happiness and the family they both long for?

Thank you Melissa for sharing. We wish you all the best for the future!

PS. What did you enjoy about this interview?

Success story: Radio journalist share his small victory

I am starting off the week with my “Small Successes” series. In this series, I ask people from various career fields to share the personal achievements they could air- fist pump to. What is a small victory you had this year?

Izak Du Plessis is the first one to share. He is a radio journalist and presenter at RSG in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. This radio station is part of the South African Broadcasting Corporation.

Du Plessis’ love for storytelling makes him passionate about his career. This Gautenger says he also enjoys meeting people and experiencing the extraordinary.

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Du Plessis shared what his small achievement is, and also other little things about himself with us:

Where did you grow up & where are you living now?

I am currently living in Melville. My father was a magistrate who got transferred every three years. So, I grew up all over the country.

Why are you a radio journalist?

I love stories!

What does a day in the life of Izak look like?

I wake up at 5:00am. Rush to work just before 6:00 where I am part of the Monitor team, a current affairs program that takes place between 6:00 and 8:00 daily. After the program we prepare for Spektrum, which is a shorter format of Monitor in the afternoon between 13:00 and 14:00.

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HIS ACCOLADES

Have you won any awards for your job as a journalist?

Yes, in 2015 I received an Afrikaanse Taal en Kultuur Vereniging (the national Afrikaans language and culture association) Veertjie for a series I did on farm attacks.

This year I won the regional and national Vodcaom Journalist of the Year award for my stories on drought in the Bushveld, hijacked buildings in Hillbrow and a series on the Namaqualand.

What would you say are the small achievements you could celebrate this year?

I succeeded in being a good dad – according to my kids – in spite of being divorced. They visit me every weekend and during holidays.

THE FOLLOWING IS VERY IMPORTANT…

Izak, what lessons have you learnt?

Don’t live your life according to the expectations of others.

Thank you Izak for your time. We enjoyed getting to know you!

If you want to share your small achievements with us, email melissajavan1@gmail.com.

Cape Town fashion blogger shares favourite photo-shoot locations

Hello everyone.

Today we are chatting to 19 year old fashion blogger Luke India Ramos about his favourite photo-shoot locations in Cape Town. I spoke to Luke a while ago and asked him what to wear this Summer time. Well, one thing he said he won’t pack away yet is his thin fabric poncho.

I am keeping some of my jerseys out, because Johannesburg’s weather is unpredictable. It rains during Spring- and Summer time.

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HIS SMALL VICTORIES
Before we learn about Luke’s favourite photo-shoot locations, he tells us what small achievements he’s had this year. This is part of Mel’s Postbox’s “Small Achievements” series.
This grade 12-learner of Malibu High School says his small achievements are regarded as “BIG MOMENTS”. You go Luke!

He was first asked to be Master of Ceremonies (MC) at his school’s annual Mr and Ms Matric event. “I didn’t know I would be able to pull it off, but I did! I was a hit, because I was later asked to be MC for my school’s cultural evening event.
“It was so much fun!”

He says another achievement was when he was selected as guest speaker at the career day of the matrics 2016.

Luke added that he was first featured as a blogger by Mel’s Postbox, earlier this year. Awww, it’s a pleasure Luke! We are proud of your big moments.

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WHY HE STARTED BLOGGING?

Anyways, I met Luke through social media. I liked his fashion images on his site, Style The Blog. This South African matriculant started blogging from August last year. “It all started after watching back-to-back episodes of Fashion Bloggers on E! (channel 124).
“I was really inspired and motivated by what those four Australian bloggers of that series did, that I decided to start my blog.”

Ramos says his favourite local bloggers include Jade Robertson from Just Jade Blog, Nadia Jaftha from the Birdline Blog and Aisha Baker from Baked The Blog.

Ramos, who lived in Blackheath and Eersteriver most of his life says besides his love for fashion and make up, his has a great interest for photography and travel.

 

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FAVOURITE LOCATIONS
His favourite places to do a photo-shoot [to get images for his blog] are Stellenbosch, Long- and Bree Street in Cape Town, the Company Gardens in Cape Town and Observatory. “Long Street has to be my all-time favourite location to shoot because it has that city vibe to it and I love anything city.

“The street is always busy and along with the amazing buildings it creates the perfect backdrop for my street style looks.”

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Whenever he has time to take a break from shooting (for his blog), Luke says his favourite hangout spot is Smak Delicatessen & Restaurant (also known as Smak Deli) in Bree Steet, Cape Town.
“This is a coffee bar but has a more minimalist millennial theme. My favourite part about the deli is the fact that one can make up your own sandwhiches to order,” he says.

He adds: “In Long Street there is Beer House Coffee Bar – it is the one place you can enjoy local and international crafted beer and they have a menu that consists of delicious locally sourced food.”

MORE ABOUT LUKE
Luke, who is one of five children says blogging helps him escape from the pressures attached to being the eldest.

Although he has not been blogging for a long time, this hobby taught him to be patient. “I’ve also learnt that you should plan ahead… prioritise.
“Don’t try to do too much at once – just take it one day at a time,” he advises.

You can also follow Luke on Twitter: @lukeindiaramos

[This post was first written as part of The Blog Tag’s Spring theme. Thank you for reading!]

PS. What are your favourite holiday- or photo-shoot locations? Also, what was a small victory for you this year?

3 Lessons For Budding Entrepreneurs + IAAE entrepreneurs share successes

I am a journalist and a budding entrepreneur. I learnt the term “budding entrepreneur” on Saturday 19 November at the “I Am An Entrepreneur” (IAAE) event held in Sandton, Johannesburg.

Before I share some small successes, I want to tell you what some of the attendees taught me. Firstly, I learned that a “budding entrepreneur” is someone who is on his way to be an entrepreneur. This person might be in a job – employed by someone – but is taking steps to open his or her own business.

For instance, I met two partners who have not registered their business yet. While they are busy researching and implementing things to get their company in business, they have already drawn up a contract.

[All images are sourced via pexels.com]
[All images are sourced via pexels.com]
ADVICE FOR ENTREPRENEURS

Tip #1: Draw up a contract between you and a business partner, even if your business is not registered yet. Why, you may ask. This contract will for example list the expectations and duties of each one of you.

Tip #2: Networking is the reason to attend these events. I have already mentioned in a previous blog post that many entrepreneurs attend these events to see if they can get clients. Another reason for networking is that you might meet someone that you can have a partnership with.

Lynette Ntuli, founder of IgniteSA, said that one should make time not only to be interested, but also to share something interesting. “You might meet someone that can help you with something you are grappling with (or vice versa).”

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ABOUT THE IAAE

The IAAE was an opportunity for entrepreneurs and aspiring business owners (budding entrepreneurs) to engage with successful business owners and funders. One of the hot topics was getting funding and strategies to implement if you do not have capital yet.

The IAAE coincided with the Global Entrepreneurship Week. IAAE organised by My Start Up SA and Ignite SA, was hosted all over South Africa.

SMALL SUCCESSES

For my “Small Successes” series, I interviewed two entrepreneurs about what they regard as small victories this year.

Sonja De Buyn Sebotsa, co-founder of Identity Partners was one of the speakers at the IAAE. She said that one of her small achievements this year was hosting a women’s dinner. “I rarely have the luxury to enjoy my personal cultural interests. I enjoy the arts.”

She explained the dinner was a pre-launch of an art fair. “I had invited artists, curators and exhibitors. Among the guests was Pamela Joyner, the largest collector of black art.”

The event was hosted at a friend of Sonja’s home.

The challenge, Sonja said, was the guest list. “We had to invite the right mix of people. Also, we had to sort out things like accommodation for the foreign artists.”

Sonja said another achievement was that Identity Partners have gone in a partnership with Ethos Private Equity.

Theo Ngobeni, fashion designer and owner of Mr Slimfit, was an attendee at the IAAE event. He said his small victory this year was seeing his baby (business) grow. “From struggling to [becoming] stable.”

He added that last year he had two employers. Ngobeni now has seven people as part of his staff. “The fact that I am employing people is an achievement. They depend on me. I am feeding families… I am feeding seven families this year.”

Well done Sonja and Theo on your achievements!