What taking some time out did for me
I had come to Joburg, joined the rat race and experienced a total change of pace and lifestyle during this time. I had also exhausted myself trying to do everything. After a while it felt like I wasn’t achieving much.
I had found a steady rhythm and comfort zone in my work at Quirk, but I needed a change. What that change was, I wasn’t sure.
I had arrived at Quirk in 2013. I had jumped into a frenzied river of digital advertising and allowed myself to be swept along with the rush. But while I was immersed I could not lift my head to see beyond the rapids.
I needed to sit on the bank for a while, dry off, and come back to myself. So I resigned, with two months’ notice, and no plans come October. A bit of a luxury, some would say.
Things somehow fell into place. I managed to set some work up as a freelancer, which took me through to the end of the year. I would look for more permanent work in January, I told myself, after I’d had some time to mull over my life’s direction for a while. I managed my time and clients so that I would only work for half of each day, and spend the rest of my time and headspace doing all the things I desired: Attending to areas of my life that had long been dormant.
This has been one of my best decisions.
How it went:
The pressure was off. There was just enough routine in my days to keep me from sleeping in and disappearing into TV series and soporiphic faffing. I had enough income to pay the rent but not enough to be extravagant. I cooked creatively. I stopped and talked to people. And I had Joburg before me! I had been so eager to explore the city on my own since arrival. I’m not talking about that migration to Maboneng that happens on the weekend. I wanted to be out during office hours, to wander at will, and to see the city without weekend plans.
Here are some of the things I did:
I had heard good things about the urban agriculture initiatives run by UJ’s design and development departments. I connected with Angus Campbell and Naudé Malan, attended their Soweto Farmers Forum, and met some fascinating people while at it. Tony Lopes is one of them.
Listened to some biomimicry experts who were visiting South Africa
I also met up with Tony again at a Biomimicry Workshop at the Standard Bank Innovations Lab, a rather hip & happening startup space in Cradock Avenue, Rosebank. International biomimicry experts presented their work and ideas, hosted by Biomimicry SA. This was content I had been missing!
There I also met Dita and Jaydon, who I kept in touch with after we found out we had a lot of ideas in common. (They’re now building their own eco home, which I hope to share on this blog soon).
Did my Social Media 101 thing all over town
My friend Jen van den Busch and I also hatched a plan to use my social media marketing skills where they could be useful, and Jen set up a series of workshops through her NGO networks. I gave interactive social media talks to young entrepreneurs in the CBD at Boundless Cafe, to artists at the Platinum Sketch Studios in a downtown building in Jeppe, and to the Gauteng Institute for Architecture at their HQ in Maboneng. I found out that their amazing space on Fox Street, not normally open on weekends, is a cafe and freelancer-friendly spot during the week. I loved the space and came back several times, enjoying the surroundings (and Babette’s amazing baguettes).
Threw myself into an urban forum, and some other forums
I also signed up for the Cambridge Forum for Sustainability & the Environment & African Centre for Cities forum on on What does a ‘smart’ African city look like, and went along out of curiosity. I hadn’t prepared for the level of engagement that would be required from attendees, and found myself sitting at a table with an array of highly qualified sustainability and city development professionals. We listened, discussed, and enjoyed drinks with a magnificent view over Joburg afterwards, on the deck of the Emoyeni Hotel. What a beautiful spot!
I also signed up for a public engagement session at Greenpeace, where myself and a handful of others spent the afternoon imagining scenarios and debating the challenges and potential of this very unusual organisation. I met Lorraine Jenks there, another inspiring person who I have kept in touch with.
The Market Theatre is surely one of Joburg’s heritage landmarks. I signed up for Creative Mornings, and enjoyed a very early morning (for creatives, at least) of talks and coffee, next to its most beautiful windows. The subject that morning: The importance of side projects, by Craig Rodney.
Quality time, unscheduled
I emphasised, for myself, quality time. There was no rush. Occasionally I felt the familiar need to go out, be somewhere and accomplish more. I consciously held myself back. I know am my own worst enemy, and had developed the unhealthy habit of pushing to the point of exhaustion.
I also spent a lot of time lounging at home, drinking coffee, drinking tea, reading books, surfing the internet and napping. On most days I took a nap after lunch.
My body had been rather neglected for a while, and I relished the opportunity to have time to go for runs in the neighbourhood, walks in the park, walks to get groceries, and take the time to make food that I loved. I also occasionally met up with friends for coffees. It was a time of soulful self indulgence.
Did it work for me? Yes, glorious yes.
It allowed me to reconnect with myself and my mission, rebalance my body, explore possible scenarios for my future, and relax after an extended intense period of my life. By January I was ready for a new challenge and confident that I was making the right decision.
I think it worked because I was purposeful about it. It was a conscious, but gentle, mission.
I’d highly recommend this as a way to recover, and rebalance one’s life; as a pause between one big step and the next.
- Posted by admin
- On January 16, 2016
- 0 Comments