Work

What Women Supporting Women Looks Like

July 23, 2017

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Photo by Adi Kautea Nacola for Talanoa

I haven’t understood how important the whole concept of women supporting women really was until I experienced the un-supportiveness of women I admired and respected. It seemed that while I was in the infancy of my education and career it was easier for these women to be supportive. As my career progressed not only did their support dwindle, but oftentimes they actively acted in ways that were detrimental to opportunities and development.

How easy it is to support those who are trying to find their way. When you’re a little ahead of them, it’s easy to be supportive and encouraging. But what happens when you perceive the same individuals to have caught up, or to be doing better than you. I say perceive because that’s all it is, your perception of their ‘success’ and your perception of how this compares to who you are and what you do. I’ve been challenging myself to be as supportive and helpful to individuals, women especially, regardless of where they are in their journeys. Slowly making their way, or wildly successful.

When the Pacific storyteller, Arieta from Talanoa announced her plans to hold an event in Suva, Patrick and I jumped at the opportunity to attend and show our support. This was before even finding out exactly what her event was about. Here’s what women supporting women, or the spirit of community over competition means and looks like for me – sitting at the back of the room, a baby asleep in your aching arms. Not being able to participate entirely as I would have liked but being determined to be there nonetheless. In the end I rocked my child, breastfeed and followed him around as he tried to get to all the food on the table!

What I’ve learnt about supporting women, and others in general is the importance of showing up and engaging. Using Arieta’s event as an example, I didn’t go in thinking about what Arieta could teach me (though I left with a better understanding of what she wanted to achieve with Talanoa) and I cringed at the price of the tickets (and by two, as Patrick came along as well). But we went because here’s a young woman pursuing what she’s passionate about. My thoughts about the session are irrelevant in this context because what I wanted was to show my support. You don’t always have to understand everything, or agree entirely to show someone support. And there’s nothing worse than talking about something without having experienced it.

It is vital that we put our differences on issues, methods or opinions aside to show support. I think even if you vehemently disagree with someone it is important to engage with them. How else can you strengthen your argument or develop clarity about their point of view. I feel like watching other people succeed, and being a small part of their journey, is incredibly rewarding, but also so important for my own growth and development.

At this point in my life and career I try to support women by offering a few pro-bono mentoring slots, offering a mentoring and coaching program, dedicating a few hours or days of work time to run workshops, training or develop lectures to local NGOs pro-bono, attending events, and connecting as many individuals to other individuals or organisations as I can. Essentially making connections between people and opportunities. And these days my supporting women is supported by the two men in my life. Patrick coming along to show his support but to also help look after our child whom we take everywhere with us!

How do you support women? How do you think women could best support each other? 

 

Philanthropy During Your Fiji Holiday

June 26, 2017

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One of the most common questions travelers to Fiji ask me is, ‘what can I take or do to help people in Fiji?’ Often this is from parents who want to have their children engage with local children and gain an understanding of the Fijian schooling system. Many individuals just want a chance to experience life in Fiji and develop an appreciation for the issues faced by citizens daily. Here are some suggestions for individuals or families looking to become involved in communities around the country during their stay.

Check with Your Hotel
Many hotels have ongoing community projects with local villages. In most cases, hotel staff are residents of nearby visits and visits to the community, or schools can easily be arranged directly through the hotel. Those who have opted to try this have had the best results when setting up the visit once they have arrived in the country. In this way, a community visit can be scheduled on a day where other plans get cancelled due to poor weather or other unforeseen circumstances. Some hotels engage in educational projects, environmental ones or health-related projects, all based on the location of the community and the most urgent needs.

Libraries
A visit to the local library will give you a good sense of the importance placed on education and learning in Fiji. While many libraries are inadequately resourced, they are brimming with vibrant hope. There are over 900 libraries in Fiji. I suggest libraries because you (and your family) might have the opportunity to engage in afterschool or holiday programs (where they exist). There is also scope to offer your story reading services or lead a craft or musical activity. Libraries are also a good place to donate. Many libraries use the donations to give children, who otherwise cannot afford the minimal membership fees, the chance to become members.

If you are interested in donating books I would consider newer titles. Browse through the shelves of many of these libraries and you will notice the absence of the current reference books, the latest pop culture titles, or new titles in general. Too often it is ex-library books from the developed world that gets sent to developing countries. While books of any nature are an asset, it is rather unfortunate for children, and adults for that matter, to miss the Harry Potter series for instance!

Hand Over Your Cash – In-Flight
If you fly Fiji Airways this is an option available to you. Fiji Airways In-flight Cash for Kids program was developed by the airlines cabin crew and helps fund the Fiji Airways charity, Wings of Hope. The program collects unused foreign coins (or notes) from on-board guests which become part of the funding for Wings of Hope. Since becoming aware of the program I have collected foreign currency from all our travels that seem to find themselves all over our home and put them in our travel cases, ready to hand over to the cabin crew. A few Wings of Hope projects have included buses for special education, water sanitation in schools and scholarships. If you do have your currency ready but miss the collection, or do not hear the announcement for it, simply hand it over to a crew member.

Ask and Listen
I find it hardest to calm the excitement and good intentions of visitors who want to fix everything. One of the best things you can do in a new country, and to truly understand the developmental issues is to talk to the locals. Ask them questions, listen to their stories – and truly listen. Local communities often have traditional ways of addressing problems and utilizing this local knowledge will help create sustainable solutions.

Is engaging with local communities important to you when you travel? 

The Business of Wellness With I AM Co

April 10, 2017

I really wanted to bring you a post about business and self-care but I wanted to introduce a voice other then my own. If you follow me on Instagram (and you really should – that’s where my party is at!) you might recall me talking about the monthly I AM Co Delight boxes. I came across this company two years ago – just when I found out I was pregnant and have loved receiving their monthly treats in the mail. It made sense for me to turn to Georgie Hendl the 29 year old founder and director of I AM Co to help create the content for this post. Georgie (pictured below) lives in Auckland with her partner James, and they are expecting their first baby in June. It has been a real treat talking to Georgie about business and wellness, I hope you enjoy this post!

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all photos from I Am Co

 

VMV: Georgie, you run a thriving business that’s focused on health and wellness. But ultimately, it’s still a business with (I assume) all the pressures that being in business entails. So I thought we’d talk a little about business and wellness.

GH: Vanisha, thank you so much for thinking of me for this topic. It’s something i’m really passionate about and trying to constantly evolve in, always learning new tips and tricks to achieve this balance.

VMV: Honestly speaking though, is it possible to run a business based on wellness and be healthy in mind, body and spirit? I AM Co have a beautiful focus on well being and being intentional, but is that how you are personally and in your professional life on a daily basis?

GH: I have always been interested in a healthy holistic life, so finding a way to encompass a healthy mind, body spirit in life and business has been key. Quite early on I knew I had a fascination with food and health, which led me to study food science at University, followed up by an intensive year in Canada where I learnt all things Holistic Nutrition. It was there I discovered yoga and then in the years to come did retreats and trainings to become a qualified teacher. I love the art of yoga and everything it stands for. It is really the cornerstone of what keeps me grounded, centered and content in everything I do. Yoga and meditation have also taught me the importance of the mind and keeping in control of thoughts, which is particularly crucial when running a business! Healthy eating and living a predominantly plant-based lifestyle is also a huge part of what keeps me feeling my best and means I can then give my best to those around me. I believe wellness and self-love (or intentionality) are both key for living a thriving life and running a thriving business.

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VMV: I’ve noticed that the I AM Co delight boxes focus on food and drink, skincare and exercise. Do you see these areas as being the foundation of wellness? Are there other areas that you believe can enhance wellness?

GH: Definitely! I think being aware of what we eat impacts how we feel and how much energy we have to be able to live the life we’re after. Since being pregnant I’m even more aware of how much a huge impact food has on energy and mood. For the first 12 weeks my appetite struggled and I was only able to stomach carbohydrate-rich foods and not a lot of my beloved greens! It really took its toll with my energy output and I believe had a huge impact on my mood feeling slightly deflated and not energized. In terms of skincare, I am always on the hunt for new natural options to use, the less chemicals the better, so we love being able to introduce new brands and skincare products that really excel in this area. And of course movement or exercise in whichever way suits the individual is absolutely key to wellness as well.

VMV: Speaking of moods, business can be stressful, though more honestly, life can be stressful. How do you cope with daily stress?

GH: Making sure I have a calm morning is key, where I’ve had enough sleep, taken a moment to breathe, stretch my body and enjoy a nourishing breakfast – this is always the best way for me to prevent unnecessary stress creeping in. But if it comes on during the day, as it does tend to during anyones work day – I always return to my breath. It sounds so simple, but it truly is the MOST effective thing for me. I can almost immediately sense when I’m stressed – my shoulders get tight, my jaw clenches and my breath becomes shallow. As soon as I can notice one of those elements, I stop and take a few minutes to deepen my breath, notice where my thoughts are at and try and bring just a moment of calm.

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VMV: I have many readers who are new to business, or just starting out balancing business with perhaps a full time job or motherhood (I realise I repeat myself there as motherhood is a full time job!), do you have any suggestions for building personal and professional wellness into a business model or structure?

GH: I think having healthy routines in place that become non-negotiable in day-to-day life are really key in building wellness into business and your lifestyle. It will be different for everyone, but I think figuring out which times of the day you work best or feel your most creative versus which times you begin to switch off or get foggy is really important. Then you can work with these times to be your most productive! So when you’re building wellness into both business and personal life, create daily habits and rituals that make you feel your absolute BEST. So I think it’s the little things that count, like making sure your breakfast is super nourishing; that you have access to plenty of filtered water and a kettle (to make endless cups of herbal tea); you have healthy snacks available and you take time to get outside and away from the computer at least a couple of times a day.

VMV: Would these above tips be the same for those perhaps not in business, but looking to work more wellness into their daily lives?

GH: Yes absolutely, everyone should make the time to find what makes them feel their BEST. Taking time to find stillness and rest as well as making an effort to eat nourishing foods and move your body will help anyone build wellness into their life. It may seem like a chore initially, but once you begin to notice how GOOD you really feel, you will enjoy taking the time for self-care and self-love!

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VMV: Georgie, you’re expecting a bubba, congratulations! Once I settled into my pregnancy I started putting systems in place in my business (and personal life, ie a freezer full of food that we were still finishing three months after Rafa was born – best decision ever!) to allow me to continue working at my own pace as I adjusted to life with Rafa. Have you and your team developed systems to ease this transition for you?

GH: Thank you!! To be honest, I’ve been lucky in that my pregnancy so far has been free of any complications or too many hindrances so I’ve probably put off a bit of the planning that needs to be done! With only 10 weeks to go, it’s seems a good time to start thinking more about it. My plan is to make sure I have lots of delicious easy food in the house, I’m big into smoothies – so frozen bananas will be filling our freezer, as well as plenty of bliss balls and healthy slices. Being vegetarian we eat pretty simply, lots of grains, veggies and beans. I love super quick meals that take no time to whip up, so nourishing bowls or Buddha bowls like this one are definitely a go to. As long as there’s Tahini and a good quality olive oil in the house, I’m set! In terms of the business, I’m lucky that I have a super supportive team who will take over for a couple of months while I make the transition into motherhood. We plan on getting another girl on board before I leave too, so there is definitely plenty to organize before I take some time off to enjoy being a Mama. The brilliant thing about running an online business is that I will always have access to email and the website so won’t be too far away if I’m needed!

Thank you so much Georgie for sharing your time and your knowledge! I didn’t have the heart to edit this post, as I felt so much of what Georgie said would resonate with many of you. You can learn more about I AM Co on their website | Facebook | Instagram And if you’re interested you can get $10 off anything on the site (the monthly boxes, subscriptions and even their new journal) with the code Vanisha10.

 

 

Cultivating Community Over Competition: Tuesdays Together

January 24, 2017

Finding my tribe in Dunedin was difficult and it took a long time. I was working from home, I didn’t know anyone. And meeting people in this city proved challenging. Fast forward a few years and I feel truly settled. I walk down the street and recognise people. We have different groups of friends. We’ve become locals. As I actively sought community I was surprised by the creative tribes that I came across. It didn’t take long before I joined and found my people. Since my birthday party last July which brought together many creatives I’ve been toying with the idea of hosting events for creatives. For no other reason then helping like-minded people meet each other and exchange ideas, offer support and celebrate triumphs.

I’m excited to share that I’ve finally done it! Under the overall brand of the Rising Tide Society which aims “to educate and empower creatives to thrive in the spirit of community over competition” I raised my hand to lead the first New Zealand “Tuesdays Together” group here in Dunedin. Tuesdays Together is a meeting which occurs on the second Tuesday of every month for small business creative entrepreneurs to meet in the spirit of community-over-competition and to discuss industry-relevant topics. There’s a fabulous collection of #tuesdaystogether posts on Instagram if you search that hashtag.

A few Tuesdays ago was our first Tuesdays Together event which saw 10 Dunedin creative entrepreneurs come together to talk about organisation, workflows and creative things in general. We held our meeting at Dog with Two Tails, enjoying a variety of beverages and nibbles. As a direct result of a conversation at the end/networking part of the meeting, Fi from Senorita Awesumo has put together a beeswax wrap making workshop. You can find the details here.

I’m so excited about what the next few meetings will bring. If you’re a Dunedin based creative entrepreneur and like the idea of community over competition, please get in touch! You can find us on Instagram and on Facebook Groups. We’d love to hear from you. Our next Tuesdays Together meeting is on Tuesday February 14th at 6.30pm.

Embracing Culture

January 23, 2017

Sometimes I wonder how it is that my career path didn’t lead to Anthropology. I love cultures and immersing myself in different ones. I find I throw myself into the culture of whatever country I visit. During the time we spent in Timor Leste I worked so hard at learning and speaking Tetum, even though it wasn’t the longest trip. Since Rafa was born I’ve taken an even greater interest in the Maori culture. There are so many ways to embrace culture. My favourites are food, music and language. I find often they are the quickest ways we can gain an understanding of new-to-us cultures.


This year I’ve signed up for a Maori language course (which begins soon) and I’ve been practising a little with Rafa through music and children’s books. I’m so determined to help Rafa understand his cultural heritage and to help him develop a sense of self that whilst perhaps privileged and ‘Kiwi’ is also understanding, inclusive and ‘Pacific’. To do this, I need to set an example. And learning the language is a small first step. Currently we speak three languages in our home, actually two more then three: Fijian and English (the third being Fiji Hindi, but not as often).

In addition to food, music and language I was introduced to another medium through which culture can be embraced: technology. I was thrilled when I noticed emojis on my iPhone were more representative of various skin colours. But what really got my attention was this Maori Emoji app called Emotiki. Emotiki is the world’s first Maori emoji app and was developed the visitor attraction Te Puia in Rotorua, New Zealand. The Emotiki icons were developed in consultation with Maori tribal leaders, which is one of the reasons I feel comfortable sharing and using the app. Collaboration and consultation, I feel, is key. The aim of the app is to share Maori culture with the world using technology, particularly emojis (the worlds fastest growing language!).

The app is free and available for iPhone and Android. There are over 200 Maori and Kiwi cultural icons. The Emotiki stickers are made up of images that can be sent in messages, placed on photos and used on other social media platforms. I’m having a lot of fun using my Emotiki stickers, and it certainly gives me Kiwi friends living overseas a real thrill!

You can find more about Emotiki on their website | Facebook page | Instagram

Fizzy Thoughts and Mentoring

July 27, 2016

I’m now taking on mentoring clients for 2016! But today I’m sharing a review of my mentoring sessions by children’s book author, and a client of mine, Katrien Pickles. She’s a fabulous writer, as you’ll soon see. katrien-pickles-2

Sometimes you have a thought that bubbles up in your brain and makes you feel all fizzy with excitement. Sometimes these thoughts come all at once, and at times when you’re otherwise occupied (like when you’re sleeping or staring into the fridge wondering where the butter went),
and the fizzy excitement takes over and shoots off in a million directions like a firework!
Oh! How beautiful!” you think,
and you try to follow the lights across the sky before their light fades away…
But there is only one of you and
hundreds of little specs of light.
You rush to write down what each little particle of light looked like, but it’s like climbing a mountain with your mind, except you have left your woollen socks at home
and the mountain is getting colder as you climb.
That is when you get distracted because
your puppy is outside and wants to play!
He always wants to play! But this time it is urgent
and he is asking you to come outside
while being on his very worst behaviour.
Soon he will dig his way to the earth’s core so you better
go outside to play!
You open the door and…
Whoosh!
Oh! Wow! Look at that sky!” you say, as the beauty of
The Great Outdoors
hits you and jolts you into the now. The here.
It is just like that, that
the fireworks from earlier fade from your mind
and you are off on an adventure with your four legged friend who needs to show you
all the incredible things there are to see
right now, right here!

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And that is why mentors are so very helpful. And that is why being organised is not something to leave for tomorrow (it’s only a day away…a day away… a day away!). Even if you really hate lists and have a culturally embedded disregard for time. Because otherwise you will float along looking at the fireworks created in your mind, wondering each time how to catch that falling thought, and each time mourning the loss of that incredibly beautiful moment you weren’t able to share.

Vanisha is an inspiring and creative mentor who gently but effectively pushed me to accept that growing up does not smell as bad as boiled brussels sprouts. I reached out to Vanisha at what felt like a ditch in the road, but was in fact a crossroads. She quietly placed seeds of thought and motivation during her mentoring sessions that I tended to without realising and then saw growth. Besides mentoring, Vanisha is a mother, wife, PhD graduate, researcher and blogger. Vanisha is currently working on a Very Important Project (mamahood) so she has finished up her mentoring sessions for the year. For me, two mentoring sessions made an enormous difference for my approach to productivity, so I’d keep an eye on her instagram to see when she’s taking on more mentoring sessions.

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all images courtesy of Katrien Pickles | Instagram | Facebook | Website

As with anything, this is a process, so I can’t promise I’ll be on time to all future appointments, but it’s an exciting time to be my google calendar! For ages it has just been sitting there on its own (I had no idea it existed). Recently, it had its first invitation to an event (I accepted!) and so began my love affair with google calendar. Now I’ve branched out to google drive and even apps. It’s madness over here. I can’t give up on my love of pens and notebooks though, so that is still where most FIZZY thoughts get captured.

This difference now is that those FIZZY thoughts get moved into actions. And sub-actions, because let’s get real: We all know I need to drink copious amounts of tea and go adventuring through blogland before doing anything ‘productive’.

With Vanisha’s help, I learned to set realistic goals for me, for my passions and for this little book business. I thought I’d share some bits and pieces that were helpful for me on this journey to being more organised a.k.a. GETTING STUFF DONE!

Find out more about Katrien and her book Georgina and Dad The Dragaon here. And if you’re interested in some mentoring sessions, send me an email! I’d love to hear from you!

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