Coffee Chat with Melissa Ramkissoon – President, Office Guardians Inc.

Catching up with Melissa has always been a breath of fresh air! We first met over 10 years ago, in our unmarried days, and what I loved about her was her exciting and candid personality. She was always brimming with new ideas and I left our meet-ups with a smile.
These days our circumstances have changed – we have a lot more responsibilities: families of our own, jobs and businesses plus we’re now in different countries – Australia & Canada. However, this coffee chat with Mel brings all the memories flooding back. Over ten years later and she’s still brimming with exciting ideas and refreshingly candid! She has also proved that she’s not just a dreamer, but also a doer.
If you’re an entrepreneur or thinking of starting something exciting, you’ll love what Mel has to say.

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COFFEE CHAT

Hey old friend, what do you do these days? Continue reading

Coffee Chat with Jo Hoban – Ceramics Designer, Copywriter & Editor

 

12593711_567064436793580_8896262244440672813_oIt was one of those ‘furnace’ hot days with nature’s humidifier blowing at 120%, but I barely noticed it as I sipped on ice tea and chatted away with Jo Hoban from Jo Hoban.com.au on her zen green balcony.
Jo is a  professional, freelance copywriter and editor with a particular interest in art, design and learning to live more sustainably. Her words have appeared in various print and online publications including The Design Files, Home Beautiful, The Planthunter, and Green Magazine. She is also a budding ceramics designer, studying ceramics part-time and experimenting with making functional wares. The focus of our chat was mostly on her designing.
We chatted about motherhood, creativity and making sense of life’s journey then we retreated into her pottery studio (as I hoped we would) to chat about her designs, inspirations, how it started and how well she’s wearing all her hats.

Before I dive into the ‘details’ of our coffee chat, here are a few of her amazing creations Continue reading

Coffee Chat With Mom of 2 & Business Owner – Enhanced Business Solutions

For today’s coffee chat, I caught up with Therese from Collaroy, New South Wales. She is the  Business development manager at Enhanced Business Solutions, a business she and her husband have grown from the scratch. In our chat she reveals how she juggles full time business with family, she also talks about being hit by the GFC and what inspired her to carry on through that challenge. As a reward for all their hard work, their business was a finalist in the 2015 local business awards for Australia’s northern beaches.

 

11794521_496795143820510_2908067613390170801_o Continue reading

Coffee Chat with Graphic Designer & Owner – Tab Graphics

Today I have the pleasure of featuring Tiffany Gouge, a graphic designer and the owner of Tab Graphics based in Orange, NSW Australia. As a mom who juggles work and business, I am always fascinated by how others juggle work or business with family and what they do to flourish. In our interview, Tiffany reveals how she makes her everyday work for her, her family and her clients.

 

11334283_486146284885396_1192870106246159454_o Continue reading

Coffee Chat: With a Creative Entrepreneur Who Moved Her Family Across Continents

Do you ever fantasize of moving across the world to somewhere more exciting? Well I do. In fact, I plan our move to somewhere with perfect weather like the Maldives, I imagine the new friends, new home, new city to frolic around in THEN I remember that I’ve got three kids which means – schools, complicated visa process, expenses expenses expenses, SO I stop being silly and get right back to earth and to living in Brisbane. At least the weather is perfect here in Spring and Autumn. BUT THEN AGAIN I remember Kat, who moved with her family to Canada, and I think it might not be impossible after all.

 

I caught up with Kat for today’s coffee chat and she now calls Vancouver home after growing up in Australia. Of course we talked about how she made the BIG MOVE. We also talked about the challenges she met along the way and having to redefine what flourishing meant for her in a new country.

View More: http://backyardlace.pass.us/kat-and-josh-family

Continue reading

The Best Thing A Family Can Do For A Child With Autism

This woman, the one who inspired this post, she and I grew up together. Between the two of us, we are raising a netball team of girls! Our first daughters were born one year apart – hers in the Northern hemisphere, mine Down Under. We chat about everything – making girl’s hair; how girls can be high maintenance; fussy eaters; how our girls are too young to watch Barbie; how little sleep we’re getting!  It was during one of these chats that she casually mentioned about her daughter’s autism diagnosis. This mom is a 9-5 professional who has juggled work with her family and studies. I recall her returning to work five weeks after having subsequent kids and I have no idea how she could face such tough demanding periods with autism in the mix!

Last week, I was trying to make sense of it all. I wanted to know what her typical day looked like – the joys, the challenges, the lot; so I asked her and she agreed to share on the condition of anonymity because of her type of job.

Here’s what she said. 

A sudden weight on top of me is my routine Saturday morning wake-up from Sina, my 5-year-old daughter. Then comes the “Hi Mommy”, but only after a prompt to verbalize the morning greeting. This is different from my 4 and 2 year olds that usually scream “Hi Mommy and Daddy” right from the door, but it warms my heart just the same, if not more.

Sina was diagnosed with mild to moderate autism just before her 3rd birthday. She had been receiving Speech Therapy for about 9 months prior to this, with minimal improvement. In addition to regression in her verbal communication, she also had significant regression in her social interactions with her peers at school and with our family.  Autism is a complex brain disorder that affects a child’s ability to appropriately communicate and respond to his/her surroundings. It affects the way a child relates to people around him/her.

A beautiful girl in and out, Sina has taught me never to underestimate her abilities. 

Mental images of a bleak and helpless future that crippled me with fear and sadness when she was first diagnosed with autism have been completely replaced with hope and resilient optimism. I have the same high expectations of her as I have of her siblings. She may learn or express things differently, but that is the beauty of her uniqueness.

The best thing a family can do for a child with autism is to believe in the child’s abilities (no matter the severity of autism). This creates a positive attitude and outlook and fundamentally changes how one relates with the child. As simple as this sounds, I truly think it is extremely important. With this attitude, I am able to think that Sina is able to do and achieve anything. With this attitude, I don’t say “if she can”, rather, I say “when she can”. With this attitude, I know she can excel in life; I try to equip her with the tools to do this, just as I would for my other children. With this attitude, I know she will excel in school; I try to find the best way to teach her to learn. With this attitude, I truly believe there is no limit to what she can achieve. My goal is to have her completely believe this too!

Guest Post by A Mother of A Child With Autism. 

Coffee Chat: With a Working Mother Of An Autistic Child

 

April was adapted by the United Nations as Autism Awareness Month and this week I have two posts from two mothers who have a child with autism.

Today’s coffee chat is with one of these ‘warrior’ moms and I find it a huge honour and inspiration that she has shared her story and journey here on the blog today.

DO YOU KNOW WHAT AUTISM IS?

Well, first an foremost, autism is NOT a disease and is not contagious!! It is a complex condition that affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others, with a wide range of behavioural, social and language challenges. Autism is called a “spectrum disorder” because it affects each individual differently and to varying degrees.
Currently there is no cure for autism, though with early intervention and treatment, the diverse challenges related to autism can be greatly improved and in some cases completely overcome. Because each child or adult with autism is unique with symptoms and behaviors combining in many ways and varying in severity; every autism intervention plan must be tailored to address specific needs.
It is estimated that 70 million people worldwide have an autism spectrum disorder.
In recognition of the growing and unchecked prevalence of autism as a global health crisis, the United Nations General Assembly on December 18, 2007 adapted resolution 62/139 declaring April 2nd World Autism Awareness. The whole month of April has subsequently been adapted as Autism Awareness Month. Continue reading

Coffee Chat: 10 Quick Candid Answers from a Lawyer on Work + Motherhood

Sometimes, as busy professionals, we’ve only got time for a super quick coffee chat. That was certainly the case for today’s interview. She was busy, I was busy, I asked her about work life, being a mom and everything in-between and she came back with 10 short + sweet but deeply insightful and candid answers. 

 

WHO: Olamide

OCCUPATION: Full Time Lawyer & Part Time Business Co-Owner of Ola’s Grace

A FEW MORE DETAILS: Mother of 3 boys (including a set of twins)

 

What fires you up for work every morning?  I love to help people when hope is lost and my passion is to help restore their dignity.

What has motherhood taught you? I have learnt that being a mum is hard work if you want to do it well. It takes patience and perseverance. It is rewarding because they are my greatest accomplishment.

How do you achieve work + family balance? There is an African proverb that says, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I have a great support network of husband and family and I never take it for granted.

Strategies for meal planning?  I try to organise the meals for the week based on what I have in the house. I organise myself on the Sunday and aim to have all meals prepped by Monday night.

Tips for other working moms? It is important as working mothers not to be hard on yourself, you are doing the best you can so leave the rest to God.

How do you recharge?  Outside of work and motherhood I love to work on Ola’s Grace with my sister. It’s a fashion business which provides me with an outlet to create and is completely different from the intensity of my day job.

5 things you love? I am passionate about helping those that cannot defend themselves, spending time with family and friends, women’s rights, and stamping out inequity.

What gets you through the work day? I love quotes and have them all around my office. One of my favourites is “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.” 

Any hobbies? In my down time I love to read, plan trips, travel and cook.

One thing about you people don’t know? I love to day dream

Thanks for the insight and tips Olamide, it was great catching up with you!


Coffee Chat – 10 Candid Answers by A Mom “Winning” With A Health Condition

Not
every woman wants to have children. There are so many reasons why people would
choose not to be parents, and I understand them one hundred percent. Upon deciding to grow
their family, parents literally give everything they are and own to raise a
healthy and thriving family. While we acknowledge the dads, it is hardly disputed that the mother’s sacrifice is a very personal and physical one, for which she has physical scars as faithful and ever present witnesses. She bears the babies, births them, nurtures them while being a wife in many cases. But that’s not all. She goes through emotional and mental stress and works her magic in making sure that the finances can now stretch to accommodate the new growth and this is no easy feat. Every mother should be crowned an all-round warrior. Some mothers, however, deserve a special crown because their equation includes a health condition which they or a child is suffering from. This is the aspect that makes today’s coffee chat special.

I
was very humbled to interview Zona, who lives in the UK, for today’s coffee
chat. She is not only a mother and wife who is working alongside her husband to
support their family, she juggles work + family while living with a long term
health condition. In our catch up, she shares about her challenges and fears but
her determination and daily victorious attitude will inspire you to believe
that all things are possible. If she can do it, we can do it. 

Who:

Zona

Location: 

Baisldon, UK

Occupation:

Public Health Specialist

A bit more please? 

I am a working mum of two beautiful boys. My job is in public health, commissioning public health services 

(e.g healthy weight management, 0-19 year old services etc)

 for a population of about 161,000. I also assess the needs of this population before commissioning these services. I love the gratification my job brings as I see people use the services I have either re-designed or commissioned to live a healthy life. I love being a mum too, the gift of being a mum is beyond understanding and the grace to keep cheerful even in your most vulnerable moment just for them is 

unbelievable

 – although I must say I did not anticipate the effort and time it requires to do things for little ones. That said, I will not give motherhood up for anything. I love to cook, travel, read good books I can relate too e.g. Americanah by Chimamada Adichie, going on long walks in nice serene areas. I love nature – water, sand and green.

     1. What is the hardest decision you have had to make as a mother?

This, I would say, is making a choice between being a full-time mum or going back to work after maternity leave. I have had sleepless nights, long conversations with hubby and deliberation of what is best and it was still a very hard choice to make. Although my family has been, is and will forever be my first priority, we eventually decided it was best I returned to work to help with the finances. This decision took the whole of my mat leave and we do not have any regret as it’s for the family.

2. What has posed a big challenge for you and how did you overcome this?

My biggest life challenge has been to live with a long term health condition, which I have not opened up about before now. I am humbled to share this as I feel it’s also a testimony that all things is possible with God (which is the meaning of my second son’s name) and I hope it would bring solace to those other mums striving to be a wife and mother while suffering from a long term condition.

Sickle Cell is a severe hereditary form of anaemia in which there is a change in the shape of the red blood cells into a crescent shape at low oxygen levels. This change causes severe pain and other complications which can be life threatening. It is incurable but can be managed. Growing up, I was a very sick child and I didn’t understand very much about sickle cell anaemia. My mum would explain to the best of her ability the cause and what it was but I just didn’t understand how a human should be in such pain. All I knew was that I was in very excruciating pain that I felt no child should ever experience, however, my mum was a great support and carer and many times I could see the pain in her eyes too. When I was much older, I researched a lot about my condition and I was determined to empower myself to live well using the best available ways of managing my health in the midst of my circumstances. These included drinking lots of water, avoiding stress and extreme weather conditions, keeping safe from infections and taking my routine meds. When it came to finding a partner, it was of paramount importance that I married someone who was not a carrier to make sure I prevented my kids from this condition. I’m pleased to say that my heart desire was granted and I now have two sons who are healthy and who do not have this Sickle Cell anaemia. Now I need to keep up with them so I make sure I stay healthy to enjoy the most important thing to me – my family.

Pregnancy was a brilliant time in my health as fetal hemoglobin gave me a lot of protection from crisis – as episodes of the condition is called. This protection lasted up to a year after birth in my first pregnancy. So for me, that was a big benefit in childbirth considering the fact that I was very scared and uncertain about how my body would react to the pregnancy and childbirth process.

Coping with motherhood is challenging because when I have a crisis, I spend about 5 days at a time in hospital and I miss my kids a lot during these periods. Some hospitals in the UK do not allow children visit so often to avoid being exposed to infection. What helps me cope with motherhood is having a very supportive and understanding husband any woman could ask for. Although I wouldn’t usually hire a live-in nanny, we have had to recruit one because we both work and I need that extra help for when I have to be away to receive medical care. By reducing my stress levels, this additional assistance from my nanny is making it possible for me to stay healthy and live well with this condition. I currently returned to work part-time and I spend my time off with my kids, which is a blessing I cherish.

3. Take us through your typical workday and weekend.

     My kids are my alarm for the day and once they wake the day begins which is usually 6am. We say a quick prayer – literally 2mins of “thank you Lord”, and since I have a nanny she takes them to get ready for the day while I do my meditation. I get ready for work, then a quick breakfast if it’s not a nursery day drop off or no breakfast if it is a nursery drop off and then I’m off to work. I finish work at 5pm commute back, nursery pick up and back home roughly at 6.15. I try to catch up with my older one in the car on our way back from nursery so it’s easy to catch up with the little one when we get home while he has a shower. We all have a chat while I make dinner, feed the kids and try to start winding them down for the day and bedtime routine. I put them to bed around 8pm and then have dinner and catch up with hubby for about an hour and a little. Then we both do our different things – he runs a business while I gather evidence for my professional registration, research on a project am currently working on, clothes shopping for the kids etc. Afterwards, I retreat to my meditation for half an hour and get ready for the next day – prepare kids clothes for nursery, pack nursery bag, pack lunch, read letters or newsletters from the nursery or I could fit in a little chore during this time.

I must say some days are better and other days are just a nightmare right from the start but what keeps me going is the encouragement and support from family and friends.

     4. How do you fit housework into your schedule?

Housework uhmmm…I do the much I can and give my nanny a schedule of what to do as well. So let’s say I practice division of labour. Everyone in the house has a task no matter how little. Hubby puts the bin out and does the laundry, 3 year old helps to load the washing machine and washes up with mum sometimes. I do a lot of the cooking and getting the house organised, calm, cheerful and tidy and my nanny does a lot of the ironing and cleaning.

 5. How do you go about meal planning ? What is your easiest fallback recipe when you run out of ideas?

I still find this difficult. A friend had taught me how to meal plan weekly, write out the weekly menu and do a shopping list from that. Hubby usually likes going food shopping at a particular time as he gets deals at that time. I try to get vegetables from the market and household things, in bulk, from a budget household store.

I try to follow a menu most of the time but other times we all fancy something totally not on the menu for the week. Our easiest fall back menu is white rice and veggies as I constantly have beef or fish stew and soups in the freezer.

     6. What are your thoughts on choosing Childcare?

Choosing childcare is one of the hardest and most difficult decisions a working parent would make. Childcare involves putting your whole world in the trust of someone who you barely know b
ut have just got to know through an interview or a recommendation. Striking the balance between good childcare, affordability and what works around everyone is challenging but the way I approached it is looking at where the kids would be safe, happy and also develop well. I would also say above all to trust ones instinct as mothers always have that and kids display a certain attitude toward people they are not comfortable with. I also pray a lot before making a choice.

     7. Would you hire a nanny and if yes, how close would you want them to be to your children?

I actually have a nanny and she lives in Monday to Friday. I love how my kids warm up to her and the way she smiles just seeing them. I do not mind my nanny getting close to the kids in a way they would learn good behavior and how to interact with other adults however I would worry if that closeness drifts to something inappropriate. My husband and I are thinking of creative ways to check this. 

     8. How do you get your kids involved in housework?

Like I said earlier I practice division of labour and my son would want to help mummy or dad do stuff. It is part of his routine and he also asks for help when he gets stuck. I use characters that he likes to remind him of things to do, for example, I would say, ‘lets go get fireman Sam’s fire engine ready for the next emergency call’ – then we would go clean the toys. I find that incorporating things he likes, helps to motivate him to get involved.

     9. What do you love about what you do?

Being a mum –  I love that I can teach my kids and watch them grow. The little daily changes are heartwarming i.e. learning to say a new word, walking or a new set of teeth.

I love my job too – I commission health services for the 0 – 5 year olds for a population of 161,000 and its also delightful to see residents and their families use the services I have modelled and decided to commission to improve their health and well-being.

     10. What is on your wish list?

 a. Start up a property development portfolio – (I like interior design although I haven’t done any for my      house yet hehe);

b. Find more time to read more books for leisure;

c. Go on a ‘hubby and me’ holiday to an Island (Australia, Bora Bora or the Seychelles); and

d. Get a brand new Mercedez Benz jeep (I need a change of car)!