Search

FashShaf

My life as a mom, draped in textures and prints.

Category

My Career

I found what I love – and even better – I get paid to do it!

12 hour days at the office and foot soaks

When I started this blog, I had no intention – or dream- for it. I love writing, and apparently, other people like my writing too, which is why, I guess, I get paid to do it. I write whenever I feel compelled to: when I can’t use my voice to express; when I need an escape. Just the other day I found my pregnancy diary. It did not include inserts of doctor follow-ups or an eating plan. It had a letter to my unborn child on every page, written to her as if she already existed outside of my body.

IMG_2826
Hanaan, ready to step into a magical world at Uncle Paul’s Christmas Party (2015)

So, I’m writing today, because this week put me through my paces, and it hasn’t stopped. The thing is…I quite enjoy it and I’ve stopped feeling guilty about it. This week, my position as a project manager, writer and creative director, had me working 12 hour days. I’m at my desk right now, preparing for another long day.

While I do sometimes battle with guilt because during weeks like this, I see my daughter maybe one or two hours for the day, I’m a quality over quantity kind of mom.

FotorCreated

The time I do see her, it’s magical. Like treating her to a foot-spa treatment at home (using all her natural products of course) or making yummy Rice Krispies and marshmallow sticky, chocolaty treats. (I remember making those as a kid…Mmmm)

FotorCreated3

She’s three. A three year old who understands that I absolutely LOVE waking up and going to work. Not because I want or have to, but because I choose to. I choose to show her that leaving her in the morning is a choice I make and stand by. That may sound harsh, but here’s the facts:

A year ago, she’d ask: Mommy, why are you going to work? I’d say: Because I have to, my darling. I set a precedent for her to believe that work TAKES me away from her. Now, when she asks, I say: Because I love what I do and I choose to go. For just over a year now, her understanding of the working world, at least my working world, involves love, choice and fun, and guess what, I still come home.

FotorCreated2

When we tell kids to share, we hear: we’re teaching them to be kind (nothing wrong with that), but what do they hear? If I have to share with her/him, I have less of what’s mine. (that’s a fact). I always try to say things like: “She does not have that particular toy, and she thinks it’s very interesting. Would you like to show her how cool that is?” Not always, but most times, she chooses to let go of her stuff even if only for a few minutes.

A few months ago, she got some money from her ma she found under the couch – a R1 coin. We stopped by the superrette for bread, and a kid (roughly five years old) approached us for money. Hanaan asked me why she asks for money. I explained that she may not have of her own, and if we can, and feel like we want to share, we should give to those who have less than us. We drove off after I checked my purse which had no cash. Between leaving the store and driving to the traffic lights a few meters away, she shouted at her dad to turn the car around. “But mommy, I have and I want to give it to her.” We immediately turned around, and she gave the money (the only money she believed she had) to the little girl. I told her that it was a very nice thing to do. She didn’t say anything. She didn’t have to. Her face showed me that she got so much more than a R1 could buy.

I always try to be a mom who is present. Present in the moment, present to her feelings, her reactions, the connections she makes. It is my feelings, reactions and connections I make in her presence, that she absorbs and uses to form her own view of the world.

I want her view to be hers, not mine.

Here’s to a long and productive Friday, because I know there are 10 little toes waiting for me to massage them this evening 🙂 And to top it off, she always insists on doing mine afterwards 😀

Happy Friday, all!

Shaf

X

 

 

 

How I do what I do? Let me count the ways

What do you do exactly? I hear that often. From friends, family and my daughter. Mommy, what do you play at work? Do you colour and do action ball like me? I could easily fall into the play, colour and action ball category when it comes to my career.

It’s hardly a job. My world is colourful and packed with action, and the ball bit refers to the big ones, made of steel, between my legs…in my line of fun, I have to wear them proudly.

So what do I do? 

After completing my National Diploma at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) in Cape Town, I spent six years as a PR practitioner at an agency, Rabbit in a Hat. As I’ve mentioned before, not quite sure where (maybe on the odd occasion I get to talk to myself), but I’ve always believed it was what I was meant to be doing because I was darn good at it, and I was happy…sort-of. At least, I truly believed I was at the time. That’s only because when you’re there, there’s always something that seems (and is) worse. For me, at the time, it was just being grateful for the fact that I had a job, that in my mind, would quickly pay off my study loan (it took me three years).

I got to represent a range of clients I quickly fell in love with; projects that felt very much a part of me; things I poured my heart and soul into, projects or clients I follow to this day. Not the stalker kind of follow, but on social media and in the news. (I’m NOT that girl!)

I worked on, and received a credit in Barry Hilton’s first feature film, Finding Lenny; I managed The Grand Daddy Hotel as well as the other hotels under the Daddy brand, including the amazing Old Mac Daddy Airstream Trailer Park in Elgin. Some of my clients included: Infecting the City Arts Festival; Spier Contemporary, South Africa’s largest biennale of contemporary art; Badilisha Poetry X-Change; Cape Town Tourism, and got to explore so much of my beautiful city; The Cape Town Partnership, an NPO who are all about bridging the divides of the city; The Cape Country Meander; The Economic Development Partnership (EDP); and City Hall Sessions, to name a few.

Although my work was fun and rewarding, and I met some amazing people, who I still have a skinner with to this day, two years into my role as an Account Manager, I realised my deep-rooted love for music, and my colleague (I only had one sharing my space, it was a small business) was at the other end of this ultimate dream churning machine. Thank you for listening, Tam – or pretending to listen whilst you had earphones in! 😉

I spoke everything into existence. I never secretly wrote down ideas or created spread sheets or action plans; I’d talk and talk and talk until I got tired of hearing my own voice, which forced me to do something about it. In my spare time (now that I think of it, I had loads!) I made connections with award winning record labels from around the world and started volunteering my time to music-related projects. Some were London-based, while others were in different parts of SA – distance was never a deciding factor. Like I mentioned in a previous post, I was also involved in Maher Zain’s concert that was held at the Athlone Stadium in 2013, attracting roughly 15 000 people.

1904184_10153300624555550_2863389617310799038_n

My love for the crazy, yet exciting industry grew, and after a few more years, I started doing more work for labels, starting with homegrown musicians – local is lekker! At this point, I now covered two roles, one from 07h30 to 17h00, and one which I focused on after hours, at night, and on weekends – back then it was easy, I wasn’t a mom.

The closer I got to motherhood, the more things started to grow, and in 2014 I made the decision to join a bigger agency, where I now fulfill the role of a Campaigns Manager, Creative Director and Writer, with our biggest clients in the fuels and lubricants industry. I would have NEVER seen this coming. I get to work with an exceptional team, and I’ve been at it for one year and five months now. That’s my eight to five and I thoroughly enjoy it. (I am no longer in PR, but highly respect those who are [doing it right!])

Still unsatisfied that the music hole hasn’t been filled, I started working with my wonderful business partner, a Moroccan and sometimes, Holland-based, music director. (he’s all over the show, literally) involved in internationally acclaimed shows all over the world. Although I work independently from South Africa, things work pretty well and I can finally say, that gap has been filled. Thank you, Faical. Your faith and trust in me is appreciated.

  • Then, I am also part of Outlaws Cape Town, a car club that was born from the idea of bringing car enthusiasts of all ages, races, sects and creeds together, who all share a common interest and passion for cars. Family and community investment plays a huge role in the club, which is why I am as passionate about it as all the car enthusiasts (My husband, best friend and brother are co-founders). Just last week we went to drop off a heap of things for a family whose home burnt down in an unfortunate incident in Mitchells Plain. 

12525138_1648450348739599_6752842451509947052_o

  • I am also a mentor and am happiest when motivating and helping kids, with career guidance, homework or just advice. It brings me great joy.
  • I was blessed enough to briefly join forces with Lauren Booth a couple of years ago, as I did some PR for her. Lauren is a Palestinian activist and revert to Islam ( she is also the sister in law to Tony Blair, British Labour Party politician, who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2007 – just in case you needed that extra info)
  • I was also featured in a few print media for my role in the industry, and believe it or not, for my hair (that post is still coming…)

33404_466821100549_5183821_n

  • I had a brief stint in the modelling and acting industry where I did a few commercials for overseas clients, that landed on a few digital billboards in New York.
  • Oh yes, one more thing (although I’m pretty sure this is not the last thing) but I’m also a blogger now 🙂

I do a lot, not because I feel like I never have enough, but because the only way I’ll grow and know what truly makes the heart happy, is to try and do as much as I want. And the strange thing is, since becoming a mom, you’re usually left with less time (a whole lot of less), but I always seem to do whatever the hell I want.

Maybe we’ll never truly be satisfied, but I’m always on a search, and if it makes me happy, I don’t usually do it again, I find something even better. It’s all about a new adventure for my life…every single day. If it doesn’t exist, I create it!

It is important to me that H knows that I make a choice to go to work every morning. I could stay at home with her and play, and a part of me would always want that, but I enjoy what I do, and I want her to love what she one day chooses. The choice is to choose to be happy, and at three years old, she gets it, in her own way.

May you always choose to be happy!

UntitledP.S A big THANK YOU to all who have already joined me on this journey. I appreciate all the love and feedback. (don’t forget to leave your comments below)

Shaf

x

Music for my heart

(Note: this was a note written on my Facebook on 15 October 2014.)

I have seen way too many posts/articles online about music being Haraam (forbidden, sinful), and I have been asked by a few friends and family members (indirectly), over the last few years, why I promote Islamic inspired music. I believe ‘sins’ are acts which trouble the heart, and my heart is content. I sleep well and the best relationship I have is the one I share with my Creator.

Here’s my story. As many of you know, I have for a few years now, promoted Maher Zain’s music, in my personal capacity, and then also as part of a communications agency I own with a business partner. The best work I have ever done has been work for my own personal growth, work I do separately to my day-time job as an ex-PR Account Manager and currently a Head Copywriter and Creative Director at an agency in Kenilworth.

Whenever my heart draws me closer to something, something that fills it with joy and spirituality, I speak to my Creator. Every time. Just to make sure he approves. He has ALWAYS guided me to do the right thing. I have always asked, and often it takes years before I know my answer but there’s a reason for that. My wish to work with Maher Zain and the faith-inspired record label that represents him, Awakening Records, has been a long time coming – 3 years actually. For years I contemplated, I asked, I prayed, and wondered whether or not it was something I was meant to pursue. While I am by no means the perfect Muslim, I always try to do what’s right.

I am not a preacher and never will be, because I am learning daily, but my decisions are ones I live with and will ultimately be questioned about. I will continue to do what makes me and my Creator happy, and if you could only feel the way I feel when I sit down to pray, you’ll get it.

My journey started back in 2011, when I came across his song, ”For the rest of my life”. I was sitting in the car and flipping through an mp3 CD. His song was in the middle of the main stream stuff. I did a double take since it wasn’t something I’ve heard before. And that was it. The next day I searched for his music online and listened to it every day, my colleague (non-Muslim) could see how it impacted my life in ways I could not then explain. It took two weeks of listening before I became even stronger in my faith. Three years on, and I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. HOW IS THAT HARAAM, I ask you?

I prayed about all sorts of things, what do I do now, how do I give back? How do I say ‘thank you’ to someone who’s touched my life through the airwaves,someone who doesn’t know I exist? I prayed and then I dreamt – I had an answer. I wanted to work with Awakening Records, a UK-based media production company, owned and operated by Awakening Worldwide. How was I going to reach them? I found a generic email address online and sent a mail highlighting my experiences in the preceding two weeks. I knew, that due to the amount of fan mail and spam they probably receive, I’d at best, receive an automated response ‘Thank you for your email. Due to the large amount of mail we receive, we cannot reply to…..’

Within AN HOUR, I received a reply from the CEO which kick-started an amazing three year journey for me. I have never limited myself and always believed that though the world seems like a big place, it’s actually quite small and with technology, we’re able to connect with ANYONE, ANYWHERE at ANY TIME.

So it began. I met with the CEO who was in Cape Town a few months after our email exchange. We chatted at the airport just before he was due to leave. Maher just boarded his flight as I arrived so I didn’t get to meet him at the time. While I was disappointed, there I sat in front of an inspiring, respected and talented businessman, lawyer and author, who believed I had something valuable to say. We chatted for about 40 minutes and I pitched him an idea (how I could grow Maher’s fan-base in SA). At the time, only ONE of my Facebook friends (my husband) ‘liked’ his official FB page. A dear friend called him a Tupperware singer 🙂

Months passed, and while things didn’t take off the way I hoped, I never gave up since I never got the feeling that they were no longer interested. I pushed on, and knew that one day I’d have the opportunity to work with them. Through it all, I prayed, a lot. After months of emails with no replies (email addresses had changed and I was not aware) I sent my last email in January 2013. I offered my support for the last time – that’s where I left it, but continued to pray and ask what I was meant to do.

Months went by once again, and in September of 2013 I received a FB inbox from someone who is now a dear friend. She asked me if I knew Awakening Records. I replied saying that if she wanted to know anything she’d need to call me to discuss since I don’t accept anyone on FB. She called me straight away. She was the person bringing Maher Zain to SA and her conversation with the CEO involved him asking her to make contact with me. A few minutes after our call, I received an email from the CEO saying he asked her to make contact with me, he told her that she has to work with me, and he knows together we can make it happen. Needless to say, I was on board as PR Director for the concert that took place in December last year. I also fell into the role of artist management, and adopted last minute-programme changes. I briefed the supporting acts and Maher Zain on the slight amendments to the proceedings for the evening, after a meet with the CEO and Maher’s manager. I also had articles published, word for word, in some of the most read online and print publications in SA.

While being introduced on stage in front of roughly 15 000 people, and spending the day with Maher and his entire team the following day, NOTHING came close to the feeling I felt after I got home from the concert at 2am. I was pleased, my Creator was pleased, and while I was burnt out after 3 months of balancing my day-job and my side-work, which by the way, was voluntary, I was ready to lay my head down after I said my evening prayers. It came together and ONLY because I had faith, I trusted the months of silence and did exactly what was revealed to me as answers.

Maher's signed and noted album to me.
Maher’s signed and noted album to me.

Years on and I now have 62 friends who ‘like’ his page, 62 of 21 498 955, Yes 21 million! (It must be said that this highly intelligent friend of mine, who called him a Tupperware singer, found the concert to be one of the best he’s ever attended.)

While those 62 ‘likes’ are not as a result of my efforts, it shows me that he has touched more people than just me. So much more!

So while some have a frowns upon their faces when I overflow with pride, my heart smiles. The smile on my face says that I’ve been abundantly blessed. The smile in my heart says my Creator is happy and that’s all that matters.

Do ABSOLUTELY anything you want to. If it makes your heart smile, no matter how unreachable it may seem, just TRY. You never know! 

On stage at Maher’s concert in December of 2013.

 

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑