Monday, October 24, 2016

When the husband's pantry friends test my combo

Ready for dinner out... One of those days when I spare the family of my skills :)

The man of the house walked in yesterday after work and instead of his customary, "hello, how was your day," he asked, "what's for lunch tomorrow?"

"I haven't thought about dinner tonight, you wanna know tomorrow's lunch?" I guessed something was amiss.

"If you haven't prepared anything, then I'll cook!" he volunteered with a smile.

"Oh! that'll be great. But I'd appreciate if you could first place that laptop bag in your hand down, sloooowly, carefully that's the finest china we have and then with all your might kick off those socks in your favourite corner, but be careful of your toe, my love, your sole was aching yesterday..."

By then he began executing the tasks absentmindedly in order, "Oh! don't bother, just fling your trousers on the bed and spread the shirt on the treadmill, sleeves placed wide across please. Now that you've taken over the kitchen, I'll sit here fanning the armpits dry."

"Yea, I'll make a nice sabzi for chapati now. What was that combination you gave me today?"

Oh oh!

"When did combinations start bothering you?"

"Chapati and sambhar! Come on, is that any combination."

"Says who?" Zap, I got clarity now.

"Nobody. I'm saying..."

"They've never seen you mix banana shake in upma with lemon pickle. And that yucky smelly combination of dipping bread in egg yolk ..."

"Who they?" he was alert now, feigning ignorance and attempting damage control.

"Whoever that is who ridiculed you for eating chapati with sambhar in office today."

"They have a point, isn't it?"

"Why the hell should I get their point? Did you drive in them my points?"

"Of course, I defended. I said, I like sambhar with chapati."

"Not yours. Mine."

Lunch time in office...I've carefully pruned the picture :) 
By then his sidekick walked in listening to our conversation, " Hey papa, at least you are lucky. You have a car and money in your wallet. You can go out and eat yummy food or order. Think of me, I'm stuck with what she sends."

They stand embraced in a hug, as if I'm the biggest catastrophe they're stuck with.

"Listen, you Chipmunks, I'm NOT running an eatery here to pay heed to your friends' comments. Yes, I am a lousy cook. And I have no intentions of wasting time upgrading my kitchen skills than I already do. Is that clear. You two have no choice," I was elated with my delivery.

"Hello, hello. My papa can cook," And they squeeze one another yet again, "Nice tasty dishes!. Come on papa, you make dinner!"

"He can't just start yet baby. He'll need to discuss with his pantry friends for acceptable combinations."

"It's okay, papu. If it's not nice, say, mama made. What difference does it make!"

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

She stands firm and strong... to build 3 cities

Eldest in a family of 6 girls, Mukai Henrieta Mutubuki - Kumirai grew up in Gweru - the third largest city in Zimbabwe.

"Life at High School was more fun and liberating because, unlike at Primary School where the mode of learning was rules, rules and more rules and if you disobeyed those rules, you'd be punished. In High School there was much more 'room to breathe'. Freedom of expression was encouraged and actually celebrated; so I found myself opening my wings in preparation for take off!! Take off in life," recalls the 44-year-old.

Read on... in her own words...

Education, Family and Profession:


"I am a Chartered Quantity Surveyor by profession.

"I completed my B.Sc Quantity Surveying Degree with University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South-Africa in 1996. It was a tough course, which saw many of my colleagues drop off during our first year.

"I also hold a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) with National University of Science and Technology in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, which I completed in 2004.

"I am a registered member with The Zimbabwe Institute Of Quantity Surveyors (ZIQS) since May 2000 to date. I passed my Test of Professional Competence after one sitting, 2 years after graduating from university. That year, of the Quantity Surveyors who sat for this Test in the whole country, only two passed. That was truly a proud and life-transforming moment for me.

"I am a single parent with two kids, Angela Runyararo Kumirai (18) and Michael Panashe Kumirai (15)

"Our parents, Edias Henry Kanamadero Mutubuki & Laurentia Eunah Mutubuki, ensured all us kids got the best education possible. With both parents being graduates themselves - dad holds a PhD with University of Birmingham, UK & mum holds a Masters in Education with Midlands State University, Gweru, Zimbabwe; all 6 of us are university graduates."



"I enjoy reading Life Coaching books as well as fiction and adventurous novels. Dale Carnegie; Robin Sharma; Deepak Chopra; Tony Robbins; Bob Proctor; Jake Canfield; Napoleon Hill; Barbara Taylor-Bradford; Sidney Sheldon; Virginia Andrews are some of my favourite authors.

"I love watching cricket; soccer; rugby and golf, too. But my favourite past-time is playing the piano."



"Life Coaching is one of my passions. I love empowering young girls and women and helping them find themselves. Guide them to reach the pinnacle in their chosen field without fear or inhibition.

"In fact, I am happiest when I see people being able to overcome challenges and obstacles and achieve what they desire. Really delightful!

"My other passion is Quantity Surveying. I just love Quantity Surveying. It is the most fulfilling profession on earth. For me, nothing beats the pleasure I feel every time we complete a project - whether it's a Million Dirham Contract or a Billion Dirham Contract - the feeling is the same.

"It is magical, fascinating and awe-inspiring to see the building on Plan initially and then tending to it one day at a time, brick by brick, window by window, until one day, a year or two later, seeing it manifest in its full glory, in its physical form as the final built structure... it's like giving birth to a baby every time! Absolutely phenomenal! I can't imagine doing anything else! I feel blessed that my job is my passion."


How important is financial independence to you on a scale of 10; with 1 being the least?

"On a scale of 10, with 1 being the least, I would rank it a 10.

"I believe financial independence is very important, especially when I look at it from a women's perspective. Money empowers her. Yes, money is not everything in life, but still, I believe it plays a very important and central part in our day-to-day activities.

"Being a single parent of 2 school-going children; raising them through one of the toughest periods of recession in 2008/2009/2010, while experiencing salary cuts, delays, etc, I know first-hand the turmoil, trauma and tribulation a family can face due to hardships caused by financial challenges.

"I have also survived a marriage breakup due in part to the stress caused by the hopelessness, helplessness, despair and frustration that can emanate from facing financial hardships. The reality is, no matter what is happening in one's career or business, bills still have to be paid; debts still have to be settled; food still must be made available on the table; kids still have to go school and should not skip a grade.

"Peace of mind comes when one is able to earn much more than their expenses and have enough left over to save and invest."


Your biggest achievement/s to date & why?

"My biggest achievement to date would have to be my children. I have been blessed with the happiest, centered, extremely intelligent, well balanced, well behaved kids on the planet & for that I am eternally grateful.

"Angela will be sitting for her A'Levels this November & attending one of the Ivy League Universities in USA next year (2017) & Michael is in Form 2 & is top of his Class; following in the impeccable shoes of his sister. I am a very happy and proud mom."


One incident that was your lowest. And how it reshaped your life?

"My lowest moment was when my first marriage irrevocably broke down.

"It was a very painful and difficult time for me because I had wanted to raise my kids in a loving home where both mother and father were present to guide, coach, love & care for their kids.

Unfortunately, that was not to be, for 6 years ago, we finally separated for good.

This incident reshaped my life in a number of ways:

*I learnt the importance of playing an active role in the selection process of a mate. After all, for a marriage to work, both parties must want to be together to form a family unit.

*I learnt the importance of healing from past hurts first, before getting into a new relationship; otherwise, past hurts simply make their presence known & felt in that current relationship; & it's not pretty.

"One has to find themselves; date themselves first, before seeking out a relationship with another.  And by relationships, I mean even past hurts from parents, siblings, that bully from school, etc.

"So, seek healing first within yourself - become your own best friend - before entering into a relationship with another.

"I also learnt the importance of speaking up when you don't like something, instead of bottling it all up. The fact, is, your partner is not a mind reader, hence, may continue doing or saying or not doing or not saying the things that you want done or considered.

"When something you do not like happens or occurs, speak up. Assert yourself. You have a right to your own opinion & exercise that right.

"I also learnt the importance of constantly working on your relationship every day. Even if you have a great relationship, there is no room for complacency in relationships. Listen to each other consider each other's needs and wants.

"When a crisis occurs, do not complain or blame. Deal with them head on and continue to love and be there for your family. Complaining and blaming distorts reality."


Any aha moments...

"I have had many aha moments. The most recent one was when I read about The 12 Universal Laws of Attraction. It was a great surprise to me for all along, I thought we only had the 1 Universal Law, The Law Of Attraction! When I read all the 12; suddenly everything about how the world works made sense. Interesting!

"Another aha moment was when I joined Toastmasters. It was like a key had been given to me to unlock all those stumbling blocks in communication. Fascinating!

"Another aha moment was when my daughter, Angela, was a baby; she would reach out for me and only me. When people, including family members, tried to take her and hold her in their arms, she would cry and motion to want me and only me, to carry her. For the first time in my life, I learnt the meaning of unconditional love. Truly awesome!

"Yet another aha moment was when I gave birth to my son, Michael. The first 24 hours of his life in this world were pretty tough. I had had a traumatic delivery and I had no milk. The hospital would not allow newborns to be bottle-fed. Michael was hungry and cried the whole night through. But not once in that first 24 hours, did I lose my patience with my baby. For the first time in my life, I learnt the art of caring."


Any regrets in life ? Steps taken to rectify...

"I don't have any regrets in my life. This is because I live my life moment by moment; in the best way I can. I am ruthlessly honest with myself and take a daily inventory of my activities, attitudes, habits that I did on that particular day.

'If I notice a situation I did or did not do and I am not happy with the outcome, I make it a point to rectify it immediately or first thing the following day. This has become a habit now."


Your advice to young women who are attempting to choose a career for themselves.

"Do what you love. Do what you are great at. Do what comes naturally to you. Listen to your instinct. Choose a vocation which will make you feel like you are on vacation whilst doing it.

"There will be many opinions coming from everywhere - family, friends, teachers, peers, strangers, etc - as to what career is best for you. Listen to them with an open mind; but choose that career that speaks to you; to your heart.

"Learn to trust yourself and your instinct at an early age and follow that. You know best what's best for you. Trust yourself to make the right decisions for you."


Your one biggest strength? One weakness?

"My one biggest strength - ability to stand firm and strong for others in times of adversity. I am really good at motivating others to look on the bright side of life; to believe in themselves and their abilities. My one weakness - I tend to be very stubborn at times.


10 years from now; how do you see yourself?

"10 years from now, I see myself happily married, raising 2 more children with my famous, well respected husband; who has made a name for himself and is accomplished in his own right.

"I see myself enjoying being a wife and mother in a God-centered, stable, steady, loving, harmonious, caring home environment.

"I also see myself having founded and running my own World Class Quantity Surveying & Project Management Firm, with branches all over the world - championing and leading Best Practices in the field of Quantity Surveying and Project Management.

"I would have built a legacy for all my 4 children in a business that builds leaders, communicators and entrepreneurs in society.

"10 years from now, I see myself building 3 cities in my country, Zimbabwe, and from this venture, generate massive employment opportunities for my fellow country folks. I see these 3 cities putting my country on the map and leading the world in terms of commerce, agriculture, mining, education, construction, information technology."


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A twice-exceptional woman among us is breaking the mold and thriving

The winning speech...

Ceanlia Vermeulen, who boasts four teacher qualifications, is also a writer, speaker, weaver, painter, dreamer and a mom to her 20-year-old daughter.

"I want to change people’s worlds and make it better. So, I give myself permission to try," says the 47-year-old from Durban.

Here she shares with us her passion and philosophy of life...

Hobbies & Passion

I love reading, writing, painting (I’m an acrylic artist), meeting and helping new people (yes, Toastmasters is a hobby), swimming, walking to enjoy nature, camping.

One of my greatest desires in life is to leave a positive impression, example and meaningful works to the world and most importantly my family. I believe in what Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Change always starts with us. Great leaders get this. They understand that no one is inspired to follow leaders who aren't willing to do those things they are asking others to do.
There is something charismatic about people who understand all change starts with them.

If the job you do is NOT your passion then how do you balance the two?

If you value growth and learning over stability I would say quit your job. If the job leaves your most important values unfulfilled and another job would be better of fulfilling them, go for it. Don’t settle for less, it’s your life. Some decisions in life can be quite tricky. When you have a life purpose these tricky decisions become easier, your decisions will be more consistent. As you can see it’s more important for me to care about people and make honourable choices than it is to increase my personal wealth and abundance.
How important is financial independence to you on a scale of 10, with 1 being the least.

Scale: 9
Your biggest achievement/s to date and why?

I feel that my biggest achievement is yet to come. I’m always looking to achieve more tomorrow than I did today and I’m striving to improve myself all the time.
However, I would say that I have had several notable accomplishments in both my education and my work experience. Probably the most notable accomplishment was finishing school. My mom never thought that would be possible. Then I went to college and academically was a low achiever until my final exams when I learned “how to study” based on my brain profile. I now have 4 educational qualifications and many certificates.

Giftedness does not immunize a person against any other problems. In fact, an exceptional person displays both or one of the following:
    * Learning disability (like dyslexia in my case)
    * Other cognitive disorders (I also have Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD))

One of the biggest misconceptions is that dyslexic brains differ only in the ways they process printed symbols, when in reality they show an alternative pattern of processing that affects the way they process information across the board. Dyslexic brains are organized in a way that maximizes strength in making big picture connections at the expense of weaknesses in processing fine details. I was diagnosed at the age of 30! Massive accomplishment to have completed school and 2 qualifications by this time.

Another accomplishment was to have my art work selected as some of the top work in the province during an exhibition at the Natal Opera house, apart from taking part in art exhibitions. One of my dreams is to have a solo exhibition.
As a Toastmaster I competed in a highly competitive International speech contest where I took the 1st prize at the Area Contest this year.  

Competing in a speech contest is fun, challenging, nerve-wracking, but most of all – rewarding! I learn so much about myself and make new friends along the way. The "competition" in speech contests isn't really "against" others – it's a competition "against" myself! How good can I be? Am I improving? What can I learn from other speakers?

Ceanlia also makes short films. She has been a lead actress, script writer and assistant producer on 5 projects so far. Here she receives the winning price for 'Rotana Hotel' project.
One incident that was your lowest. And how it reshaped your life?

Divorce was my lowest point  – and it reshaped my life into my new beginning.
After my divorce I felt overwhelmed, stressed, sad, frustrated, excited, enthusiastic, full of anticipation... all of the above, sometime all at once.
The great news about my life-changing period of divorce is this: I got to shake things up and try new things, go to new places, and meet new people – I moved to Dubai. I also got a new haircut, wardrobe and occupation. I did my Honours degree in Inclusive Education. I couldn't completely just lose my mind, turn my back on real-life obligations, and throw caution to the wind (although that sounds fun and exciting, doesn't it?). 

I had some very real considerations like my daughter, my work, and my budget {one that has been seriously impacted by the divorce}.

I'm going to bet there are some new beginnings, real changes and opportunities that are well within your reach also. As long as the changes you make are healthy and constructive, my advice is go for it!
Aha moment/s

It is very hard to separate the person and the teacher.  The values, morals, and methodologies one has as a person and as a teacher intertwine so intricately, that is in difficult to find the exact point at where one ends and the other begins.  The concept of caring is also intricately woven throughout the personal and professional being I am as a teacher.  A person who cares in life is a person who cares in their profession as well.  Therefore, my personal and professional goals as a teacher are inseparable.  As much as caring should be part of my practice, I want to cultivate a caring capacity in my students as well.  I want my students to know that not only do I care about them as my students; I care about them as people as well.  I want them to know I am not here to “do a job” or merely claim a pay check.  I am here, with them, because I honestly care about them and their future. I will not be satisfied in reaching only one or two students. I want to reach them all. My goal is to touch their lives, their minds, and their futures. So, professionally I had many 'aha' moments.

On a personal level I would say my aha moments were:

As a final year student I attended a study method course. It changed my life! I learned about brain profiling and how we all learn differently. I passed that year with the highest marks ever! (My mom always felt so sorry for me. As a child with an IQ off scale why did I battle to study and score so low? I learn differently. That’s the reason). I now use this knowledge whenever I deal with teacher training, working with students or empowering parents.

As a remedial teacher specialist I could see how frustrating it was for remedial students to learn basic concepts.  I created with a software programmer in 2001-2005 a maths, reading and spelling software program. It’s simple but profound. To see that light goes on in a student’s eyes were beyond 'aha'! (The company was sold for a massive price.)

After my divorce I found that I was seeking the approval and advice from others. People who love you will not give you a negative response. My 'aha' moment arrived when I realised this and instead asked myself what I wanted in life.

With her favourite painting....

Regret/s in life

I regret that it took me this long to understanding the concept of transformation. I divorced in 2000.

Before my divorce I was angry and upset. All my husband had to do is to make a conscious choice to change the things he did. He didn’t change and we ended up getting divorced. My life changed the day I realised to take responsibility for my part in the marriage failing. I learned that understanding is love’s other name, that to love another means to fully understand his or her suffering.

Understanding, after all, is what everybody needs (I know this from working as special education needs coordinator) — but even if we grasp this on a hypothetical level, we usually get too caught in the smallness of our fixations to be able to offer such expansive understanding. Let me illustrates this through a metaphor:

If you pour a handful of salt into a cup of water, the water becomes undrinkable. But if you pour the salt into a river, people can continue to draw the water to cook, wash, and drink.

The river is immense, and it has the capacity to receive, embrace, and transform. When our hearts are small, our understanding and compassion are limited, and we suffer.

We can’t accept or tolerate others and their shortcomings, and we demand that they change (like what I wanted my husband to do, change). But when our hearts expand, these same things don’t make us suffer anymore. We have a lot of understanding and compassion and can embrace others. Through my painful divorce I’ve learned to accept others as they are, and then they have a chance to transform.
Your advice to young women who are attempting to choose a career for themselves?

Coming from South Africa cultural diversity is important to me. Diversity provides a lesson for each of us to be okay with and open to those things that set us apart (not apartheid) – race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, physical and mental ability, language (the list goes on) and understanding and accepting of people for who they are.

With the new democracy in South Africa (23 years ago) now I’ve learned that being culturally aware provides an opportunity to stand back and consider that there are certain backgrounds, personal values, beliefs and upbringings that shape the things we all do. Something that is considered inappropriate behaviour in one culture may be perfectly appropriate in another.

Learning about other cultures helps us relate to one another and be okay with different perspectives.

I saw this quote on a poster recently, and it’s stuck with me. “Diversity is the one true thing we have in common.” Now that’s something to embrace.
Biggest strength and weakness

My spirit is beautiful. I never judge people and I always treat others the way I want to be treated myself. My friends and family value me because of my loyalty and my flexibility. And when I meet new people they are impressed by my reliability. These words truly capture the essence of my spirit.

I would say that my biggest strength is that I’m emotionally connected to my work and success. My success is the result of my resiliency and that I love what I’m doing.

At the same time this becomes my weakness. I tend to work very long hours, you could say I’m a workaholic. I avoid burnout, however, because I love what I do.

Four years ago... when she set foot in Dubai

10 years from now, how do you see yourself?

As Morpheus in 'The Matrix' says: “You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”
I choose the red pill, because I intend to stay in this land of Divine Wonder that God has given us, as God’s plan for inclusion is revealed, to see just how far the rabbit hole goes.

In 10 years I’ll be radically inclusive because we have been radically included. It links with my life purpose: To care deeply, connect playfully, love intensely, and share generously. To joyfully explore, learn, grow, and prosper. And to creatively, brilliantly, and honourably serve the highest good of all.


Saturday, October 1, 2016

Butt... it's my feet!

Okay so that's my feet. And that's exactly the colour I chose. For ages I shied away from painting my toe nails, hiding them inside shoes ashamed because they weren't feminine enough, just like I hid my posterior in baggy pants for the very same reason.

My battle with my lower-half started young. My mom was the first to say of my feet and the butt was but a post-marriage addition, need I say even. Men are men!

And women are women, too. We wanna be a stick and yet stick it out. I was no different. I started hogging in the hope of putting on some, but derrr..ieee... I was only left holding folds and flab.

As a toddler I lay down spread on a mat with egg-white on  my legs under the morning Sun rays, I remember my mom telling me every time I had a fall. "Your feet are still weak..." and off she would go on about how she feared I may never walk.

Years later, I feared if I ever will look feminine enough and so jumped on to massage tables letting anyone who promised to straighten me out. I also hit the gym but the trainer began instructing me on walking right. Apparently my weight falls on my hips way too far that it ought to and that's detrimental to my spine. So as an adult I shed, what was remaining by then of my modesty, and let the beefed up trainer teach me how to suck in my core, hold the pelvic bones just right there and place the heel of one foot firmly on the ground as the toe of the other flirted above ground all at the same fraction of a second for each step I took. When my tolerance snapped, I bid him goodbye.

Straight I went to a yoga instructor. "Surya Namskar, she said, "is equivalent to doing 45minutes of cardio." Wow! that's what I needed, when she added, "if you do 100 rounds and sweat it out." Rats arse!

Wonder why we cannot have a clear intent? Why we need to sculpt ourselves to another's definition of what is right and acceptable? Whoever that may be - parents, partner, colleague, neighbour, friend or lifestyle experts. Are you comfortable with your body - is all that matters. If you aren't, then do it for yourself. Not for anyone else. And do it because you wanna feel good, not because you wanna 'fit-in' or because that's the fad.

Today I painted my nails orange. My beauty of a daughter exclaimed "Gosh, I wanna puke!

"Please baby! go ahead!"

Look up-close and you see black dots - hair in-growth. Because I shaved my legs once upon a time. Whatever you are today, is the choice you made in the past. Lol! Life mastery lessons, applies to beauty regimen, too. But two hoots I care. If it's displeasing to your eye, shut them. My eyes have long last opened. And am revelling in the sight it beholds for me every single day.

Live your life women!