2 Weddings, 2 Continents, 3 Dresses

I love weddings, am not sure if it’s the idea of seeing 2 people in love, the free food and drinks or the dancing that gets me excited but I just love weddings.

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Weddings have become rather extravagant and expensive in the last decades and despite the advice from people not to make too much of a splash of it, we still go on and make sure we have the things we like the most on the big day. What makes a wedding successful is not how much or how little money you spend on it, it’s the memories that come from it. However much you can afford, just make sure that you and your partner have a hell of a time such that every penny is worth it!! We had the court marriage in Switzerland and the bigger wedding celebration in Zimbabwe. Both our wedding celebrations were great because we were surrounded by our friends and family. Planning and executing two weddings has made me somewhat a pro and I feel like it has also qualified me to give advice so here goes.

1. In everything, remember that it is about the 2 of you

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It will not be possible to make all 100+ people happy with everything, it just will not so don’t bother. Just do what is humanly possible, be it with drinks, food or music choice. Our decor was centred around our story. The menus were passport shaped, every table labelled according to every city we have been together and the gift table had the clocks showing time from around the world. This was a reminder for us and for those around us that we have come a long way to be where we are today. We celebrated our love and our story in the presence of those that matter and it worked for us, it might also work for you.

2. Good music makes a good party

This will be the day that you get to dance to Justin Bieber with absolutely no shame and everyone that loves you and cares about making the day special for you, will dance along just fine. If you can have a DJ then great if not then just make sure you have a playlist that will make all age groups dance, from the 60s hits for the parents to the latest music for the younger generations. I personally enjoy dancing much more when I know at least 5 tracks every hour so keep the groovy tracks rolling! Be sure to have flats close by, there is simply no point in failing to dance at your wedding because the shoes are too high or too tight. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking your heels off if they hurt, which they most likely will because they are new. If you are not a flats kind of girl then maybe take an old paid of heels that you know are comfortable that you can switch to for getting down.

3. Food and drinks

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It is amazing to have a good spread and food generally makes people happy so if possible invest well there, it’s one of the items where you will make it to make most people happy. If it’s in Switzerland maybe have meat and vegi options and in Zimbabwe mmmh two or more meat options should do the trick in most cases. Don’t forget the coleslaw on the side because what is a Zim wedding without it!

4. Make memories, save them for later

When the day is long over, you will need juicy stories to talk about so make mental notes of funny things you see through the night so you can laugh about it afterwards. Instead of getting annoyed by things, make fun of them. If the flower girl falls or when your granpa lets loose and busts a move, just enjoy it all. Watch wedding fails on youtube, this opens your eyes to some crazy things that happen at weddings, it helped me care less about the myth of perfection.

5. A good photographer is worth it

When the wedding party ends, all you will have left are the pictures and videos that were made of your big day and good pictures will be the best way to preserve the moments that you lived. Meet up with the photographers and videographers beforehand to discuss what you expect and look at samples of their work. Ask them to capture the not so obvious moments because those are the most beautiful. Make sure you click with the photographer, it will make you look less tense in the pictures despite all the pressure. Also ask them to direct the photo shoots so that you are not stressing about gathering up all the guests, you can focus on being stunning 🙂

Rounding it all up

There are no perfect weddings, there are just “we did our best and had a blast weddings”. Those that care about you and those that care about the food will show up and have fun. Not everyone you would like to have will be able to make it and that’s sad but heck, make the most with those that show up. If you are a guest or a part of the bridal party, make it all about the couple, it is after all the first day of the rest of their lives! These are some of the thoughts and ideas that I came up with 2 weddings, 2 continents and 3 dresses later. When your party rocks and the food tastes great then I Hope You Dance.

Photocredits: Pic 1: Elina Neustroeva, Pic 2: Mgcini Nyoni, Pic 3: Corina Farkas

When you realize you married a man that can’t peel a banana, an orange or count!

As easy as peeling a banana

On a rather random day we bought bananas and when we began peeling them to eat, I noticed that Luki (the weirdo am married to) peeled his from the wrong side altogether. (second pic) It was the first time I noticed it and so I immediately stopped him and asked why he was not using the knob that already stuck out. He found my suggestion rather odd and remarked that no one peeled a banana that way. Realizing that we were both stuck in our ways and so sure we were right, we laughed because we had a blurred understanding of why the other one peeled it that way but we simply would not change the way we have known all our lives. For now that is fine, the challenge will come one day when we have kids and have to show them how to peel a banana. To avoid stepping on any toes I would suggest breaking the banana in half and peeling it from there because well, why not!

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When life gives you oranges

After a long walk in the sun searching for a big market in Cagliari, we finally reached San Benedetto Market, incredible market by the way. There they had all sorts of juicy looking fruits and someone advised us to try out the oranges, we did and did not regret it but first, how did we get to eat the oranges? We decided to take them home and refrigerate them first and on our way out, I suggested taking one that we could eat at the beach. Luki then said that if we took an orange it would be difficult to peel the orange if we didn’t have a knife with us. When I suggested taking the orange, I had in mind that I would dig into a corner with my nail then peel the rest off but for him it meant cutting it into slices. He then told me that for him growing up, eating an orange meant cutting it up simply because it was easier and for me actually eating an orange meant peeling it yourself although we also sliced it sometimes. I guess what one can derive from that we have both enjoyed oranges in our lives.

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Counting with my fingers makes the numbers more concrete

I cannot for the life of me remember why we started counting with our fingers but we did and by the time we got to 3 I realized that this guy had a serious counting problem. In the pictures you will see how I count and how he counts (my fingers are the brown ones haha). With my right hand I count chronologically from my pinkie finger to the thumb but with my left I do it differently. My way of counting seems haphazard but when I tried to count the way he does it felt so strange and uncomfortable and when he tried my way he found it unreasonable.

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What am I saying?

Now, I must say, I was tempted to say white people/men peel bananas strange, can’t peel oranges and count strange then I remembered that this one person is not the standard for all and so before I make my conclusion, I have to do my research. It will probably turn out that the differences have nothing to do with race or sex but rather the way we are taught to do things as human beings. The examples above may be really petty but to me they signify the bigger picture. We all have things that make us different, not good or bad, just different. Stereotypes are birthed from rather small samples of people and that is not fair so, the next time before you put everyone in a bag, dare to view them as individuals.

Even though we are raised in different families, our societies play a big role in defining who we are and why we do the things we do in the ways that we do them. I will probably never get my head around peeling a banana from the wrong end or around counting weird and the beauty of it is that I don’t have to! I just have to accept that he simply cannot peel a banana, an orange or count using his fingers and  love him all the same.

It might be interesting one day to gather people from different races and backgrounds and ask them to do the things I mentioned above and see how the groups would divide themselves. My guess is that the differences will not cause people to fight and hate each other because, that would be ridiculous right? Well, in my opinion it is also the same as hating someone because they are of a different race, sex, age or religion. For some, the differences would make it difficult to be best friends but you do not have to be, start by simply accepting the next person the way they are. When you find people that peel bananas the right way like me, then I hope you dance.

You don’t need to be perfect to be happy

You don’t need to be perfect to be happy

It took me quite a while but in the end I realised that perfection is a myth, there is no perfect person, we all have flaws. Now,  I am at a stage whereby i no longer pursue perfection, I only seek to be the best version of myself.

This may not be true for everyone but when you post a picture of yourself on social media, you try to post the one that portrays something close to flawless, because that is what feels most comfortable. If that is what everyone is doing then we are all hiding behind masks and comparing ourselves to filtered versions of others. Ouch! If there is one thing that brings my spirits down, its comparing myself to other people. This comparison goes beyond self image and speaks for our actions as well.

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I have been living in Switzerland for 3 years now and although I love to swim, I do not feel secure swimming far into “open water” in this case the Zurich Lake, which is lovely by the way. For a while, this made me feel less brave and somewhat less cool. I have now come to a point whereby I am actually fine with swimming with the kids around the shore because that is where I feel comfortable even when everyone else my age goes far out with no fear. In many cases, they have been swimming in this lake for over 20 years and are comfortable in it. Back home in Zimbabwe my only exposure was swimming in a swimming pool and so for me, it doesn’t matter how big the pool is, as long as it is a pool I will swim to the deepest sides with no fear but as soon as the water is open, fear grips me. If there has to be a comparison, then I compare myself to the children that are also still afraid to go too far simply because like me, they do not have the confidence and have not had enough exposure to swim far out and thats ok. Some people get over the fear quickly and some don’t, either way I think its fine. I remain my own measure of success or failure, not everyone else around me and that makes the walk easier!

“If you measure the intelligence of a fish by its ability to climb a tree then you will never see its worth.”In the same vain, do not use unfair measures to compare yourself to other people, you are uniquely wired and you would be so much happier if you accepted yourself for who you are and motivated yourself to be better not because someone else seems to be, but because you want to be better. When you realise that being the best version of yourself is the only path to happiness then I Hope You Dance!

I almost settled

I almost settled, but thank God I hated it! I wish there was a practical experience book that told you that the path from university to the working world was not always clear and straightforward!

For some, the path is clear; go to university and there is a job waiting for them. To start off, there are not so many possibilities in my home country for the moment and I hope that changes soon! Secondly, being in a foreign land means that language is a barrier and when the language to be learnt is German then man oh man things get interesting. Please do not get me wrong, I made a choice to live abroad and I am pleased with that but it has made me aware that sometimes you have to find your way in a not-so-straightforward path! And yes – I am a proud holder of a B2 German Certificate!

Two months before graduation, I scored! I landed a job! It was temporary and it had nothing to do with the Masters degree that I had worked tirelessly towards and had passed with flying colours but it was a job, it meant I could pay my bills! Just after 2 weeks, I had lost all my motivation for this job and I felt so guilty, after searching for an opportunity the way I did. Time went by and each day I felt more and more drained, I felt too weak to search for other options and was always exhausted at the end of the day that I could no longer write out any job applications. Now this is the worst that can happen to you, when you feel yourself accepting a situation that you feel like you have no control over and SETTLING.

Now, one thing that I learnt at an early stage is the power of building a network. While I was in university I constantly sent blind applications to organizations of my interest and shared my profile with them and even though less than half replied me, most with rejections. I always message and ask them to keep my CV for future reference and I say thank you even when the answer is no. I am no expert and I am far from reaching my goals but my network has served me well, there is no application that is as successful as one that comes with a recommendation. My current position, although not long term, is on a topic I absolutely love and a month later I am still motivated and excited to go to work in the morning!! The position did not exist before, but was created for my profile, through a contact in my network! I almost settled for something that I did not like because I feared the unknown but I am glad I didn’t!

My advice to recent graduates like me, who are maybe not sure which direction to go or maybe are sure but just do not see any open doors, create your own doors by building a network. Do not be afraid to message Heads of Departments and high level people because some people got to where they are through the help of other people and would maybe be willing to support you. My experience is, when I get no reply within a few weeks, I message again just as a gentle reminder that I am still interested :).

When you build your network, get a reply to a blind application or when you finally get the job that you wanted, I Hope You Dance, I know I will!

 

Faith in Humanity = Restored

Faith in Humanity = Restored

Just when it looks like the human race is on a downward spiral, i found a silver lining in a dark cloud and i hope you find yours. I slightly raptured the ligament in my ankle while playing Netball a little over a week ago. The pain was excruciating and i was convinced something had broken (thank God not). Needless to say, my teammates (bless them) stopped the game and helped me take all the right steps to make sure it didn’t get any worse. One of my teammates even offered to drive me home and she made sure i was ok before she left. How kind right! My biggest surprise however,  was not from how my teammates were there for me, it was from the strangers i have met along the way. Being in crutches has not been easy but here is my silver lining; 

  1. I have not had to run for the tram, random strangers have been holding the door for me, the tram drivers are also a bit more patient and when they see me making my way, they do not jet off and leave me hanging. Thank you for that! Holding an umbrella while holding crutches in this rainy weather is not in anyway easy.
  2. I also have not had to worry about holding doors open when i walk into buildings, basically people around me at every point have made sure i was through the door first before letting it close and some go out of their way to come and open it for me.
  3. When i get on any public transport there is no struggle for a seat, people volunteer their seats so quickly, i remember on one tram i had 3 different seat offers and i really had to smile just thinking of how kind those strangers were being to me.
  4. The next thing that surprised me is the ‘solidarity nod’ that i share with fellow injured people as if to say “I know it ain’t easy but hang in there friend”.  
  5. Lady that helped me put on my jacket….holding crutches and trying to put on a jacket turned out to be harder than i thought. An old lady not only put the jacket on me but also patted it down to make sure it looked nice. Thank you again for your help.

Despite the many problems thats our world is facing, i realized that it is in our nature to take care of the weak amongst us and i hope that we never lose or suppress that instinct. I have talked to more random people during this time than any other time in my life and i love it! 

The beauty in life lies not only in the big things that people do for us but also in the very small gestures like a simple smile. Like someone rightfully said; ‘The best things in life are free’. I realised that some people out there are really great and now i have decided to embark on a quest of being kinder than necessary and I hope that it makes a difference to someone’s day/life. I hope you join me in this quest. No act of kindness goes unnoticed, do nice things for random strangers, they may or may not need it but whats there to lose? Lets restore each others faith in humanity like how mine has been restored by these kind Zürchers. 

When you get a chance to gladly offer a pregnant, injured, old person your seat then i hope you dance. 

How i sent a letter to London for free

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It was a normal day in the city of Zurich and I needed to go and pick up a few post stamps to send out some thank you cards. On this day, I found out the only way to send a letter to London for free.

The man that served me was barely friendly and quite frankly he just wanted to get his job done and probably go home. I kindly asked for 70 post stamps and he handed a pack to me and I paid, threw them into my handbag and rushed for the tram. My day went on as usual and in the evening when I sat down to put the stamps on the letters I noticed something that surprised me. The man had given me way more than I had paid for. Instead of 7 packs of 10 stamps worth CHF70, he had handed me, a complete stranger 7 packs of 100 post stamps worth CHF700.

Immediately I decided that I would take the rest of the stamps back to the man the next day and I hoped that he would be working at the same location so that I could give them back to him directly. To my delight, I saw him as soon as I walked into the store and he was busy serving other customers. The counter next to his was free and someone offered to help me but I kindly declined and told them that I wanted to speak to the other operator who overheard me and looked more annoyed than anything. When he was finally free I walked up to him and he asked how he could help me and I told him that I had brought back stamps much to his confusion. I explained to him that I had come in the previous day to buy 70 stamps, which he said he remembered and was wondering if I had got less than 70. I handed him 630 stamps back and told him he had given me way too many. The man was literally dumbfounded for a few seconds and kept staring at me much to my discomfort. He then uttered a few thousand thank you’s. I felt really great about myself, I had been useful and kind and felt really satisfied with my deed.

When he got over his shock I asked him if I could send a letter to London and took out my wallet so that I could pay for it. He looked at me and said, “after all this, how can I even accept your payment for a letter?” I just smiled and thanked him. A letter that would have normally cost me about CHF3 was totally free. What more could I have asked for :). When I walked out, I had a bounce in my step and a smile on my face because I had done something that I felt was honorable.

Moral of the story is this, if you get too many post stamps, take them back, you might just get to send a letter to London for free 🙂 When you do get to send the letter for free, then I Hope You Dance.

 

Be useful. Be kind

“Be Useful. Be kind”. These were words spoken by President Obama and they stuck in my mind and boy am I glad they did. I try to imagine what kind of place the world would be if we would all follow the two simple steps. Being useful and kind has changed the way i look at life.

What does being useful comprise of? It does not mean always going out of your way to help the next person, for me, this simply means being the best version of yourself and doing the best that you can at the job/task that you have been given. Being useful means doing something that benefits either you or someone else. How about waking up each morning and making a conscious decision to be useful? After some time of thinking this way, it becomes your permanent way of thinking. Put a poster up in a place where you can read it as soon as you wake up, remind yourself the importance of being useful. I do not know about you but I am most productive when I know that the task that I have to take on for the day will be useful for someone else. Usefulness does not have to be immediate, it can also be in the long run which means you could take on a task now and its benefits are realized in the next month or year and that is fine! I remember a former boss asking me to help her compile an annex list for a research paper she had been working on. I could see how much under pressure she was and so I dropped everything that I was doing and invested time in perfecting the annex list for her. Through this, I was useful in many ways, I lifted the burden off her shoulders and contributed to the very noble project that she was working on. No-one will ever know how instrumental I felt and how rewarding it was for me but I will never forget. That is because being useful, in both big and small ways has become one of my main life goals.

Being kind is a separate element, not all useful people are kind and not all kind people are useful. It is a balance that has to be attained. Being kind starts with small steps; holding the door open for the next person, smiling at a stranger and it of cause includes the classic helping an old lady to cross the street. Allow finding the usefulness of the job you do compel you to be kind while at it. We have often heard it said ‘be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle’. I am a strong believer of this and yet I know and accept that my being kind does not translate into everyone else being kind to me. Before reacting to someone that has upset you, ask yourself, are my actions kind, if the answer is ‘no’ then react in another way. There will be people unnecessarily mean, nevermind that, let it motivate you to be kind and useful, even to them and together we can make the world a better place.

As your day comes to an end and you realize that you have been useful and kind, then I Hope You Dance.