Posts Tagged ‘JGH thoughts’

The parent company to my company is a very cool, innovative, fast moving bunch who basically invented a method for merchants to take cash payments for pre-paid vouchers for things like cell phone air time, electricity, bus tickets, concert tickets, etc. The ability to take cash payments is vital in a developing economy, so they’re not only doing well in SA, they’re expanding into other markets like Mexico and India.

It is one of the fastest moving companies on the Johannesburg stock exchange and was started by 2 brothers who are super nice guys and, like me, enjoy a drink or 12 from time to time. They even named the company after their favourite booze — a certain high-end Scotch.

They pop a new bottle whenever they do a big deal. So many deals have been done over the years that they have even wallpapered one of the executive boardrooms with bottles — and  at almost $200 each, this rooms decor is no joke. What a company to work for!


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Cute as a Button

It was almost 9 years ago when my good pal Lida first pointed out to me that my fine lookin’ innie had turned into an weird lookin’ outie overnight. I’ve had an umbilical hernia ever since.

Recently the ol’ button had started poking out more and more. And thanks to a bigger belly than I had 9 years ago due to all my 12 ounce curl workouts, it was even showing through my shirts. Lizzy noticed me holding my guts in with my hand every time I sneezed or coughed, so it was time to do something about it.

A trip to a new GP led me to a surgeon in the same day, who scheduled me for surgery the next day. So 48 hours and $500 US later, I hope to have a sweet new innie again under the dressing. Gotta love SA healthcare! Stay tuned for the big reveal on the 15th.

The sweet paper panties I was given to wear under my equally sweet hospital gown. Like a shower cap with leg holes. Sexy!

Rockin' the gown, pre-surgery.

All stitched up! Fingers crossed that the Goretex patch is strong enough to hold back my powerful guts.


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JG, Interrupted

Ok, time for a Monday trivia quiz. Am I describing below the weekend activities of a dude or a chick?…


  • Went to the Barnyard theatre for a show featuring impersonators of Rod Stewart, Elton John, Tina Turner, Michael Jackson, and Madonna. Had some pink champagne and stood to sing and clap along to ‘We are the World’ during the encore.
  • When I got home, my spouse went to bed, and I finished off a bottle of white wine and watched ‘Stepmom’ on tv. Got choked up at the end when Susan and Julia finally put their differences aside for the future of the family. Such strong, proud women.


  • Got up early, left my spouse in bed asleep, and went to the salon for a shampoo, cut, and style.
  • Went home, picked up my spouse for a surprise dual facial appointment at the spa. My skin was so soft!
  • Went out to dinner and split a steak with my spouse – I just didn’t think I could finish one by myself.
  • Went to the Heritage theatre to see ‘One Hit Wonders’, a song-and-dance show starring one of my colleagues. Champagne, singing, and clapping again.


  • Cried softly during ‘Extreme Makeover Home Edition’.
  • Helped prepare a Barbie princess cake by sticking Jelly Tots (gumdrops) and Smarties (M&Ms) on her pink dress.
  • Went to a 4 year old girl’s princess birthday party.
  • Came home and put on my comfies to snuggle on the couch and watch movies with my spouse and my tiny, pink-collared pug.

Actually, nevermind – please don’t answer my initial question. As long as you believe at least a little bit that I was describing Lizzy’s weekend, I can still hold my head (with its soft, glowing skin and fiercely styled hair) high.

One of us looks way more into this than the other does...

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Jo’burg: Not So Bad!

…Hardly a winning city slogan, but definitely true of my latest visit.

I was in Johannesburg last week for 3 days’ worth of meetings, and actually had a great time. I’ve been for business a few times, but rarely stay the night, and always get stuck in horrific traffic.

I was there Monday – Wednesday, and we travelled through some beautiful parts of the city, got to every meeting on time, and didn’t have to sit in traffic all day (thanks to the new Gautrain and its partner bus system).

We were all over the city but spent the most time in Sandton – which is the newer financial centre of the city. I had a morning meeting at the Saxon Hotel, one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever seen. It’s where Oprah stays when she’s in town and where Mandela wrote ‘Long Walk to Freedom’.

Got to take my first trip into Soweto (Jo’burg’s 1.3-million-person township) for dinner one night at Nambitha, a lovely restaurant with great food and service, where I had mogodu (sheep tripe), samp (basically grits and beans), and got to see Mandela’s house on Vilakazi street, which is in quite a nice suburb of Soweto.

After a full day of meetings the next day, we had beers in beautiful Mandela Square, where there is a larger than life statue of The Man himself. These are my co-workers Steve, Michelle, and Lindani. Here’s a pic of Lindani getting into his (as far as you know) Lambo outside the beautiful Michelangelo Hotel.

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Hello Peoples! We’ve missed you and your comments and would like to officially welcome you back to the blog.

I’ll start right off with an important update: I got a job!  We are excited to say that I accepted a job offer here in SA, still in the call centre industry. More to come on the role and company in the future, but needless to say I am excited to be employed again, and at a great company (and a financially solvent one, which will be a nice change of pace).

Second big update – we’re moving to Durban (which you may remember from this blog post way back when). Durban is the third largest city in SA and is up the east coast on the Indian Ocean. Warm weather, warm ocean, and Virginia-like humidity in the summers so we should feel right at home.

Durban is known as a laid back, beachy town with lots of surfers, the best curry in South Africa, and amazing places to visit within a 2 hour radius. It’s only a 4 hour drive to Mozambique and there are great game reserves, pristine jungle beaches, and mountain retreats close by.

We’re sad to be leaving Cape Town, but excited about the future and new opportunities and adventures. We are in the flurry of moving activities now and will be heading to Durban in a week, so updates will be sporadic until then. We can’t wait to welcome visitors (that would be YOU) to our new city! More to come soon…
Roxy, eyes firmly on the future

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If you’re looking for more funny stories of our escapades, check back later this week… today, it’s time for a bit of a doozie!

My company has entered liquidation and is no longer in operation.  We put in a great effort to pull the company out of its downward spiral, but alas, things worked against us to the point that our holdings group could no longer fund us and we were forced to close.

It’s a shame that this had to happen, as we were coming out of great depths (which I knew the company was already in when I came on board) and really finding our footing.  We had cut our losses by more than 75% in the last six months, brought on new clients, and had just finished a month with every client in profit for the first time in two years.

But, when you run out of money, you run out of money.  A few of the other companies within our holdings group aren’t performing as well as they had been in the past, so they were unable to fund us through the time we needed to get to profitability – which likely would have only been a few more months.  So, long story short… that’s that and it’s time to move on.

Lizzy and I are very excited about what the future holds.  We are dusting off the resumes, and hitting the job search hard as of this week.  We are looking here in SA and back in the States (and anywhere else that looks promising!) and are confident that we will find something soon. With many of you telling us how tough things are back at home, we are focusing on SA as our primary goal, but who knows – maybe we’ll see you earlier than we thought.

We really do have a very positive outlook.  For me, I’ve learned SO much in my two roles with the company, and I worked with a truly great group of people who really made some progress against an impossible goal. Lizzy has expanded her writing experience (here on the blog, and with AOL and her ad agencies), has gotten totally buff, AND become a freakin’ pastry chef! We absolutely love living here.  We’ve made some great friends, and shared some great experiences with old friends.  So, don’t worry about us – we’ll be great, no matter what comes next.

Wish us luck as we move to the next chapter in this great adventure.  We’ll keep you posted!

Blue skies, smiling at me / Nothing but blue skies, do I see…

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A Year in Africa

Yeah, I know it’s almost a month late, so call it a year and a month in Africa.  Our first year here has passed. What a year it was.  I learned more in this year than I have in the past 10. I cannot stress enough how valuable this experience has already been for us. If we had to leave tomorrow, it would pay dividends for the rest of our lives.  

It has been amazing to be immersed in a new culture, especially in a country that has so many cultures in one. I have met people from so many different walks of life, who are more than willing to open their minds, hearts, and lives and to share amazing stories and experiences with me. 

I love my country. I will always be eternally grateful to my parents and to whatever higher power for the fact that I was born a middle class American.  I am tremendously patriotic and I will always be so. But I wish more Americans did this.  I wish we experienced other cultures more, and traveled abroad more, and met more people from areas that can change your way of thinking so greatly. But I think it is happening more and more these days.  I would have never guessed 5 years ago that I would be living in South Africa now and that I would have a cousin in Dubai. The Hawthornes’re international y’all!  Scary.

So what have I learned, what has been so great, what am I proud of? 

  • I’ve seen amazing beauty. This is truly one of the most beautiful cities in the world, from its natural beauty, to the architecture, to the people, to the vibe and culture – beauty abounds. It is great to be in a city but to be so close to the ocean, the mountains, and so many beautiful outdoor destinations close by. And to be able to go on safari has been my life-long goal. In addition to our starter safari back in March, we’re going to Kruger Park on a walking safari (the real deal!) with some great friends next month – watch for updates!  
  • I love having this experience with Lizzy.  We have grown closer, we have shared every experience, and we’ve both stretched ourselves in new ways personally and professionally and have shared it all.  And we’ve got our new family member, Roxy to share it all with! I can’t believe I have a tiny dog, in a pink collar, with a pink leash, that wears pink clothes, and I love it. Back when I had Kaleb if I had seen me now I would have kicked my own ass. It’s ridiculous but I love every minute of it.  
  • I love having people visit. I’m not a very solitary person. Sometimes I don’t feel like I’ve experienced something until I’ve shared it. While Lizzy and I share it all, it has been so gratifying to have our trusted friends come and visit and validate our feelings. To see the wonder and appreciation in their eyes mirroring what we feel every day is incredibly gratifying. 
  • I love the food and wine!  We are so lucky to be in this place with all this beauty that just happens to have some of the best food and wine in the world… and it’s cheap! Woo Hoo! 
  • My work is incredibly gratifying.  It is amazing to work in a company that is so culturally diverse where everyone is working towards a common goal with amazing passion, dedication, and drive.  I’m so proud to work with my incredible team here.  And I’m proud to be leading the charge into bringing this company back to greatness.  I’m having fun at work for the first time in a while, and it feels good. 

I miss all of my family and friends terribly.  It sucks to not be able to see our parents, our siblings, our nieces and nephews, our fun as heck extended family, and our amazing friends whenever we want to, but we know we’ll be back with all of you soon enough. In the meantime – come and see us, you wont regret it. 

What a year it’s been. Thank you to all of you who have helped make this a reality for us.  Thank you to all of you who have and will come visit. Thank you Lizzy for taking this incredible journey with me, and for documenting all of it here. I love you all. Stay tuned – there’s more to come! – JGH


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