Goodbye 2011. And what a year it was.

As soon as you start living your dreams, your dreams evolve. Start living your dreams today!

As 2011 draws to a close, it’s time for reflection. Look back at your successes, learn from your failures and become deliriously excited about the challenges and opportunities that 2012 will bring you. I’ve made a list of some of the highlights of my year. For the busy bees among you, I’ve compiled a summary 😉
This is the year I,
became healthier, fitter, slimmer, younger, more focused, more energetic, more decisive, kept my wicked sense of humour, my joy of loud music, fast cars, dance, travel; but kept myself grounded by realising how fortunate I am.

And for those of you that have a little more time 🙂
This is the year I,

  • realised that making life-changing decisions is easy
  • met Vardit Kohn from For Goodness Sake and shed 33 pounds (thanks Vardit)
  • became fit enough to run 10kms with ease on Sunday mornings
  • started doing Ashtanga Yoga…thank goodness for physiotherapy
  • met Archbishop Desmond Tutu In Cape Town; an 80 year old who has achieved so much in his lifetime and still has the will to achieve so much more
  • met HRH Princess Máxima of the Netherlands; ensuring that children are educated about money and finance
  • met Josette Sheeran, Executive Director of the UN World Food Program; a lady on a mission to feed the world
  • started my blog helendenheld.com. Thanks to everyone that actually reads it!
  • accepted a board position at NGO Share People
  • accepted a board position at NGO Cordaid Urban Matters in Cape Town
  • started studying Mandarin Chinese. “Nín hǎo” (Hello).
  • visited Brussels, London, Hong Kong, Barcelona, Umbria, Milan, Basel, Johannesburg, Cape Town, to name just a few….
  • realised that the happier and more successful I become, the happier and more successful I can make other people
  • focused on promoting Fair Chance Foundation and its partners. By voicing my opinions, I’ve noticed that people actually sit up, listen and take action
  • was listed as one of the top marketing women in the Netherlands for the 3rd consecutive year
  • was interviewed for numerous articles about CSR
  • put our house on the market
  • decided that the world needs to be conquered
  • met many new, inspiring and fascinating people, who have an effect on my life every day. I thank you all!

2011 was indeed a year to remember. But aren’t they all! I wish you and yours good health, wealth, prosperity and wisdom in 2012.

Slainte mhath (Scotland – Gaelic), Gesondheid (South Africa – Afrikaans), Nqa (South Africa – Sesotho), Proost (Netherlands – Dutch), Gan bei (China – Mandarin), Cheers!

And remember, as soon as you start living your dreams, your dreams evolve. Carpe Diem.

Doing good at Christmas

If you’re anything like me, Christmas creeps up and takes you by surprise every year. It seems like the months between the long and sultry days of Summer and the cold, rainy and dark days of Winter just fly by. I’m often left wondering where my year has gone. My mother often said that the older one gets, the quicker the years go by. But I believe that the years fly by because I do so much. I don’t believe in getting older. Age is a state mind.

For me, the festive season is not only a time to celebrate with family and friends but also to look back over the year to what I’ve achieved and to figure out what challenge I’ll rise to in the year to come. It’s also the magical time for giving.

This year giving for me took the form of filling 100 ‘Christmas stockings’ for underprivileged children aged 1 to 18 in South Africa. The actual shopping for these gifts took place when I visited Cape Town in October. It was a teriffic activity to be part of. It’s thanks to Amor Strauss from Cordaid Urban Matters in Cape Town that I was able to become involved.

Santa’s Shoebox is the organisation that facilitates the giving experience. They also get schools involved since school children in South Africa are given a social responsibility in the school curriculum. The school children decorate a standardised shoebox as part of their social responsibility project and benefactors buy the contents to fill the boxes. Each box has a unique identification number which relates to a specific child. This ensures that a 16yr old doesn’t receive gifts for a 5yr old. The benefactor is given a specific budget to stay within, which quite honestly, is the biggest challenge of all.

Admittedly Amor and I had loads of fun trying to be as original and smart as possible about buying the gifts on a very strict budget. But I suppose the biggest kick for me, was negotiating loads of ‘freebees’ from many department stores when they heard what we were doing. Many thanks go to the management of Edgars, Truworths and Woolworths in Paarl. I do hope the kids enjoy their Christmas gifts as much as we did buying them.

I wish you perspective and a stress free festive season. Look around you and appreciate what you already have and you may realise that you already have everything your heart desires. Happy holidays!