When I started my virtual assistant business, I earned less than $25 per week!

Now that our family is on a debt-free journey, Shadley and I are conscious about getting on top of our food budget. Sadly, this is something we have yet to master as a married couple, and our latest solution is for me to shop alone.

This is so that I can take my time and find a good combination of food items that will last until our next shop, and keep us under budget.  I can spend upwards of an hour in our local grocery store shopping for simple ingredients, and this is typically something that Shad does not enjoy – especially when stores are packed! 

As we look for ways to get creative with our money and live within our means, I am often reminded of my first year as a virtual assistant. I earned less than $25 per week! And even so, at the end of each shopping trip, I was happy and able to account for food (including a snack, lol) and other living expenses. 

Knowing that we used to live on $100 – $200 per month gives me a lot of hope and courage for our future. Not only because we’ve increased our income, but because if we could get by then, we can get by now! 

debt free journey self employed virtual assistant

Are you currently on a debt-free journey? Follow my journey over on Instagram at @curlsonabudget, my hobby account.

Want to become a virtual assistant? Read more blog posts here.

My first time attending a vision board workshop

vision board workshop

I didn’t have a vision board, but now I do. I celebrated my 27th birthday on 19th November, so my vision board came right on time for MY new year, and THE new year. Ironically, everything I learned at the vision board workshop was tested in the latter part of November, so while I simmer down, I sat down to answer some questions I think you might want the answers too!


I found a great word to describe the vision board workshop, but as luck would have it, I can’t remember it now. It was like being pampered on my wedding day or birthday. I felt very special, and loved, and as if I was the most important person in the room. Sonja was attentive, and gentle, even going so far as offering to change the scents she had burning if they were overwhelming or irritating my allergies. Sonja lives in a beach community, and it was perfectly cool that Saturday morning. Her home is an oasis, and when I wasn’t engaged in the process, I was admiring the nurturing environment she has created for herself and people like you and me.


I created a vision board, of course. I also decided on a word/mantra for 2019 and participated in the meditation/mindfulness exercises that were presented on the day.


Sonja is exceptional at her job. I’m confident that there is no one who can do what she does, the way she does it. You and I can create a vision board at home, but there is no way to replicate the model Sonja has developed as an expert in this field. It is incredible, and it works. You don’t just walk away with a vision board, you walk away with knowledge of self – and that’s invaluable.


Quite a bit, actually. I answered weird, uncomfortable questions, and explored questions that I did not have an answer for right away. I sat in the space and allowed the answers to bubble up and spill over. It was wonderful to talk openly to Sonja, and Roxanne, who was also present at the workshop. I’ll be touching on this in more detail in another blog post.


Creating a vision board is not a destination, it’s a journey. And as much as I would have liked to and planned to ‘complete’ my vision board on the day – it’s not something to be compressed into one day, one time, and one moment. It’s not an event, but a process. Sonja’s workshop guides that process.

In my previous post, you will notice that I wanted to be strategic and methodical about the images, quotes, and words I placed on my board. I imagined that analyzing each one carefully would increase the probability of my goals coming to pass. I learned that while I could be fully present in the moment, I couldn’t ‘control’, ‘force’ or ‘overthink’ my vision board. It ended up taking shape very nicely, without the help of my ego.


Sonja’s vision board workshop is five hours long. It sounds like a lot, but time flies. All the activities were presented perfectly, but I would have loved more time to assemble my vision board. However, there is a reason for everything and I plan to finish the vision board over the holiday season. With that said, I would totally attend a full-day or one-day, one-night rendition of this workshop – a weekend would be fantastic!


It’s a group workshop but the groups are always small. I shared the workshop with a fellow copywriter, which was fun. I’ve seen quite a few of the pics from Sonja’s workshops and attendees have mostly been groups of 2 – 3 people, often family or friends. You don’t have to feel shy or uncomfortable about sharing the space with a stranger, and you are welcome to do a group booking if you want to enjoy the experience with someone you know. Sonja is a big believer in good ol’ positive vibes, and in her own way, she screens all clients who come into her space. So you’re in awesome company.

Is there anything else you would like to know about vision board workshops, or this vision board workshop in particular? Let me know in the comments!

About The Creative Space With Sonja

Host: https://sonjamckaiser.com

Venue: https://sonjamckaiser.com/workshopspace

FAQ: https://sonjamckaiser.com/vision-board-workshops

Workshop Dates: https://sonjamckaiser.com/workshopdates

Photo Credit: Sonja McKaiser

I don’t have a vision board

vision board workshop in cape town


I don’t have a vision board. *Queues shock, horror, disgust.* You could say I’ve lived life on the wild side! No vision board, bullet journal, essential oil diffuser, manicure, and monstera plant… And while I am probably a disgrace to most work-from-home women with an Instagram account, my vision board-less-ness has guilted me most of all.  A vision board is not essential or indicative of how successful you will be. But it is nice to have when planning, strategizing and believing for the best outcome in your life. And that’s why I’ve given myself the side eye for having a vision board on my to-do list circa 2014.

Why I don’t have a vision board


You’d think that all it took was a few hours of your time and some magazines, but nope. For the occasional crafter (that’s me) – there is a great deal of preparation  procrastination involved. The idea of the cleanup afterward, and getting lazy halfway through. The wondering where to put it since I have barely there office space. I’ve had every intention to create this elusive creature, as indicated by the magazines stacked in my bedroom for months. Only recently destroyed by puppy teeth and a sudden urge to purge – I had all the materials for a vision board clothed with food pics and Mediterranean colours. But what I made up in good intentions, I lacked in action.

Vision Board Workshops


Then I met Sonja McKaiser, the founder of The Creative Space With Sonja. Sonja  facilitates Vision Board Workshops from her studio in Table View (or West Beach if you’re using Google Maps). At first, I didn’t resonate with doing somewhere else, what I could do at home. But now I’m wholeheartedly convinced that Sonja is on to something.

The benefits of a Vision Board Workshop


She takes care of cleanup, provides all supplies and snacks too! But that’s not the only reason why the idea of a Vision Board Workshop is fantastic.  I may not have a vision board now, but I’ve created a vision board in the past. And if memory serves, my vision boards were always filled with relevant, yet random clippings. They resonated with me but didn’t get me closer to my goals. This is where Sonja’s guided workshop is perhaps most useful. She calls the workshop an investment that will help you get clarity on your goals. And for me, that whole bit includes getting enough clarity so as to create a vision board that is clear, inspiring and actionable. I don’t want a life-size Pinterest board.

I attended Sonja’s Vision Board Workshop on Saturday, 3rd November and it was marvelous. I’ve been busy with other things and it was the perfect me-time. It was my birthday month, and I could not think of a better time to get focused for 2019. But first, here’s a look at my year sans vision board.

A year without a Vision Board


Right now, my life looks a little different to the images and words I would have chosen for a vision board at the top of the year. While learning was certainly on my agenda back then, I didn’t think that 2018 would be the year I got back into the classroom. And with my dreams of homemaking and starting off on my own in full swing back in Jan, I didn’t think that I would leave my city life so soon to embrace suburban bliss a little longer. I didn’t plan on having a pet but now I have one of my own and foster her mom and siblings too. And like I hoped, this was a year I could focus wholly on developing my career and seeing to my health and the health of my husband.


Sometimes things work out according to the plan, and sometimes they work out better, or for the better. That has been my lesson this year.

Having a vision board is not the end all or be all, but if you’re curious at all, I’ll be back soon sharing about the process of creating my vision board in an intimate group setting. I also have special plans for my vision board so that it’s not in the way, or in storage, but somewhere I can see it every day. I’ll come with pics!

Photo Credit: Hey Beauti Magazine

Personal Branding: Adding value, for free

Personal branding can be a long and arduous journey. Like getting to know yourself, the work is never done. Personal branding is not just in the photoshoots, and in the branding colours and in the font choices. It is everywhere, in your choices and how you show up for yourself and your community every day.

In this process, I constantly ask myself how best I can add value at every level of my life. Using your talents and skills to improve the world around you can only be good, and it’s necessary. But let’s face it, most of us must make a living by doing the things we are good at or trained in.

In the world of online business, adding value is often synonymous with providing free information – it is a way in which we can build community, nurture relationships and capture leads. So how then, do we continue to add value, for free, and earn an income?

I know entrepreneurs who are generous with the expertise, and I also know entrepreneurs who are more tight-lipped. I am at a crossroads in my career and I must decide where I fit.

This is especially true because I operate a service-based business within which I am the only service provider. I don’t have a team, and I am part of many teams. While I would love to spend 99.9% of my life creating free content, that’s not how this works.

So, I need to compartmentalize. To figure out where I give, how I give and how much I give. So I can be an agent of change and progress for all, and also represent my personal brand well. It’s good business.

In this personal branding journey, as it relates to adding value, for free, I’ve learned a couple of things.

To add value, especially the free kind, you must know your audience and the type of work you desire to do and be paid for. This ah-ha moment comes hot on the heels of me embracing the fact that I am not yet at a place in my career where l desire to teach people how to write. I want to write for them! I bring this up because, it might seem appropriate for me, in my capacity as a writer, to add value, for free, by sharing writing tips. But besides this not being something I am interested in doing, it’s not something my ideal client needs. My ideal client wants to know how to provide a clear brief to her content writer(s). If she does not have a content writer, she wants tips on how to choose one. My ideal client wants to know which types of written content will work for her brand. My ideal client wants to know if I can get the job done.

Sometimes adding value, for free, is not doing the obvious. While you think you MUST add value, for free, in a very particular way, there are ways in which to provide your expertise for free or for a nominal fee, in a contextualized environment. And by contextualized I mean an environment which is conducive to you still having enough time, resources and energy to generate revenue from your skills.

As an entrepreneur, it’s also worth remembering that some of your skills and passions may afford you some flexibility. For example, as I am no longer a performing and recording artist, I teach poetry and songwriting workshops for little to no cost. As a VA, I am also moving up the ranks and teaching some of my previous workflows to prospective VAs.

Where my personal brand is concerned, and as we round up yet another year, I am taking a moment to write up the where, what, how, when and why of value-adding content in my business. This includes deciding which (free) information will be disseminated on my social media, on my mailing list, in the groups I am part of and on this website. I think it’s important to make this clear very early on in your journey so that you can stay on top of your giving, and also enjoy a guilt-less experience when it is time to make that money! Lol.

What do you think about sharing your intellectual property for free?

Photo Credit: Photograph by Wilma Towell Photography under the creative direction of The Ashley Knight Company for Hello Boss Community. Makeup by Accentuate Hair & Makeup.

Black and white photos from our wedding day

While I was certain that I would not like too many white and black photographs included in our wedding album, I really love most of the B&W photographs we received.

They capture emotions and memories perfectly, and though we have some of the shots in full colour, it’s easy to spot the better composition.

Tanya did a great job. Here are my favourite black and white photographs from our wedding day.

All images below by Tanya Kinnear Photography

What I loved most about our wedding day

I was excited about walking down the aisle. I looked forward to having all eyes on me, and the wedding dress that I picked out to represent such a beautiful occasion. I practically ran down the aisle, cutting the moment short, but still, it is one of my favourite memories and what I love most about our wedding day.

How did this moment outrank our vows, being pronounced husband and wife, and leaving the ceremony for our inner city break? Well, here’s the story.

…guess what, every single person that tells you that it goes by so fast  – is right.

It’s no secret that wedding planning and our wedding day brought up mixed feelings. I didn’t love every second, and I would definitely change my attitude and some of the choices I made before we said ‘I DO’. I was a bundle of emotions wrapped in white cloth that day, and I wish that I enjoyed myself more. Because guess what, every single person that tells you that it goes by so fast  – is right. Still annoying, but bang on the money. I am becoming that annoying person, but if it results in one happier bride – my work is done.

My wedding photos have been such a lifesaver. They let me experience feelings I didn’t allow myself to feel on the day, and through each frame, I’m able to relive the bits I did enjoy without the drama and wedding stress. By going through Tanya’s handiwork, I can pin-point the exact moments when I was in my head, or struggling with my thoughts. But in the scene I am about to show you, I am entirely free and present.

I wasn’t thinking about anything or anyone. My only job was to gather my nerves and put one foot in front of the other. I was getting married – and this was the moment that set it all in motion, like dominoes.

walking down the aisle city wedding

walking down the aisle city wedding 2

walking down the aisle city wedding

This moment helped me to ‘sober’ up mentally because it was the start of the wedding procession. But we also managed to make it special with some forward planning.  This is legitimately the beginning of your wedding ceremony – so you want it to be executed well and to your satisfaction. Better yet, you want it to be a moment you enjoy. I want you to look back and love about your wedding day too.

But who am I kidding, the next best bit about this part of the ceremony is seeing your partner see you for the first time. We’ve all seen the memes about grooms crying and what you’d do if they don’t play the part. I knew that Shad was not going to cry and I didn’t expect him too. Like we always do, we laughed. And it was perfect.

groom on wedding day walking down the aisle

walking down the aisle guests

walking down the aisle wedding city

What did you love most about your wedding day? If you are engaged and planning, what are you looking forward to the most?

Our Civil Ceremony

A year ago today, we were married for the first time. We arrived at that stage in wedding planning where every couple considers elopement at least one million times every day until they reach the altar. And though this urge passes for most bridal couples, getting married sooner, rather than later, made perfect sense for us. Three hundred and sixty-five days later, here’s a look at our civil ceremony at Home Affairs +  tips if you’re thinking of going that route too.

Image: Tanya Kinnear

To our wedding guests, who may feel like they’ve been duped – surprise! You were still part of the most special day. We chose to maintain the mystery for our privacy and your pleasure on the day of the wedding celebration. 😉

Image:  Tanya Kinnear

But first, why a civil ceremony?

We did not plan for a civil ceremony. Very late in our engagement (six months before the wedding in fact) we chose a civil ceremony and a civil ceremony chose us. Because this was not our predetermined wedding style, we had questions – some of which I’ll cover below. Our decision enabled us to ask our father (Shadley’s biological dad) to officiate our religious ceremony and plan the proceedings without any formal requirements.

l also wanted to complete my personal paperwork as soon as possible. I received my smart ID before our wedding celebration and changed most of my accounts over relatively easily since we received our marriage certificate on the day of our ceremony. Cutting out the middle man (private wedding officiant) was also our preference at the time due to limits in our budget. Besides that, choosing someone to marry us was a big deal. Essentially, whether you believe in God or not, you are allowing someone to speak a blessing over you and your household. I don’t take that kind of counsel very lightly. Since this is a legal ceremony, the DHA officiant does their part (only, no side comments) respectfully and to the point. You also have the opportunity to set the tone for your marriage by saying your own vows after the formalities.

Now, let’s get started shall we!

What will people think?

You can only control your own thoughts and actions. Your favourites will show up for you. Whether at a banquet hall in the Winelands or a back room in Belville.

Will it feel like my wedding day?

You will make funny faces, and belly laugh, and fight butterflies. You will stop worrying about your double-chin, or the shoes you hate but have to wear because there is no money for a new pair. You will develop a deep awareness of the commitment you are making to your companion and friend. Your union is big, but simple too. Whether you dress it up or down, this is the moment you’ve been waiting for.

So yes, this is your first wedding ceremony. You will promise to love, and cherish, and be irritated by the same person for the rest of your life.

Okay, so I don’t have to write vows?

There is love so wide and deep that words cannot wrap around it. Speak from your heart, but write that stuff down. Lest you be that wife eternally sorry for rambling!

And what about the other stuff I want?

You won’t miss the nail polish, and, to be honest, you don’t like it anyway. You will be so proud of your paper flower bouquet. Just keep it upright. No one needs to know about the polka dot straws. And about that, done is better than perfect, lol! You didn’t get that blue veil you wanted. But did you die? You wear your dress at least once a week. It fits even better now but your husband hates it. He says it looks like pajamas. Pajamas are nice!

I just want to do what’s best and right for us…

I feel you girl! And guess what? You are doing a pretty good job. Sometimes our humanness fights our deepest desires, and the most intricate parts of our stories, in search of things that are merely nice to have.

And when that’s over?

You’ll be rich in people! You’ve gained a partner and a family. <3 You will realise that the stress was only worth the wisdom accumulated over time.

The pictures need to look amaze-balls…

In that respect, you and l are still the same. Turns out that the solemnisation of a marriage at Home Affairs will not give you chic city hall vibes. For a cute courthouse wedding you will probably need to do some investigating, perhaps in a small town, where people would go the extra mile when they don’t have to. In a perfect world they’ll show you the space and you can see if you’d like to go ahead. In a busy place like Cape Town? Not going to happen boo. For you, the idea of another production (because let’s be honest, that’s what a wedding can become) was besides the point. Had you decided on this option sooner, maybe coordinating everything at your favourite café would have worked. But for right this moment, this is perfect, for you.


All photographs (unless otherwise stated) were captured by Lauren Pretorius Photography at Department of Home Affairs Belville and Majik Forest in Durbanville.