Rebreather

Would you like to know the quickest way to get attention from the world? It’s pretty simple: disappear from the online world for a while, make everyone partially aware of a drastic infamous change in your life and then suddenly post these four words on your Facebook wall “i want to die”. Just like that, plain and simple with no punctuation marks and capitalisations. Remember to post it in the wee hours of the morning for full effect. And most importantly, mean it.

I’ll be honest, the result is not fun at all but I guarantee it will do the job if you’re after attention. Unfortunately for me, I haven’t done it to catch attention or gain sympathy from others. I just went so freaking crazy that when I grabbed my phone and the Facebook status bar asked me what’s on my mind that night I foolishly took it quite literally and typed the words. My heart felt so heavy causing my soul so much pain it had to give birth to those words. Right under my nose, I watched them roll out into the world like little monsters that will haunt the introverted side of my ambivert self forever.

So here I am 3 days later, re-opening my blog after two years, in awe of what I read, of the things I wrote about in the past. I don’t know why they haunt me. The past months happened so fast, I look at myself in the mirror everyday and I see myself living a life I never knew. And the next moment, here I am staring at a screen reading what looks and feels to me like someone else’s words. I am so…. lost. I used to describe myself here as someone sailing with the wind. But now, I am not even sailing at all anymore. I am just…

floating.

And it’s so damn scary.

Featured photo is taken from https://au.pinterest.com/iwantmyivy/water-vision-board/

What Companies Are Not Getting About the New Generation of Employees

Seriously, I think the government and the private sector should consider this idea: every employee should have the freedom to choose where to report for work. I think most extroverts and those who are single would still choose the typical office set-up. Nothing’s wrong with that. I think however, that this set-up which was made the standard of the corporate or professional world is only for some type of people but not all. I honestly think it was a big mistake to let it apply to all. Just like in everything, there is no such thing as one size fits all. Introverts are but a victim of the society designed by extroverts. Perhaps due to lack of other options to meet people during the dawn of civilisation but to meet at a certain designated place face to face, we have the traditional set-up that we have now.

Times have changed, we now have options. Working from home and telecommuting should be made an option for real and as a permanent set-up with those employees who opt for it. We always envision how the future would be–where people can work from anywhere they wish to and meet only virtually with their holograms. I think we fantasize way too much about the future that’s near that we forget to see it’s actually here. I’ve been interviewed lately through video conference with the person interviewing me being eight hours away by flight with a three-hour time difference and it went so smoothly and efficiently. How much more possible would it be to meet and do day-to-day work with colleagues who probably live in the same area and city?

I see that steps getting to this are being taken using work-from-home options but the culture and mindset of people in organizations especially of people in higher office make it impossible to feel natural about it. I mean, let’s be honest, it doesn’t feel as accepted as the HR department would wish to portray when they are advertising to hire. Everyone feels guilty somehow for working from home when everybody is in the office. And there’s the notion that those who work from home aren’t really working.

To meet the need to have face-to-face discussions and effective catch-up meetings, there should be a regular everyone-goes-to-office day. Depending on the organisation, it can be once a week or fortnightly or even monthly. The point is, everybody will look forward to this day because it doesn’t happen everyday–much like a Christmas party. People will dress up and be early for this go-to-office day instead of the current reality we have where everyone goes to the office daily at least five times a week at a fixed time, most of them dragging their feet to work and some just counting the hours till it’s time to leave. This culture is counterproductive. I’d say, let those who want to go, go to the office and those who want to work from home do so.

Why do I think this will work? Because I believe that all people yearn to work. Otherwise, they won’t apply for a job. They would look for a sense of accomplishment and this revolutionary change which gives them choice would free their minds of societal constructs and limitations. So even if they are not in the office, they would finish their work and finish them well. Most HR organizations understand that not all people have the same personality and that workers from Generation Y easily get bored and have a very different style of working from their more experienced colleagues. Yet they stop at these findings. They put a lot of effort investing at building fun rooms and team buildings, out-of-towns and parties, or half-baked flexible options to work from home once a week IF and ONLY IF you reach a specific tenure working for the company–those just won’t work. If they really want to win the hearts of and retain GenY-ers, they should embrace the idea of choosing the set-up that works best for a person. Is he an out-of-office employee or an in-office buddy? Let loose, give them the freedom to work in a set-up that fits their personality and trust that they will deliver.

How do I propose to implement this? During recruitment, once a candidate has been chosen to be fit for the job, ask the person to take a personality test–depending on how much the company is willing to invest, this can be as advanced as the personality identification test used in the movies “Divergent” or “The Giver”. The test will help identify if the person will be most effective working with people around him or he can be more creative and efficient alone, in the comfort of his own home or wherever he wishes to. So then when the employee chooses, the employer will have an idea if he’s choosing something aligned with his personality type or if he’s just being lazy (which is the fear of most old school bosses). The important thing to note is that, the company must give that high degree of trust. The fact that the candidate was chosen should be assurance enough that he is a matured person–enough to be able to handle the role; make calls, arrange meetings, go to the office to meet another employee who prefers to meet in the office, go after colleagues’ outputs and coordinate for deadlines; regardless whether he chooses to be a home-based or an office-based employee. Accountability and monitoring of output and performance must be the control points of the organization to ensure discipline and performance tracking is still in place and working effectively.

Not all of us enjoy waking up early to make it to 8:30 or to satisfy the 9-5 daily grind. This is the reason most people feel like they are in the rat race. Our minds are bugged down long before we set foot into the office. We fight it deep inside but can’t do anything about it because it’s mandatory. Like prisoners, we struggle to save up enough for our own businesses or to retire young and bail ourselves out of our cages. This is why we feel like corporate slaves. We are forced to follow someone else’s mould, which are not ours. Some people would reach their optimum with this current set-up. Sure, it has its advantages. But most of us just flourish in our own environment, something which we define ourselves. This is why people who work for jobs that require the right side of the brain to work most often suddenly drop everything and start from scratch in the field of arts or in building a business that is so far from what they were trained to do. For all I know, they have always loved what they do. It wasn’t the work that they hated, it’s the set-up that was forced into them when it’s not fit for their personality that actually burned them out. For example, not all finance people wants to go to the office and sit there in front of a monitor 8 hours a day every day! I believe most people who are really good with numbers and enjoy analysing quit finance because they thought it’s not for them. The truth is, they only wanted to be able to work freely. It’s sad, but most of the real organizational talents would be lost from the corporate world by this modern day cry about following one’s passion in the arts and going freelance. Who knows whether they have always been already working on what has always been their passion (otherwise, why did they take those courses in college)? I don’t see anything wrong about encouraging a finance person to work from home–start when he wakes up maybe at 10am, drink his coffee which he had time to make for himself, work from bed or the comfort of his own balcony, beside his wife who drafts the sales contract for her next customer. If the books get closed and accounts balance by period-end, the employer and employee would find themselves in a win-win situation. What should be the problem? If this is the set-up, I don’t see a reason why the employee would leave.

The truth is, if employees only manage their own businesses, they would most likely be working like this–from home, beside the people they want to be with, asking them questions like what they think of his or her next idea randomly while working on his laptop. This is where great ideas start and are fuelled–where we are most comfortable, with people we trust and whose opinions we value. And when these employees are only working for their own personal, non-work-related projects, that set-up always proves to work. Companies should not fail to see this and harness the potential innovation and creativity this would bring.

The thing is, they all claim they are pro-change, they embrace the modern way of thinking and the technology and information age. They say they are revolutionary and love new ideas but they keep doing the same things. They haven’t changed the way they do things. At most, companies spend on seminars and workshops to understand employees but they won’t go as far. I’d tell them to just take the risk, trust the people and embrace this new era. Know the new generation and harness their uniqueness, fluid personalities and creative spirits for their businesses to succeed.

Just please, especially in this kind of weather…let us work from home.

Featured photo is from mavenly.co

My Quest for “Career Bliss”–Yes, it Exists!

a guest blog post by shopgirl of shopgirlanonymous.com

 
 

My daddy could sell ‘ice to an eskimo’, or so I was told.  Growing up, I remember my daddy was a jovial person.  He laughed more than any human I have still yet to meet, and he always donned a smile that extended across his entire face.  I would trace the deep crevices that had cratered in a sunburst pattern from his eyes at only 35.   He was my love, my hero, and held all my admiration.   I asked him to marry me over and over again.  Call it childhood instinct, but I knew our time together would be short.

 

It was a Sunday night, 5 days before my 11th birthday, when we received the tragic call; my daddy was dead.  The day before my birthday I sat nervously locked away in a back corner, hiding from his corpse displayed for the viewing pleasure of all those that had loved him as much as I did, “He died doing what made him happy,” everyone kept saying over and over and over again as they passed me. Looking back at my life, I can tell that statement became a subconscious mantra.

 

My childhood was not the happiest, and the option to do what just made you happy was not exactly conducive.  My mother was left in piles of debt with an 11 year old, 5 year old, and newborn infant.  My job was to help clean the house and take care of my brothers, I had to repress the pain and understandably step up and take my role as oldest sibling.  Each night as I lay down in my bed I could finally weep over his smile.  How much I longed for someone to laugh or smile, or to be able to genuinely laugh or smile myself, but for a time I had lost the ability. My stepfather loves to remind me that when I was teasingly asked at 13 if I wanted to marry some crush of the month my response was, “whoever I marry, I want him to make me laugh.”

 

My grandfather was founder of a bank in Houston and as I hit teenage years I would spend my summers working there. At dinner time my grandparents would build me up, “You will be a banker, there is no more accommodating field for a woman to climb to the top.” They would groom me for a position they had in mind for me at my grandfather’s bank.  Each day as I sat behind my desk my soul would fade, I would find myself venturing onto Livejournal to just write, my heart was not in my work, and I was miserable.

 

Once at the university, I finally began taking only what made me happy.  Although by my later teenage years my responsibilities for my brothers had faded, it was a difficult state of mind to shake.  It was difficult to just let go and be a child, but in the dorm, for the first time I experienced a euphoria of freedom.  I began to really laugh.  I began to take whatever classes sounded like they would make me happy, and bring great interest to me.  If  a friend said a prof they had in astronomy was amazing I signed up for it, if I read that a women’s writers teacher was the bees knees on a school review I would apply.  I took whatever sounded fun at the time with no real direction.  Finally in my Junior year, I was called into an advisors office who said I had to declare some sort of major, we looked at my plan and with my credits English junior high education was my calling.

 

I married a man at 21 that made me laugh, I was only a sophomore in college at this point.  We bought a house, and though his salary paid for our home he wanted my equal contribution and requested I get a job.  I applied at my favorite store in the mall, the one I visited every Tuesday night for inspiration and story ideas, and within weeks was their new lowly sales associate.  The man who hired me was the most jovial man I had ever met, he had that distantly familiar genuine twinkle of happy in his eyes.  He let me know that my job was to make my customers’ day.  I was inspired, my job was to bring joy to customers!

 

I was encouraged to dance, I was encouraged to laugh, I was encouraged to reach out to each and every individual and bring a smile to their faces.  I was given the opportunity to listen and to care. I was able to take the sad and mistreated and inspire or reignite a light within. I felt my mantra come to life.

 

With great consideration and pain I left my retail career (now an assistant manger) after a year to student teach where I was told not to allow laughter in my classroom. I was told to teach the children how to answer questions on a test, not to teach them the correct answers. I was told I could not encourage their own laughter and clowning. The principle would walk in if she heard laughter and tell me she could not concentrate, that we had to work silently in my classroom.

 

This was the career path I had chosen, this is what I had studied for.  But one night I sat and thought of my last conversation with my father.  I remember there was no time that I saw him with more confidence and excitement then when he was describing to me his successes as a traveling sales man.  We lived in the desert, and he sold scuba equipment which ripped him from our home for weeks at a time.  He showed me all the sales he had made, how suddenly we were going to be able pay off debt, and how someday soon we would own a red suburban (his dream car). He had such a passion and talent for sales, and so had I. For his final breath he was standing in the pacific ocean with his best friend, just off the shore of California, putting on his flipper to begin another dive.
 

I didn’t want to die doing what I felt I had to do. I was going to spread smiles and laughter, I was going to return to sales.

 
 

Featured photo is owned with all rights reserved to the guest blogger, it was taken in a trip to Grand Cayman

A Dose of Reality… Yet Again

I had the perfect excuse to work from home today. The property manager conducted the very first inspection of the unit we are renting. I did actually work but I also realised, now more than ever, that my ideal life is waking up to a day like this. Working in my sleeping clothes; having breakfast, lunch and snacks without the time constraints; freely surfing the net about an idea that suddenly pops into my mind without worrying if my boss or an officemate is looking over my shoulder to see what’s on my screen–all this is just perfect.

I definitely want to work. I’m not actually sure if I can last a day without getting in front of my computer to make myself busy with something worthwhile. But I guess after some time, people eventually tire of the normal 9 to 5 routine and the ordeal of waking up in the morning to go to the office, waiting for the clock to strike closing time. Specifically for me, who’s an introvert (lately, I’ve been receiving feedback and psych test results saying I’m an ambivert or an outgoing introvert), I love working on my own. I don’t have issues dealing with people and working in teams, only saying as a matter of preference, I’ve always loved being in control of a specific work from its beginning through to the end and having the fulfilment to call it your own. This may sound vain but I enjoy working with myself, participating in those productive discussions happening inside my head. This is why I always believed I’m an artist and I was aways meant to be one.

Unfortunately for me, I was born and educated in a third-world country where that career path is a luxury and only those born to rich families who would almost always have the right connections can realistically assume they’ll make it big. Talent is definitely not all you need in the third-world. So I worked my way up through a more profitable, practical and safe profession. It enabled me to save and get most of what I basically need. Most times, it afforded me with more than what I need. These types of job can bring you to places, countries you can only dream about if you’re a struggling artist (especially writer) in some far-east country whose foreign exchange currency rate doesn’t even appear in the banks’ boards. Ultimately, this type of job gave my husband and I (both working in the same field) the privilege to live in a first-world country while we are still young. For that, I will always be thankful. Not out of sheer gratefulness though, I’m still doing the same thing I used to do since I got out of the university to fend for myself.

Today, I got two emails about job opportunities (in the same line of work, of course). I have not replied to either of them. I wished to move to a new job because my current one doesn’t really pay much (not complaining here, I’m just fully aware how much more on the average similar positions pay), but deep down I secretly wish there was another option for me. I was hoping to get a job that will allow me to do something I really love doing. So I went looking for opportunities for writers. Most of them either require experience (which I don’t have because I spent all my professional life becoming an expert of something else) or involve writing for companies–asks you to promote brands, products, company websites, etc. The latter is not a far cry, in essence, from what I currently do with so much less money.

There are opportunities for writers with no experience which, I can tell upfront requires tons of work but pays as little as $1 per page. On the average they would expect 10 articles a week. If I’ll do that full-time, I could possibly achieve their targets (and mind you, the topics are not the least bit exciting as you might have imagined). But doing it full-time means I have to give up the salary I currently get for a maximum of $30 per week, assuming I write 3 pages per article and turn in 10 of them per week. Wow, I definitely can’t live on that. I don’t know how full-ime writers could have survived their days when they were all still starting out. I read some articles written by full-time writers honest enough to admit that they were able to pull it off only because they are lucky to have advantages that didn’t need to be part of their hard work–either with their parents or spouses who may have financed them before they made it big or at the least provided them with all the connections or head-start they needed.

Realistically speaking, success in this highly competitive, low-paying field with a highly saturated market demand may be just a chasing after the wind. Maybe for most, writing (or whatever their passion with some inclinations towards the arts is) were just only meant to be a hobby. This is not yet heaven yet, after all.

I can say blame it on commercialisation, industrialisation and the market economy, And yes, I’ll say this as a well-informed, sufficiently-educated economics graduate. But today I prefer to be a realistic layperson, so I’m blaming my fundamental need to provide amply for myself and my family, and my fear of treading the unknown to start somewhere bottom-low, even lower than when I started out with where I am now. Oh yes, I’m just a coward. So I’m responding to those two head-hunters who sent me those emails about finance job opportunities and for the time being, forget about ever having the same work-from-home everyday lifestyle that I had a taste of just for today.

Yeah, I know… LIFE!

 

Featured photo is from barclaylittlewood.com

Haiku 02: Soldiers

Hundred feet pairs made
monotonous marching sound
in rage, off to work.

 

 

 

 

 

Featured photo edited by blogger from the www.gettyimages.com original.

Writing and The Reality of a Less than Ideal World

On a weekday, I would usually go straight in front of the laptop to draft something coming home from work. Today is not one of those days. My husband has to use the laptop, HIS laptop. Since the day we came here in Sydney, my dear laptop refused to turn on. My husband tried everything he can to help me resurrect it but the best he could do was recover all my files from the hard disk. I’m not sure whether it got so used to the humid weather too much that it refuses to survive on Sydney’s dry breeze, or it’s just my luck! We tried bringing it to the repair station and they were asking us $700 for the repair. That costs as much as a brand new laptop so you guessed it, we didn’t have it repaired. However, I haven’t bought a new one either (nothing to blame but the fact that two finance people marrying each other would make for a thrifty-bordering-cheapskate kind of household). So here I am, trying to work out a decent post using…that’s right, my phone!

This romantic notion that, well, if someone has the talent and desire to write, they’ll get it done no matter how exhausting their day job is or how few hours they have to write, is a nice fiction, but it’s no reflection of real life, or of how creativity works for most people

I came across this comment from @Pamela Troy on one of Salon.com’s posts about writers and the reality of pursuing a writing career. It’s an interesting article with an equally thought provoking discussion going on in the comments section. You may want to check it for yourself here.

I’m one living proof of this article. I enjoy writing and I found an outlet from the daily grind through blogging, but aside from a laptop, I’m also very much constrained with time. I can only start writing at 7pm, that’s the earliest on weekdays. I have of course, other responsibilities on weekends. I am also studying to get a CPA license, because writers and artists according to the article needs a day-job, which I need a license to sustain and make the most out of. I remember I told my husband while writing one weekend that this is what I want to do. I want to be home-based, writing for a living. He very lovingly gave me a dose of reality by saying it’s a nice dream but, “What will we eat?” Of course, we can eat cause he has a fulltime job too but we’ll have to give up on our current apartment which is very convenient and our lifestyle (which is not really much but something we can call decent). We’re only starting out our lives here. We have to work–I have to work! If that means I need to wake up every morning, rush to the office and sit down on a full eight hours of non-stop spread sheet formula, reports generation and numbers analyses, then so be it. Artists were not given equal opportunities to begin with but what does it matter? God gave me a degree, a supportive husband and a stable source of income. It may not be equivalent to the wealth or the connections, but that is enough. After all, this is reality. There are costs to following one’s dreams.

Doing the same thing for seven years, I can’t help but yearn for something better than this. So when blogging came to the picture, I embraced it. Everynight even if I were so tired, I would try and read and find some inspiration. Every now and then, I try to write. But lately, my husband noticed that this new found passion is taking too much of my time that should have been so rightfully spent sleeping. I’ve been running on four hours of sleep on the average of late.

Upon reading this article from salon.com, I felt the reality of our condition. This society unfortunately favors the security of blunt and unexciting, less fulfilling job titles over self-expression and artistic inclinations. We can blame capitalism all we want. The point is, it’s never going to be easy (unless you’re either born or married to a millionaire). But that also made me realize how much I really like it, cause I still think it’s worth the sacrifices.

The past few nights I’ve been praying that God puts me in the right direction regarding my career. I think I got a prelude to an answer. God is testing my heart, “This is the reality of what you’re asking, do you still want it?”

Yes, I do. How or when it will happen, I do not know. As a Christian though, I’m just so grateful I can leave it up to Him and simply trust.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. -Jeremiah 29:11

In the meantime, I’d have to give my overworked phone a break and my body some time to recharge. My stable-income day job awaits!

 

 

Featured photo is part of our very own engagement photo album, shot in 2013 by the Wedding Photographer, Nez Cruz.

One Day I’ll Be Free

I was staring on the blackboard, when one of my classmates got everyone’s attention. He was sleeping, right there, in the middle of our history class. I heard our teacher say, “Shhh, don’t wake him up! He’s dreaming of a better Philippines.” And everybody laughed.

THAT was high school.

Don’t you miss those days? Back when things were simpler, just pass the exams and you’ll be alright. You can sleep in class and not get fired. You can make mistakes and only loose some points, not millions for some business God knows who owns. The consequences of what you do and what you choose affect no one else but you. Throwing surprise parties for the teacher when you were supposed to have class was a smart way to escape it. And you can get away with it, feeling even more loved and appreciated.

Oh, how I miss those days! When I can afford to stop, stare and not jeopardize my future. I can be different and not be so bad. I can be creative and not be defiant. When learning was not constrained and money was not all that matters, I sleep and wake up without the worries of this world. I can choose whom I would want to spend my time with and not have to sit down on lunch-outs when I don’t feel like it.

When I was a student, I wanted nothing else but to graduate thinking that’s how I’d finally be free. If I knew then what I know now, I would’ve wished those days would never end.

Those were the days when every day was new. Now, the passing days are just all the same old calculating. These Excel files, oh how boring!

I was staring on the blackboard then.. and everybody laughed. I’m still staring on a screen here now wishing I were sleeping like my classmate was.

But then again I thought, even if I were sleeping, still I will wake up dreaming

–One day I’ll be free.

 

 

Featured Photo is from Oren Lavie’s music video “Her Morning Elegance”. Watch it here.