Sunday, October 29, 2006

Monday Blues

Whose idea is this weekend thing and going to work on Monday? It is Sunday night and I am already tired. I am already thinking...I am too tired to wake up tomorrow morning...I have not gone to bed yet(can you beat that?) but I feel so drained that there is no way a one night sleep will get me to the point where I'd be pepped up and zesty to face the office for 5 straight days.

How come Sundays have this effect on me...really it is not the whole day it is only Sunday night as it gets to 6:00pm and the night quietly creeps in, I get this phobia to even sleep because when I wake up it will be Monday and that is very demoralizing...

Is it just me or is this a general feeling? I am sure that some people just cannot wait for Monday so that they can do what? I love my job but truly..mondays give me the jitters. First there is the meeting...what happened last week and what we are doing this week...same thing week in, week out...truly can we extend the weekend and start work on Tuesday and still break off on Friday? That cannot be too much to ask the world to do or is it?

I think I will stop lamenting and just go to bed...maybe ...just maybe, I will feel like climbing out of bed...did I mention the crazy Monday morning traffic? You cannot even begin to imagine it and then you have to race through everything in the morning to get to work before 8:00am. One thing is sure, I will have to depend on my body clock..I will not be setting any alarm because I am sure to break my phone when the alarm goes off and that will be a calamity.

This has nothing to do with what I did all weekend because even if I stayed in bed all through (which I did not), I will still feel the same way or at least I think I will... what do you think? What is the point of thinking, I just need to try it...lock myself up in the room...banish hubby and son and even the puppy...oh talking about the puppy...ikt must be what drained my not really...that will not be true...

Great week everyone and I am sure I will be happy again when it is Friday.

Friday, October 27, 2006

And the puppy comes homes

A couple of months ago, over summer, Pappee wanted a puppy and we went to the vet and pet shop to place an order. Obviously, we were informed that it was a long list especially for the German shepherd breed or Alsatians as they are popularly called. This is a very common and popular breed over here in this part of the world. He had no clue which one he wanted – Alsatian, Rotweiller, Pitts bull or whatever, he just wanted a puppy period. Because I have has dogs earlier in my previous life (my life before marriage and motherhood is a previous life…please do not ask me why I term it that…it simply looks like it was in another age and time).

Over the weeks and months we have called the pet shop intermittently to find out where we are on the list and we were told each time to be patient (as if we had any choice). Yesterday, the dreaded call (for me) and the most exciting call (for Pappee) came and they have a puppy for us. There are three of them and we will need to chose first. When I told Papee, he could not contain his joy and he woke up and 6:00am this morning for the trip to the pet shop which is not to be until 10:00 am but that excitement is understandable. Pappee had written list over list of what he will need and have told stories over and over again of what he will be doing together with the puppy so finally his dream is coming through and Christmas came two months ahead.

Last night, we had a meeting to reiterate our earlier agreements on how the dog will be taken care of and whose responsibility it will be to clean the kernel (he was not excited about the dog “poopoo”), he truly wondered if he would be able to do that. He had no issues with the feeding and cleaning of the bowl, giving the puppy a bath (he was really looking forward to that) but the dog mess? No way!! So I said, then it means no puppy. He thought about it for a few seconds and says “mummy I will clean it. Lets get the puppy”.

Eventually it was time and we got to the pet shop. Pappee looked at the puppies in the kernel from one mile …maybe half a mile away and could not even get near. This is trouble if you ask me. So I said, maybe this whole dream for a puppy is not a good idea after all. I went in to talk with the shop owner to get more details about the puppies…when they were born, how many in the liter, the vet the owners used and last de-worming date (puppies are to be de-wormed every 2 weeks). Pappee still had not gotten any closer to the puppies yet we are going home with one. However, by this time, he was already in the pet shop and selecting the leashes and collars and feeding bowl (he had his list) and he identified everything he wanted.

Now time to choose the puppy. As I mentioned there were 3 puppies and one was particularly very aggressive, I liked that one. He would not stop, he would climb over the other ones, bark at the closest figure to the kernel and they are only 5 weeks old. One was so quiet and very pretty (they were all females…we had asked for females) and all through the period we were at the shop, this particular puppy had not made a single sound. I never would dream of taking that puppy in the midst of these other 2 and guess what? That it the one Pappee pointed to and nothing I said will make him change his mind. He said he wants a quiet dog…and I thought…you should be going for poodles and not an Alsatian…besides what he is dreaming of is a big aggressive dog like the ones our neighbors (two houses away has) and he is getting the quiet but beautiful one?. But since this is his puppy, he will be the one to take care of it and whatever it becomes…it is his, I left him with his choice. One thing is sure, our lives have changed with the arrival of this puppy, there is no doubt about that. I hope it gives him and helps him develop a strong sense of responsibility although I pity the puppy, I think if she survives the next two weeks when she will be dragged, pulled, tugged then she is destined for a long life…stay tunes there is bound to be more puppy gist coming…

Oh did I mention? By the time we were leaving the pet shop, he has now touched the puppy a couple of times and now sitting with the puppy at the back of the car…happily.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Fulfillment, Happiness …illusions

How often do we say, imagine, day dream and wish:
If only we can get this or that or achieve this level of success or the other or land one job (which we picture in our minds) or get involved in a meaningful relationship or if our boyfriend would show some commitment and propose and the list goes on and on.
Did I almost forget to mention the child syndrome …if only I could have one child or two (in my own case) and then life will be so complete or if our spouses will love us more ( am not sure what this means…you know love more), be less controlling, less selfish, less insensitive…in short very often, we are in the wrong relationship…there is a picture out there that is more promising…

How can I forget lose weight and be a size 1 or 2 (now that they are banning skinny models from some runways, we may increase our expectation to size 4 I guess), wear sexy and fashionable clothes and not always look at the thighs and hips when we test clothes., then we are on way to happiness and fulfillment… (the weight thing is a real problem. I think we need to rethink fashion…I do not mean the plus sizes…I mean one size fits all but lets talk about that another day.

How about we have some trust fund (like Paris Hilton) and we never need to work (although we can sing and release a CD that only our parents and publicist will buy) we will be so very happy and what about the kids not getting into the wrong groups…believe me the list goes on and on…I can even include shoes and bags (at least I have been thinking of buying one bag in the last few days but I attached no intrinsic value to this bag) but I am sure that there are people out there, having the means and access to designer stuff will be the ultimate (actually there was a girl like that in the “Devil wears prada” movie and movies reflect real life situations). One of my friends once said that “is only she could buy one bag that had $1,400 price tag on it, she will not need another bag for a long time…she did not say, she will be happy for a whole day at least.

There is nothing new. We all know that material things count very little (okay, we can do with the very little I guess) but our source of happiness and peace and fulfillment will not come from all these things. They are not physical and cannot be attained through any physical thing. I do not think that they are entirely up to us however, the decision to seek what give these ultimate desires is entirely up to us.

Here is a piece I read today that got me thinking and rattling away. I did not write it. Although it is only about human being or anything has the ability to provide these desires for us.

When we're incomplete, we're always searching for somebody to complete us. When, after a few years or a few months of a relationship, we find that we're still unfulfilled, we blame our partners and take up with somebody more promising. This can go on and on--series polygamy--until we admit that while a partner can add sweet dimensions to our lives, we, each of us, are responsible for our own fulfillment. Nobody else can provide it for us, and to believe otherwise is to delude ourselves dangerously and to program for eventual failure every relationship we enter.

Tom R

Monday, October 23, 2006

Long Weekend Plans gone haywire...

Remember that I said that I will take this holiday one day at a time since Pappee's school had decided to 'mess up' the great holiday plans and dreams that I had?

Today, I woke to give the entire family a special name it...pancakes (to kill), omletes, sausages, bacon...just a spread. If you saw the plates it is like a full breakfast at Ihop. Everyone ate and were very satisfied. My son said he needed to go on treadmill because he was so full and could hardly move. I was happy to see everyone devour their meal but that was after two hours on my toes straight from the bed. Now you can imagine how the rest of the day would go.

As breakfast was finishing, my sister-inlaw brought her lovely daughter and friend and with three kids...I felt and talked like a kindergarten teacher. I also made up my mind that I am never going to teach children (something I have always known although some days I think I'd make a great teacher). No way!! I'd be none lousy teacher and may end up screaming out of the school if anyone makes the mistake of not seeing through me and give a class to teach. After, I had succeeded in getting them to tidy up we headed out for lunch. Thank goodness for nannies, I went to lunch with 3 kids and 3 nannies. I had no intention of going crazy as you can imagine. I left them at the kid's friendly section and sent off to get some sanity in another section and when they were done sreaming and yelling and playing...we all went home.

It was not the end of the day. I had to gather more materials for Pappee's school project and then cook dinner for hubby...I thought after that heavy breakfast that no one will look for food again but dineer time they had all forgotten the sumptuous breakfast so yours truly had to fix dinner again.

Dinner done, son tucked in and now I am writing this bit with a big bowl of popcorn and a big glass of water. Obviously, gym did not make it into today's scedule but lots of food made it which is a good alternative to working out. Tomorrow, we are going to start our scrap book on Hawaii and I will tell you all about it. For now, I thought, there is no way I am going to go to bed without telling how great today was and how I was celebrated for living in the kitchen. Now the bed beckons and who knows I may have other responsibilites to carry out there but do not expect to hear it all when I share my day tomorrow...or would you like some details on that too???


Sunday, October 22, 2006

What are you Handing Over?

It is like a relay race, you finish your stint and then another person takes over… you hand over the baton. Relay racers learn how to take and handover the baton successfully so that they can avoid the baton dropping. Once the baton drops, the race is disqualified and none of the participants is rewarded. If this happens in the last lapse, then all the previous runners are all losers. This is how life is.

What are you handing over? If you have children, it is important for us to understand that our lives will affect theirs (even if you do not yet have children understanding that the next generation in your lineage when they come will be affected by your action is of utmost importance). As parents we must be fully aware of what God expects and how the children are linked to the vision that He has given to you today…the promises that He has made to you.

Today in church my pastor was teaching on Headship and he was taking his text from the book of Genesis chapter 24. Abraham understood the importance of the next generation towards the accomplishment of God’s will and fulfillment of the promises which He has made to him and did not take chances. Every little decision was important because he understood God’s mind and would not take His words lightly. He asked his servant to make a promise about how and where he would get a wife for his son. This he knew was extremely important in continuing God’s instructions to him and in fulfillment of the utmost promise that He (God) has made to him.

Some of us as we get older we look back at the actions and behaviors of our youth although it is filled with vigor and passion but often we all sigh and say “Oh how foolish I was then”. The Psalmist in Psalm 37 verse 25 was reminiscing and telling the younger people that he has been young and now old but he (David) has never seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging bread. What are you telling your children today about whom God is or who he is not? Even if it is not about God, what are handing over to your children?

To a lot of people, they were born and they grew up in abject poverty and they made a decision that for their children it will be different and they set out to en-masse wealth or build something so that they can give their children a better life and even more. There is nothing wrong with this, this is actually a good thing but what are you handing over to them that will keep them firmly anchored when the storms of life toss them around? What legacy are you leaving to them?

Once God has given you children, He has given you an enormous responsibility to nurture and teach them to live…you are to hand over the baton to them and the baton you hand over is as important as how you hand it over. In our lives each day, the little things we do, the little decisions we make will impact not just our lives but the lives of the next generation. We must think it over, we must pay attention to our actions and our words because we are handing over something to the next generation (God has already started dealing with them even when they are yet unborn) and decide what we want to hand over to children to continue the race with.

What are you handing over? Who are you handing over to? Will the dream die or will the flame continue even when your days are gone? Will the baton drop as you want to hand over when your own lapse of the life race is over or will you teach the next person how to take it from you successfully? Think about it!!!
So much for holidays

Immediately the email went out that we were having a Monday and Tuesday off as holidays, you could hear the joy and sounds of “oh my God, this is for real. For days (actually a week) there has been constant buzz about this holidays whether it is going to be one day or two days to mark the Muslim end of Ramadan…see in this part of the world we love holidays and time offs and we like to be paid for them. We observe all the holidays…Christian calendar holidays, Muslim calendar holidays, national holidays and even some unfathomable ones…any level of government…state, federal even community can declare it and we are just as happy. To vote we stay home, To get counted we stay home…employers and entrepreneurs are usually furious about this but we the workers , we love it yet we love our work with unquestionable passion…(you believe that you believe anything) but that was what we exhume…unparallel passion.

So this holiday news came and our truly started reaming up all the things that I was going to do, how much weight I’d lose because I will have time to go to the gym without rushing out and who knows I will even get my waist line down by two inches just this long extended weekend.. You know how they say it “If you can dream it, you can achieve so why not? I am dreaming it so who says I can not achieve it. While I am thinking of this “lose 3 kg in 2 days” I am thinking of the exotic foods that I am going to eat…okay may be I will not eat them all but I am certainly thinking about them…oh boy, I will just eat the fat free versions. First I will order a tray pf peppered chicken then I can eat that with big bowls of salad all weekend.

Anyway, these were all my thoughts about the holidays and then of course I thought that I’d read a looooot and write a bit, go to church and just sleeeeep (now that is a tough one because I am usually way too buy to sleeeeep but nevertheless I thought I’d do that only to get home and find out that my son’s school had their own agenda. They too had decided that they will combine the holidays with the midterm break so school will be off the whole week too. They claimed that this will minimize interruption since the kids were not meant to be on midterm until the following week, they thought that it will be way too much to be off two days one week and off the entire week the following week. What they did not know was that my son was happy and would have been happy being off the whole two weeks if it came to that. So I got home they has sent the boy home with tons of home work for the entire week and as if that was not enough, the school term project that was originally scheduled to be submitted on October 30 is now due on the 27th …these were all a total disaster. Not only will I spend the entire long weekend doing home work with Pappee, I am also going to be finding project materials and putting the project together with him. As I read the entire newsletter from school I saw all my plans go through the roof. I went to bed thinking…I will just take the holiday days one day at a time…anything goes now…I almost thought of that Aesop fable moral…”Do not count your eggs before they are hatched"… tra-la-la (another sad love song).

Today is day one – Saturday and I spent it going to the gym (thank God) then going to the doctor with the boy who has had some skin rashes for days now to check it and driving to and picking him up from the music school. I also had time to run some errands for a friend and going to the dry cleaners…certainly not a lot of fun except now that I write about it, I think it has been a real useful day…what do you think?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Is People Management that tough?

I was at a forum yesterday morning and it was meant to be a breakfast session of "select HR" people ( I only had a miserable cup of tea and they had some muffins on the table, I was actually expecting a spread and I almost starved since I will not touch the muffin with a long pole) and some entrepreneurs (you know entrepreneurs are also HR people since they manage their little group). But all in all, it was a good gathering of real professionals. Anyway, one guy expressed so much frustration at managing people and how he spends 70% of his time sorting out people issues and not have time to face his 'core business' which is bringing in the deals/sales. My heart went out to him that I even made a personal commitment to hear him out and maybe help during the networking break. May be he does not have so much of a problem. Besides, they say that a problem shared is half solved.

However, my encounter with a number of entreprenuers from this part of the planet show that thier major problem is that they have no well thought out people management philosophy when they start their business. Truly, they do not think of it at all. I have met only one person who said "I planned ahead of time the kind of people who will work here and how they will manage themselves" and today, that company is a point of reference for others. I even have one or two things to learn from them when I start my business (keep your fingers crossed). A major flaw that I have noticed is that they seek and employ 'workers' and truly there is nothing wrong with that. So they get workers and from my experience 'workers' demand your time because they need a lot of supervision and they 'work for you'. I usually tell SMEs to seek and employ partners and that way, most of their problems are eliminated. The other ones can be handled by coaching and mentoring and normal people management processes. The idea of 'worker' is also a mentality. If you think that people should be grateful to work for you simply because you gave them a get just that but if you treat them as part of the business and communicate (in action and words they also bring something to the table) and they understand that if the business goes down, they also go down, there is a shift in their mentality. Once you can get your employees to think as business owners and given the autonomy to act as one, productivity is higher, there is a higher level of commitment and the bottom line which is the focus is in green not in red.

I have always said that my professional bits will not be showing up here but this was part of my day yesterday and I thought I'd share it. By the way, I gave this gentleman my card and before the day was over, he called me and rattled on a heap of disjointed issues and programs that he has thought that will solve his problem and when I asked him how what he was willing to commit to this employee development of HR revamption for his company, he said he is willing to pay and I said I am not talking about money, I am talking about time. I asked if he was willing to sit with his employees to talk (not to bark) and if he has time to spend in ensuring that what the HR person recommends gets implemented...he said that he will like to pay the HR person to come up with the suggestions and implement them for him and at that point I knew he will have that people problem for a very long time...tra-la-la.

It is another weekend and I am looking forward it. It promises to be very interesting and I will make up for lost time. I will write everyday....I promise!!!!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Naked Feeling of a Writer

Recently I realized what writers go through when they think they have finished a master piece as they call it and then they send it off to a total stranger. (You know I think of myself as a writer by the way). It is like writing an exam and waiting for marking and result. In my own case, I was terrified. I am terrified when someone reads anything I have written. When Ipointed some friends to this blog site, I feldt the same way (even though they all came back telling me how great the stuff here are...I know they are being nice) I sent a number of my articles to different newspapers and magazines and got no response which is not strange when you talk to people with 'experience'. It was even worse when I had to now contact some of the people I know to see if they could look at the pieces and offer comments- I felt totally 'naked'.

I got into the office one morning and plugged up my laptop and "viola!" there was an email from this 'experienced writer', I was so scared that I did not open the email for over an our. Finally, I summoned courage and opened it and it was not too bad. It is amazing how illuminating a second reader can be. He or she will read what you have written opposed to what you wanted to write. I have realized that even when I read over my pieces, I read them from my heart or my head but not from the paper or screen right in front of me.

Okay, today I am celebrating the publishing of one of my recent articles which is not only timely but has received wide praises and acclaim. Now I have readers out there waiting for the next ones and I am hihgly encouraged. Tell you what? I am off now to complete another piece which I have only written the topic for the past two days...if that is not a writers block, you tell me, what is it?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Weekend Weekend Weekend

It is Sunday and an end to a perfect weekend if there is anything like that. This has been a really relaxing weekend and I did not find myself running from one end of the city to the other cramming a whole lot of errands into one day - Saturday because Sunday has its own activities and there hardly anything else you could put into it.

Anyway, this weekend was really good, I went to the gym, had good food (can imagine food and gym...what a combination!), relaxed. I topped it off with a movie "The Devil Wears Prada". Wonder why they gave the movie that title. After I saw the movie, yes there is a devil in the movie who wears Prada apparently but I am not sure if it supposed to be a good thing for Prada. Well, I guess it is true what they say "No publicity is bad publicity"...just maybe it will get all of us to start buying Prada. One thing is clear it will not bring the price of Prada shoes, bags, sunglasses down so window shopping and day dreaming of Prada stuff continues for so many us out there. But over all, Meryl Streep did a good job in that movie...I give to her.

So now comes the end of a perfect weekend and I cannot complain except that I wish I did some reading and that the Sunday hours were extended to 72 hours before Monday but you cannot have it all. C'est la vie. Now time to get ready for another frantic week. Here is wishing you all a very productive and fun week.

Friday, October 13, 2006

What can I do to be Beautiful?

It was in the lounge in the office a couple of weeks ago and some of my colleagues were leafing through a local soft sell magazine aka as gossip magazine when the attention and discussion zeroed in on a local celebrity who they believed had done some breast job and tummy tuck procedure. The discussion suddenly veered to the claim that a former first lady had died in the process and how dangerous the procedure could be. One person was of the opinion that it was the repeated process that caused the problem and others felt generally people should not tamper with the way God (nature) has made them. Now the gist got very interesting because I tuned in at that time.

I ventured to say that all of us are guilty of the same ‘offence’. This you would believe got different reactions, voices got raised, and everyone wanted to say something. Of course no one agreed and I had to defend my position. Round the room were four or five young girls (I am included in this young girls bracket by the way) all with ‘fake hair’ done in different ways extension aided braids, weave on extensions and some also with color highlights, acrylic nails etc. I told them that I believe that we are all doing the same thing: enhancing our beauty but the difference is in two categories: what we need to enhance and to what extent we want to take it.

No matter what anyone says or how you put it, it falls into these two classifications. Everyone said “No way” “I do not think it is the same”. Some of us only know and believe the old traditional way of doing 500 crunches three times a week (no pain no gain era) with a trainer or all by ourselves and in this new world of no pain much gain and only with a slight incision while we sleep, we wake up to brand new structure of flat tummies and no fat thighs. Are the people who go for collagen injection (botox), cosmetic dental procedures , tummy tuck, breast enlargement etc any worse than we are (those of us who want to keep ourselves the way God made us with just slight tampering here there) any less different? Some of us are so ‘righteous’ and we become the person in the biblical parable who wanted to take out the splitter in her brother’s eyes while carrying a log in her own eyes.

This is not advocating for cosmetics surgeries or no cosmetic surgery but really how come we do not think things through or see things from a different position from where we are? When I look at the whole scenario I come to the conclusion that while some procedures may be more costly, more invasive, more risky, they are all the same thing whether it is to colour hair for N4,000 ($50) or to put extensions for N10,000 ($80 -$100) or acrylic nail and pedicure for N2,500 ($20) or tummy tuck for $5000 and above, they are ultimately similar in nature and have one aim – to enhance the way we look or appear first to ourselves in our belief on the image we want the world to see. All of them are artificial and that is the main point of my view on this whole thing.

While most contemporary Christian women will argue with me on the need for this but this is not about need at this time, it is about accepting that we are all guilty of the same offence and that the fact that someone chose a more drastic procedure does not mean that the person has gone way down the ladder than those of us who stayed with hair extensions and acrylic nails. Even taking our lounge discussion further, I told my colleagues that all of them carry some level of risk. I know people who would not try extensions because they think it is a fast way to get the HIV virus (yes, you can have your own needles) but nevertheless, it has that risk. For people that have permanent acrylic on, nail infections is common and all of these can lead to death sometimes. So dying on the operating table during a tummy tuck or the silicone pack bursting (in the boobs) and the effect being fatal are simply differences in the level of risk but all be it, they are risks.

A Christian sister (yes Christian) had a somewhat interesting twist to this discussion. She believes that the inclination to deem some cosmetic procedures acceptable and others extreme has an ugly root: envy. According to her, “If I can’t afford the procedure or I am nervous about the surgery or my husband, (boyfriend, partner I added these classes) doesn’t want me to have the treatment, then I may arrogantly label what I can’t have as extreme”. Certainly, I am inclined to agree with this sister, however, I think culture also has a bit to do with it. Some of us are so well brought up that such invasion will be unheard of while the other ones are considered part of ‘daily living’ and because that is the way we were brought up, anything more is outrageous and bad.

Again I must emphasize that this is not advocating for invasive and extreme beauty enhancement procedures but rather our view and reactions to the people who have undergone such procedures. We should not feel more superior or more righteous than these people. I think the bottom line is that people will make personal choices and decisions although we may differ in what should be considered real beauty enhancements or real beauty in the first instance. Our choices however, do not make us better than the very next person whose choices vary from ours.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Are you enjoying your work?

To a lot of people (at the gym) I am a superstar since I can run on the treadmill at 10.5km or sometimes 11.5km per hour (equivalent of 6.2-7 miles an hour) for a sustained period of 45 minutes or 1 hour and even guys look at me like I have some super power. So I usually y get the question: “Are you an athlete?” “Do you run for a living?” “Do you run the marathon?” Recently, there is this guy that I meet each Thursday evening about 5.30 pm when I come into the gym (it seems he is always coming in about 5 pm because typically he would have ‘crawled’ for about 30 mins before I get on the treadmill by his side). On this Thursday evening, he decided to find out something about me, first he was curious if I work and I said I do (I normally put “don’t disturb me” face when I am on the treadmill because for me it is serious business and not a play time). I never understand the group who come into the gym or get on the machine to make conversation. It always seems to me that they are wasting time and it really irritates me. I do not expect everyone to run a marathon on the treadmill but even if you want to walk, walk like you have bones and that you came to the gym to exercise not to look and prance around.

Anyway,(God I wish I can write without digressing ) on this Thursday, this tall gentleman who crawls (because that is how it seems to me). How can a tall man of almost 6 feet and young be walking on less than 5km per hour? It always seems de-motivating watching him or seeing him on the next machine. If you work out, you will agree that the next person somehow affects you, so you kind of try to set the tone. But I have found out that when everyone is running and steps are up and down at the same time, the time just flies and calories disappear effortlessly. This man anyway, decided that my hard face will not put him off and I heard him ask if I want to use the machine he was on, I though that was nice because that particular machine is the best for running but truly if I miss getting on it, I just carry on with anyone that is available. I thanked him and moved to the good running treadmill and I guess that opened the door for him to talk to me. Next he said, what work do you do? To start with I did not know how to answer that kind of question. I am used hearing “What do you do? But not really “What work do you do?” So I sought clarification and asked “You mean like my profession?” He said ‘yes’. I said “I am an HR professional” and he said “HR?” “You mean Human Resources?” I was going to say “what else is HR dummy?” But I did not blurt it out, so I said “Yes Human Resources” and I wanted that to be the end of the conversation. So I increased the speed and truly at that speed talking is out of it.

However, this man ( I will not call him a gentleman anymore because a gentleman will leave me alone on my machine and though he gave up the machine for me, he should at least let me concentrate on my workout) will not stop, then came the next question: “Where do you work?” I said “XYZ company” and went further to clarify because the name of the company is very deceptive. Everyone always thinks it has something to do with oil and gas but I am always quick to say, no it is an investment company. So I told Mr. inquisitive that it is an investment company. Another guy on the third treadmill then looked up I guess from the tone of my voice to find out if everything is ok. I am running at this fast pace and this man is still asking me questions and I am torn between ignoring him which will pass as rudeness and answering him which is really inconveniencing since I am not walking or crawling like him.

Mr. Inquisitive still would not let go, and then he said “so you do HR in an investment company” and I said “yes”. Then came the bombshell, “Do you like your work?” I thought this must be the height of it. How dare you ask me such a question. In the first instance, I am not sure the guy knows the first three letters about what HR is all about but I held my peace and I tried to be very civil. I said to him that it is like every other profession and when a function is that multifaceted, chances are that you will excel in some areas and will not in some others and likewise, you will enjoy some areas and others will be a drag. I am not sure that was the answer he was expecting and I am not even sure that, that is the answer to the question but that was what I said anyway.

Just a couple of weeks or rather months ago, I was sharing with other HR professionals about how people who are stuck in a job in the company can create problems because they have lost interest and fall into the group of people who are de-motivated and such people become poisonous. They just create problems. They rebel against everything and every rule. We took the discussion further and we asked ourselves if we are enjoying what we are doing or rather what else would we rather be doing. So this stranger’s question brought me back to where I have been for a while, the debate about “making a career lifetime change”.

I have even said that the next time anyone asks me what I do, I will say that I am a writer and if the person makes the mistake of asking me what type of writer, then he or she will be in for a shock at the answer because I do not fall into any defined type like a poet or a fiction writer or any such classifications. I am a modern day writer or a new generation writer and do not fall into any box whatsoever. But then no matter what else I do or how much I write, I will always be an HR professional because I believe in people and how to harness the resources they bring to the work place. I believe that the workplace should be a meeting point between their dreams and the goals of that company. So back to the question about if I enjoy my work…the answer will be coming in the following month but the jury is out there on what the answer will be but you can guess, cant you?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Celebrating Friendship

A couple of months ago, I think August, was the month of friendship. "O" magazine had the same month issue dedicated to friendship not really whether Oprah is gay with Gale (although it was discussed in that issue) …I also think that the Oprah/Gale relationship being gay or not has been given a big overage much more than it deserves if you ask me and they have explained that they are just good friends and anyone who has a best friend or a very close best friend will agree with them and truly attest that what they share is rich and real. It is not as if I subscribe to the O magazine, I am sick of seeing Oprah on the cover month-in-month-out, year-in-year-out so I do not bother with the magazine but if I stumble on a copy, I am sure to flip through it and in this particular instance I had the opportunity to ride in a colleague’s car and she buys O magazine religiously and I read the bits on friendship and there were lots of lovely things about friendship and different people had stuff to say.

This morning while on the treadmill I was thinking of my friends (I have very few actually and I can count them on my fingers and will finish and yet have not completed the five fingers) but I thought, I’d also ‘celebrate them’…female and male alike and it does not matter whether it is or not the officially designated month of friendship. I think that we can all decide which week, day or month that we want to celebrate our friends and that is what really matters … that we have time to tell our friends how much they mean to us. One of the greatest gifts of life in addition to children is friends and I mean true friends. I am not going to bore you all with all the good things that we often hear or read about friendship but my life has been enriched and blessed beyond words by friends. Some have been with me all the way, some have stopped along the journey of life, some made lasting positive and some lasting negative impressions on me but in all they have brought balance and hope to my life and I am eternally grateful to all my friends.

However, in thinking about my friends whom I will be directing to this site once I have posted this piece I though about the different ways that they have impacted my life. They have made me laugh when laughter was so far away and life’s challenges and trials had drained every smile and laughter from my soul and they have also made me cry when they have gone through rough patches or did not understand me and I hurt them in the process. I have also cried when I let them down unknowingly. I hear people talk of friends and how they used to be friends with someone and now they are no longer friends and the first thing I think of is that, “no way it got the wrong label”. I think that we used the term for all sorts of relationships and acquaintances but true friendship transcend time and distance. There is a connection that is not sustained by physical means (email, telephone, letters whatever). It is liberating and have not conditions or restrictions.

To all my friends, here is a piece I wrote sometime this year (not sure which month but it was not the friendship month):

My life tells the story of friends.
I have been blessed by friends; I have been built up by friends
I have been picked up by friends; I have been helped countless times by friends

My friends have believe when fears and doubt engulfed me
My friends have held my hands and carried me on their shoulder when my legs could not move and the bones seem crushed

Times when I thought I cannot take one more step,
Times when I thought, it is all over and I am overwhelmed by own depravity and darkness seem to cover me; my friends have come through for me.

My friends have pointed to the breaking of day; the remote rays of sunlight when all I could see were darkness and hopelessness
I have received great gifts from God and truly have a blessed and rich life all because of the friends He has given me.

If I never live to thank all my friends, I hope they realize in the inner most parts of their soul that I love them and appreciate all they have done and been to me”.

I love you all and you know yourselves. Thank you for all that you have been and are and will be.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Pappee in Grade School 2

I’d been meaning to share this but not quite getting the courage until now. Pappee (my son) is in year two primary school or grade school II (depending on which part of the world you are reading this piece from). The new school year started in September so they got to move to a new class with a new teacher. Because it is the same students/pupils from their year one class, there are no issues about making friends (not that it would have been any problem with my son). It is amazing how I could have given birth to him because I do not make friends easily…actually I do not make friends at all (I am working on it). I am one of those people who are happy being just by themselves and since I am not a ‘social butterfly’ and rarely go to parties I am fine then I do not have to mingle and ‘make friends’ but we talking of Pappee today not me so I will let myself off the hook of this friendship making before I get into trouble.

On the first day of school in the new class, the teacher asked the children to write what they are hoping and wishing to accomplish in their new class. The children all wrote things they are hoping to accomplish in their new class: It ranged from doing well in class, to what they want to be when they grow up (please do not ask me how that is related, I just read things that were put up on the entrance door into the class), passing their exams, getting 100%, the best in reading etc. I searched frantically for the piece of paper with my sons name and as soon as I saw it, I stopped my random reading to see what he had to say and what he is wishing and hoping to accomplish in grade school 2.

It goes like this:

“I wish I got double promotion.
I wish I was the class captain everyday.
I wish I got 100% in my exams.
I wish to have a girlfriend from this class.
I wish I was the best”

I continued my reading to see if there is anyone who had a more or an equally balanced view of life and aspiration and I was disappointed that every other kid wanted double promotion, to pass exams with 100% and to be the best but I did not see any other kid wanting to be class captain everyday and seeking an emotional sound life by looking for a boy friend or girlfriend in the class. Believe it or not, I did not see anything remotely close so I gave him the thumbs up.

Now you must be kidding if you believe this was my interpretation when I first read the piece above. No way! I was close to tears. I thought “Oh my God at 6 years?” Every kid was focused on being the best and passing exams and my son was also looking for a girlfriend in addition? This cannot be happening and then I thought “Anyway, they say that an apple does not fall far from the tree” meaning that I am sure that I know this trait is running from father to son (please make sure neither my son nor hubby reads this piece I am begging all of you out there).

On a second thought though, I was happy that he included every area of his life in the hopes and aspiration and that gives me a lot of joy. In his last creative writing exams, he said that he wanted to be the president of this country one day (as you can see, it will begin with being the class captain everyday). Class captainship is currently rotated so that every child gets a chance to ‘lead’. He is smart enough to get a double promotion and we have often talked of leaving the primary school from year 5 instead of 6 so we are on track on that one. As for being the best, there is no choice there, he naturally hates to lose anything and works hard to achieve that but we all know that being the best takes more than coming first so we are working on those habits and attitudes – discipline, humility, honesty, respect for others and obedience.

I guess I am his number one fan and I have to really blow his trumpet but if a 6 year old is hoping and wishing for a girlfriend, I should be worried shouldn’t I?? Worried or not, I am eagerly waiting for the ‘fortunate girl’ whom he will be bringing home from his class…I kind of like the fact that he will be limiting his search for now to his class then he is not likely to spend the whole time combing through the entire school in search of this girl friend that he is wishing and hoping to find.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Say Something…Will you?

How do some people do it? May be I should ask, how do some people get it and others do not? Were they born with it? Did they learn it? Ever since I can recall, I have been told that we can learn good habits, practice good attitudes (they actually say that attitudes are everything…I tend to believe that truly) and unlearn bad habits, change ‘not so very good’ attitudes and have a new life zest when we have made these changes.

Ever been in a lift or elevator with total strangers? I work in a big office complex down town and there are at least 20 – 25 different offices (I truly should take time to know how many offices it must be a good sign of neighborliness) and rarely do I enter the lift with people I know or the same set every morning. So regularly I am in the lift with total strangers (strangers because I have not met them before but since we work in the same building, I guess they should not be total strangers but maybe just strangers). Normal habit is that we all get into the lift and punch our floor numbers and stand stiffly for the lifts to make the rounds. If you see a face you’d seen before or had ran into in another place you give a smile. Other than that, we are all either very quiet or if there is long stare on a face, you give a stiff smile (know that smile that shows your teeth without any warmth from within?) You get quite a bit of it in the London underground tubes.

A couple of days ago, we were in the lift again. This time there was a young tall and very pretty lady in the lift when I got in and she really smiled. I smiled back and she said, “waoh! That is a beautiful fragrance you are wearing”. I searched her face to make sure it is a compliment and not you know (the world is crazy now and there are all sorts of people out there) but there was a genuineness in her statement that her face portrayed, I smiled even more and we talked about the fragrance…how fruity and how very mellow (I will not mention the fragrance since they have not paid me to advertise them on my blog site) and just then the lift stops on the first floor (we were coming up from car park) and in steps this lady who is heavily pregnant and this same lady smiled again so broadly that I was convinced that she knows this lady that entered and was happy to see her. Then she says to the pregnant lady “Your pregnancy suits you, you don’t look bloated for this stage and your skin is still glowing”. Now I was sure that this lady has something that I do not have. Obviously she did not know this pregnant woman from ‘Adam’ and she has not even seen her before yet she had positive nice things to say to all of us that entered that lift with her.

This whole simple episode got me rather puzzled until I got to my floor which is the last one. I left the lift smiling only because someone had helped set the tone for the day. I also left with a resolve that I’d learn, practice to say positive and nice things everyday to at least one person that I do not know or even the ones I know but as usual that resolve must have flown out the moment I stepped into the office because I never thought about this incident again or the ‘new habit’ that I decided I would acquire until last Sunday in church when I was sitting beside not a total stranger because I had seen this lady a couple times in church although we have never sat together and she had on a new short hair cut (typically she has long hair) and I thought she really looked very chic and nice with the short hair and I made a mental note to compliment her but each time I wanted to do that, I was tongue tied. I finally gave up and did not say a word.

I think some people are just born with that ability to see something good, something positive and say it to people but I believe that since it is something that we all like to hear, it should not really be that difficult to say nice things to people. A lot of people like me just see it and smile inwardly to ourselves and then even blurt it out to our friends how we saw something good or someone who had it all put together etc but we are never quick to give compliments or say these good things to people. It has occurred to me that people usually have bad days or are struggling with one affliction, loss, tragedy, crisis… you name it on a daily basis and we are all thinking and dreaming of big NGO things that we are going to participate in to impact people’s lives but the truth is, if we can do simple things like smile (from our heart), say good things and positive things to people we meet (not only in the lift) we will probably impact a lot more lives than we can do joining the UN Ambassadors’ program.

Each morning now I am on the look out for this lady that made so much impression on me only because she overcame her inhibition and tongue tightness (if there is any phrase like that) to say positive things. One of the things that really impressed me about this angel of good tidings is that she says these things effortlessly. Again, I am determined to practice this habit and make it a part of me and you are welcomed to join me. Smile they say…warms the heart, lifts sorrows and makes the world a better place. (Oh before I forget, I have to warn you all my friends who go to my site not to start keeping the log for when I did or did not say nice things to you).

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

How fast are things changing?

What things? You may ask. This title or rather question is actually a can of worms because everyone has opinion on how things are changing so fast but we shall discuss changes on another day.

Last Saturday I went for parents’ seminar at my son’s school. Usually this happens within 2 two weeks of school resumption and parents are intimated with the what the kids will be focusing on for that term, the kind of support that teachers expect parents to give and how to complete the home work and reading diary (this changes quite often). We also get a bit more explanation on the child’s school term project.

In the first week, my son came home with the science homework which was on “classes of food”. I was so sure I knew the classes of food before this encounter but I was not sure any more by the time he was done giving me the lesson. First he asked me “Mummy do you know the three classes of food?” The number of classes should have set off the alarm bell in my head but I quickly answered in the affirmative. Then he said I should name them, I said: Carbohydrates, Protein, Fat and Oil and was about to name another one when I saw this very blank look on his face as if I was speaking classic Greek. He stopped me half way and said “No mummy you have no clue”. I thought definitely, the ambiguity must be from the term “classes of food” because they cannot be anything different and then came the answer:
High Energy Food
Fish, Meat, Poultry and dairy products.

I thought, No way! There must be something wrong here but I said nothing. No matter how much I profess to my son that I know something, if it is in any way different from what the teacher said in class, the teacher wins the case so I have learnt to give up and take it up with the teacher. So during this seminar, when we were being taken through the science lesson curriculum, we were told that the classes of food have been renamed as listed above. One parent wrote to the teacher after the homework that the classes of food are Carbohydrate, protein etc and that what her child came home with are mere descriptions. At least this confirmed to me that I am not the only “ancient mother” with a six year old. I left the school shaking my head about changes. I doubt that the owners of English language (the jury is still out on who own the language) will be able to keep pace with these changes.

Oh I forgot to mention that when we go for this seminar, we dress up as if we are heading out for the runway fashion parade and this past Saturday was no exception except that it was mostly designer casuals that came …the Guccis, the channels, Versaces etc (the handbags were enough for a show) and some Walmart and Dorothy Perkins brands. I think this must be because we have all recently returned from “Summer holidays” so we have only the summer things to show off. I will not tell you the designer yours truly was sporting but you can guess can’t you?

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Recovering from Feminism

Recovered Feminist, Recovering from Feminism? Whoa, whoa, whoa!!! Just when I thought I had heard it all then comes this one. It was Saturday morning and I had just finished a short stint on the treadmill (no I did not actually finish, PHCN took light and I was ‘forced; to get down) and now here I was trying to settle down to a cup of tea when I turned on the TV and bam I just heard this on the Larry King show on CNN. This is Dr Laura Shlessinger and she is a recovered Feminist. I set my tea down and sat up. Believe me this sure got my attention. I said to myself, I am definitely going to listen to this. Here we go again. I wonder what this one is all about. You know America is a melting ground and there is concept, no group, no cause that do not get attention and get all of us to hear it.

Recovered Feminist- I was once a feminist or rather inflicted by the Feminist Disease, now I am well and recovered (sounds like the amazing grace song: “I was blind, now I can see”) and as she proceeded to explain this recovery, I could not help but ask “is this a thumbs up for women or thumbs down?” Your guess at this point is as good as mine. First what is feminism? Equal pay for men and women, equal rights for men and women, equal responsibility for men and women? (we need to amend this for strong home?) and all other equals. I do not know if women set out to be feminist but I know that women have made certain demands and protested certain treatments over the ages and in over the whole geographical demarcations of the planet earth. We have grown up knowing certain things, accepting certain things and certainly demanding certain things. I am not sure if that constitutes the “feminist disease”. No matter what the disease is all about, there are certain issues that demand our attention without a doubt.

Over and over again my pastor has said so much about responsibilities of both husbands and wife in marriage and how as a woman your husband is very key and actually central to your achieving your main purpose for being here (as well as the man). If you are not married, of course, you are not under this category. But if you are married, then God expects you to be the support and help meet for your husband. That is not to say that the man has no responsibilities but this about our roles as women, wives and mothers.

This Dr Laura on Larry Kings show did not say she is a pastor or professed any faith but she did emphasize that she is not against women working, she works at night (10pm to 1 am on her show) but she did say that we should think about our primary responsibility which is to take care of our home (husbands and wives). She said that when we set out (both men and women) and we come back we are all stressed and everyone is bickering and everyone is expecting and no one is giving. She said that usually there are mountains of tensions and bitterness builds. I dare say that one of the issues that I have certainly experienced and heard is that women go to work and come back and are expected to still perform all the roles (kitchen, attend to children and the bedroom requirements as well) and all these are a little overwhelming to say the least. Often we hear, “I also went to work you know” “Well if you do not want me to work or if you want me to dance to your every need then we need to discuss how the financials will work. But as long as I am going to work and earning income that are used in this house…”

Of course, it will be presumptuous for anyone to make a declaration that it is wrong for a woman to work. I will be the first to cast my stone. However, the problem of working and not devoting enough time to taking care of our homes (husbands and children) come with a price and all be it, we must be ready for such consequences. Examples of children from working parents (mother and father) who has turned out great abound. This is a discussion that I have engaged in several times in the lounge at work and with friends and families as we look back to our days as kids. I do not generalize but most people between the ages of 28 to 45 currently and (this is 2006) in our country are offsprings of working parents but the more we talk about it and analyze the work our parents did we all came to the conclusion that our mothers were mostly teachers, nurses, civil servants who get us ready for school in the mornings as they are getting ready (actually they see what we are having for breakfast and even have the time to make sure we ate that food before we leave the house) and they come home about the same time that we are getting home and again they can answer the question about what we ate for lunch and what quantity we ate and made sure that we ate our meat or vegetables. Often times, I will come home and ask my nanny if my son finished his lunch(sometimes I call from the office if I am not in one meeting or working on something at that lunch time) and I always hear “He refused to eat his egg or his veggies”. Although I have a menu which is rigidly followed, kids will always be kids and will not often willingly eat their food especially kids like mine whose whole attention is to go out and play. In essence, what I am trying to say is that working mothers actually pay a huge price but should they stop working then? Should they stop demanding equal rights and equal recognition and pay?

Recovered Feminist(mentioned above) have not stopped working but actually, works not the 12 hours a day 6 – 7 days a week but schedules her work around the hours when she can be a mother as well as do what she believes she must do and that is work. One of the lessons from listening to this talk show is that women have a central role to play in making their marriages work and their home stable but because we have re-arranged the order of things (Eve was at home while Adam went to tend to the garden - this is the foremost order), there are problems arising therefrom. If we wake up each day and our thoughts are more on how we can make each other be the best today or achieve the best, then we are taking the focus away from ourselves and giving to the other person or paying attention to the other person helps us deal with their inadequacies.

I have often asked myself that what is really important? I have often asked myself, what is really the reason we go to work? (Please do not give me that Marslow’s need pyramid answer), the definition of shelter has strongly changed, the definition of basic need (food, shelter and clothing) has drastically changed in recent years. Basic needs have come to include mansions and castles as shelter and have come to include homes in various locations and basic clothing now includes chunks and heaps of gold and diamonds and designer shoes and bags. There is nothing wrong with these things but I am saying that they are not unrelated with why we go to work and they are valid reasons to go to work. However, the need to spend time with our kids, nurture and bring them up, help inculcate the values and morals that will keep then anchored when the storms of life hit in their later years come very low in our list of needs these days.

Still on this “U turn” from feminism, I am beginning to think that not all of us will recover at the same time and not all of us will make a total recovery. I also think at this time there must be various degrees of this disease, personally I would have thought that I do not have this disease but the more I thought of it, I realized that I may have the mild case. I think there must mild, regular and advanced feminist disease. I think that I will have to rest this case here because, in this age and time when you identify a problem you are meant to help find a solution and I do not think that I am ‘qualified’ to diagnose, treat and prescribe medication for this infamous disease. Just like Dr Laura, I have two phrases …”Choose wisely, treat kindly”