December Diaries: Giving Thanks to 2016

Where do I even start. I actually just took a break from writing to scroll through my Instagram that I believe has some of my key highlights and also because scrolling through my planner right now doesn’t sound too appealing. psht.

A lot of bad things has happened this year, the most significant of which is the flood that will probably be engraved in one to a side of my brain for a very long time. Today though, I am going to narrow it down to ten good things that happened this year because it’s important that we focus on the positives. So in no order whatsoever, here are my list of thankfuls for 2016.

The Month of December

December is always stressful., which is also probably why it is first on my list. There is not only the end of the year rush, but also all of our special (and expensive) days. This December was even more stressful because of work, a troublesome shoulder and back and lots of other little struggles that I continued to battle;

because end of the year = birthdays = end of expectations, loss of hope and basically cause for mental tantrums

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Also one of my favourite people got married this month. ❤

Big Changes 

I don’t get too personal in here because as a writer, this blog not only becomes a representation of some of the shitty work that I may do but also a space where a lot of the people I know refer to, lol. But career wise, there has been changes. Good changes I feel, or at least hope. Like many things in life, I try to continuously find stability within myself and my career as a writer (and whatever else that comes out of it) is an area I like to work on as well.

In other news, I got a car
In other news, I got a car.

Family

My sister has been fortunate enough to fly down almost every month since the middle of the year and we hope that she will permanently be here in Colombo very soon. My extended family suffered from the devastating flood but besides the house and some other material possessions, they are safe and good.

Food = family.
Food = family.

Mum’s Presentation

My Mum made a stellar presentation at the Human Rights Commission on the work she does and I was lucky enough to go see it. Akki and I are really fortunate to have a mother who believes and is truly passionate about the work she does.

Letter Earthlings Grew Closer to my Heart

My favourite past time is not only writing letters, but to inspire people to write letters. Letter Earthlings has become one of my most looked forward to activities every month and this year in particular has truly help bring the initiative really close to my heart. I sincerely thank my friend Nivendra for letting me be a part of it.

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Discovered a New Coffee Place

Or my favourite coffee place! It’s a pity that I don’t grace coffee shops as much any more but if I were to, I know where to go and might have a bit of a tough time knowing what I want.

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Travelled a bit more

Across Sri Lanka and to East Asia. Some trips were on work while the rest were adventures with those I adore the most. I am grateful for being able to do what I do and the opportunities I get.

I know Cambodia was a highlight but my heart will always be with the sea.
I know Cambodia was a highlight but my heart will always be with the sea.

Made New Friends, Grew Distant from Some Old Ones

It makes me a little sad to talk about this but the realisation has simultaneously helped me learn and grow closer to old and new friends who have come into my life in the most unexpected of ways. For those who I may have distanced myself from, I’m sorry but I guess it worked out for the best. You will always be in my heart and I will always remember your birthday.

Those who came into my life and for those who have been here with me, thank you. You mean more to me than I will ever verbally let you know.

Wrapped more gifts!

Gifted grew slowly on the side.

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We took on orders we could execute and didn’t for those of which we knew that we either didn’t have enough time or enough resources for. Thank you for all those who ordered with us and believed in us to add some magic to your loved ones special day.

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Fell in love, again

With the same man of course, haha. But this year has been one of truly understanding him (and I hope vice versa, lol), knowing that he will be there for a very long time. If he chooses not to, I will buy him back with all the confectionary, speakers and car parts left in the world. Muhaha.

This was from 2015 but the next picture in this series of pictures was definitely my favourite <3
This was from 2015 but the next picture in this series of pictures was definitely my favourite ❤

But thank you once again for all those who have been a part of my life and given me everything that you have. It’s been a rushed year, but a good one, I like to think, despite all that has happened. We are older, not necessarily wiser but have grown to become more content with what we have, the people in our lives and most importantly, the little time we have.

I hope 2017 brings you nothing but sunshine.

Written as part of the Giving Thanks series – Week 35

Let’s Talk about Prostitutes

A lot of people have already begun talking about it and clearly this post will not necessarily make a difference, but there are rants in my head that need to be written somewhere and if you don’t feel like reading it, no worries!

This is totes obvs with reference to the piece of shit writing on The Sunday Leader yesterday, which was shared by the lovely Aisha. I strongly suggest you read the ridiculous article by The Sunday Leader either way, in order to add some context to the story. 

Let’s start by saying that I, for a long time have been bias towards the cause of prostitutes. I’ve always thought that there was nothing wrong with selling your body and making a living out of it, because a) at corporates people tend to sell their souls anyway, haha and b) the way men leer is actually no different to the “male” customer that goes in search of female prostitutes.

Few disclaimers too (because the world gets ridiculously offensive at everything we have to say now):

  • I’m not going to call them commercial sex workers because it makes no difference anyway. Or maybe it does and it doesn’t really matter to me. It’s different to the differently-abled / disabled debate. Let’s just call a spade, a spade okay.
  • All supposed relationships in this are for heterosexual people. I don’t know too much on homosexual / bisexual prostitutes to speak as much on it.

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Dear Ashanthi,

As my friend Aisha points out, “young girls are suffering from the loss of virginity” is not a disease. Sometimes girls, if not women, lose their virginity at a young age due to rape. Or maybe due to consensual sex with their teenage boyfriend. You don’t “suffer” because of this “loss”. Such sufferings occur in the “loss” of a family member.

More on the “loss”, you don’t really “lose” anything. True there is the story of the hymen breaking and what not, but really it’s not a loss man, grow up for fuck’s sake. It doesn’t even work the same way for all women.

“In most cases innocent but naive young girls, seduced by their boyfriends, lose their virginity due to their affairs. But then, instead of coming back to the right track, they wander away in life astray dipping deeper into the abyss.” 

Like what the actual fuck. What if these girls who have gone “astray” have done so because it is a choice that they have made? Just as the misogynists would say that rape is something women bring upon themselves because of the clothes they wear (another rant for another day), sometimes women go astray, sleep around with multiple men, BECAUSE THEY WANT TO. Grow up lady, the world is not as rosy as you think it and there are women who enjoy having sex with one man or multiple men, and if they are sexually consenting adults who would do it for a fee, what on earth is your problem?

“However, in Sri Lanka, this has become a serious issue due to the ignorance of the authorities for many years.”

Dearest Ashanthi, have you stopped to realise why there is an increase in “commercial sex workers” and an increase in rape? Because men are fucking frustrated. I’ve always thought (and I know that I’m not alone in thinking so) that if prostitution was legalised that there might be a slight decrease in rape because of the increased number of sexually consenting women? I might be wrong, I don’t know, because I don’t have the numbers. But logically, this works out well in my mind and in my utopia, male and female prostitution will always be legal and girls can walk home in mini skirts at eleven in the night. (and so can men, without being harassed or mugged, because we are all equal here, Jesus.)

“But the second group which consists of the majority, are women who have become helpless without anyone to look after them…. The opinion in the society about these women varies as some have criticised their work while some have felt sorry about their misfortune. When we look into the real reasons that have compelled them to become sex workers, we too tend to justify their fate.”

I actually agree with you on this statement. When men who are husbands, fathers, care takers, breadwinners or whatever else you feel fit to call them, fail to do what “society deemed them to do”, women have to take on their role of providing for the family. Some women, who are fortunate enough to have basic education, finds work at a minimum-wage job and the more fortunate middle or higher-class ones are able to find work in the private sector. The rest of the women who are not at such an advantage have to fall back on either daily labour or prostitution. Those who are able to would naturally choose the latter because it’s human to want to make more money faster. I work three jobs, you see.

“In a corrupt society, the lack of solutions for their social problems have compelled many women to become sex workers.”

Our society is corrupt for a number of reasons that I think include: those who come in to power, mismanagement of people’s money, greed, lack of solid foundation for education (and the necessary tools that come with it) that can lead to things like prostitution yes. (I can rant on infrastructure and inefficient government services but I don’t think that’s what we are ranting about now).

Besides your blatant ignorance, supposed reasons for gallivanting at three in the morning in the name of trashy investigative journalism and most importantly the lack of really good sub-editor, I am yet to find enough reason as to why The Sunday Leader would run something on these lines. Or perhaps, they were needing a publicity stunt and thought that this trashy piece of writing would make us buy the paper despite the terribly cheap print quality they have.

Go get laid woman.

From, a lot of angry women.

Why I Want to Write about Financing (or “Budgeting” predominantly)

If I start to count the number of videos I watched before starting this post, trust me I would’ve failed having tried to keep track of em. As far as most writers go, I am pretty Jon Snow when it comes to financing. The most I would’ve gotten as far as financing goes would be that o/level commerce class and a/level accounts option weirdly paired with some English literature. As most people would admit too, I’m not that book smart. I like to think that I’m street smart instead because let’s face it, if it’s not the books it has to be the “streets” until someone comes up with alternate terminology.

My “budgeting” days start somewhere in 2007-2008 when I did “odd” – but legal – jobs on the side. Then it was more on getting pocket money that I would dish out at once because, well, the chief finance officer = the mother!

Starting 2009, there were regular pay cheques coming in monthly that ranged from four figures to lo and behold, five figures every month. It wasn’t a steady stream of money but in retrospect, I actually did more with that money than I do now. This might also be because I didn’t use four-to-five-figure face products as I do now. Gah. I remember shopping for everyone after my first real “pay cheque” and even throwing a little birthday party for my mum with her closest friends and family (that amounted to around fifty people) – with only four-five figures!

Next it was India. No, my degree was neither in financing nor commerce. On the contrary, it was in communications (though I later went on to major in English with minors and psychology and communications, because I tend to be indecisive as fuck). My Mother paid for my degree and my sister for accommodation and survival as I was not book-smart enough to look out for scholarships.

I would like to think that my real journey in to budgeting and finances began then.

The first two weeks of the month was always glorious. My lovely Sri Lankan roomie and I would try out different restaurants that were forever in our bucket lists and the next two weeks spent getting as creative as you could get with sliced bread, Maggi noodles, lots of canned food (read: tuna) and the x-number of sauces. I would’ve said cereal but in reality trying to get creative with cereal sounds a little too gross.

I know I could've just done the same with my Scrabble board but we have Google to save our souls
I know I could’ve just done the same with my Scrabble board but we have Google to save our souls

But this was somewhere in 2012 and fast forward to four years now, I am a little surprised at how not much has changed! Haha. No, I’m not proud of it either. I’m laughing because that’s what I do in situations where I don’t cry.

See interestingly, the routine is still the same. Except that I work three jobs (+ odd jobs – all legal!) now and expenses and all that jazz have significantly increase. Let’s not even start with the other vices now, haha. I recently bought myself a car, or will continue to buy (or pay) sounds just about more accurate as that’s what I will be doing for a while and have decided on travelling far more than my travel quota the coming year completely disregarding my shaky job situation.

For the umpteenth time, I’m neither book-smart, nor am I feeling very brave but as the book of English idioms would have it, I’m feeling very “take the bull by its horns” these days.

Fingers crossed this goes well!

Let’s Talk about the English Language – Part I

Before I launch into an ultimate rant, let me just put out a few disclaimers for all we care:

  • Yes, I’m aware that I speak in English than Sinhala when given the opportunity;
  • I’m also aware that my blog posts are entirely in English;
  • and finally, despite it not being my first language or “native” tongue, I’m quite aware on how better I think, write and make sense of when using the English language.

But this isn’t about the English language. Rather, it’s on the growing sense of uneasiness a lot of the people come across seem to have with the use of the Sinhala or Tamil languages.

I would speak mostly for the Sinhala language though as the encounters are higher there.

If you know me in person, you’ve probably heard multiple rants of mine where I tell people on how it’s “okay” to actually get the English language “wrong”.

Yes, I am also one of those people that finds secret humour in ridiculously misspelled words, but this is about the spoken language and not the written. 

One of the things I still remember from my uni days was this lesson from my English Language Teaching class: the LSRW system or method or whatever. So, LSRW stands for “Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing” and is a method (in that order) followed when teaching second or foreign languages. However more often than not our education system practices an exact reverse of the same method where most children end up “listening” towards the end of their learning.

Now you wonder why young and older adults have arguments with each other and often throw in “you don’t listen to mes” – haha. It’s also not surprising how my aural skills are shiz and I had the attention span of a fly when it came to my music practical exams!

But leaving out LSRWs aside, when it comes to English or any other second languages, something we must all understand is that it’s okay to not be accurate. I used to teach English once upon a time in my life. I gave up for two reasons:

a) I was convinced that I was a terrible teacher and

b) I did not agree with the teaching system that was set out for us teachers.

Because for an individual like myself that harps on the fluency > accuracy formula, the system just did not work

However, the funny thing is that (at least from what I’ve seen here in Sri Lanka) non-native speakers of English and other “foreign” languages garner more attention and praise from the general public when compared to those who either do not speak non-native languages or those who speak it with “flaws and inaccuracy”.

In my posts, I usually try to refrain from dragging in the line of work I do. Mostly because my blog is separate from work and while I am influenced by what I see and experience during my tenure, I try not to write of it specifically. And no, in case you were wondering, I’m not a spy, or you weren’t but I just wanted to type that line out, haha. 

As a “communications” person and as a language enthusiast that picks up languages fast, one of my key personal objectives at work and in life is to “communicate” messages. Now these messages need not be communicated verbally. It can be pictures, hand gestures, miming and you know the rest of things we do when in search of a bathroom while travelling within a country that doesn’t praise the English language as much as ours does.

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However, in the context of verbal communication, the motive remains the same. The goal is to communicate a message from one party to another (or more). For which, the kind of language used in communication is secondary. If you live or work in Colombo, chances are that you speak more than one language. And if by chance you as a recipient are aware of the speaker’s language capabilities, it is your responsibility to ensure that you speak the language they are comfortable in.

Do you know that when an individual is comfortable speaking the language they do, they usually bring out their best most authentic self, which is a great way to build your relationship with them? 

So, why do we stop people from speaking in languages they are comfortable in?

  1. Shame – Quite similar to Cersei Lannister’s walk of shame, there are those who get uncomfortable and squirmy when someone speaks in a native language (in our case, Sinhala or Tamil).
  2. Classism – Stereotyping yes, but those from “upper” classes, do not speak in their native languages. Not all, but some for reasons I do not know.
  3. Upward Social Mobility – Similar to classism, this refers to the aspiring upper class.

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If you wondered why me, as an English writer chose to write this in English and not Sinhala given my supposed opinion on it, my reasoning is surprisingly a little similar to what’s listed above:

  1. Shame – I am not very fluent in Sinhala writing. I was nearly a decade ago, but I have stopped writing in Sinhala, especially long form. I am aware that it would be a bigger shame to speak incorrectly the language you were taught in school as opposed to the language you picked up through media.
  2. Lack of Adequate Resources – As a writer, I have no shame in saying that I refer dictionaries, Google and other websites when I need to clarify grammar and ridiculously big words I don’t understand. I’m also more familiar typing in English. However, while there are some resources available in Sinhala, there aren’t as much and kind of removes the guarantee otherwise vested when writing in English!

Speaking in a native language is a good thing. Most languages are on the verge of extinct today because people don’t speak them and newer generations aren’t taught the language for any of the above reasons. It’s funny because then you have countries like China that, with the help of their massive population have managed to make Mandarin / Chinese (I’m not sure of the difference) among the main languages in the world.

Perhaps this all goes back to the time of colonies where post-colonisation, the colonisers left with the colonies the need to spread and “colonise” their language and present it as more superior to others. *

*”Colony” word count: 05

Until next time and more rants and writings.

P.S. – The Part I is obviously an indication of more rants to follow, haha.

This Millennial in Colombo

I was born to a privileged generation, Millennials they call us. True, as a Sri Lankan I had war, but then I lived in Colombo and the most we did was have a “drill” for emergency situations during the late 90s. But unless you live in Sri Lanka, it would be difficult to understand as to why we weren’t the “direct” victims of war. Yes, I had family and friends that died in war and we also had an occasional bomb that would go off some place close to where we lived or schooled, but as far as the “victims of war” were concerned, that was not me (I refrain from using “us” because of how soon people get offended for things these days).

With the height of war, the next biggest catastrophe (I speak for the number of localities affected that’s why I did not mention the the Central Bank bomb blast) was the tsunami. Internet was still at its dial-up days in 2004 and information was not freely floating around as much as it is now and up until the tsunami struck us in 2004, I did not know what a tsunami was.

True this island girl cannot swim and hence did not venture into the sea, but having grown up next to the sea (or schooled, would be the better word) it was unfathomable how my favourite past-time or gazing-at-the-sea-and-being-all-philosophical would bring upon a large group of people such disasters. Yes, I was aware of storms and the sort, but they were disasters “at sea” and to my teenage brain, the sea posed no threat to those living on land.

But just as the war, the tsunami did not hit “Colombo” – or parts of it might have but I’m not too sure.

Hence, once again, we were safe.

Fast forward to 2016, we have floods. Once again, there is no direct impact to me. Yes, I am stuck here at home because of the water and traffic on the main roads taking us to Colombo, but me, my family and house are okay. I also have internet to post this and as far I know, this is luxury.

My extended family however, is not.

I am told that this isn’t as bad as the early 90s flood. I would know it is not because what remains of their photo albums (sitting in one of my boxes) tell me so.

But it’s getting there.

A close friend and his family of five including a child at hand have taken shelter on their roof. My grandparents, uncle and aunt have shifted to the bed room and extension space on the second floor of their house. Most of the other family friends, even though not knee deep in water, cannot step out of their main gate.

Apart from the fact that we all know now how much I dislike rain, what bothers and irks me most (I think) is think is my inability to do anything, or rather,

how vulnerable I am when I cannot save (or be there for) those whom I care. 

Riding on my Game of Thrones high from yesterday, it’s similar to how Tommen feels when he cannot do anything for Margery or could not Cersei when imprisoned, despite being King.

But I’m not a Queen, not in anywhere inclined to any form of royalty whatsoever but I work for the development sector (particularly climate change and environment) that are yet to have its disaster management centre, met department and other authorities step up their game on early warning systems and similar practices. But instead, we work primarily on policy and on donor requirements that will help fulfil international energy targets and best practices of what is accepted industry.

I’m not complaining about the work I do and am no doubt blessed to be doing what I do, working from home and all, but sometimes when the industry you work for is unable to fulfil its responsibilities at home base, trust me it can get a bit discouraging. 

Should you need more clarity, I would recommend reading after the quake by Haruki Murakami. Yes, you would tell me that somethings were lost in translations but no, that’s not a concern now. Neither is it as dramatic a situation yet, but it’s a dreaded level of hopelessness that seems to have engulfed those of us who cannot do anything to help

I wanted to lighten the moment because who knew we drowned so deep and this seems to be the only apt copyleft image I could find.

Until the sun shines bright upon us once again and the laundry finds it way back to my dresser neatly folded.

Let’s Talk about Birthdays

A few days ago, it was my birthday.

Thanks to a few close people in my life having publicised this on Facebook, the rest of Facebook got to know and the next thing I know, I’m sitting up early the next day replying to posts because, social (media) responsibilities.

Answering your question on as to why I continued to be on Facebook, I learnt (nearly the hard way) that if you happen to be the sole administrator of certain Facebook pages having your profile deactivated results in those pages being hidden / unpublished, which in my case would not have helped. I was vulnerable.

But, the main reason on not mentioning my birthday on Facebook or throwing a party to celebrate the birthday (also note that I don’t surprisingly drink on my birthday, wut.i.know.right,lol #wannabealcoholics) is because I simply do not like (celebrating) my birthday. Emphasis on the my as I love celebrating everyone else’s birthday. Hypocritical, af.

My twenty-something old brain tells me that the refraining of celebrations having begun with my once-religious ways (wut.i.know.right,lol). But as I grew older and approached my late teenage and then adult life, I genuinely grew averse to celebrating my birthday for reasons that baffle me or rather, unknown to me.

The best of my instincts tell me that it might also be the wannabe-hipster-ish-let’s-not-celebrate-major-events-in-life-unless-you-get-married-coz-you’ll-be-a-rockstar-and-it’ll-hopefully-be-once-lol syndrome, which I sincerely hope you understand, if not, go eat a cupcake.

<cue “aww”>

But as I grew older, my two-year studies of psychology (that may have led me to think that I graduated with a post-doctoral certification, wut.i.know.right,lol) likes to think that this form of abstinence (I like how I try to spice it up like my non-existent sex life) may have been an early manifestation of sorts for the type of social anxiety that I feel now WHEN I AM AROUND CROWDS, which may have also been caused by the sort of work I do (that usually revolves around the least number of people #happyloner )

I get anxious.

Lots anxious.

Especially, social (media) anxious because let’s face it, (most of) my life is on social media. I mean, do you know that if there was no internet that I might probably have to learn how to bake cookies, get into shape and sell them at these wash n’ vacuum places wearing a crop top and mini skirt?

<cue Dili> #DramaticSeniIsDramatic

But all said and done, I’m truly grateful to all who called and wished having seen my friends and families initial noise making online. I don’t judge you, no, I do that too, if I already don’t have your birthday written down. Most if not all, wish well and genuinely want nothing but happiness and sunshine in my life and I am truly grateful for it, but as those who are closest to me knows, quieter the better.

Like my first birthday in India. I spent the entire night walking by myself and nomming down ama(h)zing Bengali food for dinner and also treating myself to Gelato ice cream (because, student budgets) and then I come to hostel and find out that my friends had planned a big treasure hunt and dinner (with so many biriyanis!). My heart broke because I was overwhelmed and unsure how to react to these social situations. I was truly happy and awkward. Do you understand now? 

Also, no cake, because you’ll end up eating it, haha. The image above is what actually went down. I mean the cake, you little dirty minded thing.

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Write soon.

On Productivity

Two things work through my mind as I start typing this out:

On how pretentious a productive person I might sound (loving the alliteration though, can’t help it, slurp);

IT’S BEEN THE SECOND DAY IN A ROW SINCE I WROTE SLASHED BLOGGED. GAH. YAY. OHMYGOSHImuststopbeingasdramatic.

December Diaries copyJokes aside though, I have some productive tendencies. It all comes down to how productive I genuinely want to be. Emphasis on the genuine (and not some as most would’ve assumed, lol), because I have come to realise that I cannot fuck with my brain. It knows when it is urgent and how important it is to me or something on those lines.

So of my twenty-something years on board, here’s what education, work, familial and other relationships have taught me on productivity: 

a) Sleep has nothing to do with this

I don’t know about you, but as a kid I had plenty of autographs. You remember those yes? 90s kids? 80s kids? 70s? 60s, no that was my Mum. But these autographs, (not the funky ones with questions that became a hit in the 2000s) were colourful blank often-perfumed pages for friends, family and loved ones to write nice things about you, so that when you grow old, grey and miserable, life has given you something good to fall back on. I jawk, aren’t I just hilarious? 😀

In one of my first autographs (I may have been 7+), my Mum wrote in it, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a girl healthy, wealthy and wise.” I mean, I’ve always been a night-owl. As a child of seven, I used to clean my desk between 08-10pm every Tuesday night. (I don’t recall what the deal was on Tuesdays though) As an adult, health aside, the wealth and wisdom may have been accumulated from night-time adventures.

FYI, for those who are confused about the sort of work I do, no I do not moonlight as a hooker. My area already has a few prominent bodies who may not be accepting of mine and my body is still not on par with theirs and hence, it comes down to a matter of tough competition.

On the health side of things, yes, your face would look brighter, but then again I have for most part of my life never had the issue of circles or bags under my eyes and have begun using an under-eye cream to prevent any such nuisance in the years to come.

b) Do not however, ignore the importance of sleep

This does not mean that you are to work all night long because you need no sleep, like Jon Snow, you know nothing. Even if sleep does not come naturally to you, while I do not advocate for sleeping pills and what not, if you must, do go ahead with it, if not, try exercising, eating lighter meals and Googling as to how you can sleep better at night. Even if you don’t sleep, try to lie on your bed listening to music. Try to avoid reading or watching anything that will bring additional strain on your eyes, but just chill and hopefully, you’ll fall asleep.

c) Understand your body type / environments you work (best) in

This is a weird productivity tip of sorts, but I think for me to have written the first two points, it took me a while before I figured out that I was a night person. It’s not only night-night that’s most important to me, but also the environment you work in.

For example, when I’m at home, I work into the nights because the house is quieter and everything is really calm. I even tend to workout most at nights. However, if I am travelling for work or on vacation, I do have early night (sometimes as early as 10pm?) because I tend to finish up on work during the day because of the change in environment (and also due to the less number of household chores / responsibilities that you may otherwise have).

It’s best for you to understand on what works for you. For example, while in uni, my roomie was an early bird. So during exam time, I’d study from 10pm – 3am and I’d wake her up when I’m going to sleep where she will study from about 4am till mid morning.

d) Exercise

It’s funny that I speak on exercise because I’m anything but sporty. haha. In school I didn’t do any sports. Probably played badminton for about a year and clearly my Mum’s sports gene had hit neither my older sister nor me.

We don’t really have the most athletic of bodies either and due to our genetic mix, we are the if-you-eat-too-much-you-will-put-on-weight as opposed to the my-metabolism-is-naturally-high types. Towards my late teens and uni in India too had a lot to do with this, I started doing yoga. I started off with a yoga class (not the traditional one, this was at a gym, lol) and then followed a lot of yoga videos online and started reading up more on it. When I started feeling my body becoming stronger, I gradually incorporated more cardio and strength training into my routine and now, I have a relative-commendable schedule of working out thrice a week with some yoga, some cardio, stretching and core-strengthening. I don’t use machines or hit a gym (because of a very bad and funny gym accident I had a few years back); don’t jog (this tropical weather I’m telling you and we have weak-ish knees) and have put together a routine based on various workout videos and articles that strain neither the knees or the wrists.

Exercising has not only helped me fall asleep better at night but also help feel good about myself, especially that I-cannot-climb-up-this-staircase-but-oh-that-feels-good thought. Working out regularly has also made me make a mental note when planning things out because now we have one more thing to incorporate into the schedule!

e) Write your shiz down

As a writer that tries very hard, I essentially enjoy writing. While I was teaching, my students may have hated me, muhaha, but I try to institutionalise the practice of writing wherever I can, just as how I change computer languages from American to British English, HAHAHA.

Writing helps you put things in perspective and also helps you prioritise. I write both on paper and on the terrific Notes app on my laptop and phone. If you want a fancy shiz app, I’m sure there are tonnes on your phone app store that might hit your fancy.

If you are overwhelmed with hundred-and-one things to do and do multiple-thing-including-the-supposed-hooker-moonlighting like me and don’t know where to start, here’s what works for me:

  • Take a blank paper and write down in point or list form every single thing you want to do. These can include things like taking your kid to the doctor’s, calling up your friend to check on last week’s hangover (yes, these things happen and we forget), grocery shopping, paying you internet bill and so on. The list is not a work or house only list, but a list of everything you need to accomplish in life that moment. Of course if you write things like “graduate” then you might as well stay in school, silly goose.
  • Number them! Scan the list thoroughly and number them in order of importance. If some items are equally important, e.g. – shopping for your boyfriend’s birthday next week and finishing up a report, don’t hesitate to use the same number twice, but remember not to overdo it. Ask yourself if you will die, be fired, lose money or a relationship if the task is delayed and the answer is no, then it’s fine to push it to the bottom of the list. Do not mix prioritising with procrastinating, because what’s at the bottom of the list will make it’s way to the top, eventually and be complete.
  • Once the numbering is done, set time or date stamps, giving yourself a grace period as well (especially where client / employer deadlines are concerned).
  • Categorise your tasks then in either order of importance or a date-breakdown or just into baskets where they all belong.

What works best for me is when I put it in to a day plan – basically ten things I plan to achieve in a day (these also include chores and what not) and generic basket plan, where the different tasks are put into categories / clients / employers and then listed out it in the order of importance.

Yes this may sound terrifying, but once you spend time initially and get this ball rolling, encouragement and motivation will find its way here.

d) Deconstruct tasks

This is probably one of my favourite productivity tips that I made a habit while I was living away in India. I would basically breakdown a larger task and do it in small parts so that I wouldn’t be overwhelmed by the thought of it, when either a deadline or task is due. I use this most when it comes to household chores because I’ve seen my Mum clean the house inside out every weekend. For example, if it’s something like cleaning my bathroom, I would clean the floors on one day, the sink / commode on another, the wall tiles on another day and so on. This way, not only will my bathroom constantly be clean but when my loo can take no more, I wouldn’t be stuck in a pile of goo, literally. haha.

e) Incentives

I know, but this is great when you have to force yourself into doing something you don’t like, whether it is a school assignment or a task your line manager delegated to you, and you need that extra motivation to keep you going.

I usually make a mental note to reward myself:

  • if I complete something I’ve been putting off ages because it was too time consuming;
  • complete something I simply do not want to, but have to;
  • continuously work on a task / habit for a period of time. For example, last evening I shopped for some workout clothes because my workout schedule has actually been commendable over the past few weeks!

f) Take time off

I literally cannot speak or write more on this one. It’s a concept that is still new to me as it hasn’t been too long since I myself began practicing it. 

If you work unconventional job(s) or hours like I do, then everyone probably thinks that you lead suchha chill life. <insert image on Snoopy chilling on a beach chair with a Piña colada>

As if.

Chances are that you are (over) working most of the time, probably due to time zone constraints or there is simply too much work and your organisation does not have funding for an additional human resource, hence, alas and you soon start having your weekdays glide into your weekends and vice versa. The next step in this sequence is when you are termed a “workaholic”, “inconsiderate”, “bad relationship person”, “does not have time for family and friends” and so on.

I relate to this because I was this person about a year ago. Then, the words of my first boss / Editor found its way to my head. Six years back he told me,

It’s not about how (many) long (hours) you work, but how smart you work. 

Now, I make it a point NOT to work on Saturdays, I try for the entire weekend, but a Saturday is a start and a good one at that.

I try to take at least one weekend off doing nothing or spending time with family, friends, grocery shopping or travelling.

The break, I’ve grown to realise helps me reset and recharge for the next gruelling week ahead that I actually look forward to.

Word of the day: hustle

g) Spend time building yourself and your relationships 

This is not the yogic mantra nonsense telling you this, but taking time off has led me live somewhat of an offline life (of sorts) or at least to stay a few hours offline, spending time with myself or those whom I adore the most.

I’ll start with myself, because I’m narcissistic. If I have time to kill or purposely am avoiding work because I need a break, I do things that I find therapeutic, workout or just sleep. Even if I sleep in a little longer on a day I intend to wake up early, I have learned to stopped blaming myself because, perhaps the intention was not genuinely present when I fell asleep the night before. Spending time with myself either doing weird yogic nonsense like meditating has also helped me appreciate myself better and also worked a bit on the self confidence.

In case you didn’t realise, the narcissism was a sarcastic plugin.

My “me-time” usually pays off in good (productive) work vibes and that sort of positive chain reactions. I also think that good vibes and positivity goes beyond a hippy acid trip. It’s only natural for you to want to do the sort of work you do (regardless of how much you may not want to or how much you dislike it) when you are in a good mood. 🙂

I also now try to socialise and open up a bit more to family, friends and other favourites when I take time off. I either chill with them, do something fun together or just walk hand in hand to the sunset < #haw ❤ > because not only do we all need to calm the fuck down but also take some time off to appreciate one another by giving them our time.

I haven’t proofed this yet because it turned out WAY longer than I expected, but it’s honestly been something on my mind a long long time and here it is, finally. So excuse the typos and other (many) possible grammatical errors. Some of these work their way into productivity in a weird way (like motivation?), hence the reason I’ve included them in.

Until (hopefully) tomorrow, have a lovely Wednesday.

On (More) Travels

One of those days. I had a very short (work) travel stint the past two days and am trying to settle back to normalcy. The more I travel (even on work) the more I seem to understand why most may like to do so. To me, the most blatant of explanations is that those who travel regularly are perhaps those who seek adventure and new experiences different to their own. However, for me, I am not adventurous and as for new experiences, I could live without.

I’m neither a born traveller nor do I have that innate need in me to travel. What happens to me is that, I do get attached to places. People, maybe not as much, but places yes. India, did that to me and it forever will have a special place in my life (I refrain from saying, “heart” as it may seem an absurd choice of word, to most).

From somewhere towards the end of the first quarter in 2014, I began travelling, not a lot, but much more than I otherwise would. The start of 2015 so far has been more inland-bound travel that I have always secretly enjoyed more. This may perhaps be due to the familiarity in language that tells me that everything is going to be okay. I don’t need to communicate in broken English with few phrases from a regional or any other common language, in order to tell the taxi driver that I need to go back to the hotel to pick up my suitcase.

But the familiarity ends there.

In every town or city I travel to, it is the people that make the locality what it is.

It is among those very people, foreign to you and you to them, that you can voluntarily get lost in and seek the truth you are searching for.

It is in those very long commutes do you get to look outside and wonder how things became what they were; how a city not too far from a little desert had turned to what it was; how communities can look alike in skin tone and in close proximity to one another, but be so different in clothing, mannerisms and tone of voice.

For me, travel doesn’t bring out that sense of adventure and thrill. It is a new experience, I agree, but perhaps more than discovering new cities and places, for me, it is more so on discovering myself all over again, just this time, in a locality that is not familiar to me.

I hope you all have a good weekend.

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