My ‘Live’ Story

Of the many things I want to write about, I thought it would be a good time to write a bit on mental health. After all, my domain renewed for the year and thought it was about time to put something in here. It was time to do a quick check-in with everyone and see how they are holding up as the first quarter comes to an end. How are you all? Well? My first quarter has been great yet, overwhelming. Business-wise, it’s been great and it even came to a point where an email response contained, “We are a bit too busy right now, will get back to you no sooner we are able to!” That’s swell yes? But with such overachievements also came waves of self-doubt, lack of confidence, motivation and real slumps in creativity. I considered getting help to manage the workload but the task of re-briefing someone seemed a little too daunting and time-consuming. And when I had time, I tried to rest and sleep.

Sleep though, hasn’t been easy to come by. While sleep itself wasn’t the problem, the dreams that continue to haunt me became of serious concern. Often, and still, I will wake up feeling restless and tired. Even my favourite meditation app can’t put me to sleep anymore or it doesn’t let my brain turn off. General anxieties on life and the sorts have been at an all-time high too and last night, I thought about the first few times I made silly attempts at suicide.

Disclaimer though. I don’t mean to make fun of suicide and as someone with a fair amount of mental health concerns, I do understand the gravity of suicide, but I like to tackle most personal issues with a bit of humour and that’s what I’m doing with me and my silly suicidal attempts.

It’s not an interesting story because I’m not really as bold as I like to be. Haha. All attempts thus far have been involving an attempted overdose of pills/medication. And no, to those who know me and have seen the insides of my handbag and my ‘drug pouch’, that’s not why I carry it! If I recall correctly, I first attempted suicide at the age of 16 or 17. Or maybe it was 15. I tried to take some lousy sleeping tablets, I think around five, wrote cards and letters to those in my life explaining what they mean(t) to me the night before and went to sleep. Alas, I woke up the next morning groggy AF and immediately hid all the cards before any unwanted questions with regard to my miscalculated attempts were raised. The second time was a few years later into my early twenties and to say that I learnt something from my teenage years, was nothing short of a disappointment. I didn’t however, try the cards and letters and the Amy Winehouse ODing incident did get to me (and later in psychology taught me of the domino-effect these things have on people living even millions of kilometres away).

Now when I think of suicide, I like to think of myself as a more developed individual and know would opt for effective methods like euthanasia, obviously not in this country. I’ve realised that killing myself is a very inconvenient affair. The paperwork, fingerprints for the phone, deleting internet presence, sending out emails and letting my internet community know these things, working out a way to manage the businesses and telling the other employers, oh boy. So yes, down days, pre-menstrual days and bad hair days still get to me, but the inconvenience of it all puts things away for good.

Hope you enjoyed my little story for you and again, in no means am I trying to belittle those with depression, anxiety and mental health conditions far worse than mine.

I hope you are able to continue to be at peace with yourself and chase sunrises/sunsets, mountains and lighthouses as I have.

Until the next sunrise 🙂

#ThinkSunny

Let’s Talk about Suicide in Urban Areas

It was World Suicide Prevention Day yesterday and trust me if we don’t talk about it, then, when will we?

NB – There are tonnes of disclaimers in the following text just so we don’t offend anyone you know.

I don’t mean to sound like a negative nanny by the end of it, but like most causes in life, I feel as though it’s becoming one of those where the privilege is allowed to speak of or share their opinions on. Or even become ambassador’s (for its prevention) of.

If you ask all the kids of my generation and maybe the ones before or after, they’ve all probably either contemplated suicide or even attempted at it. I mean, does writing ‘farewell notes’ before an attempt and then waking up the next morning only to realise that the attempt was not successful sounds familiar to you?

See that’s the sad thing about it. I mean I thought it was only limited to cancer, AIDS and maybe Alzheimer’s and similar things – please note that I mean neither to offend nor belittle anyone undergoing any of these conditions, in this day and age of everyone being offended with everything – where causes were overtaken by celebrities and all. See, I know the benefit of having celebrity endorsements. The cause gets more money towards research, development and those suffering from it etc.

But what about those who try to speak about it but are sidelined by the people who are more eloquent on the subject?

It’s like why we don’t talk about marital rape in urban areas.

Or when we don’t talk about rape of younger children within a family.

Because it’s shameful.

Because the voice of the supposed privileged doesn’t matter in this instance. Because like most things, many of these situations cater to the underprivileged. Like I said, not to be a negative nanny or to diss those who were not born into privilege but I realised during this conversation of suicide and suicide prevention, why can’t those who are born into privilege speak about it? And by privilege, I mean the English speaking, credit card using, yes, I have some #Wanderlust on my Instagram feed community.

While our reasoning for committing suicide are probably not the same – no our crops did not fail and no, we probably don’t have money lenders knocking on our doors. But perhaps we are lonely and in need of someone to talk to. I mean everyone around us, including our own selves, continue to hustle hard in this day and age when petrol prices increase when you go to sleep at night.

Can you not judge?

Like my friend said, can you give us something other than prayers?

We would like someone to listen.

Maybe tell us we are not mad. Or that we are a little mad and it’s okay to be mad. That they are mad too.

We would like someone to make us feel accepted. Welcomed.

You know, make us that cup of tea with a little bit of extra sugar, just so we know that you like us.

Taken off Google

Yes, we come from privilege. But that doesn’t mean we do not want to be heard.

Afghanistan at First Sight

Hello friend!

It started with being told that I had to cover my head from the airport to car park C. My arms too. I wore all black, for no particular reason but the dirt on my clothes will not be seen after a really long flight. I almost always pack a shawl, socks, cardigan and my statement pink batik wrap slash beach cloth so covering was not really big deal.

Another important point of interest was there not being too many solo female travellers. Hence, an Indian-looking / South Asia woman travelling without an accompanying male in liberal clothing too seemed rebellious, so to speak. Perhaps this might be my debut into my adult-rebellious streak. Always, always a late bloomer. Interestingly there wasn’t much segregation between males and females as I assumed there to be. I mean Indian airports have a sometimes-functioning “male-female queues”. Even the fact that I picked a corner in the bus from the airport to the plane in Dubai, and later found myself surrounded by Afghanis didn’t seem to bother them either. Besides a few odd looks that may have got them thinking about whether I was boarding the correct flight to start with, we were all good to go. I guess the choice of clothing though not robustly appropriate were not as entirely inappropriate as I would’ve feared. Thank bloody Heavens.

The First Afghanis

My first interaction with Afghanis was with the two girls sitting next to me on the plane. I took them for sisters and being in their pre-teen / teenage years. I assumed they too shared the same curiosity the men on the bus had in seeing a solo female traveller who was definitely not from the Middle East, travelling to Kabul. Having been travelling the whole day, I had a strong desire to sleep but trust me that was the last thing I was about to get. Despite the endless string of questions and my throbbing headache, I was not in a foul mood because after all, I was a long way from home and there was not much I could do about it anyway.

Perhaps one of the most striking characteristics I observed from these girls, was their lack of physical boundaries. Coming from the background I do and the sort of attributes I’ve imbibed over the past so many years, I did find it mildly invasive. Of course, none of it was done deliberately. The fact that they would ask me both peculiar and personal questions to the fact that their abaya-clad body weight would rest on the left side of my body, seemed completely normal. The first, they saw me scribbling these very notes on my notebook and ask me which language I was writing in. Of course, it’s a given anyone would ask that with my horrendous almost illegible handwriting. I then picked up the book I took with me to read, (because sleep was a dream too far away from the aircraft) and I was asked if it was the Bible. I did silently laugh, not at their ignorance but at the fact that how the red pages of the Bible may have transferred itself to the cover of my red book. Haha. I suppose had I told them of my half-Muslim roots, that may have not gone down too well. Having failed to read, I turned on my laptop to watch a film. It was the only sensible thing to do with my earphones on, as the girl next to me was watching a Hindi film on her phone without any earphones of her own. I was on The Hobbit and LOTR marathon during the time and since I didn’t have a few hours at a time, would watch the film in parts. To say that the girl next to me and her half-sister (or cousin – despite explaining the relationship, I’m not sure what their relationship was) put down everything they were doing and leaned their bodies’ weight on me as I cramped up against my little window seat, to watch the movie with me, despite not hearing anything, is absolutely not an understatement. In hindsight, I wonder had I been watching something raunchy on screen, how that would have played out!

I almost forgot. My plane row-partners opening lines were, “Have you ever had chicken pox?” and then when they went on to say about the almost chicken pox outbreak in their family and how many people were getting the infection. I’ve had an injection earlier as a result of a near chicken pox scare, but I then began thinking of the chicken pox virus circulating in the airplane and wondered whether it would be like the time I fell ridiculously ill in Nepal, almost about the same time last year.

Tranquility at First Sight

I had seen and been in the desert before, but seeing a desert and dry mountainous regions was a whole new experience. Landscapes have always fascinated me and most people and newer landscapes, I learnt that day, were even more enthralling.

The serenity that comes with seeing the Afghani landscape at an aerial view however, stops there.

The larger than life concrete dressing room screens

The roads and barricades of Kabul – I was not fortunate enough to see beyond the streets of Kabul – are anything but serene. It’s interesting to me because as a country that was once at war, there was a sense of what was familiar. Barricades, an unfamiliar stronger kind made entirely of concrete and similar to a larger than life dressing room screen, were everywhere with the forces patrolling the streets and behind vehicles at all times.

Kabul, without war looks like a beautiful place to live. Especially if you like warm, dry weather.

It’s almost surreal at times, knowing that the country is at war, yet the poet in me that died a natural some years back found its way back amidst the dry arid mountains that became a beautiful backdrop to the country that looked almost at peace, from its hilltop.

Spot the balloon if you can. All pictures have been taken inside an armoured vehicle, hence the crappy quality.

In fact, I’m assuming that the surveillance system setup by the Americans (or that’s what I was told) provided an aerial view of Kabul city. When in Kabul, don’t be alarmed by the little aircraft like balloons you see floating about. Also keep in mind that it’s not a brand promotion either.

Despite being at war, no one wants to miss the football highlights.

However, it was business as usual elsewhere in Kabul. We went out for dinner on the third night we were there. Perhaps our hosts thought that we were bored out of our mind with hotel food and my boss being vegetarian didn’t necessarily help with most of the meat-mixed meal options either. Those who were not suffering from war or perhaps because it was important to resume day to day activities (like we did before 2009 living in Colombo), it became important to indulge a bit. Or even watch the football highlights (this was FIFA season).

Afghani musicians also draw a lot from Indian classical music perhaps to cater to a majority Indian tourists?

When in Rome Kabul…

Be an Afghani? Salam to you too!

One of the things I couldn’t help but notice were the ample amount of fizzy drinks being distributed before, during and after meals. I would like to think that some even substituted water – always mineral and always by the monopoly company – with sodas!

This was at the hotel we were at and basically anyone can open the fridge and take however many they wanted. Basically, my sister’s dream.
On an average in July it seemed to be around 38*c and people still preferred carbonated water over bottled water.

Now that we done with the unhealthy bits, is this a good time to talk about nuts? I mean, we cannot not go to Afghanistan and indulge in a bit of nuts, which were, even by Sri Lankan standards, cheap!

Also in Kabul are…

If you think reckless drivers and vehicles that seem to want to leave the road the minute they enter it are among the crazies Kabul has to offer well, no wait, there is more.

Apparently kids who go to school also require extra security because you never know who could enter your classroom. Also, despite being the sarcastic person I am, please know that nothing I say here is meant to be or sound sarcastic. If it does, it’s because that’s what the real situation is with no frills.

Kabul has a not-so-new-normal.

This would also be a good opportunity to speak on child labour, which I saw quite a bit of. Or maybe it wasn’t child labour and they were kids helping out parents during a school break. Maybe they have summer holidays when it’s ruddy 38*c out there. Too many maybes and too little clarifications.

Not an uncommon sight really.

Also, what do you know about romance in Kabul or in Afghanistan? I haven’t read enough and Google seems to show me search results for matrimonial website and other marriage scammers.

* * *

I know, I know. It’s taken me a while to write this one. But hopefully it’s the start of more frequent writing, which hasn’t been happening for a long time. It’s easier to write them as letters because I genuinely do enjoy writing letters.

Until next time,

#ThinkSunny

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.

Non-Motivation Tuesday

It’s raining and I’m miserable. I wanted to Give Thanks later today but with yesterday’s remnants of awful rains and this morning’s gloomy skies, trust me, I feel grateful to no one.

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I know I sound wretchedly insane to be saying what I am saying given the continuous weeks of mad heat but I was (am) one of those silent warriors that advocated for preferred warm weather. In all fairness, I do know the importance of rains and all that jazz and no, I am neither blaming governments (both past and present) for decisions taken nor those before us that revved up the country’s temperature with the industrial revolution, development and the works and cause climate change and all that work that I do.

I’m just ranting on how I dislike this weather, mostly because I am sensitive as fuck to the cold (because we all know how insensitive a person I am otherwise, haha) and I get superbly unproductive and snappy in anything below 24*c.

I couldn’t go to work yesterday (yes, my supposedly “luxurious” job requires that I go to an office space every once in a way for meetings and the likes) because of traffic, flooding and traffic, in that order and spent the day at home catching up on work. I mean like, what else is new. Given the nature of my work and how far I live, I actually like going into the city you know. It can be a little magical.

I am also mildly convinced on being (self) diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder, despite not having seasons, but you know, one could never be too sure with this terrible weather.

Given how unproductive I get with this weather and what nots, here are a few things that I do when the blues give me wrong cues.

  1. Workout 
    I’ve been a little heavy (and worried) on this department, no pun intended. Mostly because my best friend from school gets married in a month and a half and home girl needs to shed some kilos. There were regular workout sesh(s) in play, but then shifting happened and sickness happened and now we are just f-a-t. Sigh. But rainy days are good for working out yes! There are two downsides to this however:a) If you have past injuries they tend to do a bit of a Jon Snow during this weather and comes back to life. Just be sure to not put too much strain on it.
    b) If you are among the non-privileged that do not have access to hot water, showers are a little icy, to say the least.
  2. Nap (because you deserve it)
    It’s raining outside and chances are that it’s (either) thundering or/and lightning. If it isn’t, well and good, you can cook, eat and watch a film or something. However, if you live in areas like mine and experience constant power cuts and your wifi wargs into the nearest clouds, this might not be an option so just sleep. I mean, what else can you do, for free? Also, if you, like me, dislike rainy weather, a nap is something you deserve.
  3. Spend Time Alone 
    Yes, we all know how much I like drowning myself in loneliness. The rain, as it puts me in a bit of I need some water from the House of Black and White situation. So the time alone, does help, though too much of it, might actually be equivalent to drinking the water all together.
  4. Spring (Rain) Clean 
    If the rain comes alone without its equally miserable counterparts, thunder, lightning and awfully gloomy skies, go for the broom and start cleaning. I would advise against mopping (depends on the texture of the floor however) given the water absorption issues. But cleaning is good. Decluttering is better. Perhaps once the skies are cleared, so are your storage areas, floors and hopefully your mind #DrownInMyDeepWordsPuddles
  5. Plan / Organise (work)
    This may sound similar to the previous point, but this is specific to workload and task lists etc. I am one of those people who spend a considerate amount of time everyday (at least 20-30 minutes) planning work for the week and organising / cleaning up lists and similar chores. The rain, (up until it puts you to sleep) is an ideal time to go through what needs to be done and what does not and plan your life for sunnier, bikini-clad times.

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#ThinkSunny

P.S. – Sorry not sorry on the excessive Game of Thrones references. This season has been nothing but phenomenal so far (that is, compared to the last).

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 Journaling

Let’s not even start with the apologies because it would just be superbly ranty and not pretty and we all know how it would go down, yes? 

A few months or a year into my twenties, I began to identify myself as a writer.  My work before university and this blog to a great extent contributed towards this little thought (it’s been six years on this blog btw, woots!) and then it was a matter of consistently blogging and switching identities between “writer” and “blogger”.

Following graduation I found employment as a writer and did not fall in love with it as expected. Since I’m not a naturally-inclined love at first sight person, I assumed that the “love” would flow in, but it didn’t. The place was great and I have friends with whom I still keep in touch with today, but I felt constantly underworked and under-utilised. Third world pains influenced by industrialisation and slavery, I know.

It was after that, did I find employment in the sort of work that I do today. Like most exciting phases, there was a drop in excitement and momentum and taught me the painful lesson of monotony (which on a regular day I would have an abundance of appreciation for) and moulded me towards making life a journey towards seeking content.

That year of employment too did undergo some amount of changes (for the better) as I found myself in the chair of a story teller, which is a role I am a huge advocate of but never real gave much thought in to playing. There is some writing involved, some writing that involves thought and perception in order to tell stories that I have not attempted to before but the rest of my work seems to have been woven into mundane administrative duties that I am told is a mark of career progression, lol.

One thing that has remained constant and one thing I have tried to keep constant was my compulsive note-taking that on more personal occasions, journal entries.

I’ve kept many journals as a child and even owned a few of those that were literally under lock and key! I think it comes from my need to document things and not relying on my brain to remember and recall information, lol (that education later taught me to have been a trait influenced by colonisers, oops) – and the journal-force was oh-so strong in my pre-teens and early-teenage years.

I like to think that my writing “journey” then moved towards poetry, short stories and of the likes in my mid-teenage years. Once school was out however, the creative writing stopped, the reading (fiction mostly) stopped and I was employed.

University called for the compulsory reading and writing that could not be evaded at no cost and as an English major it was something that would’ve been shameful to outsource!

Much later on, this blog, which was established in my late teens, became a space where I grew to find solace in writing and while I did not get (as) up close and personal with these pieces of writing as I would’ve once been with a journal, it was a happy place to spend time in. It was about the same time that I also began making my writing  and myself (even!) more personal and less private, if that makes sense.

Simultaneously, it was around a similar period of time did I learn that writing like any other activity done with complete attention was a stress reliever of sorts. This led to writing as means of documenting experiences that usually helped some of us better deal with situations.

What happened next however was quite similar to how most people treat religion. I began writing only when I was sad or depressed. When they said good comedy is difficult to write, they weren’t lying.

Looking back at 2015, as I usually tend to when the second half of the year tends to whiz by, it’s not only been a fabulous year overall but it has by far been one of the busiest I can recall to date. I would like to say “few weeks back” but in reality now that I look back on my calendar and planner, it seems like “May” that may have marked the beginning of the rush that I’m still running alongside with, right now. It was constantly a lot of effort that went into balancing work, family, friends, the not-so-sporadic yoga and cardio routines and the new found bundle of happiness. But while the effort did leave me exhausted out of my mind, I was content and at times even insanely happy and ecstatic, which was usually guised in the more socially-approved feeling of content. 🙂

It was then that I resumed journal writing.

Since my relationship with religion seems to be a little afloat the past year or so, I had begun to rely and account myself for the consequences of my actions. Hence, being content was no different.

Why? Because we love additional notebooks to carry around.
Why? Because we love additional notebooks to carry around.

I didn’t see why I had to exclusively limit my writing to sad, miserable thoughts that not only left me less sunny but also helped me recollect my days and understand the running that I was doing a little better. While not a mandatory practice, it is a time that I spend exclusively with myself, calming myself down from the insanities of the world outside and within.

It’s a start to resume the writing I seem to have left behind and hopefully another opportunity for me to call myself a “writer” once again, before I am persuaded to into changing careers, lol.

What They Don’t Tell You about Working from Home

Oh hi there. You want to work from home because it’s fun and you get to chill in your PJs all day? Jolly good, do sit down and let me burst that bubble for you.

*pop*

(c) Google Images

A couple of years ago (two) I did a post on the joys of being a content writer, which in retrospect might not seem that relevant but it did then and was the first thing I thought of when I sat down to write this baby – so yea. What prompted me further was Yudhanjaya‘s article on Readme that was something I could and still to an extent can relate to.

My subconscious also tells me that this is a very timely post.  The past few weeks were a repetition of similar questions:

1. Do you have a job?

2. Are you still studying?

3. When did you come back from India?

4. When are you getting married?

5. Are you working?

So for those who don’t know what I do, well, I’m not going to tell you what I do.

(c) Google Images
(c) Google Images

It’s not as though I don’t want to tell the world what I do, I have one of those LinkedIn profiles as well 😉 But I just don’t see how my job or the work I do is a cause of concern to you. Yes, if we are making conversation and I take a liking to you I will fill you in on a few of the intricate dealings my “jobs” entail. But if I don’t, I’m just going to give the diss-you-off-answer hoping you would go away and don’t come back.

(c) Google Images

But for most of what I will reveal through this post the part, I work from home. Or not “home” in its traditional sense, but let’s just reword it to, “alternate workspace”, because I more often than not sit occasionally at “workspaces” mercilessly hogging their wifi or grace a series of coffee shops. Very rarely do I now work from “home” as we know it, as there are one too many meetings happening in the “City” #SuburbanGirl and the house was in need of a chauffeur. I volunteered for the latter as this not only helped me cut down my travel costs but also helped me ensure the money saved was spent on exorbitantly priced coffee.

However, the problem that led to post is not the coffee and street food I’ve been eating, but the common perception people have as soon as you utter the magic sentence, “I work from home”. I took the time (read two days!) to think through and list down the first reactions people have when I start to explain the nature of my work. Please note that the list will be a little inclined towards writers who work from home.

  1. “Can you find me a job ‘a working from home job’ as well? ”

    So suddenly, working from home has also become synonymous to “recruitment consultant”. Trust me, I’m more than happy to speak to school leavers or those who want to get into the same line of work that I am or others who want to work from home. I’m all for all of those options. But what I don’t like his how and why and where people get the idea that we have this little blackmarket smuggling business of providing jobs for people? (the excessive blackmarket reference in my speech these days is a result of my current read, Shantaram
    Sure enough I do “outsource” some work of mine either when there is too much to do or it just isn’t my area, such as graphics. But that doesn’t mean I always have this little black logbook of jobs and sorts under my pattiyalas?
    If you want to look for “working from home jobs” that happens “on the internet”, I’d suggest you first start using the internet, effectively – this doesn’t include Facebook. Go throw your skills out there in social media and have portfolios available for public viewing (this might attract the people you are looking for) or sign up at a freelancing website. 

  2. “You are seriously living the life girl! I wish I had life/job like yours!”

    Often times when people ask me this question, I’m tempted to say, “Yes, I am! I get to wake up at 11 am after a night of hard-hitting night of partying, order some pizza and then go back to watching Game of Thrones” because no where in your question or my response must we acknowledge the need to work in order to earn. Also, my folks ain’t got no trust fund.

    Thanks (c) Google
    (c) Google

    I understand the basis of this question and the presumptions you are more often than not mislead by. But let me tell you that I too have “working hours”. They may not be your standard 09-05, but if we are dealing with clients or partners or someone on those lines, they have standard working hours, which means all meetings, transactions and communication happens in broad daylight! What’s more, our life becomes more faayn because we usually stay up all night and try to rework and consolidate meeting thoughts or long threads of emails into one cohesive document. So while you party your buttocks away that Friday night, we are at home, drunk on coffee, meeting deadlines.
    This is not a daily occurrence, I agree, and we don’t always look like hot messes, but though most who work from home start off as those with “flexible work” hours, it becomes flexible, so as long as you are willing to compensate for it much later in the day. This also results in some money saved, I agree, but the money saved is not spent because there is simply no time to do so. 

  3. “Here, you don’t know of any weekend jobs noh? Like someplace I can earn some extra cash?”

    This is quite similar to point one, I agree but what I’m trying to convey here is a leetle bit different. What people don’t understand is that some people make their entire month’s living expenses by working from home. Yes, it does become as well paying at times, I agree. But what I don’t understand is why people think this is like a part time job. I mean seriously, try McDonald’s, I heard they are hiring. 

  4. “Oh, you are a writer? So, like a journalist?”

    Just what I was looking for. (c) Google Images
    Just what I was looking for. (c) Google Images

    Last I checked, being a “writer” was not similar to being a journalist. No qualms against journalists though, I was once a journalist myself and loved every bit of that adventure. But trust me when I tell you that there are other people who write: bloggers, marketers, authors and those who work in public relations all write! Some may not want to call themselves writers and that’s perfectly fine. But I on the other hand, like to call myself a writer. A wise blogger at TBC Asia once said to me , “The more you engage in the field you are most passionate about, the less time you spend doing what you most love,” or something to that extent. If that makes absolutely no sense, what she tried to say, in the context of writers, was the diversification entailed in the work we do. Occasionally, most of our time is spent attending meetings and looking into perfecting writing as opposed to the act of writing itself.
    Not sure if I strayed from the point as always, but asking this question is similar to asking me if I’m a pharmacist after examining my medicine pouch. We are all able to take on any role we best assume. The important part is to make sure that the work is done in order to live up to the name of the title.  

  5. “Can you please take (name) out for the day? Make sure to take your laptop and also go. You can work from anywhere, noh?”

    This is probably a query limited to the household. It is also an example of when self-proclaimed disclaimed go wrong. What most people don’t understand is that not all places will have good wifi (or internet on the portable device I’m carrying), a quiet environment (for conference calls if need be), desks and chairs (I don’t quite take to working in bed) and be conducive to writing. Have I ever asked you to bring your filing to the kitchen and do it while you watch over my unborn children, yet?

This post meant no offence to anyone, but instead was a curated something of my lessons learnt.