Life, Uncategorized

Rollercoasters and forks

2015 has been my most eventful year emotionally. Before this year, I thought I have been tested to my capacity but oh boy was I wrong. I don’t even really think there is a way for me to recap this year and I do not think that my words would be able to do it justice. So much has happened.

When last I blogged, I had lost a loved one, been retrenched and taken a customer service agent job at one of the top airlines in the world. I tried to make the best of life as it happened, some days were easier than others. To say that call centre work was not for me would be an understatement, I was just not cut out for that shit. Being called a fucking retard was pretty much just a normal day at the office. Oops, did I say day, I meant night. For some reason I ended up on night shift most of the time which wrecked havoc on my sleeping patterns, health and even my moods. I literally had no life, never saw anyone or went anywhere, all I did was work and sleep. To top things off I became a target for gossip, rumours and was bullied and victimised by the coaches who assisted in training me. Basically modern day mean girls. I could not believe what was happening. It was like being back in high school. Needless to say I did not last long there and gave minutes notice, I walked out of that place and never returned.

Luckily, I was offered a job the very next day. I was back to doing what I knew and loved, buying for an e-commerce company. I was hired as the homeware and appliance buyer for the biggest deal site in South Africa and globally. Alas things were not meant to be, the environment was too target driven and I was constantly threatened that if I did not start to meet targets and earn commission I will be replaced. Not exactly a work environment conducive for performing. I struggled here because throughout my career my focus and way of doing business has always been about building lasting and mutually beneficial relationships with my suppliers. This seems not to have been valued, instead a hard push for deals is all that seemed to matter. Add to the mix a manager who only values money, expects constant family time sacrifice, disregard for ones personal goals or work life balance…oh and swearing, well you’ve got a recipe for disaster. I resigned three months later, I was the fifth person to resign within the three months that I worked there.

So now here I am again, back at square one with zero job prospects. The only good to have come from my time at that job was I met my future business partner. Once we both decided on our own that this was not a culture fit for us, we thought perhaps we could start something of our own. So even though we are both broke and living off our credit cards, we are working hard at building our empire.

I am optimistic about 2016 and even though I have no resolutions for the new year I do have dreams and goals that I am working towards.

Until next time…

 

Advertisements
Standard
Life

The now

So the retrenchment possibility became a reality and I spent my time at home studying for my first semester exams. I have spent the time off looking for work but to no avail. For some reason buyer jobs are not that easy to find. I am either over or under qualified and I have received so many rejection letters from retailers that my skin has thickened considerably.

In the interim I took a call centre job at a well-known airline company and what started out as something promising quickly turned into a nightmare toxic work environment. It quickly became known to me that I was the victim of some nasty rumours and was being bullied by two grown up females. Now I know what you might be thinking, you’re an adult, so are they, just confront them. Unfortunately these are not the type of people you confront. They will see any sort of reasoning as a personal attack. I figured if I ignored them for long enough they would eventually tire and grow bored as all bullies do. Alas no, they just kept at it. Then I did something I have never done in my entire working life, I quit, with immediate effect and walked out same day. I felt free and at peace with my decision.

The next day I awoke and had a freak out, I was unemployed and had bills to pay and I really did not want to lose my car. I love my car. I just got her. I feared separation anxiety. Thankfully I did not have to worry to long because shortly after, I received a call from a company that interviewed me recently and offered me a job as homeware buyer. To say I was relieved would be an understatement. I felt blessed and extremely thankful. My months of stress and anxiety has finally come to an end or at best this is a reprieve from constantly worrying. So new job, new beginnings and I can now focus on getting that degree done now that I have one less thing to worry about.

This post can in no way explain what the year so far as been like. It has been an emotional roller-coaster. Losing my job, being rejected from numerous companies seriously affected my self-esteem and self confidence. I doubted myself too often. Taking a job where I earned way way less than I was used to in order to make ends meet was tough and almost soul-destroying. Especially in an environment I was not used to where professionalism and basic manners seemed to be optional.

I know that I would not have made it through this difficult time without the support of my family and friends and their unwavering faith in me. They have been and will always be my fiercest cheerleaders. Now I look forward to something new. I look forward to proving myself in my new job, because it is something I am good at. I look forward to the next phase in my life.

Standard
Life

F5 – Refresh

So to say things have been crazy would be an understatement. Hence my absence on this blog. A broken laptop, non-consistent internet connection and a crazy schedule has thrown writing by the wayside.

The last time I wrote I mentioned that my company might be merging with another. This January the merge has been approved. It has been and still is an uncertain and stressful time as I am unsure if I will still have a job after April. For the most part I have been keeping positive but it is not always easy. What a way to start the year and with each new year like most people we all want to do and be better. I have never been a fan of New Years resolutions but this year I am making an exception. Although I am not truly viewing it as resolutions but more as lifestyle changes. Below is my list of changes (and already existing habits) that I intend to implement:

Rediscover my passion for writing (literally as I am typing these words I realise how much I have missed it). I aim to write a minimum of one blog post per month and to start doing things and living a life worth writing about.

Pick up my camera again – I can’t even remember the last time I took photos. If it means taking up a 30 day photo challenge to kick start my hobby then that is what I will do.

Focus on my studies, as in not only the bare minimum but actually setting time aside daily to study for at least an hour. This way I won’t stress when exams come around and I will feel more prepared. Also better grades and who doesn’t want that.

Travelling – since I came back from my 1 year hiatus away from the real world I have not been able to give travelling a second thought. I have decided to no longer put off my desire to go to Italy. My next trip abroad will be Italy no matter what. I want to hit the big 3 (Roma, Venezia and Toscana) and spend the bulk of my trip in Bologna in Emilgia Romanga. I do still want to incorporate smaller trips, weekends away in and around Cape Town. I tend to forget tourists spends thousands of Rands every year just to travel to Cape Town and I am still not taking full advantage of what my home country has to offer.

Jogging – I used to jog regularly but an ankle injury a couple of years ago put an end to that. I started again end of last year, not pushing myself too hard and it has been going well. That is, until my ankle problems popped up again. This time however I am taking action. I went to see my GP, went for x-rays and I am waiting to be referred to a specialist. I will do everything I can in my power to heal myself so that I can take up jogging full time again. In the meantime I will stick to walking, swimming and yoga to keep fit and help me achieve my goals.

Eating well, as in eating as healthy as possible and watching my calorie intake. In theory it is simple, expend more energy than you consume and weight loss will follow. My doctor has recommended that I try banting (high fat, medium protein and low carb diet), but I am not a fan of diets especially ones that are too restrictive. I think most people know what the healthy choices are, it’s just a matter of making these lifestyle choices habits. I also do not believe of depriving myself of anything as that often results in binge eating on the forbidden food.

Find balance – with all of the above floating around on my to do list I want to remember to take time to relax and focus on things that bring me pleasure and that is not goal-oriented.

Be more spiritual – find the time to talk to God, this is something that has dwindled to non-existent in my life. There was a time when I was constantly plagued with doubt about who is up there watching over us. I do however realise that whenever I pray I feel better and this is a feeling that I want to hold on to for as long or often as possible.

Stop-multitasking – I used to think multi-tasking was an essential skill but I have come to realise that spreading myself too thin is not good for me in the long term. Even a simple thing as watching a movie. I find myself watching a movie or a series and being on my phone at the same time. Instead of just relaxing and enjoying some down time, I feel that doing two things at once will somehow save me time. At work it’s the same, I have numerous tabs open and end up taking forever to finish something. I want to focus on the task at hand and do that to the best of my ability. Also to-do lists are underrated.

Zero-clutter – I dislike owning too many things. This is one thing that I am generally good at. The minute I buy myself something new I get rid of or giveaway something old or that I no longer have any use for. Years of moving around honed this skill. The less you own, the less there is to pack and unpack and should I ever decide to pack up again and live overseas there will be less to get rid of or to put into storage.

I have shared some really personal things in this post which I don’t normally do. But this will be the focus of my blog. I find it easier to write about things that have a true meaning for me or things that I struggle with daily. I will talk more about my weight-loss journey as this is my biggest goal for the year.

Standard
Life

The traces people leave behind

Wow, it’s been a long time since I have written anything on here. Returning home after living in another country for almost a year was a bit of an adjustment. The new job and studies have also been keeping me busy with little time for much else.

Also I tend not to write when things are going well. Which I suppose is weird, this blog was for me to share and journal my highs and lows.

Last Friday was a definite low. My uncle passed away at the age of 46. Young, if you think of all the medical marvels and technology at our disposal. I took his death harder than I thought I would. I’m doing the whole I’m strong and putting on a brave face bit but I’m still hurting. This is someone I grew up, a permanent fixture from my youth. He loved spending time with children, I think it’s because he never had any. I clearly remember one day after school he rounded up the neighbourhood children and we spent hours in the park collecting pine cones, leaves, anything that looked interesting to us. He then inspected our ‘treasures’ afterwards. I don’t why this memory is so vivid, maybe because of the look in his eyes was that of a young child, like all of us that day, ready to embark on an adventure.

I’m not going to lie, he was not perfect. He battled with drug addiction his whole life, he did not have an easy life and his living conditions near the end of his time was not great. Why I am grieving so deeply? Could it be that most of life he was not happy? He had his demons to fight, a fight we all have to face on our own. It almost seems like he had a wasted life, but I’m sure that he did experience joy and love no matter how brief or long it might have been.

All I know, the bad stuff, the things he did that disappointed and angered the family has diminished. What we left with are the memories of happier times. How a line from a movie can have us all laughing and thinking of him. Because no matter who or what he was he was loved. He will be remembered. He lives on.

Standard
adventures, Life

The truth and the lies

When I made the decision to live and work in another country I knew it was going to take research, preparation and saving money. So I set about doing just that. The plan was to teach English overseas for one year and once there decide if I wanted to stay another year, try another country or head back home.  Initially I wanted to go to Czech Republic but decided on Thailand because the cost of living is way cheaper.

Someone I worked with gave me the name of an agency called Work Explore Abroad. I applied and a few days later I received an email advising me that my application has been approved for teaching in Thailand. I then received my info pack, made the necessary payments and booked my plane ticket. My agency then put me in touch with the TEFL school XploreAsia and paid my course fee and placement fee. I successfully completed the month-long course. So far everything went smoothly until the owner of XploreAsia called me aside one day and told that he will not be able to place me in a school once I have completed the course and that he might only be able to find me work in May (4 months after the course). In Thailand most government schools re-open in May and October, those are the months when the big intakes happen and as I missed the October intake they could only place me in May. He said he never received my application for approval from Work Explore Abroad and if he had to see it then he would not have approved it for December. Instead he would have told me to come in April instead which would be in time for May placement. He said that Thai schools prefer hiring Caucasian teachers. Basically my lovely caramel skin was just not gonna cut it.

This is what I don’t understand when Work Explore Abroad emailed me to tell me that my application was approved who did the get approval from. The lady at Work Explore Abroad could not find the email where Xplore Asia gives the approval and Explore Asia claims they did not receive my application nor sent an approval.

The only thing that Xplore Asia could offer me was a volunteer position which I still had to pay an admin and processing fee for. They put me in touch with another company called Dragon Fly who places volunteers in Thai schools who cannot afford to hire full-time ESL teachers. So after graduating I moved to the south of Thailand to a in the middle of nowhere rural kind of place. Luckily the school offered free accommodation so I would be able to keep costs down until May intake. Unfortunately I couldn’t do much as there was nothing to do where I stayed. My daily routine entailed going to school teaching and going home. That’s it. I managed to stay for a month but realized that I was going to run out of money if I stayed there. I posted my CV on Ajarn.com which is a job website for ESL teachers and received replies from schools who wanted to interview me. That was when I decided to move to Bangkok. Bear in mind all this moving around, travelling, visa extensions was money coming out of my own pocket.

I then started going for interviews and here’s the thing all my interviews went well but if you wanted to teach at a Thai you need a degree as this is now a new legal requirement (which Xplore Asia knew about). Which brings me to my second question. As a second English degree student why did these agencies “approve” my application? Xplore Asia said that even though it is a requirement that there will not be enough teachers with degrees that schools will have to employ some teachers who do not have degrees. Ok, that did not happen for me. It is important to note that neither company wanted to take any responsibility for my predicament that I found myself in. I then tried to get partial refunds to get a plane ticket home. That’s right I was ready to head home but again neither companies were prepared to help me in any way which is quite disappointing seeing as I paid them both large amounts of money and did not get much in return. In fact the info pack Work Explore Abroad sent was stuff I could have Googled and I still had to apply for the visa myself. All she did was give me contact details for Xplore Asia, that’s all I really paid for, the name of another company.

I have managed to find myself employment at an amazing International school in Bangkok. I’m currently teaching at their summer camp and the head of the English department has advised me that they are looking for a primary school teacher for the new term and wanted to know if I would be interested. My ticket home is in October and after all I have been through I am really looking forward to going home.

I’m not sure how long I will stay once I get back home because there are so many places I want to see. One bad experience is not enough to stop me. I still have my qualification to teach English as a second language and I have more than enough teaching experience.

Standard
Humorous, Life, travel

How to piss off a South African

The Matador Network is website all about travel and they have a series of articles that they run called “how to piss of a/an [insert nationality]”. These articles are almost always sarcastic and make fun of how we stereotype people from other countries. I thought it would be fun if I added my 2 cents. So here is my version:

South Africans are generally a friendly bunch. We love big get-together’s, great food, sports and go out of our way to make visitors feel welcome in this beautiful country of ours. That’s not to say that you can’t get us riled up.

Africa is a continent, South Africa is a country

More accurately Africa is a gigantic continent and in comparison South Africa is a small country at the southern tip of Africa. No, I don’t know your friend from Kenya. How could I possibly? No, I’m not from Nigeria. Nigeria and South Africa are two completely different countries separated by thousands of kilometres and different cultures.

No, elephants and lions do not roam the streets freely. Seriously though, they just don’t.

Hard as this may be to believe but we do have paved roads and traffic lights and the only thing that may jump at your car would be young kids wanting to wash your windscreen at a red light for small change. Sure some parts of the country is rural but even here the only wildlife you might see wandering around is a horse or a cow. If you want to see lions or elephants please feel free to visit one of our many spectacular game reserves. We also have large cities with buildings, running water, western toilets, electricity and ATM machines.

South Africans are sport obsessed

If you want to turn a friend into an enemy all you have to do is say that the Australian cricket team is the better cricket team. We have a sports rivalry going back decades. This will not endear you to the locals as it is common knowledge that the South African cricket team fondly known as the Proteas are the best in the world. In fact not even Australia’s rugby team comes close to our mighty Springbokke the South African rugby team. You would do well to remember that anything Australia can do, we just do better.

Proud to be coloured

This is a weird one but yes, you read that right. Do not tell us that we are free and that we do need not call ourselves coloured. We know we are free. Perhaps the term coloured is not politically correct in the rest of the world but in South Africa it refers to a group of people of mixed heritage and we are proud of that heritage.

It don’t matter if you’re black or white

Not just a catchy Michael Jackson song but you need to know that not all South Africans are black some of us are actually white. Yes there are white people in South Africa. Born and bred for centuries and some of them can even speak Xhosa. You do need to bear in mind that there are many unique and distinctly different tribes so please do not lump all black people together as one. I’m really not making any of this up. Shout out to the South African Indians many of whom can speak Zulu. We’ve got a whole rainbow nation thing going over here.

But doesn’t South Africa have a high crime rate?

Yes there is crime in South Africa but you know what, there is crime everywhere. The world is sadly a dangerous place but all you need to do is practice common sense and you will be fine. Don’t wander around all alone drunk at 2am down dark alleys.

There is a big difference between a South African from Cape Town and one from Johannesburg.

Ok so now you know where South Africa. Great, you’re making progress and I am so proud of you. I’m from Cape Town so please don’t mistake me for someone from Johannesburg. People from Johannesburg are landlocked workaholics who are only interested in making money. People from Cape Town are laid back beach bums.

See below picture for further geographic clarification:

Africa Political Large

Standard
Life

Don’t forget to laugh

So my last post was leaning more towards tragically sad but it needed to be done. I had all these pent up emotions and writing about them makes me feel better. Today though I feel like I should instead remember the happier times of which there were many. These memories of my lost sister will always puts a smile on my face.

I remember when we were growing up we had to have the same of everything. Especially when it came to clothes, we loved dressing up as if we were twins separated at birth. Besides its way cuter when non-twins wear matching outfits.

Play time usually consisted of building tents. We would build tents so comfortable and snugly we felt no shame taking a well earned nap after all the hard work was done. After our naps it was back to our Barbies and Ken doll to play out elaborate stories that was much more entertaining than a whole season of Gossip Girl. P.S. Barbie and Ken sex scenes were way raunchier.

She loved horror movies however she was incapable of watching these flicks on her own, so she would always be recruiting some poor helpless soul to watch it with her. Now I’ve got nothing against watching a good horror even though this genre of film scares the pants off me (not a pretty picture) but she almost always fell asleep within the first half an hour just before all the good stuff happens. Leaving you all alone in the dark with another horror to go. Don’t even think of turning it off and going to bed she will wake up and complain but will be fast asleep again within five minutes. I’ve learnt the art of moving around stealthily.

Man could she eat. For someone with a fast metabolism this skinny chick could eat anyone under the table. If she wasn’t preparing food or eating food then she was talking about her next meal.  Not even being sick kept her appetite t bay. She was always ready to go. I would not go up against her in a food eating contest.

Then there was the farting. Yes you read that right. Anyone within a 10 metre radius was not allowed to fart near her lest any of the ‘particles’ settles on her and that would be a fate worse than death for transgressors. She of course was allowed a free pass on this rule and would be the first one the revel in the grossness of her farts.

A true fan of daytime television she could give you an in depth analysis of Judge Judy or The Ricki Lake Show. Such was her commitment to these cheesy shows that never mind a woman scorned – do not get in the way of woman, her remote control and her afternoon shows. Heads will roll. Just hope and pray she didn’t ask you to watch TV with her, she could be quite relentless.

She loved music and dancing and was a natural performer. Summers were spent rehearsing for variety shows and performing them for the family. When the Spice Girls hit the scene in the nineties it wasn’t hard to see that she would be Ginger Spice although years later she revised her choice to Posh Spice.

She was a second year cosmetology student before passing on and was truly gifted as a make-up artist. She had the ability to transform any girl into a princess and she had the patience to get it done perfectly. I ran when I saw her with tweezers though because she was always looking for an unsuspecting victim’s eyebrows to torment. I barely have eyebrows so not exactly sure what she was planning on plucking.

She was always full of ideas some were good, others were really bad. An unpopular recurring theme was when she decided she wanted to spring clean the whole house. I might as well have kissed my afternoon nap goodbye, actually i did because she does not understand the meaning of the word no.

There are too many awesome memories to recount and some of them can’t be shared on this lil ol blog as both our moms read this.

Standard