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…

 

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The journey so far

So it has now been exactly 3 months since I started my healthy living plan (healthy eating and exercise). So far I have lost 10kg over a period of 3 months. The weight loss has not been fast nor easy but I am slowly starting to change the way I think and feel about food. I am also more dedicated than ever to reach my goal weight.

I decided to take my doctor’s advice and eat a low carb high fat diet. The LCHF diet has been met with lots of skepticism and there is a bit of controversy around it. That means no rice, no potatoes, no pasta, no bread. As you can imagine this is not easy. Eating gluten free can be very expensive and time consuming as many of the things that I want to eat I have to make from scratch. You literally have to change the way you shop and you will start eating (and liking) vegetables you never thought you would. To help me know what to eat and what not to eat I purchased Tim Noakes’ Real Meal Revolution Cookbook.

For me the hardest food to give up was potatoes. I rarely eat bread or rice so that was easy but potatoes is on a another level. Fried, baked, roasted, mashed – you make it, I’ll eat it. So when cauliflower was suggested as a substitute for mash I was like no way! I gave it a try and I was not disappointed. I now can’t remember what mashed potatoes taste like anymore that’s how good cauli-mash is.

The other thing that I was sad to give up was flour and baking. I recently discovered my love for baking last December so when the Real Meal Revolution Cookbook said no flour or grains of any kind I was deeply saddened. There are alternatives to normal cake flour namely almond and coconut flour but these items are pricey so baking is restricted to once or twice a month now.

I’m also jogging a minimum of 4 days a week now. I am currently training and preparing for my first 5k race which is happening Sunday 29th March. I did say that my ankle problem will not hold me back and it seems the more I jog the less it pains. When I started this everything was difficult but with each passing day it’s feeling more like a lifestyle choice than a chore. I hope that I remain consistent this time as I do like the results that I am seeing and feeling.

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Changes

It is now just over a year that I have returned from living in Bangkok for a year. Time flies. Bangkok is now a fleeting memory and I yearn to go back. I also celebrate my one year anniversary at my current job. I never would have thought I would enjoy being a corporate drone again. I also however know that this is not something that I can do long term. I am always looking out for the next adventure or challenge.

For the past year I have been working as the home and appliances buyer at South African online retailer. For the first in a really long time I can say that I love my job. Obviously not everyday single day is all rainbows and unicorns but for the most part I enjoy what I do. I fell into a comfort zone of sorts and when they offered to make me permanent as I was on contract I gladly accepted. I even bought myself a car.

I still think about travelling all the time though and I do have an exit strategy all planned out or so I thought. Two weeks ago my company made a huge announcement that they will be merging with an up and coming online retailer. A deafening silence settled over our offices when the announcement was made. There is a good chance that of us will be retrenched and unemployed by the beginning of the new year. My carefully crafted 5 year plan went up in smoke. After the shock and panic wore off, I decided that it was best to remain positive, I work hard and there should be no reason for me to keep my job after the merger. I also thought that if I am let go that this could be an opportunity for me to study full time. With my degree out of the way I will be able to go work in Dubai and start travelling again. Which is what I want anyway – this way I might just get there sooner.

So I guess not all bad news is bad news it could end up being the best thing that happened me. Who knows. I will just have to wait and see what happens. Nothing in life is certain and change is the only constant.

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Dissecting women magazines

I used to buy magazines by the truckload. Cosmo, Fairlady, Glamour, Shape, Elle, Marie, Heat, etc. To say I had an unhealthy obsession would be an understatement. Every month I would anxiously await the latest issues of my favorites. I loved the glossy feel and the smell of freshly printed paper. When I realised my addiction was costing me on average R200 per month I had to decide if it was really worth it. Deep down I knew it wasn’t so I went cold turkey and stopped buying them.

Over the past couple of years I would occasionally buy me one especially when there is an added bonus of a free lipstick or pair of sunglasses. Magazines do not however have the hold over as it once did. So recently I was lured into buying a glossy, I mean hello I could not say no to a new shade of berry lipstick. Girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. It ended up being a thoroughly disappointing and anti-climactic event. As I was paging through the magazine I started wondering if this drivel is meant to entertain and enlighten me.  Is this what consumes women on a daily basis? If so, then it is a sad state of affairs. So I decided to dissect this magazine page by page and blog about it. This is how we are being brainwashed:

Pages 1 – 30: It all starts out subtle enough, ads for perfume, designer bags and watches paired with photoshopped beauties sometimes the new it girl actress is thrown into the mix. This continues for about 30 pages in interspersed with other useless information like how to rock it like Rihanna before the magazine actually starts. Why can’t I rock my own look? What happened to individuality? This is then followed up by awesome do’s and don’ts and every second page we still have perfume, designer bags and watch ads. Again why are we letting these magazines tell us what we should or shouldn’t wear or what we should buy?

Pages 31 – 53: Ten pages of how to do denim as if you don’t know how to pair a denim jeans with a top. Wait! What? Dungarees are in again? Last season you wouldn’t have wanted to be seen dead in a pair of these but now all of a sudden we’re given the green light. Let’s not forget our prints and neon. You heard it here first, paisley prints and canary yellow is back on the palette. A feature on how to dress for different body shapes but it’s strange that the only body shapes covered are petite, long and lean, hourglass and pear shape. Surprise, Surprise all models used are so skinny the shapes all end up looking the same. In an attempt to keep it real you feature one of your staff members asking her for her fashion opinions and what her perfect day and night look is and how to seamlessly transition from the one to the other. Insert 8 page brand promotion, urgh could you be more obvious?

Page 54 – 64: Beauty regiments and make up colours none of which suits my skin tone. Hair products that are completely useless to me and hair styles which are not even possible with my hair type.  Insert: obligatory Dark and Lovely ad. Age defying shit that just does not work. Trust me nothing is going to get rid of the bags under my eyes. Seriously guys, I feel like you’re not even trying.

Pages 64 – 68: More ads.

Pages 69 – 81 : Single page articles on How to be fearless, How to lose weight, How to co-habit, How to get your dream job, One ‘real-life’ story. The opposite page of each article is filled with more advertisements for skin care products. Double page spread of GET YOUR SUBSCRIPTION NOW!!

Pages 82 -83: Double page spread advertisement.

Pages: 84 – 87: In-depth and intimate interview with model/actress/singer on cover including her fashion choices.

Pages: 88 – 91: A-Z of sex. If you’re don’t know how to have sex by now then you’ve got bigger issues. Ladies when it comes to sex you don’t need 101 positions which all end up looking the same anyway. Just remember to have fun, laugh, be curious and don’t be selfish or insensitive.

Pages 92 – 93: Double page spread advertisement.

Pages 94 – 95: Heart-wrenching true story. Finally, something worth reading.

Pages 96 – 98: Yet another awards evening, you never hear about these events until after the fact. Where was my invite?

Pages 99 – 100: Do’s and don’ts according to a celeb i.e. more unsolicited advice.

Pages 101 – 104: Advertisements (car, jeans, alcohol, soap)

Pages 105 – 112: Exclusive designer promotion so that we can all aspire to own shows which cost R16000 and handbags which cost R30000.

Pages 113 – 120: Evening wear photo-shoot for above awards that I did not get an invite for.

Pages 121 – 129: Sigh! More denim.

Pages: 130 – 142: Sigh! More make-up, skin care and hair

Pages 143 – 144: Hard hitting journalism at its best, important health warning article.

Pages 145 – 150: Movies – what to watch, books – what to read, events – where to go, restaurants – where to eat.

Pages 151 – 152: Next month and stockists.

Pages 153 – 154: Horoscopes.

Page 155: Weight-loss advertisement.

Page 156: Can you believe it more do’s and don’ts. Denim do’s and don’ts.

Last page: Silly, useless, tongue-in-cheek advice.

So there you have it, this is what is being fed to us monthly. I am not impressed. I am seriously thinking of starting my own magazine. There was a time when magazines covered important topics and the fashion stuff was just a bonus. Now it seems to be all about brand promotion and not much else.

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Do I really need another blog?

I always scoffed at the idea of having more than one blog, I mean seriously those kinds of people have way too much time on their hands. Not me, never, but here I am the blogger with now two blogs. It has become perfectly clear to me that my photographs needs its own cyberspace. In fact I love my own photographs so much that I want them in your home, so I am granting any interested party the option to have them printed on canvas for a reasonable amount of cash money. Without further adieu I hereby introduce http://shaheenalinksphotography.wordpress.com/ , the website is up but not running at full steam yet.

After a rather unfortunate incident where I saw one of my photographs used on another website, I decided to remove most of my photographs from my current blog. Some images will be edited to include a watermark with MY NAME. Try stealing my shit now bitches!

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The longer I stay…

…the more I learn not only about Thais but also about myself. You learn to let go of preconceived notions and to open yourself up to different possibilities.

One of the things that I did not fully understand and that disgusted me was seeing Thai women with foreign men. I thought they were just gold digging opportunists but I was ignorant and if this was only a holiday I would have left Thailand none the wiser. Here’s the deal Thai boy meets Thai girl at varsity, they fall in love and plan to spend the rest of their lives together. After varsity Thai boy no longer wants his Thai girl because she is now considered too old so he trades her in for a younger model. It then becomes difficult for Thai girl to find someone new especially if she has a darker skin colour. The only other choice she now has is to date and marry a foreign man. The added benefit of this is that she has more say about their daily lives as opposed to marrying a Thai man she has much less of a say when it comes to important decisions. Obviously I’m not saying this would be the case for every young Thai couple as that would be generalising as well but the fact remains it is a reality for so many Thai women.

The other thing that I have learnt and this time about myself is that I always seek out the familiar when I am in a foreign place. Familiar things have a soothing and comforting effect on me. I am no stranger to change but that does not always mean I am comfortable with it. Which is why a calm overcame me when I saw my first glimpse of the ocean on my way to Phuket. Having lived in Cape Town and near the coast my entire life I need to know that the ocean is always close by. I feel claustrophobic when I am inland. I also breath a sigh of relief when I see a restaurant or food street vendor that has the Arabic halal sign so I no I don’t need to worry about the food I am eating. In Phuket I saw an abundance of these as well as more Muslim men and women with scarves. Everytime I see one of these cloaked woman I feel that I am not alone or the only Muslim here. A mosque sighting gladdens my heart which is weird because I don’t often go to mosque but I like just knowing it is there.

I’m sure by now most people know that Thailand is the land of smiles but not everyone smiles. The people are are very honest and kind though. When I told Ying the Thai lady at one of my fave restaurants in Phuket that I got ripped off by a taxi driver she apologized on behalf of the scamster. Then there is Mr. Nong who makes an amazing cup of earl grey tea who thanked me for volunteering at Thai schools. I also love how you are able to forget things like sunglasses at a restaurant or coffee shop and a week later you can go back and have it returned to you by the owner. I’m not saying be reckless or careless but the paranoia that is instilled in most South Africans is not needed here.

Let the learning always continue….

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Life, Uncategorized

Faith

I once, not too long ago, lost something precious to me. Something of value that cannot be measured. An unequivocal belief. An unquestioning faith. I raged against God, pleaded with him.

Awash with guilt and shame, I wondered how I could go from having faith in God to not having any. It was one of my darker phases of my life. I doubted his existence. When too many sad things happens in ones life all at once it does not always mean that it will bring you closer to Him. In fact in can pull you further away.

But for a while now and even more so now since moving to Thailand though I have become more serious and constant in my prayers and this has brought me immense comfort and peace of mind. I don’t have all the answers and I don’t need to control every minute of my life. I now know and believe without a shadow of doubt that he has been watching over me all this time, waiting to welcome me back into his arms.

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