Category Archives: Life

Opinions about life

Work, work, work

“Just because someone doesn’t see your worth, it doesn’t lessen your value.”

I heard this quote the other day and it really rang true for me.

I have always been a hard worker, hate sitting in the office doing nothing and will tackle just about any task.

But just because you are a hard worker, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will get the promotion. Often lazy people who do nothing, but just know who to network with, are the ones that seem to get ahead. Maybe I am the one doing it all wrong?

I also don’t need recognition for my hard work, much preferring to do the behind the scenes work and have everything run so smoothly that it appears seamless.

But by being this way, I run the risk of others taking credit for my work. And by making it look easy, others don’t realise just how much work has gone into it and see my worth.

When hard work is not valued, it can lead to demotivation and mystification. Sometimes I really don’t understand why some people get away with things that I would be fired for.

For me, I guess that hard work has to be it’s own reward because I couldn’t adjust my personal standards anyway. Does this earn me respect in the short term? Perhaps not.

But in the long run, I think I am better off. I can see the tangible results of my hard work and feel like I have achieved something at the end of the day. Perhaps not the smartest move, but the happiest for me.

So maybe my worth won’t be recognised everywhere, but when the right people see my value, then their value rises too. And I would much rather be around people who share the same values. That’s just human nature right?

It’s why we choose the partners that we do, have the parents that we have and raise our children to be a certain way.

And you can bet that I will be teaching my daughter the value of hard work, so that that the right people can see her worth, and she has the option to stand on her own two feet whenever she needs to.

Related posts: Power Plays, To Belong, New Beginnings, Pride vs The Fall, Dreams vs Reality

Old Skool vs New Skool

In the office there are old skool workers and new skool workers. Those that have a methodical, often longer way of working at things with great attention to detail; and those that work creatively, quickly, but not perfectly.

And it got me thinking about other old skool versus new skool ways of doing things. And whose to say which way is best?

Take bus tickets for example. You used to be able to pay the driver with actual money to get on the bus. Then we moved to pre paid paper tickets and now we have automatic electronic plastic tickets. Easier and quicker, yes, but much less personal as you don’t even have to speak to the bus driver anymore.

That’s even if you are listening to the outside world, as you might have your earphones on listening to music on your phone that you are live streaming from the internet. No more records, CD’s, MP3 players or even iPods anymore. More portable, but less tangible. I secretly still love buying a CD and popping it on the shelf.

And what gives you that capability to do all that live music listening- your smart phone with internet of course. No more dial phone, home phone, car phones or even mobile phones anymore. I must admit that I love my smart phone and having everything available 24/7, but I also enjoy switching it off and leaving it at home when I go on holiday.

If you are driving and don’t know how to get where you are going, talking Google maps will get you there. No more asking directions, Gregory’s books, maps or even static maps on your smart phone anymore. But there was that time that Google maps sent me down a dead end street and I had to find my own way out in an area I was completely unfamiliar with proving that even technology isn’t perfect.

Socialising and Dating will also never be the same. Forget the old skool way of meeting through friends, at a party, on the street or even at a bar. Everything from a film buddy to a husband can be found online these days. Sure it’s great to know up front what people are looking for, but it also kinda takes the mystery/fun/spark out of it doesn’t it?

The world of traveling has also changed. It takes less time to get to places and if you are in a new skool place to you, chances are that it is old skool to someone else. No one uses guide books, they use ebooks. Blog advice has replaced the advice of locals. Sometimes I find myself writing about a hidden treasure and I almost don’t want people to go so that it remains old skool.

And I still love taking my real Lonely Planet guide book with me and asking a local for their opinion on what I have read. After all, we can’t get free live streaming internet on our smart phones with Google maps everywhere right? And that’s why I love to travel in the first place- to get off the grid, feel something and discover the new skool experience in the old skool.

Related posts: Real Friends vs Digital Friends, Traveller vs Tourist,  Reinvention, Universal vs Personal, What’s in a number?, By special request…

Power Plays

The office sometimes seems like a high school playground with all the clicks, bullying and popularity contests replaced with power plays, bitching and favoritism.

I hate to be a woman who says it, and I am sure I am not the first to, but sometimes women in power are the worst of all.

I recently went to a seminar that basically surmised that women have the same issues workforce flexibility as they did years ago as it and that we need to challenge ideas about work to change the system.

This is hardly going to happen when we are too busy trashing each other and watching our backs to support each other.

A level playing field requires accountability and trust. Two things that can’t happen if you are too scared to make a decision in case the woman next to you pulls you apart or drops you in it.

The same seminar stated that the office is at least 10 years behind society and the social norms of women haven’t shifted.

Women are the primary carers, a title I was shocked to see required my acceptance of if we wanted to claim parental benefits. Sure, my husband could just as easily have been the primary carer, but our agreement was always that the one who was earning the least would be the one to stay at home- it just makes fiscal sense.

But how are women ever going to earn more than men when we are trying to compete with the boys club, fit into a limited window of opportunity and deal with the fact that we are discriminated against in interviews?

Hey, I get it, if I was an employer and was presented with two equally qualified candidates in their late 20’s- one male, one female- I’m sure I would make the same choice too. The assumption is that as a woman you will leave as some point soon to have kids, but this assumption is not always correct.

What about those that don’t end up having children or can’t have them?

Sure women don’t help themselves with the bitching, the moaning and the tears, but not all women are manipulative like that. There are those of us who don’t want children, want to earn an honest living, stop wasting time with all the bull shite and just get the job done.

My favourite take out from the seminar was that men have an important role as a co-parent. Only when you communicate about and share responsibility for the raising of the kids can true work equality be achieved.

So maybe the key is to find a supportive partner and then all the rest will fall into place?

Related posts: To Belong, Having it all?, New Beginnings

 

Small town vs Big city

Small towns are cute, quirky and green. They are safe, comforting and friendly.

Everyone seems to know of one another and celebrate the same things in the same environment.

But this means that small towns can also be gossipy, stifling and routine.

Big cities are different, fun and challenging. They are tall, concrete and filled with endless possibilities.

They take you out of your comfort zone into a sometimes overwhelming place where you can make new friends and have new experiences every day.

But this means that big cities can also be fickle, lonely and expensive.

I grew up in a small town, and whilst I appreciate it was a nice little place to grow up, I think I was always a big city girl at heart.

Being an avid traveller doesn’t always mean you are necessarily a big city person, although it probably helps. Sometimes it’s the small towns that really show you what a place is like and who the people really are.

But I am a big city person and just the thought of going to a global city like London or New York gets me excited. Big cities are also big enough that they contain many smaller places to explore.

Being in a big city that you are familiar with gives you a sense of achievement and conquest, especially when you can navigate to your favourite places without a map.

But big cities are so big, that even in my home city of Sydney I often need to whip out Google maps to find out where that new restaurant is.

Small towns have their place and perhaps I wouldn’t be who I am today, or get that big city buzz as much, if I hadn’t grown up in a small town.

I still enjoy visiting my hometown of Berry, all the memories I have there and I am looking forward to taking my daughter to my birth town of Weymouth hoping that she can see what I see.

But I also can’t wait to take her to Central Park or a show at the West End; to see what she makes of the big hills of San Francisco or the mountains of Vancouver.

I wonder if she will be a big city girl with small town values like me, or just be a sophisticated city chick with no time for small town matters. I guess only time will tell…

Related posts: Sydney vs Melbourne, It’s an English Thing, Cocktail hour in Sydneytown, Home is where you make it, Travel Rememberings

It’s a South of America Thing

I’m not going to pretend that I know everything about South America. Having only been to Argentina, I know I have only scratched the surface. Although I only experienced Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls, it left me with a strong idea of the place and a desire to go back and explore more of the country.

I remember dog walkers, steak and potatoes and the Obelisk on Avenida 9 Julio in Buenos Aires. Drinks that were too strong, underwear that was too skimpy and streets that were too long. Real cowboys, dancing the tango, the colour of La Boca and visiting Evita’s grave.

Iguazu Falls were the widest, reddest and most naturally beautiful waterfalls I had ever seen. You can’t help but be impressed.

There are many more places I must return to see in South America. The the wildlife of Patagonia, the beaches of Brazil and the national parks of Chile. Manchu Picchu of course, the legendary Amazon and Angel Falls in Venuzuela. Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, the Galápagos Islands in Equador and the Cartagena coast in Columbia.

Now, Mexico, I feel I know a bit more about. I have explored ruins in the jungle, on the desert plain and by the beach. I’ve swum in a cenote, eaten a cactus salad and swung on a swing in a bar.

I’ve seen lots of main plaza’s with cathedral, government palace and town hall. I’ve experienced the heat of the day, the cold of the buses and the feel of a freshly made tortilla. I’ve seen protestors, markets and a Luche Libre wresting show in one of the biggest cities in the world.

I’ve climbed forts, snorkelled next to 500 sunken statues and been amazed by how blue water can be. I’ve sampled the local mescal as well as traditional arts and crafts. I’ve learned what real guacamole and fish tacos taste like.

I want to go back to see the beaches of Jalisco, the waterfalls in Chiapas and the rock formations of the Marieta Islands. I would love to return to Oaxaca, the island of women and the ruins of Teotihuacán. I know I saw a lot, but there is always more to see.

And we never did make it to Guatemala, Belize or Costa Rica….

Related posts: Isla Mujeres and Cancun, 2011, Oaxaca, 2011, Mexico City, 2011, Argentina, 2005, Buenos Aires, 2005

To Belong

There’s nothing quite like that sense of belonging. Being part of company, a team and an event tribe. Believing in the organisation’s mission and being connected to the people around you.

When you believe in a company and what they stand for, it’s so much easier to understand the reasons decisions are made and put up with the stuff you don’t like about a job. You have a unified goal and a reason to keep going.

Being part of a team of people is the best too. Sure it’s about the company and the job, but at the end of the day it’s also about the people. I am sure we’ve all stayed too long in crappy jobs because the people were super nice. I mean you spend 8 hours a day with these people, so it’s a lot easier if you like them!

It’s the in jokes, the fact that someone cares if you don’t show up in the morning, the camaraderie and the shared enemies. It’s what draws people together and keeps the day-to-day activities interesting.

Working on an event with work colleagues have been some of my most enjoyable times as being part of a team. You all band together to solve on the ground problems and spend social evenings together in a more relaxed setting. It’s when you really bond with people, learn all their secrets and see a different side to their personality with the change of environment.

Sometimes, if you are lucky, you end up in a job you love, for a company you like with lifelong friends. I myself am yet to find the holy trinity, but it’s early days yet, considering that I am probably only halfway through my career.

For some, working for another company doesn’t work at all and they are much better off working for themselves. They don’t need that personal contact. Or do they? I think we all need to feel connected. Not all of the time perhaps, but sometimes.

Which is why suppliers are so great. They give you that sense of belonging and working towards a common goal without having to be in your face with their annoying habits all the time. Also, they have to be nicer to you than co-workers.

For me, when I loose respect for the boss, wether it be my immediate manager or the CEO, that’s the begging of the end. Everything flows from the top and the ripple effect causes me to fall back into old habits, begin to disengage from the company, stop caring about the people politics and start looking at Seek online.

And that’s when the true test of who people really are begins.

Related posts: Who are you?, Having it all?, Reinvention, New Beginnings, Pride vs The Fall, Dreams vs Reality

Real friends vs Digital friends

Real friends are great. They are there for you no matter what, in good times and bad; and all those sticky times in between. They’ve known you forever or are your new best friend. You like doing the same things together and planning for the future.

But life gets busy, people have kids or move away. You may be travelling for work and the time left for real friends becomes that 5 minutes at the end of the day before you collapse into a heap.

So what do you do?

You replace them with online friends! Online friends are great. They are there any time of the day and night and are from all over the world. They don’t care if you talk endlessly about travel, become opinionated or not answer their messages for a week.

Of course there is a danger in replacing real friends with online friends. They could not be who they say they are, they can still be mean and they may even defriend or block you. You also may never meet them in person.

And that’s great if you want to live in cyber space like most of Gen Y. And what about Millennials? Do they even know how to talk to people in real life anymore?

Digital friends can’t provide counselling on past and present issues as they are only hearing your side of the story. They can’t share a glass of wine and a meal with you or give you a real hug.

As a Gen X’er on the cusp of Y, I was very hesitant about social media. I still won’t share very personal pictures with the public. But in the age of digital transformation, does the Gen X attitude even matter anymore? It’s get on the digital train or get left behind these days.

So, no, I won’t be replacing my real friends with online friends anytime soon. But my real friends can take comfort in the fact that they won’t have to listen to my diatribe of travel obsession as I have some digital friends to ease the burden.

Related posts: Who are you?, Having it all?, Reinvention, Universal vs Personal,  Friendship: Great Expectations?

It’s an Asia Thing

My first foray into Asia was to India. I marvelled at the temples of Tamil Nadu, spent Christmas in KodaiKanal and saw the sunset at Cape Cormorin. There was a visit to a strange circus in Kerala, a boat trip in Cochin and lots of ice cream in Goa. We went to markets, met Mormons, climbed Cape Rama Fort and left through the gateway to India in Bombay.

Next was a school trip to Indonesia where we were educated in all the traditional arts and crafts from batik to silver making. We travelled through Lombok, Bali, Java, Sumatra and Kalimantan. The highlights were the vast Borobudur temple and the Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre.

On the way home we went through Sentosa Island in Singapore. There have been many trips to the land of the Merlion since then to explore the food in Chinatown, the shops on Orchard Rd and visit friends, now expats of the city.

Close by is my favourite Asian destination of Malaysia. The fabulous food halls in Malacca, the life of Penang and the beautiful islands of course. So far I have visited Pulau Kapas, Pulau Pangkor and Pulau Tioman twice. Each island is special and interesting in its own way for the monkey in a hammock, the snorkelling or the sunsets.

The first time I went to Bangkok in Thailand I thought it was a big dirty Asian city. I thought Phuket was incredibly spoilt by tourism and I was sure I would never return. How wrong I was, as the island of Koh Lanta was to become the special place where I became engaged and later married. The little town of Ban Saladan and the beach at Kaw Kwang will forever have a piece of my heart.

Vietnam was a pleasant surprise, largely untouched by the greed of making a buck when I went there. I loved Hanoi, the city built around Haan Kim Lake and was fascinated by the other side of history as the story of Ho Chi Min unfolded before me. Halong Bay was undoubtedly beautiful and the little French colonial hill village of Tam Dao was a rare treasure.

When you think of places to go in Asia, South Korea is probably not at top of mind. However, I found I very much enjoyed discovering the two sides of Seoul. One deep in the traditions of markets, gates and palaces; and the other slightly crazy side of shopping centres, theme parks and off beat fashion.

I wish I had visited Hong Kong before the English handed it back to the locals, just to see how much it had changed. The modern world could clearly be seen here, but there were still the remnants of old. Like the Star Ferry and the fact that the city still had many large green spaces that had not yet been bulldozed by development. The smog of Victoria Peak reminded me that it was still Asia, but back on the ground there was always a drink in Soho to cool you down.

Yes, Asia can be hot, dirty and tiring; but it is also exciting, enticing and an assault to the senses. Riding in tuk tuks, bargaining with the friendly locals and appreciating the simple things in life. Asia has a lot to teach us and I sincerely hope that modernisation doesn’t engulf it to the point where it can no longer be recognised for the glorious cultural explosion it is.

Related posts: It’s a Sri Lankan Thing, Destination Thailand, 2010, Thailand, 2009, South Korea, 2008, Malaysia, 2006, Vietnam, 2003, Thailand, 2002, Sri Lanka, 1998, Sri Lanka and Malaysia, 1994, Indonesia and Singapore, 1994, England, Singapore and Malaysia, 1988, India, 1987- 1998, Part 2: The Journey North, India 1987- 1988, Part 1: The Road South

Who are you?

How much do you ever really know someone? You can think that you know someone and then they turn out not to be what you thought they were at all. It’s when you find out that they were deliberately hiding their real self from you that you get a little mystified.

Perhaps you are only seeing one face of their multiple personality. I’m a pretty honest and open person myself, but sure, I may act a little differently around work colleagues than I do with my bestie.

It wasn’t always this way, but experience has taught me that it is often not wise to be yourself around certain people that may choose to use this against you. Perhaps this is a wisdom that comes with a little age?

Others seem to be themselves all the time no matter who they are with. Either they don’t know or don’t care what others think and it doesn’t bother them.

I am like this to a certain degree, but also recognise that we still live in a society of people where others may get hurt if you are 100% honest all the time. There’s no harm in a little sugar coating it a little every now and then and modifying your behaviour. Or is there?

You might think you know what it’s like to be in somebody’s shoes, but you can never really know. You can empathise, but you didn’t go through their life experiences and you are not in their head, so you can never really know what it’s like to be them.

You can’t know what it was like to grow up in a particular home unless you were there, and even then you experience of and reaction to it may be different. You may think you know what your husband is thinking (and sometimes you do), but how can you really ever know?

The other day I judged someone I had just met on my first impressions of them, which turned out to be wrong. I guess everyone does this sometimes.

What I forgot was that this was just a small part of who this person was that I was seeing. It was the part they chose to show me, perhaps in nervousness. I think I sensed that they were not being their real self and I didn’t like that.

In reality it takes time to get to know someone, so it was a useful reminder to not immediately judge. After all, aren’t we all weird in our own uniqueness?

Related post: I’m happy for you, Is it just me?, The seven year itch, Relationships: my five (per)cents worth

Traveller vs Tourist

I really don’t like the debate between traveller vs tourist. Unless you live in a country, you are a tourist. And what’s so wrong with being a tourist anyway?

I love being a tourist in my own city. Exploring the places I love, seeing them through new eyes and discovering unknown places. It’s all in good fun. Especially if you are showing some other tourists around your city and get to feel that pride at living in such a beautiful and/or interesting place.

I guess the perceived difference between a traveller and a tourist is that a tourist just goes to see the main sites, take a few photos and tick it off their bucket list. I think we have all been a little guilty of that at some point.

What I have realised is that the more you build up a particular tourist attraction in your mind, the more disappointed you are likely to be; and the real thing that you love or remember about a trip are the off the radar places or the little details like the great sandwich you ate when you got there.

And, oh- the bucket list- another hated term. Life is not a list of things to do, it’s about experiences; and P.S if it is about lists, you will never finish them. The number of places I want to see just gets longer every year, so I know I won’t get to them all, but I’m ok with that.

In the naiveity of youth, I once told an older and wiser man than I that I wanted to visit every country in the world. He told me that he was 50 and hadn’t even seen a quarter of them and he travelled a lot!

I also can’t stand people who count countries. I could tell you my number, and really it’s pretty high, but it’s not a competition. And it’s really not about the quantity, but the quality.

I have been to a hotel near the airport in Finland for 8 hours between connecting flights, but do I count that as seeing the country- definitely not. I’ve been to most of the capitals in Italy, but does that mean I know anything about what it’s like to live in the Tuscan countryside- no way.

I feel like I’m a bit opinionated with this post today, but sometimes you need to be. It doesn’t matter where you travel, or how far from home you venture; it doesn’t even matter if you call yourself a traveller or a tourist- as long as you do it. But only if you want to.

I am the first person to say, I love to travel, but that’s my priority. Everyone has different priorities of what they want to spend their money on and there is nothing wrong with that- it’s your choice.

So wether you’re a traveller, or a tourist, or neither, it really doesn’t matter. It’s a moot point.

Related posts: Sydney vs Melbourne, Australia vs New Zealand, Memory, Universal vs Personal, People vs Place