Zola – The Ladies’ Paradise. It Stings still

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “That Stings!.”

Just finished reading “The Ladies’ Paradise” and as often with Zola what stood out was the description of pain, fear and everyday indignation, that defined the existence of the poor working masses in 19th century France.

In some ways it made me think how bad things were and how far we have come. For example, pensions, social security like unemployment benefits, national health service, medical and maternity benefits, relative job security, some sort of gender equality and the ability to live with a great degree of dignity. Hard to imagine life without these basic necessities which we take for granted and how it took humanity such a long time to get here. True, not all parts of the world are there yet. So we can’t claim this victory just yet.

What is also fascinating is that even in the 21st century, conditions in many parts of the world are still very similar to the world described in the book, even though the two maybe thousands of miles and two hundred years apart from each other.

There are still many parts of the world with no benefits or social safety net for its citizens, where men (and women) still expect women to bow to their wishes, where regular access to food and shelter for a lot of people is a luxury, where life for many is good if it is not on the street and is lived in a constant fear of ending up on the street, where the value of a person is determined by their income, where this perceived value determines how the person gets treated by others, where the most familiar emotion is probably fear or despair, where having morals or virtues is a luxury of the rich or the folly of the thick.

How much longer will it take before we get to a point where everyone can expect to live in peace and dignity no matter their birth or place in society.

There is so much more I wish to write about it that I would have to say,

To be continued………

Talking about work

I was thinking what I could and should write about when I realized I spend a lot of time thinking and talking about work, the workplace, the different people and personalities at work, the effect it has on me as a person and how I struggle to deal with it.

So much of our lives and our mental and emotional energy is spent at work that it is impossible to live without talking about it even if just a little bit.

For me work has been both deeply satisfying and deeply frustrating over the years – depending on which team and more importantly which boss I worked under.

I have had the privilege of working with some amazing individuals who have inspired awe and respect in me. They have shown me how much fun work can be and that it can be something you look forward to.

I have also had the misfortune to have worked with individuals so low a sample of human beings that the thought of them makes me shiver in revulsion. Working with me taught me how much my physical and mental health can be affected by being around such people and how I urgently I need to learn to look after me.

So I am going to take sometime to document some of my adventures and misadventures in the big bad world of work. And I would love to hear other thoughts on experiences at work (good, bad, neutral) and the best ways of dealing with them.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and insights. I will be keen to hear.

Procrastination

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Breakdown.”

I am sure I am not the only one to suffer from the dreadful habit, or more appropriately – dreadful disease, of procrastination.

I spend ages thinking about the fact that I need to make the time for doing a small thing because I think it will require concentration and I need to get it just right.

What happens, as you can probably guess, is that I struggle to make time being too busy piling things on my to-do list for the day when I will have the time and space to “concentrate” on them.

What I should be doing is just rattling through things as best and as quick I can without worrying about getting them right or perfect. No matter how long I take, hardly anything is ever perfect and even if it is, it turns out the perfection did not really matter all that much anyway. All that was needed was to get the job done as quickly as possible and to an acceptable standard.

It is beginning to sound more and more like maybe the habit I need to break is seeking perfection, more than procrastination.

The up side of it is that it does allow me to time to think, reflect and modify my approach. To be honest, working closely with a more experienced colleague for last couple of years made me realize the value of that time to think and reflect.

My experienced colleague L can certainly never be accused of procrastination, being a very obvious “doer”. The down side of that as I found out is, things tend to get done the same way they always have been, allowing very little room for thinking or trying any new creative solutions/approaches to a problem.

Whilst she was a fantastic colleague in many ways, I have to say I did not find her approach of work very satisfying as it stifled creativity, by ranking action higher than idea.

Hmmm so come to think of it there maybe some benefits to my procrastination afterall. I just need to find a better balance.

Should have told my boss that his blue eyed boy has been taking credit for my work!!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Break the Silence.”

I have to say the occasion was not recent. It has been roughly 2 years but I am writing about it as it keeps coming back to me and I still despair over the fact that I did not say what I should have said and the way I should have said.

What I did say to my boss when a colleague (aka blue eyed bastard!) I had agreed to handover a project to on a certain date quickly threw me out of the picture (despite what was agreed) in time to take credit for the fantastic idea I had implemented on the project.

Instead of simply saying – “I felt a bit strange and I am not sure why he got the project transferred to his name and informed everyone when we had agreed on a date towards the end of the month.” To which my boss gave the casual reply – “Oh I am sure it is just a matter of a quick conversation with the person concerned”.

I should have said – “Andrew broke the agreement of the project handover date and sidelined me from the project. He took credit for my idea and the work I was doing which was just coming to fruition. This is unfair and needs to be dealt with to avoid a repeat of similar behaviour in the future.”

In my mind I also want to add a few choice words, like the backstabbing bastard, but probably best to leave them out.

Not every silence is meant to be broken.

Finding friendship and companionship

I thought about writing this post after meeting couple of friends for dinner and drinks on Wednesday evening. I got back so late that there was not time enough to reflect and write.

But it did get me thinking about the topic. What I find especially interesting is observing how people make friends, what it means to them to have a friend and how their sense of self comes into play in reaching out to people and making friends.

Some people tend to be confident and out there and they make friends easily wherever they maybe. For other quieter sorts it can be a slower process.

But sometimes behind the easy friend making of the very confident types can be a desire to be liked and admired by more and new people, a need for external validation. The more value they place on being “liked” can look like a reflection of the lack of value they place on themselves.

It is a very tough and confusing world. We are constantly being bombarded with images of perfect people and perfect lives whether it is on Facebook, TV or magazines.

It makes it so easy to lose your sense of self and self-worth.

We all need reminders of what is important and what is not.

Some people though do seem to be wising up to the realization that the number of facebook friends matters very little if you have friends you can count on and share your joys and sorrows with.

I think it very difficult but important to take the time to make friends with your own self, understanding and being kind to your self, becoming familiar with your multitude of emotions as a priority. Then seek to forge connections that enrich, empower and embolden you even more. I will write more at some point about the need to be selective when looking to form these connections and making friends. Remember, you can have more acquaintances than friends.

Lastly, just want to finish up by saying there is more than one way of doing things and there is no single right or wrong way. But we all need reminders on what matters and what does not.

Hello world!

This is my first post……again!

Giving it another attempt as previous ones did not go through as hoped but giving at another shot as desperately wanted to write, to let the words fall on paper, hoping it would help create some space in my over crowded head.

Hopefully third time will turn out better than the first and second times.

So here we go….

And as the name suggests I think there will be some shadows of past experiences and some reflections with the benefit of hindsight.