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Category Archives: Work

The materialistic mind frame and the secret to being happy

Recently, having received a few pay checks and being back in the swing of things, I’m hating my current mind frame.

When I was packing my bags and seeing how much I was leaving behind, when I was away and saw how little I needed and again when I got back and saw how much I left behind, I vowed that I would never return to my materialistic ways. After being home (and avoiding the blog updates) for 6 months, I’m sad to say that it’s all too easy to get sucked in.

I want / need everything. Everything.

I want / need new work clothes. I want / need a new phone. I want / need, I want / need.

Living in a cold climate, I’ve realized that adding warmer items to my wardrobe is an absolute necessity. As is dressing for the job. I’m lucky that I’ve landed a job that doesn’t have me working from an office from 9-5, that comes with some quiet little perks, and that feels rewarding when I’ve done something that made an impact. I couldn’t have done it without my friends. However, those client meetings wearing the same dress pants I wore as a teacher everyday for a year just doesn’t cut it.

Now that I’m going to be receiving semi-regular pay checks, I need to keep myself in check. I need to remember how little a person actually needs to survive and not go crazy with the shopping sprees. I need to remember what’s important; to save, pay off debt, and travel more. Always travel more. I need to remember that having material things doesn’t actually make me happy. It only adds to the illusion that I’m a contributing part of society, whatever that actually means.

Two articles this morning inspired me. This beautiful article about running towards life and not away from it makes me want to spend NOTHING so that I can be on a plane as soon as 2014 hits, escaping the harsh Canadian winter (oh, so harsh). Then, a friend bringing me back to reality shared this article about the pain required in order to be happy and successful.

Two very different articles, two very different messages, both completely accurate. I’m quoting the first article here though, and it’s something that rung true: “The real secret to life is that you get what you want when you do what you want.”

Yes, travelling and experiencing different cultures makes me incredibly happy, as does the freedom of not being tied down to anything. But in order to travel extensively and still feel fulfilled, I need to endure the “pain” of working hard. Again, I’m incredibly lucky that my work doesn’t feel like work, (especially when it’s mostly in my pajama’s), but to be well-rounded and achieve my goals I need to have both of these things in my life.

SO, while I have many goals, first and foremost my goal for 2014 is to include both of these things in my life simultaneously and find a happy balance.

(And to finally post some catch-up blogs… Sorry!)

Some deep thoughts and life lessons for a Monday morning.

Teaching: a quick overview of the brats that make me happy

K1’s Walking in their lines from their homeroom to my classroom

Now that I’ve been teaching for 2 months, it’s about time to weigh in on the pros and cons of the job.

I feel like I haven’t really had time to think about what I’m doing, let alone reflect on whether or not I’m actually enjoying myself. I’m kept busy, that’s for sure, with sometimes up to six classes in a day and as little as three on others. Some days I come home so exhausted that I can’t even be bothered to go out for dinner and literally scrounge for food in my apartment.

Some of the pros include the adorable, adoring children who behave and participate and genuinely seem to want to learn.

Then there are those kids who come to class, talk, fight, and generally misbehave with their friends. Even they have their cute moments, despite sudden and short urges to wrap my hands around their throats.

I enjoy the lessons, which are simple question and answer patterns taught through games that are sometimes a giant hit (dodgeball… God help me) and sometimes fizzle out before they’ve even begun. Learning how to deliver the lessons has been a hit and miss experiment that I’m still working out.

While I feel like I have a favourite in every class, there are certain levels that I just despise teaching. Kindergarten 1 (aged 3-4) when we first started was usually just a giant gong show of kids crying, peeing and puking. While they still want to cry, sometimes simply rubbing their back or getting them involved in the game or song is enough to make them forget their tears. However, I’ve gotten used to them and now find them too adorable to be angry at. My P1’s have stopped being scared of me, and are warming up to being the babies in the school again, while my P6’s are all on the ball. They know the format of the lesson, they understand what I want to teach them, and they know that if they’re not quiet, they really won’t get to play a game, so threatening (sometimes) actually works with them.

My P5’s, however, all seem to be at an age where they couldn’t give a bigger hoot if I did jumping jacks or ran laps around the room instead of actually taught them a lesson. Also, they don’t seem to actually care about playing games, so short of threatening to kill them and wanting to follow through on it, I haven’t quite figured out how to make them stop fighting / talking / screaming / running wild. Instead they’ll just shout “not fair” as if it’s some kind of joke that I’m actually angry with all of them. It’s almost as much of a gong show as the first month of K1 lessons, without all the bodily fluids. (Unless you count my tears)

There are definitely days when I want to strangle half the children I come across, but the majority of days I just want to sweep them all into my arms in a giant bear hug and never let them go.

I think as time goes on, the kids will be more receptive or I’ll just figure out a way to force it into them, whether or not they realize it. Then again, in every level, I have always had at least one “ah ha” moment when I’ve been trying to explain something and then they just GET it. I forget all about the ones that I wanted to strangle, and I just feel overwhelmingly proud of how smart they are, and that I’ve actually taught them something.

It’s an indescribable feeling that makes all the sweat and tears worth it.

Ass on chair

So after a rather rough start to my year, I’ve decided to make things better for myself, by myself. Well, not necessarily by myself, but with a little help.

I’m taking a night class at Ryerson called Freelancing the Future. I can’t say the name out loud without slowing myself down and adding some wistfulness to my voice. (I also picture that moving star from The More You Know. Remember those commercials?! Epic.)

What I learned from the first class? Sit my ass on a chair and just write. This is where the self-motivation that I’ve been lacking must be banished, also my lack of focus. So starting today, and for now until forever (?!) I am dedicating one hour of my day to writing. Whether it is something for this blog, or a project that I’m working on, or even some random fictional story that I was inspired to write, I’m going to just WRITE.

One thing that I must condition myself to do: not go on Facebook for that hour. One hour of Facebook updates does not a writer make.

Starting a writing group with Leslie and Matt was a great idea… until Matt ditched us for the back woods of somewhere in Northern Ontario to plant trees. It all fell apart from there, and the only thing I have to show from it is a horror story from when I was in Cape Town.

Actually, it was writing that story that got me started thinking more about freelancing. I’ve been so focused on getting a full-time job where I would sit in an office, and have people telling me what to do that I completely forgot about the world where I could still write, but work for myself. This class will hopefully give me the business side of freelancing that will give me some kind of idea as to what I should be doing.

Also, I’m seriously hoping that it will teach me how to sell myself. (*snicker*)

How to market my “brand” is something that I’ve always been clueless about. Even this blog: I think of great ideas of things to write and then I either don’t write them, or write parts of it and then decide against posting it.

Updating this blog has been on my to-do list for months. It’s been on every list that I create, but instead I spend time creating lists of things that I should write about and little to no time actually writing them.


Another challenge for myself – stay more on top of Twitter. Update, for one, and get more involved with the community I follow.

Two challenges for myself in ONE blog post.

Can she do it?
Yes, she can!

Transcribing & Interviews

Thinking about job interview questions is making me truly think about why I’m doing what I’m doing, and how I got into it.

I think that I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. When I was just discovering my favourite songs as a pre-teen I would transcribe the lyrics so that I could sing them without the music. These activities led me to believe I could sing, and even led to auditioning at ESA (Etobicoke School of the Arts). I can’t really sing, and I never went to ESA, but it’s hilarious to remember that I was transcribing audio before I could properly spell.

I’ve kept journals for as long as I can remember. They all have different styles and are all half full. My first ones had the lock and key, which I’ve had to dispose of considering I couldn’t get into them, but really the content was only about how much I hated my brother or sister and how great my best friend was.

I wish I could say that I have the perfect answer for why I chose to study journalism. I feel a lot like in that new episode of Scrubs: Med School (not as good as the regular seasons) where Dr. Cox asks Lucy why she wants to be a doctor and she can’t come up with just one answer because she wants to be a doctor for numerous reasons.

I want to be a journalist because I like learning new things, I like being informed and I like telling people’s stories and helping them learn something new.

Wanting to be a journalist and actually getting experience in the field (or paid)means I have to come off as amazing and smart and lively in an interview…

I’m nervous that I’ll come off as a bumbling idiot. I always wish I was able to quickly think and talk. Thinking and typing just comes more naturally.
(Which is the reason I always lose face-to-face arguments — I could never be a lawyer!)

Alas, it’s time to hit the sack and get some much needed beauty rest before an early, and stressful, morning.

School time all the time

It’s only the fourth post in and already I’m neglecting the blog. School’s keeping me busy!

I’ve been spending my days (and nights) researching and playing around with WordPress and HTML to create the website for Convergence magazine.

I’m not going to share the link yet, but maybe those savvy enough can magically find it.

But really, don’t. I’ve only accomplished changing the background colour and adding the flag – which isn’t even done to my satisfaction yet.

I have so many great ideas of what it should look like, I just need to figure out how to make it work.

The bane of my existence in the next coming weeks may not be the actual website itself, but scanning and making PDF’s of all the past issues of Convergence.

1997 – present.

Considering that Inplex, the printing place on campus, wants to charge almost $1/page to scan and PDF about 16, 50 page magazines we have to do it all on our own.

I have people that can help; I just have to figure out how to delegate roles.

When it’s done it’s going to be completely worth the stress.

I see long hours at school in my future.

The Daily Voice: First day in a Cape Town newspaper

I just finished my first day at the Daily Voice.
I was really only in the office for about 25 minutes before one of the other interns, Venencia(sp?!) took me out on a story.
We went to the township of Wesbank, and I really got to see what I’m getting myself into…
The living conditions there are very poor, and the houses are right next to a cow and goat farm, so there are cows and goats walking the streets near the homes.

The story was about a dead baby, who was suspected to have been killed by the mother (who is only 14 yrs old) but she claimed that she only turned her over for a minute to change her diaper, and when she turned her over again the baby was dead. We talked to the mother, who was obviously in distress, the police and some local people who knew the woman as well as the baby’s father.

The annoying thing about the day is that everyone speaks Afrikaans and I had no idea what was going on. I’m sure that I’ll catch on, but everyone speaks so fast. Luckily, I am able to pick up snippets because there are a lot of words or phrases that are spoken in English.

Hopefully it will get easier, and I’ll feel like less of an observer and actually get started on some wicked stories! I can’t wait!