Thursday, June 26, 2008

More on Work and Careers

I was in a cranky mood earlier today. My journey to work was awful - there was a problem on the trains so I had to stand all the way into Central London resulting in a back ache. I finally got on the tube and it was cramped, hot and smelly. Then I could feel a cold coming on so I had to go and buy some cold remedies because falling sick is the last thing I want right now. I got to the office and could not find a reason to be cheerful even though the sun was shining. I was thinking - I hate this job, I hate the 9 - 5 stuff, I hate commuting, etc. It was just one of those days that seem to start wrong and the clouds don't lift. Okay rant over.

My friend sent me an email saying "In all things give thanks". Initially I read it and pushed it out of my mind. Then I thought about it later and realised that I should give thanks for everything. Life is not always sweet or comfortable. There will be days I would wish I had stayed in bed instead. But God is in control, He is there to comfort me. If only I would reach out for Him. By lunch time I felt better and my mood cleared. I need to learn not to get so stressed by things I can't control.

Anyway I hope you all are having a good week so far. In my last post, I talked about my job and my commitment to stay till August and that's it. Now my boss called me a few days ago and asked me if I could stay in the job until January! It appears the girl I'm covering doesn't feel quite ready to come back to work and I don't blame her. Well I had quite an easy choice to make: and I've decided to decline the offer! It would go against everything I now know, if I stay in the job after August. I've got lots of other things to do and I feel the job is not worth my precious time anymore.

Besides, recently I have been thinking of my long-term financial goals. Like most people, I dream of being financially stable someday without relying on a monthly salary from "the day job". I know that I would probably never get that real financial freedom from my current job. Also, I don't see that happening with any jobs I would be considered suitable for in the current job market. So I have to broaden my scope and look beyond the next paycheck that would only be swallowed by rising expenses. I'm now making some long term plans and I have to work hard to make them come true. It's never too early to start planning for a worry-free retirement!

Last week, I was chatting with a friend of mine and she said she was considering starting a business she could be doing to earn more money while she works on her 9 - 5 job. Seeing as I had been thinking along the same lines, I was interested in the topic so we started talking and making suggestions. We went through a list of options, what could she start doing in her spare time to earn money and maybe turn into a full time career in the near future? We came up with: Photography, Cake baking and decorating, Make-up artist, Hair dressing, Web design, Events organising, Sewing, Designing Shoes and Handbags, Balloon and Flower decorating, Knitwear designer, Basket Weaving (don't laugh!), Personal Shopper, Designing Party Stationery like invitations, RSVP cards and stuff, Massage and Beauty Therapy, Fitness Instructor, Part time Journalist or Columnist, Fashion Stylist, Jewellery Designer, Interior Designer, Printmaking, Painting and Drawing, etc. At the end of the discussion she said she would think about the one that appealed to her the most.

The discussion got me thinking though. That list up there is just the tip of the iceberg, there are so many options out there that many of us haven't explored. How many of us have dreams of starting something or using our creativity but we never get round to it? If you have a passion for something, what's stopping you from pursuing it? Think of the ideas that pop into your mind sometimes and you think "Yeah I could do that!". But you procrastinate and let the idea go cold, and soon you forget about it and carry on with life as usual. But that attitude will not make dreams come true. You have to do something different from the norm, you have to step out of the dream and start working to make it a reality.

I think any of those ideas look promising. If anything appeals to you, I would say go for it! Maybe you would need to take a class to improve your skills. Don't let that be a deterrent. Gradually working towards your goal will give you a sense of fulfilment that you can't get anywhere else. You can do something now, start putting things in place, start your business small. Maybe start with family and close friends and gradually take it to the next level by expanding your customer base. Before you know it, you could have something worth quiting your job for in a few short years. Imagine earning money from your passion and better still, having financial independence and your time to yourself! I think that sounds infinitely better than being chained to a desk, slaving away at a job you hate in the hope of climbing up the slippery career ladder.

I discussed this topic with another friend of mine. She was saying that she would keep her job until she gets married and takes time off to have a baby, then she will think of something else to do. While this is good, I think it's another reason to procrastinate. That way you're still thinking in your mind "I'll do it later" or "Not right now". But will there ever be a perfect time for you to start aiming for your goals? It's better to start earlier rather than later in my opinion. That way you can take the risks and get the mistakes out of the way sooner. Then you can still bounce back and be on your way to a fulfilling and rewarding career.

Enjoy the rest of your week.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Rediscovering Myself

If I'm honest, I have to confess that I didn't want to write this post. Seeing as I'm trying to be honest with myself, and have a record of what God is teaching me at every stage in my life, I have decided to put it in writing and share it. So here goes.

Sometime last year, I felt God was telling me to leave my job, leave the 9 -5, leave everything connected to my previous accounting career behind and focus on becoming a writer. I was so convinced about this that I prayed about it and I got the confirmation again and again. So about the end of June last year, took the plunge! I quit my job and waited for God to show me what to do next. I asked - "What should I start doing now?" Sure enough, God started opening my eyes and inspiring me so that I could start taking small steps on the path that He had called me to walk. Even though I knew I had a lot to learn and a very long road to walk before I started to see my dreams become a reality, I loved the peace that it gave me, knowing I was doing God's will. I travelled to Nigeria in October and at the end of 2007, I asked God what His plans were for me in 2008. At the beginning of the year, I knew He wanted me to focus on my writing and take it seriously. I was all geared up to do just that when I came back to England in January.

Then I got an email from my former boss asking me if I wanted to take my job back for six months while the girl that replaced me takes her maternity leave. I mentioned it on this blog and I was wondering if it was a good idea to take the job back, knowing it would distract me from what I was supposed to be doing. I prayed about it and waited for God to say yes or no, but I didn't hear anything and I had to get back to my boss in a week. I thought of all the reasons why I should or shouldn't go back to work and I justified it to myself that since it was only six months, it shouldn't be a big deal, and the money would come in handy while I do try to do my writing during my spare time. So I did not "trust in the Lord with all my heart" as Proverbs 3 v 5 says, instead I "leaned on my own understanding", so I said yes and went for it.

Big mistake. It wasn't long before I realised that I had made the wrong move. After a month back at work, I was bored with the job, angry with myself, frustrated with the stress, and tired of the commuting. Then to make matters worse, I was falling behind on the writing I was supposed to be doing in my spare time. Every time someone asked me "how's your writing going?" I always felt awful (thanks Believer, Mimi, GNG, Vera and Jaycee, lol) because I knew I wasn't as focused on it like I should have been. But it was too late by then because I had committed to stay in the job until August.
Then I was too proud to admit to God that I had made a mess and ask for forgiveness. Instead I grew colder and colder because I blamed Him for not answering me promptly when I asked if I should take my job back. Silly of me, I know. But I'm so grateful that God is a loving and forgiving Father who is merciful enough to overlook my mistakes, faults, shortcomings, what-not and draw me back to Him. Two weeks ago, I was in church on Sunday with a sullen attitude, when I was hit right in the face with a message titled "Listening to God". Suddenly I heard it loud and clear as if God was saying to me: "You silly girl, you should have listened to what I told you at the beginning of the year before you went off and did your own thing. Now, see how unhappy you are". I was hooked for the rest of the service. Afterwards, I went to meet the speaker to get the poem she read out during her sermon. She told me that God told her when she was preparing her message notes that she should print a spare copy of the poem because somebody would be needing it. I was so humbled when I left church that afternoon. I knew then what I had to do, so I went back to God and asked Him to forgive me and help me make things right again. All through that week, I had the poem on my table and I read it every day. And every time I saw it, the message sank into my head again: listen to God before you take any big step.

So I've made a mistake and learnt a lot of lessons. One of them is that nothing, absolutely nothing is worth straying out of God's will for. I've learnt that it's wise to postpone a difficult decision until I'm absolutely sure of what God says. I've learnt that I need to focus on what God has called me to do and not get distracted by other things that look tempting. I'm learning to be patient and work according to God's time-table and not mine. And I've learnt that even when I've messed up big time, God is always willing to give me a second chance to make things right again.

I thought I should share the poem too, because I'm sure it will bless somebody who needs to read it.

The Father's Voice

Listen my child,
Beyond the noise of other voices,
Other pressures,
Beyond your conscience, your knowledge
Listen for my voice.

The shepherd's voice pierces the babble,
And can be heard
But it can also be missed
By the attentive ear
Listen for my voice

My voice reminds you of my presence,
My love.
It helps guard you
From distractions from my way
Listen for my voice

The practice
Of listening for my voice
Will help keep you true to me
Focused upon me
Listen for my voice

And sometimes what you hear
Will astound you
But you will recognise the Truth
Because you know my voice
Listen to my voice.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Orange Prize: Winners Announced

Here's an update from the previous post:

Rose Tremain was announced as the winner of the 2008 Orange Prize for her novel "The Road Home". It's a story of Lev, an immigrant from Eastern Europe, who travels to Britain to seek work. He is grieving the passing of his wife, while he leaves his land and everything to come to a new strange land. He wants to get a good job so that he can send money back home to support his mother and daughter.

Joanna Kavenna was awarded the Orange Broadband Award for New Writers for her book "Inglorious" which is about a character, Rosa who goes through a break down after the death of her mother. She quits her good job, her boyfriend breaks up with her and gets engaged to her friend, her debts begin to pile up and her bank is not helping matters.

I was at the readings for both awards and I actually bought the book "Inglorious" afterwards. I've started reading it and I'm intrigued to see what happens to the character as the story unfolds. I'll probably buy "The Road Home" as well because it sounds interesting. Mainly because I want to see how the writer portrayed English people through the eyes of an immigrant.

Hope you all had a great weekend and are looking forward to a wonderful week!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Orange Broadband Prize 2008

The Orange Prize celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in international women’s writing. As we all know, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie won the prize last year and brought a lot of recognition to Nigeria and Nigerian writers. The events for 2008 are upon us and this evening, I attended the readings of the books shortlisted. This year's entries are quite different from last year's but no less interesting. I enjoyed listening to the writers reading out their work and I'm finding it hard to judge which one will go on to become the eventual winner. The shortlisted writers are as follows:

Nancy Huston - Fault Lines more

Sadie Jones - The Outcast more

Charlotte Mendelson - When We Were Bad more

Heather O’Neill - Lullabies for Little Criminals more

Rose Tremain - The Road Home more

Patricia Wood - Lottery more

For more information, visit the Orange Prize website

I plan to attend the further discussions with the authors tomorrow evening, then I'll decide which of the books I'm going to buy. Hopefully I'll pick the winner! Let me know what you think about the books and the authors.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Motorbike Training, Amsterdam

Hey bloggers and readers! Hope your week went well and you are having a really cool weekend. First of all, I want to send a big shout-out to my little sister who had a birthday recently. She's now a proper big girl and I'm so proud of the young lady she has become. I'm too overwhelmed with emotions to write an epistle about her, but she knows how I feel. Love you loads darling!

I've had a really great time in the last few days. I took the whole of last week off work. It was a huge relief not to be at a desk in the office all day, and coming home tired and grumpy in the evenings. I wanted to make the most of it, because hubby had a week off as well so we put our days into good use. Last Monday, hubby and I went to try our hands at motorbiking. I have always wanted a scooter or a motorbike (just for the something fun and different factor) and I had been bugging him to get me a scooter for a long time. So he finally agreed and then we found out that we needed to do some training before we would be allowed to get on the road. I thought it would be a breeze, by my, was I surprised. We got to the training centre and I spent the whole day just learning to balance on the bike properly, starting and stopping safely and stuff. Finally when I was given the chance to ride around the track, needless to say, I fell off a few times! It was still great fun though and I intend to continue practicing until I can ride a motorbike perfectly. However long that may be.

The rest of my week went great too. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I just chilled and lazed around. And then on Thursday, hubby and I popped out again for a short city break. This time we went to Amsterdam, a lovely city famous for its canals, bridges, cycling, friendly Dutch people and that district. We were there for three days and we had a blast. Being there has made me even more determined to learn a few European languages, so that is going up on my to-do list. I think I now prefer Amsterdam to Bruge or Brussels, but I'll make a few more trips before I decide on my favourite European city.

Here are some photos of Amsterdam:

Next time I get a chance to visit Holland, I'll try to see Rotterdam and The Hague as well. But for now, it's back to work for me and I'm so not looking forward to it. But I've got a lot of interesting things lined up for June so it should be a great month. Hope you have a lovely June too!
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