How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?

​Owning a pet may not be as easy as it seems. Beneath all the fluffiness, these little fur balls (or not) require a lot of our time and attention.

I’ve never seen myself as one who would own a pet for the simple fact that I lack the time. I leave the house bright and early and come home just around bedtime. And by the time I get home, I’m almost always too worn out to do anything else than shower and hop into bed. For that reason, I came to a conclusion that I do not want to own a pet because I did not want to be bound by the responsibilities that came with owning a one.

I’ve seen countless people , merely fascinated with the cuteness of a puppy and the idea of owning one, buy or adopt them only to realise that they could not handle the responsibilities that came with the pet. And then, these people, as if the little lives of animals do not matter, gather that it is OKAY to set their pet free on the streets and leave them to fend for themselves.

NO, IT IS NOT OKAY.

It is not okay, when a dog which had been kept within a gated compound for years, suddenly be let free to roam the streets. Dogs are very affectionate animals, and their first instinct will almost always be to find their way back home. However, never being out on its own before, the poor guy may not know its way back. And in his search for his owner, he may stray even further away from home and come in contact with other stray dogs. 

Thus, the attacking and fighting begins, and the poor dog who has only known his way around the house compound all these years, has to fight his way through albeit not knowing how to. It’s his lucky day though. He narrowly escapes and continues to walk on in search of his home, but starts to feel weak and tired, probably because he hasn’t had anything to eat in 3 days. Before this, food was brought to him. There was never a need to look or hunt for food or water. It was always there. Now he needs some water to cool down in the heat, but doesn’t know that he can drink from the nearby drain. 

He walks on and passes a food stall. The familiar smell of roasted chicken is almost too tempting as he turns in and starts wandering around the tables, in hopes that someone will throw him a bone or two. Some look at him in disgust, because of the wounds on his body. A little child starts screaming in fear. She doesn’t want the dog near her. Her dad stands up and kicks the dog and shouts “Get lost!” 

I turn around to see a dog whimpering from fear. Seems like a good breed, but the look in its eyes tells a story of dispiritedness. I wonder where it came from. It must have had a home before this. In an instant, I feel slightly infuriated at such harebrained people, who had the decency to adopt a pet only to throw it back again into a life worst off than the one it had back at the shelter or pet shop! 

And this is why, every time I see someone I know having thoughts of owning a pet, I ask them if they are positively confident of handling the responsibilities that comes with a pet. Very often they stop to think twice, or even thrice.

Just because I used a pet dog as an example here, does not mean it doesn’t apply to other animals. All animal lives matter, regardless of whether they are wild or tame, and we should all take a little responsibility for the decisions we make. If we decide to own a pet, then we MUST be responsible enough to care for it. Never, in a spur-of-the-moment have some fancy idea of owning a pet and within a few months decide that you are not cut out for it. If, unfortunately you come to the realization that you are really incapable of caring for it, at least have the decency to look for a better home for it. You owe it that much, because you took it away from the home it had before you.

How I Unintentionally Got Involved in Office Politics

Office Politics

  • Comic page extracted from http://www.stbeals.com/office-pool-algae/2014/2/office-politics

 

My mum had always warned me, that office politics can be very detrimental. It’s a double-edged sword. If you play it right, you can exterminate just about anyone you want to. But if you’re not careful enough, you might find yourself on the losing end. I never bothered much about what she said, and never understood what it was like until I unknowingly became involved in a situation that led to a co-worker being fired.

The organization which I was working for had strict rules against office politics. Staff were advised not to get involved in any situation which might put themselves or colleagues in a difficult position, including whistle blowing. We were encouraged to speak directly to a person if we had any disagreement or dissatisfaction towards that person’s actions or words. I felt safe and protected in that environment.

However, I was still warned by my manager that there will be co-workers who would poke fire and try to create friction between one another. I needed to know how to avoid or push them away if they ever approached me to start a conflict about another co-worker.

 

How did it start?

About half a year after I started working, there was a slight situation between two co-workers and my manager. One co-worker turned to me to seek consolation. She confided in me and told me why she was so upset and bothered by the whole situation. I didn’t want to get involved further so I just listened as she poured her heart out and cried. I felt sorry for her but there was nothing I could do.

The next day, as soon as I arrived in the office, I was called in to the manager’s office. He questioned whether I had been talking to my colleague about a recent incident. I quickly said no but admitted that she related her side of the story to me over lunch. He wanted to know about the conversation we had. At first I was reluctant because my colleague told me everything with trust. But my manager explained that he needed to know what she had told me in order to investigate the situation further. Trusting my manager, I told him everything. He promised that he would not mention to anyone what I had told him and whatever we discussed in his office was confidential. He also warned me never to get involved in such situations again, be it just listening to someone talk or tell me their side of the story. It was unethical either way.

 

What happened next?

Everything went on as usual that day, but half way through the day I saw my colleague being called into our manager’s office. He seemed really unhappy and I knew something wasn’t right. I couldn’t help feeling a sense of guilt. I felt like I was the one who exposed her and threw her into the fire pit alive. I couldn’t do anything. I had to just wait and see what the outcome was.

About 30 minutes later, they both emerged from my manager’s office. She was sobbing uncontrollably and I knew it was bad news. Our manager gathered us around and told us that she would be leaving us. That it was her last day with the company.

My heart sank. I was dumbfounded and I didn’t know how to face her. Was I the cause of her getting fired? Why was the decision so rushed? But my manager had promised not to use my words against her. Why couldn’t he just give her a warning instead of resorting to immediate termination? She came around to bid everyone farewell. Then it was my turn. She hugged and kissed me goodbye. I was still in shock much less to say, speechless. So I just hugged her, whispered goodbye and went back to doing my work.

I wondered if what I did was right, telling my supervisor about what my colleague had told me in confidence. I wondered if my words had swayed my manager’s thoughts which led to my colleague being fired. I thought about what my supervisor could have told her, and wondered if she hated me for it. I felt partly at fault and the worst part was I couldn’t do anything to remedy the situation. I felt so guilty but yet I had no way of finding out what they had talked about that led my manager into making such a sudden decision.

No one in the company spoke about her or brought up the issue after she left. No one dared to even mention her name and we all went on with our daily lives as if she never existed. It has been almost 7 years since the incident. I never kept in contact with her, and neither did I make any attempt to knowing that I could have played a part in my manager’s decision to terminate her.

 

How did I come to realise after so many years?

It’s been so many years and frankly, I never actually thought about her after she left. Today was just like any other day. I was getting ready for work and it suddenly hit me. At that time I was so new and raw to the working environment that I never knew there was a downside to it. I always thought that as long as I was honest and sincere, others would do the same too. The organization I worked for felt safe and protected and so I thought that I would never have to face such challenges as long as I worked there.

When this situation happened with my colleague, I thought I was being a friend by listening to her pouring her heart out. Little did I expect to be questioned for it and never did I expect that telling the truth would get her fired! I realised that it wasn’t plainly my fault for being honest with my superior about what my colleague shared with me. This was plainly office politics, people merely using others to get what they need. It’s how most people survive in a competitive working environment.

I used to read a lot of articles on corporate politics. How to play them, and how to get away with them. And I thought that people only played politics in organizations where there was a need for competition. Not in a small company like the one I worked at. It can be a very hurtful experience for some people, especially if you have trusted someone only to learn that they were just using you for their own gain in the organization. Sometimes a person’s whole career is jeopardized because of foul play.

 

What have I learned from this?

In the corporate world, there is no right or wrong in how you achieve your goals. It is the integrity of a person. What is acceptable to some, may not be acceptable to others. Sometimes, it is a survival race, where only the most cunning and treacherous person gets to be on top.

In my case, my manager wasn’t exactly cunning or trying to outdo anyone. It was just his approach towards the issue that really bothered me. I didn’t agree with the way he handled the whole situation, that he disregarded any possible implications towards me and used my words against another colleague in his attempt to settle the issue.

In the real world, it was a fair game where the employee could have played her cards differently right from the start if she knew how to. If she had played her cards correctly, the whole outcome might have been different. I’m no expert either, and truth be told, till today I still find myself intermittently getting involved in minor squabbles in the office. I’ve grown to be more accepting of this kind of situations, but also more wary of my words and actions. At the end of the day, it is a big big world we live in, it’s either we learn to adapt to different circumstances differently, or risk being pushed to a corner with nowhere to run.

My Best Online Shopping Experiences

I’m no stranger to online shopping. In fact, I love online shopping! I would say that 60% of my shopping is done online because I’m too lazy to go to the mall. There are also a number of reasons why I prefer online shopping. One of the main reason is – I don’t have to meet any grumpy salesperson following me around, giving me the evil stare and muttering to themselves when I don’t buy anything in their store.

I personally have had really good experiences shopping online. Being someone who values good etiquette, I feel extra happy when I come across sellers who actually go the extra mile to make their store stand out among other sellers.

Online businesses can get very competitive because customers have a wider variety to select from. Therefore, those who offer the cheapest price with the best quality usually surpass those of average price and quality. Since products can be shipped to and from anywhere in the world, people can find almost everything they need online. It is a competitive industry as online sellers have to compete with hundreds or thousands of other sellers who are selling the exact same thing, probably at a much cheaper price than them.

So how do they ensure that customers choose them and actually return in the future to purchase more from them?

DISTINCTIVE SELLING!

I believe every customer appreciates good service when buying a product. Nobody likes having to buy something from someone who looks like they could eat you up if you don’t buy something from them after looking around the whole store.

Some time before Christmas last year, I was browsing online for Christmas gifts and came across some really cute costume jewellery on Zalora. So I clicked on the item and added it to my cart along with other stuff. About 4 days later I received my package and in my package, there was a note stuck to my order.

Shirleen Note

 

It wasn’t anything fancy but the small note made a big difference to my purchase. She included her namecard which had a link to her website and instagram account. I took some time to browse her page and found so many beautifully handcrafted jewelleries at really reasonable prices! You can even customize your own jewellery the way you like them and it was perfect for me cos I love customized gifts!

As customers we look for a sense of satisfaction in every buy. When products fit your expectations – good quality along with efficient processing and delivery, that’s when you have a happy customer. However, when products fit a customer’s expectations AND in addition, the seller makes an effort to include a small “thank you” note or gift with your purchase, you get a satisfied customer! As I am a strong believer in the school of gratitude, I have the tendency to go back to sellers who seem appreciative of you buying from them. Even if at times the product may be of slightly inferior quality compared to those by other sellers, or the price is slightly more expensive, I wouldn’t mind spending the extra penny because of the good service I get in return. I’d still buy from one who shows more appreciation towards their customers.

Shirleen 2nd purchase w note

 

This was my second purchase and a few days ago I made a third purchase, a customized farewell gift for a colleague, which should be on its way in the mail now. Shirleen is super creative and has so many ideas for gifts. Even if you do not have an idea of how you would like to customize your accessories, she would gladly offer suggestions and do up samples to help you decide. So far I loved all her suggestions!

Here’s her webpage and Instagram link if you would like to check out her designs for yourself.

Another encounter I had was with this company that sells board games and such. It was through the 11Street site. I saw some friends playing the game Beware of the Dog. Ah… Here’s a picture of it.

dog    * Picture extracted from snapdeal.com *

 

Thought it was quite a fun game for nights out with friends and decided to look for it online. I tried 11street cos I always find what I need there and true enough I found it. There were a few sellers offering the same item for sale. I picked one and read the reviews. Customers gave really good reviews and so I checked out with my item. That evening itself I received a notification that my item had already been shipped out. I was impressed with the efficient processing and quick delivery.

A day later, my purchase arrived! This company stood out because of its efficiency in processing my order but I was even more impressed with the little gift that came with my order.

Game_note

This was the note from the company. I thought it was really sweet of them to take time writing a “thank you” note for their customers.

 

Free gift game

The free gift which I got in my package. A clip to seal open, unfinished packs of food. There was also a mini children’s whistle but I forgot to take a picture of it.

This is the kind of service which I truly appreciate from sellers, not because I want free gifts, but somehow it makes me feel that my purchase is more valued by the seller. It may just be a small note of thanks but I appreciate that the seller actually took her time to write out her thanks even though I merely purchased a small toy. THIS, to me, is distinctive sales service.

The name of the company is called XL Plus Size. You can visit their webpage here, or contact the number stated in the “thank you” note above for more info.

I’ve always told myself that if I had my own business, I’d make sure the people who come into my store leave with a smile on their faces. Nothing beats knowing that your product and good service played a major part in their smiles.. As for the two stores that I mentioned above, this will definitely not be my last time buying from them, because with their creativity and willingness to be different, they won me over.

 

And now….

BeautyPlus_20160415150813_save

We have an egg-cited boy who can’t wait to unbox his new game!

 

 

You Never Really Learn Until You Teach

I had wanted to be a teacher for as long as I could remember. From the time I was in pre-school I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up, and my dream stayed with me till the day I graduated from school. After graduation I had to wait for quite a few months for my results, and my mum suggested that I look for a part time job. I started my first job as an assistant teacher in an enrichment center nearby where I lived. That was the start to my teaching career.

They say that teaching is not just a job. It is a calling. I couldn’t agree more because without the calling, one would never have the patience and determination to overcome all the challenges your students throw your way. I will be honest here, when you have a classroom of hyperactive kids wailing and screaming at the top of their lungs, it is so hard to contain yourself from just grabbing someone and smacking them to silence the class. But you manage to do it somehow, because that’s what passion is about – Still being able to find a solution even when you’re at your wits end.

Let me begin by stressing that these are all my thoughts and what I’ve experienced over the course of my work as a teacher. Different people may have different views because every teacher’s way of educating isn’t the same. So this shouldn’t be used as a comparison. Besides, I don’t have the widest experience, but I really learnt a lot from my students when I was teaching.

A good teacher, like a good entertainer first must hold his audience’s attention, then he can teach his lesson.                                                                                    

– John Henrik Clarke

This was something I had to learn step by step. In order to get your students to listen, you first need to get their attention. It’s not easy though. Children have shorter attention span than adults, so their minds tend to drift off really quickly. I had to constantly think of ways to keep them focused so that I could finish my lesson as planned. I learned how to set motivational targets and boundaries for them. Kids tend to focus better on doing something when they have a target to achieve. Even better if they know that there is some sort of reward waiting for them at the finish line. Rewards do not need to be big. This is the beauty of children. They are easily contented as long as they know that their efforts are valued and recognized.

 

A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning.

-Brad Henry

I remember my schooling years and the teachers who made my days so miserable that I dread waking up for school everyday. I used to question why some teachers actually go into teaching when they have no passion at all?! It’s sad to say that 70% of my teachers were demotivated and were never really involved with their students. I failed to understand why but with time, the only reason I could think of was that they just didn’t know what else to do. Teaching was the easiest and safest choice of career. WRONG! Teaching is never the easiest because you spend all your free time thinking how to make the lives of your students better and how to help them excel in their studies. Believe it or not, students put a whole lot of trust in their teachers. I had only 2 teachers who really made a difference in my life during my schooling years. They both inspired me to pursue my dream of teaching. They both showed me that teachers could actually do more than just teach – They inspire hope, ignite the imagination and instill a love of learning in their students.

 

The thing I loved the most – and still love the most about teaching – is that you can connect with an individual or a group, and see that individual or group exceed their limits.                                                                                                                                                               -Mike Krzyzewski

This is the most rewarding part of teaching for me. You get to meet individuals who have no clue what life is about, or why they actually go to school for. You start out the rough climb up a hill that almost seems impossible. There will be more rainy days than sunshine, but at the end of a storm, there is always a rainbow. I have a strong believe that every child has their own strengths and talents. You just need the right touch to ignite that spark in them. In the beginning everything just seems impossible. Don’t give up on them. Persevere and you will be amazed at how they turn out. Sometimes you just need someone to believe in you enough. It’s called the power of trust. You believe in someone so strongly that the energy turns into their strength, making them determined to reach beyond their limits. When you witness your kids exceeding their own limits, that’s your achievement as their mentor and teacher.

 

Every child should have a caring adult in their lives. And that’s not always a biological parent or family member. It may be a friend or neighbor. Often times it is a teacher.

-Joe Manchin

There are times when a child has something to say, but they don’t know who to turn to. They find it difficult to approach parents for fear that parents may not understand them. Neither can they talk to their peers for fear of being judged. If a teacher is close enough to him/her, very often the child turns to the teacher for advice. This is probably one of the things that makes teaching so fulfilling – the relationship I had and hopefully will always have with my students. I was able to understand students so much better because I had a better perspective of what was going on in their lives apart from studies. I had a rule where my students could call or look for me any time or hour of the day, because I would rather be the one they spoke to even about the silliest and most minor thing, than have them go astray because they never had anyone to turn to. I promised never to judge them. I told them that they could even wake me up at 3am if they didn’t know who else to turn to. Children and teenagers have feelings and these feelings can turn into strong actions. Sometimes, without proper guidance, their action could have serious consequences. At times, they just want to feel valued and wanted. That people are willing to hear them out. I wanted to be that person for my students. And I’m proud to say that it was the best feeling knowing that my students trusted me with their deepest secrets.

 

There are so many things that have made my career fulfilling as a teacher. I am no longer in the education field but the satisfaction and achievement that came with my teaching experience will always stay with me no matter where my career takes me in the future. It has been a thrilling roller coaster ride having these kids in my life and I would not trade the experience for anything in this world. Thank you, kids (who are now teens and young men and ladies) for all that you have taught me. I went into the education world to teach, but came out being taught so many new experiences and lessons. As my title says it, you never really learn until you teach. The challenge is worth everything!

 

One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.

-Carl Jung

What I Loved About Into Thin Air

Into thin air
*picture extracted from http://www.amazon.com*

I was only 9 when I read about the catastrophe that hit an expedition up to Mount Everest. This was how I learned that Mount Everest was the toughest mountain to climb. I think till to date, it still is and for those who have reached its peak, it is indeed a lifetime achievement for them. I’ve always thought to myself that if I can climb and reach the peak of Everest, therefore I’d die a contented person.

There is something intriguing about Everest that always sparked the curiosity in me. I felt like I wanted, or needed to know more. I needed to understand more. And  last year, in 2015, Universal Pictures came out with the movie Everest. I wasn’t really expecting much when I went to watch the movie, but somehow it made me start to think deeper. My thoughts just kept sinking deeper and I ended up searching the internet for more information. I found so many articles related to that fateful event. However, one particular article stood out among the rest. It was one which said that Jon Krakauer, a journalist who had experienced the tragedy first hand, found the movie to be bullshit!

How could it be when I enjoyed the movie so much?!! I went on to read and later found that Jon Krakauer had also written a book, his personal account of what happened on the mountain that day. I knew I had to get the book. I wanted to know his part of the story too and so I decided to get the e-book cos I could start reading immediately! It almost doesn’t seem to do the book justice when I write it out here, because so many times I found myself flipping pages back to re-read what I had read just to get an even better understanding. For me, I rarely flip pages back when I read. If I do so, the book has to be really really good that I want to understand every word written in it.

Every part of the event, to me, was described perfectly. If you search the internet, you will find a lot of information on climbing Everest, and the details of the hike up. This book is more about the people who went on the expedition to Everest. The people, who for various reasons, sought some sense of achievement by giving their all to reach the peak.

“Why put yourself in such danger when there is no guarantee that you will reach the peak?” This was my first question, and I eventually understood why after reading.

Here’s a few things I loved about Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer :

Disclaimer : There may be spoilers beyond this line. So if you have not watched the movie or read the book you may want to do it first before reading this list.

1) The author begins by introducing each character and explaining what their personalities were like. It was almost like I got to know everyone in person. For example, in the movie, we only see Rob and Scott as business rivals. But we never knew the reason behind it, how they started of as climbing buddies, or how Scott had strived throughout his whole career life to be just as good and famous as Rob, but never actually achieved the success he deserved.

2) During the hike up to base camp, the author describes every part and detail of their journey. From the difficulty they faced, carrying their heavy load of belongings, to being forced to take a dump by the side of a walkway in Lobuje with no proper sanitation due to heavy human traffic hiking up to Everest base camp. I could almost imagine myself in that situation trying to walk or tiptoe through a path without stepping on someone else’s waste.

3) You start understanding the reason behind every climber’s reason for wanting to climb Everest and reach its peak. Even when they knew that they could no longer take it, or even when the weather was so obviously worsening. For some, it was the sense of accomplishment. For others, it was what they needed to make some people proud of them. For Scott, it was to gain recognition just so he could save his dying business.

4) You get a closer peek into every person’s life. The author, Jon Krakauer had experienced everything first hand. He learned stories from people he spoke to personally, people he became acquainted with through the journey. I wasn’t a fan of Scott when I first watched the movie, but after reading about him, I begin to admire Scott for his perseverance and courage. Incidents that were supposed to break him, made him even more determined because he knew what he wanted to gain from the climb.  

5) I learned to see Sherpas in a different way. I don’t think Sherpas have been given enough recognition over the years because this was deemed as what they were supposed to do. It was their job and their responsibility to get people to the top. However, would people have actually made it to the peak without the help of Sherpas? The job of a Sherpa comes with so much responsibility. The lives of climbers are in their hands, and their own lives are at risk. Most people only attempt Everest once, but for Sherpas, it becomes almost a norm ascending and descending whenever their jobs require them to. And because it is actually their job, people perceive them as indestructible, even when tragedy strikes.

6) When faced with danger, there is no separation of teams or groups. The people on this expedition came in various groups. The expedition started with each team leader/guide, determined to get his whole team to the peak. But as the native people say, ” Whether or not we reach the peak is not decided by us, but by the Gods of the mountain.” No one could have foreseen the disaster that was bound to hit the climbers that day. They knew that the weather would worsen and a storm would hit, but sometimes, like all of us we just think that a storm would just be a storm, and we only need to brave through it. It took great courage for those who risked their own lives going out into the storm again to help the others. Nobody cared about their teams, or where they were from. Their only thought was to get anyone within sight to safety, but sadly some still didn’t make it.

Reading the book did not change how I felt about the movie. To me, both had different areas of focus. The movie focused more on the event itself, reenacting mainly the gist of the whole expedition. It was after all a movie and it would be impossible to fit all the details of the event into a 2 1/2 hour movie. Therefore, I still find it acceptable.

The book focuses more in-depth on each character, which is why we readers get to understand the story in a more personal manner. We got to understand why some people decided to take up the challenge, and why some people needed that challenge. The book is based on the author’s own personal experience and that is why everything written was described so articulately that we could even imagine ourselves being in the picture.

If you haven’t watched the movie or read the book yet, I would recommend you watch the movie first to get a gist of what actually happened, then go into the details by reading the book. That way, it would be easier to digest the story and you’d understand each character better. 🙂

I would say, hands down, this is one of the best books that I’ve read!