Category: Uncategorized

Learn to Give Yourself a Break

Back when I was a young, naïve college student I wrote a blog post about the importance of taking a mental health day. It’s funny because looking back, I was under the impression that all jobs allowed a mental health day. After all how could you be expected to function at a job if you’re not at your best? However, this is the real world and sometimes mental health days are just not an option.

Girl with headache
Real life depiction of the position I am in as I type this

A few days ago (a week to be accurate), I came home from work with a headache. This wasn’t unusual as I normally have headaches during the weekend (it’s my blog/study/writing time).

However by the time Monday rolled around, I didn’t feel any better. Plus I had my sinus acting up. By Wednesday, the pain was too bad and I eventually started crying before begging to be taken to the doctor.

I had a feeling I knew what the cause was but I hoped he could help. Nope. He decided it was a tension headache. From what little I knew, I knew tension headaches were stress-related. I didn’t know how not to stress. But I was in horrible pain and I was already behind on my studying.

I took medication and went to sleep, hoping to return to work on Thursday. No such luck. I woke up with an awful sore throat and my head still hurt. I dosed myself with large quantities of flu medication, home remedies and spent most of the day asleep. In fact I was only awake for 4 hours.

I felt horribly guilty and ashamed. I was behind on all of my work all because of a stupid headache.

I managed to rest enough that it was fine for me to return to work on Friday.

My head still occasionally hurts like hell but I’m trying to make a concentrated effort to remain calm and not stress (a difficult feat for someone with anxiety).

So the point of me sharing this story is simple. Learn to take a break. You don’t want your body deciding all of a sudden that it needs a break. Because trust me, your body will definitely pick the most inconvenient time possible/

Life in the Time of Corona

My alarm goes off at 5:20AM. I ignore it and drift back to a half-asleep state. It doesn’t matter if I’m late. There’s no traffic. My mother wakes me up at 5:30AM and this time I finally get out of bed.

I stumble to the bathroom with my eyes half-closed and pick up my toothbrush. I brush my teeth with one hand and with the other I check the news sites for anything related to Covid-19.

This is an everyday routine. This is our new normal. When we went back to work three weeks ago, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to adjust after more than a month at home but surprisingly it took me a short while to accept our new world.

I leave home at 6:50AM, careful to ensure that I have a freshly washed mask. Our company provided us with three black ones but I have been starting a collection of infinitely more colourful options.

Once I get to work, it’s time for our temperature check. The drive to work is only twenty minutes but I make sure to arrive early just for the temperature check. The lines can get long and I hate waiting even with social distancing.

The lady checked my temperature, has me sign attendance and then sanitizes my hands. I still have to go in the building and press the button for the lift which still creeps me out. The lift reeks of disinfectant but all the same, I am careful not to touch any part of it.

When I get to my desk, it is either already cleaned or in the process of being cleaned. Desks are cleaned daily and the entire office has a night cleaning with extra strong chemicals (allegedly. I’ve obviously never seen these people but I feel pretty good about our cleaning routine).

I sit down at my desk and use the sanitizer given to us by management to clean my hands again after using the lifts. I start up my pc and make small talk with the staff.

We are all spaced apart on the floor and if anyone is approaching you for conversation, masks are required.

There is a limit on the number of staff allowed in areas such as the kitchen and seating areas (the same goes for stores).

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that there’s a pandemic going around. We have adjusted to the rules pretty well.

Life has been going on as normal. Sure you can’t see friends and family nor can you touch them.

But you can go to work, go to the store and almost live your life as normal.

It makes me wonder was I wrong in freaking out when this all started? It has been 3 months since we were first hit with the virus. Our numbers are 20 000+ confirmed cases and 300+ deaths. All things considered it seems like South Africa is handling the virus relatively okay.

Welcome Back

I really thought by the time I went back to blogging, Corona would be a thing of the past.

But nope, it’s still alive and thriving. It’s just that in South Africa we are now out of lockdown (or quarantine as some people have been calling it).

The president has given us to go ahead for a gradual return to work in certain sectors but things are going to be tough regardless.

The company that I’m working for will be retrenching staff as well as several other companies.

As someone who has seen the struggle of small business owners and those who make their living from the flea markets, I wonder and pray for these people.

Pray for the world, guys.

We need it

7 Life Lessons I Learnt from “The Bold Type”

I discovered “The Bold Type” during a tough time in my life. I had just screwed up an interview for a job that I knew would have been perfect for me and I was in desperate need of a pity party. Now, a year and three seasons later, “The Bold Type” is still a source of constant comfort for me. Whether it is personal or professional, there are tons of great life lessons I picked up from the show.

The Bold Type
  1. Stand up for what you believe in– Kat is one of the most outspoken females I have ever seen and does not shy away from confrontation. She is always comfortable expressing herself and her beliefs no matter what.

2. Failure is a thing. It happens. Move on– As a perfectionist, this really hit home. In life, people fail. It is just a part of life. Onwards and upwards. Just because you failed at something doesn’t mean you can’t try again or there’s something else out there for you.

3. Find Yourself a Mentor– Watching the amazing Jacqueline Carlyle motivate and support the girls of “The Bold Type” has really made me appreciate the great female leaders in my life. I specify “great” and “female” because I have only just realized both how rare and amazing they are. Find yourself a kickass mentor who will help you to be your best self.

4. The Importance of a Support Group– Kat, Sutton and Jane support each other through everything (the girls even accompany Jane to a mammogram which is both over the top and against the rules). Get yourself friends that are there for you no matter what. Everything is a million times better with a great support group. Take it from me. 2019 would have been hell if it wasn’t for my girls.

5. Do it if it scares you– My former manager is always saying that “nothing grows in comfort zones” and this is something I believe in 110%. If something scares you, you should seize the opportunity and do it. There is so much that you could learn and so much growth that you can experience.

6. It’s Okay to Be Undecided About Your Career– Over the course of 4 seasons, Sutton has gone from personal assistant to fashion assistant to aspiring designer to stylist. She admits that she is undecided but is also willing to try out new opportunities to see what suits her. As the girl who decided on her career path at 12 years old, I love this!

7. You have to start at the bottom– From season 1, I loved that the girls knew where they wanted to be and they were on the way there. However the flashback episode in season 3 showed us that Jane started as an intern, Sutton was a temp and Kat worked for someone who had no clue how to make hits on social media. I loved taking this look back and seeing where the girls started. This was a great reminder that everyone- even in glamorous TV shows- starts at the bottom.

Do you watch “The Bold Type?” What is the biggest lesson that you have learnt? Let me know below.

Welcome to the Real World 2: The Weakest Link

In December 2016, I found a job teaching English online to Chinese students. I applied and waited impatiently for a response. I was convinced that this was it for me. The perfect job. I had the degree. I was a writer. There was no better job.

I made it through two series of interviews without any problem. The interviewer was impressed at my background with Media and writing as well as the fact that I had driven to the office the day before to ensure I didn’t have any issues finding the place.

Unfortunately when it came time for training, the interviewer (aka the manager of the teaching center) was NOT who I needed to impress.

The day after my interview was over, I received an email with a list of items I needed to purchase because the business had a dress code. So I headed to the nearest mall and purchased formal-wear in blue, black and white (colours that the business required).

Excited about my new job, I chatted to the sales lady who seemed to share my enthusiasm especially about the fact that this was not a call center job. I confided in her that I had been so worried that I would end up in a call center because it was so tough to find jobs.

Now remember, at this stage I had only been out of college for one month but sure, I was young and naive. I didn’t know much.

I turned up to training, uncomfortable in my formal clothing and slightly nauseous. I hadn’t slept the night before and was exhausted.

And that was when I met her. The head trainer was a no-nonsense (and possibly no patience) woman. She was tough and demanding and assured us that not all of us would make it through training let alone the second day.

I was scared but I still felt pretty confident. Hello, girl with years of writing experience? English was practically the only talent I had.

But as they laid down rules after rules, I started to have doubts. I was about an hour into training when I phoned my mother in tears. I wasn’t sure I could handle the pressure.

Let me go over some of the rules for you: 1) You must use make-up (understandable as you’re on camera), 2) you have to use the colours required by the business, 3) you absolutely cannot take toilet breaks until it’s your designated time and 4) you cannot tell the students “no” or that they’re incorrect.

This last thing drove me crazy. When we practiced our lessons, I was marked down for things I did wrong but never given any guidance on what I could have done right. It was just “don’t do this, don’t do that”.

Looking back it was clear from the get-go that the trainers didn’t like me. It sounds petty but I remember the trainer asking me what did it mean if a girl had her a good head on her shoulders and then shouting the question back at me when I was unable to articulate my answer properly to her.

At the end of the day, they called me into the office and told me that they didn’t think the job was for me. I was too quiet, too much of an introvert. They told me to go try something else and I could come back when I had more work experience.

I was emotional. I teared up. I asked them if they needed me to complete the rest of the training (there was an hour left) or if I should leave immediately.

They assured me I could leave immediately. I thanked them for their time, said goodbye to the other trainees (who didn’t believe that I was leaving and thought I was joking), cried a bit in my car and drove myself home.

I was sad that I didn’t fit in but I knew if I had, it would have been a disaster. From what little I did see from the work environment, it looked awful.

Cover Reveal: Angry God by L.J Shen

“A top 2020 read hands down.”

–Helena Hunting, New York Times bestselling author

Angry God, an all-new angst-filled new adult standalone romance from USA Today bestselling author L.J. Shen, is coming February 18th and we have the smoking hot cover!

AngryGodBookCover6x9_MEDIUM

Vaughn Spencer.

They call him an angry god.

To me, he is nothing but a heartless prince.

His parents rule this town, its police, every citizen and boutique on Main Street.

All I own is a nice, juicy grudge against him for that time he almost killed me.

Between hooking up with a different girl every weekend, breaking hearts, noses and rules, Vaughn also finds the time to bully little ole’ me.

I fight back, tooth and nail, never expecting him to chase me across the ocean after we graduate high school.

But here he is, living with me in a dark, looming castle on the outskirts of London.

A fellow intern. A prodigal sculptor. A bloody genius.

They say this place is haunted, and it is.

Carlisle Castle hides two of our most awful secrets.

Vaughn thinks he can kill the ghosts of his past, but what he doesn’t know? It’s my heart he’s slaying.

Add ANGRY GOD to Goodreads: http://bit.ly/35oUOMC

Be notified first when Angry God is live: http://bit.ly/36MnmAQ

Cover designed by: Letitia Hasser, RBA Designs

Model: Emilio Flores

LJShen

About LJ Shen

L.J. Shen is a USA Today, Washington Post and Amazon #1 best-selling author of contemporary, New Adult and YA romance. Her books have been sold to nineteen different countries.

She lives in California with her husband, son, cat and eccentric fashion choices, and enjoys good wine, bad reality TV shows and catching sun rays with her lazy cat.

Connect with L.J. Shen

Facebook: http://bit.ly/2OhSvp1

Twitter: http://bit.ly/36ELHZc

Pinterest: http://bit.ly/2oMbFsu

Instagram: http://bit.ly/2AIOiTo

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Website: http://www.authorljshen.com/

New Series: Previously On

How many times have you started a book in a series only to realize you don’t remember what happened in the previous book?

For me it has been happening far more than usual so I’ve decided to make a post recapping what happened in a book. Also I was watching “The Vampire Diaries” and I love the way they say “Previously On The Vampire Diaries”. (Be still, my Nian- shipping heart).

Usually I use Wikipedia for this however Wikipedia doesn’t have all the YA or Historical Fiction that I read.

So I am starting a new series called “Previously On” which does a quick review on what happened in the previous book.

The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Cutting Carbs

Dieting is a resolution that all of us make and very few of us actually get around to seeing it through. Now I’m not going to lie, I am a bit smug about this one since I have tried cutting out carbs and it worked great for me.

But also, I’m a really greedy person so it was important to me for me to find a way to keep the weight off without depriving myself of my favorite foods. Here are my tips as a lazy/greedy girl for cutting out carbs from your diet:

  1. Make a commitment and stick to it– For me, I had tried time and time again to cut out carbs and it never stuck until my doctor told me I was at risk for diabetes. Never have I stuck to a diet so quickly and so strictly in my life. Think about why you want to do this and remind yourself often. Is it to look better in your jeans? Are you trying to live a healthier lifestyle? Find your why and use it as motivation.
  2. Expect the first weeks to be hell– Remember that it is going to be hard but it is going to be worth it. My first two weeks of cutting out carbs gave me stomach cramps, no energy, sleepless nights and I was miserable. At some point the pain was so bad I just curled up in a ball and (no joke) begged for death. Just remember your why and try to stick to it.
  3. If it’s too difficult, try cutting DOWN on carbs instead of cutting them out completely– If the pressure gets too much or if you would prefer a less intense change, try slowly cutting down on your carbs instead of cutting them out completely.
  4. DO treat yourself on occasion– Don’t forget to reward yourself every so often for doing a good job. Make sure it’s a reward that you would enjoy but also make sure that you’re not overdoing it.
  5. Try to make it a lifestyle change and not a quick fix– For a more permanent result, try to make your new healthy lifestyle a part of your everyday life instead of a quick change. While I no longer cut carbs completely, I am used to life without them and have found a happy balance between no carbs and my previously unhealthy lifestyle.

Have you ever tried a diet? What did you think? I’d love to know below about your experience.

Year in Review: 2019

I cannot believe that 2019 is finally ending. For me, personally I feel like this was a hellish year and I CANNOT wait to see it leave.

Here is my year in review of the best and the most brutal moments from 2019:

January– I started the year on a pretty good note by signing up for an online Digital Marketing course that I was convinced was going to change both my life and my career. While I have picked up some great blogging information from the course, I am still sadly in the exact same career field. Oh, well.

February– Had my first ever interview at a magazine which was my dream job. But I blew it which led to this blog post as well as the realization that I place way too much importance on my job.

March– Attended the Ed Sheeran concert and made time for family. Because I was a changed person now…mostly. I also spent R1300 on a discounted Johannesburg bookstore and then put myself on a book ban. It was supposed to last for 3 months but it ended up lasting for most of the year.

April– Watched my father’s company close down. Helped him make arrangements to move out of town for 3 months for a new job with a lesser salary.

May– Watch the company that promised my dad a job, ghost him and then ultimately turn him down. Had a meltdown on the blog about it. Also received a counselling letter at work from the two new managers because I was unable to go to work since we had no water for three days. Was repeatedly victimized by the lower of the two managers because HR decided to speak to her about it. Unfortunately for me she was also my new reporting manager.

June– Got shortlisted for a job that could possibly solve all of our problems. By this time our only source of income was flea markets and it was NOT looking good. Got turned down for the job the Friday before my 24th birthday. Also important to note, said manager made sure to grant me leave for all the days except my birthday. She has a wicked sense of humor that one *rolls eyes*. Gave up shopping

July– Turned 24 while still working at the call center. Cried when my wonderful manager didn’t even let me go home for my half-day for my birthday. Got put on a diet because all I had left going for me was food and now I couldn’t even eat my feelings.

August– Found out father’s heart is worsening. Laughed hysterically coz nothing goes our way.

September- Accepted that life sucks and whatever. Literally nothing worse can happen so things have to get better, right? Discovered the wonder that is Diwali flea markets and night markets. Finally started making some sort of income with the flea markets.

October– Got a warning at work. Got in trouble at work. Repeatedly. Stuck it out coz last October I had an even worse manager and October is our financial year-end. Watched in disbelief as the staff complained about our new reporting manager who was apparently screaming and demeaning ALL the staff (and here I thought I was special). Watched the department head speak to the reporting manager (and then she cried in a corner of the office which unfortunately everyone saw. I felt bad for her. Don’t worry, she’s back to her normal self now). Watched her hire newer managers for our team- one of whom has been applying for the position for over ten years.

November– Inspired by my new manager who was applying to be a manager for over ten years, I applied for writing jobs and finally got one.

December– Used my bonus to buy large amounts of alcohol. Because IT HAS BEEN A YEAR.

How has your year been? Better or worse than mine? I’d love to know below.

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