Monday, January 31, 2005

How Much Did That Cost You?

Whilst some of us can truly say “I am not materialistic” there will always be one or two objects that they cannot part with. These are not so much for their actual price worth but for the sentimental value that they possess.

Assessing my net growth:

In my living room I found: three couches; one rug; a wall unit; a brand new TV, a computer complete with printer, speakers and a massive variety of CD´s and a DVD player. What I in actual fact saw was that rainy Saturday where I had the most memorable two hour truck ride to fetch my couches at my uncle’s house. The couches and the rug were a special present from him and although he’d had them for five years, they still look brand new. I was thrilled because the bigger couch is a sleeper couch meaning I could have people for sleepovers. The TV was Dad that got me for Christmas and the DVD player was a self given Christmas present which I bit my lip and tightened my belt to get so that my family and I could watch the great DVD´s my dad brought me from South Africa. The wall unit that my TV is placed upon took two hours and over 70 screws to build. I remember Dad and I laughing whilst I read the instructions and tried out my new electric screw driver, the one that is in the toolbox dad got me for Christmas and sits in the kitchen cupboard that took another two hours to put together.

The desk that my computer is placed took me two months to save for because I had decided that although it was a little out of my price range, it was the one that I wanted. My computer itself represents dad’s devotion to me, he saved to get me the latest hardware and spent hours on it making sure everything was updated. The printer was another belt tightened present and its speakers the first luxury that I had bought with my first paycheck back in those days in South Africa… I still remember exactly how much I paid for them.

The bed in my room was a present from my cousin and her future husband who even though have financial difficulties of their own, gave me the bed with the best of intentions. The sheets and duvet were presents from my aunt, the mattress a present from my grandmother and the pillows were a bargain that I found on Sales. My Microwave was my birthday present from my friends. I’ll never forget that they drove me to Lido, opened the car trunk and gave me the microwave and a brand new grill to celebrate my birthday! That day had been a double celebration because that morning I received the keys to my apartment, something that I could celebrate as well as my 22nd birthday. I couldn’t have been happier on that day!

The Fridge, the washing machine and the iron were carefully selected after countless hours and energy in and out of different stores. I recall searching a million and one sites to make sure that I got the perfect appliance! A stranger that comes into my home may even take a second look at my Class A, No Frost LG fridge, but they’ll never know just how many times I redid my budget to make sure I could afford that exact model! They can guess its price… they’ll never be able to calculate its worth.

Then there are the cupboards that my dad and uncle lovingly gave their time and wrists to help build… the dishcloths embroidered especially for me; or the plates that my aunt so lovingly gave me. She told me that those plates were given to her by parents when she had gotten married and that she was simply returning them to their rightful owner. Whoever eats from those plates will look at their old-fashioned design and won’t give a second thought to the sentimental value they possess. They won’t know that my mother gave me a mug each month until I had a set of six. When they drink from my cups they won’t know that some were a Christmas present from my cousin and some were a Christmas present from my best friend.

Today I sat on the floor of my one year old apartment and wept. I wept for all the things that ever meant something to me; I wept for all the things I’ve had to give up to get where I am today and I wept for everything I was going to have to give up, pack up or lose in order to risk getting where I want to be tomorrow.

In order to accomplish my goals of studying and progressing in life, I’m probably going to have to rent out the apartment that I bought with so much work and sacrifice. To some, it may seem a simple step, an intelligent move considering that whoever pays rent will be paying off my apartment for me. To me, it’s as if someone is tearing a part of my heart and giving it to a stranger to use. No one knows the sacrifice and hard work it has taken to build my nest… my home… my haven. And even though I don’t consider myself materialistic and know deep down that this is a justified forfeit, it still kills me to picture myself in a small room with old things while some stranger recklessly uses my things and benefits from my comfy home that still smells of fresh paint.

No matter how unattached we are to earthly things, each and everyone of us respond to that which has sentimental value: that item of clothing that you’ll never wear but was given by a special someone; that book that is taking up space but that you can’t get rid of; that ornament that doesn’t look good anywhere but that you simply can’t give away or that apartment that represents your home and your freedom. Letting go of these worldly things takes courage and sacrifice. Courage and Sacrifice that is often not appreciated or understood by others because they fail to know it’s true worth. The future tenant of my apartment will probably never know that along with the keys of my apartment, he will possess the very heart and soul of who I am.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

When The Day Doesn´t Go As Planned...

I swore murder at whoever was behind the constant ringing of my phone. Whoever it was didn’t let the fact that I didn’t answer dissuade him from his persistent goal. The phone rang once, twice, three times… and he even tried a forth time. Putting the pillow over my head I turned the other way and tried getting back to sleep, telling myself that whoever it was, I could get back to them later. After a week from hell, I was exhausted and catching up on sleep was right on top of my priority list. I was almost back in dreamland when that familiar pang of guilt crept up over my shoulder. What if it was important? What if there was something wrong? People are only this persistent when it’s urgent… The caller ID identified my uncle, notorious for adventures on the weekend and although I was always more than a willing participant, recharging my batteries couldn’t survive a day with him. Guilt was going to keep me awake until I found out what it was, and if the purpose was adventure, I’d be sure to manage a perfect “No thanks, today I’m going to stay home and relax.”

Get me those spare batteries!

First I got one leg out of bed, then after taking a deep breath, I took out another and before I knew it, I was laying on the floor reminding myself that I only had ten minutes to find the warmest clothes I had… we were going to go play in the snow!
Pico to Arieiro is one of the highest peaks in Madeira that one can go to by car. The view is amazing especially when you travel above the clouds being one of the points that cannot be missed by the nature loving tourists. Snow will only fall in Pico do Arieiro once a year, on one given day of the year God decides to cover Madeiran soil in a white blanket of snow and this is the day that my adventurous uncle and I wait for the whole year long!

No words can describe the sound of the first step upon virgin snow. I watched and listened with marvel as the untouched snow gave way to the pressure of my footsteps. Being this early in the morning, there was almost nobody else around and Pico do Areiro became my secret playground. The sun shone brightly on what looked like cotton candy sprinkled with glittery fairy dust. No wind, not even a breeze appeared to disturb us and you could almost walk around in a t-shirt… if you were insane enough. At first I reveled in the joy of throwing my uncle with a couple of well aimed snow balls. I of course also got hit twice on the nose and a couple hundred times on other places but the fun was too good to care about the wetness caused by a snow war. When I was too tired to run around, I laid on the snow and made a snow angel, everything that I had worried about the whole week somehow seemed distant and insignificant and although I couldn’t feel my feet… I thanked God that I was alive! These are the moments I live and work for. No one can price the view of Madeira’s most beautiful peak looking as if it had been covered with icing. I can’t tell you how many hours we spent playing in the snow because we all simply lost track of time. After exploring the surroundings, my uncle and I decided that the car’s mats would make perfect substitute sleds! Finding myself a nice slope about three or so meters, I looked down and hoped there were no hidden stones on the way and that the landing would be soft. With one solid burst of courage, I pushed myself over the slope and even though the landing wasn’t one of the softest, my uncle and I went back on the slope a couple more times, attracting some other daredevils to try along with us.

Joy is Bliss.

I can’t remember when last I had so much fun and closing my eyes, I humbly thanked God that I got out of bed and that I was living this moment. Moments… the best ones last for such a short time and become such a significant part of the past. I meditated on how lucky I was to be sharing this one with people I love and wrote down the name of someone that had been on my mind and who I wished I could spend a similar moment with. I just know he’d love the snow as much as I do and although my wish seemed like an impossible reality, I decided that there was no harm in wishing. Smiling at my dumb idea, I then rubbed his name from the snow and went back to play!
My uncle and I discovered a wooden plank, the kind that they use to lift cargo with forklifts. My uncle looked at me, I looked at my uncle and then we both looked at the wooden plank… five minutes later we had tied the plank to the back of my uncle’s Suzuki Sumarai and gave my aunt strict instructions to drive slow and go easy on turns.
Nothing felt more like Christmas! Not only was our makeshift sled fast and fun, we quickly made a success with the people on the road who waved, took pictures and made videos of our new sport. With more people around, kids off all ages appeared to watch the fun and after a while, we began giving rides to a couple of happy kids who had the time of their lives. At one stage, my uncle and I had three kids grabbing on to us as we skied up and down the roads, making us look like Santa’s personal sled service. When looking up, I realized that another uncle of mine had also decided to join the fun and was filming us as we zoomed up and down in the snow, when I went over to greet my aunt I laughed as she greeted me by saying “When I saw two whacky people zoom past in a sled tied to a car, I thought to myself – that can only be my niece!”

Wet up to my undies, we left the snow in desperate search of some heat. Running into one of my uncle’s friends we decided that a day as perfect as that one couldn’t end in the middle of the afternoon. His house being the closest, we decided to bake some potatoes, buy some bread and go into a barbecue spot in São Jorge where we would make meat on a spit (Espetada). My aunt and I laughed and joked as we tried drying my pants with a hair dryer and a towel that did nothing to help dry my hair. Stopping at the supermarket to buy bread, I also bought a new pair of socks and smiled at the flabbergasted people who looked at us as a couple of crazy Eskimos still dripping from Alaska. Thanks to the rain, the road up to our secret spot was full of mud and only my uncle’s jeep could climb up the muddy path forcing six people to squeeze into a place designed for four. Leaving the other car on a tar road, we all squeezed in and held on for our lives. The jokes and laughs were too many to count!

Once reaching our rocky kitchen, I sat on one of the rock tables and looked around me. On one side I saw Pico Ruivo covered in snow, on the other side I saw a perfect blue ocean and a big sun about to set on the horizon. Perfect, absolutely perfect! The kind of view you only dream about when you live in the city and I sighed wondering when would be the next time I got this pleasure. I remembered my colleague back in Lisbon who had told me just the day before that he would love a house in Madeira. I wished he could see what I was seeing, I know that he’d choose a place with this exact view and I smiled as I pictured him smiling from his desk whilst reading this exact sentence. I didn’t have that much time to think any further. After the men had came with branches that they would be using for spits, I was put in charge of cutting the bread still warm in the packet, and then ran around being chased by a madman whose sole mission in life was to smudge my face with some mud. Hehehe… I guess he thought he’d return the favor after I painted some brown Indian war paint on his cheeks.

The food was amazing, the kind you’ll never get out of a restaurant. I held my stomach as we laughed at the singing members of the group, who not only couldn’t carry a tune but also decided to torture us with those songs that only your great grandmother remembers. Night fell and I was blessed with the most magnificent star lit sky. In all my years of camping, I can’t say that I’ve ever seen the sky more filled with stars, and the more you laid back and stared at them, the closer they seemed, to the point where you could almost reach out and grab one. I was blessed, given the opportunity to wish upon two shooting stars, I realized that the only way things could possibly have been more perfect was if my pants were completely dried.

“A euro for your thoughts?” My uncle’s friend and I didn’t often see each other but whenever we did, we always had tons of fun together. Even though we’re about twenty years of age difference apart, we seem to understand each other really well. One moment we’re two six year old kids chasing each other with mud and the next moment we’re two sixty year old philosophers pondering on the meaning of life. At that point I didn’t think of much except for the fact that I was lucky to be alive so I put my head on his shoulder and told him that I wished that every person on this planet was living a moment as special as that one as I was… a tall order I know, but something definitely worth wishing for.

How to end the perfect ending? Tag on the highway. My uncle’s version of tag is of driving fast enough to loose your buddy behind you. Then you find yourself a place where you can hide and only come out when he’s zoomed past you. You then drive up close enough to flash your headlights at him and the process reverses itself. At eleven at night when it’s cold and almost everyone is at home sleeping, the road becomes your playground and we enjoyed ourselves on fast turns and great hiding places.

After a hot shower, I practically fell into my bed making it seem as if I’d never gotten out of bed at all and that the whole day had simply been an amazing dream. The original plan had been to stay home and relax, taking the day to unpack my suitcases and do my laundry… thank God that the day didn’t go as I’d planned!
Forbidden Thoughts

We all know the predicament of feeling the things we should not feel:
Do not be sad that he is leaving, be happy that he came.
Do not gloat at your successes for someone lost for you to win.
Do not judge by physical appearances, true beauty comes within.
And perhaps one of the hardest lessons to learn:
Do not waste your love on the one who does not love you in return.

We learn that the right decisions and attitudes are the hardest ones to make and often we don’t understand why our wills are the opposite of this knowledge. Is it because our hearts desires are different to our heads? And if so, which can we trust to be guiding us correctly? When you see the two independently, you gain a better understanding of your inner conflicts.

“Why do I still think about him after all this time? If I don’t want him then why can’t I get him out of my head? Was I wrong when I thought I was over him?”

Hearing my friend’s complaints, I tried searching for the right words to help her understand what was happening to her. Seeing an ex boyfriend had left her with mixed emotions and although I knew that the reason she felt that way wasn’t because that she was in some way still attracted to him, I had to find the best way of making her realize this without undermining her emotions. To understand our thoughts, we need to understand what cause them.

Two independent minds.

Our head acts on facts and reality, programmed to act on our best interests of personal survival, our hearts are driven by feelings and emotions living on the fantasy of what can be. The thin line between the two is what I believe can be called as the soul; this is what manages the co-partnership of the two and develops the personality each individual has. Each has an opinion which can often be far from common but each has a valid reason for that point of view. To listen only to your heart is to become an unrealistic dreamer and to follow only your head is to become a meaningless robot. The secret is to balance out the reasoning of the two and act on both best interests.

What my friend could’ve been feeling was love. The man that is invading her thoughts could be that soul mate we all want to love and be loved by… but he isn’t and I made my friend realize that with one question: If there was someone else there to love her, would she still be thinking about her ex boyfriend? With that one question we concluded that the reason she daydreamed of pinning him against some wall and kissing him until he begged forgiveness for ever ruining their relationship is because there was nobody else that she could do it to. Her heart kept him in her daydreams because of its need to be loved and since there was nobody else to daydream about, her heart obsessed over him because he had once made her feel wanted and loved. Suddenly you feel more relieved when you discover the reasons for certain thoughts and behavior and you thank God that you have a brain that overrides any desire to so much as even flirt with that ex boyfriend.

“I’m glad you cannot read my mind or see how nervous you make me. Looking in your eyes removes every ounce of my inner strength and all I want to do is to stop talking this mindless conversation and rather rub my lips against yours. If I sat on your lap would you put your arms around me? I’ve missed your arms; I’ve missed the comfort and warmth they once gave me. Could I touch your face and trace its contours? Sitting this close makes me realize that I almost forgot how you look like. How good would it feel to have your body pressed against mine so what we could listen to each other’s heartbeat? When you look at me the way you’re looking now, I wonder if you are thinking the same thing.”

Thoughts such as these can only carry weight when said or acted upon. Why refuse your heart of feeling them? Feelings such as these make you feel alive and remind you of the hot blooded human being that you are, so why condemn them if only you know of their existence? Whatever your standpoint is on this subject, even those who like me often wished to know what other people were thinking… will appreciate the fact that God made our thoughts to be silent.
A Day Away From Home

How good is it to break away from routine? To be free from the daily responsibilities of the home; to sleep in a bed that’s not your own? Don’t get me wrong… I love my bed with its clean sheets and fluffy pink duvet but no one seems to understand my love of traveling: be it near or far.

Twenty four hours in Lisbon is like a mini holiday even when it’s purpose is work, the schedule is tight and the plane trips besides being delayed are also turbulent. Your watch becomes your constant reminder of responsibilities, your cellular phone your reminder of the delayed work back home and your body screams from physical exhaustion. With all this stress, most people count the minutes before they reach home again.

I love arriving at the airport, the first thing I do is call a friend to let them know I’ve arrived okay. Although the human traffic is always dense, I enjoy watching the various expressions on strange faces whilst I wait for my luggage. I revel in the opening of the passenger doors, when people come out to meet those who anxiously await them. Expectant eyes always leave a warm fuzzy feeling in my heart, reminding me of the times when I too awaited someone special to walk through the same doors.

Getting into a cab, I catch up on all the latest news and woes from the driver. Although the drivers are never the same, I find it enchanting how all of them seem to want to get to know you and tell you about the place they call home. They warn you about the places you should avoid and tell you about the places you should see, making the trip to your destination seem shortly pleasant.

What I love about the impersonality of hotels is how they relieve you of daily stress. Taking a hot shower, pushing back the crisp sheets and laying down to a good book feels divine when you don’t have to worry about cleaning the tub, putting the towel out to dry or that basket of ironing that you still have to do. Household chores don’t play on your guilt because you can do nothing about them at this distance, so you invest all your concentration on that book you’ve been meaning to catch up on for ages.

Walking around in streets you’ve never been on is like an adventure. Whilst most locals walk distractedly indulged in their thoughts, you get to look around you and see the things you don’t see everyday. Like that old building that could’ve belonged to a Lord or Barron a couple of hundred years ago, or that amazing graffiti that could’ve only been dreamed up by an incredibly talented artist. In every corner a new discovery and you find yourself grateful that you don’t have to see that familiar tree or wall that you walk past everyday.

I love to get lost. When no one is looking for me, I can search for the things that I love the most. Bookstores, CD Shops and Toy Stores are mine for the prowling. No one to rush me, no one waiting for me, I take the opportunity to do the things I never have time for and try to make a new friend. Even though I may never see them again, I make a point of obtaining a smile to make my mission accomplished for the day.

By the time I’m on my way home, I’m usually burdened by two desires. One is to stay and discover more, the other is to go back home where my bed, my friends and the people who love me await my return. I never know when it is that I’ll return, but I know that I always do with the utmost of enthusiasm.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Follow The Leader´

On my recent trip to Porto, I was stunned to see that someone else agreed with me when I said that Portugal had a lot to learn in terms of business and professionalism. The man who was to teach me Sales and Negotiation skills was the first to say that in Portugal we had plenty of Doctors, Engineers and Managers but few real leaders. I once considered my manager to be the best at what he did, I once believed that I couldn’t ask for a better boss… today I believe differently.

With time we all learn that most of the things we belief in depend on our perspective and we find that things aren’t always as they seem. I once believed that everything could be resolved with communication, and that conversation was the key to sort out any problem. I finally discovered why politicians talk and talk but say nothing, making their conversation nothing more than a waste of words. And how talking to someone like this is as fruitful as trying to communicate with a wall.

I am not a leader, although born to the first sign of the zodiac, I am the first to say that I am not prepared take a position of leadership. This is because I’m aware of what the position requires and I’ve always believed that one only accepts the position that one is capable of filling. It’s the heavy and delicate duty that a leader is responsible for that makes me respect the position and admit that it will take a lot of time and growing before I myself can one day take upon such a responsibility.

What is a leader? And what does it take to become one? I may not be the best person to answer this question; however there are qualities I recognize as being those belonging to one. A leader is the person who thinks for his team rather than himself. He knows how to bring out the best in each individual, by praising the talents and helping to improve their weaknesses. The best leaders know how to listen to their team, not allowing himself to be manipulated by their desires but acting according to the team’s best interests. Strong, patient and strict, a leader knows how to stick to the original goal, able to always keep his team motivated. He knows when to push them harder and when to give them a break, a leader is the person who holds himself responsible for the best interests of his team.

No man is perfect, no person lives without failure and there are times when our leaders disappoint us and make the wrong decisions. These are the times that we realize that they’re human and that our responsibility as followers is to also motivate and support the one who holds our wellbeing at heart. Men should be held more accountable for their motives rather than their actions; this makes it easier to forgive a real leader who acts only on the behalf of his team’s best interests.

Respecting the man who gave me the position in the company that I work for today, I carefully prepared my speech, realizing that it would not be easy to get across the needs of me and colleagues. Times are tough, and we need changes and new conditions to respond to the market’s needs. Spending countless hours carefully choosing my words and finding the numbers that managers respond to, I knew that there was no way I could’ve better prepared myself for what needed to be said. But what do you do when words are not enough? When the person wish to communicate with refuses to let you talk, ignores your important arguments and refuses to listen to carefully acquired numbers and information?

Refusing to cry, I looked at my manager with a pair of different eyes. For over two years, I’d realized that he was not the leader I imagined him to be, yet I believed with the right words and attitude; one could help him evolve into one. I realized by his attitude that he did not wish to be changed or improved, in fact, the best interests of his team is the furthest thing from his mind. As I watched him bulldoze over my argument, I remembered my dad’s words telling me that I would never be successful in talking my way into evolution with this man, who not only called me incompetent in front of my fellow work colleagues but also called me arrogant and rude when I had managed with numbers to show him how his reasoning was far from the answer we needed. I told him that my intention wasn’t to come out that way but he cut me off sarcastically saying that the world was full of good intentions. Shocked, I recalled all the late nights of work that I wasn’t paid for and the full weekend that I’d spent in the office without even having lunch so that I could go on holidays leaving my work completely resolved. Two full days that I could’ve spent with my dad instead. Yes, I have good intentions and I’m not about to change them because they don’t agree with him, shouldn’t my good intentions be molded into the good of the company instead of crushed in front of the rest of the team?

Some things just can’t be resolved diplomatically. Leaving the office to run straight to the airport, it was only in the embarking area when I finally sat down that the tears ran down my face. I sobbed uncontrollably to the disappointment and injustice of my manager’s attitude. Not once was I arrogant or rude so why call me that? How can I be incompetent when things are always trusted to my hands? My head spun with disappointment and frustration, all the words I used had been futile, used on deaf ears. I may not be a leader, but I know how to tell the difference between wrong and right and I know that it had been wrong for a man in a leadership position to behave the way he did.

I only stopped crying once reaching Lisbon, allowing the stranger next to me think that I hated flying and the air hostesses think that I was probably moving away from my beloved island. Deciding not to let anyone know the real reason for my tears, to me crying over work is an even bigger humiliation than crying over a man. And considering that I cry over the one, crying over the other seemed ridiculously embarrassing. Taking a deep breath, I welcomed the change of atmosphere to put my thoughts into place.

One has only two choices in life: to blend or rebel. To blend is to accept the rules, the given guidelines and to support the specified ideals. To rebel is to stand up for your beliefs accepting the fact that they will not be accepted by the system turning you into the public enemy and forcing you to live in conflict with those who wish to uniform you. My father says that to fit into any company, you have to be able to blend into the system. Even though we often have different opinions to the decisions that a company makes, I believe that we have to support the direction our team is going and give it our best for the good of the company. However, I am not prepared to work with a system that works against its employee’s best interests. Certain schemes are just unacceptable and supporting them means lifelong slavery for a system you don’t agree or believe in. You’re then once again left with two choices: Either you leave or you strive to change the system.

To leave is to risk finding the same system on the other side and to rebel is to risk being seen and treated as the enemy. This is where my zodiac sign shines the brightest and after much talk and support from those that love me and hold my best interests at heart, I’ve decided to fight the system, even when it is represented by a man that I can admire outside the office.

God help me to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change those that I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Traveling the road less traveled on, means rough terrain and unpleasant surprises, yet it might take you to place no other roads can take you. Portugal is in my opinion thirty years behind in growth and mentality compared to it’s counterparts or even a considered third-world country such as South Africa. But what is the benefit of running? I was told to think of my future, to think of the greener grass on the other side but what difference do I make to those who stay behind? No man is an island, I do not live by myself and I believe that change starts with the person in the mirror. If I do not stand up and fight for what I believe in, who will? Who will change this country’s mentality? Who can improve my company’s system if no one stands to talk and bring up the real issues into the light? I realize that it’s impossible for a person such as myself to make such big changes on my own, but why should that stop me from trying? Didn’t London Bridge, the tower of Pisa, the Pyramids and even the statue of liberty start with one stone? How are things going to change if someone doesn’t strive to change them, even if I fail at least my efforts may leave an open path for other believers. At minimum, I will leave a dent in the system.

I do not wish do tell my grandkids who sit on my knee about how bad things were in my times; instead, I want to tell my grandchildren, what their grandmother at an age where she had the strength and youth to make a difference, actually did to try and improve things for herself and the people around her. Who knows, maybe one day, I’ll be worthy of being called a leader.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Body Language

How much does your body say about you? The way you walk, sit, fold your arms and even smile carries 87% of your message across. After reading Allan Pease’s book on body language, I decided that it was time for an intense investigation, the kind that lets no gesture go by unnoticed!

Simon Says:
In a recent Sales and Negotiations course, I was taught that if you copy one of your client’s gestures, you are most likely to create a link or bond of understanding. For example, if client crosses his/her legs and you do the same they may read it as a sign of empathy and this portrays a message of understanding or a sense that both are on the same kind of level as the other. Being the eager student that I am, I decided to put my knowledge to practice!
My first victim was a gentleman in his late forties who owns a store well known for their bargains on kitchen appliances. I noticed that whilst speaking to me, his fingers touched slightly, creating a triangular form with his hands. Being a gesture that I myself use often, I had no problems copying this and I was surprised to see that this client suddenly broadened his attention span, listening more closely to everything I had to say.
Marveled with my discovery, I decided to keep at it. My following client was a sheepish teenager who showed me her whole dental history due to the gum she kept chewing with her mouth open. Rather than get annoyed, I repeated her gesture of insecurity by pulling my hair behind my ear at even intervals. The next thing I knew, she was asking me if I knew anyone from her college and if I’d like to join her and her friends for coffee sometime.
The experiment however, didn’t go well with all my clients. Certain gestures just shouldn’t be copied! Such as the constant touching of one’s nose, the nervous foot against the table tick or biting one’s nails. Habits such as these only display insecurity, a message you don’t want to give your client… plus it’s not hygienic!

Tell Tale Eyes:
My mother always told me never to trust a guy who doesn’t look your in the eyes when he talks to you. If you don’t have more than one third of his eye contact, it’s probably because he’s lying or talking crap. Ever since then, I make sure the important stuff is said when looked straight in the eyes. Honesty and Trust are things kept true through eye contact and I realized that it’s one of my biggest tools to convey my sincerity to my clients and friends. No matter what Cher tells you… it’s not in his kiss!!!... That’s just his lips! True feeling is found in the soul and the eyes are its windows.

Tell Me Without Words.
By the end of the day, I was swollen with pride at my conscious investigation. I realized that I could tell a great deal about a person from the way they carried themselves and behaved during certain moments. We often get a silent feeling of when people are happy, sad or insecure but how often can we point out the exact body gesture that conveyed that message? The drooping of shoulders, weak smile and lowered gaze is a direct image of heartbreak. A stiff body, crossed arms, tapping foot and contracted pupils portrays anger and fury. Good signs to watch out for are open hands, a wide smile and dilated pupils.

Did I say that?
I must have a comic angel looking over my shoulder who decides to teach me lesson whenever I get overconfident with the things I learn. Just when I thought I got the hang of physical communication, a fresh new challenge walks through the door in the form of a hunk in a suit. Referred to as Mr. Top 3, he is voted as the sexiest man of the three most gorgeous clients to put foot in our office. Not only does he melt icebergs with his clear blue eyes, he has a smile that oozes charm and a stance that omits total confidence. Although he seems to have the intelligence to accompany his good looks, I can confidently say that I was never particularly attracted to his charms… until I communicated with his body! Sitting in front of me with his posture slightly inclined backwards in the chair, his body told me that he was relaxed and at ease with the environment. He then put his one leg over his knee and placed his hands on my table in an open position portraying his attention and receptiveness. Keeping my eye contact, I realized that he purposely concentrated on my lips, creating a more intimate atmosphere which could be used to play on my senses as a woman. Using a soft tone and a constant smile, he managed to get me to stumble through some words causing a deep shade of pink to settle on my cheeks. Once I realized his tactic, I decided to repay him with the same coin. I managed to negotiate in my favor by smiling and not breaking the eye contact. The key is to keep eye contact direct into his eye in the forehead area, showing him that you’re serious about what you’re saying and that it’ll take more than charm to manipulate me. Protecting my deal and earning his respect, the only sign of weakness was the one brightly painted on both sides of my face, this to which did not go unnoticed by my expert client who wisely made good use of all his physical assets and most probably owed most of his successes to business deals with women. I wasn’t sure whether or not to blame his intoxicating cologne for my facial betrayal, instead I thanked him and told him that I inherited my roses from my mother (who is in actual fact well known for buying tons of blush to hi-light her pale complexion). He further impressed men by letting me know that he perceived me as a woman with strong character, however I wondered if that too wasn’t merely trying another tactic.

Mixed Signals:
I must admit that I enjoyed every minute of learning this language that we speak every day but rarely identify. It’s amazing how much people tell you with their bodies and how often they can mix the signals. Make sure that the fact that when your partner folds his arms he is really being unreceptive as oppose to the fact that he could just be cold! A winking eye might just due to dust as it could be an attempt to flirt with you as so can dilated pupils represent shock instead of interest. We can only take to a more conscious practice in order to read them correctly and should you have doubts, you safest bet is to simply ask what is on the other person’s mind. Analyzing my own body language, I realized I needed to go on an expression diet if I want to portray a more professional image. However, I believe that if my body is going expose my moods and reveal my thoughts, then honesty is truly the best policy after all.

Monday, January 24, 2005

GETting the Picture

I can never get over the impact of meeting that special person that can teach you in moments, what some people can’t teach you in a lifetime. My cousin once told me that when the student is ready, the master appears… and once again life and fate answered to my needs. Expecting to attend another one of those “Manipulating your client” or “Bullshit sales/sells”, my spirits were a little low on my first trip to Porto. I had no idea that I’d be attending the training lessons of my life! The one’s I’d been lacking and those I’d be investing in my future.

Forty-two with the wisdom of seventy-two and the spirit of a twenty-two year old, I wondered if my course manager was either from abroad or highly qualified in the Negotiation and Sales Techniques that he was teaching… in which case he’d have to have gone abroad in any case because no Portuguese mentality could’ve educated him with the amazing attitude that he possessed. For two days I watched and learned. Paying the utmost attention, I discovered a name and technique to the art I’d come to love: psychology and sales. They weren’t trying to teach me how to manipulate, they were teaching me how to sell.

“Everybody lives off the sale of something” – Robert Stevenson.

Because there is never a second chance to make a first good impression, we were taught how to introduce ourselves, how to plan and prepare a meeting and most importantly: how to discover your client’s interests. For only if you discover what your client needs: can you sell him what he wants. Communication: the art discovering intentions, conveying a message and making sure that both parties are understood.
We then wrote down our difficulties so that at the end we could once again look at them as solutions instead of obstacles. Taught to act instead of reacting, suddenly every situation could be changed positively and effectively. Even silence was something in which we had to be trained to manage. While we were all taught how to listen as opposed to just hearing, I imagined a group of people who seriously needed coaching in this area and then I imagined how frustratingly difficult it would be to teach some boys I knew this basic concept! A concept that the male species definitely has more difficulty grasping!

How you ask your questions, is as important as the sale itself. How else can you find out your counterpart’s interests?
Asking how they see things is what you call a neutral-open question.
If you ask them if they heard anything they liked, you’re using a less effective neutral-closed question, permitting only a yes or no answer.
You can however, turn that closed question into an influenced one when you ask the client “So you’ll be signing with us, right?”
But you’ll most probably get more successful results if you try an open-influenced question such as “So how do you think our service can benefit you”
The talent is in knowing when to use the question and only experience can perfect this skill.

So how do you wrap the deal? Well you could try the implicit conclusion: “Well then we’ll just sign these papers so I can take care of your order”
Then there’s the final question: “So will you be taking the blue or the green?”
If you’re desperate you can always try the pressure technique: “I only have one more of these in stock” but my favorite technique is definitely the triple yes method: “So to recap; this is good for you, and that’s good for you and that is what you need: so this is what you’re buying”

Life has taught me that many people will come and go in your life. There are those that only cross your path for moments and those that stay for longer, whilst others accompany you always. My mission in life has been to always leave something positive with each person I meet so that no matter how brief or lifelong our meeting is, people will always remember me with a smile. Sometimes, I forget that there are other people on this planet with a similar mission. My course trainer was without a doubt, a fresh of breath air to my life and I decided to make a point of thanking him through this column: as we often don’t know the impact we have on other people’s lives. I did muster up the courage to admit that his job is my future ambition and that I too play with the idea that someday I can live off bringing out the best in people.

It had been a long time, since I felt that someone could penetrate into my thoughts. I felt vulnerable under trained scrutiny. I even second guessed my body language, swearing at little gestures that I possess like twirling my hair with my finger when I’m extremely interested in what I’m seeing or nodding my head when I agree with what I’m listening to. Realizing that I’d been relying on my honesty and instinct to get me through life, I was glad to be taught how to keep my honesty without compromising myself personally with the client. If I was effective at driving assholes away, now even the clever ones are in for a treat!

Four candles were lit; the first one was “Peace” which was blown out by the cruelty and revolt of the people who no longer wanted it. Because people no longer wanted to believe, the second candle “Faith” was also blown out. With no more strength to keep burning, the third candle “Love” faded until also blowing out with the others. A child came in and began crying to see that the candles had been blown out when the forth and final candle said to the child: “Don’t worry child, my name is Hope and no matter how dimly I burn, I can always light the other three candles.”

Hope: something that dims when trust and faith is lost.
Beyond a course manager, I saw a man. I saw someone’s friend, someone’s father and someone’s husband and managed to pick up between the professional conversation; the moral guidelines with which this man lived in. It’s amazing what people tell us about themselves. Perhaps what impressed me the most is the fact that he regarded his wife as his girlfriend and told one of our married colleagues that even after marriage, your counterpart remains your girlfriend as well as your best friend and your wife. Clearly here was a man who understood his woman, or at least made an attempt to, without a doubt he recognized her worth and that made him different from the countless men I’ve met. For a couple of times I was tempted to tell him “You can’t be real” or “Are you sure you practice what you preach?” But that would take things personally considering I’d have to explain my question and I wasn’t about to open myself to scrutiny by someone who obviously stood on a higher psychological level. Not in the mood to hear what I already knew about myself, I instead concentrated on getting all the help I could get on a more professional level: how to avoid manipulation from your boss.

Just an hour after my course, I managed to meet two professionals at a mall who seemed as lost as I was. Within twenty minutes, I had managed to properly introduce myself and captivate enough interest to be invited to coffee. Ten minutes later I’d managed their contacts which I’d promised to give to my colleagues in the region so that they could receive a counter proposal to the competing network that they were using. That’s what I call putting to use what you learn!

I must’ve looked like an idiot, running up and down the airport looking for an electric socket. When I finally found one, I plugged my cell phone to its charger and sat on my suitcase listening to my course-manager, who from a cutting network phone call tutored me on the next most important meeting of my professional life. I kept wondering if he knew the difference he was making in my life and that the skills he had taught represented a turning point in my reality. So a decent Portuguese man exists after all (this of course ignoring the fact that he also finds our country’s system frustrating and suggested I develop my skills elsewhere, in a country that values my capacities and what I believe in.). I try to ignore the waiting period between my current peers and this example of maturity and comfort myself with the knowledge that at least there still exist honest and decent men around. (Even if it’s in their forties… and the Gay or Married rule still applies though).
When all is said and done, I marvel at the miracles, the people, the candles and the Hope that fate throws our way when the Faith inside us dies.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

GET it? Got it! Good.

Hello there and welcome to Sunshine’s Column.
I am Sunshine, the author of these compilations you have been reading.
What would you say are the benefits of knowing another person’s opinion?
Could you say that it would help you understand the writer?
That it would introduce you to new perspectives?
And how about it giving you new ideas?
Then what an opportunity it is to be reading my outlook on life.
Updating your reading will guarantee that you follow my current state of spirit and evolution of ideas and if you share this webpage with friends, you’d also be able to involve other opinions enabling the development of minds and maturing of thoughts.
I will then continue to share with you my viewpoints and you can either choose to debate or agree with me. I look forward to receiving all your opinions and feedback:

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Two Tear Story

Have you ever heard the sound of your heart breaking? It rings so loud in your ears that you lose all ability to pick up any of the pieces. You try and grab onto any thread of self control but you can’t stop the tears that keep falling off your face, or the shaking in your body, and you silently pray for the strength in your legs to keep you standing. As I watched my father’s plane take off I shook my arm violently for I knew it would be the last real vision he’d see of me for a while. And then he was gone, the plane was gone and he was in it. I felt a pair of arms surround me. My uncle who’d patiently witnessed my torture as the plane slowly positioned onto the runway and then eventually taken off, had no words of comfort for me. He was already used to the painful goodbyes and knew that words were futile. Yes I knew that the moment of goodbye had to come but that knowledge did nothing to prepare me. And so I held onto my uncle and cried bitterly all the tears I knew I’d cry and let go of all the pain I’d known all along I’d feel.

Looking back at the month that dad spent with me, the memories seem so surreal. Like somehow I’d dreamt it all. But then I walk back into my house and it feels huge, cold and empty. The empty whiskey glass breaks down all the self control I’d built up. The ashtray was still lying on top of the table and the fish paste that my aunt had given him had been forgotten in the fridge. And when all you’re left with are your bittersweet memories, you sit on the kitchen floor and cry. Cry for the void that you’re feeling, the time that was and the way things could’ve been. Nothing in the world can make you feel better and you pray that you hit rock bottom soon so that you begin to stand up again.

I couldn’t sleep the night before dad arrived. I kept wondering what I should say, how I should say it and what he would think. He had no idea that he would be seeing me before arriving in Funchal. This year’s Christmas party in Lisbon represented more than an awesome party, it represented an opportunity to board the same plane as my dad to Funchal. With some help from some friends and the airline’s cooperation, I made sure that we sat next to each other on the plane and my only debate was whether I surprise him in the waiting room or in the plane. My palms were sweaty and I felt nervous as I looked for him in the waiting room… and then I saw him. My body froze, I couldn’t move, all I could do was watch him as he was about to walk past me. He looked at me once and then as if recognizing my face he looked a second time. Putting my arms around my dad was like coming home! I cried without shame, I couldn’t care what people around me thought, At that moment, life couldn’t be more perfect.

My living room is a torture chamber. The computer, the TV, the wall unit… all of it has my dad’s expert hand in it. Only Dad and I know how the cupboard was assembled; which pieces were put together first and which screwdriver was used. The computer accuses of me of not exploring all the amazing new things Dad installed and the DVD player reminds me of family nights. On regular nights when family wasn’t taking us out, we all went into the kitchen for dinner. First Dad would pour himself a glass of whiskey. He likes his whiskey filled up with ice and cold soda water, he’d pour me a glass of the milky liqueur he’d taught me how to make and we’d discuss cooking methods while making dinner. My little brother would set the table and after dinner I’d do the dishes while dad helped clean the table and little brother would make up the mattress in the living room. Each night one of us picked a new movie that dad had brought on DVD and we’d all snuggle up and watch together. This was of course when we weren’t tickling each other, telling jokes or teasing little bruv. I don’t remember us doing these kinds of things in South Africa; it was like we were given a second chance to be a real family.

It wasn’t like I wasn’t preparing for the inevitable, I promised myself and my best friend that I’d do my best not to get too attached. So on the last couple of days when the people around me began saying goodbye; I still managed to keep myself in check. I didn’t winch, or show any indication of the sadness in my heart. Not one tear dropped until that night we went to get Água Ardente (cane spirits) in Porto da Cruz. After a bit of conversation my dad and the man selling the potent poison discovered that they knew each other many years ago with common friends in Porto Santo. One glass followed another as conversation of the old times kept feeding the increasing interest. After a couple of hours, I myself was a bit annoyed as I saw my dad for second time in my life tipsy. The first time not worth mentioning, wasn’t nearly as memorable as the second. The salesman, trying to explain to me why their meeting held so much emotion evaluated me by my age saying “You probably have no idea of the hard work and suffering our generation went through…” Listening without objection I was surprised when my father interrupted him saying: “Oh no! Don’t be fooled, not this girl… this girl knows exactly how many stones it takes to build a house. I couldn’t ask for a more intelligent, hardworking and independent daughter.” And then he said the words I’d so desperately wanted to hear from him since he’d arrived: “I couldn’t be more proud of her”. That’s when I couldn’t stop a tear from falling.

You begin work and after a couple of days, you numb yourself into routine. You try and convince yourself that you’re just a little burnt out and that eventually things will go back to normal. Cleaning the house from top to bottom, you tell yourself that life goes on and you even manage a smile again… until you discover Dad’s shirt in the laundry and once again you cry yourself to sleep.

Someone once told me that love and hurt go hand in hand. So the more you feel of the one, the more of the other you really feel.
I could never regret the time I spend with my father, no matter how painful and wretched it leaves me. Being daddy’s little girl, I’ll never know a day where I’ll stop needing him no matter how independent I am or how more independent I’ll become. I can survive in the world by myself even though I always look to him for words of advice. I know this, not because of the TV, computer or cupboards he gave me but because of the toolbox he gave me for Christmas. Dad made sure I have every tool I need to survive out in real life.
It is the distance that makes life hard; it causes you to cry two bittersweet tears: the blissfulness at “hello” and the despair at “Goodbye”.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Playing with Pins and Needles.

Like most people fed with the incapacities and incompetence of modern medicine, I opted for trusting the alternative… acupuncture.

My first consultation was met by an interesting assistant with a vast amount of knowledge; she had a little bit to say about everything and struck me as a woman who’d try anything and someone you’d never be bored around. The waiting room itself was proof of her imagination. On one corner there was a big bucket decorated with sea plants, filled with water and habited by little fish. On the other there was a plant filling the white clean room with the life colour green and on her desk was a book on Feng Shui that she read whilst unoccupied with patients. My biggest surprise was the acupuncturist himself. I expected an old man with thick glasses and slow talk. Instead I got a man who couldn’t be too far off in his thirties, with the big, kind eyes and a comforting voice to go with it. He asked me why I’d come to see him, although I don’t see why, seeing as though he confirmed my every complaint after looking me up and down. The way he examined me was different from the way I’d ever been examined before. He watched me from across the table, slowly looking up and down my body as if he was scanning it with a laser beam. X-ray doctor? What did he see on my exterior that other doctors can’t see without a physical examination and blood tests done. My only conclusion is that he was analysing my aura, the only element of me able to transmit information about my body that isn’t physically visible. In addition to some words of wisdom, I was given some expensive homeopathic medicine to take and booked a treatment almost two months after my first consultation.

How do you prepare for acupuncture treatment? Without any prior warning, I was left without any sleep due to mixed expectations so by the time I found myself once again inside the acupuncturist’s therapy room, I was a ball of nerves! Told to take my clothes off up to my underwear, I was lead to lay on a white table, covered by a mere sheet. Candles were lit, calm music invaded my senses and I was told to relax as the assistant placed needles on strategic spots that I identified at being my 7 main chakras. Closing my eyes, I did as I was told and shut out the world.

What seemed like half an hour later, the assistant came back in, removed the needles and told me to turn over. I grinned as I realised that I was in a perfect position for a well deserved massage. However, the tension returned after the assistant left and the doctor entered. I suddenly felt like an animal waiting to be dissected and had the most urgent urge to run. Although they didn’t particularly hurt, I didn’t want the insertion of anymore needles and after all that relaxation, I felt too vulnerable for any kind of examination.
Yet, what happened next wasn’t exactly as I imagined. I felt cold hands on my feet with a weight almost inhuman. I’d read about this and gone through it in a Reiki course before but hands-on-healing was something I hadn’t experienced before. Suddenly the doctor’s hands were no longer cold as they slowly travelled up my legs. Biting my lip, I wished that he’d stop. Feeling uncomfortable, my only urge was to stand up and run. As if sensing my insecurity, I then had one hand on my shoulder whilst the other returned to my ankle. Slowly but surely, my doctor made contact with every area of my body. His hands felt warm, heavy and reassuring. I felt like putty in his hands, relaxed to the point where he could do anything with me he wanted… until he told me to turn around. That’s when I once again remembered that I had a stomach full of butterflies ready to flap at full force. But with the same tenderness, I was comforted back to bliss. Noting that he would not remove his hands from my body when changing position, I was surprised to find that I eventually felt empty when he did eventually take his hands away.

I might as well have been naked after two hours of treatment, because that’s how I felt once it was all over… vulnerable. Yet with the strongest sensation of inner peace that I’d ever felt. Regenerated, renewed… If ever the world was a see-saw, I felt like I’d finally found the middle. Time finally moved at my pace and I breathed easy.

Did it cure my problems? I’m not sure… but I do know that I haven’t felt this good in a long time and I’m left with a sensation that cannot be produced with a mere massage. A aura operation? Does synchronizing and fine tuning your soul’s energy influence your body back to health? Some argue that it’s all in the mind; others tell me it’s spiritual. Whatever it was, it did more for me than conventional medicine or any mind work could do in the last five months and I’ll stick to it as long as it keeps working for me. It did however get me thinking a lot about the power of touch. My doctor obviously possessed a lot of healing in his hands. I was left thinking: if a hand can hold so much power, one can only imagine the strength of a hug or the power in a kiss.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

The Perfect Guy - Never rubs you up the wrong way

Have you ever had a conversation where you look at the person in front of you wishing that they’d simply shut up! When every word your hear is worse than the other and you try and control your nerves as you watch the idiot in front of you dig his own grave with every sentence uttered from his mouth.

Flipping channels from the comfort of my own living room, I was startled by my cell-phone ringing. It was close to bed time and I wasn’t exactly in the mood for the name on my call display, but I hadn’t wished him a Happy New Year yet and considering that one of my New Year’s resolutions was to be more tolerant and forgiving, I decided that a small conversation with him wouldn’t kill me. I kindly declined his invitation for coffee whilst putting on another pair of thick socks - no way was that boy dragging me out at midnight for a cup of coffee! He’d probably give me that sob story again about his mother being ill and how he was suffering inside. It was way past working hours and in case this boy hadn’t heard… this Therapist is on official vacation!

My acupuncturist’s words began haunting me the minute I put the phone down. Have I become judgmental? Yes, I suppose lately it’s helped to keep unwanted company away. It had been a while since I’d seen this friend of mine, one cup of coffee wouldn’t hurt… and before I knew it, my heavy conscience conceded to one drink when he called insisting with me for the second time.

Well, I thought, it couldn’t be all that bad, this time round we wouldn’t be alone so he wouldn’t unload all his imaginary problems on me. My friend had informed me that he intended on introducing a work colleague of his that was also South African and who was very keen on meeting me.

I regretted my decision the minute the car pulled up. Looking at the slightly alcoholically influenced pair of eyes, I reminded myself again of my New Years resolution before finding the courage to get into the car. My friend’s friend is every girl’s nightmare… the guy that just doesn’t have a clue! I imagined Chronis, a good friend of mine, sitting next to me and saying “Oh well… see this as material for our book”. Let’s just say that after this evening, I probably have enough practical experience to write at least 10 Chapters of: “Why men are the inferior species!”

To obtain a proper analysis, first take a full physical analysis before dissecting the remainder of the specimen. Observe the sly smile with intent on manipulation. The fact that his teeth show lack of calcium is evidence of his chain smoking and may be evidence to excess of alcohol consumption. Diluted pupils confirm the excess of alcohol consumption and failure to recognize this fact is a good indication of an either inflated ego (usually resulting from inferiority complex) or bad habits. Bad habits are born from chronic fatigue (laziness) and are accustomed to go hand in hand with irresponsibility.
The dirt under his fingernails indicates lack of hygiene once again indicating chronic fatigue or a phobia for cleanliness. Discovering that they hadn’t just come out of work eliminated the possible excuse of such evidence and the fact that his profession is a barman also tips the scales towards lack of personal hygiene.

Moving onto the intelligence... or what little our specimen carries, we can classify him as:
Slick but not sly… you can identify the lack of intelligence from the choice of conversation. To directly jump into relationship talk on a first meeting is to cry out depravation. We can back this theory up with the fact that the choice of destination was on a coffee spot near the beach and with the strategic romantic music in the car, hoping to build some kind of atmosphere… the fact that he stopped at a gas station to buy gum can also indicate a hidden hope that he might get a kiss by the end of the night.
Change of tactics can only work when done intelligently. The fact that our guy changes his tactics from building a home and family to future travel plans in the space of merely ten minutes indicates convenience tactics (more commonly known as manipulation: the art of eluding to obtain desired response from the person you’re trying to con). Either our guy is an inexperienced manipulator or he simply doesn’t know what he wants out of life. At 32 this indicates lack of ambition, drive, and self-motivation and once again reads back to low self-esteem.
A man who cannot catch a direct hint can be called clueless. The fact that a person moves away when you move close should clearly indicate that they do not wish you to invade their personal space and you should henceforth either stop or move back to your original position. To touch their face is to directly provoke their defenses and a sharp slap to the hand is a direct indication of failure to integrate or reach a common ground. This is usually the part where a normal man backs up and gives up the approach, however please keep in mind that our specimen is descendant of the numbskull with inability to catch direct hints.

Placing my forehead in my hands I decided to break my New Year’s Resolution and put this guy out of his misery. Deciding that he was never going to catch any of my direct hints I decided to be as blunt as rock and let him have it full force just before giving my amused friend an apologetic look. What set my volcano to blow? Picture a guy telling you that you will not obtain your future goals of evolution, that you’d stay put where you were and that you’d probably end up dating him! All of this, just after he reminds you that you’re not getting any younger and that at 22 you should be thinking of settling down.

To any thick ignoramus that ever tries this tactic: I strongly suggest you read this column before even attempting this type of conversation with me! I will not tolerate further insult such as the above and the next asshole that gets cute with me will get a full fist punch in the eye! Ahem… consider that a warning! (And they say I can’t stick to my New Year’s resolutions… At least now I give warnings!)

I do not consider myself fit for settlement until I have studied my field of interest and graduated with the diploma necessary to progress my career to the top possible position of the corporate ladder. In the meantime, I do not feel that a relationship is compulsory or needed unless it’s a mutual liaison where both parties contribute and benefit, anything less is a waste of time. For this to be a fair bond, my partner would have to be able to do, give, sacrifice and risk everything that I’m capable of…

At this point our moron drops his jaw and asks “That’s a lot to ask for! I’m not sure I can do all the things you can, does this mean I’m out of your league” I did not justify that question with an answer. Instead I smiled and nodded.
“You know! You’ll never find a man on this island with that attitude (Gee, I could’ve sworn I told him that in the beginning of our conversation), and just you watch! You’ll fall in love and change your mind and conform to the island and its mentality all in the name of love!”
At this point my insides boiled and it took all the strength in my body not to make contact with his jaw with my fist. I bit my lip to prevent my instinctual explosion and proceeded to explain why he shouldn’t harbor any expectations with me.
A man to win my love and affections, My man… wouldn’t be so stupid to attempt to manipulate me. My man is intelligent and a thirst for self-evolution as I have and enough respect for others not to contradict their ideas or dreams. No love will keep their partner from their goals or dreams or tie them down. My man has self-respect and enough confidence to know what he wants and doesn’t want out of life. He probably doesn’t exist on this island, he might not even exist at all, but I’ll be damned if I’ll ever settle for less. I’m demanding and yes I ask a lot from a man but only because I’m worth a lot and I only ask what I’m capable of complying with. If you think you’re out of my league, guess what, it’s probably because you are!

On the way home, I was once again bombarded by guilt. I had a slight hope that perhaps this poor specimen for the male species hadn’t understood a word I’d said, most probably he’d forget everything I told him the minute I closed the car door. However… just in case my words had touched base and hurt, I felt I owed him an apology. But before I finished, I was stopped with recognition. He recognized that he wouldn’t see me again and that he needed some work before becoming a more decent man worthy of a woman. Had I made a difference for some future Mrs. Idiot? We wished each other luck… and love and probably hoped we’d never have to see each other ever again lest it be from a distance.