Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Right On Time

Right On Time


Lunch hour is that sacred time of the day where you can actually slow your mind and body down after a stressful morning. Saying grace before digging into my food, I asked God for the patience to understand my boss; colleagues and difficult clients
(Yes patience… because if I asked for strength, I’d beat up the offending people!). Imagining how I would stick and twist the long kebab stick into my colleague’s nose that had made me stand up to recheck his work fifteen times that morning, I almost didn’t notice the cheerful face of my other colleague sitting in front of me.
Deciding not to ruin our lunch by talking business I put my psychopathic thoughts of colleague torturing aside and asked my colleague to tell me the reason why her smile shone through much brighter these days… I guess I should’ve known, but the actual words gave me this column to write about:

Bouncing between forty and fifty, my colleague has immigrated twice, married and divorced once, survived cancer and the loss of her uterus resulting in the knowledge that she can never have kids. She’s also survived tens years of working for our company, being responsible for dozens of people who come in and out the company each year, acting as the chief voice and often a mother to the people she works with… and believe you me, putting up with my boss during this period deserves a golden award on its own! She’s no longer my manager but someone I continue calling “boss” lovingly, a mother to whom I can depend on for sincere advice, a colleague with wisdom and experience, someone I look up to, respect and most importantly… a friend I care very dearly about.

Being the incredible woman that she is; most people cannot comprehend why she’s been alone the last couple of years. There hasn’t been evidence of a blooming relationship since her divorce and those who don’t know her would think it had to do with some trauma due to her difficult track record. However, those that do know her know her to be a strong and courageous woman who simply won’t settle for second best and that alone defines her single status at her age. It’s not easy finding emotionally and financially stable men that are intelligent and available in that age level.
(Not that being younger actually provides a better market!). In one of the last conversations we had she put it the following terms:
“I don’t need a man to satisfy my needs, pay my bills or give me attention. I have a house, a car and every material possession I need and friends that I care about who share their time with me. What I seek for is merely a companion, someone to go on holiday with, have dinner and beside talk with and someone to share my moments. I don’t want to be anyone’s mother or saviour; I want to give what I seek: companionship”
Understanding her reasons as a reflection of my own, I realised and we agreed that it would be quite difficult and perhaps even impossible to find someone that fit that profile considering that even at my age; these types of men are extinct or gay. Not willing to settle for less, fate usually supplies a single passport.

But miracles happen when you least expect them and people hold the most amazing ability to surprise you and while I ate my food extra slowly, I listened as fate, love and life proved me wrong once again.

Close friends for over ten years, both married, and both divorced… they’re finally having dinner and taking walks together. Taking things slow and getting to know each other on another level…
A good friend of mine once said that a lasting relationship only happens after you’ve divorced. I imagine that these two would prove that theory right.
Listening at how loving and caring he’d been with her over the last couple of weeks, I marvelled at the energy, the love and the youth that omitted from her face. She laughed at herself telling me that she felt like a teenager, I laughed and told her that love keeps one young.
She seemed surprised that it had found her in the form of an old friend and I couldn’t help remembering the comment of a special friend of mine in an earlier column that said: “Find a friend that you’re attracted to and build on that.” Maybe he’s right after all… lasting love is something you discover in someone you already care deeply about.

Love with an expiry Date? Since when did love have a validation time limit? As my colleague said to me this afternoon: it finds you when you least expect it, and it turns the best of moments into an eternity.
What’s the use of living in heaven if there’s nobody else home?
There is never a right age or a right time for love.
There are those who wait for it and those who postpone it and love has a tendency to pass these people by.
Then there are those who live loving life and everything around them and love somehow finds them like a butterfly finds a garden to live in.
Don’t chase butterflies, if you take care of your garden: they come to you in the right season.

As I left the cafeteria at a calmer pace and in a better mood then when I’d gone in, I somehow had a little more faith in miracles. With a big smile on my face, I thanked God for answering my earlier prayer for patience and tried having a little faith that it would hold me through to the end of the day!

Monday, May 16, 2005

Decisions, Decisions...

Decisions, Decisions...


Don’t you sometimes wish that life was as black and white as it was when you were a kid? There was wrong and then there was right and the decision was merely: be bad, or be good. (If you opt to be bad… be good at it)
Dad warned me that things were going to get difficult… I guess I just didn’t realise how difficult things would get. As you grow older, you obtain the ability to see things in different perspectives and somehow… it just makes the image blurrier!

Just when you think you have all the answer, life comes and changes the questions.

I realised that my inner turmoil began this afternoon at the point when I began considering the compromise of one of my moral principles.

To try and simplify this idea I tried to imagine explaining this concept by comparing my inner suffering to buying a pair of shoes:

You feel the need to buy yourself a pair of shoes. Not because you’re walking around barefoot but because you know the shoes you have won’t hold out much longer. You shop around and have a hard time finding the perfect pair. The strong and steady shoes are dull and ugly and the attractive looking ones are unreliable and probably won’t last you a fortnight. You’re just about to give up when you spot an expensive boutique from across the store you’re at. You know that the prices are out of your reach and even though you’ve gazed at the display window, you forbid yourself the torture of ever going in. However, today you can’t help but be mesmerized by the perfect pair of high heeled shoes on display. They are so perfect from where you’re standing that it looks like they were made especially for you! Against your best judgement you walk in and take a closer look. Biting your lower lip you tell yourself that you’re only going to feel them and then walk straight out on your hunt for the needed shoes that shouldn’t be as high as the ones you’re staring at. But you can’t resist trying them on… what harm will it do to see what they look like?! Not only are they the perfect fit but they make you look the perfect image of who you feel you are. Comfortable and elegant you find yourself desiring those shoes with an ache too loud to ignore. Although the price is high, it isn’t completely out of your range and with the right amount of sacrifice, you realise that it isn’t an impossible purchase….

And that’s when you feel the way I’m feeling!!!

First come the lame excuses:
“I have nothing to wear them with”
“They´ll probably give me a bad back”
“They probably don´t look too good on me”
“They´re not exactly in the latest fashion”
“If I only wear them once it will be a waste of money”

After torturing yourself with minor details that in the end you know are merely self-created obstacles, you take a deep breath and once again sink down to the real reasons that keep you between the door and the till.
Fully aware that what you hold in your hands is a pair of shoes, you run the same risk of it tearing, and a heel breaking as you would in any normal priced pair of shoes. This kind of disappointment cannot be foretold or avoided. You also know that they won’t last forever and all you’ll be left with is the photos in which you wore them.
And yet… you know how good they complement you, how wonderful you feel when you put them on and all the places you know they could take you…

I haven’t changed my opinions or principles, with time I simply see things in a different perspective. Where I once swore I’d never buy a pair of expensive shoes, I know see the positive aspects of making a small sacrifice. So perhaps it is a mistake to fork out an extra thirty or forty euros for shoes that you can’t keep eternally… at least I know that when I wear them I’ll feel sexy, confident and self-worthy and therefore I can see the positive aspects of such a monumental mistake.
A friend of mine recently told me: Life isn’t difficult, we make things difficult… and while that comment is true, I still find that on certain days life can be as easy or as difficult as buying a pair of shoes.

Sunday, May 15, 2005




I feared that I wouldn’t feel you… that there was no resurrection of the death you had suffered and so as we approached the club we both listened for the music that once determined our moves…
Arriving a little earlier than usual, the dance floor was still unoccupied and so my friends and I went to sit where we could chat and laugh.
Perhaps it was the strawberry cocktail; it was definitely the good company I had, that allowed to feel completely at ease…
No stress, no disappointment, no pressure… just a night out with the girls to celebrate one of my best friend’s twenty sixth birthday.
Taking out our invisible microphones, we sang to the music and measured the cute barman’s rear end while distracting the guy in front of us who was oblivious to the fuming, jealous girlfriend sitting next to him.
I believe it was Tina Turner’s “What’s love got to do with it” that inspired us to open the dance floor. Most eyes where on me and my friends as we ignored what people may think and decided to let loose in the space that allowed us full reign of the music.
People began joining us soon after and we even got a show from the owner that decided to show us his incredible Latin dancing talents. I smiled as it made me recall a similar show mostly seen at Company Christmas parties in Lisbon.
Our space become more and more limited as people crowded the dance floor. Catching a glimpse of more friends, our big group decided to take over the space on the first floor where we could dance as we wished without being pushed or shoved.

And that’s when I felt you! Right there in the middle of my favourite people, my friends… the people that are responsible for most of the memorable moments in my life. As my body swayed from side to side, I felt you take over my spirit in full regeneration…


I feel you more intensely than ever! Moving my body with the music I feel your power defining every movement … every sway, every turn… taking control of my spirit’s expression! I felt you inside me and welcomed you back with my every step.

Not caring whose watching or what they’re thinking, I embrace the rhythm of my soul by dancing. Dancing like no one’s looking… dancing like I’m being filmed… dancing to express my spirit… dancing for that someone special… dancing for someone who’s not there… dancing for no one but myself… simply letting go in the form of dancing.

Life has a way of silencing our forms of expression with hurt and disappointment. At some or other point in your life, the artist, the painter, the singer and the dancer may die within you even if you don’t will it so… But it is only a momentary death, a time, a phase in which you can’t move your feet or express any joy from a broken soul.
But then… just like Spring comes after a cold Winter, so too does your spirit revive and you find that you never truly lost what you thought was dead…
Rhythm was merely waiting for me to rediscover it again.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

If You Believe...

If You Believe...


To all the lost ships, independent adventurers and to those that feel they will never love again: Allow this entry to be your North Star.

Whilst sitting down in a warm pub sipping my lemon tea, I was none too surprised when the conversation took itself into the love and relationships direction. Sharing ideas and thoughts, I couldn’t help but smile when my blue eyed friend told me that we shared a minor difference regarding our common way of thinking. The difference he told me is whilst I still write and believe in love; he on the other hand has stopped believing. Confessing that perhaps part of the reason is because he fears surrendering his heart to someone who won’t do it justice; I wondered in amazement why was it that he thought that unlike him I wasn’t afraid to fall in love myself.

I listened in silence while he told me how he didn’t want the wrong person in his life; I heard the spoken and unspoken words and reflected at how often I felt the same way. We live in a world where the responsibility of choosing our partners relies completely on us and therefore why not wait for the best? No one should settle for second best and so we don’t… we wait until the right person comes along. Even though my friend says he’s stopped believing, we both know that he’s merely biding his time… just as I am, until the right person appears.

This afternoon I couldn’t help the gigantic smile that originated from a call from a forbidden fruit. Although no relationship of commitment will originate between my married friend and I; we share a unique bond that allows an incredible opening of communication not often found between friends. Innocent flirting and spicy comments are only the sugar coating to the amazing understanding we have between us and I couldn’t help but confess how sad I felt after talking to my disbelieving friend. Perhaps I too have lost the capacity to surrender in love to someone even though I’m still fully capable of promoting the concept! The reaction I got was a huge laugh from the other side from someone who knows me quite well despite the distance between us. I was told to stop confusing the ability with the fear and that the ability is only lost when you settle for less than love. I didn’t bother inflating his ego by telling him that once again he was right, what we may lose with time is the courage but never the capacity to love!

A good friend of mine demonstrated great courage recently when the object of her affections for the umpteenth time gave up on fighting for the developing relationship between them. Divorced, and scared to love again, the man had already been burnt by her indecision and demonstrated his insecurity by pushing her away or hurting her with words that didn’t come from the heart. So in a desperate attempt to either make or break, she opened her heart and asked him to either assume his feelings for her and do something about them or set her heart free to love someone else. Words that were strong and sincere did not fall on deaf ears and before very long, our man found the courage to start admitting to those stirring feelings that make us feel week and dependant. That’s right, he found the “I love you” in his vocabulary and the courage to use it. Happy Ending? Not yet… whilst our hero found his sword, our heroine found her running shoes and is just waiting for the shot of the gun to run again. Why? Because she can! Because she’s intelligent and independent and has no need to stick around with second best… because she’s scared shitless of a relationship with a man whose not perfect… or perhaps is but is in love with her… a woman who is not perfect.

We live in a world where people are afraid to hurt and even more afraid to love and so it takes great courage to speak our hearts and our desires because we know that by giving our love and hearts to another person, we give them the ability to hurt us and perhaps even destroy our souls. No one wants to throw their pearl to the pigs especially when you learn how precious it is! But how much worth does it really have if you don’t find someone to share it with? I have absolute confidence that my friend will box her sneakers and give it to the man she’s fallen in love with… But I’m not that confident about the other 99% of the planet.

Part of waiting for the right person usually entails choosing someone who isn’t “damaged goods”… in other words, choosing someone who hasn’t been married, had children or been with too many partners. This way you eliminate the possibility of finding someone who has a history of pain and therefore a greater capacity of hurting you. Experience in failure never looks too good on love profiles now does it? But what idiot thinks that they will find a partner that hasn’t been disappointed or hurt in his lifetime, regardless of the circumstances? As I told my blue eyed friend at coffee:
“Love does not choose by track record; it simply generates from the attraction of souls”.
I used to think that I could avoid the less perfect candidates and keep myself from developing attraction towards them. Today I see things differently. I still believe that dating a man who has been divorced or who has a baby by another woman will still bring emotional hurdles. Because his past will always be a part of who he is, and the mother of his child will always be present in his life and his responsibilities… however…
I believe in love. I believe in the strength of love and its ability to survive these hurdles. What are obstacles in life when you love and are loved? Isn’t it better to walk a difficult road filled with obstacles but be loved rather than walk an easy road by yourself? Never underestimate the power of love between two people!

Love is for Eternity.

Even after twenty or thirty years? Damn right! Routine doesn’t kill love, it simply folds it neatly into a drawer and if you want to set it loose and wild again it’s as much your responsibility as it is your partners. That need you have, that desperate desire to set your hormones free… it’s there, under the façade of your lover.
If we are forced to start a new Chapter in our lives time and time again why should love be any different? Why can’t you feel true love more than once, with different people… or with the same person time and time again?
Time does not take away that capacity… it simply increases the fear and takes away the courage of our heart’s convictions. And so we hide behind our responsibilities and try and convince ourselves that our passionate days are over.
The key to youth and life is in your hands, for only you choose how to life it. You want to break free and love again… then do it! Love! Love passionately, Love recklessly and completely for it was never meant to be dissected or catalogued in the first place! Love will change form just when you think you have the full knowledge of its properties and functions.

“Is this all on your column?”… I reckon it should be my blue eyed friend if you take the time to read back. However if it wasn’t that clear before then it is now!
Yes, I’m a believer in love… a romantic idealist as many have labelled me. I too have been hurt; I too have days on where I wish God allowed me to reconstruct the male race and I too have days on which I feel that I can’t make the connection…
Fear, disbelief and a hard time surrendering… we all suffer from it. In a society that demands responsibility and consciousness, we try to control a feeling that was never meant to be controlled. And while our hearts don’t allow us the choice of who to fall in love with, it cannot force the surrender.
That’s right my friends, you are solely responsible for surrendering to love… To do so, you risk getting hurt or hurting someone else… not to love is to condemn your soul to merely surviving.

So go ahead…buy an extra toothbrush, place it next to your own and find its rightful owner… everything else is merely details.

Friday, May 13, 2005




I woke up this morning and leaned on the fridge while I waited for the kettle to boil. I stared at the red button until it went off and as I drank my cup of tea I stared out my window at nothing in particular.
When I got to the office, I greeted the people, switched on my computer and opened the door to the balcony. Deciding to appreciate the view that I often neglect, I leaned against the railing and stared at the ocean. I didn’t think of much except of how fresh the air smelt that morning. Staring at the glistening reflexes of the sun that bounced off the calm waves I imagined my soul seeping in sunshine and reflecting it twice its magnitude.
I took the time to think of someone special sending a text message and before the phones started ringing or the clients started rushing in, I read and forwarded those e-mails that you always leave for a calm day to look at.
The day hurried by so fast that if it weren’t for the colleague next to me asking where I wanted to eat, lunch hour might’ve passed by without me realising it.
Sitting down at a table full of conversation that had little interest, I was glad to let other people do the talking while I imagined myself outside that window, laughing, joking, happy… catching and reflecting sunshine.
After lunch, I walked into the boss’s office, to leave his flight tickets on his desk and decided to try out his big leather chair. Things looked different from his where he sat although nothing had changed. Allowing myself to feel in place, I twirled around the chair and gave myself another five minutes of bliss before returning to the desk piled with work so unlike the one I sat at.
After work I floated towards the bus but was caught by a familiar face that I’d almost walked right past without noticing. Invited to coffee, I sat at the table while my friend answered and spoke on her phone. Tall people, short people, people with bags, people with smiles, people going places, people going nowhere, people looking for a place to go, I watched as the world passed me by.
Arriving home, I stared at my phone and waited for it to ring. I wanted it to ring though I enjoyed its silence and whilst I stared at it on my kitchen table I pondered whether I should eat or take a shower first.
Have you ever spent a day when you felt that your spirit lived outside your body? Your vital signs are working and your reactions are automatic, almost programmed while you watch yourself from a distance. Unable or unwilling to return to yourself, you simply allow yourself to exist while you wait for your soul to once again make a connection with your body.
The reconnection comes at the strangest moment… mine was in the shower just as I was finishing washing off the conditioner. Feeling the hot jet of water wash away the day’s efforts, I finally began to feel my toes and fingers once again. Switching off the water, I wrapped a towel around my body and stood for the longest time, staring at my reflection in the mirror. It was only when my body was cold and the steam was gone that I found the strength to get out the tub.

Don’t ask me how I’m feeling… ask me how I want to feel.

When you think my thoughts are far, I’m really right beside you. When I isolate myself, retreat from the normal world and give in to the autopilot I’m not losing my soul… I’m finding it.

We all need the time, the space and the silence…
I’m not searching for answers; I’m merely listening to myself.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Strawberries and Cream

Strawberries and Cream


Last night I told a good friend of mine who was at the supermarket to add a box of strawberries and a can of whipped cream to his shopping list. The idea was for him to get home, pack the groceries, give his wife a sneak preview of desert and tell her that it’s served cold, in bed and reserved only for the two of them. No, it’s neither a novelty nor an original idea; in fact you’ll find it in most romance books… however I know few couples that try it.

Teaching an old dog, new tricks? Hell No! I’m pretty sure he has tons of ideas just like the one I gave him… if not better! Nobody just simply forgets how to be romantic and original: we simply stop doing the little things that take just that extra amount of time and effort. As time goes by with a couple, intimacy loses the novelty and we stop doing those little things that make all the difference. What most of these individuals don’t know is that their partner hasn’t forgotten how good that message on the fridge, that phone call in the middle of the afternoon or that midnight massage feels. But they’ve stopped trying because you’ve stopped trying and now both of you use the “routine” or “exhaustion” excuse.

Is she going to protest that you plan to experiment with fruit in her bed? Damn right she is! It will mean she’ll have to wash the sheets again and that she’ll get all sticky, not to mention the stains it will leave… This is if she hasn’t exploded her temper at you for having crazy ideas or asking you what your hidden agenda is!

Have you lowered your shoulders and walked away? Feeling sorry for yourself and wishing you’d never had the idea in the first place?! Maybe you even get angry because she snubbed your efforts… and if it really hurt you, it might just become a good reason for the start of another fight…

Well what did you expect? The effort isn’t in simply presenting the idea… it’s in selling it! I learnt this in a negotiation techniques course that where I was told that no objection is negative if you can turn it around to serve both your and your clients needs. I realised that this concept was not merely a professional one when the trainer himself referred to his wife as his girlfriend. Just like you have to keep coming back to your client to make sure that he’s satisfied, so must you also regain and conquer your partner’s interest over and over again.

If you make the effort to win their affections, they’ll correspond with the same effort to make sure they don’t lose you: Sunshine Guarantee.

Objection: The sheets will get dirty
Solution 1: How about I aim for the belly button or places where we don’t make too much of a mess?
Solution 2: Okay, these sheets are my responsibility, ill wash them and ill make the bed in the morning
Solution 3: Wanna take this in the kitchen?

Objection: I’m gonna get sticky!
Solution 1: Not if the cleaning is up to me!
Solution 2: I promise to keep it to strategic spots
Solution 2: A good reason to take a shower together

Objection: What about the stains?!
Solution 1: I’ll be careful or the fruit can be eaten away from clothing or linen
Solution 2: I’ll do the washing or take it to the Laundromat
Solution 3: A good reason to buy you a new, sexier nightgown.

Objection: Where the hell did you get the crazy idea?
Possible answers: I read it in a book, I saw it on TV, I got in an e-mail or I was in the supermarket and it occurred to me that we haven’t tried this in a while. Geez! How many good reasons do you need to give her for trying out something this good?!!!

Objection: You’re up to something!
Response: Damn right I am! I’m trying to bring the spice (erm fruit) back into the bedroom!

Objection: I’m tired
Answer that works best: I know, that’s why I want to do this for you… let me do this for you… I want you to feel loved… I thought about us… lets try something different…

She wants you to conquer her like you did when you first met. Behind that tired wife, mother and workaholic is a woman with desires that needs to be reminded that she has a right to explore them. That adventure is not something that is only practised in youth. She (or he… this works both ways!) wants that touch and romance as badly as you do!... and if probably as afraid or embarrassed to try is, as you are (were is in the past tense as in BEFORE you read this column!) Of course she’s going to be suspicious and of course she’s going to be defensive! Who wouldn’t be when in a comfortable routine?! The secret is to stop seeing the other person as your spouse, as something you own or as something that you have. See them for who they really are: a free wo/man that could walk out of your life at any moment. Find out their interests, their hidden thoughts, ideas, desires and fantasies and conquer them! That person in your bed has the same red blood going through their veins as you do! To get them to express their desires is the challenge so don’t give up when she tells you that you’re too old for romance… instead fight to conquer and bring out the young and vibrant spirit that she thinks only some other man can revive.

In modern times there are very few who believe in monogamy. It seems that faithfulness no longer belongs in our generation. Trust is no longer based on fidelity and instead defined by those who join swing clubs, swapping partners with full couple consent. Being unfaithful might even boost up your sex life with the one you love and have a commitment to. Many men and women will admit that they are incapable of sticking to just one partner. Thanks to dialogue and comprehension, we are no longer bound by ancient laws that force monogamy.
However, for some eternal romantics like me (and you… there is a bit of sunshine and romance in every human soul)… monogamy is not about the abiding a moral sentence but yes dedicating your soul to just one person. Just like a parent who chooses to have but one child, a soul can choose to love but one wo/man.
Life, love, adventure and all the best experiences are shared with that person because it’s that person you want to share all of you with. Even when routine and responsibility settles in: that person still remains the soul you fell in love with. Therefore the challenge of a monogamous relationship is to keep the spirit alive, to get to know that person and to revive and live in that magical and wondrous place created just by the two of you.

Marriage isn’t a sentence: It’s the combination of two souls who decided bare witness to each other’s life by not living life alone, by loving each other and walking side by side wherever life may lead them.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Beach Blues

Beach Blues


I love the beach! I love the ocean! I love the sunshine on my skin… but damn I hate the way I look in a bathing suit!
No matter how much people tell you that you really don’t look as fat as you think you are: you can’t help but think that they’re just being nice!
Mirrors don’t lie and they have a funny way of becoming your biggest enemies!
Examining myself in the mirror, I understood how Snow White must’ve felt when she looked in the mirror! No wonder she ran off to live with dwarves! The contrast between dark hair and milky skin is not attractive! And no matter how much you tell yourself that other people are also walking around with fair skins during this time of the year, you still enter the beach feeling as if you’re the only one that looks like they’ve just arrived from Alaska!
The tedious job of depilation results in the following thoughts going through your mind:
You always miss a spot!
You look even whiter than before and
Where did all that damn hair come from?

Alright, you’ve dug out your towel and your sunscreen, managed to break away from the mirror without despairing and you’ve just about psyched yourself up to go when your friend informs you that more people will be joining you to go the beach.
Do you realise what this means!
That means that a couple of perfectly nice people are going to be traumatized after seeing all those flaws that you’ve kept hidden under your clothing! You try to cover up a sob as you realise that it’s too late to back out and amuse yourself with stupid jokes like:
“Whales belong in the ocean so you might as well go anyway”.

Arriving, you take a look around to see if you can spot a familiar face, and you silently pray that everyone you know is somewhere else.
Taking off your clothes is the hardest part… it feels like everyone is just waiting for you to expose what is underneath, especially all those good looking tanned guys looking your way. Taking a deep breath and silently swearing, you remove your top while sucking in your stomach and wonder why on earth you decided to go to the beach in the first place!
Once the skirt is off you jump onto your towel and grab the suntan lotion promising that today is the day on which pigmentation becomes a word in your vocabulary once more!
You almost begin to relax until you see your reflection on your buddy’s sunglasses and tell yourself that you’ll be doing yourself and the whole beach a favour by not getting up from your towel… ever!

What is the worst thing that can happen when you’re at the beach and feeling self conscious? It’s very close to seeing that ex, or that colleague with the great body: in my buddy’s own words: “If he ever had an idea of being with me, he probably doesn’t feel that way now!”. That’s right! Those people who at any point were interested in you but hadn’t seen you in your bikini are those you less want to see on the beach. Even if you’re not interested in them, you’re left with this awful feeling as if you’ve disappointed them by not looking like Barbie Swimwear.

A bucket of cold water never hurt anybody…

In this case… try a whole ocean full! Climbing into the ocean, the freezing water somehow was exactly what the doctor ordered to cool down all my thoughts. Enveloped by waves, I felt embraced and loved by my favourite of nature’s elements. Respecting its mighty power, I allowed myself to feel humbled and free. Why in the hell hadn’t I come to beach sooner!!!

There’s something about the way you feel when you step out the water. No matter how embarrassed you may feel, you always feel a whole lot more confident coming out than when you went in. Playing around in the showers with my friends, I’d forgotten about the reasons that had led me to feel so self conscious and from that moment until the time we left I enjoyed every second on the beach.

Life only becomes fun when you stop worrying about what other people see and instead worry more about your own perspective. After taking a shower, I was bummed that there was practically no difference between the white on my ass and the white on my legs. I then noticed my butterfly on my ankle and decided that it belong to a pretty shapely leg. Taking a second look in the mirror, I admitted that I didn’t look as bad as I’d first assessed that morning and promised to give myself such a hard time the next time I went to the beach. The critics I fear so much are those that criticise others in order to sway attention from themselves and all the others don’t bother noticing the things I worry about because they’re probably too self conscious themselves. My only wish is that people worried as much about their souls as they do of their appearances.

The Price of a Call

The Price of a Call


To celebrate its 5 million clients, TMN decided that today all calls would inside her network would be for free causing quite an overload on the network!

What is the price of a call? I suppose it depends on the destination you’re calling, the network you’re using, the tariff you’re on and how long you intend on making that call.
In my line of work, my job is to analyse all of the above and make sure that my client gets the best deal for his profile of traffic. Yes people, I get paid to make sure you get the better deal each time you call from your cell phone.

However… to me, the true price of a call isn’t measured in Euros but in the words that are exchanged in that time frame.
Some people talk and talk but say absolutely nothing. You hear their voices and understand their language but end off the conversation realising that you’ve gotten nothing constructive of what was said. These are what I consider to be oxygen thieves and sound polluters! They are usually the people that I start off the conversation with “Sorry about the other day, my battery went dead”

And then there are those that call you just when you need them the most. One particular person has managed to rescue me from myself more than once this week. First he called me at the airport just as I was about to start feeling sorry for myself. Not only was I given a good dose of support and good humour but he managed to bring out the naughty smile as well. To make sure that the sun would be shining the next day, he called me just as I was getting out of bed to wish me a good morning and to once again make sure that I didn’t despair due to the day before. A phone call at work can be just what the doctor ordered when needing to recharge those batteries; and what better way to start the weekend when getting that surprise call as you’re leaving the office.

To those of you tired of travelling and who still need to make that half an hour car trip home, you’ll be happy to know that your car kit can help you make that trip shorter. If you voice programme your phone, all you have to do is call out the name of that person you wish you were sitting next to and their voice will accompany you through to wherever you need to go. Closing my eyes, I could see Lisbon by night as was described to me and I could almost see myself sitting in that car talking to the driver. During those twenty five minutes, neither of us were alone, we connected together by TMN.

How much did it cost?... €0,79 on the given tariff
What was it worth?,,, Priceless!

Friday, May 06, 2005

Bwah!!! Nobody Likes Me!

Bwah!!! Nobody Likes Me!


This column goes out as a favour to all the people who have wanted to tell you this, have told you this, begged you to understand this but have not succeeded to do so:
GROW UP little Swedish Boy! Nobody likes babies the size of you.
It doesn’t take very long for a girl, woman or anyone who isn’t drunk enough to notice, that you’re just a little boy in seek of some attention. To help you out in your growing process, I’ve revised a few words of advice that I hope (yes hope, for experience tells me your attention span might not grasp this for longer than an hour or so after reading this) that you might take into some consideration:

1. The world does not revolve around you: That’s right honey! No person that you know (except maybe your mother) lives in function of you. We make our own decisions regarding our own lives and take our needs into consideration instead of seeking your approval. When someone fails to recognise that a decision of theirs may come at to some inconvenience to you it does not mean that they don’t like you.
2. You are not a stud: A stud is a man that women are attracted to for being the type of man who knows what a woman wants and gives it to her. You on the other hand spend way to much time in the mirror and live under the illusion that just because you want yourself, women will want you too. The more you think you’re hot, the more others think you’re not. No one likes a moron who thinks he’s all that, even if he is.
3. Discover the definition of responsibility: Nobody is going to pay your bills or buy your drinks forever so if you don’t pitch up for work, they’re going to fire your ass! The idea is to have fun but sticking to your responsibilities… unless you’re dying, you have no excuse not to miss work or ditch meetings. People dislike being let down, they’ll stop trusting you and they’ll eventually stop liking you as well.
4. Save the stories for kids: That’s right boy! No woman is stupid enough to believe bullshit. We can be fooled into believing tiny lies but when you elaborate into telling us about all that you have but obviously don’t, we see past the bullshit. Not even little girls like being lied to, we’ll turn our backs and then you’ll cry about not being attractive or liked.
5. Stop playing the victim: We eventually get sick of you complaining, take you for a sorry weakling that can’t take care of himself and start disliking you for your lack or courage.

The reason that you break down at 6am in the morning, drunk as a skunk and crying about how you feel that nobody loves you is because you’re too bloody selfish to care about anybody else. Get up, take some responsibility for yourself and start caring about someone other than the sorry baby in the mirror… you’ll be surprised how liked you’ll become then.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Terrible Tuesday

Terrible Tuesday


There are times in my life where I feel that all I need to become a fully fledged witch is a mole and a broomstick. Looking myself in the mirror at 5am in the morning, hours before my interview I already had this chilling gut feeling that things weren’t going to go my way. I got dressed slowly and carefully applied my make up not being able to shake that feeling I usually get when I shouldn’t leave the house!
The bad omen continued with the plane ride. Due to strong winds and heavy clouds, the plane shook to such an extent that the airhostesses held onto the overhead compartments and the Italian lady in front of me prayed as if her day to die had come. Although my soul was at ease, I felt that perhaps the stormy weather might be a forecast of what I could expect… and I couldn’t have been more right!
The lady who would be interviewing me was tied up and didn’t pitch up at the hour set and an hour and a half later I was told that her colleague would do the interview instead. Not quite prepared and perhaps even a bit annoyed to be given that responsibility, the substitute interviewer wore an expressionless look of someone who didn’t look very impressed. Nervous and anxious I did my best to respond with sincerity and create some kind of empathy but I realised that I wasn’t being understood when I was told that my motives for wanting the position weren’t to their satisfaction. I realised then that my study ambitions had spoken louder than my ambition for that specific position and even though I tried reinforcing my interest in the creative and systematic sides of the job, it didn’t seem enough to convince the person in front of me. I was later reminded by a good friend that I didn’t respect the P.I´s of my interviewer. If I’d thought more of his P.I´s (Points of Interest), I would’ve spoken more about what I could contribute to the position instead of my personal ambitions to study. I chided myself later on because I knew better and it was a stupid mistake to make, however by the end of the day I was reminded that life has a way of writing the right between crooked lines and that perhaps things happened for the best.

Friends are the brothers and sisters that God forgot to give us…

Fatigue and disappointment can be a heavy dose for depression and the way I was feeling, any dark room or corner would be great to just sit down and cry. Exhausted from the nights I’d lost sleep, the stress building up to that interview and the disappointment of having things go wrong… I was about ready to bury my head under the first blanket. However, I’d have to wait to lick my wounds… for I was surrounded by colleagues. And not just any colleagues… the kind that you always hope you’ll find. Greeted with caring smiles and optimistic words, the strong support I felt from the people I don’t speak to everyday was overwhelming. So much so that it contributed to all the courage I needed to maintain my strength and faith. What strikes me as most surprising is that they themselves don’t realise the strength of their support, being the speech given before the interview or the quick wishing of “good luck”.
During lunch, surrounded by some of my favourite people, it occurred me how lucky I was to be sitting in midst of such amazing individuals. I sat next to a bold personality who seemed to me as someone with very interesting opinions, one of them being: you shouldn’t eat bananas with the veins. Beside me was my favourite cowboy who was amused at playing cat and dog with a sweet friend who had taken great pains to organise the lunch… we still don’t know which of them is winning or losing… all I know is that I love them both to bits. Then there’s that shy friend with few words but a lot of in the soulful eyes behind the glasses who made me wish I travelling by bus instead of by plane. These special people make you want to stay indefinitely. Even though I felt broken inside, they still manage to retract sincerely joyful smiles from my face.

Airport Blues…

By the end of the most exhausting day of the year, I sat alone at the airport in the same chair that I waited to see my father just five months prior to that day. Not being able to concentrate on my book nor having the strength to talk to anyone, I fought back tears and consoled myself with the fact that I was exactly where I should be. I’d had just found my inner balance when I saw my boss walking towards me with the director of Azores in tow. I summoned all the strength in me and managed a smile, but it fell away pretty quickly when my boss asked me how my interview had gone. I expected him to agree with me when I told him about my mistake, yet he seemed supportive and even cheered me up with his good humour. I found myself enjoying his company seeing as it’s not often we speak as merely two people as opposed to two professionals. And it’s not everyday your boss turns to his peer and says “Sunshine speaks a different language but I understand her when I want to”… I couldn’t resist agreeing “That’s right boss, we generally only understand each other when YOU want to”

Lesson Learnt

What did I (re) learn from this experience?
1. Worrying is the most fruitless effort made by man
2. At interviews, stick to talking about what you can contribute to the company… after all, what you’re selling is yourself and not your ambitions.
3. As long as you give it your best, life has a way of making things work out exactly how it’s supposed to: Have Faith!

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Change Of Perspective

Change Of Perspective


I used to get angry with my father when he told me that with time, I’d see things differently. His words were a threat to what I considered to be my maturity implying that I was too young to understand the things I already had an opinion about… and yet, the older I grow, the more I agree with him. It isn’t that comprehension isn’t attainable at a certain age; it just means that with time, you tend to understand differently.

At my interview for which would result in working for the company that I currently work for, I recall walking into the room with very low expectations. My language skills weren’t up to the required standard and I knew that I simply didn’t fit in with all the other uniformed people that represented the job I was required to do. So why did I go? Well… why not?! I suppose it couldn’t hurt to see where the end of the road took me.
The two people that interviewed me consisted of the store manager and the department manager, better known today as my boss considering there is no one above him on the island where I work. They dissected me piece by piece, assessing my answers to see whether or not I was capable of answering to the job’s needs.
I knew that my Portuguese would be an obstacle as was my age and work experience so I did my best to answer their questions with sincerity as my only weapon. I wasn’t sure that I’d convinced the store manager who didn’t comment or say much and I was quite annoyed with the gentlemen with hairy fingers who simply could not stop talking. The reason he’d annoyed me is that he asked me repeatedly If I was sure that I’d be able to handle Madeira, as if I’d only last a month or two before packing my bags and running back home.
Already convinced that I wouldn’t be getting the position, I put aside all good sense, looked him straight in the eye and boldly told him the following:
“I don’t expect you to believe me when I tell you that I’m here to stay, after all you don’t know me but consider this: I packed my bags and left the people and friends I love the most because I wanted to make something of myself. Where I come from that’s called courage and there’s no way I’m going back with my tail in between my legs, I came to stay and if I don’t make it in your company then I’ll make it somewhere else but I will succeed.”
Dead On Delivery?.. They told me later on that those words got me my job.

My boss and I have had our differences. He concentrates on the numbers and I concentrate on the human factor. However we both want the same result: satisfied clients. In some strange way, we even manage to complement each other. I’ve had days of great frustration but they are nothing compared to the days of great admiration and respect that I’ve also felt for him. My high regard began in the sense of gratitude and admiration for a man who was intelligent enough to take a risk on a girl that barely spoke the language for a job where speech was crucial to more than 80% of its requirement. I did my best to learn the language and dominate the knowledge of my company’s system and services to make sure that even if my six month contract wasn’t renewed at least I would have paid this man’s faith in me with the effort of trying.
Neither of us was disappointed, and when renewal came to play, I was rewarded with the position I find myself in today.

Stubborn and hard headed, he seems to win by the tactic of exhaustion. No matter how carefully you organise your speech, he’ll talk around you until he has his way implemented in your mind. Without having to raise his voice very loudly, he manages to talk you into submission. It never ceases to amaze me how cleverly he manipulates you into dancing his steps. If he weren’t my boss and this wasn’t his chosen profession, there isn’t a doubt in my mind that he would succeed as either a lawyer or a politician.
However, what he lacks in human management, he makes up for each time he fights for our department’s best interests: most times, even without our knowledge.

I got an e-mail from a good friend in Lisbon letting me know about a vacancy in the marketing department. Without much thought and mostly to honour her efforts, I sent in my Curriculum Vitae and thought no more about the subject. The requirements involved courses that I did not possess and I have long since conformed myself to the simpler life that I’d been living. But then I received that call… and suddenly studying in Portugal’s capital is once again an option in my life. Falling on a day on which I knew I’d be in Lisbon for training purposes, the interview was scheduled.

Human Resources guaranteed secrecy however there is always that risk that my boss should hear it from some idiot who could remark “So I hear one of you girls want to run to our side”. I didn’t want him to hear or understand it that way. I hadn’t expected to get called for an interview involving a position that I have little qualifications for and I wasn’t about to risk eluding myself by putting any enthusiasm into it. In fact, my expectations lie with in: “Thanks for coming, don’t call us, we’ll call you”
Deciding that it was best not to alarm my colleagues with the slim possibility of my permanent absence the only doubt in my mind was whether or not to tell my boss.

It’s usually a bad idea to tell people of a decision that you haven’t made yet. You never know how their reaction will affect the results. By telling my boss of my interview, I could risk a bad reaction resulting in a negative influence or to put it plain and simple: He could make my life a living hell! None of the above reasons are strong enough to make up my mind to tell him, except for the fact that I didn’t want to repay a man’s faith with treachery and I felt that not telling him would be as good as stabbing him in the back.
He has always been the prime supporter of those who wish to study and I knew that once I explained my reasons for wanting the change, he would understand. However, my fear lied in the fact that he might feel betrayed that I’d send in my Curriculum without asking for his help first… most of all, I didn’t want to hurt him with my actions that will most probably lead to no advancement than the interview itself. However, I decided that it was better that he heard it from me than from anybody else and so after lunch, I took in some papers from him to sign and waited for the right moment to tell him.
Time can go by so slowly and simultaneously fast at a moment when you have something difficult to say. Your chest is pounding because it seems like you never get to that moment and at the same time your palms are sweaty because you dread the moment itself. When all was signed and stamped, I closed my eyes and summoned my courage and my revised speech.
My boss is nurturing his sixth sense or I’m transparent for it seemed he knew since the moment he walked into the office that I would hold surprising news. I became even more nervous when he asked me if I was going to ask for a raise or if I was leaving the company. Caught completely off guard I first answered no and then yes and then I was just plain confused as I realised that I had just gotten off to a really bad start in our conversation. Deciding to just get it off my chest before I forgot why I was even there, I explained my motives and told him what I’d done and the interview that awaited me. Taking a deep breath after I’d finished, I searched for a reaction on his face. His first reaction almost provoked a heart attack. Picking up the phone he told me he was going to give the marketing director a piece of his mind and before I could control myself I grabbed the phone from him realising that my fears had come to life.

The deep laugh from his throat told me that my boss still held a sense of humour and I was surprised… if not extremely relieved… to find that not only was my boss supportive but he wanted to put in a good word for me. In fact, if a transfer is what I was looking for, he was more than happy to speak to the chief director of our whole department into arranging me a place within my line of work. I stared at my boss in disbelief. He doesn’t understand our human needs within the office, but tell him that the objective is studying and evolution and he might just bend over backwards to help you. In his office I once again got a clear glimpse of the man before me who speaks little or nothing about his personal life. Studying was the biggest obstacle in his life and I realised that he valued it so that he feels each human being should have access to it. I told my boss that I’d recently discovered that the course I wish to pursue is now available on this island and that it might be possible for me to stay and study. His response to me was overwhelming and the only reason the tears didn’t fall were out of shame:
“As a boss I’ll be more than sorry to see you go, but I’ll give you the advice that I plan on giving my son one day: even if you can stay here and study, I advise you to go. See the world, experience it and always follow the opportunity. One day, if you wish to return than do it but allow yourself the opportunity to expand your mind”

I once saw the man in front of me as a man of great intelligence… with time, I realised that he wasn’t as clever as I thought him to be. Lacking in the human touch, I realised that he possessed vision of the bigger picture but lacked in the finer details, the ones that create the very picture he seeks. Within further time, I saw less of the capable boss and more of the flawed human being. Today I see him differently once more. I see the same man at my interview, the same man that hired me, promoted me, put me through tears and helped make the person that I am today. Should nothing come from this interview, I will be grateful for the admiration and respect I recovered for the man I call my boss.