Tag Archives: write

Change is good

I spent most of last evening creating a new home for this blog.

I’ve wanted, for a while now, to have a special place for it that I could customize. Having had more than a constant month of blogging behind me, I figured I was ready to make the switch.

Some people have been joking about me having a mid-life crisis (what with a nose piercing and coloring my hair red in the last month), but I think these are just some things I’d always thought of doing and for some reason kept putting off.

Fear of change hiding timidly behind all those excuses.

Having a website was one of those “aspirations” and today I take the plunge.

By next week, I will have figured out a redirect, so any visitors to this blog can automatically be transferred to the new site without any clicking.

I’m initiating and embracing all these changes in my life.

Small as they are, they make me happy.

Thanks for stopping by and I look forward to seeing you in my new online abode.

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Filed under Cool, writing

F r e e yourself

Free yourself

Of expectations

Money

Restrictions

Constraints.



Free yourself

Of limitations

Material bindings

Wants and needs.



Free yourself

Of ambition

A job

Stress

Demands.

Free yourself

Of competition

Hype

Frustrations

Pain.


Free yourself

Of order

Routine

Planning.


Free yourself

Of  obligations

Rituals

Guilt

Remorse.


Free your “self”

From your body.


Be a stream of consciousness

With ideas

That take flight

And soar.


Free yourself

Just for a day

And live

Life.

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Professionalism matters

I am surprised at how many people lack professional etiquette in the workforce. Too many unprofessional encounters have led me to believe it’s because people don’t quite understand what professionalism is. So, here goes:

1. Dress appropriately: There’s not much latitude when it comes to office attire in a regular cubicle environment. While niche offices (beauty salons, artist’s studio, etc.) might not have certain constraints, in most work-environments people are expected to dress professionally. So, no halter tops, no cleavage-showing, no micro mini skirts, no stockings with holes for women. No vests, no sweats, no clinging shirts, no bling for men. In short — you’re not there to party or express your personality. You’re there to work, so dress accordingly.

2. You are the organization: For an outsider you’re your organization’s ambassador. You’re the talking head. The representative. Keep that in mind when interacting with clients. What you say, do, or wear reflects on the organization you’re working for. If you don’t demonstrate pride in your work or respect for it, no one else will.

3. Accept critique: A lot of people take critique personally. Please don’t. If I were to cry every time  an editor told me I needed to write a second draft (Boo hoo! So, you’re saying the first draft wasn’t PERFECT!?!?!), I’d be drowning in a sea of my own tears. You’re there to learn, stretch your mind, expand upon your skills . Welcome critique with open arms. It’s only helping you grow — even if it isn’t helpful, it still teaches you patience! It doesn’t mean you suck; it’s just a way of telling you there is potential for something better. Embrace it.

4. Don’t socialize your day away: We spend more time at work than we do with our families any given weekday, so it’s natural to develop “friendships” in the workplace. But remember to keep social banter to a minimum. Your first priority is work and while everyone enjoys a bit of office gossip here and there, your water cooler conversations shouldn’t take over your day. Go for lunch or dinner with your office pals, grab a mug of beer or a cup of coffee outside office hours. Your office space wasn’t meant to be your personal living room. Also, remember that perception is reality — you may get all your deadlines met and be a top-notch worker, but if people know you for your rumor-milling or domestic-adventure stories more than your work ethic, there’s something wrong with that picture.

5. Beware of social media time sinks: Sure everyone’s on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Buzz and all those other time sinks, but if it isn’t part of your job profile, you really shouldn’t be using your work time to update your status or send tweets by the minute. I’ve had people make clients wait just so they could finish posting their latest photos to Facebook. Nothing tells a client that you’re not serious about your work as peering over your shoulder to see the Facebook logo staring back.

6. Don’t whine all the time: Nobody likes a whiner. Period. Everyone has loads of stuff to do. Everyone is spread thin. Everyone has zero budget. We get it. It’s ok to vent once in a while, but if you’re always complaining all you’re doing is bringing everyone’s morale down. It’s bad enough to begin with — no one needs it slapped in their faces all the time. Also, if you’re whining all the time, it won’t take long for people to mutter under their breaths: “If it’s so bad, why don’t you leave?”

7. Watch how you speak and how you write: Wassup?  See ya later dawg! Dude, hurry up! — not exactly office speak. You’re a white-collar worker in a professional work environment — act the part. Also, watch that slang in your professional communication. While emoticons and CUL8Rs may be alright when chatting with your buddies, office e-mail requires a certain amount of “seriousness.” Typing full words and coherent sentences makes a difference.

8. Don’t tie your emotions with your job: Some people take everything you tell them personally. Your job is not you. You are not your job. Stop getting your emotions in the mix. Don’t be detached, but don’t be so invested in your job that if roadblocks occur, you experience a nervous breakdown. Be civil even if you don’t get along with someone.

9. Respect other people’s time: Never leave people waiting. When you show up late you’re telling folks that you don’t really care. It’s insulting. It’s disrespectful. Just as you have a gazillion things to do, so do they. If you absolutely can’t make it on time, it’s professional courtesy to call ahead and let the other person know you’re running behind. When you say you’ll be there, mean it.

10. Don’t be cocky: Remember, everyone is dispensable. And you’re not above this rule. So, do your job well. But don’t forget that the machine will carry on just as well without you. You may be great at what you do, but you’re not the only one. Be proud of who you are and what you do, but don’t go rubbing it in people’s faces. With talent, comes humility.

This isn’t by any means a comprehensive list. Just the “top 10” compilation, if you will, from my personal experiences with those snooty, self-absorbed nincompoops….eh…no need to be uncivil — let’s just say “those unprofessional people.”

Have more tips? Do share.

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A journey of self-discovery

I sat in silence.

The sky engulfed me. So did the greenery.

It was a meditative state … hearing nothing but the chirping of the birds.

The sound of the breeze in the rustling leaves.

The smell of grass.

Everything kissed by the sun.

I was at peace.

As I cocked my head to the left, I saw the freeway … glistening metal and glass edifices.

A mass of civilization. People running from Point A to Point B. Mindlessly.

Trying to make ends meet. Trying to figure out their purpose in life through their work. Trying to survive in a consumerist battlefield.

Perched up on the green folds of the mountain, I tried to blur it out.

All needs, wants, ambition, goals — vanished.

Replaced by calm.

It was so real, that it felt surreal.

And then came a flood of questions.

Why didn’t I make more time for such escapes from a life that continued to stress me?

Why have I built a life that continually demands me to be a robot?

Why can I not just leave it all behind?

Why can’t I enjoy more time with Nature?

Why can’t I just spend days wandering, reflecting, marveling?

Why do I need a routine, a structure to make sense of my existence?

Why can’t I just be?

Escape.

Create my own reality.

I didn’t come back with any answers, but the questions keep nagging at me.

When I know what I really want to do, when I know what brings me contentment, when I know what makes me fulfilled…

What’s holding me back?

Is it a false sense of security?

Is it just because?

I don’t want to go down the “I don’t know” street…it never leads me to any answers, just buys me more time to muster up the courage and ultimately confront my fears.

I want to close some doors and not look back.

I want to open some doors and explore with wild abandon.

One day soon we’ll have to sit and talk it through.

I, me, and myself on a journey of self-discovery.

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Also posted on Writers Rising.

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An inquiring mind

A couple of my posts in the recent past have triggered some “interesting” in-person/offline reactions — people have said that I am “too philosophical” or that I “want to live in an ideal world.”

I’ve been told some of these issues don’t concern them (or me, for that matter) and never will … so why bother?

Why spend time trying to tackle issues that will never arise? Why not just let things be? Why ruffle feathers? Why advocate for change when this is what it is? Why not just “enjoy life” and “take it easy”?

Why do I look for answers where there are none? Why do I keep pushing people out of their comfort zones? Why do I espouse debate?

They tell me to lighten up. To act my age. To have some fun in life.

I ask them: Why not just stop thinking all together?

What is the point of getting an education that stresses on using one’s critical thinking skills if you’re not willing to use them? Actually, what’s the point of education, even?

Why not just go with the flow, stop asking questions, and propagate the status quo?

Complacency is so easy. So is conformity.

But is that all we want of our lives? That which is convenient?

Even if we don’t really believe in social stereotypes, just shut up and assimilate?

Because it is what it is?

I ask questions because I have a thinking mind. I wonder, I fear, I suspect, I marvel, I doubt.

I seek to be a better person. I hope to be the source of some improvement, no matter how miniscule.

I don’t think everything is right the way it is.

And I think we dwell so much on insignificant things that those that really matter get sidestepped.

Those of you who read these blog posts and tell me to enjoy life: you are a privileged lot. You have the mental faculties, the education, and the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of those who don’t.

So, to you I say, grow up.

I use my writing to probe. To analyze. To connect with a larger audience.

I am not about to squander it for posting trivia. I am not here to entertain. I am here to start a dialogue — even if it is with yourself.

I am here to express my appreciation of this life and the world we live in. I am here to comment on the beauty and the ugliness of it all.

I am here to be honest.

I am not sober and thoughtful all the time. I know how to have fun. But I cannot live the obsequious life. Or the smug life.

This blog is a reflection of who I am — it is a tapestry of many different emotions.

It’s like a car ride through different terrains. We’ll admire the natural beauty, honk through the urban setup, and even stop for ice cream along the way, but the journey is going to be bumpy and uncomfortable at times.

Hop on if you’d like to stretch those mental muscles.

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Filed under communication, Personal, writing

Slaves to sensationalism

News? It’s such a joke these days.

There was a time when broadcast media reported on, analyzed, and facilitated critical thinking. There was a time when reporters were serious journalists covering social, political, economic, religious, world issues of significance.

There was a time when one wore the journalist badge proudly.

With the pressure of rolling something — anything — out every minute in our 24/7 news cycle, not only has the quality of news reports declined, but the idea of what constitutes news has changed as well.

I recently watched Rann, a Hindi movie exploring the difference (?) between news and sensationalism. What they portrayed wasn’t any different from what we’re bombarded with in the guise of news every morning, afternoon, and night.

This morning I received an e-mail from Ragan News Stand with the blurb:

Have you heard about Donna Simpson? She’s a 600-pound New Jersey woman who’s all over cable news today. Why? She’s trying to gain 400 pounds! And she’s funding this diet with donations from her Web site. That’s right; people are paying to watch her eat. Cable news, says the Web site Mediaite, loves this story, because these networks are lazy. “Here’s a story with a light reporting load, but lots of eyeball-grabbing images and talking head fodder,” Mediaite’s Tommy Christopher wrote. Consider the Donna Simpson story — light reporting, lots of eyeball-grabbing images and talking head fodder — the next time you draft a pitch … to cable news, at least.

Is that what we’re reducing “news” to? Striking visuals, zero investigative reporting, and superficial, irrelevant stories — almost like mini-soap operas to entertain, not educate, us?

When I interned at a local TV station a couple of years ago and questioned why we chose to do a story on “tight stockings and its effects on women’s health” instead of one on “breakthrough cancer research,” I was told that’s what the viewers want to see!

Really?

Is this the kind of fluff we’re willing to accept in lieu of real problems that need to be addressed? Have we resigned to the media moguls telling us what news should be? If not, why don’t we, the viewers, voice our disgust?

Or, are we ok being entertained by television news, because our assumption is that the “real” stuff will be covered by print outlets anyway?

The media is supposed to be a reflection of who we are as a society — is this what we have become? Slaves to sensationalism?

Now, don’t go about tweeting this. It might just show up on CNN’s ego-surfing coverage on your telly!

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Writing is all about editing

One of the most critical aspects of writing is often the one most overlooked: editing. Everyone thinks they can write. But there is a difference in writing, and writing well. That difference is where the editor comes in.

Looking to trim unnecessary words, making expressions stronger, paraphrasing quotes, moving critical information to the top, ending with a punch — the editor looks at the written piece with new eyes. Critical ones.

Weeding away the fluff. Polishing the rough edges. Making the piece sing.

It’s hard to retain the voice of the writer and yet capture the essence of an article. What’s harder is editing your own content.

I’ve been trained in school and on the job to never let the first draft be the final one. I write my initial thoughts. Build a structure. Fill in all the details. And walk away.

Re-reading what I’ve written a day, or sometimes even a couple of hours, later helps me finesse it. I can usually make it sharper. Add some interesting visuals. Make sure it all holds together well.

Then I think of a title that sums up the piece. And subheads that will move it along forward if it’s a lengthy article or blog post.

Finally I proofread. I’ve learned that relying solely on a spellchecker isn’t worth the time you save.

For my blog posts, I then add tags, choose categories, and, after a little bit of trepidation, hit the Publish button.

Even though this is an informal platform, it’s important to not let the quality of your writing lapse. It doesn’t matter what or why you write or blog —  editing takes your writing from a collection of thoughtful expressions to effective communication.

Also see:

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Filed under communication, writing