Sacrifice and Compromise

Lately, I’m reminded that in relationships there must be some sacrifice and compromise for it to work. How much should one compromise in a relationship, I’m still trying to figure that one out. A close friend of mine told me a few months ago, that I compromise too much of myself to make friendships and relationships work. I think compromise and sacrifice are great once the other person can be thankful for what their partner is willing to give up to make them happy. My last serious relationship ended in 2009 to one of my best friends and I’m really glad we have maintained a great friendship after the break up. Having spent the past six years focusing on myself, compromise can be somewhat of a challenge. I’ve invested so much in my education and career that I believe I need to grab at every opportunity that comes my way, even at the expense of my health and time with loved ones. I recently had the opportunity to work with a start-up here in Trinidad and Tobago and sadly, I turned down the opportunity. I looked at my current schedule and I knew it would be impossible to manage. I’m making great headway with a web based application and my lecturing duties are extremely important to me and I’m also finding it easier to make time to spend with loved ones. To risk losing the things that I have working for me now may not be a sensible compromise. It’s impossible to grab at every opportunity that comes your way and it’s understandable if you feel you need to. I wish that start-up all the success in the world even though I cannot be a part of it. One old saying that I always remember is “One bird in the hand is worth two in the bushes“.

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A Gentler Approach

Oh how do I love my Aunt Bernadette. She is my father’s eldest sister and I often describe her as the epitome of female perfection. The respect I have for her as a person far surpasses the respect I have for my mother and father combined, not that I love my parents any less. I’ve always admired her approach when dealing with me and people in general. She has never raised her voice or her hand at me, yet she can easily influence my decision making. My parents on the other hand, have both raised theirs hands and voices at me and yet I have disobeyed them on numerous occasions. I recall noticing this about her as a teenager and I often wondered, how does she do it. I would look at other family members and friends who would often use aggression, obscene language or try to instill fear in someone else to get what they want from a person, whereas she would find kind words and even a bit of scripture to get her point across. This lady has amazed me all my life. She was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and even her approach to dealing with it has been inspiring. I would admit that growing up I was a bit more aggressive than I am now but after having noticed how my Aunt Bernadette got the things she needed and wanted in life by taking a gentler approach, I was determined to try it myself. I am no where close to being like her but I constantly aim for it. People and circumstances constantly test me to see how much I really want to change but it helps to focus my mind on her when I’m tempted to act otherwise. While there may be many people who have found a more aggressive approach to work for them and they have gotten what they wanted, it’s important to consider the psychological consequences of the person who is the recipient of such aggressive behavior. The emotional and mental abuse passed on to someone can affect so many aspects of that persons life and the people around them. Whenever I call my Aunt Bernadette for advice on anything, I can guarantee that she’ll be honest, give her opinion about both sides of the situation and always suggest I pray about it.  Aunt Bernadette, I love you dearly, please continue to be an inspiration to me and for many others who look up to you.

Roles and Responsibilities

Before I was born my parents separated and I was raised by my mother. I would spend some holidays with my dad and see him on average every 2 weeks. I was raised in an extended family home with grandparents, aunts, uncles and for me, most importantly…cousins, the best compromise for siblings when you’re an only child. As I mentioned in my previous post, my grandmother was the first to wake up in the morning and the last one to go to bed at night. She did everything and in my opinion, she was superwoman. She cooked, cleaned, washed, ironed, took care of her children and grandchildren and was also responsible for the upkeep of the garden. At times she even used those plants in her garden to play the role of a doctor, making teas for the common cold, stomach cramps, headaches, you name it. It’s not that my grandfather did nothing, it’s just that I saw my grandmother play a much bigger role with respect to taking care of the home. Even when my mother began dating after my father, I also noticed her doing quite a lot to maintain the home. I believe watching my grandmother, my mother and even my aunts take care of the household, has somehow conditioned my mind to believe that women need to do it all. I hardly saw my grandmother ask my grandfather to do much even though he knew there were things he was responsible for, like maintaining the physical appearance of the house. Times have changed and many women are no longer housewives, so the role I would have seen my grandmother play in the home, is one that has changed quite a bit. Responsibilities are shared more between husband and wife and there are even more husbands who stay at home while the wife works. Years ago, I noticed that as women left the home to work longer hours, family units started to fall apart and couples divorced more regularly. I’m not casting blame on anyone here but it seems that a woman’s role in keeping the family unit together is quite invaluable. As we switch and share roles and responsibilities, I can’t help but wonder, are we doing it mainly for convenience or for the benefit of the family unit?

Can’t Have It All

Earlier this year, I read an article by Ivanka Trump talking about women not being able to have it all. Ivanka Trump is the daughter of business mogul Donald Trump. She is also the executive vice president of development and acquisitions for The Trump Organization and the founder of the Ivanka Trump fashion brand. Most importantly, she is a wife and a mother of two beautiful children, daughter Arabella Rose and son Joseph Frederick. Ivanka recently launched the initiative #WomenWhoWork, which aims to “celebrate the many different ways in which women work and to redefine and break stereotypes around, what it looks like to be a working woman today.”. In an interview with Business Insider, Trump explained her perspective on work-life balance. She frankly says, “You can’t have it all.” When people ask her how she balances work and life, her response is always: “I don’t, and I don’t try to.” “People obsess too much about balance,” she said. “A scale is only in balance for a brief second. Inevitably the pendulum swings. It’s impossible to maintain.” Ivanka says, it’s less about balancing a “work life” and a “home life” and more about creating one rich, full life that’s tailored to my specific goals and priorities.

As I’ve decided to give my personal and family life a bit more focus, I too am realising the difficulties with trying to create a balanced life. I began feeling a bit overwhelmed with my additional responsibilities and sometimes I even felt as if I needed to give up something in order to feel a greater sense of accomplishment in at least one area. I grew up watching the women in my family. My grandmother was the first to rise in the morning and the last one in the family to go to bed at night. For a working women who still has the responsibility of taking care of her husband and children, I can only imagine a full night’s rest of 8-10 hours sleep can seem like such a fairy tale. Sometimes I think that it’s a bit unfair for women but then again there are times I see how privileged we are. We are expected to be as educated as men but in some organisations, industries or countries, we will never be professionally equal to men. Even after contributing our day’s work at the office, we switch our hats, become more submissive and nurturing and come home to take care of our families.

It’s inevitable that some of us will have to sacrifice some of our professional goals for a family life. Having been so focused on my career for most of my life, I’m starting to realise that I need to view family life with equal or greater importance than I do my career. The drive and passion I have towards my professional goals and accomplishments need to also be the drive and passion I have towards my personal life. When asked what’s her definition of success, Ivanka says happiness. She doesn’t think you are truly successful unless you are a happy person and are happy with your life. She recalls many people who are professionally successful but miserable. She concluded by saying that she’s happy when she’s achieving her professional goals and when she’s with her husband and children.

Daily Inspiration

For a while now I’ve been receiving daily inspirational emails from the Napoleon Hill Foundation. It’s been about a year now since I’ve subscribed to them and I am most thankful for the daily inspiration I receive every morning. There is also the Facebook Page that can be liked and followed so posted content appears in your feed. I first became greatly interested in Napoleon Hill in early 2013 and his teachings have been a great inspiration to me. I purchased audio books, electronic books as well as printed copies. Napoleon Hill is probably most famous for saying “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve“. Today’s inspiration is about “Nature yielding her most profound secrets to those who are determined to uncover them.” It goes as follows “The field of science is perhaps the best illustration of how success always seems to come to those who apply the principle of accurate thinking in a persistent, determined effort. America’s great inventor Thomas A. Edison is said to have failed 10,000 times in his attempt to develop a workable electric light bulb. He learned from each failure and refused to quit until he succeeded. Breakthroughs occur every day because a determined person continues to search for solutions to complex problems long after everyone else has given up and gone home. You may not invent the light bulb or the next supercomputer, but you can find creative solutions to old problems if you apply the proven principles of success consistently and persistently.” I am sure after reading this anyone can smile and think about some experience where this has proven to be true. I usually repost these daily inspirations to my My Facebook Page for my friends who do not subscribe to the site. I’ve even received messages from a few friends thanking me for the postings. While I subscribed to the site for daily inspiration for myself, sharing the daily quote and seeing how it inspires my friends have brought me more satisfaction than I ever expected. Thank you again Napoleon Hill.

Changing my Schedule

Today is the last day of the semester and while a big part of me will miss lecturing for a bit, my body is extremely happy. Last year during a doctor’s visit, I was reminded of the importance of sleep and how it can negatively affect my memory and my hormones as well as many other areas of my body. Over the past couple months I’ve noticed some changes in my body that I’m not quite happy with and I know it’s due to a lack of sleep. As a result, I’ve been slowly making changes to my schedule over the past 2-3 months to see what works best for me. I’ve planned out a new routine that I hope will work for me that would allow me at least one additional hour sleep per night. It’s my goal to sleep for 7-8 hours per night to give my body what it needs. While I can function on less sleep with a bit of caffeine lol, that little voice in my head is urging me to give rest greater priority. This would result in me arriving to work around 9AM. For most employees in my department this time is quite normal. I must say that I appreciate my manager, he is very understanding with respect to the time staff arrives at the office, especially those coming from far east or south Trinidad. With lecturing ending at 9PM on weeknights, it was sometimes a struggle to get my day started around 4AM or 5AM, so this new wake up time is one I can keep even on weekends. With teaching resuming on 25th May, I have time to catch up on sleep and prepare for classes for the third semester.

A Lighter Load

For the May to August semester at the University, I will be taking a lighter work load. This semester there were weeks I lectured 5, sometimes 6 days but next semester my maximum will be 4. So far I’ve had discussions to lecture for 2 days for the next semester and I’m awaiting feedback on further courses. A lighter work load will also give me the time to focus on developing the iOS Application Development course for the Bachelor Degree programme for the September to December semester. Since I’ve been spending so much time with Martin and I now refer to him as my boyfriend, he’s encouraged me to take some time for me, to rest, to reflect and focus more on personal relationships than giving my all to work. His life is a bit more balanced than mine and I admire how he makes time to call and visit his family and friends and how he prioritises rest. I can definitely take a page out of his book for the next few months and take some more time to relax and focus on myself and my personal relationships.