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?

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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.

Good Luck Guys

Today the students of the Java Design Patterns class are writing the final examination. Yesterday I found a one page summary of all the patterns covered in the class and I emailed it to them. I know it was a bit late to send the summary sheet but I felt it could come in handy. This morning, I sent text messages to the students in both classes wishing them all the best in the exam. After having prepared and delivered this course for the first time, I have found areas where it can be improved. I can only hope the work I did was enough to ensure that the students understood the concepts well enough to pass the exam. Two students from one class dropped the course and it’s my assumption that the course material may have been too programming intensive for them. Some students found 15 design patterns to be quite a lot to cover in one semester and it is something I will take into consideration when delivering the course next year. A mock examination as well as some online multiple choice questions were created to assist the students with exam preparation. Even though 2 students out of both classes completed the online questions, I hope the mock examination was enough to help them prepare. I included 80% of the topics from the final examination in the mock examination, changing question structure where needed. I provided as much assistance as possible to the students with their examination preparation as no past papers were available. As I write this blog post, the students are writing the exam, which should end in about 80 minutes. I’m quite excited to see how they performed in the exam as this would not only reflect how well they grasped the topics but how well I presented the information to them.

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.

Twenty Years

Today my sister is no longer a teenager as she turns 20. I look back on those 20 years and how quickly they’ve passed by. She’s grown into a beautiful young woman with so much potential. She’s currently pursuing her law degree with the University of London and she’s enjoying her life the way the average 20 year old would. Looking back on how quickly those 20 years have gone by makes me realise how quickly another 20 years will soon pass me by. I also reminisce on my life when I turned 20. I look at the changes I’ve made in my life physically and who am I as a person and I think about who I’ll become over the next 20 years. I know this year I have made and will continue to make some major life changing decisions and I’m excited to see how it will impact my life 20 years from now. I try to pass on any guidance and knowledge to my sister that I think can help her along her life’s journey and I wish her all the best in her endeavours. To my sister Anikah, I love you, I am very proud of you and I hope you continue to let your light shine through the way you choose to live your life.