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My Jobless Life

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August 2015

Fight For Your Peace of Mind. Think!

Today I saw a post on Facebook that I feel was an attempt sow panic for whatever reason people choose to do things like that and though I normally keep my opinions to myself on FB, I had to give my 2 cents worth. This is it below.

On your marks. Ready. Panic!
On your marks. Ready. Panic!

For those who don’t know the country, this is 200 South African Rand and it is supposedly worth less than 10 British Pound. Really? If you believe any random expert over your own common sense, it is. This was my response to the FB post:

This is the kind of twisted shit that makes people’s lives miserable. Everyone is panicking about a stupid meme that doesn’t make any difference to our daily lives. Those who panic and criticize don’t even understand macro-economics or what the real meaning of an exchange rate is.

Since a blog is such a personal thing, it will become apparent over time that I lean toward what is considered conspiracy theory and unashamedly so.

With issues such as the global economic downturn, loss of value in all currencies, dire future prospects, and the general public finding it increasingly difficult to afford the most basic of needs for their survival, I see a concerted effort to steal people’s joy. I see a world that has a habit of leaning on people’s panic buttons for reasons I cannot imagine. I see people being deprived of something that would make the world no poorer if we allow everyone to have just a little bit more of it. No it’s not money, it’s peace of mind. What does the world stand to lose if every single human being could just close their eyes each evening with peace of mind. Nothing, in fact we all stand to gain something from it.

But it’s time that we start thinking independently, start employing logic, start questioning what happens around us and not just allow persons unknown to post memes that basically say that your life is shit and about to become shittier in the near future. Think just a little bit more than you normally do.

If every country is servicing huge national debts and the richest and most powerful have the biggest debts, ask yourself who is owing who. I know the answer is that we owe the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the World Bank, but where do they get the money from if they don’t belong to any specific country and don’t run businesses of their own? There is no logic attached to these things. Every member country, which is almost all the countries on Earth contribute to these organisations. Then the very same countries take loans from these organisations. These countries then have to pay back this money with interest. What? Did you just say that you borrow your own money and pay it back with interest? Yes, I did!

So basically everyone owes everyone else, right? Why can all debts not be pardoned, everyone given a clean slate and we start minding our own business and handling our own money affairs without international interference?

If your country doesn’t have to pay back it’s debts your economy will improve overnight, you might have to pay less or no tax. But no, that’s not going to happen because it makes sense and it might give you a bit of peace of mind. So none of that for you.

As for South Africans, we must ask ourselves how it is that we produce the gold that is supposed to back up all currencies, yet ours keep slipping. I’ve dealt with the buying and selling of gold for 2 years in my career as a bookkeeper and whenever the price of gold went up, there was a drop in the South African currency. You would think that it would make our country richer and thus our currency stronger if the minerals we produce appreciate in value, but alas, no. Clearly global economics are incorrigibly resistant to logic.

Another question I ask myself as a South African is this: In light of the fact that we produce so many raw materials for other countries’ economies, we even supply the great British Empire with fresh produce, shouldn’t our currency far outstrip theirs? They talk about their countries’ reserves, but at the same time the biggest economies have national debts that they cannot even pay the interests of. Now tell me again about those reserves they have while being unable to pay their debts. Again, no logic.

My reasoning might be extremely simplistic, but I know one thing about very intelligent and academically superior things. Nothing can be so superior and intelligent that it even defies logic. It is our assumption that these things are too complicated to understand that gives those who mess with our security and the fruits of our hard work all the power to dupe us into staying at the bottom of the rung.

The majority of the world’s population suffer from mental slavery. The minute a news bulletin tells us to panic and fear for our lives we hardly take a second to ask some basic questions. Why is it happening? How did it happen? Who made it happen? What does it have to do with me? When did it start and when is it going to end? We start acting like Chicken Little with immediate effect.

You deserve a fair exchange for the hard work you put into your job.

You and yours deserve a full belly and a warm, comfy place to sleep every day.

You and yours deserve security and peace of mind as part of your basic state of being.

There are people who will take all these things from you if you don’t fight to keep it.

Don’t take up arms, fight with your mind.

Question, contemplate and come to your own conclusions.

One of the great men of the South African Freedom Struggle was Steve Biko and he said: “The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”

steve biko

Don’t give anyone your mind to fuck with.

The small academic town I live in is surrounded by many small farms. With 200 South African Rand I get farm fresh milk with cream still floating on top. I get vegetables so fresh they still smell of soil. I get meat fresh from the abattoir. I can even buy a live chicken and slaughter it at home. And after all that I’m still left with a few rand in change. How many people in the UK can say the same? Is that what you get in Great Brittan for less than 10 pound? I think not.

So fight for your peace of mind. Think!

The Science of Being Broke

When making your own way in this world, inevitably there will be days when you’re just BROKE. Well you can panic, get depressed, or just get used to it, I think being broke has its perks.

Broke-ness makes one sharp and lean, light on your feet and clear of thought. It removes the blinkers so you can see how much is available without money, and how good most of it is. It forces you to use everything you have to make it to the next minute alive. As the saying goes, old wine cannot be placed in new bottles and being broke forces you to finish off every last drop before receiving a fresh supply. Hunger and debt are sterling motivators.

Although it’s crowded, the crowd normally hates being at a special place called Broke.  It’s on the corner where Payday Avenue and Poverty Street cross each other and most people stand on that corner for most of their lives. While we’re kicking it at Broke Intersection why not make an inventory of what we have despite our location?  I still have the ability to write a silly little piece like this and I have never had to pay a cent for it – nor am I being paid a cent either.

I sometimes wonder what it would feel like to be really rich and to be honest it sounds boring and heavy. Having to care for several houses and cars and investment portfolios, jewellery, art and whatever else it is that rich people own seems very tiring to me.  It might be sour grapes, I concede, but I don’t like the idea of wasting time trying to decide which ridiculously expensive shoes go with my equally ridiculously expensive dress.  At a certain point, leather is just the hide of a dead animal, a dress is nothing more than a piece of cloth and a diamond ring serves no real purpose beyond sitting on your finger.

As a person with relatively few possessions, I have a special connection with most of my stuff. Much of it is in excellent condition although some of my stuff have owned me for more than a decade.  I use my possessions until we can go no further with each other in a fruitful manner before we part ways. I’m still under the care of a beautiful corduroy coat I received from my father in my twenties. It’s one of those first-class second-hand items. I don’t know what possessed the person who got rid of it to do so; but I thank their (probably rich) behind every year when winter comes around.

Being broke is not virtuous, glamorous or even compulsory but it just seems to always lurk in one’s immediate vicinity. So while I’m part of the broke crowd I think I’ll just keep my eyes peeled and catch some tips from my compatriots while the hustle to remove ourselves (temporarily only) from this corner is in progress. I know we all are furthering our education in the science of being broke.

picture found on divorcedmoms.com.

Life: A Matrix of Worry

Every single day when I wake up I feel amazing. I feel joyful and filled with life and my mind is exceptionally clear. Then the inevitable happens, my mind starts running the basic operating system and I have to plug into the world. And what is the first thing that I download once I’m plugged in? It’s Worry.

I’m lucky that I have only a few things to Worry about and I call them my priorities, not my problems. They are my spiritual evolution, my children and my work. Everything other than that is peripheral and subject to being cancelled at any point it gets tedious.

But as I walk through life I feel as if there is a little voice in my head that constantly says: Worry! I have to continually remind myself that even my priorities are not worth worrying about, they are my joy and I am glad to have them. The real struggle is to hold on to my joy and not give into Worry; as normal and human as it may seem to others.

There was a group of people who had all the prosperity that you could imagine, strong family ties, were deeply spiritual and everything in life just seemed to go their way. Other people wondered why this particular group was so privileged and how they could become like them. Was it by working harder, studying more, making their businesses more profitable, changing their spiritual practices, what? The secret was simple and the last thing one could have imagined. Each morning every member of the group of very fortunate people would on waking up and before opening their eyes say: “Today is the most wonderful day of my life and something extraordinary is going to happen to me.” They taught this to their children and made sure their children understood how crucial the practice is to having a good life – and their children complied. Generation after generation they prospered because of one simple thing they did before rising from bed.

This I read in a crazy little book. Okay, so I fancied-up the story a bit because I’m a writer, but the essence remains. And the essence of it struck a chord in me. I said to myself: “Netta, what do you have to lose by saying that to yourself every morning. Do it 5 times over each morning and just see what happens.”

Well, I found repeating it just once was hell near impossible. Really! I could not concentrate long enough to silently utter that phrase once. Just once. It took effort because all my mind knew at the time was that it had to plug into the Matrix of Worry and nothing else was required of it. I had to teach myself to first focus on making a wonderful day before plugging into the world.

Some time after starting the practice I decided to give up problems altogether, I have no need of them and they sure make life less enjoyable. I got rid of the ones that were just habitual, like worrying about the future and I worked on the ones I thought were important. My life has become much more joyful and much less complicated since starting that simple practice. Most recently I’ve stopped listening to other people’s problems as well.

I have to plug into life because I love life, but I don’t have to be controlled by the Matrix of Worry if I don’t chose to. The best thing that I gained from reading that crazy book was to insert and prioritise my joy before I did anything else for the day. It’s great to feel good just because I feel good.

What simple practise do you have that makes your life a little more joyful? Tell us on the comments below or drop me a line in my inbox via e-mail. I’m always willing to learn something new or hear a different point of view.

6 Reasons Why Mastery beats Market Domination

sumoI recently read that most people want to be entrepreneurs, they want to be their own bosses. That doesn’t surprise me.

What was most enlightening was that they would prefer a business that employs less than 100 people. Now that seems reasonable to me on so many levels; more so than the world domination we all supposed to want but actually don’t.

Here is why mastery seems so much better than market domination to me:

  1. I can become a master at what I do. Everything is so fast these days that before you can even get used to a new thing it’s replaced by an even newer thing. I wonder when people actually get to mastery level in their skill-sets, if they even care about it. Masters keep working at their craft, they keep finding new ways to apply the basic principles and that gives them staying power. Many stars fade twice as fast as they came on the scene because momentary appeal is nothing when it’s not backed up by real skill and experience. I know a jazz drummer who practices every day for hours and has done so for decades. He has now made jazz drumming his own, but he still works at it. The general public might not know who he is, but famous musicians act like groupies when he’s around. They realise that whatever their appeal might be they need someone of his skill and experience to back them up on stage. Now that is something I want to aim at.
  2. It’s easy to do what I love. I like the idea of mastery because then I don’t have to deal with all the crap I actually have no interest in. Although business advice is always to get your fingers in as many pies as possible, mastery cannot accommodate that. That leaves some pies for other to play around with, which hopefully will create a more even spread of prosperity.
  3. I can deal with people who I like to work with. This is one of the greatest upsides of building a small business based on mastery and not market domination. What I really didn’t like in the working world was having to spend day after day with people who I would cross the street to avoid in normal life. Anyone with the right qualifications who passed the interview became part of the team, no matter how poor a fit they were for the rest of the team. That isn’t the environment that produces mastery.
  4. I can serve people who value my work. Rather than trying to capture as much of the market as possible I want to focus instead on building meaningful business relationships with people I connect with. We’ve all learnt the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 rule, right? It says that 80% of most business’ income comes from 20% of their clientele. I think the remaining 80% should find someone else to work with and I will focus on the 20% who really matter to me. That sounds like I will end up with less work and maybe more money when I cut ties with those I cannot serve well.
  5. I can focus on the main thing. Big business is powered by a huge machine (fancy offices, jets, golf club memberships, executive privileges) which sometimes have nothing to do with the main thing. Keeping it small and focusing on mastery means that I will not be swallowed by the running of the show and end up missing the show itself.
  6. I can leave a legacy. Money is not a legacy, no matter how much of it I make it will always have someone else’s face on it. Having a track record of brilliance and mastery is much more valuable in my eyes than just making a lot of money. Taking the example of money, the currency in my country, South Africa, has the face of Nelson Mandela on every note. He made such an impact on society that now his face is money. He didn’t leave money behind or chase after it while he was alive. By focusing on what he valued the man became a symbol of great value. Now that is leaving a legacy, not an inheritance.

I think it is inherent in human nature to share, and the study that says most people just want a manageable business of their own proves that point. If more people open businesses that employ 100 or less employees, there will probably be more jobs and more opportunity for the greater population of Earth to live a good life.

Mastery makes much more sense than market domination.

photo found on jinji2015.com

Don’t Be Stumped by the Obvious

Isn't it obvious?
Isn’t it obvious?

When writers aren’t lamenting the lack of readers or the meagre rewards they receive for their work, when they aren’t explaining to the world why readers and writers are superior to the rest of humanity, they’re bashing the writer who is most successful at the time and criticizing that person’s work. Right now no self-respecting writer feels complete without having a go at EL James and ripping apart her books.

I couldn’t get through the first 20 pages of the first Grey book, but clearly there were many who lapped it up and begged for more; which they got. More power to her for striking gold and grabbing the world’s ear (eye?). I now think I should read that damn book to find out what attracted so many readers, and I think that every serious writer should too.

If you have written a great work of prose or poetry that no one seems to be interested in reading your criticisms of someone else’s work comes across as chomping away on a large portion of sour grapes. In fact I think every writer who has gained more followers, gotten their work noticed or met a pressing deadline by condemning the Grey series should send EL James a royalty payment. She saved some asses.

Hell, because of her I now know that BDSM doesn’t stand for Blood Drinking Slave Masters. Horizon broadened!

All the authors who were published merely to refute or affirm other books should be eternally grateful to all that is free and unoriginal. I failed to find “Da Vinci Code” on book-racks crammed with works about it. Books either back-slapping or bitch-slapping Dan Brown and his theories.

Dan Brown made some interesting leaps and imaginative associations and that’s what writers are supposed to do. Now quit fault-finding or riding his coat-tails and make up some of your own leaps and associations and Tom Hanks might be in the movie based on your book.

Writers make shit up, learn from the ones who do it well. The flip-side of having something to say as a writer, is having something to say that readers want to know. The authors whom other writers are hating on found the golden mean. Don’t be stumped by the obvious.

I’m gonna be frank when I write a book. The title will be “Crap She Wrote” (like Murder, She Wrote). I’ll have my book released after I get a British passport because one thing is obvious to me, you have to be an English woman (JK Rowling, EL James, hello!) if you want to sell millions in a book series. I will not allow myself to be stumped by what is blindingly obvious.

And when the inevitable haters get some air-time because of my shitty book, I’ll be somewhere counting my cash.

MY FIGHT TO GO BACK HOME

When I entered the job market at 19 I didn’t realise it would prove so difficult to shape my working life in a way that suits me. The most difficult struggle thus far has been getting back home.

Work is considered noble and everyone is expected to at least make an attempt at carrying their own weight. Salaried work tops that and when you decide to busy yourself with activities that fall beyond the scope of a job (paid work), something strange happens.

Even before I entered the commercial environment I had been indoctrinated with the idea that having a career is the only way to create a meaningful life. Everything else that life consists of would have to be squeezed and shaped to fit around my career. The minute I decided that I prefer to prioritise my private life over my career, it seemed the whole world turned its back on me.

People started doubting my intelligence and my integrity, my drive was called in question and yes, even my sanity. All this because I want to use my life to pursue my own interests and not to materialise the objectives of my boss or the company that hires me.

Just like that I became a free-loading, simpleton not someone who chose her independence. Not the dedicated bookkeeper who took care of millions on behalf of the companies I worked for. No. Just an unambitious, lazy-ass breeder who wanted to vegetate at home.

Following my decision I couldn’t get a half-day or part-time job because I was bluntly told that those don’t exist any longer. So instead of finding permanent employment I signed up with an agency specialising in temp placements. Immediately I had more money and much more free time than ever before. Most of the holidays I’ve taken in my life was during that 3-4 year period.

I did get a permanent placement subsequent to that, but negotiated to keep my Fridays to myself without a pay-cut, provided I could keep my work up to date. That I did. So much for part-time jobs that don’t exist. Soon after starting the job I found out I was pregnant with my 3rd child. It was the most crucial point in making a decision about how my life would work in the future. Three children are expensive to maintain financially and 3 children are difficult to properly nurture while being caught in the rat race.

The last company I worked for was about 6 minutes from my home, had a moderate to light work-load (something new for me), with a very accommodating manager, but I just wanted my freedom already. They could have paid me 100-thousand bucks a day and I would not have stayed, because I felt I did not own my time or my life. I wanted my home and my children. I wanted to focus all the energy and time that I had been spending minding my boss’ business rather minding my own.

So finally I made the leap to self-employment which would ultimately take me back where I wanted to be. Home with my children.

I feel I was taken out of my home before I even knew that it was happening and not given a choice to decide whether I wanted to prioritise career or family. And no, it is not a no-brainer that I would chose a career. Someone has to raise the children of this world, someone has to create a home, someone has to prioritise nurturing, it’s essential to life. I would have preferred to construct a life where I formulate the mixture between home and work.

I love working, I love the sense of accomplishment and of course I love the money. I will have my children to raise, to nurture and shape for only a short time in their lives and I never explicitly agreed to make them secondary to my career.

No matter how hard I might be working, how I generate an income or what my intentions might be, there is a stigma that clings to those who don’t follow the norm.  Routine hours at designated locations in registered organisations with recognised titles and specified remuneration receivable at particular times gives your life a perceived purpose. You are productive and industrious and that is good. Telling people that you want to live life on your own terms is considered risky at best, irresponsible at worst.

I don’t regret working in my 20’s or 30’s but making a career at the time must have created the impression that I never wanted to work in my own home. I never agreed to that, and afterward had to fight my way back home. I might be financially worse off for it, but what I gain no job can give me. My life, my time, my children and my home.

The way I see it, I can run a business from home and make it fit my life instead of the other way around. If that fails I can always find a good job, I’ve always managed to talk myself into the job I wanted under terms that suit me and I think I can do that again if I have to. Yet, that aspect of my life will have to take a back seat for now.

With the boom of the work-from-home industry (and scams) it would appear that many other women are taking up the journey back home. It might appear that I have given up on the battle by going back home, but reaching home in one piece is much harder than you might imagine. All the evasive manoeuvres I’ve had to pull and battles I’ve had to withstand have taught me skills that stand me in good stead in my independent life.

As an intelligent, skilled and determined woman I retain the option to make my life exactly how I wish it to be. Women were inserted into the working world in a way that did nothing for the homes and children they left behind. There is nothing that I can do about the past but the future is uncharted territory. Meaningful work and a purposeful life does not have to equal JOB.

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