Saturday, 26 September 2015

small targets..

As I started my run this morning, my target was to climb a certain bridge that I had never climbed before. I have always conveniently turned back as soon as I approached the bridge. Since the last few weekends, I have been setting small targets for myself- it may be running a 1km more than my last run, running my last km at my fastest possible pace, testing myself at elevations- guess these are small thrills of life and they keep me going!

I came across a blog written by an old friend (an ex-colleague who I used to chase for many stories during my PR days)- Lessons from Aikido and how inadequacy is all in the head. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it, maybe because I related to it.

This month has been special for me..I have after 4 years of hiatus got back to some sort of working (well if you think that looking after a home and your kids is not referred to as work). Like my friend said, going back to anything full-time and demanding was a bit unnerving, having left it few years ago. A few months back when some assignments started pouring in, the only aspect I looked at was, if it gave me the flexibility of hours and workplace. It just proved how things had changed in the last few years towards my approach to work....

When I started work on my new assignment it came with nervousness. The work wasn't even rocket science. Four years ago, this was my bread and butter. I had a lot of questions in my head till I got down to the actual- Will I have the same flare? Can I actually draft a press release with the same ease even now? Can I pull out a white paper on 'cloud computing' in a day? Why would a client want to work with a freelancer like me?

The work rolled in and sitting by myself at the desk at home (which of course is co-shared with my 8-year old), it all seemed strange. There were moments of loneliness and I wished I was in an office with people around me. With the few free hours I had in a day, guess I had to stop thinking and just get going with the job. The kids could see a change (the 8-year old). She saw tonnes of papers and little notes that I was scribbling around on her desk. She would often ask me, "did you manage to write that article? Can I read it?" Without fail she reads them all, but am sure it zips past her head.

In my free time I even compare my work to my role as a mother...I feel the work part is so much easier- if I make a mistake, there is always someone to correct it...but as a mother, I hope that I am doing the 'right' things for my girls and yet there is no one to correct me or assure me that I am on the right path!
Recently a friend asked me,"How easy is it to go back to work after a long break?" My answer to her was, "It depends on how much of it you want back." Atleast that was the choice I had to make... 

So where will my work take me? Do I have a clear path? Do I know how much I want to do? I don't know the answers yet to any of these. As work pours in, I squeeze out the hours. I still try hard not to be at my desk when the kids are around. I am not ready to let go of all the random things I absolutely love doing with them....only time will tell..

For now I am happy setting 'small' targets for myself every weekend, squeezing in a game of badminton some mornings, going for my run and gym routines at 5am and most importantly, being right there when the girls get back from school!

...and yes I managed to draft that press release with ease and climb the bridge I had my eyes on. And finding random notes like these (as in the picture) on my desk, brings a smile to my face!

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

finding the right attitude...

It's nice when your day begins with an article in the paper that you can relate to. Of course with my early morning coffee in hand, this article- Taming the kiasu mother in me got me hooked on. I related to every bit of it and placed myself in the writer's shoe.

Am I really a 'kiasu' mother? Friends (who don't live in Singapore), the term 'kiasu' means- afraid of losing out, afraid of not getting the best, etc. I think we all (I mean mother's in particular), have a bit of the 'kiasu nature' in us. We always want the best for our kids, want them to succeed, be ahead in class, worry if they are not part of some group activity. I wonder if that's the right approach. Did our parents sweat so much about us? Or did we just go with the flow?

Lately I have had a similar situation at home and that's probably why this article got me hooked on.My 8-year old was a bit low the whole of last week. She was put into some challenging situations in her language class. She being the perfectionist, anything mediocre normally disturbs her. For the first time she felt, she was not excelling and was lagging behind compared to the rest of the class. Her work sheets were incomplete and she was nervous to go to her language class.

As a mother, I was concerned about her mood and her emotions. But least worried about how she fared at class. Maybe that had to do with my childhood- I never excelled in class and was never made to feel inferior because of that at home.

As a mum, the easiest thing for me to do was to front-end this on behalf of her. But then I wondered- for how long am I going to do this? A day needs to come when she needs to raise her hand in class and tell the teacher "I don't get this". For her to realise, that not being the best doesn't mean you fail. That even mediocre people can be successful. I would rather have her learn a lesson of being honest to yourself, be compassionate rather than get the best of grades. Surely this is easier said than done as we tend to measure our kids success with the grades they get rather than the intangible qualities we can equip them with.

This seemed to be more of a lesson for her to accept mediocrity and not always live in the glory of success. For her to understand that it was about giving anything 'her best' and not really being 'the best among all'. This needed a lot of patience from us. Along the way I may see her fail but somewhere I may be teaching her to accept failure. It was more about teaching her to have the right attitude rather than the right aptitude...

And then one day, she finally front-ended the problem herself- well firstly she doesn't call it a 'problem' anymore. She looks at it more like a challenge today and is finding her own ways to deal with it. She has accepted her shortcomings and wants to work on them. And proudly tells me, " Now I don't hesitate to raise my hand in class and say I don't understand."