Finding Creativity At Work

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The little waitress.

Most people who know me, know that I worked in hospitality for a number of years. Running food, washing dishes, making drinks and taking orders – the usual front-of-house/all-rounder duties. Although I enjoyed hospitality for it’s fast-pace and it’s people, I could not be creative. I could neatly arrange table decor, fold pizza boxes and garnish fresh smoothies (I LOVED doing these tasks), but I could not pour beautiful latte-art for the life of me. One reason was that I lacked training, and the other was that the year I tried latte-art, was the year I knew something finally needed to change. Instead of creativity, I focused on building rapport with customers, doing my best to ensure they enjoyed their experience wherever I worked (I have previously worked in cafes, restaurants, clubs).

At home, I loved to cook, draw, watch creative videos about food, dance and culture. As each year passed by, I realised that most of my time was spent at work or school – so I needed to find an environment that allowed creativity and connection.

Most people like myself have to do what needs to be done (work in an industry they no longer see themselves in), to get through life. Whether it’s rent, bills, family or car-payments, we all have responsibilities. Because of this, our values don’t always line-up with our day-jobs.

The art of applying for jobs.

When I made the decision to apply for a retail job, I had been actively looking for work for about 12 months. I wasn’t expecting a call-back, to be honest. I found it difficult to stay positive.

Toward the end of the year, I finally received 2 call-backs: 1 for administration work and 1 for retail. Although I tried to practice interview questions, I did not do well at the administration interview. The retail interview on the other hand, felt like a much more natural conversation – despite my nervousness. I did my best and felt like it was actually enough.

About a week or so later, I was offered the job and immediately started training! YAY! There were new processes and many new people I met. I was transitioning in the workforce. I still worked shifts at my other jobs for financial stability, but I was on the way!

New job, new me.

When I started working in the store, it was a bunch of shambles. Christmas was around the corner and customers were shopping in droves. I felt like a fish out of water.

As time went on, I felt more comfortable, styling customers, finding out what look they were after, and even styling myself like I used to in high school – freely and creatively! I’ve noticed that retail is more of a relaxing environment compared to hospitality. Customers are kind and building rapport comes naturally. Women have shared their sad and joyful stories with me – something I find quite moving.

Now I am excited to go to work, thinking of new ways I could wear items, finding the balance between practical and stylish. Some days, I just want to wear sneakers and a hoodie, but I have yet to find the perfect ones… so far, what I love about retail is that I can change and progress creatively. Hospitality was an industry I was doing well in, but retail is where I currently excel.

Where do I belong?

A conversation with a past manager, reminded me that sometimes we must find where we belong. It’s important to work with people that share the same values and act accordingly. Back then, I experienced many obstacles where values weren’t shared and I suffered because of that.

According to a SEEK survey, 74% of respondents believe their job has a significant influence on their overall quality of life and 71% say it also affects the emotional states of those closest to them.

Personally, I found myself feeling more frustrated, tired and drained from working in an industry where values no longer aligned. My boyfriend noticed my increasing irritability and emotional instability.

Although I learned so much and made many friendships in hospitality, I am grateful I made this change.

Now, I rarely feel fatigued and feel supported and encouraged where I work.

I’m not saying, “Up and quit your job!”. I’m saying, if you have noticed your mood, mental and physical wellbeing on the decline, reflect on your life. Is it a lack somewhere in your diet, or lack of exercise? Is it a personal issue you could see a professional about – doctor/counsellor/psychologist? Is it your work environment: do you feel valued and supported?

At a workshop I recently attended, the organiser said “People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers.”

I have worked with amazing, supportive managers and even got along with many higher-ups. However, a few times throughout my work-life, I’ve found this statement to be true. It’s important for owners, managers and employees alike, to check-in with themselves for the benefit of the company and their own lives.

Have you found where you belong? If not, what small steps can you take to work on it?
For example, listing your strengths and incorporating those into everyday life. Or starting a hobby for your own mental and physical wellbeing.

It’s all a learning journey. Start where you are.

Embrace change!

Let’s talk about sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment: any behaviour that is unwelcome and unwanted, often causing feelings of intimidation, humiliation and offence.

My story.

Some stories are positive, to highlight that there are good people in the world.

At age 11, I learned what the word rape meant. I interpreted it as ‘something being taken away from another, without permission’. My parents feared for my safety, and banned me from staying over anyone’s house.

At 12, I was catcalled constantly in front of an adult I trusted. He said it was my fault because I was wearing shorts that covered everything that needed covering. I started wearing pants, even in the humidity and heat.

At 14, during a 15 minute walk home in the afternoon, an unknown man in a blacked-out car motioned me toward him, slowing down.

At 15, another man stopped along the side of the road to offer me a ride home. Thankfully, he was a family friend.

At 16, a man at a bus stop relieved himself near me. He said he was waiting for a friend. He then said I must’ve seen many dicks at my age. And since it was 7:30 in the morning, his “size” was smaller than usual. He asked me to go for a walk. I declined. I was terrified to walk back home, in case he followed me. The bus finally came. His “friend” never got off the bus. I honestly didn’t feel like going to high school or catching public transport for some time. No one took me seriously whenever I spoke about this incident.

At 17, a stranger offered me a hug as I was crying at a bus stop. He even gave me a chocolate bar as a kind gesture. He said it affected him seeing people hurting.

At 18, I cried because I wanted to say no.

At 19, I was groped in a crowd, multiple times.

At 19, a guy decided I wasn’t allowed to leave to find my friends. He held my wrist with an iron-tight grip. I will regret that night forever.

At 20, some guy decided it was okay to touch me as I was getting into a taxi.

At 21, another woman saw I was struggling to walk (as I had been drinking most of the night). She helped me to the bathroom and stopped random guys trying to talk to me. Afterwards, she insisted that my boyfriend took me home immediately.

At 23, an old man winked at me and asked me to sit on his lap while I was at a family gathering. I was in shock. No one said anything. I was always taught to respect my elders. I know now that respect cannot be given. It must be earned.

At 24, a stranger asked, “You’re not afraid of me, are you?” while we were alone in an empty car park.

At 24, a group of tradies catcalled me, making loud assumptions about why I was walking around the city at 9PM, on a Friday night. I had just finished a 12 hour work day.

At 24, I’m realising how many other women have similar experiences to mine. It’s not okay.

At 24, I’m so fucking done, taking shit from strangers and people I thought I could trust.

I have lived a privileged life, growing up out of poverty, having access to education and basic needs. Unfortunately, sexual harassment was one of the experiences that nobody could have foreseen or protected me from.

Facts based in Australia:

  • Almost 1 in 5 women (18%) and 1 in 20 men (4.7%) have experienced sexual violence (sexual assault and/or threats) since the age of 15.
  • In 2016, on average, police recorded 52 sexual assaults each day against women and about 11 against men.
  • One in two women had experienced harassment in the course of their lifetime and one in four men had experienced harassment too.
  • 38% of women between the ages of 18 to 24, reported acts such as inappropriate comments about their bodies and sex life, indecent exposure or unwanted touching, kissing or grabbing in the last 12 months.
  • 4% of Australians have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace in the last five years, compared to 11% in 2003 (2008 survey).
  • For those who did not make a complaint (2008 survey):
    • 43% did not think it was serious enough
    • 15% were fearful of a negative impact on themselves
    • 21% had a lack of faith in the complaint process
    • 29% took care of the problem themselves.

The psychological effects:

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare:

  • Mental health conditions were the largest contributor to the burden of disease due to physical/ sexual intimate partner violence, followed by suicide and self-inflicted injuries.
  • For women who have experienced domestic violence, this can include poorer physical and mental health than women who have not experienced such violence. Increased rates of depression, anxiety, self-harm and illicit drug use than those who had not.

According to the Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault (ACSSA):

  • Anxiety and intense fear are the primary responses following rape. Some research has found that this peaks at around three weeks after the rape; however, it can last for more than a year for a significant number of survivors.
  • Distressing flashbacks or reminders of the assault may occur.
  • For some women, particularly from marginalised communities, sexual assault can reaffirm assumptions about themselves as devalued persons (insidious trauma), and about the world being unsafe and dangerous.
  • Feelings of low self-esteem, self-blame and guilt can endure for months and years after the assault.
  • People may experience emotional shock where they have an exaggerated sense of unreality and disassociation. (SECASA)

According to American clinical psychologists and an employment attorney:

  • Sexual harassment has been associated with diagnoses such as depression, anxiety and PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder).
  • Somatisation: The normal, unconscious process by which psychological distress is expressed as physical symptoms. For example, a person with clinical depression may complain of stomach pains that prove to have no physical cause. Counselling can be helpful to overcome somatisation.
  • Neurotransmitters found in our brains are also found in our gut. It’s a real thing: this is why we tend to get sick when we get stressed, and over time, if we’re in constant stress or if it’s too much to handle, then there are physiological consequences.
  • Physical manifestations of stress: hair falling out, hives, weight gain or loss, sleeplessness and lethargy.

At 24, I asked my partner if he would stand with me. And now, I am asking you to do the same.

Women, we must stand together. Men, please stand beside us. Society, we need to do better.

We don’t need protection. We need unity and solidarity. We need voices to SPEAK UP and people to TAKE ACTION. Pull up your friends, if they make inappropriate jokes. Call people out, if they make advances on women, men or children. Report suspicious behaviour especially in regards to children, as they may not trust adults to talk to. Support a survivor, if they share their story.

Change happens with awareness, education and action.

So please, educate yourselves and those around you. Know that sexual harassment and assault is a serious offence and can have dire psychological consequences.

If you or someone you know needs support, Health Direct has compiled a list of services to contact. View the list here: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/sexual-assault-and-abuse-helplines.

Remember, change starts with you.

 

Declutter Series 1: How to Start

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Clean your room.

Growing up, I was always told to clean my room. Me and my brother would get up to all sorts of mischief: throwing food in random parts of the house (don’t ask me why), building ‘castles’ using chairs and blankets, swinging from blankets attached to cupboards (don’t ask me about that either). No matter how many times we cleaned up, our rooms would be a mess again.

One sibling turned into three. At slightly different age ranges, we had so many different toys, books, pens, pencils, clothes… it was next to impossible to keep clean. My mum would often step-in and clean it herself, but it was a lot to deal with so eventually our rooms stayed messy. The cleaning habits of our mum, did not pass on to us.

I believe this occurred for a few reasons. First, cleaning was seen as a laborious chore to do when asked. Second, when I did clean, it was more of an organised mess afterwards. I didn’t know how to clean properly. Third, I was taught to be grateful for every item I received, so I barely threw anything out and convinced myself I could re-purpose it all. At one point, I was obsessed with horror shows so I wanted to collect the fake spider-webs that was displayed at Halloween… and let me tell you, it didn’t add to the space in an appealing way.

The years under 12, I suffered severe asthma and pneumonia. It’s not until today as a 24 year old, I realised the health impacts cluttered spaces can have on the body.

Years went by and less and less attention was paid to organisation. Floors needed to be vacuumed, dishes needed to be done, rooms needed to be sorted. The house was stuck on ‘pause,’ while life continued. Unless someone was coming over, no change would ensue. Multiple times, we’d unwillingly try and clean but it never stayed clean. A house of 7 and not one clean spot. (See what I did there?!) Even a close friend of mine tried to help. It was incredibly exhausting. I think it was a mix of trying to do it alone and the heavy energy that lingered in the house.

A few years later.

Fast-forward to my 18-year-old self. Although I moved out, I had too many clothes, shoes and random items around my room. It was an organised mess at the best of times. My clothes were stored in ‘clothe bins’ and whatever couldn’t fit, was thrown onto a spare bed.

Occasionally, I’d find the will to sort through my things. It was so satisfying. I still didn’t understand the importance of organisation, despite that. Whenever I looked long enough at my clutter, I’d feel overwhelmed. I legitimately had NO IDEA how to change the habits I’d taken with me from childhood.

Freedom.

Until I met my boyfriend Luke, organising and decluttering wasn’t on my priority list. One night, Luke lined up all my shoes perfectly, and although it was something small, that sparked something inside me to change. Around this time, I was also watching YouTubers who were taking on the “minimalist lifestyle”. It was fascinating to me that these people could live with so little and be content. I wanted to be content.

I finally plucked up the courage to clean my room. I got rid of many unused clothes, gave away shoes, trashed random boxes I’d collected from online orders… all that heaviness was finally gone.

I felt like a new person. The twenties are all about re-inventing yourself, after all!

The years that followed involved the usual occurrences of life… pain, lessons and striving to be better. De-cluttering to me, would feel like an emotional release. I didn’t need to hold onto pain, whether it was mental or in the form of material things. Funnily enough, when I’m mad, I clean. Quickly.

I have been working hard to live a clutter-free life.

There are still days when I feel lazy and not every single thing in the house is in ship-shape order, but I’ve come a long way.

I’ve set a new habit and expectation within myself. It’s so easy to look at my space now and think, “Do I need those spare envelopes? Can I find a new home for these shoes?”. I’m constantly looking for ways to live with less or cleverly re-purpose working appliances/furniture/storage items. Eventually, I want to cut-down on waste and live a minimal-trash lifestyle.

Those who struggle with severe hoarding tendencies or major disorganised traits, may need help. Be that friend who encourages. Be that friend who shows up.

Things I learned since starting my decluttering journey:

  • The job is never done until it’s done
  • Help is essential – it’s OKAY to ask for help
  • Accountability is essential
  • Self-control for buying is essential

If you want to clean your home and declutter, I have created a guide to get you started. Cleaning doesn’t have to be laborious. Break it up into small tasks. Effort goes a long way! It’s worth it, I promise you!

Decluttering Guide

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, or leave a comment down below!

Photo by Thought Catalog.

Relationships and why we need them.

Relationships and why we need them.

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First, it is important to address what the word relationship means. A quick Google shows that a relationship is a connection or correlation between things or people. As humans, we need connection to thrive in this world. I see so many remarks on social media that men and women prefer to be alone because ‘there’s less drama’. Perhaps you need to find the right group of people? Good relationships are important to maintain health and wellbeing.

So, besides wellbeing, why do we need relationships?
The answer is quite simple. Every person on this planet, has a set of innate needs that drives their actions. Abraham Maslow (psychologist) formulated a hierarchy of needs that drives actions. One of them is the need to belong and be loved. Although some people prefer to be alone, the vast majority have a need to connect with others.

What hinders a relationship?
Using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, if one or both people’s needs are ignored, therein lies the problem. Note that needs can be broken down into many sub-categories and change throughout one’s lifetime. Other factors that affect one’s needs are personality traits, cultural influence and financial state.

Something that shocked me to my core was when Larry Rosen said, “Hurting people is not a need. Hurting is used to fulfill an UNDERLYING need.”

I will use a personal example to demonstrate underlying needs. Early in my relationship, I found it very difficult to open up to my partner about how I felt – especially in heated situations. I adopted a habit of bottling up my emotions. I was hurting him, when my need wasn’t to hurt, it was to feel safe and accepted. When I finally worked through my issues, I could share my feelings openly. I was no longer scared. This lead to deeper understanding and meaningful conversations.

It is important to note that communication plays a big role in keeping relationships alive. Confrontation can be resolved if you know how to listen well, as well as how to communicate effectively.

Understand that human motivation is based on fulfilling needs. Everyone’s needs differ. Ask curious questions. Make a conscious effort to get to know the people around you. We are social creatures for a reason!

What are your needs? What are the needs of those you love? If you can find time to understand people from a kind and curious perspective, I can tell you that your relationships may improve and even thrive!

 

Watch a video on human motivation/needs here.
Image by Evan.

How to study when you’re sick.

The photo above is my current situation. Although I am typing this post while sitting on a desk, I have been living in my bed. Fighting the tiredness doesn’t make it go away, unfortunately. I’m sure most of you know what it’s like… assignments due, classes to go to, rent to pay and the list goes on! So, how does a student study while sick? I’m about to tell you.

What’s your priority?

Over the course of this semester, I’ve accepted now that studying is one of my main priorities. And no, I didn’t accept it for months, until recently. I was set on working four days a week and studying meticulously during off-hours. However, it did not work out that way at all. The complete opposite, in fact. Nowadays, I study more than I work and it’s a constant cycle of “I may not pay rent, but that’s cool, I’m getting an education”. You may think an education isn’t all that important – that’s okay! This post is geared towards those who do. Then again, isn’t life full of lessons anyway? Ha!

Back to the subject.

Right now, my body is aching and my lungs are struggling a bit more than usual to take in oxygen.

My priority then, is to complete anything that is due next, like my counseling assignment. Once that’s done, I’ll study for a test that’s coming up next week. Revise, revise, revise! Anything else can take a seat in the back, as far as I’m concerned. Things like readings (I’ve been doing terribly, if I’m honest), lectures (almost up to date) and practicals — will be attended in due time.

Also, try and refrain from infecting others as much as possible. Stay home or distance yourself if you have to be out and about.

So, what’s your priority? Make a list. Work down that list in order of importance. Use as little energy as possible. You’ll need it to recover and be well.

Rest, and take breaks.

Although I’m in the comfort of my own room, it’s still important to rest and take breaks. Some people can handle aching muscles and constant coughing in public – I can’t. Unless it’s an absolutely mandatory task (test/exam/critical information to pass a subject), you’ll find me at home, studying but taking my time.

If you are able to, take your time, have as many resting breaks as you need. Look after your body, you only get one. Unless cloning is a thing…?!

Nourish your body.

I must admit, the last few weeks of assignments, tests and general living have proven tough. My diet has not been the best. However, now that my body has contracted some sort of chest infection, it’s super important that I eat well. This is advice to those who fall into the categories like  “I don’t have time to eat”, “I’m lazy” or “I’ll just eat when I really need to”.
It’s important to take care of yourself not just externally (exercise, hygiene and so on) but internally too. Right now, I’m sipping on ginger, honey and turmeric tea. Yesterday’s tea was turmeric and honey. For breakfast, I had a sweet-potato and vegan cheese sandwich, as it was easy and required the least amount of effort.

Eat more fruits and vegetables! Stay away from sugary drinks, dairy and greasy food. Do stay hydrated and well-fed!

Give your body the nourishment it needs. If your energy comes from anything, let it be good food and hot, soothing teas. Or water if tea isn’t your thing!

Good luck, and may you complete your assignments/tasks to the best of your abilities. I’m going to study and possibly cough up a lung.

Note: please see a doctor if your symptoms don’t improve.