The one job that taught me 5 qualities needed for any job

Portugal Sidewalks colorful

After graduating from university I was presented with two choices- attend a graduate school at one of my dream schools in New York or, apply to be a paralegal. I applied to be a paralegal and didn't hear word back from the agency. And while my dream school loved my application, funds weren't offered for me to attend the two-year program. So when I tell you I was lost, I literally felt like I could not be found.

The summer came and went and towards the end, a past employer and friend called me and asked my plans for the upcoming the school year. She needed someone to help pick-up and nanny her two boys. One was entering kindergarten and the other second grade. I've written about one of the two boys here and needless to say, my adventures with the two have inspired me to do so much more. I gladly agreed to nannying position and got to work. I've known the youngest since he dwelled in the womb and his older brother since he was two. So, even after graduating from high-school, university and living in Spain for a year, you I would always make it a must to visit the family from time-to-time because I grew close to the kids. After agreeing to being with the boys, I was excited to get to work and start a new journey.

Being a Nanny

Like many jobs, being a nanny has its moments and no two days are the same. There's the after school pick-ups, snacks, dinners, bed-time, homework help, play dates, naughtiness, treats, reprimanding behaviors, teachings, soccer, tennis and even breaking up fights when situations get tense. And these are the responsibilities that have just come to mind for me. Still, experiencing each and everyone of these responsibilities makes me so grateful knowing that I have learned so much moving forward. And just as no two days are the same, you can say the same for every minute or even an hour. The kids can make you laugh one minute and later make you give the longest side-eye the next. I can recall some moments when I would tuck them into bed and my eyelids would suddenly become so heavy, the youngest would take his index finger and peel over my eyelids just to see if I was 'fake-sleeping'...that's what he called it anyway. Still, within these days, hours and minutes, caregivers are forced to take a couple of lessons into account that remains helpful and useful for other interactions and jobs ahead. I have to say...kids will teach you many things to take with you for jobs ahead.
These are my five that continue to help me today...

Lisboa sidewalks

1. Patience
Having patience is key when interacting with people in any job you may encounter. I remember being taught this when caring for the boys day-after-day. And coming from a university setting where as a student, the only patience you are probably called to have is either waiting on your grades or waiting on that reply from your professor. While that's good practice and all, caring for kids calls for a new level of patience. And I think if you can reach this level, you can pretty much handle the intensity and ridiculousness of most, if not any, working colleagues. And no, I'm not saying it's justified to have the same amount of patience for a 30 year-old person as you do for a 5 year-old kid. That age gap is wide and there is no comparison. Still, caring for kids gives you a sense of understanding of where to apply your patience while also being firm on your word. Once you've got that and can incorporate it into your next job setting, you are at peace unfazed and unbothered by your colleagues. 

2. Being crystal clear & making sure you are understood
When I write an essay for a particular subject, I normally, if not always, have a friend of a different study to read it and later ask if they understood the piece. I do this to make sure my essay is clear-as-day even to a foreign reader. And while I thought it be okay to try the same concept with kids, I was introduced to a rude awakening (that's a story for another day). Still, the same goes for kids. It's important to be crystal clear in what you say and to make sure they understand the rules. I remember giving the youngest one a rule to follow after homework and dinner were both finished. Before having him walk away, I would ask him to repeat what I had said and explain why it was important....except he never quite got to the second part of the question. "I don't remember" is how he would normally answer for the first couple of weeks. It goes to show that you could be crystal-clear, and still be misunderstood or just ignored in the end. Eh... Kids will be kids.
Still, even if it means for you to repeat yourself and make sure that the kids understand your rules, making this a habit with kids may seem tedious but it's important and helpful in the long-run. I was able to take this concept and apply it to the other jobs that proceeded afterwards. And while I did not blatantly ask my colleagues to repeat what I had said, I would ask them the next step they thought be best to take in oder to achieve the idea set forth. Just so I know my colleagues and I are on the same page. 
So if a kid can understand what you've said, you have a good chance of being crystal clear for other working-collogues to understand what it is you want to get across...for the most part anyway.

3.  Thinking on your feet
When dealing with kids you have to be quick on your feet. It's a must... Point Blank Period. I remember caring for the older brother of the two boys when I was in high school and being pretty lost for the first two weeks. I didn't know where the bus stop to his house was, and I wasn't sure if the limited bus would stop near his place. And make no mistake, kids will clock you and proceed to call you out if they know that you don't know what you are doing. I remember when he would ask "Do you know what you are doing?" This was for the first week. I recognized that I not only had to be quick, but I also had to understand that being perceived as an air-head from an eight-year old is not cool. Granted, not everyone is able to have a rapid way of thinking on the spot. Still, practice makes perfect. See what works and take note of the different situations you find yourself in when you are caring for kids. The situations will vary from time to time, but it's important to know that every situation will build your mental strength and give you an idea of how to attack different occurrences. I remember getting caught in the rain with no umbrella and using all sorts of clothing as an umbrella-look-alike (almost) as it rained. There was also that one time when the boys needed a table to do their work and there was no table on sight. That too is a story for another day, but the point is this...thinking on your feet requires speed and creativity. Later, transferring this talent towards other job is seen to be an advantage and even super-hero-like. It's true...I'm just saying. 

Sintra garden

4. Compromising
Now, for many people the word compromising does not intermingle with kids. And while I see that, I do think an objection is called in some cases. Sometimes, time is of the essence and a compromise is needed from the caregiver to the kid...or even vise-versa. And no, don't get it twisted- comprising with a kid and bribing a kid are two different things. Mixing the two is dangerous and if you try and incorporate bribing in your other job settings, you won't get you far in that field. #facts.
For the most part my no is no. But even with kids you are going to have to compromise. And I would do it to the degree where they would do whatever it is that needed to get done, but with something that is appeasing to them. The same concept can be applied to any job. Any job. Sometimes you and a co-worker are going to have to come half-way, and you are going to have to do it in a manner of humility and persuasiveness. Be short and brief. Let them know why your compromise is beneficial to them and why it's inevitable for it to get done! I remember doing this with the kids I would nanny and their follow up questions only made me get better at it. The youngest had a favorite word- why. And answering that not only kept me on my toes, but it also instilled a sense of understanding when it came to negotiating and proposing something new to my working colleagues afterwards. 

5. Learning from experience to move forward appropriately
Last but not least, memory is key when it comes to learning from mistakes. Remember when I said the eldest brother of the boys clocked me on my first week of babysitting him? (check out number three...it's there) Yeah...while that was a bit embarrassing, it served as an experience for me to take and learn from. The same goes for every single job. If something goes wrong once, take not of what is happening and learn from that mistake. While you may not know what should happen, you do know what should not happen. Tricky...I know. It's nerve racking and thought provoking, but it's a journey to learn constantly from.
So while everyday is not the same with kids, I guarantee you that they remember and are watching you to make sure you know what you are doing. And they won't hesitate to remind you of what happened in the past in regards to a similar situation. Learn and move forward.  

Being a nanny is an amazing and rewarding position to take. I was still getting my feet wet in the 'real world' but the qualities learned from caring kids has taught me so much as I move forward.

What job has taught you qualities that you use today?

4 ways of coping with an unpleasant friend-of-a-friend

Relaxed Feet-up

It's odd how this post came to mind. From time-to-time, I would gaze into the clouds and contemplate. Listening to all of my podcasts will do this...I digress. But quickly, let's take a detour. Have you ever thought about a past encounter and wish you would respond a certain type of way? ...yeah, you can say that's what happened the other day. 

Granted we all have friends from different areas of life. Not all of our friends come from one place...like school....let's be honest. And then we all have at least one friend who intermingles her friends from one instance with you or other friends from another instance. Joining friends with friends. It doesn't always work, but when it does, it's an awesome bond. But like I said...it doesn't always work. 

She or he could be difficult, or they could just have a vibe we just don't click with. And that's fine! But it's when that person tries you. It's when your kindness is taken for granted and you are viewed as a person who is either a dumb-dumb or someone who can be tested. The problem with that is they come for the wrong people a good percentage of the time when they do this. 

I particularly remember a friend I met while studying in Buenos Aires the summer before my senior year. Our friendship grew on the fact that we didn't have that many funds to lavish as much as the other students, funny conversations and our love for alfajores. We met up my final year in university a number of times and a couple of times I was able to meet one of her friends. To be fair, before meeting the friend I was given a heads up about her attitude...but, (oh yes my dear reader, there is always a but of some sort) if I was able to look past that, I would be able to get along just well. I have to say because my study-abroad friend has such a great heart, I did see past the extended friend's attitude. And while I had to force myself to do so, there were a number of times I had to weigh the option of either keeping a smile on my face or letting it be known that today just isn't the day I will tolerate foolery. Because let's be honest, sometimes we can have our off days. So you can say a balance is called to this dilemma. Here are four simple ways I think can help you out.

 1. Call out the foolery
But in a subtle way. And no, I'm not talking about being passive aggressive about their attitude (that's another post for another day). Let the friend-of-the-friend know that you can see their attitude, but you won't tolerate it. Or in other words, say no to whatever it is they have said or proposed, and enunciate on that. Nope. Nah. Uh-uh. Something along the lines of "I do not appreciate that" works majority of the time or even a question of "What about me makes you think it's okay to say that to me?" Surely, it may be hard to say this with even the slightest hint of respect, it still shows that you are a person who has limits and you are not afraid to set that from the start. So don't be afraid or timid to set it!

A quick example- there was one instance where I had just met a person and to "break the ice" so to speak, she thought it was okay to identify me with a racial slur. Let's just say I wasn't having it. Absolutely not. I stopped her dead in her tracks and asked her what about me told her it was okay to talk to me in that manner. People come from different walks of life and feel that in some instances it is okay to act some type of way and if you are not with it, call out the foolery and let it be known that it's not something you vibe with, especially if it was directed towards you.

2. Kill them with kindness
I remember meeting this one friend of my friend and holding a smile for the sake of my friend (I know, it sounds like a he-said-she-said situation, but stay with me...). She didn't say something rude or daunting, but she was being passive-aggressive. It was clear she was having an off day and that she needed to let it out. My inner me thought "why are you here then?....bye". But then I had to realize that sometimes the best thing to do was kill her with kindness and not allow the negative vibe of others be imprinted on me, and I realized this through the mutual friend. So I decided to kill with kindness, be engaging and remain friendly. But I'll be honest- when she would continue the passive-aggressive remarks, I would ignore them and act like she didn't say anything. That person can be moody all the way over there. BOOP!

3. Find a similarity!
Another technique I tend to do is get to know the other person by finding something that we have in common. Are you two Libras? Scorpios? Do you read the horoscope for fun? Do you like sports? Speak another language? Study the same topic? Ask questions, and see where their attitude lights up! It's better to find something that you two can bond on so that you too can give in some perspective and opinions on whatever the adored topic is.

5. Exit the conversation
If all else fails, excuse yourself from the interaction and leave. My mother always told me that if I don't like a certain setting that I had different expectations for, I can always come home. If this person is continuously unpleasant and is giving off the vibe of just doing "too-Too-TOO much", make apparent that you are leaving. Don't do it with an attitude and don't do it passive-aggressively and don't be unpleasant. Just go. Some people think that looking at their watch is a good way of presenting the fact that you are leaving and other people will just throw up the duce-sign and walk out. Either way, just go. Your time is too precious to be wasted in bad company. The mutual friend will understand.  

There are so many ways to speak to and cope with a moody and unpleasant friend-of-a-friend. Either way of dealing with them, it's important to never alter your values for the sake of them or the friend that you have. Stay true to yourself and keep. it. moving. Drake always said...find you some new friends.....something along those lines anyway.

How have you dealt with the attitude of a friend-of-a-friend?

What I learned last Saturday

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Last Saturday I atteneded a blogging workshop hosted by the staff of Career Girl Daily. It's the second one I've attended since the one they hosted in November. That one focused on branding and growing a business; helpful and truly genuine. You can read aboout my expereince on that one here. This second workshop for me was slighly different and specified more towards my online writing goals. It centered more on blogging, asking and answering the question as to how to grow your blog, how to monitize your blog, and utlizing what you already have, along with some small small investments, to either get your blog growing. You can read a summary of the event here.

From the first event, I knew what to expect for the most part, but I have to admit... I was a bit nervous walking into the networking room. Okay, yes, fine, I was very nervous. The event took place in the Hoxton Hotel in London, and it was a pretty neat day. After feaking out about possily being late, I caught the bus and passed-up on the 35-minute walk. I reached the event shortly before the start of first panel. As I walked towards the doors of the events, I could hear the mingling voices of the many women also in attendence for the event. That's when I made my move. And by move I mean detour. Just before placing my right hand on the door, still listening to the presense of how much life and interaction this event possessed, I turned to my right and headed towards the bathroom.

Yup...I was nervous.

I strolled into the bathroom and stared at the mirror for about ten seconds. I washed my hands, moisterized it with lotion (yes girl, the Hoxton is fancy with their bathrooms), and admired the quilted paper towels for a bit. I was doing this probably in the slowest pace you could think of while also snapping myself out the intense degree of timidity. Nonetheless, sometimes you just have to do what you have to do even in the mist of timidity. And I say this because shortly after, I ended up reaquainting with one of the co-founders of the blog and entered the networking room.

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Networking in an extroverted atmosphere is still something I struggle with. And you would think a blogging event for a blogger should be something comfortable for a blogger-attendee. It sounds like that should be the case. I remember, in the first event, I felt very comfortable and much less timid. I remember noting in that post how it there is a difference between a networking event and a workshop. And there is! I still stand by that. So I wondered why this event, specified for me, a blogger looking to grow my blog, ended up influencing me to be really timid. Hmm, I think I know why.

Writing is a passion I've grown to take hold of and embrace for a couple of years now. As a creative, I'll be honest and admit that I am sensitive about my work. So the days leading up to the event, I started to overthink and feel small. Unfortunately, the feeling multiplied on my way to the event. After staring at the Hoxton mirror and greeting one of the co-founders, I found myself in a room with bloggers of different categories. And while I felt intimidated, before entering the room, I did have a tiny sense of excitement... because I went for it! I walked into that networking room...even though I was timid.

I learned so many great things last week Saturday. From using social media as a tool to broadcast your blog and treating your blog as a job from the very start, to creating a specific audience and working with brands. My notes are highlighted, colored and ready for review. But before taking those notes, and soaking up the gems of information from the presentations I had to learn (again haha) that sometimes, even in the presence of timidity, stepping out and going for what you want can carry excitement. And if you focus on that small piece of excitement, you'll be surprised as to what can come of it.

In the end, I met so many wonderful women and connected with bloggers from Switzerland, Norway, Portugal and a couple in London. From participating in a Career Girl's interview and vlogging with a young lady blooming in her creativity, I have to say that small piece of excitement really can do some wonders.

So, what I learned last Saturday really places things in perspective for me. It's okay to be timid...it's perfectly normal really. And it's a great thing to go for whatever it is provoked that timidity. It's all about taking it one step at a time. 

What lessons have you learned that's given you pause?

Sacred for what??

Scared of what? Av. Brasília

Essays- done.

Dissertation- currently in progression. 

Projects- on the move.

And with that said....I am finally back on track with weekly posts. I can breathe. I can lounge. I am alive. I am grateful. So to celebrate, I am doing what I enjoy... traveling!

Back in February I took a leap of faith and booked a week-long trip to Lisboa. I was dabbling on the Easyjet website and came across a price for a round trip that was not only jaw-dropping but necessary to participate in, because...well, it was a price you couldn't just pass on. I couldn't anyway. (Side-note, feeling spontaneous with a credit card will do that to you sometimes....I digress) So, on a whim, I bought it. Granted I did so with some encouragement from my mother and a friendly push from Yvonne, Mercy, and Dondrey. I told Hermz about it later on, and she too encouraged and excited me even more as the date grew closer. And now, I am here...like right now. Ya.

Lisboa-Belém

As you've guessed it, there are some give-and-takes when it comes to great prices for travel. My plane took off at 7:15 am...and I'm talking Luton, not Heathrow. So I had to catch the train and shuttle bus to Luton Airport. That's number one. Number two, my Airbnb check-in was supposed to be at 3 pm, but my Airbnb host was nice enough to make some adjusts for me (which I am so grateful for by the way). Next, like Beyoncé, it's just me, myself, and I. Yup. Ya girl is traveling solo on this one.

Lisboa- Castelo de São Jorge

And for awhile, I was a bit timid and scared, so to speak. I expressed this to my good friend Rimshaw and she hit me with a reply stating "Scared of what?"...and for some odd reason I couldn't answer her question. I probably knew why in regards to that odd and uncomfortable feeling within...or maybe it was excitement...maybe. I know for a fact I was dong what I do best...overthink. Doing too much of that will steal your joy. But then I remembered the reason why I booked this in February. I wanted to get out of my comfort-zone and be able to visit a country where I gradually learned, and still am learning, the language through self-taught. I will say it takes dedication and I have't been very consistent, but what I do know has helped me a bit, despite the awkward hand gestures and wide-eye expressions. I've been using Babble for months and it's really a game changer. No, this is not a sponsorship...(but I am always open to one of course! [Smile!]). I covered my excuse for this trip as a way for me to practice my Portuguese in a Portuguese-speaking setting. And voila- I'm here. Many may say it's silly and ill-advised of me to do this...visit a country, sola, and venture on my own accord. But, I mean, I'm here now so...yeah.

This is the first, but not the last, trip I'm taking solo and it's to a country that speaks a language that my feet is just getting wet in. Yvonne texted me with a "be careful" which I very much appreciate. What that really translated to was "Don't get lost"...because essentially when I'm with Yvonne, she's he GPS. #facts. But when I'm up to it, navigating here and there isn't so bad. And it's the simply worries of navigation and direction that may turn people off from exploring a new place on they own. It's one of the several reasons why they are scared.

But if you really think about it, what is there to be timid about? Is getting lost really the problem? I can tell you know, that's probably the best part. So, maybe it's the worry of something bad happening? I mean, it's cliché to say, but that could happen anywhere...literally, anywhere. Or perhaps fear springs up from being misunderstood? We are all misunderstood at least once a day...and still, we rise. Hmmm, anything else?

Lisboa Lisbon Belém
Lisboa Lisbon Belém

I'm sure there are many answers to that rhetorical question, but what I'm trying to get out say is to disallow the little misgivings to stop you from exploring another setting. It's important to embrace what sits before you when you step off the plane to explore a new country. If you are learning a new language, the best action to take is to surround yourself with that language. Focus less on how to react if someone walks up to you and starts speaking to you in the language you barely understand. Don't worry too much about getting lost because getting lost in the city should be a goal and not a worry. Create your own fun and look at things more with the view of the glass being half-full instead of half empty. And yes, that's a lot coming from me. 

My point in pointing all this out is to indicate to you that the thoughts in your mind, from navigation to being misunderstood, are all minor shortcomings from that trip you want to take. It's important that we take initiative, quite the mindless-murmurs as we overthink, and have a goal, be it to practice a language, or just have fun! Personally, I wanted to put what I had learned through Babble to the test. And in the process, I'm determined to have a great time and deal with my bank account later. (I'll probably take that back when I return to London...but for now, allow it). I'll be one to say that although it's been a little over two days, I'm really liking it here. Sure, the dude at the corner store tried to charge me an extra 10cents on Pringles (he tried it...), and bargaining with the umbrella guy may have seemed petty to some (I work hard for my money...don't judge), but these little things reveal to me how comfortable I currently am in Lisboa and how stepping out of my comfort zone can lead to great and amazing things. And for that, I am so grateful.

What are some things you find intimidating and want to do alone?

40 Days minus Instagram

Cactus Plant

It's been about a week, but I hope your Easter weekend went well and that you all had an enjoyable day either to yourself or with family. I virtually attended service online and attended to devotion Easter Sunday. The days itself leading up to Easter allowed me to be still and grateful for being and breathing in those moments. This past Lent season, I wanted to make a difference in devotion and productivity. Oddly enough, when my personal fast was coming to a close, it seemed more so my fast was being incorporated in my everyday routine. Meaning, it became the norm, so to speak. Forty-days can really make you change, if you allow it to.

Now....hmmm. Okay...this is awkward but, before I continue, allow me to say I did not know the 40-day Lent period was speifically a Catholic adherence, or an adherence for a couple of Christian denominations. I am a Christian. Though I have no specific denominatiion or group, I am a person who is after God's heart and a follower of Christ. When I was a wee-little-girl, I attended Catholic school as a third-grader for 1.5 months. That was over fifteen years ago. And one of the most fasinating lessons I took from religion class was the topic of Lent. And ever since then, I included the practice in my faith from the beginning of March to Easter time.

So here is what people call the twist. Literally seven minutes ago (literally.....I'm looking at my watch), a good friend who I'll call Hermz (hey girl hey), gave me a mini history lesson on Lent. All in all, it makes sense why one would look at me with a confused look on their face when I talk about Lent without including my 1.5months of schooling in St. Thomas Aquinas elementary school, Brooklyn, New York. So, you can say I'm a bit lost, but hey...we learn something new everyday, yeah? Mèsi Hermz. But in the mean time, allow me give my take away from my 40-day Lent priod.

Peach Flower

So I decided to let go of a couple of activities this Lent, from limiting my eating out (not wanting to wash dishes will do that), to cutting my 'television' time, I wanted to cultivate a new foundation of moving forward. But one seperation I found to be pretty interetsing was from none other than instagram. It's probably the one platform I give good attention to apart from bloglovin'. I did this both on purpose and with a great intention. I wanted this to be a good thing. And as silly as it sounds, I found this to be oddly difficult. It was harder than I thought for the first couple of days, honestly. I had a screensaver on my phone that read "Don't even think about it" as a reminder to stay away from the app. You could say all I had to do was delete it, but I wanted to be able to have the app on my phone along with the will power to not click on it. And sure, one could argue that I was deliberately tempting myself, now that I think about it. And to that I say, okay, I could respect that- "out of sight, out of mind" right? Except, I didn't see it that way. Again, I've just thought of that rebuttal, so allow me eh. 

I wrote it in my planner, my schedule, my bullet journal, everywhere I have some type of scheduling, I wrote it down. Reaching for an app when I'm simple bored was something I really wanted to stop doing. And I have to say, because my mind was in the right place- being intentional and steadfast- it made Lent the more enjoyable. Leaning on my faith gave me a sense of strength I never knew I had. Even by Good Friday, the ending of Lent, I still had no interaction with the app. I felt no need to be constant with it; breaking free from it felt uplifting. It was not until this past Wednesday when I recieved a care package from Yvonne that I chose to login and post my graditude. It was the perfect break to my instagram-fast.

Red Flower

Taking a step back these past weeks has been quite the cleanse for me. I love posting pictures, (though I don't do so often), and I more so enjoy laughing-in-tears from reading the funny memes and watching the short videos. Instagram was a type of 'escape' for me- if you will. Except, it's not the escape I wanted to continue. During this period I was able to face some thoughts and give attention to aspects in my life that I've been brushing under the rug lately. Tough, yes, but necessary. And though she is thousands of miles away, Hermz has helped me tremendously. For that I am grateful. Mèsi zanmi'm (don't even know if I spelled that correctly, girl...but you understand).

It's crazy when you realize how automatic it is for us to go back and check something on social media that we've literally checked seconds ago. Granted, the internet is a powerful tool to use and promote brands these days. So then, perhaps it's because seconds is all it takes for news to change, or for something funny or serious to occur. Literally though, seconds. I can only speak for myself when I say this but...that's a lot of work, energy and time. Heavy emphasis on that last one....Time. An element to take seriously and not be quick to waste.     

So, in the end, I was able to answer some questions I had lingering in my mind. Did I feel like I missed something? ...nope. Am I prone to continue clicking on Instagram like a madman?...I think I'm good. Do I still like Instagram? ...Yes, I do. My approach to the social media platform now is different. Taking a step back did not make me dislike Instagram. Instead it's taught me to allow myself to pause with a greater meaning and intention. And I'm grateful that 40-days without it helped me do so.