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Life, Plans & Board Games

June 29, 2013

Life hardly ever goes according to plan. We know that there will be hiccups and detours and that life will surprise us in ways we could never have imagined. The funny thing is, we know this (because it happens all the time) and yet that doesn’t stop us from making plans every chance we get. The funnier thing is that we’re surprised when things don’t go according to plan. Every time. We sulk and are sad and shower ourselves in self pity.

Having a plan is important but being open to and embracing detours that will inevitably happen along the way is far more wise. Because it’s in those detours that we learn and experience things that we would never have put in our plans in the first place. And sometimes those detours lead to things that we end up liking more than any plan we could have conceived for ourselves.

When I moved to Korea in November of 2011 I was set on finding my life calling, a passion that would fullfil me, make me happy and generally make my life perfect. I was also determined to never work a “9 to 5” corporate job ever again. I packed my bags and moved to a country on the other side of the planet where I didn’t know anyone and didn’t speak the language. My game plan and thinking was that if this drastic change of scenery didn’t reveal my authentic self and therefore my true passions, then nothing will. And I was right. Sort of.

Right because Korea taught me more about myself in 7 months than I could ever have imagined. I didn’t have a plan for how it would all go down or even if my time in Korea was one that I’d enjoy. I did however plan on finding my passion. When that didn’t happen and I returned to Toronto feeling as lost and confused about my life plans as ever, I felt like a failure.

But sometimes feeling like a failure can be a good thing because it makes you realize you have nothing to lose and therefore allows you to be open to things you’d normally not be open to. So I did the very thing I had promised myself I’d never do again. Got a 9 to 5 job. It was supposed to be a temporary thing: work until I find something that actually makes me happy and then get out.

Of course life had other plans. Six months on the Pricing Team at Walmart and I can’t believe I enjoy it as much as I do. Yes, it’s a “9 to 5” and no I’m not changing the world. But it makes me happy. Happy because I see the effect the work I do has on my team, the departments we advise and ultimately the customer. I work with people who I think are some of the smartest people I’ve ever met and I feel challenged every day.

In many ways, I feel that my job is a lot like playing a board game with the best players on my team. Every week we analyze data to see where we are performing vs the market and then we come up with strategies to improve our opportunity areas. Based on the recommendations we make, we get reports (like scores in a board game) the following week to see how well we did depending on how the market reacted (or didn’t) Some of it we have no control over (like rolling the dice in a board game) but there are always aspects we can tweak and influence (and when you have the best players on your team – you learn first hand what works, how to think, etc). Being apart of such a fast paced company where no idea is a bad idea and change is the one thing that is always constant, is exciting to say the least.

I’m not saying that a 9 to 5 job is for everyone. Or that I’ll love every other 9 to 5 job from here on out. However, the last few months have made me realize that sometimes we label things as “horrible” even before we’ve explored all the possible options or given it a fair chance. And that sometimes it’s okay to “like” the very thing you’re supposed to hate. Everyone is supposed to hate their job- especially if it’s a 9 to 5. Don’t get me wrong, I love the weekend and a few days off as much as the next person. But I still can’t believe I wake up looking forward to getting dressed and driving (okay who are we kidding, I still haven’t learned to love the commute) to WORK!

I’m not sure how long this spark or my love affair with my job will last but if the last six months are anything to go by, I don’t think the flame will burn out any time soon. And to think this is exactly what I didn’t want.

So go on, go out there and force yourself to experience things you don’t necessarily think you’re going to like. At best, you’ll find something you love. At worst, you’ll prove you were right. And on to the next thing. Make plans but remember to throw them all out the window when something else is unfolding infront of you. Because who knows, you might actually fall in love with the very thing you didn’t want. Here’s to making plans and then tossing them out the window in favour of living in the moment and embracing the natural spontaneity of life 🙂

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“I HATE Rogers!” -every Rogers customer ever.

February 17, 2013

We, as Canadians, must take responsibility for the way companies like Rogers treat us. We let it happen.

Spending countless hours fighting mysterious charges on our wireless bill every month, being forced to pay a cancellation fee of up to $400 because we don’t want to deal with the frustration anymore, getting tricked into an extended contract by way of “a free phone for your loyalty- no strings attached” are examples of just a few of the atrocities I’ve personally experienced over the years.

But I don’t need to get into specifics or state examples- all it takes is a few minutes on this site to get your blood boiling and to realize just how widespread and common these complaints are. According to Canada’s Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services 2011-2012 report, wireless services topped the complaints list. Of the big  three in Canada, here are the stats for complaints YoY:

Rogers +112%

Bell +17%

Telus -13%

Having recently cancelled my service with Rogers (for free) I think I have a pretty good idea of where I’m taking my business. Telus, may you serve as an example of how business should be done and the importance of continually improving your  policies and services to better serve customers.

But wait, you say. I’m still with Rogers and I want out, you say. You’ve come to the right place. Keep reading 🙂

SKIP TO HERE IF YOU COULD CARELESS ABOUT MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCES OR CANADIAN TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPLAINTS STATS AND JUST WANT TO KNOW HOW TO DEAL WITH ROGERS. 

1. Call customer service. Take notes and keep for your records. If you are not completely satisfied with the outcome, ask to escalate to a manager.

2. The manager should call you back within 72 hours. If you are not completely satisfied with the outcome, ask for the full name of the manager and/or interaction ID so that you can escalate to The Office of the President. (ProTip: just mentioning The Office of the President usually gets them to reconsider their previous statements. But be fair, stand your ground and give the manager a chance to give you what you want.)

3. The Office of the President requires the manager name and/or interaction ID. This is part of the new process that they’ve put in place to deal with increasing customer complaints. I didn’t know about it until yesterday. Knowledge is power.

4. The Office of the Ombudsman serves as an impartial body to investigate customer concerns and deliver fair and reasonable resolutions but requires you to have gone through steps 1 to 3 first.

5. But wait, that’s not all. If you’re not satisfied with the Ombudsman’s resolution, you can contact the Commissioner for Complaints for telecommunications services (CCTS). And get this, their service is completely free for you. It’s awesome to be Canadian, eh?!

Click here and go to page 6 and 7 for more detail (i.e. websites/contact information) for the above steps.

Rogers provides mediocre customer service and locks in  customers with contracts and cancellation fees. If you take these steps and have a reasonable reason for why you want to leave (mysterious charges and having to audit your bill and waste time with customer service every month is a reasonable enough reason) they will have to waive the cancellation fee. If enough customers leave, Rogers will be forced to reconsider their policies, processes and services.

We’ve dealt with far too much abuse for far too long. All from one company. The common sentiment is “Rogers owns all the towers. They have all the power. The customer has none.” Wrong.

people-know-their-power

If we work together, we have all the power. Let’s focus on educating ourselves and exercising our  rights so that companies are forced to focus on the very reason they are in business: the customer.

Not a Rogers customer? Lucky you. Spread the love by sharing this post with someone who is being unfairly treated by Rogers.

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below and I will do my best to find the answer for you.

What reddit has taught me about life.

December 29, 2012

Most of my friends aren’t redditors. [redditor(n)-someone who reddits] In fact, most of them probably don’t even understand what reddit really is and they get this glazed look in their eyes whenever I talk about it. Which is often. So I thought and thought, looked high and low for a solution to this predicament. What’s a girl to do when her nearest and dearest are clearly missing out on one of The Best things life has to offer? She intervenes of course!

I’ve learned that we all love stories. So I’ll start this educational post with a story.

Once upon a time, I didn’t know what reddit was. I mean, I had heard of it. I knew it was a social site and referred to itself as “the front page of the internet.” (which I thought was a lame tag line) And when I finally checked out the “front page of the internet,” I spent exactly 2.7 seconds on it and decided clipping my toe nails would probably be more interesting. The user interface sucked. It wasn’t colourful or pretty or organized with beautifully designed buttons and menus. Nope. Just a bunch of blue links and text.

But never judge a book by its cover, my dear one, for the covers you deem unworthy of your time could be the gems you’ve been searching for all your life.

So fast forward a couple years and I was living in Korea. I came across this video of Neil Degrasse Tyson. He’s an astrophysicist and is probably the coolest person to have ever lived. I fell in love with that video and wanted to read/save the transcript. I googled and googled and couldn’t find one. So being the enterprising, take-matters-into-my-hands kinda girl I was raised to be, I decided to transcript the video myself. A couple hours later, I realized that spending two hours working on something and not sharing the fruits of that labour with at least one other person is inefficient use of time. So I uploaded the transcript to my blog.

My friend who follows my blog (because that’s what good friends do) who also happens to be a redditor, saw the post, realized the athiesm subreddit would love it, and shared my blog post with a community of 600,000 redditors. And the rest, as they say, is history.

My blog stats had hovered around 100 views/day before reddit. That morning I woke up to 7000 hits and it slowly climbed to over 25000 over the course of that day. Yup, I was going to fall for reddit. And fall hard I did.

So what exactly is it about reddit that I love so much? Glad you asked. I’m sure you’ve heard of these quotes: “You are the sum of the top 5 people you spend time with.” Or “Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are.” These quotes are saying that your life education is limited to the people you know- your social circle. We naturally gravitate towards and get along with people that are like us or who have had the same experiences. But in the process, we miss out on the learning we could have had from those different to us. The problem is, it’s not very practical in real life. Or maybe I should say, it’s not easy.

Enter Reddit. You get to hear stories and candid recounts of so many amazing and diverse perspectives and life experiences that you’re forced to open your mind and consider the opposites to your beliefs. In the process, you’ll find out that there are also people who think like you- and you’re not so weird after all. (YAY!)

Here’s a list of how Reddit has completely changed my outlook on so many aspects of life- from the small everyday things to life’s bigger questions.

1. You’re not alone. And none of your characteristics or quirks are truly unique to you. What’s that? Oh you were told that you’re different and special? Well, that’s true. You are different. And you are special. And you are unique. Notice I didn’t say YOU weren’t. I said none of your characteristics or quirks are special.

There is at least one other person on this planet who does something exactly the way you do it regardless of how weird you think it may be. Still not getting it? Ok, maybe an example will help.

So one of the grossest things I’m forced to do sometimes is pull out a wad of hair out of my shower drain because too much hair got stuck in there. I’m sure this is less likely to happen to you if you have short hair. So if you’re thinking HUH or are confused as to why this would ever happen to anyone, you have short hair. But you already knew that. Ok getting back to my point. So that’s pretty gross. Hair is beautiful and luscious and all things good while it’s still stuck to your head. But once it is detached from the head, it becomes this thing to go ew at- for lack of a better word. Anyway, instead of having to deal with the gross drain, I collect the hair that falls out while I shampoo/condition in my hands and stick it on to the wall tiles. I’m not really sure how I figured this out but it occurred to me one day and I started doing it. I’d stick the fallout hair on to the wall tiles and at the end of my shower, I’d collect it into a big ball of yucky hair and put it in the garbage. So much better than reaching in to the disgusting drain. I thought I was the only one that did this. But nope. A girl on reddit wrote about how she does this exact thing. And I sat there staring at my computer screen like whoa. mind=blown.

2. There really is no such thing as good or bad. Good or bad is determined by your perspective or the lens with which you view life. If you feel strongly about something, whether that’s the positive extreme or negative extreme, realize that there’s someone out there who believes the exact opposite of you with the exact same conviction. What I’ve learned is that it’s important to hear as much of a person’s story as they’re willing to share before judging. Or at least being aware that you are human and therefore subconsciously you are making judgments whether you like it or not. Becoming aware of it is the first step.

The next step is to find that one thing you believe in so much and have it challenged. It didn’t happen intentionally for me. I stumbled on a pedophile’s story by accident. http://www.reddit.com/r/ForeverAlone/comments/127isg/why_ill_be_forever_alone/c6sx65i Having taught kids and being an aunt, that’s one explanation I didn’t think deserved to be heard. Until I read it. The story doesn’t justify it or say it’s right- it just provides an explanation. An explanation that I would never have heard were it not for Reddit. I believe that at the end of the day, whether you agree or disagree with what you’ve heard, just having heard and internalized something completely foreign to you makes you a better person.

3. The importance of asking why. This is a story about how one guy proposed with a ring that was personal, meaningful and not plucked off an expensive shelf. http://www.reddit.com/r/Frugal/comments/12gt7l/best_place_to_buy_engagement_ring/c6uxqcf We all know that the idea of engagement rings was fabricated and then heavily marketed by the diamond industry itself- De Beers to be exact (if you haven’t heard this, google it- probably the single most successful campaign ever) We know this but it has become so ingrained in our society that no one questions it. The guy is expected to shell out thousands for a ring and the girl is expected to expect that. This story taught me the importance of asking why you’re doing what you’re doing, if it makes sense to you, and tweaking it if it doesn’t.

4. Humans are inherently good and given the chance, they will always choose to do good rather than bad. I’ve always believed this but it’s easy to forget on a day-to-day basis while stuck in traffic or fighting for parking spots.There are so many restore-your-faith-in-humanity stories on reddit- the guy who wired money to a complete stranger because he didn’t have enough for the bills and Christmas presents for his children or the guy in Japan who upon finding out that a redditor’s grandma was stuck at home during the earthquake offered to deliver a care package with all her favourite stuff. These examples don’t even scratch the surface of the kind of awesome you will find on Reddit. And we’re talking complete strangers who expect absolutely nothing in return and will probably never meet.

They say that you are what you think about most of the time- and Reddit, given you choose the right subreddits, will force-feed you everything good, inspire you to dig deeper and teach you to look at life from the eyes of so many awesome people that it rubs off on you.

Now that I’ve piqued your interest, how do you learn to best use Reddit, get past the initial unfriendliness that is its user interface and unlock its infinite awesomeness? Find out with this easy to follow ebook I personally wrote divulging all my top secrets for only 3 easy payments of 39.99. Just kidding. Reddit will probably disown me and ban me for life if I were to do that. I will write up that post as soon as I finish editing and posting this one 🙂 And it will be free.

7 Life Lessons from Reddit

November 5, 2012

1. People will talk about you no matter what you do, so do what makes you happy.

2. Do your own thing, never plan any events around other people, If you want to learn music, start hitting the gym, go travelling, do it all yourself, if someone wants to tag along, let them but dont COUNT on them.

3. Live a life of ‘oh wells’ rather than ‘what ifs’

4. What you do today is important. You are exchanging a day of your life for it.

5. Always take the opportunity to make someone smile when it presents itself.

6. Your quality of life will genuinely improve once you obtain a detachable shower head.

7. If you knew everyone else’s failures and embarrassments and secrets and regrets and dirty thoughts like how you know all your own, you’d feel less lonely and you’d be much more confident.

Random thoughts on a Saturday morning

November 3, 2012

What unites us.

Regardless of who we are, when we were born, where we live, or how we spend our days- there’s one thing that unites us:

we’re all looking for something.

whether that be love, health, companionship, fortune or fame.

That’s the human condition. We’re never satisfied. Once we attain one goal, we’re setting our sights on the next one. I don’t think it’s fair to say we shouldn’t be like that at all; but that we should find a balance. A way to be happy here in the now but also look for ways to move “ahead” to satisfy the next urge.

Are we really that special?

For the longest time I believed we were special. (I mean, we, as in humans.) Think about it. We won the universe lottery. We’ve been to the moon and back, sent little robots to mars. We figured out how to make ridiculously good food like tiramisu, chocolate and poutine. We know about our solar system and the galaxy we’re in, how the universe is constantly expanding. We travel thousands of miles around the earth in hours- sitting in a  tube in the sky. In many ways, we are special. But in the grand scheme of things, our lives are but a tiny blip. One minute we’re here and the next we’re gone.  Religion tells us there’s something after all of this- a heaven or hell or reincarnation. But none of us really know for sure. How can we. We’re still here. That really bothers me. We know so much about our lives yet so little about existence.

The Egg by Andy Weir

October 31, 2012

You were on your way home when you died.

It was a car accident. Nothing particularly remarkable, but fatal nonetheless. You left behind a wife and two children. It was a painless death. The EMTs tried their best to save you, but to no avail. Your body was so utterly shattered you were better off, trust me.

And that’s when you met me.

“What… what happened?” You asked. “Where am I?”

“You died,” I said, matter-of-factly. No point in mincing words.

“There was a… a truck and it was skidding…”

“Yup,” I said.

“I… I died?”

“Yup. But don’t feel bad about it. Everyone dies,” I said.

You looked around. There was nothingness. Just you and me. “What is this place?” You asked. “Is this the afterlife?”

“More or less,” I said.

“Are you god?” You asked.

“Yup,” I replied. “I’m God.”

“My kids… my wife,” you said.

“What about them?”

“Will they be all right?”

“That’s what I like to see,” I said. “You just died and your main concern is for your family. That’s good stuff right there.”

You looked at me with fascination. To you, I didn’t look like God. I just looked like some man. Or possibly a woman. Some vague authority figure, maybe. More of a grammar school teacher than the almighty.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “They’ll be fine. Your kids will remember you as perfect in every way. They didn’t have time to grow contempt for you. Your wife will cry on the outside, but will be secretly relieved. To be fair, your marriage was falling apart. If it’s any consolation, she’ll feel very guilty for feeling relieved.”

“Oh,” you said. “So what happens now? Do I go to heaven or hell or something?”

“Neither,” I said. “You’ll be reincarnated.”

“Ah,” you said. “So the Hindus were right,”

“All religions are right in their own way,” I said. “Walk with me.”

You followed along as we strode through the void. “Where are we going?”

“Nowhere in particular,” I said. “It’s just nice to walk while we talk.”

“So what’s the point, then?” You asked. “When I get reborn, I’ll just be a blank slate, right? A baby. So all my experiences and everything I did in this life won’t matter.”

“Not so!” I said. “You have within you all the knowledge and experiences of all your past lives. You just don’t remember them right now.”

I stopped walking and took you by the shoulders. “Your soul is more magnificent, beautiful, and gigantic than you can possibly imagine. A human mind can only contain a tiny fraction of what you are. It’s like sticking your finger in a glass of water to see if it’s hot or cold. You put a tiny part of yourself into the vessel, and when you bring it back out, you’ve gained all the experiences it had.

“You’ve been in a human for the last 48 years, so you haven’t stretched out yet and felt the rest of your immense consciousness. If we hung out here for long enough, you’d start remembering everything. But there’s no point to doing that between each life.”

“How many times have I been reincarnated, then?”

“Oh lots. Lots and lots. An in to lots of different lives.” I said. “This time around, you’ll be a Chinese peasant girl in 540 AD.”

“Wait, what?” You stammered. “You’re sending me back in time?”

“Well, I guess technically. Time, as you know it, only exists in your universe. Things are different where I come from.”

“Where you come from?” You said.

“Oh sure,” I explained “I come from somewhere. Somewhere else. And there are others like me. I know you’ll want to know what it’s like there, but honestly you wouldn’t understand.”

“Oh,” you said, a little let down. “But wait. If I get reincarnated to other places in time, I could have interacted with myself at some point.”

“Sure. Happens all the time. And with both lives only aware of their own lifespan you don’t even know it’s happening.”

“So what’s the point of it all?”

“Seriously?” I asked. “Seriously? You’re asking me for the meaning of life? Isn’t that a little stereotypical?”

“Well it’s a reasonable question,” you persisted.

I looked you in the eye. “The meaning of life, the reason I made this whole universe, is for you to mature.”

“You mean mankind? You want us to mature?”

“No, just you. I made this whole universe for you. With each new life you grow and mature and become a larger and greater intellect.”

“Just me? What about everyone else?”

“There is no one else,” I said. “In this universe, there’s just you and me.”

You stared blankly at me. “But all the people on earth…”

“All you. Different incarnations of you.”

“Wait. I’m everyone!?”

“Now you’re getting it,” I said, with a congratulatory slap on the back.

“I’m every human being who ever lived?”

“Or who will ever live, yes.”

“I’m Abraham Lincoln?”

“And you’re John Wilkes Booth, too,” I added.

“I’m Hitler?” You said, appalled.

“And you’re the millions he killed.”

“I’m Jesus?”

“And you’re everyone who followed him.”

You fell silent.

“Every time you victimized someone,” I said, “you were victimizing yourself. Every act of kindness you’ve done, you’ve done to yourself. Every happy and sad moment ever experienced by any human was, or will be, experienced by you.”

You thought for a long time.

“Why?” You asked me. “Why do all this?”

“Because someday, you will become like me. Because that’s what you are. You’re one of my kind. You’re my child.”

“Whoa,” you said, incredulous. “You mean I’m a god?”

“No. Not yet. You’re a fetus. You’re still growing. Once you’ve lived every human life throughout all time, you will have grown enough to be born.”

“So the whole universe,” you said, “it’s just…”

“An egg.” I answered. “Now it’s time for you to move on to your next life.”

And I sent you on your way.

If you could ask just one question…

August 26, 2012
tags:

If you could ask just one question (and know for sure you’d receive the right answer), what would you ask?

What is the meaning of life? Is there a meaning to life? What happens after we die? 

I don’t think about this kind of stuff often. Ok so that was a lie. I think about this stuff all the time. More than I’d like to admit. Especially to my mom. Because she gets all emotional and worried and tells me to stop.

Last night, my uncle passed away. I’d only met him a handful of times. I remember the first time I visited Jaffna (the northern tip of Sri Lanka where he lived) and saw the huge fields with no wires overhead. Naturally, I wanted to buy a kite. He told his sons to make one for me instead. So there we are trying to make a kite out of bamboo and special kite paper (which I promptly ripped and destroyed because apparently flying a kite takes skill. who knew.) Anyway, there’s really no point to this story other than the fact that I had no idea I’d never see him again.

Life is like that. You never know what’s around the corner- which is why I think it’s important to think about questions you can’t answer- even the hard ones.

I’ll end this all-over-the-place post with one of my favourite quotes regarding questions and answers and life.

“Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” —  R.M. Rilke