Sincerity in a hectic world

“Time is the most valuable thing that a man can spend.” – Diogenes

Most of us spend a good deal of each day using verbal skills to communicate with friends, family and business associates as well as casual acquaintances. This can result in a huge amount of conversation and the choice of many thousands of different forms of syntax, regardless of the language being spoken. However, how much of what is being relayed qualifies as truth and how much is pure dreaming or just saying what you think the other person wants to hear?

How often do we hear the phrases, “we must have coffee soon” or “let’s make sure to get together before too long”? So easy to let these words float out of our mouths, but what is the point if they are purely being used flippantly? I had an occasion recently where someone whom I had known for many years accused me of being of no use to her in my business endeavours as I was obviously too busy to do a good job, as I had never bothered to have tea with her! Being told, “Oh, you must pop in and have tea one day” does not constitute an invitation and being self-employed, there is very little time to socialise, and certainly no time to just “pop in” on the off chance that I may be welcome. In trying to explain to this very obnoxious woman that my time is constantly being taken up with my business and trying to earn a living, I was very abrasively shouted down. However, if she really had wanted to speak to me over a cup of tea or coffee, she should have made the invitation genuine and I would have certainly made the time to see her.

Since the advent of social media, things seem to have become far worse as far as meaning what one says and being genuine instead of trying to just make an impression. We see all these flowery “Love you my angel” with the response “Love you more”, etc. etc. and one wonders why anyone would need to put comments like these out there for the world to read instead of just telling the person in question the very same words?

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What is it about the human race that there is this need to be seen to be other than who one really is. Not to say that we need to show our bad side to others, but let’s try to be genuine instead of fake. How much better to only use certain words of endearment when the person you have strong feelings for is hearing them coming out of your mouth and not splashed on a screen for all to read. So often these comments are totally cringeworthy – especially in cases where you know just what the people concerned are really like.  The results of a recent survey showed that the happiest relationships are those where the people involved do not post personal comments on social media.

Nothing boosts our mood more than having a friend or acquaintance phoning us or sending a personal message to say that they are thinking of you and when can you meet? Now there is a genuine desire to get together and it wasn’t put out there as public news.  I get the feeling that the reason there is so much loneliness in the world today is due to us not taking the time to say and do the meaningful things which, as human beings, we all need in order to make us feel cherished and worthwhile. It’s just become far too easy to get so involved with one’s own life and day to day existence that to clear one’s conscience with those flippant words, “we must get together for coffee soon!” have become way too common.  Putting messages out there in the social field could also be a quick fix which eliminates the need for giving up on personal time.

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So many wonderful words are spoken at memorial services after a friend or family member has died, but when they were living did they ever hear the same words being said to them? In many instances they have been more or less abandoned by these self-same people due to their busy lives and them preferring to spend leisure hours doing more exciting things than paying a visit or making a phone call. Sincerity often means making sacrifices of one’s time in order to do it right when it actually can make a difference in the other person’s life. Young or old, the need to feel special is part and parcel of the human condition and it is often those who appear to be totally self- sufficient who drastically crave the human touch.

Very often just making the time to do the right thing turns out to be an extremely rewarding experience. When you realise just how much your selfless act of sharing some of your valuable “free time” with that other person has cheered them up as they face life’s challenges, then you are usually rewarded with a feeling of self- worth and satisfaction. So being sincere in caring has two-fold benefits which are not achieved by sending meaningless messages via social media just to show all those “friends” (many of whom you have never met and probably have no desire to meet either!) what a great person you are.

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A friend of mine who sells intricate beaded ornamental items at a flea market stall told me of someone who also used to have a stall at the same flea market who suggested that they become friends on Facebook. My friend was actually angry at the request because the person in question had never ever bothered to pass the time of day with him having been in the same place, weekend after weekend over the past 10 years. Again, is this sincerity or just idle words and why bother? If you cannot make friends with another person face to face then what on earth would you have to say to them via social media? Having hundreds of these so-called “friends” may be great for one’s ego, but what is the point unless it is purely to try to sell your product or advertise your business. That may well be the case, but if you really do want a friend, you have to be prepared to be a friend, in the true sense of the word. The Oxford dictionary defines “friend” as “one joined to another in intimacy and affection”. By the same token, the word “sincere” means “not simulated or assumed” i.e. genuine.

This is not intended to create feelings of guilt at all, but many of us are like the proverbial hamster spinning around and around on his wheel and we need to sometimes jump off the wheel and do the right thing by that other person. Just a thought!

“And in the end it’s not the years in your life that count.
It’s the life in your years” – Abraham Lincoln

Sending him on his way.

It was the second day on board the cruise ship and Andrea was feeling more relaxed than she had felt in years as she leaned against the railing of the ship’s deck, gazing out at the horizon.  The constant strain of juggling home and office as well as the stress of her recent break up with her long-time boyfriend had taken its toll. She had been suffering from insomnia for weeks and her boss had noticed that she was constantly tired and irritable and suggested that it was time for her to think about using up some of her accumulated leave. She had been so diligent regarding her deadlines at work that she had hardly ever bothered to take any leave. It was only over weekends or when there was a public holiday that she was away from the office.

So far the week long cruise was proving to be exactly what she needed. Her cabin had its own balcony and she loved watching the flying fish and the occasional school of dolphins cavorting in the waves – she could forget about work for the first time in years, and even the hurt caused by the recent break up was surprisingly not bothering her much. The food and entertainment on board was first class and although she wasn’t really interested in spending much time with the other passengers, the ones she met at mealtimes were pleasant enough and not wanting to intrude on her privacy. She tended to be reserved by nature and found it rather difficult to make new friends. The few good friends she had were people she trusted and had known for many years and, due to her busy work schedule, she saw less of them than she really should, but maybe things could change once she got back home.

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Out of the corner of her eye Andrea noticed a middle aged woman with short greying hair who seemed to be talking to herself whilst trying to remove the lid of a square wooden box. Curiosity got the better of the normally reticent Andrea, and she walked over to the woman and introduced herself and offered to help her open the box. “It’s really stiff and probably due to the length of time that it’s been in my cupboard at home. Oh, by the way, I’m Linda, and thank you – maybe you can get the lid off!” With that Andrea tried to twist off the lid, and finally was successful. What she saw made her recoil in shock – the box contained ashes!

“I can see you’re a bit taken aback, Andrea, but before I throw these into the sea, let me explain”, said Linda. “It has been months now since I fetched the box and a lot of planning has gone into my taking this trip in order to do what is necessary and to say my final goodbyes. So many memories and feelings have been plaguing me and it has been a very hard decision to spend my meagre savings on this cruise, but I think once I have done what has to be done, then I can get on with my life”.

“I imagine that it is going to be a very emotional goodbye for you, and I hope that I am not intruding at such a difficult time, Linda?!

“Oh no, not at all. In fact I am just so glad that you came over to talk to me as I feel the need to unburden myself before I send him on his final journey. The past 12 years have been a total nightmare living with this aggressive, badly behaved individual who ruled my life completely. Being a positive person by nature, I always believed that thing would get better, but they just did not. My friends stopped coming to visit as they never knew what kind of a mood he would be in and often left in a hurry when they heard his snarling voice. They just could not understand why I tolerated it and eventually lost patience with me.”

“It sounds as though you have really had a lot on your plate and it reminds me of the past few years of living with my ex-boyfriend who was also very controlling and often bad tempered. There must have been some good times though?

On his way 2 350x211“Very few, sad to say. In the beginning he was so very affectionate and people admired his good looks and I got the feeling that many of them actually envied me having found such a great companion at the stage of life where many of my friends were on their own and feeling rather neglected. The trouble was that I started to loathe him for cramping my style and being so very demanding. I often felt that I was being totally manipulated and that my time was no longer my own. He was very faddy when it came to his likes and dislikes regarding his meals and I spent hours trying to find things that he would enjoy. Sometimes he actually seemed to appreciate all my efforts but I usually felt frustrated by the fact that keeping him happy was using so much of my time and energy. My decision to let him into my life had not been made in a hurry, but I must admit that there were days of serious misgivings and regret although I really did try to give him lots of love and attention.”

“It sounds as though you probably made a big mistake right in the beginning, Linda? Was it his good looks that attracted you?”

“That and the fact that I believed that we would have lots of fun together, but he turned out to be very ill tempered most of the time. It must have been due to his upbringing and his parentage but these were factors which only became relevant as time went on. I must say that I was actually relieved that, as he got older, he did tend to mellow somewhat and he aged very rapidly over the past few years.”

“It would appear that you had rather a challenging time whilst he was alive. Perhaps one day you will find a companion with whom you really do have great times together. You just never know what lies ahead do you?”

“I won’t be in a hurry to look for a replacement after this experience and the worst thing, Andrea, is that I feel that he sometimes really spoilt 12 of the best years of my life and it sounds very cruel, but I am relieved to be saying a final goodbye to him today. The reason I decided on this cruise in order to scatter his ashes is that he loved the sea and although I really don’t like swimming in cold water, I was forced to go down to the beach with him several times a week so he could race through the waves like a maniac whilst I waited on the sand for him to exhaust himself. Despite his extremely difficult nature, I felt a certain amount of guilt regarding my frequent resentment towards him so this is mainly to appease that guilt.”  With that comment, Linda leaned slightly over the railing and threw the content of the box into the sea. The slight breeze caught them as they floated down and it seemed to take quite a while before they disappeared into the waves.On his way 1 350x233“ Goodbye Rover, and thanks for the memories!”

“Rover? Was that your husband’s name, Linda?”

Linda burst out laughing, “I have never been married, Andrea. Rover was a Rottweiler that I decided to adopt, against my better judgement, when a good friend of mine went to China to teach English and had no idea of what to do with Rover who was still a puppy back then. Big mistake, but that is history now and I feel very relieved and maybe my friends will start visiting me again once this cruise is over! No more bad tempered male interference to worry about. Now time for a nice glass of cold champers in honour of a strong willed companion. Want to join me Andrea?”Onhis way 3 350x350.jpg

 

Direct Sales – Chapter 3

Where do you find your customers?

You will no doubt be worried as to how on earth you are going to find people who will purchase the goods you plan on selling. The phrase which you will hear over and over again, regardless of which direct selling company you decide to join, is “your circle of influence”. This really means all the people you know who you could contact to tell them about your new venture. To start you off here is a list of potential contacts:

       *Family members                  *Friends

       *Neighbours                            *Parents of your children’s friends

       *Work colleagues                   *Church acquaintances

       *Gym acquaintances             *Local businesses

*Receptionists at your dentist, doctor, vet, hairdresser etc.

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No doubt you can extend this list, but this just gives you some idea of where you can start. The best thing when you approach a possible customer is to find out if there is anyone from whom they are currently purchasing the product you will be selling. If they do not have a regular representative then you can offer to drop off the current catalogue at the beginning of each new month.  They may not be happy with the kind of service they are currently receiving from their representative, and be very pleased to use you instead.

If you are attempting to get sales from the staff within an organisation, you should try to find a person who would be prepared to collect the orders for you and send them in to you once a month. They in turn would be responsible for collecting the money from those people who placed orders, so that you only have to work with this one person. It just makes the process much simpler than having lots of loose orders which have to be delivered individually. Each individual order will be packed by you with the name of the customer and amount owing easily visible on the package but you have one drop off point for all the orders for a specific company. The person nominated to collect the money from the individuals and to distribute their orders can be rewarded by you with small “thank you” gifts from time to time just to show your appreciation for their time and effort.

Don’t be shy about telling everyone whom you meet in the course of your day, what you are doing and how convenient it would be for them to be able to buy from you rather than spending valuable time searching for the product which suits them best at large retail outlets. You will sometimes be pleasantly surprised by the reaction you get from certain people. Many may have lost contact with someone who used to supply them with the products and have not yet found anyone else from whom to order.

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By utilising all the facilities which are so readily available these days, such as computers and smart phones, much of the time consuming drudgery which was part of direct selling in the past, is now history. How much easier it is to send bulk e-mails or WhatsApp messages to inform your customers of product specials, shortages, price changes as well as to remind them that the current order cut off day is fast approaching,  instead of having to phone each one individually. Personal contact is still very critical to building good business relationships, but there are definitely many benefits to being able to just send a message instead of always having to make loads of time-consuming phone calls.

When you are chatting to your customers, listen to what they are telling you and make a habit of keeping notes that you can use in future in order to make them feel that you actually care about them and that you remember what they tell you.  They will also assume that you have an amazing memory, whereas you have just saved relevant info regarding them, their families, and important facts which they have disclosed to you during conversations as well as their product choices. This makes for a far more personal relationship with customers and they will value your interest in them, apart from just the buying aspect. Index cards, or keeping the information on your computer – whichever method suits you, will serve the purpose just as well.

Once you have managed to get a reasonable number of customers ordering from you on a regular basis, just remember that it is far easier to keep your existing ones than having to find new ones. Also, happy customers will recommend you to their friends. Word of mouth advertising is the best form of advertising that there is, but people who have a bad experience will also spread the word and unfortunately often far wider than those who have had good service. Sad, but true.  Therefore, it is very important that, if you make a mistake somewhere along the line, apologise and correct it as soon as possible. A small token given to a customer who has been inconvenienced goes a long way to mending the relationship. Remember – the customer is always right!

“I do not think there is any other quality so essential to success
of any kind as the quality of perseverance.
It overcomes almost everything, even nature.
” – John D. Rockefeller

 

Update and Comments: 6 June 2019

If only we had won the lotto recently, then I would not once again be berating the fact that time has played against me and I have not posted anything for the past few weeks. The only excuse that I have – and it is a valid one I can assure you all – is that having to earn a living can be time consuming! If a huge windfall had come my way, I might be writing this from the deck of a luxury liner, having booked for a world cruise! Now that is an attractive thought – just as long as the liner was equipped with enough life jackets and lifeboats to accommodate the entire quota of passengers and crew. I have seen Titanic several times so certain factors would have to be in place before I packed my suitcase and set off for the trip of a lifetime. I am certainly not that big a gambler – safety first is a good motto to live by!

Back to reality, and the past few weeks have been extremely busy, which is obviously a good thing especially when one is self-employed. A friend of mine who is a chef and has her own catering business said that the trouble with working for oneself is that often when you wake up in the morning you face the unpleasant fact that you are unemployed! You just have to get up, brush yourself off and try to get more business. Definitely not for the weak hearted! The emotional side of working with people can be very draining as well and last week was no exception, with the death of a client with whom I had become friends over the past months. Enough waffling and time to get back to what I love doing – writing articles which I can post in the hope that you may find them entertaining or informative, or both.

Bye for now and see you on the Magic Roundabout!

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Pasta with Anchovies

Spaghetti with Anchovy, Capers, Chilli and Garlic

This is a really easy pasta dish which can literally be made in under 15minutes. An important note however – never, ever underestimate how under salted pasta can impact negatively on the final flavour of a dish. It is often said that the water you cook pasta in should be as salty as the Mediterranean Sea!! I cook my pasta in a pot with approximately 5 litres of water. I use 3 heaped tablespoons of table salt, and this produces pasta with the right amount of saltiness. Alternatively, if you live close enough to the beach, you can always pop across to the water’s edge and fill your pot with sea water!!

Ingredients

  • 1 small tin (or 50g) anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 1 medium brown onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 – 2 chillies finely chopped (you can use as hot, or as mild as you wish – I prefer hotter for this dish)
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons capers, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large handful Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • Zest of one lemon finely chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 1 packet spaghetti

Method

  • Heat a pot of well salted water until boiling and cook the spaghetti until done – “Al Dente”.
  • Whilst cooking the pasta you can make the sauce.
  • On a low – medium heat, gently sauté the onion in a good splash of olive oil until softened – about 6 -7 minutes.
  • Add the chillies and gently fry for about another minute or two.
  • Add the garlic and gently fry for about 1 minute.
  • Add the chopped anchovies and stir through.
  • Add the capers and stir through.
  • Gently cook for about another minute adding another splash of olive oil if the sauce seems a little dry.
  • Remove from the heat and stir through the parsley and lemon zest.
  • Drain the pasta.
  • Serve the sauce over the spaghetti adding some cracked black pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

    Nice! and Tasty – Chris

 

Attitude can make all the difference

Isn’t it amazing how, when you begin your day in a negative frame of mind, everything under the sun seems to be against you and there is just one disaster after another just waiting to happen! However, if you stop and consider the positives that the negative situation has created, things can be so very different!

“Keep your values positive because your values
become your destiny” – Mahatma Gandhi

It’s 6.30a.m. and you panic as you are already 30 minutes behind your usual schedule. Strange how dark and quiet everything seems to be and then the proverbial penny drops. There is no electricity and there was no warning either! So, you stumble to the kitchen to put on the kettle and then the realisation kicks in – you have no power and how can you boil the kettle?  Then you remember that you have a gas bottle in the back room which will allow you to make the coffee, and the donuts from yesterday are in the bread bin and will do very nicely for breakfast.

Next step is to have your morning shower. You turn on the water and wait for a few minutes, but it just doesn’t warm up! The geyser has been out of action due to the lack of electricity. Cold showers are meant to be excellent for your circulation and complexion, so you get on with it and the chilly water isn’t all that bad after all. There are so many people who do not have the advantage of having running water. Having to walk a long way in order to fill a bucket from a communal tap is a far cry from taking a cold shower in a comfortable bathroom.

Time to leave home and face the traffic that is going to be exacerbated by all the out of order traffic lights due to the power outage. Oh well, you try to be philosophical, at least the office will have electricity and, after all, there’s not much food in the fridge and freezer at present at home, so if it goes off it’s not the end of the world. Your householder’s insurance should cover any loss or damage to the appliances due to a power surge as well as loss of food once the fault has been repaired.  Now there’s a good excuse to try out the new fish and chip shop around the corner – they have a generator, so they will still be frying tonight! Your well stocked candle supply will add a peaceful ambiance whilst you listen to your favourite music on your ancient battery operated c.d. player.

You turn on your car radio and are feeling much more relaxed as you join the snaking line of vehicles all chugging along at a snail’s pace to get onto the motorway. Oh darn it, you have been so busy singing along to one of your favourite songs that you realise in dismay that you are in the wrong lane to turn onto the freeway! You desperately try to catch the eye of the person in the correct lane who is parallel with you and indicate with morse code –like hand signals your dilemma. Wonder of wonders, they smile and shepherd you in to the queue in front of them! Yes, today will be a good day after all and manners really do maketh man ….. and woman too!

Life is full of ups and downs for most people, with the occasional curved ball thrown in, just for good measure and it’s not always easy to stay positive in the face of challenges. However, there is some truth in the old adage that “every cloud has a silver lining”- it’s all about having the courage to look for the silver lining when those clouds are bearing down on you.  Trying to laugh when you really feel like crying, and counting your blessings instead of concentrating on your mountain of woes and worries – sound like easy solutions. For many people they are actually very difficult to achieve and it’s at times like this that you often need to ask for help, whether from a friend, a colleague or a professional . Attitude is very important to our being able to carry on in a world which is by no means perfect, and we are not superhuman. To ask for support in order to regain a positive attitude is a tough call for many of us, as we all like to appear to be confident and coping members of the human race. It is, once again, a case of our attitude to asking for help that can make all the difference when the road ahead seems to be very rocky. Fortunately, it is a fact that “this too will pass” and we can often look back at our difficult times and feel triumphant in the knowledge that we survived and are able to once again enjoy the many pleasant things which make us human.

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference” – Winston Churchill

Update and Comments: 14 May 2019

I have recently posted the second chapter relating to Direct Selling in which I tried to give some idea as to how to choose a company which suits you best.  I intend to follow this with the next chapter very shortly and I do hope that the information which I am sharing is of use to anyone looking at going into this kind of business venture. On a different note, I have posted some great new recipes from Chris in the cookery section of the Guest Contributor portion of the blog – am sure the Foodies among you will be interested to try them out.

April seemed to disappear in a blur of public holidays here in South Africa and then it was a case of waiting for the Big Day, 8 May 2019 which heralded the 6th free and democratic countrywide national election. Well, in most instances and, despite all the negative postings on social media forecasting doom and devastation, most polling stations appeared to be run relatively successfully. All the people involved at my local polling station were very helpful and efficient and hopefully we will not be overly distraught once the election results have been verified and announced. My own experience was hundreds of times more pleasant than the 7 hour wait to renew my driver’s licence last month! (That little episode will feature in a future post once I have actually got my renewal in my sticky little hand. Cannot afford to send out any negative vibes in that direction until the deed is completed and I am once again legally entitled to drive for another 5 years!)

Something which occurred on the same day as our election, was the first sight of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s new-born baby boy. I thought at first that they were just carrying a doll wrapped in a blanket wearing a woollen hat as the baby’s face was hidden from view. However, there were several photos published later which happily proved me wrong! The poor little chap may become the cutest baby around, but that name!! Archie!! Born into a royal family and called Archie! Queen Victoria must be turning in her grave!!  However, new facts have come to light since then which makes a bit more sense regarding the name. Apparently, the late Princess Diana had a distant ancestor who was called Archibald Campbell and he was the 9th Earl of Argyle. I think Diana’s maiden name of Spencer may have been an easier option for the poor chap to live with – especially if he lands up being a red-headed Archie!!

I suppose, in case there were any doubt at all as to the father of the child (just tongue in cheek – not aiming to offend any devout Royalists!), having the middle name of Harrison (as in Harry’s son) puts paid to any speculation in that region! Life is definitely interesting and always full of twists and turns, especially when an American actress marries a British prince! Here’s hoping this story, unlike some others of recent years, defies all odds and has a happy ending.

On the home front our dear Kelly, who is now almost 7 months old, is something of a canine Jekyll and Hyde! She is very clever (when the mood takes her) but unlike most dogs, is not particularly fond of food. She far prefers to chew branches of bushes, feathers from pigeons as well as having a passion for pebbles (of which there are hundreds on paths in our garden!). Needless to say, many valuable hours are spent in attempting to educate the dear pup that we really would prefer to control a potential obesity problem rather than having to face the prospect of foreign bodies finding their way into her digestive system and necessitating a rushed journey to our local vet! Who said: ”this too shall pass”?

Just a brief postscript regarding the e-mail contact for my blog. Despite following the instructions given by WordPress, there seemed to be a technical glitch. This has been rectified and tested and should be working well now, so please do feel free to contact me as per the contact details available on the blog.

Bye for now and see you on the Magic Roundabout!

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