There’s plenty I keep to myself
Many things I don’t tell you or share
They are my thoughts
And my worries
There’s plenty I keep to myself
Many things I don’t tell you or share
They are my thoughts
And my worries
Am I happy to be back home?
Clearly, there’s some flaw to that question.
I don’t have quite the right answer, I’m afraid.
I don’t know.
It doesn’t feel like happiness.
It rather feels like a calm sense of comfort in knowing I am surrounded by familiarity.
In any way, what do I have to come back to?
I’ve left half my family at the other end of the world.
I’ve only a handful of close friends, who have lives and ordeals of their own.
I’ve nothing fixed or permanent in terms of a job.
So, what do I have to come back to?
Does that answer your question, of my happiness in returning home?
‘Getting by’ can be a daily struggle. Most of us on this island struggle to get by on an everyday basis. What’s the struggle really? What’s causing it? Is there anything that can be done to avoid or ease it?
The struggle, no matter what the situation, no matter who the individual, is real. The struggle to live; a content and a comfortable life. Take a look around you – from the man who comes to the door every Monday to pick up the garbage to the employee sitting at her office desk waiting for the next paycheck, are dealing with difficulties every single day of their lives. Money; as we know is hard to come by and yet, spent easily.
It isn’t really about bad management. Us Sri Lankans don’t just waste away our money. Okay, maybe a few of us do. Rather on the wider scale of things, it’s the cost of necessities and the laws of this country that are taking it away as it comes. Atop every necessity required, there’s a tax imposed. Atop savings, there’s yet another tax.
Chairman and Founder of Ceylon Solutions, Marion Mariathasan immigrated to Kansas at the age of 9. He may not have spent most of his years in Sri Lanka, but maintains a close connection as the company’s development team overlooked and managed by CEO Sanjeeva Wijaya, is based here. “I’m very much a Sri Lankan at heart, and I understand there are struggles faced by the middle-class in my motherland. There are core fundamentals, ethics and values in order to develop a successful company. At the root of such a company, lies the hardworking employees. If we don’t give in to the notion of keeping them happy, supporting their ideas and investing in their well-being, then what’s the point?”
“I’ve come to understand that my most valuable experiences over the years have come from traveling, and the people I’ve had the opportunity to meet and work with. I’ve learned that humility and kindness are virtues I admire the most, and that no matter the level of education, wealth, power and status, everyone is equal. The depreciating rupee value has made me understand that this creates tough living conditions for our local team based in Sri Lanka. Which is why, as a company, we agreed to increase everyone’s salary from the month of November, 2018,” said Marion.
As the cost of living rises, the daily struggles continue. How much is a 1,000 rupee note worth today? If you step outside your home, is it enough to get by? If you aren’t someone who takes public transport, getting from one place to another will cost you more than a couple of rupees. Your three meals will cost you a few more. There are bills to pay. Rent to settle. Taxes that eat away at your bank balance. Children’s education. Personal expenses. The list goes on.
We fail to understand the notion and similarities of every living human. We fail to understand that along with the rise of the cost of living, a stagnant salary isn’t going to suffice. “As a company, we want our employees to have a work environment that is healthy and uplifting; a life that is just so too. An unchanged salary hereon, isn’t going to make the cut when people struggle to make ends meet. We want our employees to live a happy and content life and in order to do that they must also be happy in their workplace. The most important thing is to help one another, give back to the community and this is certainly one way of doing it,” he added.
Marion and I further discussed how passionate and career-driven Sri Lankans can be, and yet why they continue to struggle and get by in life. “People don’t have an incentive to work harder, to be better and to come up with better or new ideas. There’s a hierarchy when it comes to a working environment – something that does not exist within our company. Creating different levels of standards means a junior employee is afraid to voice his or her opinion and is most often simply told what to do, instead of being allowed to grow and express him or herself. We mustn’t restrict our employees this way; we should be encouraging them to speak out, to voice their thoughts and opinions. Myself along with Sanjeeva and the rest of the team believe we should be making them feel valued and important instead of the other way round.”
Most often, businesses and companies tend to fail, have employee containment and job satisfaction issues due to these very reasons. Ceylon Solutions on the other hand believe in putting their employees first – allowing them to feel valued and thereby creating a healthy work environment. Billionaire philanthropist Richard Branson once said “look after your staff first, the rest will follow” and by all means, this rings true.
It’s about time there was a change in attitudes. A change to support one another, not just as employees of a company but as individuals. A change that allows growth, encourages stability, and also brings about a deeper sense of understanding one another. I find that what is most lacking throughout the struggles that we face every single day is empathy. If we have empathy towards one another, then we’d understand one another, and we’d support one another and grow together. Marion and his team at Ceylon Solutions provide a fine example of what empathy can embody and how it can change the lives of the people of our island. Perhaps their actions would someday drive others to do the same.
Ceylon Solutions was founded in 2005 and is based in Denver, with offices in New York City, Dallas as well as Sri Lanka. It is a software development company committed to delivering high-quality development services. Based on each client’s specific needs, the company handpicks a personalized development team of experienced coders and engineers in Sri Lanka, while still operating under US law.
I met up with a colleague from an ex-work place about four months ago. We talked about how different our lives are from what it used to be just five years ago and where our careers have led us today. After an hour or so, she looked at me intently and asked me “so what’s your plan?” to which I simply stared back. I had a million thoughts running through my head though – what plan, should I have a plan, is it bad that I don’t, what does it mean if I don’t have a plan, should I make up one right now just for the heck of it. I couldn’t think of any one thing that would suffice and instead, I replied with a big fat “no”.
I didn’t think about it much for the next couple of days until two weeks later, yet another person asked me the same question. Once again, I responded with a “no” but this time, I felt a tad concerned about what I had just said. Why didn’t I have a plan? If people are going to ask me about it, perhaps I should? And what does it say about me if I don’t?
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that what the question actually posed was “what can I do with my time that’s important and make it fulfilling?”
Finding an answer to this question is a far better one to tackle than the previous one which honestly made me feel like an idiot. I don’t have to sit on my bed contemplating the significance and importance of my life; instead all I have to do is find out what feels important to me, and what makes me happy. And this is exactly what you should find out for yourself too.
You see, because life isn’t about what everyone is posting on social media or what I had for my last meal, or the last time I watched a dumb television series or went to work and felt a bit undervalued. A purposeful life is about the moments that make you forget about the bad things, and instead make you feel like you’ve not lost much time. It fills your hours and days with gratitude for the life you breathe.
I understand that sometimes differentiating work and life isn’t possible. Your passion and drive towards the career you’ve built and are building make it hard to separate and that’s okay. Rather, come to an understanding that they both go hand in hand. This way, every working moment is also fulfilling and will bring you joy. I look at millennials who are a couple of years younger to me and have realized that they tend to blur the line between work and life and strike a balance. Instead of compromising on one, they make sure both complement one another and view it quite holistically.
It is imperative that you spend your time wisely; however, sitting at home, doing nothing every now and then is not such a bad thing either. For many of us, old fashioned complacency can be disastrous; we fall into a routine that serves no purpose, we distract ourselves and end up doing absolutely nothing. I’ve told myself that I want my life input to reflect on my life’s output. As much as I like working hard to receive that paycheck at the end of the month, I also will ensure I put it to good use (add a quarter every month to my savings and spend some of it on traveling and seeing my country). These ideals can change from one person to another, and that’s perfectly alright as long as you find opportunities to be engaged by the challenges that come your way, and you continue to be engaged and energized.
I think I initially panicked because I had forgotten how much of an impact the choices I make in life can have on not just myself, but also the people around me. Know what you value because this will help you understand what’s important to you and how it makes you feel.
No one truly prepares for that moment and year they turn 30. I say it like it’s a big deal when I bet some of you are possibly thinking that’s not even so, but it is to some; it kind of is, to me. “What do you have planned for your life,” a colleague asked me recently. Plan? I have no plan. Should I? From the moment that question entered my brain, I have not been able to stop thinking about it. Am I not living my best life because I have no plan? How much of a difference is a plan going to make anyway?
All these questions could be important, or it could be nothing. I could be panicking and overthinking for no reason. You see, everyone lives differently. Everyone’s perspective of how to live life differs and if its nothing like mine, it’s okay. If it’s nothing like yours, that’s okay too. You live your life according to your own pace and if that seems to be working out for you, good on you!
Here’s where the fallout kicks in though; when you overwork yourself, when you’re tired all the time, when you don’t have the time to take a break and go on a vacation, when your lack of efficiency creates issues and hurts your progress with work, when you neglect yourself, when you stop making plans with the people who mean the most to you. In our quest for perfection, we seem to be on a roll to get from A to B, when in reality there doesn’t exist an A or a B. We’ve simply created that in our minds and have conditioned ourselves to believe that’s where we need to be heading.
When I turned 30, I made a few mental goals for myself. It had to be simple (basic goals, nothing too far-fetched) and it had to be things I was willing to work towards, for myself. I want to continue to travel at least once a month. Even if it means an overnight stay somewhere, I want to be able to go to someplace new, have experiences and make memories. I want to take better care of myself and by this I mean both physically and mentally. I want to be kinder to myself and not kick myself when I make mistakes. I’ll learn, I’ll grow; it’s not the end of the world or the death of someone. I want to feed my body good food and also exercise it. Whether its cooking more meals at home or making healthier choices when I dine out, whether its running thrice a week at the park or taking yoga lessons, I want to feel good by doing these things for myself.
I want to progress in my chosen career path as an entrepreneur. I want to prioritize each avenue I’m a part of it, think of ways I can make it grow and have some progress in terms of introducing new product lines, creating own collections, and quite honestly earn a bit more money than I do at the moment. Like everyone else, I’ve bills to pay, essentials to purchase and so on – so yes, even though my current salary would do, it wouldn’t hurt to have a higher pay in the time to come.
I like the idea of moving out of my parents’ home and having a place of my own. However, at this point in my life, I’m not sure how feasible of an idea that is. You’d think that by 30 I should have this figured out, but in my culture, children are most welcome to live with their parents for as long as they like. And as a divorced, single woman, the chances of moving out are slim. It doesn’t mean it won’t ever happen; I do want to work towards it. Fingers crossed.
My friends’ circle keeps getting smaller. I can’t for the life of me understand why. Am I doing something wrong? Maybe I don’t have the patience to tolerate nonsense any longer. I lost one best friend during the time of my divorce – which was almost a year ago. I lost another best friend earlier this year. And I’ve recently detached from yet another due to a bit of miscommunication and lack of confrontation and communicating about it afterwards. Who’s to blame? I can’t point fingers now can I? I could be the one at fault. Regardless of what the reasons and circumstances are, I’m here today with a very small circle of friends – souls I truly value and keep close, who I’ve come to undoubtedly appreciate and who understand me as much as I do them. The lesson here is simple; it doesn’t matter how many friends you have at the end of the day, as long as they have the qualities that complement your friendship and enrich your life. Quality over quantity, always.
I am far from perfect. I don’t strive towards perfection or a perfect life at all. What I want is to simply be happy if not content with my life.
I’m not looking for a fancy-ass job or a hundred friends to cling to; all I need are connections between souls that inspire me, a chain of events that put a smile on my face, and a mind full of memories that make appreciate every breathe I take.
Inhale. Exhale. Make every breathe count.
Here’s the thing; we’re all struggling to fit in and find a spot in this so-called ‘rat race’ called life. What is the race all about any way? Why do we take it so seriously? Why are we constantly after something we’re not even sure of and not making every single day of our lives matter?
Stop. Take a deep breath. Inhale. Exhale.
According to Richard Branson, there’s no necessity of separating work life and play/personal life. One must simply find a balance of the two to make a life. If you aren’t finding some form of enjoyment in the daily work that you do, if there’s no passion towards the career you are building, if there’s no sense of happiness derived from the everyday job, then what’s the point?
In order to make your every day count, be sure to fill it with a career, a job that satisfies your passion and aspirations. Once you begin to find enjoyment in what you do, when there’s a smile spread across your face at the end of a hard days work, it is then that you come to realize, the hustling and the bustling is worth it. If it isn’t, you’re simply wasting your own time.
Do something fun while also setting goals for yourself. Visit a new city or country every four months or six months of the year. Do something you’ve never done or thought you could never do. Set experiential standards that will both enrich your personal life and also motivate you.
Your goals do not have to be extraordinary to matter; all you need are ones that will work for you and enable you to become a better version of yourself.
Push your limits.
This doesn’t mean you have to go to extreme lengths of any sort, but give yourself a positive and encouraging nudge every now and then. Pat yourself on the back when you’ve accomplished something. Reward yourself when you’ve achieved a goal. Treat yourself to a massage, a new dress or book, a holiday someplace you’ve never been before, or indulge in a fancy dining experience; whichever way you choose to celebrate overcoming obstacles and challenges in life, don’t forget to take a deep breath and appreciate the journey that got you there.
Life doesn’t have to be all work hard and no play. It’s okay to have a break every now and then because you deserve it. Capture these moments, whether in the form of a photograph or keep a journal. Most often we tend to let life’s best moments pass by without truly living it and then as the years go by, memories tend to slip by as well. One way of capturing them in by taking a photograph or actually writing down how you felt in a personal journal.
It’s easy to sit back and watch the day/s go by but more often than otherwise, we tend to lose track of time and suddenly it’s a week, a month or even a year later that we’ve come to realize how much time we’ve wasted.
Don’t let this happen too often; your time is now.
Make it matter.
Ten years ago, I met my ex-husband at a coffee shop in Colombo.
Ten years later, I’m seated on my living room couch, divorced and feeling somewhat alone for the first time in a decade.
It’s not as bad or hard as I thought it’d be. I assumed I’d have mood swings and bouts of dismay at the choices I’ve made and I was right, I do. I tell myself this is normal however because I also feel content for the most part. I’ve learned to accept that the differences between my ex-husband and I weren’t things that could be changed or dealt with in the best light, and it was a good and wise decision to accept something isn’t working out, especially when it isn’t, instead of putting on a farce and pretend like everything is okay (when it obviously isn’t) just to appease the families and community.
I’d still say the divorce happened not because he was a bad person. He just wasn’t the right person for me. Sure he made mistakes; and so did I. But our compatibility and reactions to certain events that happened during our time together called for a better understanding of our marriage, and the final conclusion that it was now or never to make a change. There’s no point to life if you’re living in misery.
I’ve come to understand that this is something not every and many women out there feel. I personally know a handful who continue to be miserable in their marriages simply because they feel they have no other choice but to be so. I can’t understand the reasoning behind this conclusion however. Throughout my time of contemplating what I should do, I always reminded myself that I have choices. It’s my life and I damn well have choices. No one is limiting or constricting me, other than own self.
I’ve expressed this notion in public and in conversation, but there’s always a mind block when it comes to the women who are in unhappy marriages. They’ve grown accustomed to thinking they are alternative to the feeling of miserable and pretense of being married. I know what the latter can be like because I pretended to be okay for a year or so. When I began to feel indifferent towards my ex-husband, I tried to understand why this was happening and what had led to these changes within me. I didn’t leave me feeling happy, that’s for sure.
I’m not afraid or ashamed to say I’m divorced. I wear it like second skin nowadays. Whenever I meet new people, it’s one of the first few things I share and it’s okay. I feel the need to be honest with new faces and I also feel it’s important to mention so to new faces. Being married was a part of who I was for sometime in my life, and being divorced is a part of who I am today, so why be afraid or ashamed to admit that I once was married? It’s okay.
Like I’ve said earlier, I’ve had mood swings and hours of dismay. I’ve had bad days and sad days. Occasionally I still do but again, who doesn’t? Every one goes through ups and downs and again, it’s normal to feel this way. Not every single day of your life is going to be picture perfect and full of smiles and happiness. Do I ever regret the choice of getting a divorce; hell no. It’s very clear and apparent that I am a much happier soul and individual being divorced than I was being stuck in an unhappy marriage. I’ve come to accept that notion and emotion wholeheartedly and with that acceptance comes the reality that this decision certainly was no mistake.
I’ve also been asked a couple of times if I miss the company and presence of my ex husband, or rather the company or presence of a significant other, especially when I had been with him with nearly ten years (we dated for five and were married for nearly four). I think about it now and then when I look at friends my age who are happily married, and it boils down to the my reasons for being in a good place right now – I am quite happy and content. So no, I do not miss having another individual in my life. I think this also has to do with having time for my own self, discovering and learning who I am and giving my self the attention and love I needed. When there’s so much to fulfill personally, there really isn’t a need for having another being in one’s life. At least, there isn’t for the time being.
Whenever I do feel alone or lonely, I turn to the things and people I love the most and keep close. I’ve been traveling and discovering my beloved island home. I’ve gained and lost friends in the past 18 months. I’ve broken and made ties with old and new people in my life. It’s a roller coaster ride every single day. It’s scary and uncertain as much as it is fun and exhilarating. Overall however I think it’s important to know the people who will always stand by your side, support you silently no matter what choices you make and also understand the difference between those who are there for you for ulterior reasons, and those who are there for you simply because you matter to them. Difficult times in life definitely have a way of showing you these types of people.
Would I ever get married again? Who is to know. Right now, I’m only focussing on myself and the things that matter to me so my answer would be a big fat ‘no’. My mind frame cannot wrap itself around the idea of wanting to go through that ordeal one more time and simply tie myself down to one person and get the government involved by signing a piece of paper. It just doesn’t make sense in my head anymore.
Am I bad person to have gone against ethics and religion and gotten a divorce? Well, to each your own. Everyone has a different opinion and perspective on the subject of divorce. Mine is an open perspective – I simply did not want to stay in an unhappy marriage and after having tried to make it work, decided to part ways. Does that make me a bad person? No, I do not think so. Rather, I think it makes me a vary and mindful person with a personal opinion. Would I recommend same for others who are in unhappy marriage? Not really. I’d say given the circumstances, try to work it out as best you can. Again, remember you always have choices. Only when you feel as if you are out of possibilities and choices should you think about separation or divorce.
I’m making my way towards home
I like walking if the weather is good
I avoid the puddles from last night’s rainfall
And the cracked bits of pavement
And I think of you….
I reach home and I head straight to my room
I undress and get under the sheets
Gathering all the pillows and the cushions
Making myself comfortable
And I think of you….
It’s late and night and my mind is wandering
And I think of the day’s events
I make lists for the next day
And as I drift off into slumber
I think of you…
For the strength, the courage,
The will power, the independence,
The determination, the patience,
The faith, the belief,
The support, the comfort,
That you gave me
In my most darkest hours
How does one know the difference between being ‘interested’ in someone, having a ‘crush’ on someone, to liking someone, to feeling something deeper and evidently falling in love with someone?
What is this human need or desire to be and feel attached or connected to another human? Is that how we are designed to be and live, or somehow have accustomed ourselves to eventually be and live?
Too many questions.