Colorfulifesite Responds: How do You Make Ends Meet (without subsidy from family)?

This post is inspired by a dear friend’s well-meaning  question, who was really curious about how we are getting by financially. After all, it’s no secret that I have been unemployed for 10 months and that my husband is currently in his second year of PhD studies.

Just to set the record straight, the OECD has placed our household within the 40% poorer families in France. It means that the remaining 60% of families in France (not necessarily “French”) are richer than us, based on monthly income. Now as a couple, we have been worse off in the past: for more than a year, we survived on a fixed monthly income of 600€ and an erratic 100-200€ additional money depending on my husband’s availability to give computer lessons. We endured those tough times thanks to an apartment rent well below the market price (sponsored by a cousin in law), homemade food shared with us on a weekly basis (sponsored by mother in law) and my access to a zero-interest rate student loan (I was doing my Masters Degree).

Currently we are living in one of the most expensive cities in the world, there are more of us in the family (a cat and a baby to be exact) and the need to save is more pressing than ever.

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Image courtesy of: http://www.busconomico.com

This post is a testimony that money is crucial in undertaking a life project, but you don’t need a lot of it as long as you are realistic and practical.

In our case, the life project we took on was to have a baby. Honestly? we are earning three times less than what we used to (when we lived in Madrid)! So to put it bluntly: just as we have more “mouths to feed”, that’s when our incomes started to fall like a rock. Yet somehow, we are managing.

So how are we doing it?

The short answer:

My husband and I spend wisely and never fail to save for any kind of emergency.

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Image courtesy of: http://www.dailymail.co.uk

The longer and more technical response:

My husband and I make a monthly budget and truly stick to it. We are fortunate because  both of us are very disciplined people with few caprices, so this is quite easy for us. The tricky part is to determine each of the budget parts by patiently listing down our income sources and expenditures each month until a pattern appears. Only then were we able to identify our income flow, and most importantly, our consuming habits. Below is a sample of such budget.

Note: This is only a sample budget. I have exempted personal expenses and savings in this demonstration. Only common household elements are being considered.

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Explanation:

  1. Monthly Fixed Income is the money my husband and I can count on to receive every month. As neither of us have any other money-generating activity, “Monthly Variable Income” is equal to zero.
  2. Monthly Fixed Expenses are the costs the household has to bear monthly. We can also count on these expenses to reduce our fixed income in the same amount every month. (Baby’s food is included in “Food” expenses because he already eats adult food. Daycare fees are paid on a yearly basis so to simplify this example, we did not include it.)
  3. Monthly Leftover Money is a friendlier term than “Net Income”, but they’re the same.
  4. Monthly Variable Expenses are the unplanned “spendings” the household makes. Given that they are variable, neither the frequency nor the amounts are the same each month. Some of them may not even appear for months in a row! (ie: Dinner, Cinema and /or Babysitter) This line was intentionally inserted after having paid the fixed costs because as you might have observed, we can survive for some time without any of these variable expenses BUT we CAN’T NOT PAY rent, electricity, buy diapers, etc. In short, we organized our expenses into: priorities and non-priorities categories. If we have money left after fulfilling our obligations, we can start thinking about what to do with it.
  5. Savings: this might be strange to some because for most people, savings would’ve already been accounted for way above the budget sheet. However, given our particular situation and our discipline in spending, this method works for us. Remember that this is a household budget. Each member should then have their individual budget where personal savings could be considered right after the income is received (this would depend upon the person’s savings style: he could have a target percentage to save per month, or perhaps an “untouchable” amount, and so forth). To answer your question in advance: yes, we are able to save (a little).

If, as a couple, you are not disciplined enough with your spending habits or you are saving up for something specific then I advise you to allot an established amount to save right after paying for your fixed costs. Your budget should then look like this:

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Depending on the amount of “Savings” you set aside, your “Extra money!” could be a positive amount or zero. Technically, it could also be of a negative amount but perhaps that is not wise. If you go through with this deficit budget it means: whatever negative amount on that final line has to be acquired outside the normal income sources (debt, gift, selling or pawning something and others).

However, the objective of drawing up a budget for a household is to be able to estimate (and perhaps even project) a family’s finances for its better management. So perhaps it would already have ocurred to you to simply adjust the amount assigned for “Savings”. This adjustment could be such as to at least reach a balanced budget (where “Extra money!” is equal to zero- basic algebra).

There are specific know-how that work for us as a couple…

Husband’s style: He is very stubborn when it comes to purchasing and uses the internet to gather necessary information.

  1. First of all, for important things like mattress, baby’s crib, TV table, kitchen appliances, etc… he prefers buying them online. According to him, there are more chances of finding lower prices and better deals on the net. If he can’t find the item online, he proceeds to number 2. UPDATED: In Paris, there is a considerable market for second-hand goods, both for buying and selling. Most vendors could be found online, but there are also stores as well as weekly and permanent flea markets (“marché aux puces”, “brocantes”, “vide-greniers”) who could also be selling antiques. We have a couple of furnitures bought this way, one of them being the diaper station.
  2. He is very persistent in comparing prices. It could take him days before finding the “ideal” store which offers a good price-quality balance.
  3. At the same time, he never fails to look for comments about the chosen store and/or product online. He would patiently look for reviews locally and internationally (for example, he ended up buying our baby’s nasal aspirator from China).

Karessa’s style: taking advantage of knowledge-sharing and my desire to JUST KNOW

  1. I talk to people who have more experience in certain purchases (mostly mothers with older children or people who have been living here longer).
  2. Once inside the store, I speak honestly to the salesperson about my needs as well as my budget. Luckily, the French love to explain things and are quite helpful to foreigners trying to strive in their country strange land (as long as you speak their language, that is).
  3. I also compare supermarkets’ own brand of products. For instance, now I know that for the same items Supermarket M’s home brand is slightly more expensive than that of Supermarket C; but for certain groceries this difference is worth paying for (ie: ice cream, pound cake, toilet paper, dairy products, body lotion…).
  4. I rarely give in to “2×1” sales unless the promoted products are basic for our household (but supermarkets rarely have promotions on what we consider basic products like olive oil).

A few notes on: Savings

Some people open up different bank accounts for different purposes: to receive and keep income, for paying monthly bills and expenses and for holding their savings.

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Image courtesy of: http://homefirstcertified.com

I’ve even heard of those who open up various accounts for different types of savings like emergency situations or a specific project. Personally, I’ve never tried this method because oftentimes opening more than one bank account would entail more costs (they may be in the form of fees or the need to maintain a constant monthly balance).

Lastly, it’s not a bad idea to set some money aside on a time deposit where your savings can grow. Just make sure that the conditions fit your needs. Particularly, make sure that the restrictions to access your savings are compatible with the reality you are living. Either that, or forget about that amount for a while.

On Emergency Funds

This is something non-negotiable for me and my husband knew about this from the beginning. I don’t care for a travel fund or a fancy dinner fund, but I have to have an emergency fund which I don’t consider available for use- save for an urgent situation.

Definitions of an urgent situation might vary from one household to another. In ours, it refers to a life or death situation (cat included, of course!).

Having an emergency fund gives us the confidence to make certain decisions, knowing that we can face at least the financial consequences of it.

– The End –

Annex: Peculiarities of the European Social Welfare System

It’s very important to mention that there is a psychological factor that supports our choice to live this kind of life. This factor happens to be the branches of social welfare system set up within the European Union. Examples are: the healthcare system, unemployment and student benefits (entrance fees are sometimes free or discounted, while cinema tickets are always discounted during weekdays), child care assistance and tax discounts, to name a few.

In a way, knowing that we have government support gives us more security in spite of our unstable situation. For example, it is true that we don’t spend much on healthcare (thank God!) but the existence of these mechanisms relieves our “Monthly Fixed/Variable Expenses”. This allows us to either save more or spend extra in leisure.

 

Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts or ask questions below. You may even write to me at: colorfulife@outlook.es

Some thoughts on philanthropy

For 5 months, I was given the chance to work as Prospect Research Officer (or Fundraising Researcher) for a prestigious business school just outside of Paris. I worked alongside the rest of the Advancement Team and sometimes also lent a hand to the Alumni Relations and Events (organization) departments. It was the most interesting part of my colorful professional history because: i) it introduced me to the fast-growing world of philanthropy, ii) I met some really great people and iii) the first two reasons combined have given me a different perspective when analyzing situations. Here are some of the thoughts I’ve reflected upon during that period…

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Image courtesy of: http://frankazargives.com

Some people believe that charity organizations should give aid to those in greatest need, wherever they live. Others believe that they better concentrate on helping people who live in their own countries instead.

From a practical point of view, resources are more effective when delivered to those who pressingly lack them. It is perceived to be more useful, as it directly addresses the problem at hand. In an ideal world, the aid that was donated would be equal to the aid received. Yet the fact remains that a percentage of this aid is lost along the way before finding its beneficiaries: conversion rates could be harsh, banks and other financial services companies charge high commissions, there’s tax to be dealt with… In short, there’s a certain level of fungibility in these funds, where aid can become “hostage” to the local context.

That is why not only aid effectiveness should be considered when allocating donations. Costs and benefits also have to be taken into account when deciding how to dispose of available resources. In this regard, economists would try to convert the dilemma into a mathematical formula: see if there are patterns that would lead to the best choice, and try to predict a final result of their analysis.

Still, the choice is not really between helping a population “in need” and one that has “better location”. The question actually lies in how charity organizations manage themselves, whose own funding mostly comes from subsidies, grants and/or donations. As a matter of fact, non-profits are accountable to their donors, binding them to comply with the specifications detailed out by their patrons regarding the use of funds. Oftentimes, they are also required to report about the funds’ impact to the community, or at least to the target population (but this is a subject for another essay). Therefore, the choice of which people to serve does not lie entirely in their hands.

A more balanced approach would seem to be reaching an accord to meet donors’ objectives while respecting the realities of both the organization and the community he wishes to help. This means donors would have to be engaged (at least the major givers) by the organization to take an active part in determining how best to allocate their contribution. The initiative would call for a constant and consistent communication from both parties.

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Image courtesy of: https://educationunderattack.info

This offers a win-win situation because on one hand, regular contact would allow the donors to disclose their motivations for making such a contribution. For instance, they could make the organization understand their emotional connection to the beneficiaries. On the other hand, organizations could take this opportunity to better explain their activities to their patrons. This could be a good moment to make them see that a strong infrastructure and qualified professionals are required to deliver aid to those who are in need; and as such,  funding has to be allocated to these operational aspects as well. Only through communication can the two ends find a middle ground that would allow each of them to carry out their respective mission statements.

A typical philanthropist would think and argue about improving the lives of those in greatest need; while a typical economist would compute the costs in terms of time, effort, phone bills and transportation that result from the continued communication between donors and organizations. Both would have good points to defend their views.

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Image courtesy of: https://intentionalmuseum.com

However, it should be noted that listening is as vital as analysing in any problem-solving situation. Gloria Steinem, co-founder of the Women’s Media Centre explains, “Helping begins with listening. Context is everything… Big problems often have small solutions. And finally, do what you can.”

Sources:

  1. “The Parable of the Fence and Other Lessons”, available at> https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140404194646-25295057-the-parable-of-the-fence-and-other-lessons
  2. IELTS Essays, Essay Topic sample available at: http://www.testbig.com/ielts-essays/some-people-believe-charity-organizations-should-give-aid-those-greatest-need-wherever

Featured Artist: Aisa Marie Corrales

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Aisa showcasing her jewelries at the New York Fashion Week (NYFW)

To celebrate Colorfulifesite Blog’s sixth month of existence, this humble servant invited an accomplished artist and a crafty entrepreneur to share her story. A woman on top of her game, Aisa is the talent behind Aisa Marie Corrales Handmade Jewelry Designs. She’s a Registered Nurse who only recently discovered her artistic side and the kind of person you’d want your children to look up to- dedicated, resourceful and realistic.

Truth be told, I wasn’t counting much on this busy bee even glancing my way. After all, Colorfulifesite is just an amateur blog project. In the meantime, celebrities wear her creations, professional “fashion people” have interviewed her and have featured her work, she is showcased in an indie artist organization’s website, she has participated in the New York Fashion Week, plus she makes jewelries for people from all over the world. But here she is, dear reader!

So to Aisa: thank you very much for the burst of colors you’ve gifted this blog.

 

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What do Paloma Picasso, Elsa Peretti and Aisa Corrales have in common?

For starters, they’re all stylish. Additionally, they’re very hard-working women who move like fish in the water inside the world of fashion. But most of all: they possess the talent to convert what their senses receive into timeless, elegant jewelries. As a craftsman, Aisa does not conform and declares, “I firmly believe that one must not cease to learn and my goal is to continue to evolve as an artist.”

K: Your pieces are fantastic! It makes me wonder, what did you do to express all this hidden talent before you started designing jewelry?

A: Becoming a jewelry designer was quite accidental. Growing up, I never really paid much attention to what was happening in the fashion industry. My dream was to simply finish college, get a decent job here in the States and help my parents out. Believe it or not I never knew the artist in me existed until later in life.

My story started with a 5-dollar cobalt blue chandelier earrings I bought in Manhattan. I did not realize that one piece was broken until I got home. There was something about those earrings that resonated with me and gave me a sense of urgency to mend the broken pieces. Luckily we are living in the age of technology where you can just look anything up online. So I patiently scavenged for information and viewed tons of jewelry-making video tutorials and diligently taught myself the basics. Surprisingly, it did not take too long for me to master the skills and grasp the artistic concept behind. Turned out that it (only) took a broken earring for me to discover my talent that has been there all along waiting to be nurtured.

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K: What distracts you the most? To the point that it would give you a designer’s block?

A: I am an exceptionally emotional person with a strong personality. Most of the time I endure emotional imbalances and distress. But in rare occasions when my boat is being rocked hard by negative emotions and when I fail to withstand such nuisance, everything just shuts down – ideas get thrown out the window and what is left is my uninspired, unimaginative, uncreative self.

K: What was the first piece you designed? And the first one you sold? Looking back now, did it fit your standards?

A: The first jewelry piece I created was a pair of earrings. I cannot recall which one but I must have deconstructed the pieces later on and integrated it on my other designs. I deeply regret not having snapped a photo of it though.

But I do remember vividly the very first jewelry that I sold. It was a charm bracelet made with antique brass findings, semiprecious stones, flower cabochon, faux pas pearls, and lavender acrylic beads.

Honestly, I find it beautiful with its imperfections until this day. Though my craftsmanship needed improvement, the overall design was still quite charming.

K: What was the most unexpected inspiration you’ve had for a design? Can we see the finished product?

A: Interesting question, just recently I found myself in uncharted territory. One night I was just sitting in my workstation deeply reminiscing about some good memories of my Dad who recently just passed away.

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K: Which among your latest creations mirrors you the best?

A: My new favorite piece- a bracelet made with my favorite happy colors and charms that truly represent the person and artist in me.

I love and I’m passionate with everything that I do (heart). I wholeheartedly embrace challenges for personal growth (flower pot). I strive to handle life with grace and elegance (butterfly) and to fly high with faith, hope, dreams, and confidence. It’s a statement jewelry indeed!

 

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From hesitant newbie to self-taught entrepreneur, Aisa was not exempted from the typical “what ifs” that plague first-time business venturers. Likewise, she has also experienced giving up an initial (good) idea in favor of a more structured vision for her project. Not only was she brave for taking the step to selling on-line; she was even braver to move out of her comfort zone, then start anew.

Getting into a project involving money, sacrificing one’s limited time and above all entering a perfectly strange field is always nerve-wrecking. Aisa not only gives valuable insight, she also shares very honest and realistic information about her whole experience.

K: When you started designing and crafting hand-made jewelry, did you have it mind to earn money through this activity?

A: It was just a creative hobby at the beginning, a way to relieve my stress. My friends and coworkers encouraged me to turn it into a business. I was hesitant at first because of the fact that I had no prior experience in business and I was not too sure if people would really buy my creations.

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Bottom line, I did not believe in my products and most of all I did not believe in myself. Until finally one of my closest friends suggested Etsy. It took a lot of thinking and pushing before I bravely opened my first online jewelry shop – Ice and Butterflies.

Getting into the jewelry business was a whole new game for me. I started reading business, financial and jewelry-making books and it became my bible at one point and I also followed a bunch of financial bloggers and jewelry artists on Instagram for tips. Following the advice of my uncle who used to work at Tiffany and Co as a consultant, that branding is everything, I decided to close Ice and Butterflies and created Aisa Marie Corrales Handmade Jewelry Designs.

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K: Was it as hard or harder to start anew after closing Ice and Butterflies?

A: No it was not hard at all. Having a positive mindset made the transition easy and smooth for me. I was so motivated to take my jewelry business to a whole new level and make a name for myself.

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K: Was it hard to come by your starting capital?

A: Luckily I was already working as a registered nurse when my handmade jewelry venture happened. I took some money out of my savings and used it to launch my business.

K: Where do you procure your materials?

A: I wanted my pieces to stand out from the rest not just for its unique designs but also for its quality and craftsmanship. (But) since I was new to the industry, I had zero reference where to get my materials. It took a lot of research before I stumbled upon different suppliers who are based here in the US as well as in Canada.

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K: You have your very own store “in the making” in Mambajao, Camiguin Province. Was all of this part of the plan? When did it occur to you to expand?

A: (I love Camiguin very much and it will always be my home!)

“Bricolage” came about one night while I was conversing with my Mom with regards to starting a business in Camiguin. My original plan was to rent a small space at one of the resorts where I can showcase my jewelries. But my Mom brilliantly suggested that it would be better for me to have my own boutique and save rent money in the long run which was actually very smart!

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And I figured that since she will also be retiring pretty soon, I thought “Bricolage” would be a perfect playground for her while she’s in the island. The building is fully finished, it just needs some painting and landscaping as well. Hopefully it will be ready by next year. I’m planning to go home during the grand opening on July 2017 if God permits.

K: What is your mission and what is your vision?

A: My ultimate mission is to offer women from across the globe fashion statement jewelries designed to inspire, empower, support, and celebrate femininity and individualism.

As for my vision, I aim to create a jewelry portfolio that will exceed expectations and make a positive impact on the lives of my customers.

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Belonging to a group of people who constantly stretch the meaning of “success”, Aisa considers it as a variable mixture of perseverance, discipline, passion and humility. She is one who believes that the idea is no longer consistent with the thought of money, fame, or crushing the competition. Instead, she includes concepts such as: empowerment, changing lives, happiness, freedom and self-fulfillment.

As a diligent pupil of experience, she is not ashamed to admit her past mistakes as long as others can learn from it. Neither is she stingy when it comes to encouraging. These are qualities common to those who have fallen but rose again; those who have erred but have courageously chosen to give the new day another shot. These are the qualities of a person on the road towards prosperity.

K: You’re a professional nurse, a jewelry designer and a figure skater. The whole day has only 24 hours. Do you have some kind of special deal with the God of Time, that he extends your daily hours so you could do all these things and more?

A: Nursing is not an easy profession. It is mentally and physically challenging, making nurses susceptible to high level of stress and burnout. I consider myself a passionate worker who knows how to balance work and play. (That said) both jewelry making and ice skating serve as my stress relievers.

 

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K: To which aspect of your life would you dedicate more time, if you were indeed given a special deal to extend your daily hours?

A: If given a chance, I would really love to spend more time creating jewelries, developing, and growing my business. Jewelry making gives me great joy and a feeling of connectedness to my inner self above all. It is one thing I absolutely cannot live without.

K: In one of my blog posts, I mentioned the “Cinderella Syndrome” and how some women stunt their own potential for growth because they’re afraid that they won’t be “lovable” or “desirable” enough for a man. What are your thoughts about this?

A: First of all women should not fall into the trap believing that the only way to fit into a man’s standard or be with a man is to limit one’s personal growth. It’s quite disheartening to hear stories like this. We need to be firm and learn to take control of our own lives and live it according to our principles. As far as I am concerned, I’ve never been in a situation where I had to sacrifice my dreams or put it on the back burner just to please a man. One thing I’m sure of, I will never allow my independent and strong-willed self to be in that kind of situation. If a guy wants to dictate my life, then I have one word for that person: Adios! I firmly believe that if a man truly loves a woman, he will support her, nurture her, and allow her to blossom and be the best woman she can be.

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K: Then again, there are some women who do this kind of thing so as not to attract envy from other females. What has been your personal experience on this?

A: I don’t know if people get intimidated by me and I don’t want them to think that because I am not! I consider myself as a warm, bubbly, and loving person. Though I may be extremely picky when it comes to friendships and to whom I give my energy to, it does not mean I do not value other social connectedness or acquaintances.

Envy is a natural emotion but here’s my advice to all women out there, please do not let envy taint your confidence and self-esteem. Compete with yourself rather than with other women and do not allow your insecurities distract you. Be persistent with your goals in life and be patient because there’s always a time for everything. Like the old adage goes, “Good things come to those who patiently wait” and may I add: “also to those who dream and work hard to make it happen!”

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Aisa with her models at the NYFW Fashion Show

K: Studies say that love is the most important factor to develop a person’s self-esteem and character. Both these traits reflect in each and every accessory you create. Do you agree with such conclusions?

A: Based on my life experience, having a healthy self-esteem has been a choice rather than a relative result of unlimited abundance of tenderness and affection. I didn’t grow up with my parents, never met my Dad till I was 16 years old and my Mom followed him here in New York when I was 4. It was my late grandmother who raised me and my brothers in Camiguin until our teenage years. It was one of the toughest stages in my life but I am proud to say that I beat it.

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Yes I was showered with tangible gifts but those did not vanquish the loneliness for not being with my parents. But I was never the type of kid to roll on the floor, cry, and succumb to negativity. Rather than feel sorry for myself, I took it as a challenge and turned the tables on full force. I taught myself how to make sound judgements and better decisions for my life. And most importantly, I learned to be independent, nurture my self-esteem and boost my confidence. You always have a choice whether to take full control of your life and own it or be a slave of circumstance.

K: What was your greatest stumble before reaching where you are now? Could you tell us how you got over it, something that you haven’t told anybody?

A: One of my greatest stumbles just happened recently. And this is the first time I’m going open up about what went down to my shop in Cagayan De Oro (CDO).

As you know, last May I opened my first shop in CDO (Misamis Oriental, Mindanao) with a partner. That business was never in my plans but when it came about I just said yes to the proposal without doing my research. Not the typical me, for I am the sort of person who always plans things ahead and makes sure that I am well prepared. I actually surprised a lot of people with my decision and when I told my Mom about the plan, she was quite taken aback, even warning me not proceed. But my stubborn self simply refused to heed her advice and followed my impulsivity instead.

I was confident that the business would flourish: I had a partner and there were people working for us. Unfortunately everything went downhill when my Dad got sick and entered in coma. Since I was so busy nursing my Dad day in and day out, not to mention I was physically and emotionally drained out, I asked my partner to take charge for the time being. Later on, I was informed that the business encountered a lot of problems and was not going too well. At that point I said to myself, I should have listened to my Mom because she was so absolutely right. I was so disappointed and agreed to close down our shop for good. Of course I had to hear my Mom say, “I told you so”! Anyway, I have learned my lesson the hard way and challenged myself to never take that path ever again.

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K: I’ve been referring to you as a successful woman, but do you consider yourself as such? How would you define success?

A: Yes I do consider myself as a successful individual. I love to set goals for myself. I guess that makes me a goal-oriented person. Once I set my heart and mind to something it becomes an obsession until I conquer it (typical Scorpio). I’ve accomplished most of my childhood dreams and made my parents very proud when I received my bachelor’s degree with honors, passed  my licensure exam, and became a full-fledged registered nurse – I’ve considered it as my greatest achievement in life prior to becoming a jewelry designer.

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Personally, I do not equate money with success. For me success means championing and realizing my dreams and goals (big or small) in life. It means having the freedom to live a happy and quality life, pursuing what I love to do and fulfilling my true purpose. And lastly, success means being able to touch lives in a meaningful way and be an inspiration to others.

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Aisa closing the show

– The End –

Aisa grew up in Camiguin Province but is also every bit of a New Yorker. She loves the Eiffel tower. She’s a cat person, an enthusiastic ice skater, she talks to her plants, loves reading, and most of all she’s a devoted daughter, sister, aunt and friend.

Her brother once challenged her to have a Hollywood star wear one of her creations. (Don’t be surprised when that day comes sooner than expected!)

She wishes to open up her own store in New York City, someday.

Find her at:

Her online shop: www.aisacorrales.etsy.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/aisamariecorralesdesigns

Instagram: www.instagram.com/aisamariecorralesdesigns

A Lesson On Job Commitment

A young lady went to the mall

and shopped until her budget allowed;

dresses, shoes, bags from almost each and every stall.

Of course, how could she forget

to pass by the food court- ah, she ate her heart out!

But the grilled squid, crab rice, soup and gulaman

waged a war in her tummy, bullying the leche flan.

 

So she ran to the restroom, pushing everyone away.

(Let’s leave out the details of what had transpired.

But oh boy, she made a mess! that we can safely say.)

Red-faced and ashamed she looked for assistance

because the toilet flush broke.

A uniformed lady approached her with a smile. She was hard to ignore.

She was coiffed, made-up and she was fragrant.

Oh and with a big pump in her manicured hands!

The young woman reached out for the pump

but the uniformed one kindly declined, shaking her head.

“I’ll clear the toilet, madame. Thank you”, she said.

The young woman wished to die

because back there was something very unladylike.

She insisted to clean the mayhem herself

but the other won’t budge,

she just kept smiling and asserting it’s her job.

 

The young lady shamefully walked away.

But not because of her biological disarray.

For she thought about her job in a renovated palace,

in the city center, near the office of the mayor.

She thought about the airconditioned work station,

the fancy lunches, the interesting debates… that was her day to day.

Yet she complained and was discontent.

After meeting the uniformed woman, who literally

cleans up people’s sh*t for a living, daily,

with a smile on her face and not one sign of lament

she was filled with guilt. Dumbfounded, she did finally see:

how life whacked her to reality.