Jackhammers and Immigration Officers | Nadia La Russa

Jackhammers and Immigration Officers

Goodbye boys, hello new villa!

Week 5! One week to go! We said goodbye to the boys this week as they ventured home and left us girls to fend for ourselves.  On Tuesday, we had to move to a new villa. Our old villa was familiar an comfortable and I was sad to move, however, they were re-doing the road outside and there was jackhammering. All.Day.Long.

So, I reached out to my host, and luckily, she had another villa that was available. So, we packed up and moved into the new digs!

On Thursday afternoon the boys packed up and headed home, leaving the girls and I to explore the new neighbourhood, do a bit of shopping and making plans for the rest of our time here.

The dynamic is so much different with just us here. We can travel in a normal taxi, it’s quieter, and food is easier. But we do miss our boys! We had a chance to celebrate the twins’ birthday before they left with a delicious banana flour cake.

And then, it was off for some excitement! This week we chose white water rafting – wow was it cool! There is only one river here suitable, and I think it was definitely an “easier” paddle but it was loads of fun!  It took us about 90 minutes to cover the 10km journey, passing by beautiful stonework, caves, and trees.  Definitely an unforgettable day!

 

It hit me on Thursday that the girls and I had been here a month, and that our tourist visa was about to expire. So here is the story you have all been waiting for – Nadia and the Immigration Shenanigan.

I went to the visa renewal office alone, with my passport and the girls’ passports in hand, fully expecting a simple process costing approximately $30.  Little did I know what was in store.

Rewind to arrival day – a blurry eyed Nadia gets instructions from the immigration officer that sound something like “You tourist Visa is good for 30 days, make sure you renew it before it expires” which translates to my exhausted brain as “you have a month to figure this out.”

Not so.

When they said “30 days” what they meant was “30 days, and today is day 1.” And that is NOT the same thing as one month. So, we got here on the 24th. When I arrived at the immigration on the 24th I was two days late to renew. Apparently, this is a big deal. I asked the quickly-becoming-less-and-less friendly counter person “So what do I do now?” and the answer was “You leave the country. Immediately.”

So herein lies the problem.  I had no means to “leave the country immediately” for several reasons, the main one being that I didn’t have my children with me.  I started to protest, which was very quickly met with me getting ushered – and I use that word lightly – into the small, grey room with the table and two chairs that you see on television.  Enter Big Balinese Immigration Dude and Even Bigger Balinese Immigration Dude. Dudes were not pleased.

For the next 10 minutes or so, I was subjected to a very loud and stern talking to about the importance of respecting authority, following process, and removing myself from their land.  It didn’t take much to have me do what any self-respecting, confident woman would do – I burst into tears, and sobbed uncontrollably.

That was their cue. They left the room without a word, and entered a very small, sweet, kind and helpful lady with tissues. Calm Sweet Lady apologized for her mean friends, and suggested that there might be another way to get my visa extended.  It all became clear at that point what has happening.

“Money?” I said. “You want MONEY? Frick, why didn’t you say so. How much do you need?”

And it was done, just like that.  I handed over $500 and all of a sudden I became a respected and esteemed visitor. Not only was I allowed to stay, but now my passports were going to be “fast tracked” through the “speedy system.”  The next day, the girls and I made our way to the central immigration office, and were escorted to the front of the line for photos and fingerprints. Amazingly, our files were already at the office all ready and waiting for us.

Upon further research, I learned that this is a pretty common occurrence. That the intake officers at the airport are intentionally vague about the details and that this good-cop-bad-cop game is a way to line everyone’s pockets. Lesson learned for sure!

Thankfully, its all sorted. As they say, every trip has a story!

Busy? Take Control of Your Time!

Tired of Being So Busy? Take Control of Your Time.

How often do you find yourself saying “I’m SO busy”? We have the same number of hours in the day as everyone else. So why can some people take control of their time better than others?

“To me, ‘busy’ implies that the person is out of control of their life.” – Derek Sivers, Entrepreneur.

It’s true. Life gets pretty overwhelming when your time is controlling you, instead of the other way around. If you’re tired of being forever busy, take control of your time with these tactics:

Understand Where Your Time Goes

Document where all your time actually goes. For one day, write down (or use a free timer like Toggl) to see how much time you spend: checking emails, travelling, sleeping, watching TV, going to the gym, chatting on the phone, checking Facebook, cleaning, eating etc. You might be surprised to learn how much time gets sucked up by “simple” tasks. For example popping out to grab a coffee every afternoon might take much longer than you think (i.e. 20 minutes x 5 days adds up to an hour and forty minutes each week). So making your coffee at work could save you a decent chunk of time. Or if you sit in peak hour traffic each morning, arrange to start earlier/later to spend less time in transit.

To-Do Lists

At the start of each week, jot down everything you need to accomplish. Each morning, write down each item that needs to be done that day (the Bullet Journal approach might work for you). Prioritize the order of importance, and if helpful, add the estimated time you think it will take to do each task so you can plan out your day. It’ll feel so good checking off those items! Or, reach out to me, and I will mail you one of mine!

Calendars

Whether on your wall calendar, planner, diary, or Google calendar; scheduling appointments increases your chances of getting them done. Your mind is also free to focus on the task at hand knowing you don’t have to remember when and where everything else is supposed to happen. (Set notifications to pop up if you need to.)

Schedule Regular Breaks

You know I’m a huge advocate for self care! When we get busy, self care activities are often the first to get axed. But it’s so important to take me-time to improve clarity and focus. When you’re working hard for long periods of time without breaks, your brain becomes less productive. Know that feeling of staring blankly at your computer screen? Or getting up to do something and completely forgetting what it was? It’s a sign to give your brain a break!

Checking Emails and Social Media

These beasts get out of hand FAST! Take control of emails and social media by allocating certain times for checking and responding. Turn off notifications and close browser tabs if you get distracted easily. You could set up a system to reward yourself with ten minutes of social media time each time you complete a major task on your to-do list.

Multitasking

It doesn’t work! Studies show multitasking reduces productivity by up to 40 percent! As NPR Science Correspondent, John Hamilton puts it: “The human brain is designed to do one thing at a time…sequentially. We can kind of fake doing several things at a time. But what we’re doing is putting one thing on hold while we shift our focus to the next thing and then we’re switching back. And every time you switch, there’s a little big of a lag. You lose a little something. It takes a little bit longer to get your brain back to where it was.” Though it may only be a 30 seconds wasted at a time, it adds up. So no more multitasking. Pick one project and focus on it.

Say No

Busy-I-Am-TooIf you’re always agreeing to do things for others and your own work isn’t getting done, say no. Or if you have a dozen things to do today, but two items that aren’t really a priority, cross them off the list. Figure out what’s really important and say no to the things that aren’t.

 

What helps you take control of your time? Add your good habits in the comments below!

 

If you need to take control of more than just your time, email me about my new 12-part Take Control coaching program. This powerful one-on-one program will help you take control of the three key aspects of your life: career, money and relationships. I’ll help you uncover and overcome the hidden obstacles holding you back from living the life you really want.

Floating tank

Too noisy inside your own head? Try floating.

When was the last time you switched off for at least an hour? I mean completely. No phone. No traffic. No kids. No noise, flashing lights or other distractions. Besides sleeping, it probably doesn’t happen often. And when it does, your brain is no doubt racing through everything that needs to get done by the end of the day.

Continue reading

Self-care, Nadia Style

Self care, or self love, is the voluntary practice of maintaining your physical, mental and emotional well-being. Practicing self care regularly not only keeps your mind and body in great shape, it also enables you to better care for others.

When you’re feeling stressed, tired, overwhelmed, disorganized, chaotic, or stretched to your limits, self care helps you gain focus and clarity, and feel calm and relaxed. But it’s not just for when you’re stressed; self care should be a regular part of your weekly routine. It also brings us joy, a more positive outlook, and the ability to better deal with conflict, anxiety and difficult situations.

There’s no official self care strategy, or right or wrong way of doing it. It’s about finding what works for you and making the time to do what you enjoy most. Whether you dedicate ten minutes of your day or a whole hour, it still counts. Try some of these self care activities and see which ones work best for you.

Meditation

Meditation

Meditation is a fantastic self care activity which helps bring stress levels way down. You can do just about anywhere, and it’s free! Find yourself a quiet(ish) corner, sit on the floor or on a chair, and close your eyes. You can pop in some headphones and tune out with calming music, or use guided meditation podcasts like this one from Sip and Om. You’ll learn new breathing techniques from the guided meditations that you can use whenever you feel yourself getting stressed or anxious. It’ll take some time to get good at clearing your mind, but keep it up and you’ll soon get the hang of it.

 Rest

Ensure you’re getting enough sleep every night (that’s 8-10 hours for most people), and don’t feel guilty about having a sleep in or a nap when you need it. Recharge your body, so it’s prepared for whatever life throws at it. Resting also includes disconnecting yourself from the TV and social media. Give your mind a break from all the distractions vying for your attention.

Diet and Exercise

We all know a healthy diet and regular exercise keeps us physically in shape, but our mental and emotional well-being relies on it too. Exercise is an excellent stress reliever, while a healthy diet keeps our brain sharp and our immune system strong (among other benefits of course!). Try keeping a diet and exercise journal for a week to see what you’re putting into your body, and how you’re looking after it physically. See where you can improve and set yourself realistic goals for the following week/s. There are literally gazillions of online templates, apps, and even actual “book books” you can use – even a plain lined notebook will do the trick!

Reading

Do you have a pile of unread or partially read books lying around? Reading is a perfect self care activity. It distracts your brain, relieves stress, and improves your memory and focus. If you need some motivation, join a reading club or start your own! Can’t commit to an entire book? Grab an interesting magazine or newspaper. Don’t want to read? Jot down your thoughts in a journal instead.

Colouring

Colouring is huge right now, and you can pick up colouring books at just about any store. A great anxiety-buster, colouring polishes your fine motor skills and concentration. Leave a book in your drawer at work and take colouring breaks throughout the day – even 5 or 10 minutes. Or colour while you’re on the phone. I have The Secret Garden colouring book, and love it! If colouring is not your thing, puzzle books are just as effective.

Pamper Yourself

Get a relaxing massage, take a long soothing bath, start a new hobby (how about cooking or painting classes?), start a garden, go on a trip, take the afternoon off. Set time aside to just do ‘you’.

How to practice more self care

Practicing more self care is about making it a priority in your week and committing to it. We’re all ‘busy’, but we have just as many hours in the day as everyone else.

So either set aside the same time each day (for example a 15 minute meditation as soon as you get up each morning), or book an hour of self care activity time in your calendar–just like you’d book any other important meeting–and go to the gym or get a massage. Saying ‘no’ is another way of practicing self care by freeing up some of your time to focus on yourself.To do list

You’ll soon start seeing the positive effects on your physical, mental and emotional well-being and realize for yourself why it’s so important to spend more time on you.

Now it’s your turn – what do you do for self-care? Are you accountable? Join me in my February 2016 challenge which will be to consciously practice self-care at least once a week.

10 Great Things About Nadia!

Catchy title, eh? Thanks for reading anyway.

Truth is, this post is more for me than for you. Over the last few days (weeks? maybe longer?) I have felt – and mostly ignored – the mounting and overwhelming feelings of insecurity, uncertainty and general self-dislike. This happens from time to time, and usually ends the way it did today, with me sobbing uncontrollably in the shower trying to figure out *exactly* what is wrong. I still don’t actually know.

The tough part about being me is that most people see me as this happy-energetic-nothing-gets-me type of person, but honestly nothing could be further from the truth. Behind the confident smile and quick responsiveness is a little voice.  The little voice says things like “Really? Are you SURE?” and “You can’t do that!” and “Who do you think you are anyway?”

I would say that I’m having my semi-annual meltdown. The culmination of a severe lack of sleep, endless “to-do” lists and the desire to keep my shit together.  The truth of the matter is that Successful Business Nadia cannot simultaneously be Get To The Gym and Eat Perfect All the Time Nadia.  Supermom Nadia cannot simultaneously be Crazy Workaholic Nadia and Selfless Nadia cannot simultaneously be Please Pamper Me Nadia.

My mother is probably the best at dealing with Extreme Meltdown Nadia, although I’m sure she does feel a bit at a loss these days.  During my last catastrophic meltodown, I ended up in a friend’s basement at midnight, ugly-crying into her throw pillows while she looked at me incredulously and said “Wow. I have no idea what to say or do right now. You are my most ‘put-together’ friend. Huh.”  I realized at that moment that I’m seen in this world as someone much different than I see myself.

Sometimes, it just sucks.

Instead of a woe is me pity party, or a let’s go find someone who has things much worse off attempt (neither of these are difficult tasks), I decided to tell YOU some great things about me. The purpose of this whole thing, of course, is really just to tell ME some great things about me. Because me needs to hear that – from me – right now.

1) I give.  Yep, I’m a giver. If I have something, and you need it, I will give it to you.

2) I’m an open book. You might argue that this is a not great thing about me. However, I will share anything, with anyone, at anytime about my life or experiences.  I have learned *so much* about life and how I live that if would benefit someone, I’m happy to talk about it.

3) I don’t do passive-aggressive.  I’m honest about my feelings.  I don’t get “secretly mad” and not say something about it. How I’m feeling is exactly how I say I’m feeling. I don’t say I’m fine if I’m not fine, and I don’t “act.”

4) I love being a wife. I absolutely love it. I love the smile on Brent’s face when he sees me, I love cooking and taking care of the house, I love being “wifey”.  I would like to clarify that I’m not trying to say I’m the perfect wife, or that I’m an awesome wife. I just love being Brent’s wife. Even the messy parts.

5) I have a pretty catchy smile and a great sense of humour. I love to smile and laugh.  I’m trying to be as positive and happy as I can and it’s tough. But I think my smiley face makes other people smile.

6) I’m a great travel partner. I don’t stress about travel, I’m willing to go anywhere, with anyone, and try new things.  I don’t fuss about travel delays, and I generally love seeing new places.

7) I never complain in restaurants, and I don’t return things to retail stores. Ever. Like, ever.  I once read that someone who is not nice to wait staff is not a nice person. I believe this, wholeheartedly.  I will never, EVER treat anyone in a retail store or restaurant poorly (on purpose). I give loving feedback if I have a complaint, and I’m a fantastic tipper. On the flip side, I won’t shop or dine with you if you are nasty to wait staff or store clerks.

8) I’m a very hard worker. I like to work, and I like to get things done. I always try my best.

9) I love to cook for people. And I’m good at it! I love having people over, entertaining and feeding people.

10) I’m fiercely loyal. Always.  If you are a friend of mine, you are a friend forever.  I love a lot, and forgive easily.

 

🙂 I feel better already.  Off to face this day!

Season with Salt

When I need some downtime, I pick up my phone and scroll through my Facebook feed. It gives my mind a much needed break, and I can catch up on the latest happenings with my friends at the same time.  Like most of us who use Facebook, I subscribe to various groups for various reasons – parenting tips, Hollywood gossip, and groups that pertain to my companies.

Yesterday, I came across a sternly worded post in a group that started with “Avoid (business name) and (business owners name) at all costs!”  Reading further, I was then privy to nothing short of a rage-filled rant about this person’s experience with the local company, followed by 66 comments with varying degrees of support. Included in the comments were screen shots of emails exchanged between the business owner and the furious client, interspersed with threats of legal action.  By the time I finished reading it, (and yes, I shouldn’t have read it, but it’s the whole driving past a car crash thing…) I had felt as though I was punched in the gut.

Here is a sampling of some of the comments:

“..is the most awful excuse for a business…”

“despicable”

“…sounds like this business should be shut down.”

Sadly, some of these comments are from (soon to be removed) Facebook friends of mine.

Why does this affect me so much you ask?  Well, it’s because, as a local business owner myself, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that me or one of my companies could one day be the target of this type overreactive rage. I’m certain that there is likely some truth to the accusation; that the poster was perhaps in fact “wronged” by the business and is upset.  It happens all the time…because none of us are perfect. I have never met anyone who hasn’t had some sort of negative experience in a local establishment.  Does this warrant a social media rant like this?

What a lot of people don’t necessarily realize in moments like these is that people who own businesses use the income generated from their company to provide for their families, much like employees use their paycheque.  Imagine for a moment that, when you followed a policy or tried to work out a dispute with a client at your job, or made an error, your boss initiated a post on Facebook that started with “Jane is the most useless employee ever. You would not believe what she did today…”

How would you feel?  What would happen after that if 66 people commented with things like “What?! That Jane is just TERRIBLE! She should be fired!”

Regardless of the level and amount of truth in the initial post, you’d likely feel hurt, threatened, defensive, sad, emotional, violated, sick to your stomach.  If social media told you that your livelihood, or an error you made, or anything was “awful” it would suck.

Here are some guidelines (from my vantage point) on how to proceed with disputes with any organization:

1) Do it in private – Facebook, and other various forms of social media, are not appropriate ways to get what you want. Have a conversation, one that you can look back on later and say to yourself “I was really nice to that person, despite feeling upset.” Use peace, grace and kindness as the overriding principles when dealing with local business owners and never, EVER publicize emails or other written communication. At the end of the day, the conflict involves you and the other party, not the rest of your friend list.

2) Be reasonable –  Remember that you might not get your way. A business owner doesn’t “have to” refund your deposit, pay you damages, publicly apologize, or any such lunacy, much as you wouldn’t have to do that sort of thing if you screwed up at your job.  Being a bully as a result is never the right answer.

3) Handle it yourself –  It’s fine to seek advice from others. But dealing with a situation with 66 “backers” means you need to bring the whole rugby team to beat up the school wimp.  It means that you don’t have the strength to fight your own battles.

4) Pick up the phone, or pay a visit in person – So many disputes get escalated in emails and texts. The written word is greatly misunderstood at times, and if we are all being honest, we are MUCH meaner and more courageous behind a keyboard. So pick up the phone. Use email only as a way to schedule an appointment to discuss the situation in person.

5) Talk about you, not about the other person – Phrasing is critical.  I have found that phrases like “I feel that I have been wronged here and I am hoping you might consider refunding my deposit” rather than “You screwed me over! Give me my money back!”

6) Promote the resolution as much as the problem – You know how bad customer service spreads like wildfire? How about a Facebook post that says “Hey everyone! Guess what, (business) and I figured out a reasonable compromise!”

7) Be humble – I have never bought into “the customer is always right” – because it’s not true. Every disagreement or conflict requires at least TWO participants. Which means you, customer, are also somewhat wrong. Own it. You didn’t read the contract? Admit it. You misunderstood something? Say it. It will get you so much farther.

8) Don’t be a jerk – Ever. Seriously. Airing your disputes on Facebook is low, and it sucks. And that makes you suck. So don’t do it.

9) Be productive – Are you really, REALLY going to hire a lawyer over a dispute of $50? No. You aren’t. So don’t say you are going to. Speak the truth and have every interaction take you one step further to the resolution.

10) Season with salt – This was the best advice I had ever received, by way of a message at Grassroots.  It’s derived from Colossians 4:6 which says “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” How I interpret this is to always let your words be live giving, instead of life taking. Deep down, is there ever any real satisfaction from “showing them” or “sticking it to the other person?” No.  If we are all honest with ourselves, it makes things worse.

Yesterday, I reached out with some words of encouragement to the fellow business owner.  What I’m hoping is that the rest of the population that reads the post takes everything that is written with a grain of salt (pun intended).