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I once worked for a C-level executive who liked to establish loyalty by bad-mouthing others. I think the intention was to convey “you and I have a special relationship” when mentioning other employees’ short-coming. But what I heard was, “I’ll throw anyone under the bus. The minute you’re out of favor, I’ll do the same to you.” NO THANKS!

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Note:  This is the fourth of a series of posts I am writing about online dating.  If you’ve missed the previous three, be sure to check them out before reading this one:  Your Expectation, Your Profile, Your Opening Email.

So you’ve exchanged a few emails, and you decided to meet face to face.  Now what?  I am a big fan of meeting up at cafes (or tea lounges for those who don’t drink coffee) for the first date.  This is true of people I’ve met online and offline, and it’s a trick I learned from my married friends.

Cafe is a good meeting place for several reasons.  First, it’s public and therefore a safe location for two strangers to meet up.  Second, unlike meeting up for a meal or an activity, there’s no designated length of time for cafe dates.  If the date is going well, you can easily extend the meeting to several hours (either at the cafe or elsewhere).  Conversely, if you find yourself uninterested or otherwise disengaged with the person, you can easily end the date early without causing any awkward moments for either of you.  Third, cafes and tea lounges provide a relaxed setting that is conducive to getting to know each other because it is neither too quiet nor too loud for dialogues.  Fourth, coffee (or tea) is relatively inexpensive and won’t break your bank.  This is especially true if you meet up with many people in a short period of time (as can often be the case for online dating).  Fifth, the way coffee orders are taken at cafes easily allows you to pay for your own cup of joe.  This is important because you never want to feel as if you owe your date any favors or future dates due to his generosity.

I’ll admit I have not always followed my own advice although the most memorable dates I’ve had were cafe meet-ups.  There were two in particular that stood out for me.  The first one took place in a cafe located within a bookstore.  We were both so engrossed in our conversation that we practically closed down the cafe.  The total conversation time?  Almost four hours!  We would be hard pressed to chat for that long at a restaurant or anywhere else.  The second one took place in a small cafe that is extremely popular among the locals.  Again, he and I chatted about many things and covered a vast range of topics from the Olympics to human psychology to our travel experience.  Had it not been for our prior commitments, we probably would have closed down the cafe as well.

I think the key to both great dates being as memorable as they are is the relaxed environment afforded by the cafes.  I honestly do not think we could have been as comfortable with each other as we were if we had to worry about vacating our table after our meal in a restaurant, or deciding who was paying what portion of the tab.  Instead, the cafe setting gave us the freedom to really get to know each other.

If you missed my other posts on online dating, be sure to check them out:

Part I – Online Dating 101: Your Expectation
Part II – Online Dating 101: Your Profile
Part III – Online Dating 101: Your Opening Email

I believe I am one of the luckiest souls in this world because I have so much going for me.  In remembrance of all the good fortune in my life (and in celebration of this Thanksgiving season), I came up with my top five most grateful aspects and people in my life.  I am most thankful for:

5.  A challenging and fulfilling career. Some people work to live, and although I don’t necessarily live to work or work to live, I do look forward to going to work most mornings!  I am definitely very grateful that I have that luxury!

4.  My health. I was fortunate to be born a healthy baby, and I was fortunate to have grown up in a health-oriented family.  I am thankful that no major illnesses run in my family, and I am thankful that I am healthy enough to take on the many physical and mental challenges this world has to offer.

3.  My introspective nature. I am lucky I met a handful of key people during various phases of my life who taught me that being self-aware is perhaps the greatest gift I can give myself.  While it may not seem that way at the time, I am thankful for all the trials and tribulation I went through so far in life — they have definitely made me stronger!  I am most appreciate of finally learning that this world is much bigger than my own little world.

2.  My awesome friends. I am eternally grateful to have friends who keep me honest while helping me grow spiritually, emotionally, and mentally.  I am grateful that I have friends who would move mountains for me or wake up at 3am in the morning to field my distress calls.  No words can describe what they mean to me!

1.  My family. Growing up, I had a love-hate relationship with my family.  But as I got older, I learned to appreciate everything they have ever done for me and to me.  They have always been there for me, through thick and thin.  It’s as they say, blood is thicker than water.  I love you mom, dad, sis, and bro!

And Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Every Friday is Wisdom Friday.  It’s just a way for me to share with my readers the little gems of life that I’ve learned either during the week or living life in general.

I recently spent a lot of time with a friend who is fun and full of energy.  I really enjoyed our time together because he brought the fun out of me and challenged me to experience life in somewhat of a different way.

While I enjoyed our time together, I never felt I was able to be myself completely.  If you’ve read any of my posts on this blog, you know that I am introspective and philosophical in my approach to living.  I like to think about the meaning of the things around me and discuss/share my findings with others, and I truly believe that’s one of my strengths.  Unfortunately, this tendency of mine brought out the worst in him.  In particular, he liked to argue with me for argument sake.  Worse, at times he went out of his way to attack me and put me down.

It recently dawned on me that he and I are probably not suitable to hang out beyond the superficial level because every time we hang out, I feel that my true self is trapped in a cocoon.  In other words, I am in the wrong place when I hang out with him because I simply cannot be myself.

Have you ever been in a situation for a prolong period of time where you felt you are not able to “just be yourself”?  If so, the place is probably not the right one for you.  Thoughts?

Every Friday is Wisdom Friday.  It’s just a way for me to share with my readers the little gems of life that I’ve learned either during the week or living life in general.

I am a planner.  Or at least I used to be one.  I’ve learned over the years to loosen up and go with the flow a bit more.  Not only does that change in attitude makes me happier, it also helps me win at the end.  The truth is, no matter how much planning goes into one’s life, one can never avoid the unexpected.  When that happens, it is frustrating and perhaps even debilitating to those with a rigid mind and way of life.  I know — I was once very much like that!  Today, I find a better approach (to success, happiness, etc) is to learn to adapt.

The great martial artist and philosopher Bruce Lee once said, “Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot.”  Yes, we should all be more like water!