What I Learned In 2015

Towards the end of the year, our minds often drift towards setting New Year goals and how we plan to achieve them. If you are like me, the latter always seems to be a myth. The New Year often comes with a sense of a fresh start- a new beginning and a new you. It’s like there is a tingling global sensation that makes us feel powerful and motivated to conquer whatever it is we have listed down. Whilst there is no harm in this, I believe it is even better to reflect on what you learned during the previous year so that it can shed some light on what to work on in the coming year. Here are a few career lessons of 2015 that I’d like to share:

  • Have a problem-solving mindset

When you start your first job this is the time you will make the most mistakes. Successful completion of your studies does not automatically prepare you for the school of life and work. Mistakes will be made. It is also highly likely that you will spend your time fretting rather than figuring out how you will solve the ‘mess’ you or someone else created. Instead of having numerous panic attacks, you would be better served by programming yourself with a problem-solving mindset. A problem-solving mindset doesn’t come naturally however this is something you can work on in the early stages of your career. Worrying does not help. The time you spend worrying could be more beneficially used to come up with ways where the situation can be ‘managed’ or ‘fixed’.

  • There is no situation that can’t be ‘managed’ or ‘fixed’

Dear recent graduate, please know that when you make a mistake and everything seems to be going downhill: your life is not over and it is not the end of the world. Feel whatever you need to feel at that moment but don’t dwell on those emotions. This is why having a problem-solving mindset is important because only then you will be able to focus on what to do next instead of hiding under your desk (which I once did and it didn’t help). You have to be Olivia Pope in situations like this and have that “I’ll handle it” attitude. Maybe it’s a lot to ask at this stage as Miss Pope has tons of experience which helped her to get where she is, nevertheless, this is where you start building this mentality until it is deeply embedded in your character.

  •  It’s okay to say no

As humans, most of the times we tend to want to please everyone, family, friends or colleagues. We will therefore go out of our way to make something happen for another person at the cost of our own strength or peace of mind. Let’s say you’ve started your first job and you are doing more than what’s required of you- perhaps jobs you didn’t sign up for. That’s okay. It’s more than okay to do more than what your job description requires especially at the early stages of your career. What’s harmful is doing people favors when you already have a lot on your plate.  You can politely say no by justifying why you can’t and offering them a solution as to how they can deal with it. I believe this shows a willingness to help rather than dismissing the request entirely. You don’t want to be in a position where you are overwhelmed by your work and someone else’s. As the saying goes, don’t bite off more than you can chew.

  • Maintain a consistent work ethic

It is very important how you carry yourself in the workplace. Your work, professionalism and attitude speak louder than anything. Recently, I listened to Myleik Teele’s podcast How You May Be Sabotaging Your Professional Success where she talked about ten things that can sabotage this. One of them was being “a little late”. Even though I always arrive at work on time, I am guilty of arriving five minutes or even ten minutes late for meetings and the likes. I’d never thought much of it until I listened to that podcast. Miss Teele pointed out that when people arrive late, it doesn’t only show disrespect for another person’s time but it shows how unprepared and disorganized that person is. Being late will always reflect negatively on you and affect how people perceive your work ethic. Most of the time we think we have good enough reasons for lateness but really we don’t. Since you know how awful Dar es Salaam traffic is, why don’t you give yourself leeway for anything unprecedented? It doesn’t matter if you are five minutes or twenty minutes late, late is late. People notice everything no matter how ‘tiny’ or ‘little’ it might seem. Just make sure what they notice builds your career rather than sabotages it.

Oscar Wilde said “Experience is merely the name men gave to their mistakes”. What have your 2015 ‘experiences’ been and what have you learned from them? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Waiting, Patience and Those Feelings In Between

Good things come to those who wait. They truly do. Similar to other virtues, patience is a quality that we develop depending on our environment and what we have to face on a day-to-day basis. Most of the time if not always, I feel that waiting for something to happen or change means that there is also time lost in this process. Rushing things is also not a good idea, but I sometimes wonder if waiting is always a good idea. In what aspects is waiting good? And in what aspects should you jump in seizing the opportunity? A lot of ‘I should haves’ can result as a matter of being patient if what you were hoping to happen doesn’t occur the way you hoped it would.

As humans, there are life occasions that we ‘cannot wait’ to happen. We cannot wait to start university. We cannot wait to finish university. We cannot wait to start working. We cannot wait to get another job. We cannot wait to have a salary increase. We cannot wait to be our own boss and so on and so forth. There are goals we want to achieve in a short span of time rather than have to wait it out because waiting is not fun. This is where patience comes in. Patience is defined us “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious.” I would add the adjectives resentful and bitter to the equation. If we take the act of patience lightly then being annoyed is an outcome of very short spanned matter such as being stuck in traffic or waiting in a long queue at a supermarket on any given weekend.

The type of patience I am referring to is long term. The kind of patience I suppose that makes people want to divorce their spouse despite that life-long pledge you made. Do you divorce the current situation or do you become patient throughout the ordeal without complaining and murmuring? I might be speaking vaguely because I don’t want to identify various scenarios where divorce can apply in our lives. However, I hope I’ve painted the picture that patience is not an easy task and just like divorce- in some situations it might leave you feeling whole and in other cases it might leave you feeling empty.

My point is, whatever we are sticking it through in our lives; it should not make us resentful people. Most situations that are tolerated end up being a thorn. Don’t let patience be something that takes away value from your life but instead it should be something that adds to it. Only in this way can we move onto something that makes us feel whole rather than empty.

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Excellence Is Not For The Weak

Refer to the title above. Refer to it over and over again as you read this post and the posts that follow. I’ve decided to revisit the blogging world once more, even though I am not entirely sure how long this phase will last. I’ve had the misconception that because I love writing and I love words, blogging would feel natural and I will surely rock at it. But I haven’t and here’s why…

While blogging can be a passion, a job, or like me something that you love to do but are terrible at it, then it can mean one thing: you and I lack discipline. For anyone to be the best at what they do, whether they have a passion for it or not, it needs to be done with integrity and excellence. A while back when I was still in university, this lady I knew back then told me these words that echo in my mind from time to time- the spirit of excellence. Back then; I thought like every older lady (adult) she was simply being difficult by abusing her adult rights over something so little as setting the dinner table well. I remember the day so clearly when I was helping her at church to set the tables and chairs for after the service fellowship which I didn’t take as ‘seriously’ as she did. After all, they are just tables and chairs which people will move around, hence there was no need for us to be ‘excellent’ at this.

I never understood the expectation then but I definitely understand it now. See, ladies and gentlemen, what I came to learn is, in whatever we do, whether it is little or small, we should do it in excellence. Excellence means doing something so well, treating it of high value and quality, manner that it transcends the ordinary. When something is done in excellence, it will bear fruit and what was accomplished will be noticed. This does not mean that we should do our work for instance excellently so that our superiors can notice (they may not), but it is for ourselves and in order for something so positive to be built in us so that we may excel in everything we do whether it is little or big.

As human beings, we tend to lack discipline and don’t realise that discipline is the equivalent of practicing, of meditating and of living. How many times have we written down New Year’s resolutions only to give up on them in the first three months? How many times has it been said we will start eating healthily and fall into the temptation of having that deep fried chicken your friend had when you went out for dinner? How many times have we not done things, as they should be done because we lack discipline and therefore lack the spirit of excellence? We are not born with such attributes. These are things we have to plant, sow and cultivate in our daily lives. I will confess that there are many times when I have done something just because I have to get it out of the way not realising how in some way it affects my attitude towards how I undertake a task. Think about this, the opposite of excellence is unimportance, failure, imperfection and inferiority. Therefore if we are not practicing excellence, disciplining ourselves to do things with superiority then what is it that we are doing?

Maybe we can take this journey together as I try blogging for the nth time. I’m not entirely sure the direction my blog is going to take but all I know at this moment is I want to write. I want to fill these pages with words that matter to me. Words that overflow from the depths of my mind, words that inspire and build, words that are life changing and words that are life. What I can hope for is this makes sense to someone and if not I’m pretty content that it makes sense to me.

Sincerely Joyce

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Oxfam Morningside celebrates charity’s 70th anniversary

The Oxfam shop in Morningside will today (Tues 25 September) mark the charity’s upcoming 70th anniversary by celebrating the dedication of the shop’s volunteers. 
Among those who will be recognised are three of the shop’s longest-serving staff – who between them have volunteered with Oxfam for more than 70 years. 
Gladys Allen and Agnes Watson have volunteered for more than two decades whilst Janey Cockburn has an incredible 31 years service under her belt. 
Certificates of recognition will be handed over by the shop’s area manager. 
“I was introduced to Oxfam by my mother – who also used to volunteer at the shop. I haven’t looked back since” said Janey Cockburn. “Oxfam has been my life. I usually help in the stockroom with sorting and steaming. I have thoroughly enjoyed myself and I am committed to helping Oxfam’s work in fighting poverty and suffering worldwide. Thirty-one years is a long time but I don’t see myself ever retiring.”
Oxfam will make celebrate its 70th anniversary on 5 October. 
The Oxford Committee for Famine Relief (later shortened to Oxfam) was formed in October 1942, to lobby the British Government for the relaxation of the Allied blockade of occupied Europe, and to ensure the supply of vital relief to civilians especially in Belgium and Greece.  
Today, Oxfam works in more than 90 countries around the world. 
“There is no better way for Oxfam to celebrate our anniversary than by showing our appreciaton of the people who have dedicated themselves to working with us” said the manager of the Oxfam Morningside shop Jean Wood. 
“Volunteers like Janey, Gladys and Agnes are special people. Their support is always needed. We’re really happy to celebrate this anniversary with them and everyone else whose supported us over the years”, said Wood. 
The celebration will take place in the shop from 4-6pm in Morningside, Edinburgh.
“I’m so proud of all our hard-working volunteers and for their commitment to the shop”, said Oxfam’s Area Shop Manager, Jo Christison. “However, we also wouldn’t be here without the people of Edinburgh who have shown their unconditional support by continuing to donate to, and buy from, our shops – even in these tough economic times. Together we hope to push forward in fighting poverty by continuing the great work that started 70 years ago.”
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RL Stevenson First Edition Sells for £500

Rare book raises funds to fight poverty

A collection of poetry by Robert Louis Stevenson has raised £500 at an auction in Edinburgh today (Thursday 30 August) after being donated to an Oxfam shop.

‘A Child’s Garden of Verses’ was written more than a century ago and includes some of Stevenson’s most famous poems such as ‘The Land of Counterpane’, ‘My Shadow’ and ‘The Lamplighter’.

The children’s book was first published in 1885 and it was anonymously donated to the Byres Road shop in Glasgow, from the library of Dr Adam Watson, who was the author’s first cousin once removed and his contemporary at Edinburgh University.

‘A Child’s Garden of Verses’ is also signed by Stevenson’s mother, who gave the book to her niece and nephew as a gift. She inscribed it: “To my GG Niece and Nephew at Chudleigh with kind love.”

Stevenson’s most famous works include Treasure Island, Kidnapped and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

John Connolly, Byres Road shop manager, said: “Donations like this are rare and we are delighted with this sale.

“The money raised will support Oxfam’s cause to fight poverty around the world. For example, £400 would pay for a community library in Malawi.

“I’m glad this piece of literary history has gone to help those in need.”

The money raised from the sale at Bonham’s, minus the auction fees, will be spent on Oxfam’s work fighting poverty at home and abroad.


Online Media Hits:

BBC Scotland: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-19427055

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Oxfam Auction RL Stevenson First Edition

Single book could fund entire library in Malawi

A rare first edition collection of poems by Robert Louis Stevenson will be auctioned at Bonham’s after being donated to an Oxfam shop in Glasgow.

‘A Child’s Garden of Verses’ was written more than a century ago as a collection of poetry for children. The book comprises some of Stevenson’s most famous poems such as ‘The Land of Counterpane’, ‘My Shadow’ and ‘The Lamplighter’.

The book was first published in 1885 and it was anonymously donated to the Byres Road shop from the library of Dr Adam Watson, who was the author’s first cousin once removed and his contemporary at Edinburgh University. ‘A Child’s Garden of Verses’ is also signed by Stevenson’s mother, who gave the book to her niece and nephew as a gift.

Bonham’s auction house estimate the book will sell for between £400 and £800.

Stevenson’s most famous works include Treasure Island, Kidnapped and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

John Connolly, Byres Road shop manager, said: “First edition donations are rare so I’m delighted an Oxfam supporter has given the book to us.

“The sale of this book will raise hundreds of pounds for Oxfam’s work to fight poverty around the world. For example, £400 would pay for a community library in Malawi.

“This Robert Louis Stevenson book is a wonderful piece of literature, as well as a very collectible slice of Scottish history, so I’m hopeful it will attract lots of interest from serious bidders.”

The auction will take place at Bonham’s, 22 Queen Street, Edinburgh on Thursday 30 August at 11am, as part of the Scottish Sale Part 2.


Online Media Hits:

BBC Scotland: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-19374815

STV Local: http://local.stv.tv/glasgow/187185-rare-first-edition-book-of-louis-stevenson-poems-going-under-the-hammer/

The Herald: http://election.theherald.co.uk/mobile/news/home-news/rare-stevenson-first-edition-to-be-auctioned-for-charity.18681841?_=787d41d9c35c57ef9e4aba799bacefac312149a4



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Rare book raises £975 for Oxfam

A rare edition of one of literature’s most intriguing novels has raised almost £1000 for Oxfam after being donated to the Aberdeen branch of the charity.

‘An Antarctic Mystery’ by Jules Verne was written more than a century ago as a response to another novel by legendary author, Edgar Allan Poe.

Now a first English edition of Verne’s book, donated five years ago, has raised £975 after being snapped up by a buyer on the Aberdeen shop’s new website.

The book was published in 1898 by Sampson Low Marston & Co and was another adventurous tale by the author who wrote ‘Around The World In Eighty Days’, ‘Journey To The Centre Of The Earth’ and ’Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea’.

The online shop is an expansion of Oxfam’s well-known bookshop at Back Wynd, Aberdeen,

Verne’s book has broken the shop’s record for the highest amount paid in their online shop which launched last December.

Marion Craigie, the shop manager said: “The sale of this book has not only boosted our sales online but also the shop’s confidence for our online market.

“We’d like people in Scotland to know that we’ve got everything in our online store as we do in the shops. There is a great variety of products so I would encourage people to check it out.”

The Oxfam Aberdeen online shop www.oxfam.org.uk/shop/content/highstreet includes clothing, accessories, homeware, collectables, music, films and books.

Oxfam Back Wynd bookshop is located just off Aberdeen’s Union Street. The shop is open Monday to Saturday 9.30am to 5.30pm and until 7pm on Thursdays.


Online Media Hits: 

The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/apr/06/jules-verne-first-edition-sells

Daily Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booknews/9190089/Charity-shop-gets-1000-for-Jules-Verne-book.html

BBC Scotland: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-17638144

Aberdeen Evening Express: http://www.eveningexpress.co.uk/Article.aspx/2716453

STV local: http://local.stv.tv/aberdeen/news/32923-rare-book-fetches-nearly-1000-for-charity/

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Oxfam Bookshop Celebrates One Year Anniversary with Poems and Chocolates

Oxfam’s Merchant City Bookshop welcomes the people of Glasgow to mark the shop’s first year old birthday this Saturday February 18. To celebrate, the shop has organised a poetry event ‘For the Love of Word’ and unwrapped chocolate appeal to raise £95.

Amateur poets will grace the event with beautiful poetry as they share the love of poems with the people of Glasgow in honour of the shop’s birthday on Valentine’s Day.

The Bookshop is also asking its loyal and generous customers to raise £95 through the Unwrapped Chocolate Appeal. The five chocolate vouchers are priced at £19 each and the funds generated will help to set up cocoa farmers in sustainable businesses which will make it easier for them to escape poverty and produce more delicious chocolate.

For every £5 raised, we get to colour in one of the chocolates in our Blue Peter style totaliser. We kindly ask our customers to dig in their pockets and chip in their spare change for our birthday chocolate.

Gillian Nelson, manager of Oxfam Scotland’s Merchant City Bookshop said:

“We thought it’s suitable to have the poetry event in conjunction with the chocolate appeal because we want it to be our birthday wish to come true. It’s very fulfilling to know that you can give away a present for people who need it the most and this is what the unwrapped chocolate appeal is about- changing people’s lives.

The people of Glasgow have been very welcoming with the shop over the past year and our loyal customers are the reason we are able to hold this event. We would like to invite them to celebrate this day with us and continue to keep the flag flying for Oxfam.”

Leo Glaister, Event Organiser from the Merchant City Marketing Co-Operative said:

“I’m extremely delighted to be a part of this and so far we’ve had numerous responses from Poets who are excited to share their lovely poems for the day. I hope people will come along to appreciate the poems and what Oxfam stands for as without their unconditional support we wouldn’t have anything to celebrate on.”


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Hi everyone,

I just set up my online portfolio after a suggestion was made to me from a very wise friend. I’m going to to upload some ‘old’ pieces of my work mainly as press releases I’ve worked on at Oxfam Scotland. From now forth I’ll keep this website as current as possible so please do have a look at my work. Suggestions are more than welcome. I am a work in progress so there’s always room for improvement.

Thank You,

Joyce Jacquiline Nsekela

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