Thursday, January 29, 2009

I am frustrated

  • By people who don't follow instructions
  • By people who tell me they understand just what I mean then do something different
  • By people who don't stop to consider all the facts before making a decision
  • By people who take things so literally they don't understand the ramifications of what they are doing
  • By people who don't ask questions because they're afraid to "look dumb", then end up costing me time and money because they made a mistake
  • By people who don't take the initiative to learn on their own
  • By people who spend so much time lamenting a mistake instead of trying to figure out where their logic went wrong to avoid future mistakes
  • By my own inability to instill in others the work ethic that was instilled in me

The end.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I never wanted to be a teacher

I had a really great day at work today. I'm still getting over whatever invaded my body over the weekend and I had some serious thinking to do today, so I did my best to become absorbed enough in my work that I could get the job done while also trying to forget about how awful I felt. Amazingly, I managed to accomplish both of those things today.

I am working on training courses for my employees, because many of them are lacking in some basic skills. I have lots of training experience but not in the area of computer skills, so it's a bit challenging for me. Bunny and I scheduled ourselves out of the office today and closed ourselves in the conference room with my library books, a pot of coffee, and the projector. We brainstormed and read and talked ourselves through an outline for training others on computer navigation and exploring, and we've got something pretty damn cool.

Work is rather slow lately; the daily work for the majority of my employees is generated from dealerships who repair heavy duty trucks, and Winter is traditionally the slowest time of year for us. I have lamented the extreme lack of basic computer skills among my staff for a long time, and our low work volume allows for a lot of down time lately.

So, I'm offering training courses. They will be voluntary, folks can choose to attend or not as they wish. I will reward those who take the initiative to learn more; those who choose not to learn more will experience the consequence of that choice when I conduct their annual performance evaluation.

I am looking forward to holding these training courses, even though I do not feel terribly confident in my training abilities these days. I like the idea of doing something a little different, and of pushing myself beyond my current comfort zone. I feel like one thing I really need to change right now at work is the level and context of interaction with my staff. I'm still trying to find my momentum with staff meetings, and I think these training courses will teach me something too.

I was the trainer for my department years ago, and I got pretty good at it out of sheer repetition, but I don't feel like a good trainer. I don't have the right temperament for teaching others and I lack patience. Anyone can demonstrates the steps to accomplish a task but it takes someone patient and understanding and kind to really teach others well. I have some doubts about how successful I'll be, but I'm excited to try this and see how I do!

Who, me?

I got asked out on a date today. That doesn't happen very often anymore.

I was standing next to a young man in a lunch counter queue at my favourite local Asian take-out restaurant, and he started making random small-talk with me. I hate small talk and find the sorts of things people say when they're small-talking to be maddeningly inane. I am working on being nicer though so I played along, making all the right noises at the appropriate times and responding to questions. He asked me to join him for lunch, but I explained how I had to take my food back to the office. I was then smoothly invited for dinner and/or drinks some evening soon.

I was surprised and a little flattered. Usually when men hit on me they act like unmitigated asses and generally make me hate the whole lot of dick-bearing fools. This one actually seemed a decent guy, so I was gentler in my refusal than I typically am, and told him that my husband expects me home for dinner otherwise I would join him.

I think it's my new hair. I look really good with this new hair.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

For the record...

Tuna fish is not a good thing when one is sick to one's stomach. We were both doing okay this morning, until I started making my lunch. We haven't been eating all that healthy-like lately so I thought I'd do something less than fattening; I opened a can of black beans, a can of white beans, and a can of tuna. I tossed it all in a bucket with some low moisture,part skim mozzarella cheese.

Unfortunately, neither the sight nor the smell of my lunch was particularly appetizing to me or Mr. J. He stayed home sick for the second day this week but I had to cart my ass off to work and be productive.

Sadly, I am not a nurturing person. I have concerns, and I'm willing to take care of my husband when he's sick. But I do not fret over him, do not really have the instinct that tells me to swoop in and mother him and take care of every little thing. I'm not a very good care-taker.

Blech.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I hope it's just something I ate ...

When I was a girl I would periodically become afflicted with a flu-like disorder that was primarily characterised by the need to empty both my stomach and my bowels at the same moment. Sometime it was actually the flu, sometimes it was food poisoning, but quite often it was because my cousins and I had been left unsupervised at the grandparent's house and had gotten into the pantry to gorge ourselves on the over-sugared snack foods and grape-flavoured soda pop that was kept there for us. I would often find myself in the bathroom, miserably huddled with my arms wrapped around the garbage can and with a feeling in my belly as though something angry was inside me trying to tear its way out.

Imagine my dismay when, at several minutes before four o'clock this morning, I awoke to that awful monster inside me. As I lay in bed trying to will myself to death, my stomach churning with that horrible cramping, all I could think about was that my bathroom garbage can is mesh; a cleverly designed mesh that looks nicer than your run-of-the-mill waste basket and fancies up the bathroom area, and not at all suitable for vomiting into. Not only that, I haven't mixed rainbow sherbet ice cream and pickles in years, and I felt a little betrayed by my body for the state it was in.

It turns out I only needed to throw up, which I am quite good at under normal circumstances, so I was able to avoid the indignity of puking into a garbage can with holes in it.

And now I'm going back to bed.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

You should have done it different

My mom asked me today what I thought she should have done differently when I was growing up. This was a sort of carry-over from our conversation on Sunday, and I had difficulty answering the question.

Not because I didn't think she should have done things differently. Not because I was not angry at her most of the time back then. Not because I did not hate a lot of her decisions.

Because I cannot see the point in telling a person they should have done something differently. The biggest thing I was upset at my mom for back then was her marriage to Reginald. I hated him, hated his attitude, his age, his personality. She did not know what the ultimate outcome of that decision would be; she didn't walk into that situation knowing how things were going to turn out for all of us. If she did, she would have made a different choice back then.

And I learned a lot from Reginald, the kind of lesson you learn backwards. He taught me how not to be. He was an excellent example of the sort of step-parent one should never be; he was also a good example of the sort of husband I don't want in my life. Every man I dated after Reginald entered my life was compared to him. If they shared personality traits or qualities of character I ran the opposite direction.

While there was a time when I hated my mom for marrying him, I can use that experience for something positive in my life now. It was what it was, and she cannot change her decision; and at the time, she was doing what she thought was best. I think it's easy to look back after the dust settles and point a big accusatory finger at where a person made a mistake, but it is not very constructive to do so.

I believe I am the sum of my experiences; since I have no control over decisions made in my past it is futile (and far too frustrating) for me to go around accusing people of making bad choices after the fact. Now I get to make my own choices, and because of all of my experiences I think I do an okay job of it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Lesson learned

I was out with my mom this past Sunday, hanging out with her for the day. During lunch we got to talking about regrets and Mom confided in me that she had regrets about my upbringing. I asked her about the nature of those regrets, and was surprised to learn that my mom regrets not encouraging me more in social activities; she described regret over the fact that I never got to go to camp, that she didn't encourage me more in sports, or music lessons, or other things normal kids do to learn to socialize with others.

We had a rough time, Mom and I. I was willful, stubborn, clever, and smart-mouthed. She was overwhelmed, married to a rotten motherfucker, and probably at her last emotional resource most of the time. I didn't do the things I did because I wanted to make life difficult for her, but in retrospect I know that's exactly what I did.

I really wasn't expecting to hear of this regret, and it made me very sad. I learned a lot from my mom, important lessons that she taught by example. I'd like to share them here, because they are very valuable to me in my life as a woman, an adult, a step-mother, a boss, a human being, and -I hope- as a good example for others. My mom taught me:

  • How to apologize
  • How to love others unconditionally
  • Compassion
  • Honesty
  • How not to be judgmental towards people's choices
  • How to think for myself
  • How and when to appropriately judge another's character
  • How to ask for help
  • How to improve my situation, no matter how bad
  • When it's okay to give up and cut my losses and when it's appropriate to fight for what's right
  • How to mind my own business
  • How to be a good friend
  • That it's okay to stand up for myself
  • How to admit when I'm wrong
  • How to be true to myself

My mom taught me how to be, and that has proven a lot more useful to me than sports or music lessons. Though I'm pretty sure I would make a totally hot rock-star.

I think I'll go write my mom a letter.

Monday, January 19, 2009

It hurts all over

Today I'm yoga-sore. That has never happened to me before. I think having a real-live yoga instructor has got to be the best thing ever.

I think it was the down-dog (on which I got lovely compliments from the teacher); we alternated between flat-footed and up-on-tippy-toes and held the poses for longer than I do on my own and today I feel it through my upper back and shoulder muscles. It's a terrific sore, the sort that says "I worked hard and today I feel it". It's a deep, delicious ache right in the centre of each muscle. It's as though I can feel each individual muscle as I move, a hard knot of power giving me purpose and energy. It hurts, every movement hurts, but it doesn't feel like pain. It feels like power.

I really, really want to go again. Right now, as soon as I wake up in the morning, next week, forever.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Yoga

I finally made it to a yoga class! I signed up for a free class months ago and never went. Today I went to my first class ever with my favourite red-head and a brand new friend and it was amazing. The instructor was too adorable for words and I thought she led a really good class; I have no experience, of course, but she radiated warmth and happiness and that light-ness of spirit that one would expect from a yoga instructor.

A funny-odd thing happened to me during the first few minutes of class; we were breathing, the in-out centering and grounding breathing you do and the instructor was telling us all the right things: breathe in peace and tranquility and love, and breathe out our worries and fears and doubts. Let go of obstacles and expectations and self-judgment and be. I always thought I do that really well, that I am comfortable and happy and contended with who and where I am. So I was a little surprised at myself when I nearly started to cry when she was talking about loving ourselves and letting go of self-judgment.

I managed not to embarrass myself, but several times throughout the hour-long class I really had to fight to keep control. It was a nice experience, in a very gentle class. I was a little worried that I'd stick out among the other people; I'd never taken a formal class, never learned in a structured environment. I'm not in great shape and I've been uncomfortable with my body for some time. And even though I've been doing yoga on my own for years, I'm a total beginner. I felt comfortable though, excited to be doing something I've been wanting to do for so long and happy to be there with good friends who I knew wouldn't judge me if my spine wasn't straight or my poses were sloppy or if I had my head turned differently from the rest of the class.

I have more to say, but I'm sort of in a zen-bubble so I'll just say that yoga is some bad-ass business and I can't wait to go again.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Is this progress?

I have been working hard on my goal, and I did really good today. Today I held two staff meetings when I said I would, and I completed another performance evaluation on time. This makes the third evaluation I haven't been late on since December.

These two things are serious achievements for me. They represent two of the things I have to force myself to do regularly and/or on time. I feel proud of myself, and rather good about the productivity. All the interaction went well, and some people participated actively in our staff meetings -people who used to sit in the corner and not call attention to themselves are now offering suggestions and ideas for the team.

After I manage follow-through, I'm going to challenge myself with completing performance evaluations ahead of time instead of putting them off until the due-date.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Old friends

I got a message from an old friend today. We haven't spoken in years, grew apart after our lives went in different directions and we started making choices the other didn't understand. After Colin died, and I came back into my own head enough to start thinking about life and the future and choices, I found it easy to let go of things that weren't working out for me. I had very little patience for putting my energy and will towards things that weren't perfect for my life. That is not to say that I did all the right things and stopped doing the wrong things, but if I was unhappy or uncomfortable with something, I just cut it out of my life.

That's what happened with us; she made some choices and decisions I didn't understand and was uncomfortable with so I stopped talking to her. I went my own way and didn't look back.

Now, I read her message to me and I find myself wanting to know how she is. I want to know what she's interested in and what she's doing. She was my best friend once and there was a time when I couldn't imagine her not in my life. I don't know if I'll even like her now, or if she'll like me. I'm certain I said mean things to her, because I do that.

Do I deserve the friendship of someone I turned my back on? Do I deserve forgiveness when I turned into the kind of person who can so easily walk away from someone who was once very important to me? Do people really change?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Small achievements

Today I taught one of my employees how to make labels on her computer. You might think that this is a basic skill, but it turns out that people aren't born with basic computer skills no matter how often I wish they were.

I am not a good teacher; this is ironic since my primary function for years was the training of incoming staff members. That training never included making labels on their computers until now.

I was a ball of happiness and excitement and relief when one of my team members asked me to show her to make labels. She was motivated to learn something new! She was branching out, discarding her natural inclination towards fear of the computer. She was receptive to change and adaptation. And when I showed her the simple nature of the label wizard she got excited too.

Now she can make her own labels whenever she needs to, and we're both just as pleased as we could be.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Grandma Candy

On January 13th, 1992, my step-grandmother was killed by a drunk driver. She was driving with her mother on a curvy road at night, and a young man who had too much to drink crashed into their car head-on. She was Reginald's mom; and even though I hated Reginald, I really liked his mom. In fact I secretly, meanly wished that it had been Reginald killed in that car accident and not her.

She never treated me like a step-grandchild; she was happy to have a grand-daughter and I was the only grand-kid around at the time. She heaped me with presents and spoiled me terribly.

That year, the weekend before she died, she came over to our house; she gave me my Christmas presents and my birthday presents; she gave me gifts and candy for Valentine's day and for Easter as well. When I asked why I was getting all my presents in advance she told me that she didn't know where she would be when those days came.

When my family got the news of her death, Reginald looked as though he'd been kicked in the stomach. He doubled over in pain and grasped at his chest. He had a horrible grimace on his face. I think that was the only time I saw him show real emotion, and it was certainly the only time I felt anything like sympathy for him.

Years later, I went to work for a local towing company; I worked night shift dispatching, and one evening the guys were sitting around my dispatch office during a slow period and recounting their "worsts"; the worst accident they were ever called out on for the police rotation. And one of the guys started talking about an auto accident where two ladies, mother and daughter, were driving on a windy road and were killed by a drunk driver. He was talking about my grandmother, though he didn't know, and I learned the horrible details of death-by-car-accident that people don't share with little girls.

It was awful, the way she died, and being killed in a car accident made it to my list of the top five ways not to die.

As with others who have made a difference in my life who are no longer with me, the things I remember about her and the things I continue to learn about myself as I get older evolve. I used to be very angry at the young man who killed her; I haven't thought about him or her for a very long time, but I was reading yesterday about forgiveness. The Buddha said that nothing cannot be forgiven, that forgiveness -unlike hatred or anger or bitterness or revenge- doesn't hurt us at all but is a step on the path to enlightenment and peace.

I don't remember that young man's name any longer, and I'd certainly not recognize him if I saw him; but if I were to meet him by chance, I'd tell him that I forgive him. Unless he was still driving around drunk, then I'd kick him in the nuts for killing my grandma.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Follow through is hard

I'm trying to practice follow-through this year. It's not my best thing. Lately, and for a long time, I fail at following through with my craft projects. I can't wait to start the next project; I get bored doing the same thing, over and over and over. As such, I've got many projects not yet completed.

The problem? Today I had a perfectly, terrifically, amazingly, wonderfully great idea for a gift for someone.

Two weeks ago I would have started this project without a second thought; today I am wondering if this will set me back in my quest for following through with things once I start them. I did manage to complete one of my numerous projects tonight, a gift for a co-worker that was intended to be for Christmas. I feel good about that because it's finally something I can scratch off.

I'll go ahead with it, because it really is a great idea, and I haven't got much time to complete it. But then I'm going to try really, really hard to follow through with what I have started before moving on to the next thing.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Burning boat

I've recently become interested in the television programme One Tree Hill, and have been watching it on DVD. One of the early episodes incorporates a tradition in the town called "burning boat", where a boat is placed for the residents to put the things they want to burn. They place things that represent their regrets or their shame, things they want closure on. Then the boat is burned while the town looks on and the people get closure.

I love rituals involving fire, and use them often in my own spiritual practice. Recently that practice has fallen off, though; I haven't been taking care of myself spiritually, and I wonder if the depression and restlessness I have been experiencing lately is because of some sort of spiritual unrest. Observing my spirituality is one of the many tools I use in life to feel connected and to feel sane. I don't know why must continuously learn this same lesson, don't know why it's so hard for me to keep with it, even though I know how good it is for me.

I do know that I need my own burning boat, and I need one right now.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Even scary things feel fear

As I was getting ready for work yesterday morning, a small movement toward the end of the bathroom counter caught my eye. I looked, and among the bottles of lotion and deodorant I keep on the counter was an ugly, brown spider. It was not very large, though a spider need not be very large to frighten me. I've been known to scream like a girl at the top of my voice and dash to far corners of the house when confronted with spider, no matter what the size or type.

Unfortunately I was alone, my husband having already left for work. I was going to be forced to deal with this nasty little spider on my own (not my favourite thing). It was moving in short spurts -darting forward a few inches then stopping for a moment, then darting forward again. Spiders make me itch all over, and this one moved too fast and seemed too observant for my taste. Surely it saw me; I was positive it was getting ready to jump the length of the counter, land on my face, and begin eating my eyeballs out of my head at any moment.

I screwed up what courage I thought I had in me and reached over to the toilet paper, spinning off a large quantity. I was going to crush the life out of the spider and flush it down the toilet. Then I was going to let all my anxiety out by dancing around the hallway on my tiptoes and flail my arms about (proven de-spidering technique).

But as soon as I started spinning the toilet paper roll, that damnable spider scurried forward and off the edge of the counter. It moved so fast it looked like thick liquid poured across the counter and down the side. I was certain it was coming for me, headed right towards my vulnerable naked feet. I won't describe for you what I did then, but it was girly and embarrassing.

It took me a moment to realize it was afraid. I had scared that awful spider, triggered its flight mechanism, probably with the noise from the toilet paper roll. In its fear, it ran straight for the edge of the counter and launched itself to the floor. It was only a few feet, being counter-height, but to a spider-body it must have seemed like a terrible distance.

I think this is an amazing fear response in animals, this flight into the unknown. Humans don't generally do this; we ponder and we worry and we think: What will happen to me? What will I do? How can I control the outcome? We stay where we're afraid, because we're more afraid of what we don't know than we are of what we do know. In fact, we plan for it. We know that certain actions will create a situation of fear, so we avoid those actions. We even have cute phrases to describe why we stay where we are afraid: "better the evil you know than the evil you don't".

Watching that spider's flight response made me want to give in to a fear, any fear. It made me want to experience the absolute freedom of jumping into the unknown to escape a terrifying thing. Damn what I don't know, and screw planning for it. I wanted to flee, and not only because I hate spiders.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Resolution: follow-through

One of my biggest problems in life is a lack of follow-through. Not on big, important things - I am responsible, I pay my bills, I keep promises to my family and myself, and I'm generally reliable. No, I mean things like regular exercise, healthy diet, yoga, learning goals, saving money, not eating out... that sort of thing. I'm terrible at all of that. I have a basket of knitting that has at least half a dozen half-finished projects (or barely started projects, depending on your perspective), unread books on my bookshelf that will make a better and smarter person, and oodles of craft projects in various stages.

So my goal for 2009 is follow-through. Since everything that is important to me comes in list-form, here's a short list of things I want to follow through on:

  • Learning web design
  • Regular exercise and yoga (no, really, I may bite the bullet and join a gym where I can do both)
  • Healthy diet -this and the yoga go hand in hand, and if I can accomplish this the exercise will be a piece of cake for me
  • Completing my knitting/craft projects
  • Write more

This list is actually quite a bit longer; I have shortened it to my most immediate short term goals so as not to so totally overwhelm myself that I don't do any of it (another problem I have). I have a completely separate list for work; while I am highly organized and efficient at work, I have a follow through problem there too.

It's possible I need quarterly review of my list(s), just to make sure I'm on track.

Resolutely,

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Derailed

I'm derailed. I have a lot to say, but I'm not sure how to get it out. My holidays were quiet, since Mr. J and I aren't really into holidays. We visited my step-daughter's family, visited with my family, spent some time with Mr. J's family.

The past couple weeks have passed in a sort of haze for me. Work has been slow and feels pointless. I enjoyed the snow, which is rare ... both the fact that we had it, and the fact that I enjoyed it.

I have reflections, lots of them; I wanted to talk about how much I've changed this past year; how much I've grown and evolved and adapted emotionally. I wanted to talk about how I spend so much of my time zen-happy and filled with a sense of peace and spirituality. But I can't find the words to describe that.

It's a new year now, and I desperately want to do something to symbolically usher the new year in, but I've got this headache that I've had for a week and a big empty place inside me where all my symbolic spiritual stuff comes from. I feel empty and useless, in ways I cannot describe and don't understand at all.

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