A Reality Check For A Busy Body

I wish I could say I’ve been away; somewhere tropical sipping cocktails with tiny umbrellas, taking pictures of my sun-kissed toes which I then posted on Instagram for my 4 followers but the truth, dear readers and friends, is far uglier, even sinister.

I have been busy.

Mad busy.  Mostly busy with work but also busy dealing with Life’s unexpected challenges, like yesterday’s unforeseen trip to the doctor for a tetanus shot because…

of busyness.

There I was in the kitchen, mobile phone cradled between left ear and raised shoulder, talking about a photographic shoot our company had commissioned, while opening a can of tomato paste when the call ended and I  rushed to complete the task at hand because I had a campaign to finalize and a How-To doc to submit and so, lifted the rest of the lid with what I thought was my thumbnail but in fact I used my thumb and there was blood, lots of blood and I had a flashback to a day, not so long ago, when we had to rush my eldest son to the doctor when he was four (maybe five) for a tetanus shot when he stood on a rusty nail..

The doctor was kind but he looked at me disapprovingly when I explained that I wasn’t really thinking.  I just did it like I was Superwoman because some days, most days lately, I feel like Superwoman.   And right then, I knew I was in trouble. I was trying to make dinner in under ten minutes which is unusual for me, because I love cooking. Correction: Used to love cooking.

What happened?

While I write this, I realize that ‘my word for 2015’ – the word I chose for myself this year was ATTENTION. In fact, there were two words: WONDER and ATTENTION and the two are interchangeable now, because if I am not paying attention I am missing out on all the wonder….

Just this past week I had the opportunity to visit one of the world’s most spectacular gardens – The Butchart Gardens, on Vancouver Island.  I went to the island on a business trip and then, since hubby accompanied me, decided to stay on an extra day.

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‘Sunken Garden’ Butchart Gardens – photo: Y McAdam

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Sweet peas! LOVE them! Photo: Y McAdam

One of the first thoughts I had on getting back home was ‘I have to go back’.  I have to go back and drink in all that beauty and sink my toes into the dark earth and watch for the unfurling of petals; the rustling of leaves.

I’m less harried now.  My heart is lighter – happier.  And it’s because I’m sharing this with you and because I am writing again, and the writing is not for work, it’s not going to pay the bills but it fills up my Spiritual tank.

On How To Survive Conferences And Not Get Tripped Up By A Word

At a conference earlier this week, I had to get up and share my views on our ‘company culture’ which inevitably led to the usage of the word ‘diva’.  Well because we have our fair share of divas… and martyrs in my industry. Who doesn’t?

So this post is really about that word – diva – but it is also a short ‘how to’ post on surviving conferences (we call them camps in our industry) that go on for days.

Tip #1

Play games.  For example:  I play a game where I count how many times Steve gets to use much-used and therefore stale expressions like ‘from the ground up’ or ‘yesterday’s weather’.

OR

How many times Sally decides to abbreviate everything for the sake of clarity confusion like ‘so in XPSPR we noted that PRV didn’t happen in time for XGT to process the order’

I have a small notebook dedicated to abbreviations.  Most of which I am still stumbling through.  Sally you see, is a far superior being in every way and I’m afraid if I don’t get to understand at least 20% of what she is saying, my bosses will soon realize they made a mistake hiring me.

Tip #2

Do drink at the company dinners, if so inclined, but not too much. No one wants to hear how you’re ‘hungover’ during your ‘showcase’ event or presentation.

Tip #3

Don’t use a word during your own presentation or talk that you know always trips you up, leaving you red-faced because everyone knows ‘diva’ rhymes with ‘geezer’ but for some reason you pronounce as ‘diver’ because your neurons don’t fire as they should …and then blame your flawed tongue on the mojitos from the night before.

Do you have a word that continually trips you up, no matter how many times you practice saying it in front of the mirror?

Collecting Stories

I’m in the middle of a 14 day work shift.  I’m having the kind of month that I just know I won’t survive without my daily attitude adjustment, double shots of Emergen-C and quick intervals of yoga stretches (if I drank coffee I’d be on a caffeine drip).

I had to participate in a 4 day trade show and if you’ve ever exhibited at one of these long 12 hour day trade shows you have an idea of how I’m feeling.  Knackered.

Of course my way of getting through any event or function is to connect with people because not only do I like people but I also like their stories.  Stories energize me.

How do you stay energized in stressful situations?  

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I have never had a problem with getting people to tell me their stories.  Of course whether their stories are true or false I wouldn’t know and I’m not sure it actually matters.  I don’t intend to write biographies but I do intend to steal elements of their stories.

Does that make me a bad person? 😀

Which makes me wonder.  What is the purpose or intention behind the story-writing?  Do we write because we are collectors and memory-keepers or futurists and mirrors?  Perhaps, all of these?

Over the course of the last few days I have met a man who survived a grizzly bear attack and wears a bear claw to prove it; another man whose father saved a few hundred Polish Jews from Hitler’s invading army (in such an ingenious manner that I can’t believe more decent people didn’t think of it); a young woman who raised all five of her younger siblings on her own and a man who while out hunting for deer was himself hunted by a pack of wolves.

You can imagine how all this has the writer in me buzzing with excitement.  I can’t wait to get a day or two off so I can start planning another batch of short stories despite having to work on two others that require extensive ‘tweaking’.

How do stories wing their way to you?

How to Sign-Off on Email

ImageI am especially glad that for my job (the one that pays the bills) I don’t have to make or answer many calls.  I have held jobs where I was on the telephone all day.  And I mean all day.  And I wasn’t even in Sales. Maybe I have been put off telephone conversation by past experiences and the monumental effort it took to sound cheery and upbeat on days I felt and looked like something my cat found under a loose floorboard.  Maybe it’s just that I prefer face to face conversation or if I can’t meet with you then I prefer keeping in touch via email and letters (yes I actually write and post letters and postcards etc).    This then brings me to the topic of email etiquette because I spend a lot of time on email for work.

How to sign-off an email?

It’s not really the same as ending a letter is it? What do you think?

I mean I always sign-off my personal letters with a flourish and a kiss and a string of hearts and (if you’re really special) a doodle. At work I end all business letters with ‘Sincerely’.  But ‘Sincerely’ doesn’t work in emails.  I have yet to come across one like that.  What I do find and I have to admit I don’t like it are many incoming emails from business professionals (most of whom are strangers) ending off with just their names.  No sign- off.  No ‘Regards‘ No ‘Yours Truly’ No  ‘Best‘ – nada.  Do you think that’s ok? 

I know why people do that in business.  They don’t bother with a valediction because they don’t want to come across as insincere.  But here’s where I believe we fail.  People are drawn to people who are not afraid to show their humanity.  People with warmth.  So why not end an email with ‘All the best’ or ‘Kind Regards’.

Grammarly wrote a great article on Email etiquette where they recommend the best way to end an email is to sign-off with ‘best’.  Personally I think its a cop out.  It doesn’t say anything; it’s meaningless.  I want to believe you wish me well, even if you don’t.

What is your preferred sign-off?

Why you should quit that dead end job

Have you ever taken a job you knew was wrong for you?  About six years ago I did just that.   We had recently moved to Vancouver and since we were still feeling our way around and getting to know people, my husband and I both took the first jobs we were offered.   My husband was lucky.   It turned out to be a great fit for him and for his employers and he is still working there today.  I on the other hand knew I had made a mistake the minute I sat down at my designated desk.    I quit on the third day.  I blame the experience on two things:

1)      The interviewer’s skills (or lack thereof)

2)      My reluctance to ask more questions.  Had I asked the right questions I would have known that I would be handling cash all day and handing over keys with monotonous regularity.  (Sounds like I took a job at a motel doesn’t it? but it wasn’t ) and it was not the job I applied for.   The job I applied for had words like ‘Executive Assistant’ and ‘Superstar’ and ‘Team Development’’.  

Perhaps you’re thinking I was rash in quitting like that, considering the times we’re living in and I wouldn’t blame you.   But I believe we should only accept those jobs or projects that will challenge us to be better and do better.  This philosophy doesn’t necessarily equate to high paying jobs.   In fact the job I took after that one was a low wage job at a clinic.   I learned on the job and I was challenged everyday by what I saw and the stories I heard.   

So if there is a point to this, it’s this. Don’t settle.  Ever. Not with the wrong partner or the wrong hair-do or the wrong job or the wrong story.  

 

 

Do. Because it’s good for you.

In my twenties I read every self-help book I could lay my hands on.  This included classics like Norman Vincent Peale’s Power of Positive Thinking, James Allen’s As a Man Thinketh and the lesser known but equally worthy Florence Scovel Shinn’s The Game of Life.  I was hungry for knowledge, especially any so called ‘secret’ knowledge that would get me promoted quicker or married sooner or making millions.   The problem was I was going to scale mountains, this included Mt. Everest, in my twenties.  I was going to own my own house and I was going to be married by the time I was thirty and it was all going to happen because I had a vision board on a wall of my small apartment bedroom. 

It certainly didn’t help that I was a lazy cow or that I thought that if I stared long enough at Brad Pitt he would call or that the dollars would translate into lottery millions.  He didn’t and I didn’t win the lottery.  Well, not yet. 

I still plan on achieving certain S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) goals that, back then in my twenties, were certainly S.M.A.R.T.  Not so much now. Like, living with a jungle tribe in the Amazon or learning how to touch my head with my feet while doing a handstand in yoga (known as the Handstand Scorpion). 

In order to achieve anything of substance you have to actually go for it and you have to work for it.  And work hard. And you have to do things you probably never imagined you would have to do like wait on tables or clean other peoples’ houses or run errands for your boss.  And it’s all good.  Because experience builds character and what writer (with perhaps the exception of Emily Dickinson) could not do with more experiences?