Use Your Words, People!

I’m a wordy person.  I love words.  I love reading them and writing them and loving them and I shall call them George. But even for me there is a limit.

When you are using so many words to describe something that you are no longer describing that something anymore, you have gone too far.  Too far, my angel!

“That word, I do not think it means what you think it means” – The Princess Bride

I notice this a lot in job postings, which is a little sick and twisted, to be honest.  In my head, which is, granted, occupied by Hamsters, I happen to believe that being clear and concise in describing what you are looking for in an employee is the best way to go.  This SHOULD save you time and weed out the folks who are not capable.

But that’s not what’s happening, not at all.

Here are just a few recent examples:

“This is a busy and hands-on role that will include extensive diary management, travel coordination and itineraries, working very closely with the team, coordination of meetings/seminars/conferences, maintaining effective internal and external stakeholder relationships.

No two days will be the same and they will change quickly. You will need to be able to think on your feet and act efficiently and effectively.”

What does this really say?

In this job you will be on call 24/7 managing the whims of at least one executive, and likely more.  You will be expected to know everyone else’s schedules and deadlines while they piss off for long lunches and short working days.  You will likely have to take on several projects that are half-done by someone else just to make deadlines.  You will be working for people that do not typically read their emails with comprehension the first time around, and so they will suddenly realise what they are meant to do at the last minute, which will highly impact you.  And only you. This is a job where you will need to accept that lack of planning on their part WILL constitute an emergency on yours.  This is also likely a position that will require coffee fetching, trips to the dry cleaners, and other tasks not related to your professional experience and brain capacity.

This one is cute too:

“…Reporting to the Chief Operations Officer, the EP loves solving problems. A solution focused “How do we make this happen?” approach ensures delivery…is managed efficiently, effectively and to a high quality.

The EP’s entrepreneurial spirit drives a love of numbers; adopting and championing department P&L.”

This should be read to mean the following:

Your boss will come in with great new ideas and no concept of if it’s even possible.  It will be your job to “make the magic happen.” You will also be the most hated person in the office, micro-managing everyone else’s expenditures and reports. 

This one falls into the “and other duties as assigned”….

“In addition to your highly developed interpersonal and communication skills, you will also be customer focused, professionally presented, demonstrate initiative and be willing to assist the customers of the Centre. Please note your availability to work on occasional weekends and evenings will be paramount…”

This translates to:

In addition to showing literacy and an understanding of the need for personal grooming, you will do whatever it takes to make the customer happy, generally at your own expense.  You will also be expected to wear many different hats, not necessarily related to the job we’ve hired you for, because we run our organisation with a small staff.  You will have no life. 

As with love, there is a job for everyone and a person for every job.  There are actually people out there who enjoy micro-managing everyone else, relish P&Ls, have no desire to have a life outside of work, and don’t mind fetching your dry cleaning.  But tell it like it is, man, for the love of humanity.

All the lingo and HR developed phrases are smoke screens, created with the expectation that you won’t read the fine print, and it won’t matter because by the time you realise what they really hired you to do, you’ve already committed yourself.

Life is too short people.  Use your words.

Don’t Be That Guy….

So, my partner and I love music, and we go to see live music whenever we can. This past weekend was a big one, Cat Empire on Friday and The Sunnyboys on Saturday.

Both shows were general admission, so you know right away that means standing for the whole show, and with popular gigs, you’re not going to have a lot of elbow room. But that’s part of the deal, and if I don’t know to expect that now, at 40, then I should turn in all my marbles and stay home.

So you know, you take it all in stride, and look forward to the music. That’s the whole reason you are there anyway, right?

Or so I thought.

It’s the reason WE were there. Can’t say the same for everyone else.

Sure, you may be shoulder to shoulder, wall to wall, for a couple of hours, but there is still some basic etiquette to observe…so here’s a few examples of “that guy” that we ran into over the weekend….please, stop the madness!

The Stoned Guy
The Cat Empire was a free show at an outdoor venue in Melbourne. Great weather, great night, and the 1,000th show for the Empire. Awesome. You know when it is free it’s going to be packed, and this was definitely the case. All the same, most folks still tried to give their neighbours a little breathing space, after all, you don’t stand still when the Empire is playing.

So all was great, until The Stoned Guy entered my personal dance space. Well, he more than entered my personal dance space, he almost crawled into my pocket.

Picture this, even though the venue is well full, there’s still the luxury of about 3 feet in front of me. I know it’s not going to last forever, but it was cool at the time. So, enter The Stoned Guy. Maybe 19 years old, too cool for school, sunglasses at night, you get the picture? He’s got three feet of real estate in front of me to make himself comfortable, and he chooses to stand directly in front of me, with the back of his shoes ON MY TOES. Honestly. Being, well, let’s just say, a little bit altered, he continued, over the next few songs to lean back into me, until he had separated me from my boyfriend in the crowd. At that point I told him we were swapping places, and physically moved him. I don’t think he had any idea that I’d moved him over about three feet.

The Drunk Guy
Same show, it’s a great night. The band is having a blast, the crowd is having a blast. And, being as it’s a milestone for the band, the lead singer decides to have a little chat with all of us. EVERYONE is listening except for ONE guy, who is talking at the top of his lungs to a group of people he apparently just met that he was so excited to have met (we all know, everyone at the show heard the whole thing), and, being drunk, we all heard it a bunch of times. So, I have no idea what the band was talking about, and I know way more about the drunk guy in the middle of the crowd than I want to.

Ugly Shirt Dude
This was the next night, at The Sunnyboys. As my boyfriend put it, this guy was clueless when he bought that shirt in the 70s and he’s clueless now. He’s a variation of The Stoned Guy, but adds to the space invasion by forcing me to stare at the back of the ugliest shirt I’ve ever seen (and I grew up in the 70s, so I know what I’m talking about here). He hit the whole row of people that I was in, because we would all get sick of it, and tell him to move somewhere else. I mean, I’m not tall by any stretch – I’m a whopping 5’3″, and this guy was easily over six feet, because it wasn’t just the short people in the crowd that couldn’t see past him. He would just plant himself right in front of you, cross his arms and stand there, like a statue. You didn’t even get the benefit of him dancing around a little bit to at least get a glimpse of the band.

And finally…

The “Oh Hi!!!” Girl
She actually reminds me of Big Bird, but it wasn’t her physical appearance that puts her on the list. Our theory is that she’s a groupie, she certainly seemed to know a bunch of Musos in the room, but she wasn’t in the VIP section…so who knows. But she wasn’t there to see the show, she was there to be seen seeing the show. I think that she only ever looked towards the stage by accident as she swivelled her head around looking to see who she might see. I swear, every time someone crossed through the crowd, she would light up and pull them over for A CONVERSATION. DURING A LIVE SHOW.

Of course, it’s hard to hear people talk during a live show. BECAUSE OF THE MUSIC. THAT WE ARE ALL THERE TO HEAR. So of course, she needed to talk louder, and repeat the same thing over and over….I think I missed two whole songs as she was having her little reunion right in front of me for a while. Finally she moved away from us and closer to the sound booth where she got told off by another person who was actually there for the band. Imagine that.

Honestly, if you want to have a conversation, get the heck out of the middle of the venue. It’ll take less time, you’ll probably only have to say everything once, and the rest of us can get on with enjoying the music. And if you’re greatest aspiration is to be a statue, why bother going into a crowded place where no one can appreciate your ability to stand so still for so long? Find a nice park or courtyard where you can be noticed and appreciated for your skill, but stop standing in front of me.

Please, if you go to a show, don’t be that guy. Be mindful of the folks around you so that everyone can enjoy the show, and get a little groove on. It’s not that hard. Really.

How A 1970s Girl Was Inspired by a 1950s Woman

A friend of mine from high-school just shared this http://themattwalshblog.com/2013/10/09/youre-a-stay-at-home-mom-what-do-you-do-all-day/ on Facebook. I’ve seen it pop up over the last few days but for whatever reason, didn’t read it.

Until now.

First, I’d like to say to @MattWalshRadio: Congrats, dude – you’ve nailed it smack on the head, and I appreciate the fact that you appreciate what is really important. Ferris Beuler said “If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it.” And personally, I think we all miss it, most of the time.

I was born in 1973. My parents divorced when I was around 5 years old (which was better for all of us, trust me), and in the 1970s that meant I lived full time with Mom. Now, she wasn’t a bad woman, but she wasn’t right, in the head, and as an adult I can now say that she truly did the best she could.

I remember watching “Leave it to Beaver” when I was a kid, and I remember that she would either recoil at it, or make snide comments, but I really respected June Cleaver. She had it going on. That household ran like a clock, and the whole family knew that they needed her to do what she did so that they could do what they did.

Mom went back to college maybe a year after the divorce. As a result, I basically grew up on university campuses and spent more time around her professors and classmates than my own peers, but that suited me better anyway. I grew up with all the opportunities ahead of me that she felt were important, opportunities that she had to fight for. A totally different world from the Cleaver family.

Mom was born in 1952. The expectation from her parents was that she should meet a nice guy, get married, raise children and take care of a household. Well, from first-hand experience, let me tell you, this was really not her thing. I never met her mom, my grandmother, but from what I know, she would have been super proud of her. My grandfather, well, let’s just say it took a bit longer for him to really understand WHY she would even think about something like archaeology and anthropology, but he did get there. Because he loved her.

So, there I was, along for the ride if you asked me, but she needed me to be a part of everything. I remember her asking me to quiz her before her undergrad and graduate exams. I remember going to her classes when I needed a break from my own school (because I was socially awkward and couldn’t relate to my own peer group, so trust me, I needed a break). I remember emulating her with my very own legal pad and flair tip pen. I remember her linguistics professor asking for me to come to class with her because I was young enough to be able to pronounce Tagrinian words that had a glottal stop because I was young enough, basically, that I didn’t realize “I Shouldn’t Be Able To.” As a result, now, I am a polyglot, speaking over five languages, and that is a skill I cherish about myself. And I am grateful to her for.

What didn’t I learn from her? How to cook, how to sew, how to balance a checkbook, how to clean, all of the “normal” things that her parents, my grandparents, felt it was most important to know. For a girl. All of the things that I knew June Cleaver knocked out of the park every day. All of the things I’m figuring out now, at 40.

Over the course of my 40 years walking this earth so far I have been blessed to be able to: design lighting for the stage (and an Irish pub in NYC, who knew); work as a corporate and IP paralegal; be part of a founding team for a children’s theatre that continues to rock the house to this day (long past my involvement); care for and handle alligators and snakes and vicious snapping turtles. I have been a development editor for “The Complete Idiot’s Guides,” and I have been a Production Manager for one of the biggest touring entertainment companies until the end of last year.

I have loved everything I have done in my life. And that’s the key. Everything I did before I did something else enhanced what I was able to bring to that something else. I am weird, I am beyond quirky, but I live by one major philosophy that I absorbed from both of my parents. I may not have lived every day with my Dad, but he is my best friend, and book-ended my Mother’s unique approach to parenting with this:

“I don’t care if you flip burgers at MacDonalds, as long as when you get up in the morning you are excited to go and do what you do.”

When I got that gig as Production Manager for that huge touring company, a lot of people made a fuss. “Ooh, you’re the only woman PM (at the time)” “You’re breaking down barriers.”

Glass ceilings, responsibility to my fellow women-folk, yada yada yada.

I was merely following the path ahead of me by doing what I loved to do.

In the process of doing that, I met the man that I love to love.

A few years ago, while we were both working on tour together, he needed to go home to take care of his Dad. He was conflicted at first about telling me, because he knew he needed to go home and do this, but he had this crazy thought that he would lose me if he did. I did my best to disavow him of that notion, and it must have worked, because here we are, a few years later, and we are together and figuring out how to do this whole thing, together. I don’t really know why he ever thought he would lose me, not for certain, but I guess it might be because I was my job. And I don’t regret that. He knew that for me, I am what I can do, and maybe he thought that I would choose what I was doing over him. Fair enough, because at that point, what I did consumed me.

I am what I can do. A powerful thought, but it can’t be everything.
A few months in to my still being away on tour, and his being at home, in Australia (which isn’t near to ANYTHING, by the way)…I really didn’t think I could make it. I hated being away from him. I hated knowing he was slowly saying goodbye to his only remaining parent, and I WASN’T THERE. I did my best to be there whenever possible, and that huge company we worked for supported us in ways I never would have imagined, but I really wanted to BE THERE. I wanted to do the simple things, like make soup, take out the garbage, get groceries, give a hug. Anything, any little thing. I wanted to be his June Cleaver.

But we had agreed that I would stick it out, because at one point he thought he might come back to work for a while, so we were very pragmatic about it. When his father, who was a beautiful man, did pass, I knew he was home for good. And I knew, I wanted to be there. So we talked about it, and we agreed on a timeline. The show I was managing had some complicated markets that required a lot of pre-planning that I was already in the midst of. I knew I wanted to deliver the show to those markets. Yes, in my role, I wanted those marks on my belt. I wanted those achievements. But he also didn’t want me to regret leaving. He knew I had to finish this too. It was tough, and again there were several times where I was so torn — I was committed to my team, but I wanted to be Home. And he wanted me home too, but he knew this was important to me. Home is where we are together, but that can only happen when we support eachother.

So we stayed the course, we stuck to the plan (with several pep talks from him to me), and we are now well on the other side.

I announced my departure almost a year prior to my actual resignation date to give my bosses and my team time to adjust, but also to give myself the time to leave things the best I could. I was leaving one family to create another, and I wanted to make sure I did it honourably.

Maybe because of my mother’s unique qualities, in the past, no one had ever asked me when I would get married or have kids. But when I announced to my friends and family that I was resigning from this position to move to Australia to be with my Love, well….

Suddenly, it all came out.

“But what are you going to do?” “When are you getting married?” “When will you have babies? (ok, I’m 40, we have two furry babies that I don’t need to worry about sending off to the prom from a walker, so we’re good there). And the kicker:

“HOW CAN YOU RESIGN THIS POSITION. YOU ARE THE ONLY WOMAN IN THIS POSITION IN THIS COMPANY. YOU ARE ONE OF THE FEW WOMEN AT THIS LEVEL IN THIS INDUSTRY. HOW CAN YOU GIVE THAT UP?!?!”

Ok, let’s all have a group reality check. First, I’m not too worried about the marriage thing, my Love just imported me to his home. Literally. He vouched for me and made declarations of his feelings to his own government and everything to make sure I could be here. I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty huge to me. And as far as my position before? I earned everything I achieved, through blood, sweat and tears….NOT GENDER. So it really shouldn’t matter whether or not I decide to make a change. I do not believe that I am being arrogant when I say that I believe I was the right person for that position for the time I held it. And I am proud of what I achieved with my team. But I did NOT give anything up when I decided to resign. I listened to what my parents taught me in their various ways, and I knew that the core message was to follow my heart. And that’s what I have always done. And that’s what I am doing now.

So, now? I work from home. Oooooh. Bet that got a few people there. Let me tell you, even I thought I’d have a few luxurious mornings when I was counting the days until I would be Home. But the reality is, I didn’t just come home, to Australia, to the other side of the world from everything, to be self employed. I didn’t come here with the primary purpose of work at all (I just know I get bored easy and people seem to insist on exchanging money for goods so it’s kind of necessary) but no…I came home to be with my Love and to take care of US to the best of my ability. And I don’t sleep in, I’m up earlier than I was when I was on tour with a “Job” and I constantly feel like there are just not enough hours in the day.

I wake up in the morning and sure, I’m thinking about contracts and schedules and things for the work I’m currently doing now, but bigger than that is what do I need to do today for us? What am I making for dinner? What do our furry babies need to continue to grow into healthy, happy cats? What do I need to do to take care of our house, the house my Love grew up in?

My to do lists are usually like this:
Plan menu for the week
Get plants for back yard
Sow grass seeds on front lawn
Clean grout
Get cat food
Invoice for March
Create template for genealogy research questionnaire

So you see, the “work” that generates an income hits the bottom of the list as it comes to mind. That doesn’t mean I don’t do it, but to me the balance of this list is just fine.

I LOVE planning a meal for when my Love comes home from work and seeing him go for seconds.
I LOVE being able to be here to do silly things like get more of the muesli bars he likes to have for snacks at work.
I LOVE being here when he comes home.
I LOVE taking care of our home, together.
I LOVE the fact that we have regular TV shows that we watch together.
I LOVE being Home.

I still work for that huge company, as a sub-contractor. I’ve also re-started a prior endeavour of providing genealogy research. These are things I love doing. But I love being where I am more than that, and I love finding the best way I can to take care of US everyday more than anything else. My Love? He supports me, he knows I need to work, but he also says thank you for everything I do for US all the time. He seems to constantly find things for us to do together that I will love, he enjoys surprising me, he keeps me laughing, and nurtures my soul in ways that I would never have thought possible. He even puts up with me being a bit of a “Monica” and is adapting. With humour.

So did I give up something for this?

Not at all. I hit the benchmarks I needed to hit for my own professional development. Honestly, I got what I needed from the corporate entertainment world (now there’s an oxymoron) that I was a rare component of (apparently, being a woman, whatever). And I bring all of that to where I am now.

Which, I have to say, blows my mind every day.

June Cleaver, in a different generation, put in the Production Management position I recently resigned from, would have blown everyone away.

Go ahead, think about what it takes to run a household. What it takes to make sure everyone is eating healthy, and that the cupboards are stocked, and the house is clean. Really think about that. And go on, tell me it’s not work. I dare ya.

To everyone out there that works from home – in any capacity – I salute you. I’m just figuring it out now, and the learning curve is steep!

Give Me all Your Marbles

Ages ago, somewhere in the mid 1990s, I was working for a concert venue in Rhode Island, and we had a comedian on the slate for the evening. I am ashamed to say that I cannot, for the life of me, remember his name, but I do remember one particular bit that he did….I think of it at least once a day. If anyone out there knows who this comedian is, please let me know, because I’d love to give him credit for continuing to make me laugh every day.

The premise of this bit was simple.

Everyone should start the day with ten marbles. If someone catches you doing or saying something stupid, you have to give them a marble. When you are out of marbles, YOU MUST GO HOME. That’s it for the day. You are done.

I fervently believe that this is a system that should be incorporated globally.

So, that person ahead of you in traffic who has had their directional on for 5 miles and is in the center lane of a three lane road? Personally, I believe that every time they pass a turning and do not take it, and still keep their directional on, they should lose a marble. That would get them off the road pretty quick.

People who not only approve but INSTALL billboards with horrific grammar and spelling mistakes. C’mon – the letters are BIGGER THAN YOU. That’s gotta be worth at least a few marbles right there, if not a week’s worth.

People who write tax codes, for any country. That’s a lot of marbles.

The guy who came to my front door yesterday saying he was not a salesman, but that he was looking for community interest in solar panels, which he sells…..yeah. At least one marble.

Me, when I pour the hot water in my coffee cup, rather than the coffee maker….yep, that’s a marble.

The guy who thought it was a great idea to put up a sign in downtown Boston during the middle of the Big Dig that said “If Rome had been built in a day we would have hired their contractors.” Funny the first time I was stuck in construction traffic staring at it….not the subsequent gazillion times….Marbles please.

If you say “do you see what I’m saying?”. Give me a marble. You are not a cartoon, so no, I cannot see what you are saying.

The great benefit to this philosophy, is this…when you start racking up the marble count as you go through your day, and assigning a marble value to the stupid things we all do. And yes, we all do stupid things. Well, it’s just that much more difficult to get angry about it. For me, it makes me crack a grin, adjust my marble tally, and move on. It becomes a story, rather than a moment in my life when I might have been inspired to do violence.

The list of marble offenses is long, I’ve barely scratched the surface here….but it gets the juices flowing, doesn’t it?

So far, I’ve started off well by making my coffee correctly the first time around. I still have all my marbles for the day, but I haven’t left the house yet.

Carpe Diem….

I like to think of myself as being organized and productive. My other half calls me “Monica” from Friends, as a gentle jab to let me know maybe I’m trying to make things too organized. He’s constantly reminding me that everything does not have to be planned. And these are good reminders. Necessary reminders. It can be pretty easy for me to get mired in the little stuff and let bigger opportunities pass me by.

An example, we a fortunate enough to have a boat and about a zillion fishing rods. We both love to fish. We both love to be out on the water. The only hitch in the plan for me is it usually requires getting up well before the sun, which I feel is…unnatural. After all, if the sun has not gotten up yet, why should we?

So, I was dragging my feet about taking advantage of this beautiful Australian summer weather and going out on the boat, purely because I didn’t want to get out of bed that early. That’s the only reason.

Well, yesterday, I picked up my feet, we set our alarms for 4:30 in the morning, prepped everything the night before and off we went. And I got to spend a beautiful sunrise with the love of my life out on the water in Port Phillip Bay, with half a dozen rods in the water and camera at the ready.

We had a gorgeous morning out on the water….absolutely gorgeous – the weather cooperated, and while the big Snapper did not, I did manage to catch quite a few pinkies which was just as fun.

WHY….WHY….WHY do I insist on having to learn the same lesson over and over and over?

Because, of course, what happened? We had huge smiles on our faces, enjoyed a beautiful morning, and there I was, in the truck on the way back home begging my other half not to let my whinging about early morning alarms get in the way of us doing this again soon.

That’s just one example. I also fall victim to procrastinating the persnickity jobs around the house that I dread doing, but feel hugely proud of myself when they are done. And really, persnickity they may indeed be, but it’s not taking a whole lot out of my day to do them, and I love the result…why put it off?

It’s a dangerous cycle, and it all comes back to overthinking things, something I am an old hand at. I think about it too much, when it really would be best, most of the time, to just jump in and do it. I try to remember to stop and smell the roses, but sometimes I forget that stopping to smell the roses does NOT actually include stopping and overthinking and talking myself out of things that are good.

So today my motto is Carpe Diem, today is the day to enjoy the fruits of our labors, to enjoy eachother, and to take care of the things that are most important….yep, Today is the DAY!

I’ll post back tomorrow and let you know how long this leaf stays turned over, but I am determined to think positive!

Where the heck did February go?!?!?

Really, I don’t know if February checked in with any of you guys out there before it decided to piss off, but it certainly didn’t check in with me first.

And while we’re at it, where did 2013 go? And my twenties? And when did my itty bitty kittens turn into mountain-lion sized cats?

The hamsters and I have just come out of a conference with ourselves, and we’ve decided this whole thing is just not on.

And can anyone really, incontrovertibly, prove, without a shred of doubt, that there are truly 24 hours in a day?

We think there’s a conspiracy afoot.

I mean, think about it….how many to do lists just cannot possibly get finished in a single day? Don’t start with me about unrealistic expectations and reasonable goals, my goals are perfectly reasonable, the time just disappears. I mean, there is no reason I can’t do all the grocery shopping, read two books, watch a favourite movie, Skype all of my family, write three letters, do the laundry, send my invoices, and mend my boyfriend’s pajama pants all in one day, if there were really a full 24 hours.

There really has to be something going on here. Let’s take daylight savings time, for starters, which just mucks everything up. And how does it make sense if it’s not the same everywhere? I’m in Australia, and our daylight savings is different from the USA….and we’re already in the future here compared to my folks in Boston, MA, so yeah….something is definitely afoot.

Last I checked, I was still on tour, it was early December 2013, and I was waiting with bated breath to be able to get on a plane and fly home to Melbourne to be here permanently. It was taking forever at the time. Now, I look up and suddenly, almost overnight, it’s basically March of 2014.

I just don’t know how it happens. The hamsters don’t have any answers either.

I think the kittens know. When I asked them they remained silent but got these looks on their faces….like they knew, but they just wouldn’t tell me. Maybe the cats are behind the conspiracy, I don’t know, but could someone please help me find all my lost hours? They’ve got to be out there somewhere.

Maybe with all the lost left socks.

I am determined to get to the bottom of this.

At a Loss for Words

So I’ve been at a loss for words, literally, for the last several months. It’s not that nothing has been going on in my life, or that I’ve been in a coma, or that the world stopped spinning….I just kept hitting “Add New Post” right here on this very blog and just couldn’t seem to go any further with it.

I think my hamsters were stuck, somehow. Usually they have lots to say, so much to say, in fact, that they prevent any regular sleep and generally leave me feeling a bit out of breath.

Lately, though, they’ve been pretty quiet. Well except for one particularly diabolical one that I hadn’t heard from in a while, but he always manages to tie up the other hamsters, tape their little mouths shut and yell until he’s the only one I can hear.

That hamster we try to keep locked up and away from the rest of us. He’s insidious, devious and clever at finding new ways to crawl into the space between your ears. He is arrogant, full of himself and convinced he’s always right and everyone else is always wrong. His formal name is FEAR but I like to call him by all sorts of other names when I’M feeling particularly creative.

But I guess that’s why I was at a loss for words all this time. I mean, really, here I am, about to embark on an adventure that I was AFRAID would never happen and it all rested on whether or not I would be granted my partner visa for Australia. Well, Mr. Know-it-all-evil-nasty-fear-hamster, I DID get my visa and I DO get to start my life there very soon. Contrary to your perception Mr. Stupid-Furry-Fearmonger, Australia did not rise up against me to prevent me from being able to finally be in the same place as my boyfriend so we can start our life together. We win, you lose. So there.

Of course now is all about the waiting. I suppose life is always about the waiting, but really it`s about patience, which I work REALLY hard to have but don`t always seem to be patient enough to wait around for it. And don`t even start with me on the whole `The reward of patience is patience`thing….that is guaranteed to make smoke come out of my ears. But it is about waiting, and that is the time the Furry Fearmonger likes the most — when you are waiting, you don`t just need patience, you need to have at least a little bit of faith….waiting eats away at faith, if you let it, and if you listen to the Furry Fearmonger.

The Furry Fearmonger also doesn`t seem to like the other hamsters, the hamsters that I am perfectly ok with living in my brain. I`m not sure what he does but I would think that if there`s three of them and one of him that they should win and be able to keep him locked away from the rest of us, but he managed to get the upper hand somehow.

And then I realized, he would continue to have the upper hand as long as I kept quiet and let him take over in my head. So, after many more months than I care to admit since my last point, I am breaking my silence and declaring:

DIE FURRY FEARMONGER!!!!

We don`t need your kind around here anymore.

The Tao of Pooh

poohOk, so by now we should have all realized that my hamsters are numbered three (and the number shall be three, not two, not four), and therefore they do not run in conjunction with eachother, but typically in opposition. This is the only way I can explain the blog post that follows. If you have not realized this, you have not properly read my blog, and I therefore assign you homework. Go back, then it will be clear.

So, while trolling facebook, I ran across a link to this: http://www.rantsfrommommyland.com/2013/01/a-letter-to-my-kids-because-im-40-and.html

It’s awesome. Go read it, and then come back please.

Now, I don’t have kids, but I do have two fairy god-daughters (and they really think I am a fairy god-mother, it’s awesome–my oldest of the two, even at 12 years old, still stoutly persists in the belief that I really am a fairy godmother), two other non-fairy god-children (one of whom is named after me, bless her cotton socks), and a niece and nephew that I adore, and a bunch of “my” children that actually belong to my dearest friends but I would steal in a heartbeat because they are so great. So, with all of that likely un-necessary back-story, hopefully you get why I get this Mommy Rant and applaud it.

I WISH when I was a kid that someone had written this letter to me. Well done, rantsfrommommyland!

But it got me thinking, since I didn’t have a letter like this when I was a kid, what did I have?

Well, I had a mother who, although significantly unwell, introduced me to worlds of language and people and tolerance and music that most other “traditional” mothers likely never would have…and as a result, my cultural reference is significantly rich. It did leave me a bit linguistically confused when I’m fatigued, though – as I tend to short-circuit and speak in multiple languages in a single sentence, but hey, #firstworldproblems, right?

I also had a father who, while not always physically with me, imbued me with two very important philosophies:
1. The only time you can’t do something is because you’ve convinced yourself that you can’t. You can try anything at anytime.
2. This is a direct quote — “I don’t care if you flip burgers at McDonald’s, as long as when you get up in the morning you are excited about what you are going to do.”

PRICELESS. These contributions to my development were priceless, no matter how they came about. And I’ve shared my dad’s pearls of wisdom with more employees and protegés than I can even begin to enumerate.

Regardless of the nuggets of wisdom that my individual parents gave or allowed me (and there is a difference), there was a point in my 20s where I realized I still had the overwelming feeling that Ms. Miner mentions — of feeling that someday, someone who had the instruction manual that I was convinced was out there but that I never received, someone better in the know than I, would figure out that I HAD NO CLUE.

So, loving synchronicity — because it was pretty much at the exact same moment that I was given a copy of the Tao of Pooh–I had several epiphanies simultaneously. Now, honestly, this should have caused an immediate aneurism, however, having long since been a fan of the wisdom of A.A. Milne, (since way back in my single digits), this hit me right smack between the eyes like a fire truck going Mach 10. So I take Ms. Miner’s opening gambit, and, rather than challenge it, would like to add my personal two cents of relevance, thanks to the efforts of Benjamin Hoff (http://www.benjaminhoffauthor.com/).

Quick disclaimer – Mr. Hoff, I make no gain financially from using your properly cited quotes, and therefore hope not to tread on your copyright, but should you find this an issue, please feel free to contact me ASAP, as no offence, intrusion or otherwise bad form is intended.

So, with that out of the way, here we go:

“Do you really want to be happy? You can begin by being appreciative of who you are and what you’ve got.”
― Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

Yup. Absolutely. Later I also learned from the wisdom of Bill, “Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy.” To me, both of these ideas go hand in hand. One, if you are willing to HONESTLY look at where you are and what you have, and I’m not talking about things here, that should be enough. If it’s not, think about Bill’s idea – are you having the argument because you just think you NEED to be right? Is it really that important? Sometimes it is, sure, but most times, compromise and empathy is the key to happiness.

“Lots of people talk to animals…Not very many listen though…that’s the problem.”
― Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

Can’t like or agree or stand up and shout “YES” enough to this. Perhaps because of my non-traditional upbringing, my constantly seeking cues for how to actually relate and be present as a two-legged, perhaps…who knows…but the best lessons I have learned in life have honestly come from my fascination with animals. Dogs and cats traditionally dislike eachother, for example, and apparently for good reason, if you ask a cat, but an orphaned puppy will still be taken care of by a mommy cat. Because it’s right. You can try and convince me that animals are a lower life form, but honestly, we’re just jealous as two-leggeds, because we think it should be more complicated. The critters have it right.

“The surest way to become Tense, Awkward, and Confused is to develop a mind that tries too hard – one that thinks too much.”
― Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

Abso-freaking-lutely. Talk to my hamsters. They know.

“Things just happen in the right way, at the right time. At least when you let them, when you work with circumstances instead of saying, ‘This isn’t supposed to be happening this way,’ and trying harder to make it happen some other way.”
― Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

I like to think of this as the “River Equation.” So here’s how it goes. In my hamster-driven head, there are always two options.
Door #1. Go with the flow (thank you John Candy) whether it makes sense or not; OR
Door #2. Paddle furiously in the direction you think you are supposed to go, which is invariably upstream, until you become so tired that you have to go with the current (flow) ANYWAY. In the end, you rock up right where you would have been to begin with, but now you’re covered in bruises, you need therapy, and it took you an interminably long time to get there.
I know, because I consistently try both ways, and when I succesfully go with Door Number One I am infinitely happier, and feel marginally more wise.

“There are things about ourselves that we need to get rid of; there are things we need to change. But at the same time, we do not need to be too desperate, too ruthless, too combative. Along the way to usefulness and happiness, many of those things will change themselves, and the others can be worked on as we go. The first thing we need to do is recognize and trust our own Inner Nature, and not lose sight of it.”
― Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

Add to this only: the things we most dislike in others is usually a reflection of what we, ourselves, manifest….and greatly dislike about ourselves. How do ya like them apples?

“Rabbit’s clever,” said Pooh thoughtfully.
“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit’s clever.”
“And he has Brain.”
“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit has Brain.”
There was a long silence.
“I suppose,” said Pooh, “that that’s why he never understands anything.”
― Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

Mmhmm. The day we think we know it all we know the least.

“We don’t need to shift our responsibilities onto the shoulders of some deified Spiritual Superman, or sit around and wait for Fate to come knocking at the door. We simply need to believe in the power that’s within us, and use it. When we do that, and stop imitating others and competing against them, things begin to work for us.”
― Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

‘Nuff said. Religous or not, it doesn’t really matter. If you don’t listen to your own inner voice you will always regret it. However, I do have a caveat on this…remember the voice of FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real) is always louder than the voice of truth. ALWAYS. Trust me, I’ve tried to disprove this many times.

“How can you get very far,
If you don’t know who you are?
How can you do what you ought,
If you don’t know what you’ve got?
And if you don’t know which to do
Of all the things in front of you,
Then what you’ll have when you are through
Is just a mess without a clue
Of all the best that can come true
If you know What and Which and Who.”
― Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

Yep – if you don’t have a clear idea of what to do then WAIT. When it’s clear it will make sense. Gut sense. Heart sense. Honestly, you’ll feel it. Otherwise you’re just deciding to do something to make a decision for the sake of making a decision and not necessarily think. Which is a sorry waste of time and energy.

“Wisdom, Happiness, and Courage are not waiting somewhere out beyond sight at the end of a straight line; they’re part of a continuous cycle that begins right here. They’re not only the ending, but the beginning as well.”
― Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

And the middle…if you’re not willing to take the leap, follow your heart, and trust….well….why do anything? Life is not linear. Not even evolution is linear. GO WITH THE FLOW….

“The wise know their limitations; the foolish do not.”
― Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

Truer words were never said. Give me a team of people willing to admit “I DO NOT KNOW” and I can achieve anything. Give me a team of people who must say “I KNOW EVERYTHING” and we are all doomed. The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask.

“A way of life that keeps saying ‘Around the next corner, above the next step,’ works against the natural order of things and makes it so difficult to be happy and good.”
― Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

Same as the idea that the grass is always greener on the other side….or why some think it is important to “Keep up with the Joneses” (whoever they are). If you’re always looking out, and never looking in, then you have no idea where you are and what you really have.

“The Christmas presents once opened are Not So Much Fun as they were while we were in the process of examining, lifting, shaking, thinking about, and opening them. Three hundred sixty-five days later, we try again and find that the same thing has happened. Each time the goal is reached, it becomes Not So Much Fun, and we’re off to reach the next one, then the next one, then the next.
That doesn’t mean that the goals we have don’t count. They do, mostly because they cause us to go through the process and it’s the process that makes us wise, happy, or whatever. If we do things in the wrong sort of way, it makes us miserable, angry, confused, and things like that. The goal has to be right for us, and it has to be beneficial, in order to ensure a beneficial process. But aside from that, it’s really the process that’s important.”
― Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

Follow your heart, don’t do something just because you think someone else thinks you should do it. Unless you really aspire to a life of feeling empty and taken for granted.

“Now, scholars can be very useful and necessary, in their own dull and unamusing way. They provide a lot of information. It’s just that there is Something More, and that Something More is what life is really all about.”
― Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it. Go read the Desiderata. Take it to heart and run with it. My mother was a scholar, a brilliant one, and she frequently had no idea what she really had around her that was worth celebrating. It’s a very sad way to live, and while she showed me many opportunities she could never take them herself. For that I will always regret that because I was her daughter she could not likewise receive the gift that she did not know she gave to me.

“If people were superior to animals, they’d take good care of them,” said Pooh.”
― Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

Picture me standing up and applauding and doing that super annoying, ear-piercing two-finger whistle (not that I can actually do it, but if you can picture it, that’s what I’m doing). That’s me, right now.

“When we learn to work with our own Inner Nature, and with the natural laws operating around us, we reach the level of Wu Wei. Then we work with the natural order of things and operate on the principle of minimal effort. Since the natural world follows that principle, it does not make mistakes. Mistakes are made–or imagined–by man, the creature with the overloaded Brain who separates himself from the supporting network of natural laws by interfering and trying too hard.
When you work with Wu Wei, you put the round peg in the round hole and the square peg in the square hole. No stress, no struggle. Egotistical Desire tries to force the round peg into the square hole and the square peg into the round hole. Cleverness tries to devise craftier ways of making pegs fit where they don’t belong. Knowledge tries to figure out why round pegs fit into round holes, but not square holes. Wu Wei doesn’t try. It doesn’t think about it. It just does it. And when it does, it doesn’t appear to do much of anything. But Things Get Done.
When you work with Wu Wei, you have no real accidents. Things may get a little Odd at times, but they work out. You don’t have to try very hard to make them work out; you just let them. […] If you’re in tune with The Way Things Work, then they work the way they need to, no matter what you may think about it at the time. Later on you can look back and say, “Oh, now I understand. That had to happen so that those could happen, and those had to happen in order for this to happen…” Then you realize that even if you’d tried to make it all turn out perfectly, you couldn’t have done better, and if you’d really tried, you would have made a mess of the whole thing.
Using Wu Wei, you go by circumstances and listen to your own intuition. “This isn’t the best time to do this. I’d better go that way.” Like that. When you do that sort of thing, people may say you have a Sixth Sense or something. All it really is, though, is being Sensitive to Circumstances. That’s just natural. It’s only strange when you don’t listen.”
― Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

My entire life is composed of doing the best I can with what I have at the time, and later, realizing, that as long as I could stay out of my own way it eventually made sense. Someone wise once told me a story of how they had spent their whole life trying to get all their ducks in a row only to finally be told that those ducks weren’t their’s. Whether it’s a Mallard in the local fish pond, or a rubber duckie in your bathtub, or your kids, or your dry cleaner, really, the only duck that’s really yours is YOU. The other ducks will either get in line with you or not, but it’s not up to you (sorry ’bout that, welcome to life). Generally, going through life with the mantra “it’s not my duck” is NOT actually about denying your responsibility, but accepting ownership for what is.

“A clever mind is not a heart. Knowledge doesn’t really care, wisdom does.”
― Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

Wisdom is not to be underrated. We think we have wisdom when really we still have so much left to learn. The day we die is the day we believe we know everything. At this rate I am far from dying, and excited by what I have left to learn.

“When you discard arrogance, complexity, and a few other things that get in the way, sooner or later you will discover that simple, childlike, and mysterious secret known to those of the Uncarved Block: Life is Fun.”
― Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

This refers back to my own post https://asthehamsterwheelturns.com/2013/01/01/in-search-of-awe/

So, bottom line? Go back to the basics, embrace Pooh, joy, awe and splendor. If it feels like it’s too hard, you probably created the problem yourself. If someone really annoys you, pay closer attention, there are big lessons there. You may not like them, but they are there all the same.

And finally, thank you Ms. Miner, for inspiring this rant of mine.

Oh, Rosie – Have We Forgotten What You Taught Us?

Ok – I’ve tried not to let this bother me all day. The fact that it is still powering at least one hamster wheel in my head tells me that there’s a reason it’s there….and it bothers me that it still bothers me. It’s a sad, and pitiful thing, but alas, not uncommon. Yet today, for whatever reason, it hit a button for sure.

So, what happened that has kept my hamster wheel humming for 9 hours, you ask?

It all started out so simply, really.

When I moved into my hotel I noticed that two of the four wall sconces in my living area had blown bulbs. Like a good doobie, I filled out my move in report and referenced the blown bulbs. Silly me, I thought that the Hotel would take the note and replace them. That was a month ago.

I’ve been busy, and there are other lamps in the room, so I haven’t revisited the issue.

So this morning, I go into the bathroom to brush my teeth , and two of the four lights in the bathroom ceiling have gone the way of the blown bulbs in the living area and now my bathroom, with no windows, has become quite cavelike.

Fair enough, lamps blow. The sky is not falling. And there’s a pretty simple solution. So on my way to work I stop by reception and mention the increasing number of blown lamps in my residence.

I barely finish my opening gambit and I am greeted with the following:

“Um, like, I’m a temp here and no one else is at the desk right now and the handyman isn’t right here and I’m a temp here and there’s no one around and could you wait until maybe late next week ‘cuz then I won’t be here and there will be people here who are normally here but I’m a temp here and there’s no one else here with me right now.”

Yup, no breaths were taken during that entire monologue, which clearly is part of the cause since that would be almost 5 minutes where this woman had no oxygen flowing to her brain. And how useless an expenditure of oxygen and my time that whole rant was. That’s 5 minutes of my life I will never get back and the ridiculous part of it is, it actually caused tears to well up.

Now, if you knew me, which most of you don’t, then you would know that the first thing that triggers tears from me is infuriation. I may be a woman and there may be plenty of stereotypes about how emotional we are, but what typically triggers tears for me is anger. Of course, that anger is always completely undermined by such an emotional display thanks to the aforementioned stereotypes. But I digress.

So here’s what angers me. HONESTLY????? Temp or not this woman was working in A HOTEL. Her mandate, shall we say, as an employee of said hotel, whether as a temporary or permanent employee, necessarily includes at least the following:

-Accepting packages;
-Answering the phone;
-Checking in arriving guests;
-Checking out departing guests; and
-Accepting maintenance requests and informing the maintenance staff.

THIS IS NOT ROCKET SCIENCE.

Honestly, common sense would have dictated the following response:

“Thank you for letting us know, let me take a note of this and I will see what we can do about this for you.”

She wouldn’t have even had to have made a promise. Customer service is about acknowledging the customer’s needs. I’m not even saying that you have to say the customer is always right (although in this case the customer IS right because my bathroom is pretty dark right now). Just acknowledge the service request.

SO, yeah, that annoyed me, because that was a flat out refusal to even attempt to try to rub at least two brain cells together to make a spark and figure out a way to address a simple situation which clearly falls within the parameters of the job that she was apparently hired to do, at least for today.

But what incited the anger and the resultant tears that summarily resulted in infuriating me even more? Here’s a woman who, instead of attempting to think her way through an apparently complex situation, decided to throw a litany of excuses at me so that I would likely feel bad for her and say “don’t worry about it, I’m so sorry if I overtaxed you, please, sit down, put your feet up and let me get you some tea.”

Why did that piss me off? Because as a woman, I too often find that this type of response is exactly what people expect from me first, before even knowing my name or my experience. This is a stereotype that I fight regularly (not constantly, but regularly enough) as a Production Manager in the entertainment industry. I could ignore it, but I do fight it, purely so that I can then just roll up my shirtsleeves, sweep the non-essential noise out of the way, and get to work. I don’t consider myself a feminist, as a matter of fact I covet the ability of some of my friends to have a home, and take care of a family. That is the biggest job out there, in my opinion. But until that happens for me, I take the job I do have seriously, and I expect to be taken seriously doing it until I prove otherwise, and I therefore do not appreciate it when a member of my same sex takes the easy way out and decides to go about work by playing the part of the feeble minded with the additional handicap of spring-loaded eyelashes thrown into the mix.

So what did I say to her?

I had plenty of vitriolic that welled up right along with the infuriating tears, but age has allowed some wisdom to seep through and realize before starting that I would not have achieved any sort of progress by that route, so instead, I said:

“Don’t worry about it, I’ll call the office later and find someone who can help me.”

She actually blinked at me a few times and said “Oh, thank you so much, you’ve really helped me.”

Let’s review for a moment, in this scenario I was the customer, and she was to provide customer service.

Honestly – Rosie, it is moments like this that I believe we, as women, have failed you, and what you taught us. So, I shall replace my infuriation with my brush with customer inservice today and spend a moment reflecting on other women, like Rosie the Riveter, who had it right.

And cheers to you, Rosie, for being willing to try.

OK Charlie Brown – What is Your Football?

Really.

We are ALL Charlie Brown at one point or another, so I ask you:
When are you at your most Charlie Brown moment?

I don’t just speak of the quintessential AAARGH! that we all remember from the PEANUTS comics, I’m referring to the solidity of the football NOT BEING THERE, and Lucy, and the perception of humiliation.

And perception is key.

Personally, because I am an overachiever, I have several footballs. And likely, several Lucys — depending on the day. So here are the highlights.

1. YOGA. Yup. It’s a football. Sometimes I am able to distract my Yoga-Lucy enough to persevere. Othertimes, she wins. She lives in my bed, and pillows and Duna….she is evil. She also, apparently, resides in my couch, which I refer to as the Evil Couch, and which sucks all motivation out of me in a nanosecond as soon as I stretch out. I think the YOGA-COUCH-Lucy might have a super-power.

2. PAMPERING. Yup. It’s a necessity, we should all do it. For me it’s acupuncture and actually doing something to the hedge that masquerades as my hair. For acupuncture, however, I seem to have found an anti-Lucy…only because I am travelling with someone who I unequivocally count as the best acupuncturist ever, and she forces me to make appointments and then comes to my apartment. Bliss. For the Hedge, however, positive results are not so common. I CONSTANTLY want to fix it but the Hedge-Lucy masquerades as WORK and defeats me easily. Now, it should be remembered, I just referenced myself as an over-achiever. I typically work 60 to 70 hours in a week, and that is reason for therapy. I have improved, it used to be closer to 80 hours, but I digress. As a protest against WORK-LUCY I am going to have my hair trimmed (with hedge trimmers, I expect) and colored tomorrow. This will be the first time in 9 months that I have actually attempted to go to war with Hedge-Lucy (whom I believe is the same as Work-Lucy) and have vowed to actually make this important. This is mostly because my split-ends have entered the realm of “weapons of mass destruction” (mostly because my hair reaches to my belt) and I just cannot stand it anymore. Plus, I am now not allowed in several pubs in London due to the dangerous quality of my hair. Pimps and Pinups in London have earned this special task….they better do well.

3. NUTRITION. Yup. I still seem to follow my collegiate habits of the quickest food wins the prize. Meanwhile, I’m almost 40 and feel pretty sure that I should have overcome this habit by now. And the ridiculous part of it is, I LOVE TO COOK. I drool over new recipes in the highest element of cooking magazines. These are all things my Aunt taught me so that I could cook well without thinking about it…yet, I will still buy a pre-packaged Tesco’s dinner without blinking. And Cooking-Lucy laughs maniacally as I walk out of Tesco with pre-packaged dinners but not a single piece of fresh produce. Really. I can hear her.

So, here’s what I say….DOWN TO LUCY!!! Whatever form she may take for you…she is not to be listened to. So let’s take a vow together that whatever form she takes (and yes, leave it to an Irish girl to lump Lucy from the Peanuts comics into the same realm as the Ban Shidhe)….SHE WILL NOT WIN.

If you do not take this vow, she will always hold the football. Just ask Charlie Brown.