Posts Tagged: work

boardroom and hotel room

Monday morning I take the hour long flight from Toronto to Sudbury, to spend the week holed up in a boardroom with a team, working on a proposal. These kinds of team-based efforts are usually good experiences for me; they're intense but more productive than they would be if we were operating out of multiple offices. It's great to see and talk with people with whom I interact often via email and telephone. And getting with a team is always useful networking opportunity for me; getting to know colleagues with whom I can consult on issues and tasks that come up every day. It's a big company, and frankly, once you get to know someone in a live setting, they tend to return your calls and emails.


image from

Team-sized desk.


image from

After dinner, hanging with Jamie Oliver making Christmas merry on Food TV.  After a few days the hotel life is old, even with Jamie Oliver.


back in the world

image from
Three weeks of rest, random walks, cooking, following whims and holiday celebrating are over.  I pouted about it for two days, but all seemed right again when I donned my coat and walked out my door this morning.  I just hope that tomorrow I don't wake up two hours before my alarm clock.

tired and encouraged in an original mind

My job is trying sometimes.  It’s one of the reasons I like it.  I like the ups and downs; the ebbs and flows; the momentum and adrenaline and the “way to go me!” of the high periods, and the catching up and thinking about what I’ll cook and remembering I have to mail that thing part about the low periods.

I’m in a trying period now.  Really trying.  I’m so tired I’m afraid to go to bed because when I get there I can’t sleep because of the things that are causing that blackberry to flash its little red light.  Don't say it – it IS put away in my purse, but I KNOW it is flashing red.  

Tonight, again, I got nothing.  I’m just tired.  I'm a little dejected and a little blue and that is certainly because I'm tired.

I do have somebody else’s words.  His words will be swooping about the atmosphere like a flock of birds in autumn in the next days, and I hate being a joiner-inner.  But I’m struck by the idea that in his death, his words are stronger than mine are today.  And I’m motivated by that!  I'm encouraged in the thought of it. An original mind never dies, does it?

I know I will sleep thinking about that.  

Good night world.

(And good night original mind.)

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” ~Steve Jobs


productivity and love

Between Don Mills and Sheppard-Yonge Stations

Look at me; I’m being one of those annoying people who busts out a computer on the subway.  But if I don’t get a blog post written quickly (in the space of a trip between Don Mills and Union Stations), it’s not going to get written for several more days.  And I miss you, blog people.  What I need is something copyable and pasteable for when I get home.  This time, transcribing notes scribbled around the edges of a newspaper or back of a rental car confirmation is just not going to work. Even if the post-commute-trying-to-work-out-what-the-hell-that-scribble-was-trying-to-capture adds that much to the nuance of a story.

So, I get a new job, and I give my notice in and the Shit. Hits. The. Fan.  I knew it was going to happen.  This big project has been looming for weeks, and before I get the job offer I’m trying to keep a safe distance from it, because I just know I'm not going to be here much longer.  I try to prep the junior writer, without telling him what’s really coming, “there’s this big, high profile project.  You could really show your mettle here.  Step up to the plate, kid, everyone will love you…”

(Train Change)

Between Sheppard-Yonge and Union Stations

So just as the project is kicked off I get the great job offer and I give my notice.  People at work are wanting to be nice to me and wish me well – to talk about my whole leaving thing.  To take me to lunch.  And I’ve not had much more than ten minutes to take a walk and get a cup of coffee.  But it’s okay – even if I’m leaving in two weeks, I still have pride in what work that leaves my desk. 

That’s where I’ve been the past week.  Sitting at a desk, in an office in North York, hammering out documents like I’m some sort of assembly line Training Guide manufacturer.  Making up for an unequivocally uninterested and unambitious junior writer.  You know the theory, that you just keep banging your head against the wall because it feels so good when it stops?  That’s what all the “It’ll be all over soon, Jennifer” sounds like at this point.  They’re right, but I’m bloody tired and not feeling all that reasonable.

The Good News

I did get some fun in over the weekend – big fun.  Meaningful fun.  My sister blew into the city on Friday for an after work going-away party for a colleague.  It was at a pub very close to my house and we hadn’t seen each other in a month because she’s been travelling with her job, and damned if we weren’t going to take advantage of that opportunity. 

 Cathy E & C Cathy E and C
No, my glass was not larger than hers.  And yes, it was Cathy, not me, who said, "Yay!  I it's a good place that serves wine in a decent sized glass!" 

And next morning my girls and I got on the highway and headed back home to attend the 50th birthday party for one of my oldest and dearest friends, Denis.  Carly drove and Kelsey operated the stereo while I sat in the back and worked – as my sister said, “you can’t sit in a car on the 401 and not be productive at a time like this!  She was right.  For much of the four hours there and four hours back I was doing what I’m doing now – sitting in a moving car with a computer on my lap.

The time away from work might have cost me a little blood and sweat today, but it was worth it.  At times like this, nothing cures the work-overload-blues like time with a sister and a bunch of people who you’ve loved to be around more than pretty much anyone for three decades.

Here's to the "50 Club!  (Debbie, Jen, Denis)

I hope you stick with me blog people.  I’ll be back.  Refreshed.  With a new job and a WALKING TO WORK COMMUTE (have I mentioned that part?). 

In the meantime, I’m back to writing about a healthcare database application.  At least it’s a good cause, no?

ps – Despite the crappy phone camera shots, the pictures are worth a million.

two hours a day

One can become complacent about things.  Just going about the task of getting to work every day and doing all of the things otherwise required to take care of one’s life, including those labelled fun and enriching, is busy. 

There are a few reasons why I stayed in what was, for the most part, the wrong job for three and a half years.  Mostly, it was because I was appreciated.  I work in business development, and I’m pretty good at creating a good “face” for the company I’m representing.  I created a fresh “brand” for our proposals and other documentation, and I was considered an integral part of the proposal development teams. 

A good part of the success of any proposal writer is the ability to persevere under pressure, and spiking hours.  I must say, I dig the pace of proposal writing; the constant turnover of projects appeals to me.  I work better under pressure, and I love the feeling of producing something of a high standard under difficult conditions.  

But I had no true understanding of our product (software solutions), nor the desire to, really.  I don’t have a brain wired to understand this kind of technology.  I didn’t really need to – it was the specialists that had to write up the solutions – they were the ones inventing them and had to be the ones describing them.  It was cool to watch the process of a team designing a custom solution for a client – a creative process working in a highly technical environment.  But I always felt outside of that, and thus not satisfied with my role in it. 

They appreciated me, and they paid me to stay.  My financial situation was substantially improved in my tenure there, but in the end, I don’t live for money.  Job satisfaction is more important to me.

There were a number of times over the past three and a half years that I started to look for a new job, but complacency took over and I just carried on.  I was “comfortable;” doing work that, while not satisfying on a personal level, gained me the respect of the company.  Recently though, as recruiters started calling, it seemed the time for change was right. 

The long commute had started to wear me down.  My loyal blogland friends will know that the commute was often a source of inspiration for this space, and that lately it has become less so.  The crowds of rush hour, and the inherent (?) rudeness, anonymity, unseeing, cattle-like behaviour just plain depressed me.  I found it harder and harder to live the rule, “be the change you want to see” and I don’t want to be cattle.

So I’ve been entertaining opportunities presented to me by these recruiters that seem to have come calling all at once.  There was an almost-hiring at Christmas.  I was excited because the office was near to my home.  But really, the work sounded much like what I do now – lots of coordinating, not much challenge.  There were lots of opportunities opening up in the area where I work now, but what’s the point?  Fresh job/same commute is only addressing half my problem.

But then, another recruiter called with another address that caught my attention.  And then an enjoyable (yes, enjoyable) initial phone interview with my would-be manager, who described a job that sounded challenging and exciting – more writing, less coordinating.  There was another in-person interview over lunch, just as enjoyable as the first.  I was being presented with the opportunity to develop my own job (not previously held by anyone), and to help another company grow in an area where they want to expand.  There is opportunity for travel, to develop my skills, better benefits and yes, a little more money.

And I can walk to work.  I live in the heart of the city because I love the vibrancy, the diversity, colour, sights, oddities, action and surprises.  You can't know how gratified I am for the opportunity to move out of the underground tunnels and up to the sidewalks.

The best part of all:  two hours a day, formerly spent travelling to and from work, mostly underground, will be mine again.  Two hours a day.  That's ten hours a week, forty hours a month…

All the riches in the world can’t replace that.

let me get it

The other day, eight colleagues and I went out to lunch on the occasion of one person’s last day with the company.  After lunch was finished, H disappeared and came back putting his credit card in his wallet, saying he had got lunch for the table.

Immediately people started saying things like “oh you can’t do that” and “please, how much do I owe you?”  H just said quietly, “it’s Christmas, and I like all of you and you’re great to work with and I want to buy lunch.”

If it was a conscious decision to simply accept gestures like these, I don’t remember making it.  Maybe I’m just mindful of the notion that a kindness like this is not only enjoyed by the receiver, but by the giver too.  Often the giver enjoys it more. 

And with meals –the sharing of food and conversation together – the offer of one person to buy a meal seems especially warm and genuine.  While my financial situation was such that it wasn’t possible for many years, I can now to offer to buy the meal when I go out with someone and I get a great deal of pleasure in doing so.  As I imagine it did H that day.

So when H countered the protests with such grace, I just said to him “Thank you H, you’re very kind.”

I got to wondering why people feel obliged to protest a gesture like that.  Is it some kind of modesty or percieved duty to let the person off the hook in case they really don’t want to pay?  Or some more deep-seated  issue, some kind of threat to one’s strength as a person?  Of course I know there is no intended falseness in the spirit of the protests, but it's like they’re almost expected when the gesture is extended. 

So when it was clear that H had paid for the meal and that was that, I suggested that it was a good opportunity to pay the kindness forward – and find a way to do something nice for someone else that day in H’s honour.  That seemed to appease everyone.  After all, it’s Christmas.

mostly I breathed

I had a hell of a week last week.  It's one of those periods that just comes with my job – it's nothing new but it's starting to get old.  As I consider how much longer I want to have weeks like last week, I'm gearing up for another one.

If I'm questioning how much longer I want to entertain stress and long days in those five middle days in a week, I'm not questioning my ability to counter those kinds of days with what I need.  I told a friend this morning: "that drizzly day is calling me."  I went out there and walked.  I smelled the layers of leaves fallen in a park.  I admired the mist hanging about the lake and the city.  I bought food, and I cooked meals for the looming week.  I listened to CBC radio.  My home smells of roasted squash and cinnamon and tomatoes and sage.  I did laundry and cleaned my kitchen.

Mostly I breathed today.  I thought my neighbourhood, which is burgeoning with busyness all summer long, seemed a little lonely in late October.  In a good way.  Maybe  a place is like a person – and a break from everyone and everything does it good once in awhile.






rainy day dreaming

This morning I open my eyes and roll over to find I’m joined by a rainy day and the lull of its gentle conversation.  As always I want to keep it to myself – I don’t want to have to share it with the mechanical goings on of the work day.  I want to walk in it at my leisure and absorb its smell and energy into my body. 

I want to watch it lazily from a window as it provides sustenance to the vegetation and washes the streets and sidewalks.  I want to cook in the glow of the stove light while I enjoy the sound of it falling outside and the deepened, bluish/greenish atmosphere closing around like a protective hug. 

I think of rainy day jobs and creative activities and the pleasure and satisfaction we find in those things because the rainy day has given us an excuse to stay in and do them.  I think of certain past lovers and how we dreamt of rainy days together, lolling about, talking, sipping tea, reading the paper and those other things lovers do so well together. 

There’s something in a rainy day that slows my wheels a notch – and as I head out the door this morning I’m wishing I could have this rainy day for my very own.  Or better perhaps – to share with someone else.



this day is mine

I’ve had a number of dreams of the same theme lately.  This dream has recurred in various forms all my life.  If I were more perceptive, I’d have probably found that I dream this dream during periods like this one – when I’m not accomplishing what I want/need.  In this dream, I’ve got somewhere to go or something to do, almost always somewhere or something important.  But I never get going.  Something is always holding me back.  Usually me.  Like I can’t find something I decide I need to take along.  Or I can’t find a phone number because I decide I need to make a call before I go.  There’s always a distraction and the thing that needs to get done never gets done.

Clearly that dream is reflecting my life.  Work has robbed much of my free time over the past few weeks.  It’s the nature of my job doing proposals.  It ebbs and flows and sometimes the flows are more like floods.   I’ve been missing my blogging world – it’s a project I feel I’ve left hanging in the wind.  And I’ve missed reading my favourites and finding new favourites, and I miss seeing you show up at my space.  I've got a lovely new blogspace and I've yet to fill it up with new writing.  In fact I’ve yet to finish building it!

But I'm back.  It's going to be a catching up Saturday.  Starting with this.  And then catching up with my current online class, the members of which are probably wondering about the instructor’s sudden lack of engagement.  And my home is a tip.  The Chinese food and Swiss Chalet containers indicate that maybe the stretch of fitful, dream-packed sleeping might also be related to a need for home cooked food.  The laundry is piled high.  The bathroom needs a scrub. 

This day is mine and it feels really good. 

And I bet you ten dollars there will be no dreams of getting-nowhere-frustration tonight.