Work

‘Tis the season…for schmoozing

In 2 days it will be December and the time of Christmas celebrations begins: client receptions, dinners, lunches.  As someone who is trying to “get the word out there” about my business I know it is important to ‘network’ and I will have plenty of opportunities to do so in the coming days.  I know it is necessary, but I’m not necessarily looking forward to it.  Sure, I’m looking forward to enjoying lots of good food.  But lots of business people I don’t really know…not so much.  It is getting better…slowly.  At my last client reception I ended up talking to a few different people and realized I am getting to know more and more people in the business community.

Yet these sorts of events push me out of my comfort zone every time.  My discomfort stems from a few places.  Being an introvert means ‘schmoozing’ does not come naturally for me.  But I think one of the things that these networking events brings me back to is this: memories of being in high school at community dances and standing off by myself, not knowing anyone, being too shy or afraid to talk to anyone, feeling alone and insignificant.  It was not a pleasant feeling. 

It’s not that I have the same experience now.  I can make conversation with people I don’t know.  But there is a subconscious fear of being ‘left out’ and my feelings from high school come back to me.

Isn’t it amazing, how our experiences from 20+ years ago can still have an impact on us today?


Oh stress, my old friend

I’ve been thinking about stress lately.

There have been periods in my life when I have had a LOT of stress (like when my husband died and my last years of working at the hotel).  Over time I’ve learned strategies to cope with the stress in my life.  I’m better able to identify my sources of stress than I used to be.  Plus I’ve made choices (and had the freedom to make the choice) to remove certain sources of stress – or shall I say I’ve removed myself from them?

Stress is a funny thing.  It doesn’t necessarily ‘announce’ itself saying, “alert, alert, stress is here”.  Each of our bodies, minds, and souls respond to it differently and the response is not the same in every situation.  There are so many factors which can cause stress.  We live in a world of noise, and distractions, and busyness…and these things don’t help in the stress department either.

What have I learned about stress so far?

1. When living in a high stress situation over an extended period of time, I became somewhat acclimatized to the stress.  However, when the stress in my situation was finally significantly reduced, it took a very long time for my stress levels to come back down to ‘normal’.  Rest is important.

2. I can create my own stress.  If my expectations of others or a situation are not being met and I don’t stop to evaluate and adjust the expectations, I will experience stress.  Often, the expectations I have of myself are my greatest sources of stress.  Being kind to myself is important.

3. Sometimes I’m not aware I’m experiencing stress but it ‘bleeds out’ in my lack of patience and reactions to others.  At those times it is good for me to take a step back and try to identify the source of my stress.  For example, I was feeling sad and overwhelmed this week and realized I was stressed.  I’ve been fighting a cold for a while and been resting to combat it.  But that meant I wasn’t staying on top of the clutter which tends to creep into our house.  While clutter doesn’t really seem to bother the rest of my family, it is a source of stress for me.  When I figured out the clutter accumulating in our kitchen and living room was stressing me out, I was able to communicate this to my husband who very willingly helped me to de-clutter these areas.  I can say I am feeling much better today.  What a simple fix!  But if I didn’t take note of the ‘symptoms’ I might have missed this and still been in a state of stress.  Paying attention is important.

4. We can function in stressful circumstances for such a long time that they become ‘normal’ to us.  We don’t realize we are under as much stress as we are.  It was not until I stopped working at the hotel that I realized how stressed I really was AND the degree of impact that was making on the rest of my life.  As much as I tried very hard to maintain a work-life balance, the stresses of my work situation meant I had very little left of ‘me’ for my family and friends.  I might have only been putting in 40-45 hours a week but I didn’t have much physical, mental, or emotional energy left at the end of my day/week.  I realize sometimes people don’t have a choice regarding their circumstances but for the times when a person does have a choice, evaluating the ‘cost’ of remaining in the stressful situation is important.

5. There are things we can do to cope with stress and this will look different for each person.  Some things are universal, such as regular exercise and getting enough sleep.  Other things are individual.  I like hot baths, getting massages, listening to spa music, and going for walks outdoors.  Temperament and personality also play a part.  As an introvert, I need more time alone by myself to re-energize.  Extroverts might benefit from enjoying time with others.  Finding what de-stresses you and practicing this on a consistent basis is important.

6.  When I am stressed, EVERYTHING seems worse.  This might be more applicable to women because our brains connect everything to everything else in our minds.  But I know I am much more prone to ‘catastrophize’ when I am stressed than when I am not.  Reminding myself that “everything is going to be all right” is important.

Whiles stress can never be completely removed from our lives we can learn to recognize it, cope with it, and become more resilient to it.

What have you learned about stress?


Random thoughts on Good Friday

Today is Good Friday.  This season of Lent is almost over and I realize my ‘project’ didn’t get very far.  But that’s ok, I’ll give myself some grace.  I’ve been doing lots of thinking over this season but not a lot of writing.  Here are some of my random thoughts:

I’ve been thinking about the life Jesus lived through the lens of compassion.  He reached out to the marginalized, those rejected by society.  In turn, they felt ‘safe’ to come to Him.  Just look at all the beggars and lepers and cripples who called out to Him…and He heard their cries.  I really like that about Jesus.  It gives me hope.  There is no one whose life is so broken that Jesus will not enter in and bring love and grace.  I want to be like that.  I want to love and accept people as they are, no matter how broken.  I admit there’s still a lot of work to be done in this area – I still feel uncomfortable passing the panhandlers whenever I walk downtown.  Sometimes I can look them in the eye but other times I pretend I don’t see them.  They must feel like they aren’t even people sometimes and I feel sad about that.  They need love and compassion, too. And I wonder, “What am I afraid of, that I cannot even look them in the eye and acknowledge their presence, their humanity?”

I’ve been thinking about the Truth.  Jesus said, “I am the Truth…”  I’m realizing there are times when doing the right thing is the hard thing.  It’s not easy, handling the truth.  Sometimes it would be much easier to ignore the issue, pretend it isn’t there, continue on with the status quo.  But that would be denying the Truth.  I think of a particular situation in the past year where I chose to speak the truth knowing that I would be rejected and considered the “bad guy” but knowing it was the right thing to do nonetheless.  This didn’t make the situation any easier but I have a peace and resolve knowing I walked in Truth.

A couple of people have asked me over the last week what our family’s traditions are for Easter.  I sheepishly admit that we don’t have any traditions.  In the past I’ve hardly recognized Good Friday and Easter at all.  When I was working at the hotel Good Friday meant a three day relief from the stresses of my job.  I mostly wanted to rest and do as little as possible.  Another house church group in our network had a tradition of celebrating Easter morning at a big rock overlooking the South Saskatchewan River and we would join them for that.  But that’s really the extent of it.  As I’ve been comparing myself to others I’ve wondered if I’m “less of a Christian” because I don’t practice any traditions.  Why do we have traditions anyways?

My focus has been on living out God’s love and grace.  As much as I can, I try to communicate to everyone (my children in particular) that they are loved and accepted, that there is grace for mistakes, that they don’t have to live in shame, that they can learn to accept themselves.  I know for my own life that coming to understand these things unleashes freedom from shame and fear.  I have much more peace and I feel more fulfilled and satisfied.  And I know I couldn’t come to understand these things without experiencing them.  So I aim to live these out so others can experience them and come to greater freedom and healing in their own lives.  Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life,  and may have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

Which leads me to something that’s been bothering me and I’m not exactly sure why. I hesitate to write about it because I know people who are following this – I don’t want to come across as judging them and if I do, I apologize.   Over at holleygerth.com they’re talking a lot about “God-sized dreams”.  She even wrote a book about it: You’re Made for a God-sized Dream – Opening the Door to all God has for You.  Why does this idea of a “God-sized dream” rub me the wrong way?  I don’t have anything against people dreaming and living out their dreams.  I’ve done that.  I acted in a Gateway play a couple of years back, I went up in a hot air balloon last Fall, I started my own event planning business and have more flexibility in my life.  I think it’s great.

Perhaps I get the impression that people are declaring what they want God to do for them and demanding in faith that He does it.  Why are they so determined to have their dreams fulfilled?  And maybe that’s where I trip up.  Because dreams aren’t always fulfilled.  Sometimes life doesn’t happen how you want it to.  Maybe I’m jaded and cynical when I hear talk of “naming and claiming”.  Because my husband died when I was 29 and my oldest son has a mixed bag of mental health diagnoses.  I’m not a stay-at-home mom and life has not happened how I had “dreamed” it would.  And yet God is no less loving and full of grace.

Maybe that’s it.  There was a time when I had dreams and my perception of God was based on those dreams being fulfilled.  And when they weren’t it messed up my faith.  I didn’t know who God was because I thought my dreams were His dreams so why would He take those away?  There’s a line from a song, “There is freedom in surrender…” (Singing Over Me, by Kari Jobe).  I know this to be true.  When my husband died, I surrendered my life to God.  I said, “You are God and I place everything in Your hands.”  I let go of all my dreams and trusted God to get me through the shattering of them.  And I believe God has done (and is doing) wonderful, amazing things in response.

The life I now have is much more awesome than I could have ever dreamed up on my own.  Being married the second time around has been better than I imagined marriage could be.  My children are healthy and happy for the most part.  We live in a great old house that’s walking distance to downtown.  Now that I have my own business I am able to spend more time investing in other people, encouraging them, sharing life with them (one of the main reasons I quit my job).  My perspectives have changed on many things and I have a greater understanding of God’s love and grace and the Good News.  I have more peace and less fear and shame.  I couldn’t have dreamed this stuff up!

And maybe that’s my point.  I don’t know all the awesome and wonderful things God desires for me.  And who am I to tell God what they are?  And as if He doesn’t know what they are!?  So I don’t need to strive for and “claim” my God-sized dream.  God is already taking care of that.  I just need to be faithful with what He’s placed in front of me at this time.  The more I grow the more simple it seems to me.  Jesus really was right when He said that loving God and loving your neighbor summed up everything you need to know to live this life.

“But above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

“Now to him who by the power that is working within us is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21).


Doing the Things I Love to Do

I rarely ask myself “what are the things I love to do?” I am far more focused on the things I feel “responsible for”.

Things like:
– doing a good job at my workplace
– taking care of my family or should I say “my household”? (ie: cleaning up, doing laundry, making meals/lunches, getting the kids ready for school, getting groceries, etc.)

Between my workplace (which eats up over 45 hours a week) and all the things I feel “responsible for” in my household, I don’t perceive myself to having a lot of extra time after that. I do have extra time, but I’ll spend it going on the internet – reading blogs/emails/news, or spending a little time to myself on the weekend – reading in the tub.

Are these the things I really “love” to do? Some of them – like reading in the tub. But there are a lot of things I love to do that I just don’t do because I feel that would be “irresponsible” – it would take away from my perceived “responsibilities”.

(let me interject here with a disclaimer – my husband does his fair share of the “house-work”; what I’m talking about it completely self-inflicted. My husband does not expect me to take on all these perceived responsibilities and he graciously tries to affirm me to actually do the things I love – what a wonderful man!)

So what are the things I love to do?
– Taking pictures – I recently purchased a DSLR camera, got a beginner’s book on photography and even took a beginner’s photography workshop – however, I haven’t really spend a lot of time “taking pictures”
– Playing piano – this one is a little tricky because if my daughter is awake and I start to play the piano, she suddenly wants to play, too. That being said, I haven’t been very deliberate about taking time to play just for the fun of it
– Reading a good (ie: fiction) book – I’m not necessarily doing this myself but I am reading some of my favourite childhood books to my son and having a great time at it. The really fun part is getting to the end of a chapter with a “cliff-hanger” ending – my son is writhing in agony to know what happens next and I won’t tell him even though I know exactly what happens next. It’s like reliving the experience of reading the book for the first time again.
– Acting – a couple of years ago I had the opportunity to act in a Gateway play in Saskatoon. I absolutely loved it! I had acted throughout school and college (when I was in high school there was a time I wanted to be a professional actress). I’m glad I was able to act in the Gateway play and my family really encouraged me to do it. I haven’t auditioned for anything else since then. Maybe I should to some more auditioning…
– Coloring – this may seem silly but I really enjoy coloring. My daughter loves to draw and color but I don’t do much coloring with her.
– Dancing – I love dance. I never had an opportunity to take dance classes when I was growing up. I entered my daughter into ballet classes last year and this year I signed myself up for an Adult Ballet class and I’m enjoying it.

I saw a couple of friends I grew up with play in their band this weekend – it looks like they loved playing together. I’ve been thinking about that. It’s important to do the things you love to do. “There is a time to work and a time to play”.

Thanks to the encouragement of my husband I am starting to do some of the things I love to do. I just need to get past the burden of “perceived responsibility” in order to enjoy this life God has given me even more.


Thankful notes…

I missed blogging last weekend – too busy and worn out.  I’m thankful for a number of things today.

  • My husband – he is awesome! And caring! And self-sacrificing!  At work last week we were 2 bodies down and it was really really busy. I had to go into work early and stay late for a couple of days and my husband took care of everything at home.  I really appreciate him and couldn’t do this without him
  • My ‘new’ body – since October, I’ve embarked on working out consistently and watching (and limiting) what I eat.  As a result (over the 6 months) I have lost 30 pounds and as of this week, I can fit into all my old clothes (clothes I could wear before getting married and having my daughter).  It feels SO good to fit into ‘slim’ clothes again.  And I feel like I’ve never been in this good of shape before.  I’m very thankful that I had the discipline to stick to the plan.  The end results were definitely worth it!
  • Spring – I know there isn’t any evidence that it’s here yet, but it’s coming.  And in spring you can hear the birds singing, the air is fresh and warm.  The remnants of winter (and all the dirt and grime) disappear, the grass begins to grow, and leaves erupt from trees.  I love it! (especially the smell of wet earth after the first spring rain)
  • the love and life of my daughter – I was with my daughter in the mall yesterday.  We were in a shoe store and while I was trying on different kinds of shoes, she found 2 other children in the store.  She sat down beside them and started talking to them.  When the children were leaving with their parents, Lynae ran out of the store to follow them.  I chased after her to stop her, not knowing what she was trying to do.  When I stopped her, she was sad because she wanted to give them a hug goodbye.  Lynae loves people and she loves them freely and generously.  It is such a beautiful quality.  She brings smiles to people’s faces wherever she goes.

Interesting work-related articles

I read a couple of very interesting articles in the Globe & Mail this week.

1. Stress: Public-Health Enemy Number 1?

Here’s just 2 excerpts – it’s worth reading the whole article.

“Across the country, people are experiencing increasing levels of stress. A poll commissioned by The Globe found that Canadians endure, on average, 14 stressful episodes a week. That might not come as a surprise to the researchers behind the latest report from the Canadian Index of Wellbeing, which recently revealed that one working person in five is experiencing high levels of “crunch time” – periods when they feel overwhelmed by overcrowded inboxes and jammed weekly schedules.”

“Chronic stress caused by taking on too much – both at home and at work – has been linked to a wide range of serious health concerns, from Alzheimer’s and depression to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. In Canada, hypertension is the No. 1 reason people go to the doctor, and last year accounted for almost 20.7 million medical appointments. / The physical and psychological ailments brought about by stress are believed to be a major reason absentee rates for full-time employees have shot up 43 per cent in the past 10 years. Canadians miss far more work days for personal reasons than both their British and American counterparts. At least one think tank estimates that stress-related absences cost employers more than $10-billion a year, with an additional $14-billion impact on the health-care system.”

2. Work-Life Balance: Why Your Boss Should Care

“Our inability to balance our jobs and our home life is costing corporate Canada as much as $10-billion a year in rising absenteeism, lost output, lower productivity, missed deadlines and grumpy customers, according to estimates by business professors Linda Duxbury of Carleton University and Christopher Higgins of the University of Western Ontario.”

I can relate to these articles, particularly at this time of year (which is the busiest time of year for my job).  High levels of stress, lower productivity, missed deadlines – they’re all part of my life right now.  Add to that a high level of turnover in our office over the past three years.  It’s taking a toll on me.


So long… so very long

That’s what I think of when I return to my blog.  It’s been quite neglected in the past year.  It’s not necessarily that I don’t have things to write about.  I do.  Actually, lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how God designed things so we could know Him and how important this theme is, but that will have to wait for another day.  There’s nothing really new or interesting in my life – life has felt ‘grey’ for a while.  After taking 2 weeks off in the summer, I am slowly beginning to realize just how much energy my employment takes out of me.  I don’t think of myself as having to work a lot of overtime, but that’s only part of the story.  I don’t have a lot of energy outside of work because I think it takes so much out of me while I am at work.  It’s time for a change.  But until that change happens, I’m going to keep on keeping on.  I don’t have a lot of energy these days but I believe there will come a time in the not too distant future where I will feel energized again and not so stinkin’ drained.  Till then, I probably won’t be around here much.


Exciting news

Well, no, not really.  It’s just that my hubby said I should blog because I haven’t blogged in a while.  Sorry, no incredibly profound thoughts rattling around here.  Here’s a blip into my life:

  • tired, so very tired – work is taking a lot out of me, but after March it should slow down a bit
  • I’m taking holidays the first week of April so I’m looking forward to trying to rest – but maybe I’ll worry so much about making sure that I rest during those 10 days I’m off that I won’t actually rest and the closer I get to the end of my holidays and the lack of ‘resting’ happening, the more stressed I’ll get so by the time I get back to work I’ll be just as stressed (or maybe worse) than I am right now – that doesn’t sound very good at all; please pray for rest for me – I haven’t been doing a lot of it lately
  • I received an awesome expensive flat iron for Christmas and am loving it!  Doing my hair is so much easier with that thing
  • I love going on adventures with my little girl.  On Saturday we went to Pooh Corner at the Library and then we went through a touchless car wash (as a kid, it was rare that we went through a car wash and I always remember it being so fascinating for me), and we had lunch at Tim Horton’s.  It was a lot of fun.
  • Still learning lots about being a manager and leading people, learning about the unnecessary stresses I put upon myself – still needing work on becoming free of those ones
  • Reading through the Bible in one year.  I’ve got a one year Bible that puts the books of the Bible and Bible passages in chronological order, which I love as I like to relate the different prophetic books with what was happening in Israel’s history in particular
  • reading through Deuteronomy – I get the sense that Moses really knew the heart of God
  • just created a “Jar of Doom” for the boys – for any infractions (not following the rules or doing their chores, or not listening, etc.) they’ll have to draw a piece of paper from the “jar of doom” and do what it says – I’ll keep you posted as to how it’s been working after we used it for a while

That’s all for now…


How do I learn?

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my job lately. I’ve been evaluating the past two months and the circumstances in my office and some of the things that happened. I’m learning more about myself.

How do I learn? I need to think things over for a while. I need time and space to do this. I’ll have emotional reactions about things and then I have to figure out WHY I had those emotional reactions. Sometimes it takes me a few weeks to piece things together. I learn by talking to other people and getting their perspectives on things. I add that to the mental soup I’m sifting through in my mind. I journal – writing my thoughts down on paper helps bring clarity to what I’m mulling over.

So what have I learned in the past week? I like to be managed in a specific way. I need a framework to operate from. So if it’s something completely new to me I need someone to show me the best way to do it. I am NOT one to just go ahead and figure things out for myself when in completely foreign territory. But once I’ve got the framework, I need the freedom to figure things out for myself. I listen to people’s suggestions and I evaluate whether that will work for me or not. I don’t like being told what to do. I don’t like people taking over.

There are different personality types and different management styles. The trick is to figure out which management style will work best for which personality type.

I’m growing and I’m feeling excited about how I’m growing. It is liberating to understand oneself and to be able to communicate that to others.


September’s been busy

Oh wait… we’re in OCTOBER already. Well September’s been so busy it hasn’t really sunk in that we’re actually in October yet.

New employees at work, new people to train, busiest conference season of the year… it’s been intense.

Home renos.

Not a lot of breaks.

Daughter did a faceplant off a slide on Friday (her nose looks NASTY! – it’s now a disgusting shade of green, but she’s a trouper). Daughter got the stomach flu on Saturday.

Rest of family sick with stomach flu on Monday. Have been home sick for the past two days.

Seeing friends from afar this Saturday – really looking forward to it.

Going to try to take a break in the next couple of weeks.

Too much to do… too little time to do it.

Coming to accept that I just won’t get everything done… and that’s ok.

Need to learn how to delegate more.

Feeling “unspiritual”. Need to fit more “me” and “me and God time” into my life – it’s never a bad thing.

Need to go to bed. Work tomorrow.


Snippets of this and that

Life has been busy.  It feels like I haven’t stopped to rest in while (though I did a bit of that today).

  • We’re insulating our home to take advantage of rebates with the EnerGuide program – a few weeks ago we insulated our attic; this week Leighton insulated our main floor (using spray foam insulation injected into the wall cavities); we are still going to insulate the floor and attic of our veranda so we can use in during the winter
  • Home-schooling our oldest boy – choosing curriculum (I’m happy with what we chose); getting into a routine has taken a bit longer than I thought it would take, but David is enjoying it (and Leighton is a great teacher)
  • Work is crazy right now – it’s the uber-busy time of year and our admin assistant quit a couple of weeks ago, someone else gave their notice last Friday and another person gave their notice this past Friday.  Luckily we have someone to replace the one person and I’ll start training them on Monday.
  • I feel very tired and weary.
  • Loving our house church!  I love the social interaction, the richness of studying God’s word together and being able to share in people’s lives and to pray for them and encourage them.
  • I watched the last four episodes of Avatar, season 3 and LOVED IT!  We purchased the entire third season on ITunes and are going through it.
  • Heroes begins their 3rd season on Monday.  Stop Sylar!!!
  • Went shopping today for the fun of it – haven’t done that in a long long time

My computer is running out of juice.  Signing off…


Sooo thankful for where I work

I guess I should consider myself fortunate. I work for a company that invests into its employees. Our parent company values associate satisfaction, guest satisfaction (I work in a hotel) as well as making money. They focus on training and ensuring every employee has a quarterly review for feedback and discussion purposes. They really want to know how people are doing. Management is supportive of its leaders and associates. People are approachable. I may think this because I am in management but I’ve seen many hourly associates meeting with our HR manager or talking to other managers.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not all roses. I do not live in a perfect world. There is conflict between people and departments at times. Processes break down and things don’t run how they should.  Sometimes I’m extremely frustrated with my work.

But there are times when I realize I take a lot of things for granted. I realize this when I hear of other people’s work experiences and I am APPALLED by what some employers get away with: not permitting employees to take holidays, giving people unrealistic expectations with limited training and then freaking out on them when they make a mistake, having double standards among employees – what is ok for one is not ok for another, allowing managers to use manipulation and power plays to exercise their dominance. It’s just plain stupid! How does it benefit a company to treat their employees like crap?!

I was telling my co-workers of an incident that happened to someone I know – the person’s boss actually crumpled up a piece of paper and threw it at the person (over a personal voice mail message that didn’t list a phone number)! My co-workers laughed! They tried to imagine our boss doing the same thing and the thought was so ridiculous they laughed.

Sometimes I wonder whether I live in a bubble. How much of these shinanigans go on with employers and bosses and managers? I’m sure there are places that are better than mine in terms of how they treat their employees but I am realizing that there are places a lot WORSE than mine, too. The good thing is, having the work experience that I have had, I know I wouldn’t put up with stuff like that from an employer. Either I’d quit or I’d go to Labour Relations and report them. The sad thing is that there are probably lots of people out there that don’t know that things could be better or that what their employers are doing is actually illegal.

So I will be thankful today for my place of employment.


Tidbits…

  • I’ve decided I like my old blog design better
  • Life has been really hard lately, although this past week has been better
  • why does life always seem so busy?
  • I really really love my husband and am so glad I’m married to him and that we’re in this together
  • I love my kids – my heart breaks for them sometimes (I guess that’s what love is about)
  • My day job is hard but rewarding – its no fun being in an industry with major labour shortages
  • I still like my house and am looking forward to finishing my ‘prayer room’ – if only life wasn’t so busy, I’d be done this thing by now (maybe I’ll get closer to the end this weekend)
  • we planted a garden – I wasn’t too terribly excited although I wasn’t opposed to the idea; I have memories of weeding in our very very large farm garden – it was very big – there were a lot of weeds; our garden this year is tiny in comparison so I should survive; plus I can pass on the tradition of weed-pulling to my two sons (I’m sure my daughter will want to help too, although she won’t know the difference between weeds and and peas…)
  • we bought a Matrix and its fun to drive
  • I’m very thankful for our house church friends – I love hanging out with them (and they’ve been praying for our family which has meant a lot to us)
  • I’m thankful for my other friends, too (I get to visit one of them next Thursday – yay!)
  • I’m glad its the weekend (and its sunny and warm outside)

Ah, that feels better

As I’ve mentioned, since returning to work in September, I have been drowning in work.  I had a nice break of 10 days off over Christmas where I was able to get some much needed R & R.  Today, my husband graciously manned the fort, while I went back to work to try to get my desk in order before the next wave of conferences.  I was able to clean up a lot of stuff.  For the first time in months, I actually feel like I have a handle on my workload, that it’s actually manageable.  It’s a very good feeling.


It’s me

Oh my goodness! Has it really been since October 21 that I actually blogged something? (I’m amazed Leighton hasn’t kicked me off his blogroll)

Some of you may be wondering what happened to me. WORK is what happened to me. I like my job and the company I work for, but looking back at the last 3 1/2 months I realize that I came back to work under the worst possible conditions for me. When I came back, most of the leaders were people I had never worked with before, particularly in the departments I most deal with (Banquets, Kitchen, Food & Beverage Director, General Manager). So it meant that assuming that things would be done how they were done before was not going to work. I needed to learn how these new leaders worked and how best to communicate among our departments. That lead to some stress and extra time taken up working out the kinks. I also had to train two new catering consultants (one started a week before I came back, and one came on board at the end of October). Learning the job of a catering consultant has a huge learning curve, especially if you’ve never worked in a hotel before, so that took more of my time training them, explaining things, and answering questions. I really love training people and I’d rather have them learn something right the first time than trying to correct bad habits later on. But all this takes time, and on top of all of the above, I had conferences to coordinate that were happening within 2 weeks of my arrival back to work. I usually like to get conferences ‘coordinated’ by about 1 month before the event, so I was trying to pull myself out of a hole (unsuccessfully, I might add) ever since I started back to work.

It has been a rough 3 1/2 months. It’s had its good points and its frustrating points (Leighton hears all about those). I really like being a Catering Manager. I just wish I could have started in less of a hole to work my way out of (the hole was created for me before I even got there). With things slowing down at Christmas time, I’ve been able to start catching up, but I’m not out of the hole yet. The worse part is that there’s a really, really big annual convention at the hotel the first full week of January, so I’m not getting much of a break.

I hope going into this new year things can be better. I don’t want to continue working under the conditions that I have been. I would like more balance to my life, I’d like to take less work home and be able to spend more time with my family (more time where I’m not worrying about work). I’d like to spend more time with God. I’d also like to spend more time for me. I don’t do enough of this and I know it would help me deal with the external stresses in my life.

Leighton and I are working on our basement. We’re putting in insulation (because the basement was not insulated at all) and we gutted a room that didn’t have a light fixture (although the wiring in the ceiling was ‘live’) and had grafitti on the walls. The room is very small with the added insulation on 2 walls so this will be our ‘prayer room’. It will have a comfy chair, a small table for books and a CD player, a lamp, candles, relaxing music, and a small area rug. The nice thing about this room is that its tucked away from everything else (the boys bedrooms, the kitchen, dining room, living room, front entrance), so we should be able to ‘hide’ and be left relatively undisturbed (we’ll see how this pans out in reality – ‘mom…Mom…MOM!!’). I’m really looking forward to completing this room. I think it will be good both for myself and Leighton. We need a space to ‘escape’ to and we don’t have anything like that in our house right now. Leighton’s left it up to me to choose the paint color for the walls. I don’t know what I want yet. Something soothing and warm, I just don’t know what color will capture that.

I’ve had a couple of days off work (since Friday afternoon), and as I’ve been relaxing and releasing the stress that has built up for the past couple of months, I have been feeling very, VERY tired. This tells me that I have been more stressed than I thought I was and that I need to find things to help reduce the stress in the midst of it. I won’t get a break like this again till the summer and I don’t want to spend my two weeks of holidays sleeping!

That’s my update for now. I’ll try to add more in the next few days (maybe even some Christmas photos).

P.S. Even though I haven’t been blogging, I’ve still been ‘lurking’ and reading up on everyone else’s blogs. Its been good to read about how everyone is doing, even though I haven’t personally connected with a lot of you.


Been back for two weeks

Well I’ve been back to the hotel for two weeks and I am swamped! Jumping right into the ‘conference season’ means I have a lot of work ahead of me. And there are things that should have been addressed a while ago, but there was no catering manager so I’m dealing with it now. Despite all that I feel good about being back. It’s nice to come back in a role where I can make more of a difference. Everyone says they’re really glad to have me back (which makes me feel good). It’s very challenging in the hospitality industry now because of the labour shortage. We’re short-staffed (just like every other hotel) and morale in certain departments is pretty low. I was wondering whether, like Esther, I’m here in this role for ‘such a time as this’, to shine God’s light in the darkness. I pray He will use me for His purpose.

So life has been pretty busy, plus I worked all last weekend (Partylite and a Bridal Show). I’ve been trying to take it easy this weekend but 3 of the 5 members of our family are sick with colds (me included). No profound thoughts at this time. I’ve been reading 1 & 2 Peter. My desire is to follow God out of my comfort zone, to BELIEVE Him, and to grow in love for others.

That’s all for now.


Keys to my survival

getting-things-done.jpg Getting Things Done

At the thought of going back to work in two months, I immediately thought of “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity” (don’t you love that title?). I’ve had this book sitting on my shelf, unfinished, for the past two years. I first heard about it when my husband visited an extremely busy pastor in Australia. This pastor swore by the system set up in this book. I’ve known I needed to read this book and implement the system, but ironically, I never got it done. The book talks about getting all the things you’re thinking about in your head out of your head in a way that you will trust yourself to be able to remember them when you need to. I carry SOO much stuff running around in my head, and as a result, I’m usually worrying about something that needs to get done or hasn’t been done, even if its something due months from now. But because this system would really help me at work and I was thinking about work when reading the book, I resisted reading it in my off-hours. Who wants to think about work when they’re not at work?! So now I’m reading the book with a vengence. I NEED to learn how to implement this system before I get to work and get bogged down with the busyness of it all. I believe it will make things easier and help me be even more organized (something you definitely need in the Catering Manager position).

the-big-cook.gifThe Big Cook

One of the things that sucks about working an 8:30pm to 5:00pm job is getting home at 5:30pm to try to whip something together for supper, eating at 6:30pm and then starting the process of putting the kids to bed. It doesn’t leave any time to just ‘hang out’. Plus I’ve gotten into the habit of cooking a lot of fast, overly processed food for meals because the kids like them and they don’t take a lot of time. Interestingly enough, the day I had my interview at the hotel, I saw my hairdresser and she told me about “The Big Cook“. It’s a way of creating a mass amount of meals in one day that you can freeze for future use. The nice thing about this is that when you cook up the meals, they’re fresh (and healthy). It’s not the same as cooking a casserole and then reheating it (which never tastes as good the second time around). My hairdresser said “The Big Cook” has changed her life. It frees up so much more time for your family and you don’t have to wonder ‘what are we going to have for supper?’

So I think these two books are going to be keys to my survival when going back to work full time. Just because I’m working doesn’t mean I have to miss out on my family. It just means I’m going to have to more deliberate about the time I have with them.


Done

Finished.  Finished work for 2 weeks.  I feel absolutely exhausted.  This ‘wedding season’ has taken way too much out of me.  I’m sure I’ll just sleep for the first few days.  I was thinking tonight how I can’t wait to go on maternity leave so I can rest.  Ironic, isn’t it?  I go on maternity leave so I can get more rest than what I’m getting working.  Something is wrong with this picture.

 And I’m resentful of my personality type right now.  I find it hard to say ‘no’.  I feel responsible for everything.  This makes me the kind of person who could be taken advantage of.  Where other people might have just said they weren’t about to do the work asked of them, I just suck it up because I think if I don’t do it, then it will fall apart.  And I can’t let that happen because I’m responsible.  And on top of all that I don’t want people to be mad at me, so I don’t complain very forcefully about it either.

 I hate feeling like this, but hopefully a week at the lake will go a long way.  Ok, I’m done talking about work now.  I’m not supposed to think about it for the next 2 weeks.


Learning to deal with new levels of stress

Up to this point, I haven’t been learning to deal with the stress very well at all.  I have a very strong sense of responsibility for my job and for doing it well.  Even though I’m doing the job of 2 catering people plus part trainer (for the new employee) at this point, I’ve somehow thought I should be able to get everything done that I did before.  Silly me!  Like that’s going to happen. 

I’ve put in a lot of overtime to try to stay on top of things, but then I’m not spending much time with my family which causes me more stress (by the way, my awesome husband has been extremely supportive in all this).  But when time spent on work starts to take over time spent with my family, I get really stressed.  My personality type is one that highly values family but that also works very hard and is most likely to be taken advantage of when it comes to work. 

It’s very hard to say ‘no’ to things or to tell management that I can’t work at this level.  I did tell my boss that I could not sustain this work load for an extended amount of time without going on stress leave.  So I’m passing off more of the simple things to other people in the office.  It’s hard for me to do this because I’m thinking I’m passing off parts of MY job to someone else (as if I’m not doing MY job).  I know this is psychological and I need to let it go.  My boss understands where I’m at and is supporting what I’m doing. 

Still, it hasn’t been easy.  This week was a big wake-up call for me.  I had a super relaxing weekend, but it only took 2 days of work to get me to the level of stress I was at last Thursday before the long weekend.  My husband said that he wished someday I could be happy again.  Whoa!  Am I always unhappy?  I certainly haven’t had any peace.  Work has constantly been on my mind, from the moment I wake up in the morning to the time I go to sleep at night. 

So I had to make a decision.  I had to choose not to allow work to destroy my life.  I have to choose to accept that I can’t get everything done and not to stress about it.  I have to choose to stop thinking about work when I come home.

I’m beginning to feel better after making this decision.  It’s something I have to consciously choose every day and several times a day at that!  I’m asking God for help, because I don’t know how to deal with something like this.  Your prayers would be appreciated, too.


A wonderful weekend

The stress at work was really getting to me.  My husband said he really thought I was starting to lose it.  So our family ran away to the lake for the weekend.  It was wonderful!  I slept, relaxed, read a book, played with the kids.  It was just what we all needed.  I am so thankful for this weekend.  It was really hard packing up and heading home.  The nice thing is we will we going back to the lake later this summer – and this time for a least a week!  Yay!

P.S. My husband is itching to blog about this, so I’d better tell you about my little adventure this morning.  I got this great idea of renting a canoe and going out onto the lake alone to spend some quiet time with God.  Peaceful and relaxing, right?  Well, not really.  (The lake I decided to canoe out onto by myself is Chitek Lake, which is a very large lake.  It doesn’t take much wind to stir up the water.)  At first I wanted to row out to an island halfway on the other side of the lake, but the waves kept turning the canoe the wrong way.  I finally gave up, rested for a few minutes and then decided I’d better head back to the shore.  The only problem was I was over halfway to the other side and I couldn’t get the canoe to turn around.  The best I could do was get the canoe heading towards the shoreline which was at a right angle to the shore where I was supposed to be heading.  I thought if I canoed hard enough, the canoe would eventually turn enough to be heading in the right direction.  This did not happen.  Here I was on the other side of the lake, and I couldn’t turn the canoe around.  I started to get pretty anxious.  Finally I decided if I couldn’t turn the canoe around, I would just start paddling backwards.  That worked, but I was also working against the wind and the waves (they weren’t very big, but they were enough in this little canoe with one person to cause problems).  It took a long time to get back.  Three hours after I headed out onto the lake, I made it to the place where I had rented the canoe.  Lesson learned – next time I go out on Chitek Lake, it will be under motorized power!


Catering Chaos

I’m sitting here at my computer, waiting for the server in Vancouver to get back online so I can log into my workstation.  Right now we’re functioning with 2 catering people instead of 4.  It’s chaos at work!  Two people moving onto different jobs within less than a month of each other can wreak havoc on an office.

So I’ve been doing work from home where the phones are not ringing, there are no ‘walk-ins’ wanting to see function space – no interruptions.  It’s nice.  Although I hate having to do this.  I don’t like it when my work infringes on my personal time, but for right now it’s the only way I’m going to keep my head somewhat above water.

We have hired someone for one of the positions and we’re actively seeking another person to cover the other position.  The only thing is the new person has to learn the catering computer software and what’s involved in the position, so she won’t really be able to contribute for a few weeks yet.  Just in time for the other catering person to go on maternity leave. 

Aahhh…it will be an interesting summer.  I think I will survive.  The summer typically slows down for all the market segments. Except mine, of course, which is ‘social’ – weddings, anniversaries, etc.  And right now I’ve got a double whammy.  I book the government groups, which book 1-3 weeks before the meeting, and they’re all trying to get all their meetings in before everyone goes on holidays in July.  But I’ve also got to get my July weddings finalized at this time, too, because I need to get their stuff done preferably one month before the wedding (and we could have up to 4 or 5 weddings going on in one day). 

But really, the summer is the ‘slower’ time of the year for catering.  As long as we’ve people in place who can handle it by September, we should be ok.  That’s when it really gets crazy – meetings, conferences, some social events.  It doesn’t slow down until the week before Christmas.

There’s a little clip of my world.  I’d better go and try to login again.


Memoirs of my desk

from “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss:
“And this mess is so big
And so deep and so tall,
We can not pick it up.
There is no way at all!”

…which pretty much sums up the state of the workload on my desk today. A co-worker in the office walked by my desk and literally burst out laughing – there were papers strewn all across my desk (even piled on the floor at one point).

Ah, well. The weekend is here. I’ll deal with it on Monday.


Shift in perspective

It’s a slow process, but I think I’m gradually learning how to live with the workload I have at my job. And the shift began when I started spending a few moments reading the Bible and sitting with God before getting ready for work. It amazes me how that simple little change can affect my outlook on the day. And it also amazes me how God is above my circumstances. I’m still not able to get everything done when I want to, but I don’t feel as stressed about it.


Being consumed

Work has been very busy since the Labour day weekend. We’ve got a new person in the office but he’s spent the last 2 weeks training and getting his computer set up. Almost every week in September I’ve spent a couple of days taking things home to work on in the evenings. I feel like my job is consuming me. Rather than having more time for my family and friends, I find I’m having less time.

There are a number of different factors contributing to this. One, my personality: simply put, I have a ‘morbid sense of responsibility’. If something is my job/responsibility, I am driven to do it even if it kills me. Two, my work culture: in my company, they give their associates ownership of their jobs. While this can be really good – I feel a sense of empowerment, that this company trusts me and is willing to let me pour some of my own creativity and ideas into something – the flip side is that I feel equally responsible to make sure the job is done well (which may drive me into the ground at times). Another thing about my work culture is that they really promote a ‘team’ atmosphere, which again, can be really good – as everyone is there for each other to encourage and support. But also, if I believe that every member of my team is equally loaded down with work, I am not going to dump the extra working piling up on my desk onto someone else’s. So, I continue to drown.

I don’t like what is happening. I don’t like being a slave to my job. While I recognize that there are busy and slow times in my industry, the busy times take up 2/3 of the year. Do I want to be consumed by my job 2/3 of the year? I thought maybe it was just me that felt consumed by my job, but I was talking to some other people this week and some of the attitudes I was hearing was that they felt that taking holidays was not work it because of their work load (unless they took work with them). I read a few months ago that a significant percentage of the workforce never takes holidays. And I started wondering why do we accept this as a society? We become slaves to our jobs and pour our lives into something that will never fulfill us (and we’re kept so busy that we never have time to reflect and think about why we’re on this planet). I wonder if this is true of some Christian ministries as well. If the ministries keep their workers so busy that they have no time for their relationships with family and friends and they have no time for themselves, how can that possibly be serving the Kingdom of God???

I’ve been asking God the reason for why I’m on this planet. He hasn’t been saying much, but I wonder if that is because He needs to change how I think. Because deep down I think I believe that my purpose in life is to work and do a good job. I want to work for the Kingdom of God and live for Him, but some attitudes need to change before I can truly do that. But I am confident of this: ‘that He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion.’ I’m starting to feel excited about where God will take me.