Never a Dull Moment

As crazy weeks go, this one ranks right up there. Going into the work week, I knew most of my department would be either out on PTO or leaving late Monday morning for business travel.

That basically left two of us to hold down the fort. I knew that could present some challenges but we were actually excited to rise to the challenge.

What I wasn’t counting on was my boss calling me into her office first thing Monday morning before she left for the week – and offering me a promotion I had no idea was coming!

More on this soon! :-)

What’s important. What’s not.

I’m really trying not to let this summer just slip by. It feels like it just got here, but already we’re seeing preparations for the Fourth of July. I would like to just stop and enjoy what’s here right now, thank you. As soon as the Fourth comes along, my mindset shifts to the idea that summer’s half over. Which is ridiculous because it truly has barely begun at that point. I need to have a talk with my mindset.

The weather has been a perfect balance of sun and warmth, and just the right amount of rain. I feel so fortunate to be getting just what we need, especially while recognizing that so many other places around the country are seeing extremes.

Summer gets me into my really happy place. I love dressing for warmer weather, and not having to wear a bulky jacket. I love taking a break in the middle of my workday to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise while walking around the pond and simultaneously feeling the sun soaking into my skin. I love wearing sunglasses and a soft breeze blowing my hair. And dinners taste better when cooked on the grill and eaten out on the deck under the shade of the canopy.

And having Kacey home for the summer is such a blessing. No offense to the menfolk of the household, but it’s nice to have another female around for a change. We can gab for hours about things the boys just don’t get. And she’s such a great storyteller. I feel like I know her coworkers and friends through the tales she tells, and there’s no shortage of humor in the way she describes her world.

Also, she’s an awesome gym buddy. My usual gym buddy, Erin and I only meet twice a week, so normally, it’s up to me to be self-motivating on the off-days. And sometimes, it can be too easy to allow myself to be a slacker. So I was pleasantly surprised when Kacey said she planned to get on the 5 am gym bandwagon while she’s home for the summer. And she’s held to it. Between the three of us, we’re expanding beyond cardio, and I’m tackling my fear of the machines and free-weights. And both my body and mind are thankful for it. I feel good!

2015-06-20Out in the bird house, the wrens have had their babies. We haven’t seen the little ones yet, but we can hear their tiny chorus of chirping as they beg to be fed. Mama and Daddy wren have been busy flying back and forth, making their way in and out of the house trying to keep their brood fed while Lucy keeps watch.

At work this week, there was a someone-dropped-the-ball situation. Nothing earth-shattering in the broad scheme of things, but it brewed into an ugly finger-pointing and it looked like I was going to take the fall for it. There was a meeting in which  I was surrounded by a group of people who were senior to me and after a few attempts to backtrack to what had actually transpired, one person kept tossing the blame back on me. I felt about this big and was certain everyone had reduced me to a moron in their minds. Since we couldn’t go back in time to rectify the situation (which, again, was a fairly minor hurdle,) the conversation ended with everyone choosing to believe what they believed. My boss left the meeting early, I guessed seeing the pointlessness of it all and having other important things to do.

I went back to my desk afterwards, wracking my brain in an attempt to call up the details of past events, and for the life of me, could not recall a situation where I should have done things differently. Believe me, I would have owned up to it if I’d honestly felt it was my fault. I have a good track record at work and would be willing to admit that I’d made a mistake if I’d thought I actually had. But based on my documentation, I really couldn’t confidently claim ownership of this one. I honestly think it was a matter of several parties just getting their wires crossed, and as so often happens, lack of proper communication.

While I was back at my desk, working and stewing over the situation, I received an email from my boss asking if I was interested in taking a walk around the pond. Here we go, I thought. I’m gonna get chewed out.

But, no. As we headed outside toward the pond and walking path, my boss asked, Did you feel like you were getting thrown under the bus?

Oh, yeah. I said. Completely. I told her I’d be willing to take the blame if I honestly thought the mistake was mine, but I just couldn’t find a scrap of memory in my mind where I now thought I should have done something I didn’t.

Stop, she told me. I know you, and I know you’re making yourself crazy trying to figure out what you might have done wrong. I breathed a cautious sigh of relief and thanked her. Why had I thought she would chew me out? She has never once dealt with anyone that way.

You know I trust you, right? She asked. I assured her that I’ve always felt trusted and supported by her.

Then stop killing yourself over this. This is not on you. It was [the blaming person] who failed to check facts with the rest of the team before finalizing the project. Considering the length of time this has been in the works, all the people involved and all of the moving parts, it was [the blaming person]’s responsibility to make sure this didn’t happen.

She went on to tell me that she had left the meeting early because she was “so pissed” on my behalf that she couldn’t respond to [the blaming person] in any semblance of a professional manner. She said that [the blaming person] has a long-standing and well-known attitude of it’s business, not personal, which seems to allow her to act and speak in unthinkable ways and it’s getting old. My boss assured me that there wasn’t a person in the room who didn’t see through [the blaming person]’s smokescreen. No one else there thought I should be taking the fall for this, and she informed me that the VP was livid on my behalf. And ultimately, it was [the blaming person] who was directed to rectify the situation.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love my boss? Afterwards, it was tempting to hold a grudge against [the blaming person], but I was just so relieved to know that my boss had my back that I decided it wasn’t worth the effort. And ultimately, I feel sorry for [the blaming person]. She has a brilliant mind, but she’s an island. It must be awfully lonely being her at times. And based on her approach with me after all was said and done, I can tell that she truly didn’t think she’d done anything hurtful. She was leaning on me for support in her efforts, asking my opinion, letting me know she values my capabilities, just like she typically does.

The longer I’m in the corporate world, the more I’m reminded, this is not who I am. It’s just what I do. I’m fortunate to be passionate about many aspects of it, but I can see that if it were one day gone from me… there’d be something else to take its place and I’d get by. So I’ll do it for as long as I’m allowed and as long as it serves my family’s needs.

And at any rate, I am just so happy it’s summer and it’s the weekend! Moving on!

Opting not to be defeated

I woke up this morning and sensed the sun slipping through the bedroom window beneath the shade. I hadn’t pulled it all the way down last night. The air outside was comfortable and I wanted to sleep with the breeze drifting in.

I peeked at the clock. Five-thirty. Nope. I closed my eyes again and drifted off before I heard Lucy trot into the room and felt her drop her chin on the bed next to my face. She offered a short, pleading whine, and when I refused to open my eyes and acknowledge her, she leapt up and over me and then back down from Mark’s side of the bed, all in one continuous motion. She’s such a stinker. She wants what she wants, when she wants it.

I opened one eye to look at the clock again. Six-thirty. I decided I was agreeable to taking the spoiled, little princess out for a morning walk.

The past week at work was full of challenges, both of the good and not-so-much variety. A particular colleague continues to combat my sense of balance. While most of our small team has a good sense of give and take and support for one another, she seems to feel the need to not only position herself above everyone else, but to undermine the rest of us. I often wish I had the nerve to remind her that we are all truly peers! No one is above another.

She and I are currently working on two separate but related projects. In an informal meeting she had on Thursday with some of the IT staff, one of them suggested they call me in to collaborate. This would have shed some light on the work I was doing. She had a conniption fit, to the point she felt the need to tell me about it afterwards and attempt to justify her behavior. As she described it, she angrily asked if they were altering the purpose of the meeting and if so, she would drop out so that they could collaborate with me instead. She told everyone present that I was overwhelmed with my job duties at the present time and that they would be imposing on me by calling me into their discussion. Apparently, she made everyone so uncomfortable with her words and tone that they avoided her for the rest of the day. She’s well-known for her air of condescension, but there are times when it becomes downright unprofessional. This was clearly one of those times. She didn’t need to tell me what had happened. I wish she hadn’t. But it was obvious that she felt the need to describe the events in a way that might convince me she was somehow protecting me, in case someone else might get to me first with an uglier description of the events.

Several times afterwards, she stopped by to say, “I hope you’re not mad at me for not wanting to bring you into the meeting.”

I was mad. Not so much because she blocked me from a meeting that would have helped me do my work. I was already doing well enough on my own… but there’s a lot to do and anything that makes things easier is always appreciated. No, I was upset because she seems to think it’s acceptable to act as a human roadblock. Not wanting to give her the satisfaction, I shrugged it off and insisted my project was sailing along just fine and I was more than capable of obtaining any information I needed to get my work done. It was true. I did exactly that before Friday was over with initial testing of the project showing almost perfect results. But the fallout of her behavior is that several people later initiated communications with me with the words, “I know you’re swamped, but …”

“Swamped.” That was the exact word she’d told me she used when she lost her cool in her meeting. So I knew there had been a ripple effect from her outburst that caused others to approach me cautiously. That’s what frustrated me so much. I like to work. I welcome new experiences and opportunities. Her behavior could have caused others to pass me by when they would have otherwise invited me in. Probably not. People know me well enough not to let this one thing steer them away from me if I’m really needed. But it was apparent she’d created at least a temporary sense of hesitation.

As Lucy and I walked this morning, I was able to unwind from the stress of the week. The sun was brilliant at that time of the day. The sky was striped with alternating stretches of clear blue and white, puffy clouds. Cottonwood drifted down from the trees, dusting the ground with a blanket of white.

Lucy raced and stopped, pulled and sniffed. She’s not a well-trained dog, to put it mildly. I’ve tried, but she’s got such enthusiasm for the people we encounter along our route. I hold her back, never knowing who might be a dog lover and who might not. But if she could talk, I can imagine what she’d say to those she meets. Hi! Hello! Let me lick your knees! Don’t you want to pet me? 

Everything is an adventure to Lucy. She makes me see things I otherwise might miss. She wanted to chase a black squirrel, and a huge rabbit that disappeared underneath a white picket fence almost before Lucy caught sight of her. She made me laugh and relax. Along the way, as my dog sniffed every scent she encountered, I admired the artwork of spring. Lawns and trees and open spaces along the way seemed to be orchestrated in perfect harmony. Colors seem so brilliant this time of year, the greens so deep, the whites so clean, the yellows and pinks and reds so bursting with brilliance. Even some of those things we usually consider to be weeds were boasting pretty flowers. As we strolled past the farm, I contemplated the huge, old trees that had been allowed to stretch upwards and outwards, unmanicured for years,  their trunks and branches spreading high, and wide. Climbing trees. If I’d have been younger and without a dog, I might have climbed up inside of the branches and relaxed among the leaves for a while.


The walk allowed me to take a step back from the situation at work. This colleague who continues to frustrate me is not a person of integrity. I’ve known this for years. She’s either openly ugly, or obviously phony with her fake smiles and insincere compliments. I don’t know why I allow her to continue causing me turmoil inside. If I’m not her target, it’s certainly someone else. And quite honestly, it’s so obvious that everything she says and does comes from a place of insecurity. She outright told me that in her meeting, the person who suggested they call me in, said he considered me the most knowledgeable or experienced in the area they were discussing. This set her off, I’m sure, but ironically, it was she who helped ensure I became just that! Whenever work in this area comes up and she doesn’t want to do it, she pawns it off on me, flavoring her requests with words such as, “I thought you’d be the best person to work on this. You’ve already done so much work in this arena and have the most expertise.”

Apparently she uses that particular compliment to get me to do work she doesn’t want to do. It’s not okay when someone else says it and means it.

During my walk, I realized that as difficult as my colleague continues to be, she helps me better myself. She makes me dig deep, to really think about who I am, who I want to be, and what I’m really capable of. She displays the kind of behaviors I make note to always avoid, and she challenges me to develop my own strengths. And then I did something I never thought I’d do. I prayed for her. I thanked God for putting her in my path and acknowledged there’s a reason she and I are in each other’s worlds. I felt sorry for her and asked God to help her, and I softened a little bit inside for her. Maybe there’s a chance we can both rise above this kind of thing. I won’t get my hopes too high, but at least I know that I can take the high road, even if she never does.

Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional.”
Roger Crawford

Parking Lot Rescue

If he hadn’t been with someone else, I totally would have taken him home.

Today was one of those spring days on the verge of summer. I’d squeezed in a quick walk around the pond at lunch time, but wanted to soak up a few more of the sun’s rays before getting inside my car and making the drive home. So when my work day was finished, I packed up my stuff and left through back entrance. I walked the long way around the building to the far side of the lot where I always park. It was five o’clock and a typically busy time in the company parking lot. A steady stream of employees cruised by me in their cars as I walked.

I was coming up on the far corner of the building when I saw a black tow truck blocking one of the two areas that lead to the east exit from the company lot. The truck’s engine was idling. The cab was empty and the driver’s side door hung wide open. Behind the tow truck was an Isuzu Trooper I’d noticed in the lot over the past few days.

That’s when I saw him. He was sitting on a curb behind a parked white car. He seemed so out-of-place there and I wondered if he was okay. I slowed my pace and hesitantly moved toward him. His face was really handsome and I felt an urge to run my fingers through the tousle of black on top of his head.

He looked cautiously at me as I took another step toward him and softly said, “Hey.”

I was a bit startled when he leapt to his feet and lunged toward me.

“YIP YIP!” Four furry little legs followed behind his cute, fuzzy face.

“Snoopy!” A burly, buzzed-haired tow truck driver yelled as he turned in my direction, rising from his crouched position next to the front tire of the Isuzu. “Get back in the truck!”

Not the real Snoopy

Not the real Snoopy

Snoopy made no move to obey his owner and looked curiously back at me. He was an adorable, little black fur-ball of a dog and I was worried he’d run into the open area of the parking lot, or worse, into the busy street. I certainly didn’t want him getting hit by a car, so I reached my hand down so he could sniff me. I moved slowly toward the tow truck, all the while holding my hand out to Snoopy, hoping he’d follow me back toward the truck. He wasn’t all that interested.

“He’s friendly,” offered the tow truck guy. “He just warns me when someone comes up behind me while I’m doing a repo.” I suppressed a giggle at the fact that this beefy guy’s guard dog was an ankle biter.

I looked down at Snoopy and decided I was tired of hoping he’d cooperate with me in ensuring his safety. I dropped my work bag and purse on the ground and scooped him up with one hand. He nestled right into me and I scratched him under his chin as I walked him back to his owner. Tow Truck Guy gratefully took Snoopy from me and said thanks.

“No problem,” I smiled. “It’s busy around here. Don’t want him getting run over!”

I headed back toward my car and as I unlocked it and slid into the driver’s seat, I turned to see Tow Truck Guy gently closing the truck door behind Snoopy. Snoopy quickly jumped up, resting his front paws on the window ledge where he watched his owner finish his job from the safety of the cab. My heart melted and I was happy Snoopy was safe.

Watch Me

On cold winter mornings such as we’ve had lately, I sometimes wake up and have to talk myself into a positive mood. Sometimes it’s just hard having to extract myself from under the piles of blankets where it’s warm and cozy, and step out into the cold air, knowing that the thermometer outside is not going to climb above zero.

But not today. Today I awoke hoping that the weather man was correct when he said that cold snap would begin to break. I awoke feeling motivated and energetic, (which was really helpful during the exercise portion of my morning.) And this lofty mood carried right on into the rest of my day.

As I was driving to work, I was thinking about all the stuff that I have going on at work, how the to-do list keeps growing, and how one particular project seems to keep spinning its wheels. And in spite of those thoughts, I had some ideas brewing which, if I chose to speak up about them, would create more work for myself. I realized I could just keep my mouth shut about those ideas and just keep working toward getting everything else under control. But I didn’t want to. And eventually, when I mentioned it, I was told to run with it. Which got me to thinking how lucky I am to have a job I really enjoy, a job that provides challenges and opportunities to experiment and grow and learn.

I was in full love-my-job mode. I’d had four meetings throughout the course of the morning and worked through my lunch in order to get a few things done before the afternoon meetings began. After my first afternoon meeting, I walked two rows over from my cubicle to bring a colleague up to speed on a particular topic.

There are advantages to being tall. As I was talking with my co-worker at her cubicle,  I glanced out over the tops of all of those gray walls. Tall people can see other tall people over the tops of the cubes. I could see the corner where my cubicle is located and I noticed a head sticking up from behind my wall. Since I wasn’t there, I knew it wasn’t my head. I quickly realized it was Bob’s head.

I know Bob pretty well, and his office is located in the near vicinity, but we don’t work together and I could think of no reason he would be in my cubicle while I was not there unless I had a dish of candy out in the open. Which I did not.

Then another head appeared, and I recognized it as Brian’s, our vice president. Brian and Bob together equals shenanigans, so I quickly walked back to my own neighborhood where I soon saw another head belonging to my boss, Lisa come around the corner. (Lisa is short. She can’t be seen from behind a cubicle wall.)

Bob and Brian and Lisa together equals big shenanigans. Before I could ask what was up and why they were all milling around my desk, the three of them sidled up together and began to sing the Flintstone’s anniversary song.

“It’s not my … ” I began, but then realized it was my work anniversary. Or it recently was. On the fifth of this month I’d been employed with my company for ten years. When they finished singing, complete with Brian dancing a little jig, I was laughing and thinking how lucky I am we can have fun in our office. Lisa handed me an envelope and a box.



I was being recognized for my years of service with a pretty nice watch (with only a subtle company logo on the face of it.) I haven’t worn a wrist watch in years, since my last one stopped working and continued to stop working way too frequently after replacing the battery several times. But this token of recognition seems like a pretty good excuse to start wearing a watch again. And how synchronous that I received it on the same day that my work  mojo was in full force.

Now if I can just figure out how to work the clasp!


Crazy Days and Lipiness

I’m particularly happy to see the weekend! Crazy week, it was!

Most of the craziness was work-related. Over the past year, our small department of three employees has become increasingly busy, sometimes to the point of  being overwhelmed. We were thrilled when it was announced a couple of months ago that we were finally given the budget to hire additional staff – two new Account Analysts, like us, and an Support Specialist. We were getting help!

The newbies started on Monday and there was a plan for getting them acclimated, which was swept aside when one of our automated processes decided to act up at the same time. We didn’t realize it at first. I was looking for reports that should have generated for some of my clients but they were nowhere to be found. This odd little quirk soon revealed that something bigger was amiss. We spent all of Monday researching what had gone wrong and how to fix it. Thankfully, the newbies could keep pretty busy completing their Human Resources requirements.

By Tuesday, we had a better idea of how to get our process back under control and the newbies could start getting their feet wet. As might be expected, with the doubling of our department staff, we had to change a few things. The seating arrangement was one of those things. We three seasoned veterans used to sit in close proximity to one another. It was an easy way to maintain communication and teamwork, but it also occasionally contributed to a lot of unnecessary conversation. I’m all for friendly chatter, but with as big as my to-do list often was, this became a dilemma for me. I mean, there’s really no nice way to say, “Please go away. I don’t have time to hear about your son’s new tattoo right now.” I developed many coping mechanisms to discourage casual visits to my desk when I really couldn’t afford the time for them. But there are some who just can’t seem to take a hint.

Before the new staff joined us, we were informed that there would be some rearranging of our cubicle assignments. There was some dismay about this, because two of us would have to relocate to an aisle that’s somewhat of a main thoroughfare. I wasn’t concerned. I can tune out general noise. It’s those direct interruptions I have trouble combatting. I was happy to move, or stay put. I was only hoping that the changes would give me a small bit of distance from a frequent distraction. I sent an email to my boss saying that if it made the decision easier, I would happily relocate to one of the new locations if it allowed one of my less willing associates to stay put. In the end, I was the only one to remain in my existing “home” while the others were moved over to the busier aisle. All of the new people would be located in my aisle. I’m not sure if any of the assignments was intentional or entirely random, and not everyone was happy about it. But I got my wish, so all was good with me.

Of course, new staff means lots of questions. And since I’m the closest of the three “experts,” many of those questions were addressed to me. It was a challenge to maintain focus on my projects while trying to accommodate the new staff’s needs, for all of us. But it was a good problem to have. The new people are already proving to us that we made the right choice in hiring them. The week was intense, but I’m sure next week will settle down some, and soon we’ll all be in a new groove.

2014-10-09In non-work news, I had a spot on my lip taken care of on Tuesday this week. I noticed the spot about a year or so ago and first thought it was a blood blister or something. When it didn’t go away, I ignored it. Because that’s a good plan of action with weird facial stuff, right? Few others could see it, but a couple of times recently, someone noticed and asked about it. Suddenly, it seemed bigger, darker, and I was now certain it was a cancerous mole in my lip. I couldn’t stop looking at it and worrying. Finally, I had my doctor check it out and I was relieved when he assured me that it basically was a sort of blood blister. He said I probably bit my lip somewhere along the way. I’ll bet my hyper dog was responsible, considering the number of times she’s chucked me under the chin in her excitement to welcome me home after work. He told me I could have it lasered off by a dermatologist. And since I have some old HSA money in a use it or lose it account, I decided to do it.

At the dermatology clinic, I was treated by the youngest looking doctor I’ve ever met. Couldn’t help thinking, “Doogie Howser.” Though he was definitely more of an adult than Doogie was. And if he’s not already married, I’m sure he experiences no shortage of attention from the opposite sex, if you know what I’m saying. After he presented all of my options, we agreed to the laser treatment and I got three relatively painless zaps to the lip. Dr. Doogie told me to expect a bit of bruising and slight swelling, but that the spot would likely fade within a week to ten days. And if not, I could come back for more zapping.

For the first few days, I felt like I had an elephant sitting on my lip, which is funny, because I took this that selfie at the height of the elephantness, and clearly, I might have been overreacting just slightly. And I’m happy to say that the spot is definitely fading. But if it doesn’t completely disappear, I’ll be happy to go pay Doctor Hottie Doogie another visit.


One Good Thing

I’ve noticed I haven’t been writing as much as I’d like to lately.  I think maybe subconsciously, I feel as if I’m going to write, it has to be some well thought-out narrative about something not too run-of-the-mill. I hesitate to say about something exciting because, let’s face it. My life’s not all that exciting. Not that I’m complaining.

Life gets busy and I don’t stop to write. Too many days go by and I end up not knowing where to begin. Or I end up trying to document every notable happening since my last post and then I ramble on and on and on…

But certainly there should be at least one good thing in any given day. That shouldn’t be so hard to do, right? Here’s one good thing from today.

I woke up this morning to fog and gray skies, which eventually turned into rain for the whole rest of the day. I went to the office feeling like I’d just left, hadn’t made a dent in yesterday’s to-do list, and had another list awaiting me. It was one of those days in which every time I settled into a good focus, someone or something would come along and interrupt my train of thought.

So there I was, trying to get my head above water when I got an email from my boss, (whom I adore, by the way.) She’s a tough chick with a great ability to lead, and she’s inspiring in many ways. I’d do anything for her. So when she asked if I would write something for her, I didn’t mind rearranging my work load to accommodate her request. She asked for a paragraph about a particular product, its current level of success, and such. The information was needed for the monthly corporate report. My boss had been asked by the V.P. to write it but she was too busy. So she passed the request on to me.

I read through some previous reports to refresh myself on the usual tone and gathered a few statistics. I began to write in a way I thought would suit the report. It wasn’t much. Just a short paragraph detailing recent growth of the product, noting evidence of client satisfaction and insinuating a few departmental pats-on-the-back. I read through it a few times, adjusted some of the information and decided it was finished. Then I second guessed myself, wondering if I was expected only to provide the necessary details so that someone else could mold it into their own words. And finally decided I’d spent too much time already playing around with the thing. I emailed it to my boss with a note saying to let me know if it was not what she’d had in mind. I knew if it wasn’t, she’d send it back and ask me to try again.

I went to a meeting and when I returned to my desk, the voicemail light was lit on my desk phone. I dialed in and heard my boss’s voice telling me that what I had written was perfect. She said, “You have such a talent for writing” and mentioned how very appreciative she was. She instantly put the biggest smile on my face. I hadn’t created a work of art or anything. I’d gathered some numbers and mimicked the style of another’s writing. But it made my day that she took the time to stop and let me know that my help was genuinely appreciated. And when she emailed it to the big guy to add to his report, she copied me, making sure to give me credit for putting the information together. From that moment on, everything else felt just a little bit easier and I was reminded how incredibly good it feels to be genuinely thanked! I’m going to try to remember to always pay that forward.