Wednesday, September 26, 2012

9 to 5 (Quotable Bits #16)

“Choose a job you love, 
and you will never have to work a day in your life.
~ Confucius

I have always loved working.  I like my brain to be challenged…I like being creative…I like starting a project and seeing it all the way through to the end.

But sometimes…I wonder if it’s really worth it.

My job can be stressful and frustrating. And I never truly get away from it as I am tethered to my work email through a company issued smartphone. And even if I wasn’t I can never manage to stop thinking about work completely anyway.  

this is definitely glass half empty...
There are times where my works is rewarding but I am finding that as I get older – the demands are greater and the rewards are fewer.  And by rewards I’m not just talking about money – although that’s obviously an important factor. 

I’m talking about a feeling of accomplishment. Feeling like what I do is worth the time away from my kids. I’m talking about getting the occasional pat on the back for a job well done.

Maybe I am expecting too much.  Of myself, of my job, of my colleagues and my supervisors.  Or maybe this is today’s reality.

My friends and I all talk about being in the same boat.  The expectation of being reachable 24/7, working nights and weekend without compensation and that even if you are on vacation – you need to be sure to check your email once in a while.

When my family and I went to Disneyland in February I didn’t bother to take my phone because I couldn’t afford to buy a travel package for the US. And it was the best vacation EVER because I wasn’t constantly looking at my phone. 

My oldest daughter even commented on how nice it was that I didn’t have my phone with me when we were eating.  I was effectively unplugged.  Unconnected to my work life.

And you know what?  My office didn’t fall apart.  Projects moved forward. Decisions were made without me.  Life moved on.

We all like the thought that we are indispensable…and we are in many areas. To our kids, our spouses, our family maybe…but not in the workplace.

It all comes down the choices we make.  I can choose not to have my phone on the table.  I can choose to say no, to acknowledge my own limitations. I can choose to see my glass as half full.

Me...back when I was a young marketing wannabe...and not yet jaded.
Because – let’s face it – in the scheme of things everything I complain out is quite inconsequential. I’m not curing cancer. I’m not changing the world.

I got a nice dose of perspective on Monday when my friend and I were returning to work after lunch.  We had spent most of our lunch talking about our work challenges and feeling pretty damn sorry for ourselves.  And then we noticed the police cars and the fact that the other lanes of the bridge had no traffic.  We saw the police officers slowly walking towards the same spot on the bridge.

And then we saw her.  A young woman sitting on the outside railing…feet dangling over the edge. 

She looked young.  And I wondered what led her to be in that place?  What had happened in her life that made her feel that was her only option? 

I don’t know the answer to those questions.  And I don’t know if she actually decided to jump.

But I am fairly certain that the reason she was there had nothing to do with a job that expected her to be reachable outside of office hours.

Perspective. Every once and a while it’s good to have that smack you in the face.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Going with the Flow

Today turned out to be nothing like what I had expected or planned.  It was the first of my ‘extra’ days off and I was looking forward to having a productive day around the house.

After an early start - that consisted of me finally getting out of the house for some very long overdue blood work -  it was back home for breakfast and to take our oldest to school. I love when I get to take her to school…and she loves it too.  I try to do it at least once a week - but on the days I have to work that means I don’t get to the office until after 9:30.  So it‘s tough to make that happen.

So after chatting with her teacher, checking out her “very own desk!” and laughing at the fact that she included a once-idly-referenced-potential goldfish in her family portrait - we left the school.  I dropped hubby back at home (he was off to finish a few last details at his sisters) and then took youngest to daycare.

It was 9am and I was finally ready to get going on my to-do list.  First up was a stop at Michael’s - we needed more glow sticks.  STAT!

There I am - steeped tea in hand - browsing through the clearance bin for stocking stuffers for the girls when my phone rings.  Now…my phone ringing is usually not a good sign.  All of my closest friends and family are texters…so I know its something more serious (or a wrong number) when I hear the ring.

It was the secretary from the school.  As per protocol she starts out with “Don’t worry…your daughter is fine.” and then drops the bomb “But she had quite a big fall on her face at recess and I think you better take her to the dentist.”

And just like that…my day has evaporated.

Instead of heading home to sort through closets and bookshelves, doing some cleaning and maybe watching a little bit of daytime TV…I was on my way to pick up my crying child for an emergency trip to the dentist.
she really wasn't digging the idea of an xray.

 Okay…such is life. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow. And that’s just what I did.

It was much easier to forget about all the ‘me-time’ I had lost once I saw her tear stained face and felt her arms hug me a little tighter than usual…telling me that she was scared and needed some reassurance. Because being her mama is my real job…and hugging her back and telling her all would be fine was the most important thing I did today.

We went straight to the dentist’s office and after a quick consultation they told me she hadn’t done any permanent damage and none of her teeth were broken.  Both front teeth are loose - the left one barely hanging on - but they were still her baby teeth so no real harm done.

that sucker is SO ready to come out now.
 Once we had established that she escaped from this incident with no real permanent damage we headed home with nothing but a milkshake and a movie on the agenda.  The milkshake turned into a yogurt smoothie and the ‘movie’ she picked was the So You Think You Can Dance finale - but the sentiment was there.

And once home…instead of leaving her on the couch while I attempted to accomplish anything - I gave up on my list all together and opted for some cuddle time. We talked about the dancers and cheered when our favourites won.  The we got ourselves some ice cream and watched a few episodes of Say Yes to the Dress.

It was a completely unproductive afternoon…and that was a-okay.  I will have many other opportunities to clear out the bathroom cupboard but she will never be this age again.

I rolled with the punches today and as a result I shared some moments with my darling girl that I wouldn’t have had if all had gone according to plan.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Lucky 13 (Quotable Bits #15)

"A successful marriage requires falling in love many times,
always with the same person."
~ Mignon McLaughlin

Today is my 13th Wedding Anniversary.   

That number – 13 – is really amazing to me. I don’t feel like I’m old enough to have been married for that long.  But when you marry your high school love these big milestones come and yet we are still (relatively) young.

I made a photobook for hubby last Christmas that was effectively a record of our relationship.  The only photos that were included were of the two of us and – eventually – both our daughters.

This is what I put on the intro page:

April 1992...grade 9.
Girl and boy meet and girl kicks boy's hacky sack on the roof.
It was his favourite one. Love does not bloom instantly.

Three years, one strategic locker swap, several breakfast invitations
and a couple of hammock swings later
their love story finally begins with a poem read on the bleachers.

There were ups…and downs…and ups…and downs…but love stayed true.
In July of 1997 he proposed and she said ‘okay’.
Two years later…on September 18, 1999…this boy and his girl were sealed with a kiss...

I love our little really is just so simple. It wasn't love at first sight but when the timing was finally right our love was undeniable.

And I loved our wedding day. We were surrounded by just family and a few of our very closest friends. It was a beautiful sunny September day and a perfect start to our lives together.

Hubby have shared so many memories over our marriage – most have been good…some not so much – but such is true of most marriages I would suspect.

The good memories…aw man have they ever been good.

It has been incredible to watch not only how hubby and I have changed over the years but also how our love has evolved.  From newlywed love which is so overwhelming and all consuming to the sophomore years where we finally managed to pull ourselves apart from each other for brief periods of time.

Then there is the most rewarding evolution of all – when your love for each other has to expand to include children.  Watching my hubby become a father and see how much he loves his girls…and how much they love him…has been truly amazing and only made our love stronger.

Communication, respect and love – my trifecta for a happy marriage. And I’m not saying I’m any kind of expert…but hitting 13 years and still being madly in love should count for something right?

Who would’ve thought that a hacky sack on the roof could have led to all this.

Love is a truly beautiful thing.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Wedding Day Moments (Monday Listicles #13)

Tomorrow hubby and I will celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary.  So this week’s Monday Listicles topic couldn’t be more timely - Weddings.

Wow…13 years. I actually can’t believe that we are even old enough to have been married for that long.  Obviously we married young…but that’s not unusual for high school sweethearts right?

So here – in no particular order – are my top memories from my long-ago wedding day:

1. Wedding Rehearsal: We get to the moment where hubby gets to kiss his prize (er I mean BRIDE) and my 4-year-old ring bearer nephew says loudly “Ew Gross!” I totally wish that had happened during the actual ceremony.

2. The Morning Of: My maid of honour and I spent the night before the wedding at my mum’s house and we woke up to a lovely breakfast of fresh fruit and pastries.  I remember thinking I should have been more nervous…but I was just excited.  And so relieved it wasn’t raining.  This is Vancouver after all…

3. Getting Gussied: My mum, BFF and I headed to the salon to get our hair done.  Now – as a Leo – I am told that I should be very protective of my mane but I honestly don’t care very much about my hair.  So I really didn’t know what I wanted my hair to look like other than I needed an up-do….other than that I told my hair dresser it was up to her.  Looking back this could have been a major disaster…luckily it turned out well.


4. The Empty Limo: After donning my wedding dress, veil and shoes, sharing a few “awwww” moments with my mum and bridesmaids we headed downstairs to find our limo - with my Dad and nephew inside - and head to the church.  The limo arrives…it’s empty.  Now remember…this is 13 years ago…back when not everyone had a cell phone.  I had no idea where they were…no idea why they weren’t in the limo.  I did not handle that well.

5. We’re early? So – half empty limo arrives at the church and I see tons of people milling about but I only recognize about half of them as friends or family.  Who the h-e-double hockey sticks are all these other people?  Turns out…they were attendees from the wedding before ours.  A wedding that ran long and had not cleared the building the requisite 30 minutes prior to our time as stipulated in their contract.  Once again…I did not handle this particular issue well.

6. Blast from the Past: In addition to raising my blood pressure and heart rate – the late departing wedding did hold one happy surprise.  A friend from my childhood that I had not seen in years was suddenly standing in front of me.  She had been a guest at the other wedding.  We exchanged a hug (very careful not to muss up my hair, makeup, dress and flowers) and shared a quick “what are the odds?” moment and just like that my annoyance evaporated.  I was ready to get married.

7. The First Look:  The hard part about being the bride is that you miss the first part of your own wedding ceremony.  Standing outside the doors waiting for the big entrance I missed the candle lighting by our mothers, the entrance of hubby and his groomsmen and the parade of my own bridal party.  But that’s okay because then we get our own special moment – when the doors open and the music starts and people stand to watch you enter.  It’s a pretty amazing feeling but also very overwhelming.  I was grounded in an instant when I locked eyes with my soon-to-be hubby.  It was one of those moments I will never forget.

8. Speak Up: I don’t like public speaking…I speak too quickly and my face, neck and chest go all blotchy and red. Reciting my wedding vows was no different.  So to overcome my fears I tried to think that I was talking only to hubby.  As a result I spoke so quietly he was pretty much the only one that could even hear me.  At the reception my Nana gave me the gears… “I couldn’t even hear you Kelly.  I mean really, you need to speak up!”  Sorry Nanners…next time. ;)

9. Our Special Moment: After whispering our way through the vows, signing the official papers, and sharing our first kiss as “man and wife” hubby and I exited the church together. We were taken around the corner to the back entrance where we were to wait for our guests to clear out.  We would then exit the church again…but this time to a chorus of cheers and bubbles. In those few minutes of waiting – next to the fire exit door – I told hubby to take off his ring and look inside.  I had had it inscribed with “Te Quiero” – I Love You in Spanish.  I loved this moment because it was like a secret…something that no one else witnessed.  It felt personal and special. 
(Turns out our videographer followed us and actually recorded the whole thing.  So we weren’t alone – but it’s pretty cool to have it on tape.)

10. Bobby Pins!  Hubby and I had decided to honeymoon at DisneyWorld (we were only 22 after all).  So the next day we left for Orlando by way of an overnight in Toronto.  I was pleased that my “up-do” had survived the night and still looked in relatively good shape.  By the time we got to Toronto I was ready to let it down again…so I started to remove the bobby pins that were holding it up.  I kept pulling more and more out to the point where the giant pile of bobby pins was downright comical. If I had gotten married today that giant pile would have been featured on twitter, facebook and instagram. 

Cheesy honeymoon photo op - had to do it.
Hey…look at that…I managed to remember 10!  Way to go me…my memory isn’t as bad as I thought it was.

Happy Anniversary to us.

Friday, September 14, 2012

High Five for Friday

It's finally Friday which means we can put another long week of emotional highs and lows - in the books.  I had the added bonus of some serious sleep interruption to deal with this week but all that aside...there was a lot to be happy about as well:

1. Tourists in our own town.  We are trying to hit a few of the most popular tourist spots with the kids and  this week we ventured south to White Rock Beach. Where we looked for pretty rocks and shells, walked on the pier and watched the crabbers and fisherman and wrapped it all up with an ice cream.


I love this one...all of my little family holding hands.

2. Strong Daddy Arms. After a long day at the beach then swimming the girls were tuckered out and both fell asleep in the car. I told Hubby I could take one of them but he insisted on carrying both his girls. "I want to do while they are still little enough." he said.  Sniff... sweet is that?

3. Lego Fun. After Hubby finally allowed the kids to bust into his giant box of Lego...with the understanding that the lego was still his and they were just playing with it...oldest and I set to work building a house.  Complete with rooftop patio and some mail in the mailbox.  Many years of lego fun ahead...

4. Beautiful Vancouver. As hubby and I toy more and more with the prospect of packing up and moving elsewhere I find myself looking at my hometown in a new light.  It's almost as if the idea of leaving here has made me much more appreciative of how beautiful it is here (when it's not raining).

On my way to the airport for a daycare meeting I found myself with 15 minutes to kill and decided to drive to Iona Beach.  I parked, got out of my car and took in this amazing sight. So peaceful...

Then yesterday - on a whim - I took a lunchtime drive over to my old Vancouver neighbourhood.  I took this picture just a few blocks up the hill from our old house. I do miss my old 'hood.

5. Girls Night Out.  I truly cherish time with my girlfriends...they make me laugh, give great advice and keep me grounded.  On Wednesday I attended an event for bloggers with my favourite fellow bloggers Bianca and Aubrey.  After a few cocktails this was the best self-portrait I could manage. It was a great night...

The weekend is already shaping up to be a great one. The forecast is calling for sun and hubby and I will celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary with a night out on Saturday.

Wow...13 years...amazing.

Happy Friday everyone!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Turning my brain off… (Quotable Bits #14)

“I wish there was some kind of switch on my brain that I could turn it off in the same way that I could turn off the television.  Just click it off and immediately empty my mind of all these images and worrying thoughts. And simply leave a blank screen.”
 ~ Marian Keyes (from “Watermelon”)

I feel that I should preface this post by admitting that I am currently operating on 9 hours of sleep over the past 48 hours…and way too much coffee. So forgive me if I start to ramble…

The bottom line is that I don’t function well without at least 7 hours of sleep a night. To that end I am very lucky in that I am usually already snoring before my head has hit the pillow. (Drives hubby mad!) So after 2 nights in a row of around 4 hours sleep I feel foggy and slow. Words that should come to me readily are MIA.  And my fuse is way WAY shorter.

The worst part of it is that I don’t even have a good excuse for my insomnia.  I don’t have babies that need to be fed in the middle of the night and then rocked to back to sleep. Pure and simple my problem is all in my head.

It’s too full.

I need a delete button…or an outright power switch.

September is always a pretty stressful time - with the back to school routine starting back up, etc. etc. - but this year I think I am feeling even more stressed with financial and work pressures added into the mix.

So I find myself staring blankly at the dark ceiling - my mind whirring in circles about credit card interest rates and marketing campaign ideas and school supplies.  My body is completely exhausted…practically begging for sleep….but my mind will simply not obey.

I know I am not alone in this - all I have to do is tell people `I couldn’t get my brain to shut off last night.` And I get the knowing smile of commiseration from most.  Especially other women…and even more especially other mothers. 

We take on too much.  We try to be everything to everyone and it is simply too much for our brains to compute.  They need extra processing time…like say between midnight and 3am. ;)

Today - after a long and trying work day filled with me trying to keep up with my colleagues when I was always at least 5 steps behind - I found myself wishing (quite literally) that I could find the pause button on my grown up life.

For just a few moments I wanted a clear head - one that wasn’t full to the brim worrying about mortgage payments and visa bills.  I wanted a reprieve…permission to climb on the monkey bars in the daycare playground instead of attend a board meeting inside the daycare. 

Of course…we all know that it doesn’t work that way.  I could wish on a hundred shooting stars for a reprieve and I would still have to fold laundry and make lunches.

So I sucked it up, turned my back on the monkey bars and faced reality.  And it really wasn’t so bad.

Now…as bedtime approaches…I can only hope that my brain is finally as exhausted as my body is…and that tonight sleep will finally come.

And bring with it dreams of monkey bars, pause buttons and schools that serve hot lunches.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Singing Out Loud / Musical Guilty Pleasures (Monday Listicles #12)

As I ease myself back into writing on a regular basis – I was happy to see that this week’s Monday Listicles topic was a fairly easy one – SONGS.  That’s it…no specifics…just a list about songs.

Well it seemed easy until I actually started thinking about the best way to approach it…there were so many possibilities! In the end I wound up with 2 equally fabulous (in my humble opinion) ideas so decided to do a Top 5 of each.

First off – as my post about our Live at Squamish experience alluded to – I like to sing in the car.  And I don’t even care if people can see me doing it…unless someone catches me belting out a love song with my eyes closed.   Then I am appropriately ashamed and go bright red.

Obviously this is not me - it's a google image of someone who is a much prettier when singing than I.
But if I’m on a highway with the windows down and the radio blasting then no one can stop me baby…especially when these beauties come one:

To Be With You – Mr. Big
Okay seriously…this has to be at the top of everyone’s sing a long list…and if it isn’t put it on there NOW.

Livin’ on the Edge – Aerosmith
Pretty much any Aerosmith song comes on and I am going to sing along…but this one is my favourite.  There is something so incredibly satisfying about it…

Runaway Train – Soul Asylum
This one has some serious sentimental value for me – it was top of the pop charts when I got my first car.  And since I had to wait a few months in between getting my car and getting my license – I spent a lot of  time sitting in said car…in the garage…playing this song over and over again on my – wait for it – cassette player.  It’s a wonder that my cassette single (that’s right – single!) wasn’t worn out by the time I could legally put rubber on the road and sing this one out the window on the highway…as it was meant to be done.

November Rain – Guns N’ Roses
Again…with a band like GNR I am hard pressed to not sing along…but this song (followed very closely by Sweet Child of Mine) is my fave. 

Hold On – Wilson Phillips
I am so glad that the movie Bridesmaids has made singing along to this 90s hit cool again.  Because this song was MEANT to be sung out loud…and preferably TO your best friend.  My friends and I had several amazing routines made up to this one – most of them featuring the same hand movements that Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig did so well in the movie. 

So consider yourself warned – if you are ever in the car with me (or just driving nearby) and one of these songs comes on I have a Hall Pass.  And you must at least pretend to enjoy the experience.

Onto list #2 – and this is one of those times where I am really going to put myself out there and risk sharing too much.  Because this list is my musical guilty pleasures…the top 5 songs that no one is ever supposed to admit to liking.  The songs that are to be immediately turned off…not turned up.

But I just can’t help myself…

We’ve Only Just Begun – The Carpenters
I know…total cheese…but I love this song.  She has a really lovely voice…and the lyrics are simple and lovely.  And it’s fun to sing along.  And…okay…I know…bad Kelly.

Baby Got Back – Sir Mix-A-Lot
I have a confession – I was slightly famous in college for knowing all the words to this song and belting it out on command. In fact a colleague from school reminded me of this just the other day when she uploaded this hilarious video on Facebook and said it reminded me of her.  

Hangin’ Tough – New Kids on the Block
This song was once really really cool.  And I could do all the dance moves.  And listening to it…singing along…and occasionally attempting to recreate the dance…makes me feel like a lovesick teenager again.  Because a part of me still loves Jordan Nathaniel Marcel Knight. 

Think Twice – Celine Dion

No guilty pleasures list would be complete without a Celine Dion tune.  This one has a lot of sentimental value for me because I played it over and over and over and over again while suffering through the turmoil of high school loves.  It was the first song on a mix tape I made called “So Sad Slow and Sappy Songs” It was the best tape ever.

And last but not least…

Nothing Compares 2 U – Sinead O’Connor
I know she went all crazy…but I can’t help but love this song.  I know much of my love for it comes from memories – good and bad – where this song was my refuge.  But all in all…I think it’s a great song that wound up with a bad rep.

That’s it…list(s) complete.  My apologies if any (or all) of the above songs are now stuck in your head. 

And can I just say -- one of the greatest parts about writing this post was seeing all the old music videos again.  It reminded me of a time when MuchMusic (Canadian MTV) actually showed videos instead of back to back crappy reality TV shows. 

Now it’s your turn to tell me…what’s your guilty music pleasure or the song you just can’t help singing along to?

Trust me…after sharing the above with all of you…I am in no position to judge.

PS - As a bonus thought I would throw in what I consider one of the best friends-singing-in-the-car movie scenes of all time.  Party on on Garth.