Saturday, May 28, 2011

Business trip fallout

As much as I am relieved to have my partner back to share the load, I can tell he would much rather be on business. I don't blame him really -- the kids are extra annoying and needy these days. He says they need to be house-broken after a week of being spoiled. Fine. Yell at them all you want, it won't make a difference. They'll still fight, disobey and whine. They are kids afterall and these are the best days of our fucking lives. I don't know what I expected really -- I'd probably feel the same way had I gotten a nice long break from the family that drives me mental. Of course now I am starting to feel guilty. I love them. They are dear to me. It's just really hard to be 'on' all the time. Hopefully my partner will get over his disappointment and move onto acceptance. They say that one day I will look back on these crazy days with fondness and longing. I will only remember the good and give anything to be back where I am right now. Perhaps.

Friday, May 27, 2011

A perfect dose of reality

So, my week as single-mom is finally up and boy am I grateful for the opportunity to have test-driven divorce ... or at least the functionally independent piece of the picture (emotional and financial distress asside).

What can I say other than "Holy Shit, my Partner is a Saint". He does a lot. I mean a lot. I had no idea until I was left doing it all myself .. and then even then, I let things drop. This was a great reality cheque because I honestly thought that I did more. I knew his contribution was important, but I did not realize the extent of it. I also learned more about myself --that although it was trying at times, I am capable -- brushing teeth and reading in French is not THAT bad. However, when my partner equally shares in household and childcare duties it gives me a break from having to parent all the time, especially when I am feeling tapped out. It also frees up time I can have to MYSELF ,to exercise, read, surf, hang with friends, or whatever. This is important to me and I missed not having so much of it this week. How the hell do single parents do it and still remain sober and sane?

Another great thing was that I really bonded with the kids. I had to be everything for them and I think I did okay. There was no one else distracting me, they got to have all of their Mom for a change. I also felt a renewed sense of freedom to do things my way. I didn't have to check-in with anyone and I didn't have to feel guilty for not living up to someone else's expectations (not that my partner is demanding, because it's me who is Queen Bee). I think this is a healthy attitude and one I should continue regardless if I am solo or not.

I like being self-sufficient to an extent. I can do a lot so there's no reason why I should be shirking off my responsibilities because I have an accommodating partner. I certainly don't want him to wake up one day and realize he does everything and is taken for granted. I will appreciate him more and I will do more myself. I will not be spoiled and unappreciative anymore. My Gawd what a fantastic and exhausting experience -- every couple should be forced into a period of independent parenting for a week.xx

Sunday, May 22, 2011

What doesn't kill you ...

Sometimes the people who have the most powerful effect on our lives are the ones who cause us the most pain. Damn straight. I'm not one to go searching for the silver lining, but I'm really beginning to see how my dysfunctional relationships are major growth opportunities. Sadly, it takes me an awfully long time to learn the lesson and often I drag my esteem around in the muck before I rise up, but it does eventually happen and for that I am grateful. When I look at other people whining about someone else making their life miserable (the same thing I do on a daily basis), I want to tell them "look, I know you think that life as dolled you out a terrible pile of shit right now, but try looking at this as an opportunity: to learn to let go, to try and see the person behind the dysfunction, to focus on the positive, to learn to be patient, to turn the other cheek, to keep it together". OMG, is this not what marriage teaches us? I'm sounding all lucid and wise right now, but I think it has more to with my bottomless glass of red than any new insight. Still worth reminding myself of though.

Saying Goodbye

Another tid bit from my Cheryl Richardson book (it's not really that great a book, but I feel there's a reason I should be reading it) -- the idea of writing love letters at the end of your life. The author worked with a woman who was dying and wanted to leave letters to her young children (for them to open in adulthood) that expressed how much she loved them. Eventhough she was gravely ill, she was still able to articulate things like:

what I love most about you is ...
what I'm sorry for is ...
what I dream for you is ...

I have got to do this too -- not because I feel like my time has come (hopefully I still have quite a few good years ahead of me), but because just in case anything happens I want my loved ones to know what they mean to me. Plus writing that note of gratitude for my boss (as difficult a person she can be) really filled my heart with love and allowed me to see things from a different point of view. It's addictive really. What else can I love?

Friday, May 20, 2011


Finally a keynote address to get inspired by -- General Rick Hillier, what a leader! It wasn't so much his message about leadership that moved me, it was the enthusiasm for his military career and the people that touched his life that really inspired me. Here is a man that actually reminds me a lot of my own old man by the way he tells a story, curses and makes people belly laugh. And in spite of his fame and power, he comes across as an ordinary Canadian -- sincere and down to earth. Here's some of the advice I heard: People come first -- not processes, projects or technology. Keep your people close to you -- INFORM them of your plans and recognize their talent. Keep yourself in check -- never let success go to your head. Be true to yourself -- falsity is easily detected. Use humour!

I can't remember all of the other gems, but I do remember feeling quite impressed by not only the General's career, but by his confidence and joie de vivre. Pure awesome.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Holding my breath

Another tid bit from my Cheryl Richardson book -- nothing lasts so don't fear the future. Know that life will get worse -- you will get sick, lose your job, have your heart broken, lose a loved one. It's how you are able to handle these pitfalls that's most important. Enjoy the good times, but take time everyday to build your spiritual health so that when you fall, you won't come completely undone. This makes a lot of sense to me. I used to think "I want to really enjoy myself in this moment, but I'm afraid that it will end." Well, it's supposed to end. That's the duality of life. Gotta love those reality cheques. K, I'm buying that, so how do I go about becoming spiritually healthy? This book talks about surrendering to a Divine power. Hmmmm, sounds too much like religion which I have a complete disdain for lately. I like the idea of strengthening my core though. In fact I really admire people who are strong inside. They are not afraid of emotions and allow themselves to feel but are not ruled by their emotions.

Let it go

While reading a Cheryl Richardson book that was recommended to me by my intuitive, I was reminded of something so key to inner peace that I can't believe that I've let it slip away. Stop trying to control life. Just let it be. When I think about what makes me angry, it comes down to life not cooperating with my plans. I can't make him love me, I can't make my boss respect me, I can't even make my kids listen to me. So just let it go. That feels really good actually. I don't want to make life my enemy. And who says what I want is what should be any way? Getting all worked up about someone else's behaviour does not in fact change their behaviour. All I can change is my attitude. Just stop wanting anything and then you will never be disappointed with what you get. It is what it is. Could it be better? Perhaps? It could also be a whole lot worse. The everyday blehs are 99% of life. This is it Baby. I've wasted too much of my life hoping and dreaming about those magical moments that will a) never be b) never live up to my expectations or c) disappear as quickly as they come. What a self-help rant I'm having here. Today, as the glorious sun came out of hiding and warmed my air-conditioned body, I realized that I need to accept my life and stop fighting it. And that has made all the difference.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Data Visualization

Why say in words what you can express in a picture? I'm not talking about traditional graphs to express numbers per se, but pictures that express a variety of ideas like this one that I saw in an enterprise architecture presentation today. I love this! In fact I would love to be able to do more of it myself. My writing has certainly improved, but I dislike being verbose. Plus ppl don't read anymore. Maybe I could create my own 'killer presentations' service. Will keep it tucked under my hat for now and see where it leads.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Pillow Talk

Crazy blogging night tonight. Just thinking about a conversation I had with a colleague. He was telling me about his first love and how incredible their relationship was - being inseparably close, comfortable in every way, staring at each other in bed for hours ..... ahhhhhhhhh. I think I was starting to drool at that point. And then my colleague reminded me that that was life in our twenties. Everyone has one of those intense love affairs that they will never forget. But sadly it does not last. You never marry the person you are that crazy about and perhaps that's a good thing. I'm learning that the fantasy is way better than the reality. My colleague doesn't have to think hard to remember how incredibly in love he once felt. The tingle, expectation, desire ... these live in my memories and my fantasies. They are not tainted by reality either. Staring at each other for hours ......

The fire under my ass

So today I finally did it -- I created a master work plan for all the work I've been procrastinating about for months. Granted, I was kicking and yelling all the way, but if felt good to finally have 'a plan'. No more pissin' in the wind. We now have a plan to measure our lack of progress against. Even with the generous estimates I basically pulled out of my ass, we will start being behind three weeks from now. I can hardly wait to be shamed by my very own plan (thank you for the cynicism (you know who you are)).

Interesting how this also relates to my conversation about nagging. I was not motivated to do this -- it took my manager and her colleague coming down hard on me to force me into action and sadly the embarrassment worked. But I love planning. I'm good at it. However, I think that I procrastinated so long because I know we have no focus on our team. When the plans are long range, the priorities change daily, and there's no mgmt support, there's just no point planning anything. Better to just arrive at the office and see what lands on your desk. Seek satisfaction in putting out little fires, conjuring up some recycled IM advice and being your client's hero. Throw in a fabulous lunch, a few power breaks and call it a day. That's what I expect out of my career. And what's wrong with that?

I guess now that the plan is done, I can be a little more organized about my work. Next time I get asked to do something last minute that is beyond my responsibilities, I can just hold up the plan and say "sorry, we need to stay on target here". Gawd, I'm a bitch (again, I know who to thank for encouraging me to let it shine). xx

More on Nagging

It's my responsibility as a parent to nag my kids when it comes to teaching them to be respectful to others and to work hard. I was reminded of this today -- instill good work habits early on and a prosperous future is pretty much guaranteed. And yet it seems so unnatural to keep motivating my kids to do their school work, practice their piano and read. I've said it a million times before -- I hate to hear myself nag. Ideally I want them to be motivated by the task. I want my son to run to the piano and be so engrossed in his book that he can't put it down. Sure I don't mind reminding them of their obligations -- they are kids after all. But the coercion, threats, bribes, yelling. These are things I want to avoid.

I think I take for granted how hard my parents worked to get me where I am. I was one of those kids who as my mothers often says "had to be pushed". I day-dreamed a lot. I took forever to do anything. I just didn't see the point to school. My mother had to watch me do my homework everyday or it wouldn't get done. I was paid for every A I brought home and I was terrified of getting anything less than a B. I don't want this for my kids. You cannot sustain motivation by offering external rewards. But then again, somehow it worked. I developed good study habits and a strong work ethic. My mom stopped nagging me about school and found other things to get on my case about. :-)

Again, it's about balance. I owe my kids my best. The future is so much brighter if you are educated. Time to let my inner nag shine. I'll keep it under wraps for my partner, but I'll give my kids all that I've got. xx

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

It's been a day from heaven. Wow. Where do I start? A dozen long stem roses. Gak, when I saw the long box, I nearly choked because even though I love flowers, I cannot fully appreciate their beauty when they cost as much as a pair of shoes. Thankfully my partner bought them through the Kiwanis Club so they were cheap, charitable and beautiful. WIN! Breakfast in bed was delectable -- yummy eggs, fruit salad, buttery raspberry scone and hot coffee, delivered by three of the proudest and cutest little munchkins ever. And then a showering of homemade cards, poems, crafts while still cuddled up in bed with all three cherubs. I wish every morning could be so great. The rest of the day was spent outside at the Tulip Festival and back home lounging around, picking at chores every now and then. It's been one of the best Mother's Days ever.

Things are going to tough tomorrow as I settle back into my old job. Today will be my happy place. I don't want anything to ruin my mood. I am so lucky to be the mother for three unique and wonderful children and to have a partner so involved and considerate. Sigh, I wish today would never end.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Why Men Love Bitches (Part II)

More from this saucy relationship book. It's all the old school advice my mom gave me but for the modern woman. A lot of it no longer applies as I am well into my married years, but I'm learning a few things.

Here's a good example of giving too much -- quitting your activities. When you give up your interests to spend more time with your partner you are creating a void that you will eventually expect your partner to fill. My 'ah ha' moment. We also become less interesting. Most importantly, we send the message that we value ourselves less and will eventually be treated as such. And yet, it seems so natural to devote time to your relationship in those early days when you are high on new love. Years of marriage later and I have thankfully added back some of what I gave up. I've been feeling guilty for all my time away from the family but really it's probably done my relationship a world of good.

Nagging. Let me be honest with myself. Do I nag a lot? I nag the kids. I repeatedly tell them what to do. It's acceptable because I am a mother. Does my nagging extend to my partner? I'm going to ask him right now. Hold the phone. Phew, I am not a nag. I am demanding, but I do not nag. I just ask too much. Yikes, not what I want either, but I'll take it.

I want to be his lover, not his mother. It's not easy to be attractive to a nag. A nag is not really respected -- she's ignored. Hmmmm. I'm feeling ignored lately. So what is the alternative to nagging? Ask for something once and only once. If he doesn't do it then do it yourself. This is exactly what I do mainly because I personally cannot bear to hear myself nag. Problem is, I end up doing more than my fair share, he becomes accustomed to it, takes it for granted, I feel unappreciated and unloved! So much for not nagging. This book suggests pulling away slightly. Not so easy when you are married. Does that mean withholding sex? I've tried that too and have just ended up climbing the walls. Plus I don't think it's right to use sex as a weapon ... all the time. :-) The other anti-nag strategy is to ask someone else for help. You can't hang the pictures for me? Well maybe your Dad could help me do it. I know this works, but again I don't like these kind of threats. It's just not respectful. Best anti-nag strategy is to ask once and wait. We've been together long enough for him to know when he's needed. Silence can be deadly. "Would you hang those pictures for me please?" pause. Some excuse. Repeat only once using the exact same words -- "So, would you hang those pictures for me please?" As long as you stay sweet and stick to the request it works.

Will be interesting to see if I'll remember to put these tips to practice.  It sounds awfully manipulative, but if toned down it might improve our relationship?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Men Who Love Bitches

This is a book that would have really helped me out during my single years but I can also see it's applicability in married life and even with some of my other relationship too. Rather than summarize everything, I'll focus on the points that resonated most with me.

Men (and women) love the chase - we all want what we cannot have. So what does that mean, stay single forever? No, it means don't give all of yourself too soon. Let the desire mount. Don't be so available all of the time either. Show that you have a life outside of your relationship. When you do have free time, your partner will jump all over it. He'll see that you are not needy, he'll want you to want him and he'll chase even more. My first instinct was Bleh! These are games. Why pretend that I do not want to spend time with him. I want connection, raw emotion, closeness. I want to feel deeply and bury my soul, to be completely vulnerable and head over heels in love. Whoa! This book says love is beautful -- just don't go there too soon or without getting what you need in return. Herein lies the problem. I oscillate between doormat and bitch all day. I'm an independent woman who has no qualms stating her needs and expectations. I can be as sweet as pie and I know how to keep his interest. I do a pretty good job of giving him space and resist mothering/nagging. But then there's Needy D that desperately wants his attention and adoration -- and will do anything just to please him. This is where this book is helping me the most right now. More on anti-doormat strategies next post.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I Can't Go Back There

More about how freakin' phenomenal work has been this past month. Give people autonomy, show sincere appreciation for their efforts and trust them to get the job done. That's it baby -- that's it. This simple formula would not have moved me this much were it not for the fact that I've been micro-managed for four long years. Imagine never being allowed to make a decision or work with your colleagues. Think of what if feels like to write a million drafts that go no where. For someone so action-oriented I especially could not tolerate the indecision and perfectionism. Everything was a priority and nothing ever got done because it was not perfect enough. Ugh. When you are trained to seek approval on every insignificant detail, you forget what if feels like to think for yourself. You start to question your own abilities and become paralyzed with fear of making a mistake. All it took was autonomy, trust and gratitude for us to soar. I am not going back there EVER.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Words Can Never Hurt Me

Sometimes my strength surprises me. I used to be so sensitive to other people's criticisms or unkind words. The sting would stay with me days later and I'd stay wounded. But it doesn't seem to affect me as much anymore. I don't think it's because I'm cynical and thick-skinned, nor do I have such a strong sense of self that negativity just bounces off my shining suit of armour. I just don't care. I'm better able to separate the words from the intent. I can objectively look at the other person and think "I will not let your words poison my mood or my esteem". "What you are saying is hurtful and I don't know why you feel compelled to say it, but it just makes you look bad." If it's one of those relationships that I just can't escape, then I just apply some much needed distance -- emotionally and physically. I thank grace for giving me a sign that this person is not perfect, I think of how hurtful my own words can be and then I just let it go.

Monday, May 2, 2011

WTF Canada?

I had a sinking feeling that today would be depressing, but I had no idea just how disastrous the election results would be. Voters basically signed us up for another four years of contempt, misappropriation, lies, cover-up, influence-peddling, coercion, bullying, over-spending, ... I'm so drunk right now I can't even think of more adjectives.

How could this be true? What were voters thinking? I'm afraid of the future. Gawd, I'm afraid of losing my fucking job FFS! I can't even find that silver lining. Balanced budget, moving more to the centre, being more accountable ... yeah right. What can I do about this now other than sulk and drink some more? Nothing. It's over. I'm so disengaged that I don't ever want to hear about politics until 2015. Maybe that's why voters did this -- now I get it, they were already fed up and did not want to hear about another election for four more years. Life sucks.

You're all about the technology

What is it about committed relationships that compels us to label oneanother? This is what my partner said to me the other night when I tried to strike up a conversation about how social media has and will change the electoral process for the better. Rather than chiming in with his own observation, he immediately dismissed my viewpoint and accused me of "always" wanting to marvel at technology. Well he's right -- it's one of my interests. I am witnessing one of the most profound changes to human interaction, knowledge acquisition, self expression, activism, hell even sexuality ...ALL BECAUSE OF TECHNOLOGY. There is so much to discuss here, how can you not be even the slightest bit intrigued? But it's not that my partner doesn't share my passion that irks me, it's that he mocked me in the same way parents chide their kids -- "that's so typically Ian, the conspiracy theorist". Errrr, it gets my goad. We don't do this with any of our friends.  It's condescending and I hate it. Marriage is basically a license to treat each other like shit. Again, I'm a hypocrite for accusing my partner for labeling me -- I call him cheap, an engineering nerd, an environmental nut-case, and yes even a conspiracy theorist junkie. Once again, grace is giving me the golden rule sign. Having my ideas so glibly dismissed pissed me off enough to see that this too must change. So many great opportunities for little improvements. Everyday.