Friday, December 26, 2014

Who am I?

I feel so out of sorts lately.  Yes, I'm going through some mid-life shit lately.  But who the fuck am I anymore?  I feel so anxious, like I'm trying hard to please everyone.  I can't relax and just be me.  And I want so desperately is to do just that.  So in typical Jake fashion, let's break it down and get to the route cause.  When do I feel this way?
work:  I've just started a new job and have to prove myself.  It's a leap for me too.  While I'm a pretty strong functional expert, I'm weak on strategy.  Tactical is my game.  But that's not what's needed unfortunately.  So I have to stretch myself.  I'm faking it right now and it makes me feel uncomfortable.  However, I'm confident that all will slide into place. This awkwardness is just temporary.
home:  I'm trying to be Mother of the Year by making up for all the shit I've caused my kids.  I feel guilty for not being there for them when they need me, for not having the time to cook healthy and delicious meals, for not getting down on the carpet to play with them all the time, for no longer having the means to whisk them away to Fla on vacation.  I am trying to hard and still falling short of my own unreasonable expectations.
other:  I'm stuck in a stressful situation that is completely out of my control.  And that is not a place I feel comfortable with -- putting my happiness in someone else's hands.  Then again, I can and should decide how I want to act, what I need, what I'll accept.  And yet I see myself behaving in ways that contradict what I want and this upsets me greatly.

I think all of this stems from trying to please other people.  I latch on to how I think they want me to behave, and behave accordingly, even when it goes against who I really am.  And the dis-ingenuity of it all makes me feel nauseous because I know that I won't be able to keep it up.  I am duping them and myself.  Got to get off this train.

work:  I'm going to just ask questions when I'm not sure.  I'm new!  Now is the time to ask.  I'm also going to delegate.  My leads are super strong and know what to do.
home:  time to dial it back a bit;  cooking is already off the table.  It will come back when there's less crap on my plate.  I have to lower my expectations of myself.  Now is not normal.  Stop trying to make it normal.
other:  Be strong.  Don't settle.  Ever.  I don't have to win anyone.  I'm pretty darn good as I am.  Be authentic.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Stressed

Six months ago my life was boring as hell.  I longed for passion, emotion, anything to make life interesting again.  Well.  Now my life has been turned completely on it's head and I would give anything for an hour of peace and bordem. 

I've made some pretty big life changes recently, so it's no wonder that I am stressed to the max.  But I'm also trying to keep everything normal for everyone else and that's not an easy feat.  But life is not normal right now and I've to stop trying to make everyone else feel like it is.  I owe it to my kids to do right by them.  However in my efforts to continue family traditions and pretend like everything is the same. I end up killing myself, creating more stress and expectation that I cannot live up to.  "Don't be so hard on yourself".  Sage advice.  I am doing the best I can and given the circumstances, it's pretty darn good. The ironic thing is that I am now all alone in my struggle.  Sure I have some friends and family that support me, but my emotions, fears, decisions are all my own.  It's a lot to handle and still be a good mom, employee, friend, sister, etc.  I didn't realize how much emotional energy those relationships take from me.

Tomorrow I start a new job.  More change and stress that I am struggling with.  I know the key to a good start is being positive and receptive -- learning from those around me and taking time to navigate the workplace.  Problem is my personal life is a complete disaster and I know that it will affect me on the job.  This is another example of my misperception of reality.  Everyone brings their personal problems to the workplace.  It's life.  I can do this though -- manage both.

I feel better for getting this out of my head and in cyberspace.  Don't be so hard on yourself.  That's right Baby.  I won't be so hard on myself.  It's a lot right now and it's okay to be stressed and emotional.  It won't be like this forever though. xx

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Relationship learnings

Never let loneliness or comfort pull you back into the arms of someone who made you unhappy or didn’t treat you right.

Sage advice.  Someone who made you unhappy: was the unhappiness caused by mistakes (made on both sides), that created years of  resentment and ultimately complete detachment?  Or was it just not a good fit from the start?  An inability to fufill eachother's needs.

I know this of myself: I am critical of my partner when he can't meet my needs.  I really need to work on expressing my needs instead of acting out.  However, it means so much more when your partner can intuit your needs and has a desire to fulfil them.  So much sweeter when he has a natural ability to give you what you need then having to provide instructions.  Back to the criticism though -- not good for the health of the relationship; really erodes connection.  So I must be direct about my needs and not be ashamed of them!  Sometimes I think it's nobel to deny myself of what I want because:
  • I don't feel I'm deserving of them
  • they seem superfluous (You want to be treated like a princess. Really? But you are a feminist FFS)
  • I feel that my partner can't be trusted to provide what I need
So why set yourself up for disappointment?  Having expecations just leads to disaster in the end.  Or does it?  I've had relationships that fulfilled my needs, even though I didn't really know myself or what I wanted.  But now, I KNOW WHAT I NEED.  And I can easily determine if someone is able (or not able) to meet those needs.  Gawd, how selfish does this sound.  Relationships are about give and give afterall.  Well, I know what I can offer too.  I know my strengths.  Love makes you want to make your partner happy.  And yet, I still suck at relationships.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Walking the Camino

I went to see this movie tonight, all by myself.  Whoop!
What a surreal experience for me.  I forgot how enjoyable that can be -- just me and the big screen.  And the movie itself was excellent.  Gave me lots to think about:  facing your fears, calming your demons, finding peace and solitude, connecting with nature, honouring your body, embracing change, challenging your mind and spirit.  Wow.  I'm certain all who have seen this movie left feeling inspired.  I will do this pilgrimage someday.  On my own.  Once the kids are older, sigh.  Interesting parallel for me is that I need to walk my own Camino of sorts right now.  I need to heal my heart, make a fresh start and figure out what I want. And I can only do this alone.  I've spent the last five months wrapped up in deceit, guilt, anxiety and sadness.  I know there is still more of that to come -- need to live through the emotions in order to get over them.  But after seeing this movie, I feel more at peace than I've felt in a long time.  The lies are behind me now.  It still hurts and the shame and guilt will likely always be there.  But I can look at myself in the mirror now.  I have to impress no one. I'm not putting my happiness in the hands of someone else either.  No more anxiety.  And that is something to be grateful for.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

25 Things About Me


25. I'm a great coach;  love encouraging others to excel.

24. Being grateful fills my heart -- kept a daily list going for a year.

23. I both love and hate making things-to-do-lists.

22. I'm proudest of how decent my kids are -- three of the kindest, most honest, lovely people I know.

21. I'm a romantic.

20. Passionate people inspire me. 

19. TED talks are like foreplay.

18. I find it hard to relax and do nothing.

17. I love learning new things, as long as they are not too complex.

16. I'm a sucker for a pretty face -- male or female

15. I'm gullable like my old man. Someday I will lose a lot of money on a shady deal.

14. I strive for peace in my relationships.

13. Hugs and kisses calm me down.

12. I'm horrible at Eucre (most card games really).

11. Sugar is the nectar of life.

10. I love flavourful food (who doesn't) but feel silly that I called myself a foodie for so long (pretentious).

9. I love the endorphin high you get from strenuous exercise. Crazy addictive.

8. Sleep is overrated, but thankfully I fall asleep before my head hits the pillow.

7. I love the colour of my golden skin.

6. I keep adding to my bucketlist, but do not cross things off.

5. Acting out is my specialty.

4. Kaizen is my motto.

3. I daydream a lot.

2. Music moves my soul.

1.  Thanks to my Dad's youth gene, I will always look younger than I am.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Poverty

First-hand account of what poverty truly feels like and how wrong society is to judge the poor.  I found this really heart-retching, yet so informative.

Some take-aways:

When you are poor, you have little to no hope for getting out of poverty.  Why save when you will be out of money in three days?  This really struck a chord for me because sadly am one of those who don't understand why the poor don't save.  There's little to no savings.  And really what difference does that extra bit of cash make.  Might as well enjoy life's guilty pleasures.  Savings is for the rich.

Employers of low income jobs often forbid their employees from taking on more work, to ensure they can be available for extra shifts as needed.  Again, heart-breaking.

Low income jobs pay no benefits.  I knew this, but when you stop to think about most of the poor are one pay cheque away from bankruptcy, should they get sick and need to either take time off or pay for medical treatment, it's a very sad thought.

Cooking attracts roaches.  Junk food is faster and cheaper.  Again, I was always baffled why the poor generally made such bad food choices.  Yes, fresh fruit and vege are unjustly more expensive then prepared meals, but surely there's an economical way to eat healthy?  There may be, but its not worth the effort. Working two jobs, caring for family, commuting crazy distances to get to work ... none of these make healthy eating easy.

Employers of low income jobs do not respect their employees.  The working conditions, lack of recognition, lack of trust, draconian mgmt style, lack of benefits, etc.  all of it meant to put the poor in their place -- to make them feel grateful they even have a job, so they won't ask for more.  Sickening.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

there is no such thing as a stupid question

Wrong!  Most questions that my spouse asks me are in fact stupid.  And most of the time I ignore him completely.  My silence says "don't disrupt my peace with your stupid question, you should know the answer to this, I am so fed up that you would even think to ask me, you are on your own with this problem".  I would also add "I think so little of you right now". OUCH!! I didn't realize just how damaging this was until a good friend of mine was telling me how much it hurt to feel unsupported.  "Take a look in the mirror D" is all I could think. I do this in spades.  And not just with my partner too.  My silence hurts worse than words.

Time to dig a little deeper to the root of my annoyance:
1) I really admire resourcefulness:  so when someone asks me what I think is a stupid question, I lose a little bit of respect for them.  We are always trying to encourage our kids to figure things out on their own and to help themselves.  Man up! is all I want to scream.
2) I feel disrespected:  my motto is 'dont ask someone to do something you can do yourself'. "Mind getting me a fork (seeing as you are up)".  A few times is okay, but it's an easy trap to fall into.  Fine line between efficiency and laziness.
3) He's not learning the lesson:  same question over and over again is exasperating.  Does he save his intellect for the office, because I see no effort on his part to actually learn from the experience.  Again, goes back to respect.

But in all fairness, maybe he's forgotten the answer or truly wants (and respects) my opinion or wants me to be a part of the process (e.g. making dinner together).  Also, sometimes it's just quicker (and safer) to ask rather than risk failure ... and suffer the consequences of pissing me off. :-(

Better to just answer the question and shelf the feelings of annoyance.  But if still pissed, I could try gently -- yes gently reminding him that I prefer he not ask me that question because "insert reasonable reason". Practice:
Q: should I cook these together in the same over or in separate ovens?
D: I don't have an opinion on that.
  ... too bitchy, try again
D: why do you ask?
  ... answering a question with a question that basically says "why would you ask me such a stupid question", try again
D: I don't think it really matters.  By the time the lower oven heats up, the first batch will be done.  If you're not in a hurry then just wait a few extra minutes.
good answer, but I am still feeling annoyed that he asked me this, try again
D:  I'd appreciate it if you would try to figure these things out on your own rather then ask me just because I am here.  Even though I may look available, there's often a million things going on in my head and I don't like to be interrupted to answer something I think you already know the answer to or answer something you could just figure out on your own.  I feel that you don't respect my time.

Yikes.  I need to work on this.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

I lost 5 lbs

Hard not to celebrate and am trying to take it in stride because it could all come back by the end of the week and I don't want to feel like a failure because I could not keep it up.  So just in case I need to do it all over again, I would like to know how and why I lost the weight -- it just sort of happened this summer.  Some thoughts:
1. got back into serious running, including speed work
2. became pescatarian and cut back on portion size as a result (only so much tofu I can eat)
3. cut back on late night snacking
4. got tired of avoiding my 2-piece bathing suit this summer
5. stopped drinking juice
6. I save my calories for desserts that are splurge-worthy (ice cream, no thank you)
7. my SIL lost a ton of weight and looks gorgeous

All of these are contributing factors, including the last one, which I am ashamed to admit.  But hell, if she can do it through healthy eating, so can I. Too bad I don't know which one of these factors was the main cause though.  D seems to think it was the juice -- says it's huge, which is great because I don't miss it at all, except maybe for cocktails.  Silver lining is that I have rediscovered beer -- so many great ones out there.
Interesting thing about weight loss is that the more I lose, the better I feel about myself and the more I want to keep losing.  ... which is NOT sustainable. 135 lbs was only 4 years ago afterall.  So I should just switch to a maintenance mentality and be grateful that my clothes fit and I feel great.  I should also feel great about what's on the inside.  I keep trying to de-emphasize physical beauty afterall.  My weight says nothing about the person I am.  Gotta keep reminding myself of that.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Mother Lovers and Mother Haters

The relationship advice out there says -- RUN, don't walk. 
It's easy to see why a man who is too close to his mother will let her interfere with your relationship.  Your relationship will also never be private and you will be stuck at #2.  Thankfully I have never had to endure this kind of relationship hell.

'Mother Haters' though are not so easy to cess out, because there are many reasons why people may be estranged from their mothers.  'Disrespectful' is also different from not being close.  Think constant bad-mouthing, blaming and complaining -- the kind of behaviour that makes you cringe. The thinking is that a man who disrespects his mother will also disrespect you.  He will be incapable of showing love, emotion, empathy, probably because he didn't receive it growing up. The mother who is hated is often cold and controlling (plus a multitude of other neurotic tendencies). Other articles I've read also say that a lack of a positive relationship with the female figure will result in him feeling threatened by you.  The behaviours sound really nasty too:  trying to take away some of your confidence in public or in private, to gain control, and to bring you to a manageable level. Any kind of 'caring' on your part will be interpretted as 'mothering/controlling' and since he hates his mother, he will soon hate you.  He will also likely want to be in control of everything himself.  You will be a big disappointment, while he will always be the misunderstood perfect guy that can’t get a woman to be the way that he wants her to be, reinforcing his very skewed idea of women.  Yikes!  Of course these generalizations make me cringe a bit -- where is the psychological evidence to support this?  Sadly, my research came from the blogsphere. #googlefail.

The key though is this: has the man worked through the emotional issues that are caused by having a dysfunctional relationship with the first woman that ever loved him?  Counselling appears to be one of the only ways.  Forgiveness.  Acceptance.  Negotiation. Thankfully, it's not impossible to overcome.  Phew.  But oh man, as a mother I really have the potentional to f-up my children's future relationships. 

When I look at my own relationship with my mother, it's typically disfunctional.  But I still love and respect her. Her intensions are the best and I know that she will always have my back no matter how badly I 'disappoint'.  We are not close though and I feel badly about that.  Is it because I lack patience and tolerance?  Or have I finally decided to put my family first?  Too often we let our parents continue to parent us AND our families long after their role as parents is needed.  I remember seeking their advice, well into adulthood.  And once involved, they would become super involved -- doling out their opinions when not asked, chastising me like a child in front of my family, undermining my discipline of the kids to win points with them.  Ugly.  So now, I've drawn a pretty close circle around my family and I only let my mother in under brief and controlled circumstances.  It's working for now.  I'm quick to let her know when she's crossed the line (k, maybe a bit too quick sometimes ... should cut her more slack).  And I don't share with her information I haven't already discussed with my partner.  I also limit what I share (not easy for someone as open as me).

As for my partner, his relationship is somewhere inbetween Lover and Hater.  He prefers to bite his tongue and let his mother believe what she wants rather than address issues with his family. "Keep the peace" is his mantra.  I guess that I'm lucky that I don't have to deal with her alone, not that she is difficult (I'm pretty lucky as far as MILs go).  Policy around here is :  your mother, your problem.  Which also goes both ways!

Ahhh, family follies.  Wonder what kind of MIL I will be?  Hopefully my kids are feeling loved enough to be able to give love to their future partners, but not so smothered that they will never be secure adults.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

I love to skate

Got back on the ice this year and MAN, I did not realize how much I missed it!  As soon as I started to stroke around the rink -- instant sensory overload.  The smell brought me right back, and I'm not talking about changeroom/hockey bag stink.  The unique smell of an indoor rink flooded my memory of a lifetime spent skating.  And then the wind in my hair and at my ears, the sound of the ice cutting at my feet, the damp cold of the air.  So intoxicating.  And the social -- my girls, all of us ex-figure skaters, all of us with the same shared childhood experience of loving skating.  Amazing how easily it all came back too.  Sure, I'm not jumping and now I get dizzy when I spin.  But there is so much that is still automatic for me.  Muscle memory is truly remarkable. It just felt so natural to be on the ice again.  When I see 80 year olds old there doing their thing, I can't help but smile because I know that will be me too.  I love skating!

Monday, July 21, 2014

What Drains You

I cant remember where I found this handy check-list.  Lots of sources of energy-suckers.

Relationships
____ There are people in my life who continuously drain my energy.
____ I have unreturned phone calls, e-mails, or letters that need to be handled.
____ I have an unresolved conflict with a family member.
____ I lack quality friendships in my life.
____ I feel a void in my life created by the lack of a romantic partner.
____ There is someone I need to forgive.
____ There is a relationship I need to end.
____ There is a phone call I dread making, and it causes me stress and anxiety.
____ I’m currently involved in a relationship that compromises my values.
____ I miss being part of a loving and supportive community.
Environment
____ My car is in need of cleaning and/or repair.
____ My wardrobe needs updating and/or alterations.
____ I’d like to live in a different geographic location.
____ I have appliances that need repair or upgrading.
____ My home is not decorated in a way that nurtures me.
____ My closets and/or basement are cluttered and need to be cleaned.
____ Repairs need to be done around my home or apartment.
____ My home is cluttered and disorganized.
____ I miss having more beauty reflected in my environment.
____ I watch too much television.
Body, Mind, and Spirit
____ I eat food that’s not good for me.
____ Something about my physical appearance bothers me.
____ It’s been too long since I’ve been to the dentist.
____ I do not get the sleep I need to feel fully rested.
____ I’d like to exercise regularly but never seem to find the time.
____ I have a health concern for which I’ve avoided getting help.
____ I have emotional needs that consistently go unmet.
____ There are books that I’d love to read but never seem to find the time for.
____ I lack personal interests that are intellectually stimulating.
____ I lack a spiritual or religious practice in my life.
What’s Draining You? 2
Work
____ I no longer enjoy my job and have a hard time showing up each day.
____ My work is stressful and leaves me exhausted at the end of the day.
____ My office is disorganized, my desk is a mess, and I have trouble finding what I need.
____ I’m avoiding a confrontation or conflict at work.
____ I tolerate bad behavior from a boss or coworker.
____ I am not computer literate, and it gets in the way of my productivity.
____ I lack the proper office equipment that I need to do my job well.
____ My work does not allow me to express my creativity.
____ I know I need to delegate specific tasks but am unable to let go of control.
____ I feel overwhelmed with the amount of information that enters my life in the form of mail,
books, magazines, and e-mail.
Money
____ I have tax returns that are not filed or taxes that are not paid.
____ I pay my bills late.
____ I spend more than I earn.
____ I don’t have a plan for my financial future.
____ My credit rating is not what I’d like it to be.
____ I do not have a regular savings plan.
____ I do not have adequate insurance coverage.
____ My mortgage rate is too high, and I need to refinance.
____ I have debt that needs to be paid off.
____ My will is not up to date.

Findability

I had the pleasure of hearing Peter Morville speak at a conference on Resource Discovery yesterday and his message really started to challenge my thinking on the role of IM.

I've been a disciple of metadata for many years.... tweak the search engine. But dont forget about the Information Architecture (IA)

Here are my take-aways:

Search is a way to learn. What we seek changes based on what we find. In our quest to optimize search we have to be careful that we do not remove the learning opportunity that search provides.

Search is not the only answer. We need to provide facetted navigation to provide context ...

In order for search to be successful:

  • the best results HAVE to be first
  • people expect actionable results
  • auto-complete is a must
  • auto-suggest, because it helps people get un-stuck
  • predictability is a must, so that the next click is not a mystery
Some great examples of poor website IAs and ones that worked.  Very grateful to have seen him speak.

I Love Great Ideas

I love great ideas almost as much as I love my kids. Maybe it's because I consider myself to be more or an implementer than an ideas person or maybe it's because I rarely hear of fresh new ideas in my mundane life. Here's an inspiring idea that I just heard of:
Ottawa U held a charity event for the homeless where people could not only get free food and clothing, but get free access to services many of us take for granted such as getting a hair cut, your eyes checked, or your bike fixed. What a fantastic idea! Apparently it was a huge success -- people were overwhelmed by all the services they received and the students learned a lot about the people who also live in their community.

Know when to hold 'em ...


I watched an old episode of Sex in the City the other night and Carrie went back to Big AGAIN. Pathetic. A bright beautiful sexy woman who morphs into an intolerable, insecure basket case because of this ONE GUY. We've all been there. I remember throwing myself at the wrong guys when I was in my 20s. Even though I was searching for marital bliss, I always seemed to end up with someone who treated me like dirt. And I would keep going back for more. I was knowingly looking for situations that would end in pain. Is it because I didn't think I deserved the love and respect of someone great? Was my everyday life so boring that I needed the drama? Or was I just plain addicted to pain? All of the above.

Fast forward to my husband, nothing like the bad asses I dated. In fact he was TOO nice and when we first met, I didn't even want to give him a chance. Turns out my indifference attracted him more! Men do love bitches after all. I had gotten to a point that my broken heart could not sustain more abuse, so I decided to give him a chance... and the rest is history.

I'm definitely not the same woman I was in my 20s, but I can still feel her. When it hurts, I let myself feel it, but I don't get stuck. I know that karma will take care of it. I also try to change my situation so that I can avoid further pain. This requires some bravery -- as change is never easy. If I could time travel I'd like to go back to my 20s and give myself a hug. While I can't shield myself from pain completely, (that's just part of the dance of life), I can at least make sure my emotional boundaries are secure. I've got to protect my heart afterall.

Sibling Rivalry


Like most parents, the kids fighting really grates on our nerves. How can we have peace in our lives with this constant bickering. I'm tired of being their referee!

Here's a nice summary from the book Siblings Without Rivarly:

Level I - Normal Bickering
Ignore it!

Level II - Situation heating up, adult intervention might be helpful
1. Acknowledge their anger (e.g. "you two sound mad at eachother")
2. Reflect Each Child's Point of View (e.g. "So Johnny you want to play with the game because you found it first. And you Susie feel you are entitled to a turn too")
3. Describe the Problem with Respect (e.g. "That's a tough one -- two children and only one game")
4. Express confidence in the children's ability to find their own solution
(I'm sure you two can work out a solution that's fair to each of you")
5. Leave the room

Level III - Situation Possibly Dangerous
1. Inquire (e.g. "is this a play fight or a real fight?")
2. Reminding children that playfighting is by mutual consent -- if both aren't haven't fun, then it's got to stop
3. Respect your feelings (e.g. "you may be playing, but it's too rough for me. You need to find another activity")

Level IV - Situation Definitely Dangerous Adult Intervention Necessary
1. Describe what you see (e.g. "I see two very angry children who are about to hurt each other")
2. Separate the children ("It's not safe to be together. We must have a cooling-off period. Quick, you to your room and you to mine")

BLEH!! I'm so used to jumping in and screaming at them. How can I possibly stay calm enough to be empathetic? Apparently this works. I have friends who say this WORKS.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Sacred Economics


I'm reading the Sacred Economics right now and the timing couldn't be more perfect because I've been feeling very discouraged about our future -- the time will soon come when the planet will no longer be able to support all 7 billion of us.  I'm troubled because I am complicit to this system of unfettered growth, exploitation,  over consumption and resource depletion.  And the only option that seems viable to me right now is to check-out of the system altogether -- homestead and become self-sustaining.  But without electricity how could we realistically survive?  I have no life skills.  I have office skills FFS.  I am not resilient either.  Nor do I feel that separateness is the solution. So instead I just throw up my arms and resolve to wait for my families eventual demise.

But then I started reading this book and it put forth some solutions that 'could' work.  Today's problems were created from growth which is necessary to keep money in circulation. I'm finally beginning to see the problem -- money is created from debt, so that there is always more debt than actual money in circulation.  Repayment of debt (principal + interest) means that more goods and services need to be created, regardless if we truly need it.  Hense the need for growth.  Today we live in a world where everything is for sale.  Resources have been sucked dry, chemicals have been pumped into our water and air, people have been exploited .... and yet we are not happier.  How ironic is it that more 'goods' don't actually mean more 'goodness'. Externalities, such as the environment, our health, safety and freedom are not built into the cost of anything we consume.  Corporates take their profits and everyone else pays for the mess.  This book proposes embedding the things we hold sacred into the price of goods and services.  For example, the price of strawberries from California would reflect the transportation costs (including road maintenance) to bring them here, the cost of depleting their acquifers and eroding their soil to grow them, and the emissions cost to plant and harvest them such that they would be way more expensive then local produce.  Companies would have an economic incentive to not pollute or exploit.  We would buy less things because products would be built to last, healthy food would be more affordable than junk food and people everywhere would earn a living wage.  Bliss!  A carbon tax/cap and trade system is similar, but only looks at one facet.  This system would factor in multiple externalities. It sounds complicated to implement, but it's the right thing to do.  I believe people want to know the effects of their actions, and want to take responsibility for them.  This system simply makes producers pay for what they currently take from 'the commons', thereby contributing to future sustainability.  It's kind of like an indirect tax -- you pay for what you take, not for what you earn.

The other concept is of negative interest.  Money is the only resource that grows by doing nothing.  Everything else decays.  The author's example:  if I have 12 loaves of bread, I will give you some because I can't possible use it all before it goes stale.  If in the future, you  have extra loaves, you would most likely give them to me.  This is how a gift economy works.  But with money, we have a liquidity preference to hold on to more money (hoard) and not share.  This book proposes negative interest such that money would lose it's value by holding on to it -- kind of like a depositor's tax.  Imagine having to pay to affix postage-style stamps to your money to keep it's value up.  You'd want to spend it on what you need and not accumulate what you don't need. This is a huge mind shift from the current system and sadly I can't see it ever taking hold because those with accumulated wealth stand to lose the most.  I'm just starting to read the details of such a system and have many qs.  For starters, how would the financial system work?  The author explains that banks would make money by lending at zero or negative rates which would be less than the rate of depletion (e.g. loans at -5% interest is better than -7% depletion).  Borrowing money would not create more money and growth would occur naturally rather than out of necessity (to pay down debt).  It's kind of an out-there concept, but one that's starting to make sense for me.

Looking forward to see if other share these ideas and if they have any hope of becoming a reality.  Because our current system is not working and will not last.

Monday, March 24, 2014

I turn myself off when ...


I feel fat, I am disappointed in my myself, I did not 'find favour' with others, I feel that I did not have time to myself or time in the day to unwind.  This in turn makes me feel unworthy of touch, affection, pleasure.

Another interesting TED Talk on the dichotomy of committed sex -- our need for security and our need for surprise.  In our relationships we want security, reciprocity, togetherness.  And yet it's these same needs that hinder desire.  Our erotic selves want  naughtiness, agression, adventure, discovery.  So, how to have both?  The speaker suggests that we find ways to create longing, such as finding times of separation.  This creates an 'erotic space' from which anticipation and desire can build. 
I know this to be very true.  Absence does make the heart grow fonder.  Am I making myself absent enough though?  Hmmm.  I feel like I am always here, at home.  Another interesting fact was that what most people find attractive about their partners has nothing to do with them.  When do I admire D the most?  When I think of him 'in his element' -- coaching soccer, solving difficult scientific and technical problems at work, playing with the kids, essentially doing his thing -- which is separate from our time together.

Back to the top -- how do we ready ourselves for pleasure?  It's easy to blame our partner -- he doesn't do x, so how can I be expected to be 'ready'.  Time to take a look in the mirror.  It's always my own bullshit after all.  What am I doing or not doing to prevent myself from fully enjoying sex.  Very interesting.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Parenting without bribery


Another heated conversation at the office with me having to explain why bribery is not a good way to parent.  Sure, it gets you results.  But compliance is not the goal -- self-discipline is the goal.
I did a bit of research to support my POV.  If I keep having to bribe my kids to behave:

1. they learn that they must be paid in order to be decent people ("what do I get for doing x?")
2. I'm sending the message that the behavior must be unpleasant, since they "have to be rewarded" for doing it
3. the bribes and rewards have to get bigger and better in order to keep working
4. I end up having to intervene all the time instead of them learning to behave on their own
5. I rob them of feeling the intrinsic reward that comes from behaving (e.g. warm feeling from sharing), thus decreasing the likelihood that they will repeat the behaviour on their own
6. they do not learn, understand, or value the behavior that they are being bribed or threatened to do, they simply 'perform' for the reward
7. I perpetuate the milenial culture of entitlement ("what's in it for me?")
8. I'm sending them the message that they are not capable of good behaviour without bribery
9. I'm sending the message that all good behaviour is extrinsically rewarded - untrue

The argument was made that since my salary is my reward as an employee, bribes and rewards offer the same incentive for kids.  I have no problems with paying our kids to do work that is above and beyond what we expect of them.  They have limited opportunity to earn money at this age after all.  Plus I'd like to think that I'm not a slave owner.  However, my kids are not my employees.  None of us are paid to be decent people or contribute to our family -- we love and help each other because it's what we expect and need of each other.  It's not the same as my employment because that is a contract I have with my employer -- services in exchange for a negotiated salary. Plus my occupation is more than a job -- it's something that matters to me.  From a FB comment I read tonight:  "Your work is something that you create and see through, start to finish. Because you want to. And, aside of the money, it brings joy and ease to the world."  Not sure I'm bringing joy to the world exactly, but I know that I am not motivated by the money.  I work hard because I am a hard worker.  Well maybe not all the time ...  But I feel quite strongly about not using bribes to parent my our kids.  Let's hope I'm right on this one.



 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Should I stay or should I go -- the sequel



I thought I had my mind made up and then when I talked to my friends they bascially told me that I'd regret not taking this opportunity.  I think I need more answers.

medium-term goal: To be an IM Director in the next 3-5 years
What do I need to get there?  And can I acquire the skills and experience in my current role?

According to IM Director SofQs that I've seen, here's what I am missing (in no particular order):

1. real contracting and procurement knowledge and experience:  I need to know more about this than simply filling out forms.  I want to understand the various contracting options, what clauses and wording to use to get what I want, what to avoid -- basically, how to work it.

2. more HR knowledge and experience:  I've got three active staffing actions on the go which will include exams and interviews, so hopefully this will give me some more relevant experience

3. PM knowledge and experience:  we don't do this in my organization, at least not in a formal way; I don't need my PMP Cert., but I need to apply some PM discipline to my projects. 

4. policy development:  this happens to be one of my objectives for next year, so I know that I will accomplish this.  I just have to start it.  I want it to be killer too -- not a copy paste of another department's IM policy suite, but something that will work in my org.

5. business case development:  I do this in a minor way -- weigh options, make recs, analyze risk.  But I need to write a BIG BAD business case, -- will have to wait until the need arises

6. strategic planning  -- I do work planning but I want to write a strategic plan. What is our vision and how will we get there? I'm not particularly visionary, but I want to learn how to lead and do this. 

7. program design -- this falls out of strat planning; unfortunately we don't do this in my org, but we do elements of it (e.g. service standards, program eval); this one will have to be a longer-term goal

8. inter-departmental experience:  I'd like to do more of this, and not just attending meetings WG and COP either.  I'd like to add value by working on the development of government-wide products.

9. experience evaluating, conceptualizing, implementing new technologies (I haven't done this in ages) within our new infrastructure -- plus I have no idea how things work with SSC now.  However, now that I've expressed an interest, my manager is sharing more of this with me.  Can and should do more reasearch on my own.

10. solid knowledge of business processes, especially how things work at Central Agencies -- best way to learn this would be to just GO. However, I can and should start by reading and talking to others

11. CCC - my supervisors are committed to sending me on French training in the Fall

I went over every one of these today during an informal learning plan mtg.  It went really well.  So I guess that decides it ...

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Should I stay, or should I go





Job offer on the table and I can't decide whether I should take it or not.  I used to hop between contracts and jobs all the time.  But now I feel paralyzed by this decision -- like I know that if I make the leap,  I will regret it after a week.  Every new job (or relationship for that matter) ends up being a disappointment.  And that's because you expect too much from it -- that it will bring you eternal bliss.  This one is really tough because it might be good in the long run.  However, I am REALLY happy in my job.  In fact, I stopped looking altogether last year.  This job opportunity just fell into my lap.  So maybe some brainstorming will help me figure out what it is I want.

What do I like about my job:

flexibility:   I can pretty much set out what I want to work on and how; my superiors trust that I will get whatever work needs to get done in the best way possible.  Sometimes I end up a bit lost, trying to figure things out, taking short-cuts, making rash decisions.  But most of the time I thrive.  I feel connected to my work because I have a big say in how it should be done.  Flexibility is very important for me.

the people:  I have a great team and wonderful supervisors.  I am very fortunate.  I've worked on other great teams as well, so shouldn't feel that I wouldn't get that in my next job.  I just feel really lucky to have ended up with such dedicated and kind people.  It makes my job easy.

the variety:  I'm in charge of the whole enchilada, not just a tiny sliver -- library, records management, IM systems, policy, awareness and training, and IM business analysis.  Every single day is different and I am still learning so much.  I am rarely bored because I get to play in multiple areas of my domain.  The variety is wonderful.

more on flexibility: I can tele-work, I can take surfing brain-breaks, I can take the occasional long lunch, I can work extra time to take time off.  Hell I even took the entire summer off.  I've become so used to this that I can't imagine working in an environment that was less flexible ... not that the new place is not (I don't know), but I'd have a really hard time if it wasn't a flexible work environment.

What I don't like about my current job:

not making a difference:  we are not known, our work is not a priority with Sr. Mgmt.  If our team disappeared off the face of the earth, no one would even notice.  This is hard because I need meaning.  I still believe that my work helps others do their work more easily and makes government more transparent and accountable.  But then I see how little we've actually done to make a difference where it counts and I'm disheartened.  Is it just this way in my Agency, or is it like this across the GC?  I don't know.

lack of upward mobility:  my manager is younger than me, so she will not likely retire soon; I don't even have her skillset, so filling her shoes one day is out of the question. My director told me that my job will never be re-classified to a director-level job (like it is in the rest of the GC).  It's just the way it is.  Do I really want a promotion?  Marginally more money, lots more politics and a whole lot more stress, no thanks.  I just want my job classification to be commensurate to my current level of responsibility.  That's not going to happen unless I move -- to another dept or to another branch within my Agency.

lack of discipline:  we're a bunch of cowboys in my branch; we're constantly responsive to operational emergencies (and I like that), but we don't have any discipline or thought for the future -- planning, project management, strategy, policy ... these are foreign concepts where I work that just don't fit with our culture.  How'd I'd love to learn to do things properly for a change!  Maybe it would actually make a difference in our ability to make a real difference?  Then again .... I might feel stifled and frustrated by process and rules because I am used to the flexibility I currently have?  Ugh.

What I like about this job opportunity:

the Director:  she is one class act; not only is her reputation and track record marvellous, she is also a lovely person.  I would learn so much working for her.  I'm certainly learning a lot from my current boss, but she is not an expert in my field, nor does she purport to be.  However, this director plans to retire in 3-5 years.  She's agreed to mentor me. But how much time does she really have with three other managers and a full workload?

Central Agency experience:  everyone I talk to says that it's the key to upward mobility in the GC; learn how the machinery of government works -- it gives you a much different perspective and also looks really good on the CV

the discipline:  they seem to have their shit together at the other organization -- policies, tools, clearly defined roles and responsibilities, big budgets; it's no wonder than accomplish great things

What I don't like about this opportunity:

risk of getting cut:  the role they want me to fill is likely to move to SSC within two years. In fact the previous manager just jumped ship, probably for that reason.  So where would that leave me?  And being the new kid on the block leaves me even more vulnerable to cuts.

boredom:  I'm likely to get bored with having to focus on just one area of my domain -- an area I have a bit of a distaste for lately in fact.  It's not that I don't like technology -- I love technological change.  But I've been disappointed by so many promises of EDRMS systems, that this new one is already fulfilling my lowest of expectations.  Unless I have the opportunity to get involved with other initiatives, I could see myself losing interest fast.

fear of the unknown:  I don't know anything about the people (other than the Director), including the people I will manage.  I don't know if the work will be interesting, if I'll adapt, if I'll live up to their expectations, if I will be happy.  I have no idea. I'm clearly not comfortable with the change.

So, what to do?  I think I've made up my mind -- at least for today!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sexual Objectification



An informative TED talk on sexual objectification -- the personal damage it does and what we can do to stop it.

The speaker's position was that sexual objectification is societal dehumanizing.  And when you dehumanize women, it's much easier to discriminate and abuse them.  Women are not the subjects of advertising here -- we are objects.  The difference is that subjects have the freedom to act, while objects are acted upon.  The excuse that sex sells is also false.  Contrary to popular believe sex is not being sold, otherwise there'd be as many pictures of naked men as women.  Men are being sold sexual subjectification -- that they are in the drivers seat and can derive power from being surrounded by women who are sexual objects.  Women are being sold the message that they derive their value from being the ideal sex object.  The speaker explored how this affects our own behaviour, the main one being self-objectification.  For starters, when we habitually body monitor ourselves and others, we are wasting time evaluating and working on our appearance,  instead of using our time and energy for good.  We also end up competing with other women for men's attention, which we think is a finite resource to be attained.  Gawd, this is so depressing!
So what can we do? 
Stop consuming damaging materials
Stop competing with other women
Stop seeking attention for our bodies
Stop evaluating each other based on appearances

I can see where I do self-objectify.  No good can come of it either -- depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, body shaming ... However, it is getting easier with age.  I am way more comfortable in my skin then as a young woman. I can do more though -- not just for me, but for my children.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Introverts


I'm intrigued by the recent research on Introverts I read that shows their value to society is largely unappreciated because extroverts dominate our society -- not only in number, but in force (obviously).  It's not a bad idea to stop and consider all that introverts have a lot to offer, including in positions of leadership. Introvert managers are more likely to let their employees go with their own ideas rather than force their own stamp on their employee's ideas (crap, I do this).
Introverts value solidtude, which is where creativity flows!  In fact, by forcing everyone to work like extroverts (ie constant collaboration) we are also devaluing freedom, autonomy and privacy.  Wouldn't it be better if we gave people space to work out their ideas and them come together as a team to build on them?

Another point I found interesting is how we got here.  The culture arose from the decline of the agricultural industry.  As people moved to cities and started working in offices, they were no longer working alongside people they knew in their small community.  They were working with strangers and thus had to 'get noticed'.  Being an extrovert is what got you ahead.

Thankfully we're starting to see the value of introversion -- of thoughtful decision-making and communication instead of impulsivity.  I know that I'm an extrovert, but more and more I seek solitude. Sometimes I want to be along with my ideas.  Bliss.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Compulsion to buy

From an interesting CBC documentary on habits, ask yourself 6 questions before you buy something:

Why am I here?
How do I feel?
Do I need this?
What if I wait?
How will I pay for it?
Where will I put it?

Brilliant.  I know that if I did that every time that I shopped, I would not own even 10% of all the stuff I currently have.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

5 simple rules to be happy



From a chain letter on FB.  Complete cheese, but true!

1. Free your heart from hatred - Forgive.
2. Free your mind from worries - Most never happen.
3. Live simply and appreciate what you have.
4. Give more.
5. Expect less from people, but more from yourself.