Doing the things I'm really good at is the dream

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I've been having conversations with family members over the holidays about life and what's been going on here in Ottawa with the Wilson crew. Some have been a little out of the loop because I've had some big changes that came with big time commitments and I haven't been good about keeping them up to date. (Fortunately, they're forgiving folks.)

The discussions I've had all led to questions about how I'm feeling about my current employment situation. I get accused of having a lot of jobs. If I included every single one on my resume (even the now irrelevant ones), yes, it would be a lengthy list. But I've stayed for as long as 6 years in one position. Also, I'm 40 and I work in tech, so "lifers" aren't that common. That said, I like to think about the future and how I want my career to look 2-5 years down the road. That's my version of pursuing the dream.

My favorite football team (okay, the only one I ever actually pay any attention to) just got a new coach. I found out that he's had some criticism that this is his third job in a year. No doubt, for a football coach, that's unusual. But then I found out that he said FSU has been his dream job. (He even wanted to play at FSU, but they didn't pursue him.)

For me, the narrative of that story changed completely as soon as I found out how much Willie Taggart wanted to be part of the FSU football program. He's been a class act since day one on the job and he led the team to another bowl game victory so they could finish out the season with a winning record - 41 years in a row, baby! He's off to a great start.

I can relate to what he's done. I started a job in August 2016 that I really loved. "Writer" became my professional title, not just a label I applied to myself. The role had potential to grow in ways I was excited about. And I was having a great time doing interesting work and getting valuable experience. When changes happened in that situation this past summer, I really struggled with the loss of all that potential growth - I just didn't see how I could take the next steps in my career in that company.

The struggle eventually led me to shift my thinking and look at my situation objectively. First of all, I couldn't let my discouragement about the changes poison my day-to-day work. So, I let that shiz go as much as possible. Sometimes it was a minute-by-minute choice. Then I had to figure out what I really wanted. A good friend helped me plan how I could take action to find the right next step for me. That was the point when I started seriously opening my mind to possibilities.

The next opportunity came along within weeks. The potential growth I was seeking with the job I took in 2016? That became a reality in 2017, though not at the place or with the people I thought it would happen. But that's okay, because it's so much better to be in the right place at the right time in the right role than to be loyal to something that doesn't work for you.

I'm good at building. I assess, make observations, figure out a plan, and execute. I love the intensity as you figure out what works and what doesn't. I don't even mind occasional late nights putting out fires. But I want to know that the end result of what I'm doing is valuable and appreciated. I want to be challenged and learn as I work. And I found a role that lets me write while I expand into other areas that I'm good at as well. So, I'm ridiculously excited about the future.

Looking back on 2017, it was a year of big changes. For me, for my little world, for all of us. If 2018 goes like 2017 has, it's gonna be a really fantastic year. Bring it on.

Spring Cleaning & Projects, 2011 Edition

Last week, Matt and I were off to do Spring Cleaning! 

Yeah, we took an entire week off just to clean. We started this little tradition in 2009 just before Matt went back to work after being off for three months with Brandon. He started daycare the week we were off and we purged, scrubbed and scoured our home into blissful - though sadly temporary - spotlessness.

This is the week that we move the heavy furniture and find all those missing toys. It’s also the week we start talking about making big changes.

This year, the change we started discussing is the dining room. Currently, our dining room has a beautiful table with 6 chairs and a curio that call it home. But last week I found the words, “What do you think about selling the dining room set?”, falling out of my mouth. Yes, I want to sell this dining room set that we drooled over for two years before we could finally buy it once we were finally in our new home. The set that we wheeled and dealed for weeks to get down to the price that we wanted it for. 

The set that we use once a year on Thanksgiving.

THAT, my friends, is why I want to sell it. It’s completely wasted on us! We aren’t dinner party people. We are go home, grab whatever’s in the fridge - cereal? okay - sit down at the breakfast table to eat people. Our breakfast table is well-used. We pay it visits two times a day. And on the weekends, it gets a third visit. So, that’s the big plan we’re considering. I even took pictures of our lovely clean table to post to Kijiji when we are finally 100% sure. We’re still only sitting at about 90-95%.

Spring cleaning with Matt is fun. We fight constantly about anything and everything. Most of the time it’s not even a little bit serious or real. When we’re tired, there’s a possibility that we end up crossing the line into serious territory. We were exhausted by the end of last week and, honestly, I’m still recovering. Cleaning and genuinely purging your entire house in a week is actually quite a lot of work.

Our biggest job was our home office. We had boxes in that office that were never unpacked when we moved into this house almost 4 years ago. So, that was the top priority for the week. Finishing the office took almost 2 days. There’s still a fair bit of sorting, organizing and purging left to do, but we did the essentials that we knew we could finish.

This year, instead of just one big change project, we’re actually contemplating three. The first is the dining room, which I mentioned. I’m also thinking of donating my hardcopy books (most of them) to the Ottawa Public Library. I haven’t read most of them since I started reading e-books, so I’m beginning to think about letting them go. Especially ones I’ve grown out of. What do you think? Would you give up your hardcopy books? I rarely buy them now that I have a Kobo.

The third project has to do with the first. Once we sell that dining room furniture, we’ll have a big, empty cavern that’s going to need something to go in it. So, I’m thinking about relocating our newly purged office to the dining room and putting Brandon’s play area (currently in the living room) in there as well. It’d be really different, but I love the idea of being able to see Brandon while I cook and he plays. The setup now doesn’t allow that.

Decisions, decisions.

The funniest thing of all? Now that my house is so clean, I totally want to invite people over!! :) So much for not being dinner party people!

A promise kept

Have you ever had a year that is so momentous that you feel like you can relive it every single time you hear it mentioned? That year for me was 2000. It was a huge year. (And I don’t mean because of the 2000 election, in which Tallahassee had a starring role, whether it wanted it or not!)

In January, something devastating and hurtful happened just before I moved from my cute little studio apartment into my (recently deceased) great aunt’s house to live while it was in probate.

In February and March, I spent all my spare time distracting myself by setting up house and trying not to be lonely. I lived on the other side of town from my parents in a super cute house surrounded by a neighborhood that was slightly run down and perhaps not the most law-abiding at times.

In April I turned a corner. I began to regain my balance only to begin the process at work of going through a re-org. Uncertainty was everywhere, including in me. I didn’t know what I was doing there other than marking time.

In May I flew to Canada - and this is where things get interesting - and promised Matt that I would move to Canada by the American Thanksgiving. (For anyone who isn’t in the know, that effectively gave me an extra six weeks.)

In June I dragged my brother to St. Petersburg, FL to go to a Canadian consulate-approved doctor to have the medical exam required for my Permanent Resident Visa. 

In July I found out that my great aunt’s house was done with probate. Since the rent on it was out of my budget I had to move again. (That’d be move #2.) And I also turned 23.

In August I moved into the apartment that I’d found in July. It turns out that my dear friend was moving back to town and needed a place, so she moved in with me. Perfect - someone to take over the lease when I left by November.

September came and so did Matt. He spent a week hanging out with me and my family, seeing the sights in Tallahassee and this is the one visit we had together that I can barely remember. The highlight was Starvin’ Marvin and his stinky bum and flakey skin playing with Emo and Colonel Mustard, but that’s another story for another day.

October was a really big month. When it started, I lined up a second job for myself as a seasonal worker at Barnes and Noble, hoping with each passing day that my Visa would arrive soon. All the paperwork had been sent in plenty of time for me to get it by the end of October and I was getting nervous.

Midway through the month, my roommate and I noticed that Colonel Mustard wasn’t eating so I took him to the vet. Diagnosis: most likely FIP. I said my goodbyes to the best cat ever the next day. I only had him a year and a half, but he’d been with me through a LOT.

Within about a week or week and a half, I was at the second job one night, bored and counting the seconds until I could leave, when I got a call. It was my mom. She never called me at work but she wanted to let me know there was something from the Canadian Consulate (or whoever it was that sent my Visa; I can’t remember now). And I just gave away what was in the package.

And here’s the relief part: I was movin’ to Canada! I was going to keep the promise I’d made. 

I already had my resignation letter written. All I had to do was change the date, print, sign and give it to my supervisor, who was expecting it.

About a week after I gave my three-week notice I left work early, wrapping up by scheduling a meeting with my supervisor and someone from the big boss’ office. Later that night, a coworker called me at home to give me a heads up that my supervisor - someone I truly liked - had been let go. The next Monday morning, he called me at my desk to say his goodbyes - he was a great man to work for.

By then, November had come, I had two weeks left to work and I no longer had a supervisor. You’d think I would have switched off, but I didn’t. I had the final awards ceremony that I was going to manage and that was important to me. I had some big send-offs from the people I had worked with for 3.5 years. When Matt rolled into town in late November, sporting a champagne-colored minivan, I hadn’t even packed a box. (Gasp!) I was in total denial that I was leaving.

Matt spent the days I had left at work walking around the (huge) complex and going into every building to collect boxes. We didn’t have a single moment alone since he’d driven into town. So, when he got tired of waiting, he went for it right where we were - my cubicle - and with a co-worker walking by chit-chatting with me. When she saw him down on one knee (before I did), she quickly scurried away. He asked and I said yes.

It was Monday, November 20th, I was engaged and I was definitely moving to Canada. It was a done deal. We quickly packed everything we could into the van over the next two days. Said as many goodbyes as we could and celebrated an early Thanksgiving with my parents and brother.

The day before Thanksgiving, amidst political turmoil, Matt and I drove away from my parents’ house on our way north, just as I’d promised.

That was when the real relief began.

*****

Mama's Losin' It

This post was based on the prompt “A moment you felt truly relieved” from Mama Kat’s writing workshop. 

What’s your moment of relief?

Unwanted Change

Within the last year, I’ve had some experiences that have slowly changed me. I feel myself becoming more cynical, negative, even jaded. I’ve found myself feeling overly suspicious of people’s motives and intentions. It’s partly a coping mechanism, but I don’t like this new aspect of myself. 

I like to think I’m a trustworthy person and I’m willing to trust people at their word until proven otherwise. But I’m starting to question what I’m told on a regular basis. I think it’s healthy to be discerning, but automatic distrust is hard for me. It doesn’t feel right.

The battle between my natural instinct to accept everyday occurrences at face value and my newly minted cynical side is weighing me down with stress. I alternate between resistance to this change and wanting to go with the flow because it’s easier.

It took me months (and my husband’s input) to see this was happening, and weeks to figure out the answer to the problem.

Just as I do with my son when he’s getting upset, I have to remove myself from the situation. It won’t be as easy as plucking a child off the floor and carrying them to another room, but one way or another I’ll figure out how to make it happen. 

*****

Written in participation of Bigger Picture Moments, “A moment where you recognized the role your faith plays in your every day life. A moment where you take note of motherhood and the importance of what you are doing. A moment that made you stop and breathe in the bigness of it all. The hugeness that is life and the small moments adding up to one Bigger Picture.” Check out this week’s posts at Madeline Bea.