Change 4

As the old saying goes, if you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change how you think about it.

Some people love change. I mean, really love it. The fast pace, the uncertainty, the chance to problem solve and break new ground…they really, REALLY love it.

In my experience, these people are few and far between. Most people hate change and just keep on hating it until they get used to the “new world.” Throughout my career, I have experienced change times three. Centralization, and de-centralization a year later. Focus on growth today, but tomorrow we’re going to shrink and focus on what we do best. Today, we are forging a new culture for Company X, but if you wait until next week (or maybe tomorrow), we’ll be right back to the way we’ve always done it.

Real change takes time. Partly because fundamental change takes time to really take hold and be adopted fully. But part of the time it takes to change is really about getting people on board. The group driving the change needs to fully explain the new direction and why a new direction is needed, but individuals also have a responsibility to think differently about change. I think most people – myself included – need to see change as an opportunity…a good thing. And only individuals can change their own mindset.

How do you view change? When you are faced with change, what is your reaction? How could you look at change differently?

We all need to find our way through the maze of change we face. Because nothing endures but change. So when change becomes too much, and we think we can’t do it, we need to learn how to take a different approach…change how we think about.



New Years 3

As the New Year approaches, the world begins to think of fresh starts, of new beginnings, of New Year’s Resolutions.

I’ve never been a big believer in New Year’s Resolutions. From what I could see, most New Year’s Resolutions are broken within the first week or month. Legendary jokes are made about it. I certainly broke my resolutions – when I made them – pretty quickly.

But this year is different (do I hear laughter?). I think I better understand what resolutions are really about. It’s not necessarily about the success. It’s not really about being the most organized person on the planet. It’s not really about becoming a hard body. And it’s not really reaching an ideal of becoming whatever your idea of perfect is.

Resolutions are about the intentions. At some point, I realized that my youthful metabolism left me, and Cheetos and Coke were no longer a diet I could stick with…unless I wanted to keep putting weight on and buying new clothes. So I resolved to lose weight and get back to where I was when I was 25 years old. A bit of a stretch, given the fact that I was definitely well beyond that age.

It all started out fine…I tried to take a very sensible approach (again, being well beyond 25 years old). I began to exercise (a little) and started really paying attention to what I was eating. More fruits and vegetables and less (sniff) Cheetos. And it began to work. I lost weight and had to buy new clothes, in a smaller size this time. And then the resolution broke. And I leveled off, five pounds short of my goal, which left me angry and frustrated and sad.

New Years 5

But then I thought more about it…while I didn’t reach the ultimate – and somewhat unattainable – goal, I did lose weight. And more importantly, I felt better…in fact, the best that I had in years…probably since I was 25 years old.

It made me realize that when we think of these resolutions, we often set the bar too high. When I started this blog, I set a goal to post twice a week…forever. Well, clearly that hasn’t worked out. But now my intention is to continue to post as often as I can. And that’s ok. I enjoy writing and so I will continue to do it whenever I can. But I’m to going to hold myself to an unattainable standard that simply adds pressure. There is enough pressure in my life on the things I have to do. I don’t want pressure to ruin the things I want to do.

So for those of you that want to set New Year’s Resolutions, I wish you strength and luck! For me, I am setting intentions to keep my weight, health and energy level as it is now, continue to write as much as I enjoy it and the muse moves me, and to enjoy as much of life as I can. And finish binge watching “Once Upon a Time.” After all, a girl’s got to have a goal.


Stuff…and More Stuff


Stuff and More Stuff

In my Sunday-morning newspaper-reading ritual, I read a column about people cleaning out closets, etc., prior to the holiday gift-giving binge.

It really got me thinking about stuff…the stuff in the house, the stuff in my closet, and on and on. I have spent a good part of the last year cleaning out stuff. I clean out a bunch of old toys from our basement. I cleaned out our linen closet and donated a garbage bag of sheets and towels. I spent a week cleaning out our storage closet and got rid of so much stuff that I didn’t even know we still had! I cleaned out my closet and finally gave up the ghost on a number of pieces that – well, let’s be honest, I’m just never going to either wear or fit into again.

Cleaning out things that we never use or didn’t even know we had was cathartic. I felt like a weight was lifted with everything that I gave away or pitched. As I purged, I found that I know had more convenient places to store the things that we do use regularly. And much of what I had to give away was still in great shape…often unused or used only once. So I had a good feeling that these things could get a second life with hopefully someone in need.

But then it came time make Christmas lists. And I struggled…what did I need? I just got rid of a ton of stuff that I didn’t need…but what did I now need? Honestly, nothing. So everyone in my family was annoyed that my Christmas list was so sparse…but again, I am trying to clean out and simplify.

For years, my mother had the world’s worst gift list. One year, for Mother’s Day, she actually asked for a Swiffer…really? My view is that if I can buy it at the grocery store, it’s not gift-worthy.

But now I’m starting to get it. As I get older, and continue to get more established in life, I found that I really didn’t need nearly as much, just like Mom.

So much of my gift list involves consumables…lotions, candles…things that I can use and they are then gone. But I no longer subscribe to the policy that “the one that dies with the most stuff wins…”

And It Starts…


First Snow 2014

This is the view out my back door…it is only November 17…sigh…

I know I live in the Midwest and that it’s supposed to be cold this time of year in the Northern Hemisphere. But after last winter’s Snow-mageddon, I’m not ready to begin the fight again.

Yes, I realize that other parts of the country have already seen more snow than this. My “U-per” daughter enjoyed not one but two snow days last week. But I do not live on the Canada border, so this snow – that is sticking! – is more than I signed up for and honestly, more than I think I can stand.

Forecasts are all different for just how bad this winter might be. Some say worse than last year, others say much easier. I even read in the Sunday paper a prediction that heating bills will ultimately be lower than last year, because while some cold snaps are expected, they won’t be prolonged. In other words, we aren’t entering a deep freeze.

But let’s be honest, all the weather “experts” are taking a 50/50 shot at this. Maybe this is all the snow we’ll see this year, and maybe this is just the foundational layer. Or maybe it’s something in between. All I know is that I am not looking forward to fighting the elements to get to work, digging out the snow boots and gloves, walking around the house in three or four layers even though the heat is cranking.

The upside is that maybe this will put me in the holiday mood. And if the sun ever comes back out, it will be nice and bright, reflecting off the snow. I just hope that this round melts enough for me to cover the patio furniture before the next round hits.

I guess this is one of those times we just have keep plugging along. And it starts…


Mean People Suck – Part Deux


Mean People-Part 21

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…Mean People suck.

Mean people come in many shapes and sizes. You run into them all the time…in stores, on the road, everywhere. In many of those situations, you can get angry, but then move on…these are people who you don’t have to deal with them after the moment.

But often times, there are mean people in various areas of your life that you simply can’t necessarily walk away from. Sometimes it’s a family member…you know the ones who ruin every holiday gathering with their meanness.

Sometimes it’s at your job. Unfortunately, I don’t know many people that can walk away from a decent income these days, and with the job market the way it is, it’s much harder to justify leaving an otherwise perfectly good job because of one or two irritants.

But when you stop and think about it: You spend a large percentage of your life at your job. And everyone else you work with spends about the same amount of time at the office. You send more time with your co-workers than you probably do with your family. So why would anyone want to make the experience any more stressful than it needs to be?

I recently started a new job, and I have to say, overall, it’s a decent gig. It’s a good company to work for and the vast majority of the people I have met are absolutely delightful. But there are one or two people that are clearly unhappy with the “new world order.” I don’t know if they feel threatened or just don’t like change or are just normally unhappy people, but I’m tired of dealing with their icy demeanor and snarky comments.

Most of the time, I just let it go. I’m pretty confident in my knowledge, abilities and experience, which matches up pretty well with any of them, so I can let the snarkiness roll off my back. But after a while, I just get tired of the pettiness.

This too shall pass. I didn’t take this job to make lifelong friends, and most people have been incredibly welcoming. So I will continue to let it go…but again I say, mean people suck. And I say to the mean people, Karma will out.

The Show Must Go On…


Show must go on 2

The past few weeks, I have been feverishly preparing for a fairly major work event…and we’re not ready.

The event kicks off this week, and we are still working on some of the major details: agenda, presentations, etc.

Now, I’m not new to business or to these kinds of events…there are always last-minute changes, and updates. And that’s fine. But this time I’m feeling completely unprepared and incredibly anxious about the glass balls in the air that will shatter when they hit the ground. (I’m less concerned with the rubber ones that will bounce, and I can catch on the way back up.)

My regular readers (translation – my sister) know that this is my first major project in my recently started new job. Maybe that’s why I’m feeling unprepared? Not really. These kinds of events are really pretty common within business, and while the content may change slightly from corporation to corporation, the nuts and bolts are pretty consistent.

But the whole thing got me thinking…how often I feel discombobulated in many aspects of my life. I enjoying trying new things, because it’s the new that makes life interesting. But I’m a girl who like to have a plan. When I try something new, there is always a little voice in my head that says, “Wait…what’s next? What haven’t I planned for?”

Now I’m sure this event will all work out, like it usually does. And while I have tried to plan for every eventuality, if something happens, we’ll do what we can and what’s needed to fix it. At some point in all this, I’ve realized – like in all parts of my life, the show must go on.

Can You Live the Fantasy Life?


Fantasy Football 3

So we are in Week 6 of the 2014-2015 National Football League Season…and Week 6 of the Fantasy Football life.

My husband was an “early adopter” of Fantasy Football, meaning that the first opportunity he got to pretend he owns a football team, he took it. So football season in our house has been “interesting” for years. Suffice it to say, the kids learned at a very early age not to talk to Daddy on Sundays after Noon Central. Sadly, their language skills also took a turn for the blue.

Now let me be clear: I am a football fan. I have been a football fan since college, although I don’t, and never did, follow college football. I am an NFL Girl all the way. Baseball on television more often than not is like watching grass grow, and basketball…well, you really only need to watch the last two minutes as far as I’m concerned…even if you are invested in the outcome.

But football? That is for me…I love the fact that it is fairly condensed, with most of the games played on Sundays. I love that my whole Sunday is dedicated to football, starting with the Noon kick-off and running straight through to the last seconds of the Sunday Night Football game…if I can stay up that late. I love the fact that the games all convenient come with a third quarter where generally, nothing happens, making it PERFECT for a quick 30-minute nap.

In the past few years, I have even come to love most of the pre-game shows and their “crews.” Fox Sports has by far the best, funniest crew out there, with Long, Bradshaw, Strahan and Johnson. But I do still love ESPN or whatever channel Michael Irvin is on. (I have loved Irvin since he was a star receiver on the Dallas Cowboys…back when they were actually good.)

Now being from the Chicago area, I am a Bears fan at heart. And like most Chicago sports fans, I will bash the Bears with the best of them. But I have always had a soft spot for the Cowboys, which started back when they were America’s Team and even as far back as the Danny White days. Surprisingly, I also kind of like the Vikings and Lions, despite the fact that they are both in the Bears division. And while this may generate a firestorm of comments (which would be a first for my blog), I even liked the Packers for a brief time when Favre was taking the snaps. He was just fun to watch, because he clearly was having fun.

So after years of watching – and listening to — my husband play Fantasy Football, and suck our son into it, I decided to take the plunge. Technically, I am the owner, I did the draft and I make the week-to-week decisions. But because I am a newbie and I don’t have the head for stats…like remembering that this running back gained more than 200 yards back in 2012 or that wide receiver caught 12 passes back in his Pop Warner days…my husband has a habit of moving players around without telling me. He calls himself the Puppet Master. Which I am generally fine with. As of right now, I’m sitting atop the league, although that may change depending on tonight’s game. And I have no problem being the decorative figurehead…and he knows not to take Witten out without my approval.

I never thought I would like it, but I think I can actually live the fantasy life.


The Elixir of Life


Coffee 1

September 29 is National Coffee Day, at least according to the coupon section of the Sunday paper. And I’m going to celebrate it like it every other day of the year.

I am a coffee devotee. That is not to say I am a coffee aficionado, because that would imply that I am a coffee snob, which I’m not. In fact, while I am a loyal supporter of Starbuck’s Vanilla Lattes, I honestly am not a fan of their straight coffee. I’m not a “fan” of coffee, but more of a “fanatic.” I honestly would drink coffee all day if I could (and often do).

I’m not entirely sure when this dedication to coffee started. When I was young, I didn’t even like the smell of coffee. I never drank coffee in high school or even college, in order to pull all-nighters. Coca-Cola was a sufficient amount of caffeine. But somewhere along my life’s journey, I discovered the life-giving properties that coffee – and only coffee – could provide to me.

Like millions of Americans – and likely humans across the globe – I start my day with a cup, a hint of sugar and cut with a good amount of French vanilla creamer. I have to start the day there. I have been known to drop everything to run to a store for any of the ingredients…or even a new coffee maker if necessary. But the coffee consumption doesn’t stop there.

Around 9 or 10 in the morning, depending on when I have meetings scheduled, I run down to the Starbuck’s in my office building for a “Venti Skinny Vanilla Latte with an extra pump of Sugar-Free Vanilla,” my signature drink from Starbuck’s. (I’ve even taught the kids how to say it so that when they stop at Starbuck’s, they can get it right.) During the work week, that will usually get me through the day, at least until I get home, where I immediately heat up a cup of coffee, sit down and drink it. And when I say immediately, I mean before I start making dinner, before I change my clothes, some days before I even say hello to the family. (Those are the really bad days.) And then I proceed to drink the rest of the pot (and sometimes even make another small pot) before hitting the hay. And no, I have NEVER had a hard time falling asleep.

Of course, my “devotion” was worse when I was at home all day. The convenience of having the coffee pot located in a central location fueled my addiction, and our local economy, since I was buying coffee and creamer by the gallon. (I do wonder sometimes if my local grocery store has had to readjust its creamer order since I’ve gone back to work.)

People I work with have always marveled at my love of coffee, but it has made life pretty easy for them when it comes to any kind of gift for me. They know that a Starbuck’s card is the way to win my affection and gratitude, not to mention make me a delight to work with. My family knows that, when in doubt, Mom will love not having to pay cash for her Starbuck’s…which also makes for a much happier house. Even the husband knows that if he’s making me get up early for something, as long as the coffee is made, well…happy wife, happy life.

So here’s to you, Juan Valdez, on National Coffee Day. May you and your cute little burro continue to provide the world with the elixir of life!


Old Habits Die Hard


Cube Farm 1

Upon my return to “Cubeland,” I am amazed at how quickly I fell back into the routine. It’s amazing how, no matter where I work, the phone is always on the left, I put my stapler in the exact same spot, and I got right back into buying Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for the candy jar that has been on the corner of my desk at every job for the past 20+ years.

Sure there are challenges. When you enter a new job, there is always a ton of stuff to learn. You need to learn the company’s business strategy, culture and how it “speaks.” You need to get to know your new colleagues, who may be incredibly welcoming and who may see you as a threat. It can make your head swim!

But you also need to learn the simple, stupid, but important things. Where are the bathrooms? Which of the 20,000 passwords and user names do I use to log on to my laptop? Where are the damn pencils??

But even with all the differences and new information to process, it stunned me how much is really the same. While the people are different, you always have the crusty long-time employee, who is willing to help but will also share their views of everything the company does – right and wrong – mostly wrong. You always meet the employee that is just SO EXCITED about EVERYTHING! Then there is the super quiet employee who will help if asked but is also happy to do his or her job without any social interaction and go home at 5pm. And in my experience, all of these personalities are key to the team functioning the way it needs to. (And I think I’ve been every one of these folks at one time or another in my career.)

It takes a good four to six months to get semi-comfortable in a new job…a year to really feel like, “Yup, I got this.” I remind myself of this every time I feel like an idiot because I have no idea how to find the copier paper. But I do always find it, because I am just OCD enough to not be able to leave the machine empty of paper. I don’t want to be THAT guy.

Reflecting on it all after the first two weeks, I feel pretty ok about where I’m at so far. It’s a long way to comfort, but I’m one week closer. And I know where the copier paper is now, and I have Peanut Butter Cups in the jar on my desk. It’s a great way to make friends and make sure that people visit me. After all, old habits do die hard.


Heigh-Ho, Heigh-ho…


Hi-ho 3

Last November, I was one of the millions of Americans that got caught up in the “downsizing” mentality of Corporate America. And I found myself out of work for the first time since I was 15 years old. Weird.

I completely understood the business case behind the decision, and I certainly wasn’t the only one who got hit. And, as it came in a pretty financially stable time in my life, plus I got a decent severance package, I was not unduly upset, putting aside the fact that no one likes to get “dumped.” Frankly, I was kind of excited about it, as I felt like I hit a moment in time where I could reevaluate my career. A crossroads where I was lucky enough to have some very different choices available to me.

And I do realize how lucky I am. The other folks who were laid off with me were in different circumstances and pushed toward different decisions. Hell, I know there are people out there who have lost their jobs and been sent into financial ruin. I have the greatest respect for those folks who have pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and rebuilt their lives. And I thanked my lucky stars every day that I had some time and space to be choosy in my next role.

As I started looking for the next corporate job, I did a lot of networking, and with people in somewhat related fields but totally outside of the corporate world. I also looked at – and took on – a couple of freelancing jobs. I did look for corporate jobs as well, but with very specific criteria about the roles and responsibilities each jobs. And given that I am a “woman of my age,” I spent some time thinking further down line toward retirement. What could I do now to set myself up for some part-time work to stay busy when I do retire?

But I also used this gift of time to do more personal things. This blog is a great example of doing things that I enjoy but never had time to pursue. My house finally feels clean and much more organized. I finally had some time and energy to really look at what we had in this house that we really didn’t need or use anymore…and never would. And I feel more of sense of peace now that my environment is more peaceful.

So overall, I have been pretty darn happy with how this has played out. And I decided early on that I was going to leave future in the hands of the fates. I decided that “what was supposed to be would be.” If I was meant to start my own freelance business, that would become clear. If I was meant to go back to the corporate world, then I would get the “right” job offer.

And that’s what happened. The “right” job was offered and, with a little negotiation, was accepted. I start today. I’m a little nervous, as anyone would be starting anew job, but I’m also excited because of the possibilities it offers. And I’m going into a great situation, with good people that I already know.

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s off to work I go.