Cha-Cha-Cha-Changes…

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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.

Stuff…and More Stuff

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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…

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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

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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.

Heigh-Ho, Heigh-ho…

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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.

 

 

Road Trip

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Over the weekend, the family took a quick road trip, to meet up with some family and see my nephew’s stand-up comedy act.

It was great, but it also served to remind me 1) why we don’t take road trips and 2) why I wish we’d taken MORE road trips.

We were not even out of the neighborhood when the bickering began. “He’s on my side.” “She’s being too loud.” “Are we stopping for breakfast?” And these were the issues that I could understand. The list goes on into the completely unintelligible.

Now let me remind you, it’s not like I have young children. These are “adults,” as they both frequently remind me, being 20 and 17 years old. You would think that at that age, I wouldn’t have to even think about entertaining them on a road trip. But thank goodness for the Alphabet Game. As soon as I could find an “A,” I started the game, thinking that would keep them busy for a bit. I did not count on my husband’s competitive nature. Which would have been fine if I had been driving.

Now because all three cannot stand to lose – especially to each other – this game became a challenge of epic proportions…and chewed up about 50 minutes of a two-and-a-half-hour drive…all to the good.

But what struck me was how much fun and laughter we enjoyed in that 50 minutes. As the kids are growing up and establishing their own lives that don’t revolve around us, these moments of “family time” are fewer and farther between. As it should be. We raised the kids to be their own people and have productive, happy lives that they have built, so I’m really happy to see them doing just that. But there are those brief moments that remind me that time is fleeting and life is changing.

As fall starts to approach, life is returning to a more normal pace. While the kids are heading back to school and to the next steps in their lives, the husband and I are looking forward to the future as a couple rather than just “Mom and Dad.” And I will tuck our last road trip of the 2014 summer in the mind cubbyhole marked “Sweet Moments.”

 

The Wedding March

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Over the weekend, my husband and I attended a family wedding.

My husband comes from a large family with a ton of cousins, the majority fairly close in age. So there for a while after we were married (the first of his cousins to get married), it felt like we were going to weddings every other weekend!

Since then, with most of the cousins married, the weddings have tapered off, so this was a bit of an occasion. It was really nice to see everyone, and the bride and groom were absolutely adorable. The festivities were so happy and relaxed that you just couldn’t NOT have a great time.

But as we sat in the church watching the marriage ceremony, it got me to thinking about what marriage is. As we arrived at the reception, they had a table set with pens, paper slips and a jar to give the newly “Mr. and Mrs.” advice for a happy marriage.

I was stumped. And I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

Now if asked, I am confident that we have a happy marriage. But I also realize that every relationship is different. And no matter who else is in your life, there are only two people in a relationship. And it’s those two people that need to determine what works for them.

Relationship “experts” will give the usual platitudes about “never going to bed angry” and “learning to communicate is the key to any relationship,” and to some extent, they are right. But HOW you do that has to be a very personal thing between the two people involved.

The “experts” will also tell you that there are certain hot buttons that every relationship has to address: money, religion, raising of the kids. But when I look at my own relationship, none of those are an issue. It’s possible that we both saw in each other those qualities and perspectives that were similar, but that seems like too simplistic of an answer.

And lord knows we have had our fights. And we have gone to bed not just angry, but furious with each other. But in the end, I honestly can’t picture my life – before and after this moment – without him. I’ve never asked but I hope he would say the same thing.

Yes, I dropped some platitude in the jar…something like “just enjoy each other’s love…” I feel a little guilty that I took the easy way out, but the bar was open. What I really believe is that there is no silver bullet. No “one-size-fixes-all” rule. Marriage can be the most fun you’ve ever had or it can be the dirty job no one would want. It can raise you to the height of joy or plummet you to the depths of hell. And most of the time, it’s just making sure the mortgage gets paid on time and watching reruns of other “perfect” marriages on TV. In marriage, you have to play to long game. Give and take at different times. Slow and steady wins the race.

Maybe that’s why they call it the “Wedding March.”