Friday, September 25, 2015

Turning Lemons into Lemonade

It's been a rough past few months.  Money has been tight, and it's been hard making things work.  If life is a series of ebbs and flows, then we're stuck in an ebb (I'm now doubting that is actually a word, but we'll go with it).

I'm going to be thankful for the things that were fantastic about this summer though, and not focus so much on the stressors that nearly drove me to distraction.  In May, we took a weekend trip to Montreal, and it was much needed, and a great way to restart the engines.  I loved being around the history of old Montreal, and listening to the french language being spoken by native speakers.  It's a rhythmic language and I was surprised at how much I still understand.  I guess all those years of French class were not a total waste, after all.  We experienced Montreal Smoked Meat at Schwartz's (complete with giant dill pickle), Portuguese Chicken, and I finally got to try a Cronut (Croissant and Donut?  Yes, please!).  It was in Montreal we found a hilarious book that helps us to appreciate we're not alone in parenthood (Toddler's are A$$holes and It's Not Your Fault, highly recommended to help you look at the lighter side of parenting).  The Science Centre was hosting an exhibit on the history of video games, which provided some nostalgia and we enjoyed playing some of our favourite video games from our childhoods.

My niece turned One this summer.  She is growing into such a dynamic, beautiful little girl and I love the fact that her and Em are only a year apart.  I am thankful that my son has a cousin close in age and that they can grow up together, especially since he doesn't have any siblings of his own.  Watching her have her reluctantly dig into her birthday cake reminded me that it's the simple things that really, truly matter.

My brother and his girlfriend came to visit from Calgary in August.  They got engaged at one of the beaches we used to frequent as kids.  They've been together a long time and this has been long-awaited.  We also found out that they're expecting!  Our extended family is growing with so much love, it's inspiring!  My brother has gone from a child that had a hard time finishing high school to a man that has his own business.  He is arguably the most successful of our siblings at the moment and I couldn't be more proud of the man he's grown to be.  I can't wait to see him blossom further as he starts the next chapter of his life by becoming a husband and father.

My parents also hosted a barbecue for the family while my brother was in the province, with family and old friends being invited.  As always, my mom made tons of food and we had a great day outside and Em got to spend some much needed time with his grandparents.  My dad's also had a rough few months and I know that he needs as much time as possible with our kids.  My son dotes on his Grandpa and I can see how much my dad cherishes his time with Em.

Em has been speaking more words throughout the summer.  It feels like everyday he's coming up with another word and surprising me.  He now says words like Thomas (Badis), Yellow (Lello), Walk, Water (waler), and has an unhealthy obsession with Elsa (Eda) and Let it Go, to the point where every blonde lady is now dubbed "Elsa".  I've given him his first haircut, of which I'm super proud, although I do miss the baby curls.

We've had an unseasonably warm September and for that I'm truly thankful. Em is still able to wear shorts most days and play in the park without too many layers of clothing.  We are now looking forward Em's first Halloween as a trick or treater.

Although we've had a rough summer financially, we've had plenty of fun/happy experiences for which we should be grateful.  I can't imagine what life would be like without these bright and shiny moments.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Focusing on the Positive

As I put my son to bed tonight, I realized that although things may not have been ideal as of late, there is plenty in my life for which to be thankful. That little boy's smile and laughter can make a dark day seem brighter.

I  am the type of person that can be swallowed by the darkness.  One foot in the murky puddle and I find myself being swallowed into the inky blackness until even the faintest glimmer of light has disappeared.  In order for things to improve, I need to find my way out into the comforting warmth of that light that can sometimes elude me.

Here I am, reigniting my blog in order to start the practice of focusing on the positive aspects of my day.  A way to take the negative opportunities that would normally send me deep into the darkness and instead find the bright light in the learning opportunity it presents.

I'm hoping also that this will help me find that once bright, sparkling personality that I remember once having.  To get in touch with my inner truth, and gain a higher connection to my innate knowledge and improve my connection to the greater universe.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Musings from the Park

As I sit in the sun and contemplate where my life has brought me, there are many thoughts that race through my mind.

1)       It’s amazingly warm for March.  This has been the weirdest weather year in a while and while I’m happy to be wearing shorts and a t-shirt outside, a bigger issue comes to mind.  Climate Change - Global Warming, whatever you call it, is obviously real; otherwise, I’d be outside in a snowsuit right now like many years past (who am I kidding?  I’d be inside if it was as cold as it used to be at this time of year).  We need to start addressing the reality of the situation so we have something to pass on to the next generation. 

2)      I’ve spent my life on a constant journey of self-discovery.  I guess that’s natural, and everyone does this from time to time, but I am continually searching for something more.  When I think I’ve found everything and am satisfied, that familiar wanderlust appears, making me crave something more.  More money? Maybe, but that’s not the forefront of my thoughts. I guess I’m continually searching for that feeling of fulfillment.  Perhaps I’m never going to find it and be constantly aiming for the stars.  I’m not sure that kind of ambition is really a bad thing.  The short attention span or the habit of giving up when things get rough might be more a detriment, however. 

3)      I’m going to be 31 this year, and my biological clock is sounding the alarm. The laughter and shrieks of children in the playground; the sound of strollers being pushed through the park, this amplifies the alarm, showing me that there is really a limited time left for me to figure it all out.  I’m hoping this move to Toronto helps me achieve more in the way of a career, so that the family factor can finally be worked in.  Stability is my one major need, and until I feel stable and confident, this can’t be addressed.

4)      Finally, I enjoy being outside.  I’ve been described as a homebody, but being outside in the sun, enjoying the sounds of life around me, this is bliss.  I’m an observer.  I sit back and watch others as they go through daily life; sometimes I analyze, and take cues to implement into my own.  I like to wonder about people, make up stories about them in my mind, and let my imagination take over.  It’s kind of like being a child, using your innermost sense of creativity, fostering that sense of possibility and wonder.  It allows you to relive that point of your existence when your world was small and life was simple.
I find my mind wandering, contemplating; my ears tune in to various sounds of both natural life and man-made contraptions, and I let my mind shut down and drift as I bask in the sun and cool breeze….

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Toronto is NOT Timbuktu!

In continuation of my last post; Toronto is Not Timbuktu!
Since I’ve made it known that the hubby and I are planning to move into the GTA, we have been met with some feedback of varying degrees, ranging from complete and utter support to what can only be described as derision. By moving into the bubble (if you don’t know what this is, you didn’t read my last post. I’m wagging my finger at you…), we risk alienating our friends in Hamilton.  This is not part of my ultimate goal, as I value the friendships I’ve either rekindled or made here in the past couple years.

We have become the target of unsolicited advice on the pitfalls of moving to the GTA, not always from people that have actually lived there.  I completely understand that sometimes we see friends make decisions that we can’t agree with, or that we’ve seen other friends come to regret, and we feel the need to step in, in an effort to protect people who we’ve come to value. But we must understand that there comes a time when we need to step back and let those we love make their own decisions, their own mistakes, much like a parent must learn to do with a child.  As a wise friend has said to me recently, “…most people have selfish intentions when they’re giving advice”.  I find this to be pretty accurate, in most cases.  I know the advice that I’ve recently been given is coming from a caring place, and genuine concern for my well-being, which is why I take it as graciously as possible.  I withstand the warnings of danger, of consequences relating to taking such a risk, and accept it in the manner it was given.  It doesn’t mean I’m deterred, however, and I plough forward on my current trajectory. 
Seriously, how can you resist this view?
What this decision comes down to is fulfilling a long term plan.   The original plan did not include settling in Hamilton for long, the ultimate goal since coming back to Canada has always been Toronto.  Before we ever left Canada that was our goal as well, at least until PDX came calling. We understand we have many friends that can’t fathom the thought of willingly choosing to move to the T Dot; rest assured we know what we’re doing.  We love the metropolis, the hustle and bustle, the multiculturalism, heck, the CULTURE.  We’re city people (we realized this more than ever while living in Portland), and we understand that this does not appeal to everyone.  Even if it’s a HUGE mistake, it’s one we have to make ourselves.  I just don’t want to hear it if the gavel of reality comes thumping down on my head, and expect support from any of my friends when needed, no matter where they live. 
All of these changes do not mean we don’t value our friends in the Hammer.  Having lost some great friends in the past due to distance and lack of communication, I have learned some valuable lessons on fostering and nurturing friendships.  Toronto is NOT that far, we can make this thing work.  If I can maintain a friendship with a high school friend that lives in Goderich (really in the middle of nowhere, sorry S, but it’s true), then the distance from Hamilton to Toronto should be a piece of cake!  The reality is any relationship takes work, and if both parties are willing to foster it, it will grow.  We just have to learn to meet in the middle.  So what do you say?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Hamilton is NOT Siberia!

In relation to Toronto - Hamilton is NOT Siberia!

I’ve prepared myself for the eventuality that there would be resistance to hiring me because of my location, hence why I’m currently preparing to move closer into the GTA.  Call it a pre-emptive strike or a way of overcoming objections before they can occur.

What follows is one of my most recent experiences with a potential employersin the GTA:
“Hi, Jessica?  This is So and So calling about the Resume you’ve submitted for our Available Position…. Where are you located? ... Hamilton? *silence followed by a clearly audible sigh*(you can almost hear the gears in the brain churning in an attempt to fathom this turn of events)…That’s a lot of travelling for you every day isn’t it? It’s not really an ideal commuting situation for you?”
I explain that I’m well aware of the distance and that I have taken this into account; I don’t feel that it would be an issue.   I patiently assure the employer that this would not affect my prompt and reliable attendance.    I stress the importance that this would be a temporary situation; I’m making plans for relocation, which means I will end up being within the area in the very near future.  As an aside; myself being a bit of a planner (bordering on OCD), it would be preferable for me to have something lined up prior to moving day.
Besides, isn’t Hamilton just outside of what is considered the GTA? Burlington is generally accepted as GTA, we’re only the next city over.  In fact, on a clear day, I can see the CN Tower far down the shoreline from the Hamilton beaches (but in a different way than how Sarah Palin can see Russia from her house).
See?  It's not that far...

No matter how much of a fight, or how many objections I try to overcome, it never seems to suffice. 
Please remember I plan on becoming a Torontonian in the very near future, so the opinions expressed herein are those of an outsider trying to get in.
I generally think that some people live in what I like to call the Toronto bubble.  The bubble skews the reality of time and distance so that a mere commute of 45 minutes or so can appear to be ENDLESS. 
Those of us outside the bubble see it differently.  Commuters understand that the distance isn’t insurmountable, which is probably why there are commuter trains from Hamilton to Toronto daily, during peak commute times.   The possibility of sitting in traffic doesn’t make us cringe, nor does the thought of taking a nap on the train to and from work.  We accept it as part of working in the big city, and plan ahead for any eventuality.  We like to look at it as though it is a problem solving project; we aim to forecast any hindrance that may arise and ensure that we arrive to our destination in a timely fashion.
In other words; let me worry about the transit and whether it’s too far for me.   I don’t apply to positions I know I can’t access and I’m not interested in wasting your time.  You only need to worry whether I am qualified for the position.  If I am, the city in which I live should not be a factor.  I understand there’s concern that an out of town employee may be perceived as less reliable, due to mitigating factors.  But try not to discriminate against someone who is a great candidate just because of the location of their living space, especially if they have a proven history of reliability. Ultimately, attendance and prompt arrivals should be the concern of the employee.  
Ultimately, it all comes down to work ethic; whether a person commutes, or if they happen to live a block over, their work ethic decides whether they are punctual for work.  Some of us have a greater sense of responsibility than others, and the right position with the right employer can be worth waking up early and catching a train at 6 am.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Daunting Task of Resume Writing

Did you know the rules regarding resume writing have changed?   I didn’t, but that explains why I’ve sent out resumes for three weeks without one “bite”.
Apparently, it’s no longer reasonable to write out a list of tasks performed in each position.   Even more now than ever, the onus is on the potential employee to show accomplishments; how one has changed the landscape of their previous position.  This means my old resume just doesn’t cut it anymore. 
The synopses, the buzzwords, things to avoid: it’s all so exhausting!  It can be hard to sell oneself.  Even if someone isn’t used to boasting about their accomplishments, the resume is one place where it’s perfectly acceptable to “toot one’s horn”, in fact it’s encouraged! One needs to stand apart from the crowd!
It can be a daunting task; so many sentences are written and deleted.  We all know that it is best to tailor the document to the position, which is why it’s important to know what we want, in order to put one’s best face forward.  This can be the only shot to land that all-important interview.  There are so many questions:
How do I set myself apart? 

How can my creativity shine through, but still maintain a professional appearance? 

How to format? 

What font to use?   

All these rules, constantly changing, it’s almost enough to make a person want to pull their hair out!  I find taking a deep breath helps, or if it’s impossible to find focus, there’s always procrastination.  The only problem with procrastination is that the work is still waiting, it doesn’t finish itself. 
What I wouldn’t give for a team of resume writing elves…
The only option that presents results is to plough right through.  Write and rewrite.  Copy and paste.  Make spacing changes.  Format and reformat.  Take a breather and look at it again with fresh eyes.   
Display strengths and skills and use a simple presentation with a simple font.
I wonder:  Can colour be used without the Elle Woods effect?  Does it give it that little something extra?  Without some sort of scent emitting computer, scenting the resume seems fruitless…
The ultimate goal for me is to show that I’m not just your run of the mill admin girl.
I’m so much more;

I’m the “Swiss Army Knife” for your office. 

I can take on anything and get results!

Need light computer help?  I can do that!

Need some marketing materials devised?  I can do that too! 

What about someone who can anticipate your needs?  Yep, me again!

Need an outgoing detail-oriented individual with a flair for the creative? I’m your girl!


Ok, so I got a bit carried away.  Sometimes I need to be my own cheerleader to get through a seemingly impossible task.  Time to buckle down, take a deep breath and dive right in; hopefully I’ll come out the other side unscathed.

Time has passed; I’m not sure how much, as it seems to stand still when in a resume writing haze.  Yet somehow, I’ve made it through.  I’ve taken away the repetition, presented an organized front, and was able to bring it back down to two pages.  I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, but I’ll look at it again later in order to ensure it reflects the correct image: a reliable, self-directed, efficient Administrator with a background in problem solving and who possesses a creative flair. 

Is that too much for one resume (or not enough)?  Only time will tell…

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Redhead on the Loose!

I’ve made a decision:  I’m moving on.  I’ll miss all of my former teammates, but I feel that something more amazing is just on the horizon.  This decision gives me a sense of peace, which makes it obvious it was the right decision to make.

I’ve been holding on to my previous position in hopes of being re-hired to full-time employment, but now that it’s been offered, I’ve decided not to take it. 

Why?  Am I crazy!? 

I’m in a unique situation, as I’m financially stable and can afford to CHOOSE my next position, and I want something that offers a new set of challenges.  I like the idea of adapting to new situations, new challenges, and new ways to test my abilities.  So here I go.  I’ve turned down this job in the hope of moving forward, on to the GTA, to something new.  I love my old team, but that’s emotional; that’s not business.  In a business frame of mind, it’s just time.  I am taking control of my life, my future, and holding steadfast to my convictions. 

So, here’s the thought process that resulted in the position being declined.  The hours were changed; the duties of the job had changed, the person to whom I would answer had changed.  I wasn’t thrilled with the different hours, all later in the day.  My proposed days off were split, once midweek and on Sunday.  A two-day weekend was not an option with this position. I felt like plans were being made without me.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to be wanted, but I like to feel like the master of my own future, and it felt like this was no longer the case.  Despite this, I prefer something more Monday to Friday, somewhat 9-5.
Rest assured, this decision was not taken lightly.  I had weighed my options regarding this, and unfortunately, the cons outweighed the pros.  While I loved the camaraderie of the workplace and the team I had come to know well, I found the need to find something that works with my schedule, allows me to have my hobbies, and fosters my creativity.  If I had accepted, it would have been to avoid disappointing someone else, not because it was the right decision for me.  I’m at the point where I must start making decisions that make me happy, and avoid worrying about what others would think.  Sometimes it’s important to be selfish in an effort to manage that work/life balance.  In the meantime, I’m back on the job hunt and making plans for relocation.  For the first time in a while, I’m excited for what lies ahead in my future.

Could this be the biggest mistake of my life?  Absolutely!  But, then again, what’s life without a little risk?  At some point, I have to take control and go after what I really want, even if this decision makes me unpopular with my peers.  After all, aren’t I supposed to be in charge of my own destiny?