Thursday, February 25, 2016

Lessons from an office move

I moved offices yesterday.  

After 16 years in one office this is the second move in a year. 

I have emerged from the dark, windowless, hallway office to light and expansive
views of the second floor corner office with windows on 3 sides. 

That's it right?

Corner office with a view.

A R R I V E D 

Career goal achieved.


Not exactly.  

I do indeed have the big desk back after a year of much less real estate. I am indeed on the second floor staring out of a window to the actual outside world.

And so are my two colleagues. 

Also in my same office.

In a clear reminder that the non-profit world is different.  That child care centres are designed for children and Educators but not Administrators.  That just because an architect gives a room a designation doesn't mean you can't change it....

Here we three sit.  In the previous "staff room".  Trying to negotiate space and noise and the printer and the phone.

Despite the obvious challenges it is, for me,  a very small price to pay for the light and the view.  My spirits are already lifted.  And in this early part of the day as the sun creeps over the horizon I am alone... and the sudden noisiness of my typing which I suddenly noticed seemed so loud yesterday is only for my ears.  For now.

Another step on this funny journey of work/career/service.  A step that will teach me patience and focus and collaboration and how to type more quietly.

Now excuse me , the sun is in my eye..... Ahhhhhh yes. 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Driving the Edges

I live in Richmond BC, Canada

As you can see it has a river on the north and  river on the south (actually the same river but stay with me here).  It is a fertile river delta with abundant (if sadly diminishing) farmland.  And it is also a vibrant city with distinct neighbourhoods.

Laid out in a grid with unimaginative east to west street names No 1 Rd, No 2 Rd, No 3 Rd each a mile apart all the way to No 9 Rd.

I live between No 1 Rd and the ocean in the bottom left corner.

The very cool thing, and the point of this geographic post (Hello I AM a geography major!) is that with a little time and imagination one can drive the edges of this island and enjoy beautiful views, winding roads, light traffic and multiple places to pull over and take a photo.

Which, of course, I do.

In fact I try and drive the riverside roads as much as is possible. North and South.  And when I have to get from North to South I find farm roads.

People in our city complain endlessly about traffic and other drivers and I have been know to loose my temper from time to time when going back and forth across the centre of the City is unavoidable but there are chances and choices to get away from that and I never miss them.

I love to see the river change through the seasons, from dawn to dusk.   I have lived here almost 17 years and I never tire of it.  Today after doing groceries on No 5 Rd I headed south and I felt myself let out a sigh of contentment as I drove up onto the dyke and saw the river calm and clear, grey skies, grey water.....but there.....always there.

If you live here - drive the edges it.  Spot the eagles, herons, horses, mountains, islands, boats.... breathe in deeply!  We are so lucky to live here!

If you don't live here, come and visit.... I'll drive you around the edges. We'll walk the dykes.  You won't be sorry.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Last hurrah's conference week.

180 delegates.  35 or so volunteers and presenters.

Of course, it therefore stands to reason, this is the week I would be dealt a knocked-out-of-circulation blow from food poisoning.

And just when you may be thinking that my recent "Just in time-ness" may have finally caught up with me.

No way Hosea.

"Just in time" may work for many things but for a conference with 220 individuals who need confirmations, receipts, name badges, personal valet attention.... there is no "just in time".  There is nothing but a well oiled planning, system and it better be firing on all cylinders...way ahead of time.

So despite my 48 hours in the belly of the beast I am poised on the eve of conference - weary but ready.

And this is not just any conference.

This is the end of EventAbility.  My dear partner Joyce B and I will hit this one into the bleachers tomorrow, do the usual mop up in the week ahead and then we will close up shop. (Unless we get a lucrative contract in the Bahamas).

What a run it has been.

We have done this event planning thing for over a decade.  From local to international conferences, dinners and symposiums.  We have worked long nights starting when my little people would go to bed and I would start registering delegates.

Oh the delegate stories we can tell.  And the harrowing stories of presenters not showing or being late.  AV disasters. Catering snafoos.  Allergic reactions.

But my overriding memories will be of sore feet and lots of laughter.

Joyce and I would often get take-out after a long day and split a bottle of wine and do a post-mortem of the event.

We have had some wonderful, wonderful days, met some amazing folks, been interesting places, fulfilled directives from clients we could not have dreamed up.   We have also had some very hard days that wore us down - in the last couple of years more so and thus, in the end, the decision to call it a day came relatively easy.  When the joy does not trump the hard work and long hours it's time.  It's time to register one last delegate, clean up after one last catered lunch, write one last report and maybe, instead of take out, one last wonderful meal on our company dime before we retire.

EventAbility bought us vacations and even a car in the good old days when we did multiple events a year and in the last few years it bought summer camp, dental work and a boost to holiday retail.  I will miss that for sure.

But mostly I will miss working beside Joyce.  Such a friend, mentor, visionary, utterly unflappable under pressure, polite and smiling to the end.  JB - thanks for the ride partner, and for being you and working so hard.

We've talked each other off the ledge more than once and more than once caught each others eye across the full auditorium and rolled our eyes ... I think we'll have stories to tell for quite a few years to come.

Thank you.

Thank you EventAbility - my one and only foray in entrepreneurship - we did it.

And now, after one last run through my Night-Before-Checklist and I am falling in to bed to await the 6am alarm.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Sun on snow

I had a perfect early morning snowshoe wander through a snowy forest - I lugged the big camera and so I have these images to share with y'all.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Sweet Stretch

I have managed to turn this birthday of mine into a sweet stretch of time that has filled me up in my heart, my soul and my belly.

It ended today with a lovely brunch with my sweet daughter downtown on a spectacular February day.   After brunch and long walk in the sun and some retail we took another shot at the Hot Chocolate Festival offerings, this time from Bella Gelateria and OMGoodnessMe - SO Good.  We sipped our sublime chocos in the sun, watching people and boats and feeling very mellow.

A wonderful end to a fine birthday run!

And so this first 9 days of February have been very kind to me and if they are but the smallest indication of the year to come I am set!

I have had 4 days off in these two weeks (my birthday, a stat and 2 days of vacation reclaimed from my dismal attempt to vacation at Christmas Break).

It is both amazing and constructive that a couple extra days at home can make SUCH a difference not only in my overall feeling of wellness but also in the ordinary everyday moments of running a home, being a Mom, wife, friend...

I cooked and baked and tried a few new recipes, mostly with success.  I feel like I have finally mastered the slow cooker and I think my managing of family nutrition in the next few months will undoubtedly benefit.

I tamed a pile of papers in the house.  Tax season approaches and I must be organised.  

I marked papers and assignments and got myself sorted for an upcoming conference.

Dinner with our squad downtown.

I had tea with friends and a good catch up.

Beer with another.

I finally made plans for a mini, budget-friendly-ish Spring Break Getaway. takes time to troll through VRBO!

I drove my kid to school...they were both with me so we drove the route we drove for most of their elementary schooling for old times sake.  It was super foggy but we reminisced.  Or to be precise I reminisced and they tried not to roll their eyes.

It's fun having Miss L home for reading break, especially as she has no reading to do!   On Monday the boys went fishing and she and I, with our dear friends LV and EV, headed up to Cypress to snow shoe.  It was early and the light was amazing and I tootled around on my own snapping happily while the other 3 headed to the peak!

We live in a breathtakingly beautiful part of the world and I am feeling a renewed sense of gratitude for it's peace and beauty....and the fact Spring feels within reach!

So the lovely, delightful, blessed birthday stretch ends here.

Next Stop Spring Break.  I can make it!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

One little word

One Little Word is a project to choose a word to live by or focus on for the year ahead.  Most people do it on the calendar year but I do it on my birth year.  

My choices for the last few years can be found HERE

Most often I have made, or had made for me,  a visual representation of the word which I put in a highly visible spot to be my fairly constant reminder to live out the word.

Lovers of irony will enjoy the fact that for last years word "witness" I did not make any such visible sign to witness!  Ha!  I am not unhappy with how I managed to live in "witness" to others, to my own life, in my faith... But I could have used a visual reminder from time to time.

Sometimes the word is hard to settle on and other times it is just there waiting to be given a chance to light the way.

This year it was somewhere in the middle.  

I went around it a few times.  

But I kept being drawn back to it.

In this 6th edition of One Little Word I have chosen the word COURAGE

It seems somewhat unoriginal given the hours I have spent in the company of some great women writers this past year who all have shone a spotlight on the critical importance of COURAGE in living an authentic, creative, vulnerable life. As a wife, a mother, a daughter, sister, friend, leader, activist, visionary.

I hesitate to put myself out there in pursuit of living a courageous life but I am also increasingly dissatisfied with anything less.

I am tired of second guessing myself based on what others may or may not think/like/approve of.  

I am done with settling for my current way of being / living  / leading as being the only way.

I am out of energy for the endless internal discourse of anxiety and "not good enough".

I am tired of silencing my truth for the comfort of others.

Am I ready to live with COURAGE? 

I sure hope so.  I will lean on the greatness of Glennon Doyle, Brene Brown , Elizabeth Gilbert and Shonda Rhimes and stand on their shoulders and act courageous until I am actually courageous.

This is no small thing.  But the time is right for me.  This is the year to have COURAGE.

Now to make myself a visual reminder so I don't chicken out of this tomorrow!  

Monday, February 1, 2016

Monday Birthday

The thing with a Monday Birthday is...well...who likes Monday?

So we did a little celebrating on Sunday night but the 6am alarm went off this morning as per usual. Boys had to get up for school and Allan is at UBC until late tonight.  But first they showered me with cards and gifts.

Like a big girl I had saved all the cards and gifts I had been given until today (#maturityforthewin) so as I stayed cozy for a few extra minutes this morning, I read some very lovely, kind words and got some thoughtful, generous gifts.   And that was before I checked Facebook - oh my!!

My heart was very touched.

I get my Birthday off work, as does everyone in our organisation.  So I had a day ahead of me.

After doing a few things around the house I decided to head out to my beloved Granville Island.


If there is anything the last year has taught me it is to take better care of myself and what myself needed today was some time on my own, walking, snapping pics, eating good food, drinking coffee, breathing fresh air and being contemplative.

Going slow.

Noticing details.

Feeling grateful.

I did my usual loop on the Island and then I watched the water taxi's for a few minutes.  And then I decided I wanted to take a little cruise so I hopped on one.  Best $7.50 I have spent in some time.  It was just me for the first hop and the driver took the slow scenic route.  It was like he knew I was in no rush, that I was enjoying taking it all in. The City and the Bay were looking so pretty as the fog lifted and the rain moved over the mountains....It was a blissful cruise. A gift.

I ran a few quick errands in the market and headed home to free the hound.

A perfectly lovely birthday present to myself.

A pretty great Monday too!

And I settled on my One Little Word...more on that tomorrow.