Saturday, March 23, 2013

Two good friends of ours both got layoff notices this week. Yes, they are a couple, yes they have kids. A two-layoff family affair. One because of government cutbacks, the other from a merger. Bluddyelle!

In other news, here's what's happening with my job search. Nothin'! No bites, no nibbles, no interviews. So here's what I'm doing about my current admitedly not bad at all situation. Truthfully, despite the BS that comes from above, my department isn't in the crosshairs right now. As long as that is true, things are good. I work with a whole bunch of really nice people, and since January, a new project's been added to my plate that I'm really enjoying; at the same time, I've been taken off the work of one of the more troublesome groups (taken off at MY request). Worked well, since the new work was heading my way, and another member of my team was looking for a change as well. (Or at least she says she was; it might be that she's just that nice and wanted to give me a break from that group's team leader.)

In the meantime, I've been reading Cal Newport's "Study Hacks" blog. Newport is all about mastering deep focus, gaining deep expertise, and what he calls "deep work," and he sees it as the key to success and career satisfaction. Or as he puts it, he's "decoded patterns of success."

He's also written a very cool book called, So Good they Can't Ignore You, which finally came to me from the library (I was on a long waiting list), and which I pored over. Newport's premise is that following your passion is terrible advice, and that trying to find a job that fits your passions is extremely difficult, i.e. are there mind readers out there, devising the perfect thing for you to do and then pay you for it? Nopers!

Newport also has much to say about our "courage culture" - the constant harrangue that courage is all you need. Fact is, courage and passion is great, but it sure didn't do much good for the Toronto woman who died on Everest last year. What a horrifying, heartbreaking story, and what a senseless death. She refused to give up on her dream. But if you remember, it was the first mountain she'd ever climbed. That's not just courage, it's foolhardiness. That's like instead of training and exercising and then doing the 50-km Ride for Heart, you start with the Tour de France (3,360 kilometres in less than a month).

Okay, back to my point about work. The thing to do instead is to become so good at the job you have that you become irreplaceable.

Now, it's obviously not quite that simple, and he acknowledges that. It's what you do with the opportunities you have - that lead to other opportunities.

The thing that's struck me is that it's all about working smart and diving deep and stretching yourself to get good.

This has given me a kick in the motivational butt, and I am now - for my own satisfaction - trying to get better and better at what I do. Before I leap forward to my next opportunity. To increase my confidence, yes, increase my marketability, but also increase my satisfaction in my career now.

It's a big year, right? I'm hitting a milestone birthday, and I've now been in the working world and out of the student world for a long time. It's time to refresh, reinvigorate, and get beyond the plateau I feel I'm in. Upwards, of course!

Coincidentally, it's been super, extra busy at the office, workload-wise. I've been bringing work home almost every night, while working during the day with a deeper focus. Good timing. If I was flailing around like I've been feeling I've been doing from time to time, I'd be in deep doo-doo right about now.

I've also been keeping up the morning Yoga Tuneups and Just Dance sessions - and I'm just now starting to feel a difference. For example, I can do my Pilates DVD. I got it sometime last year, and tried it with great dismay, and just put the ruddy thing away. Pulled it out last week, and goodness gracious, I can do it - thanks to the four yoga dvd workout rotation, I've strengthened my neck, shoulders and core.

Hmmm. Almost feel like New Year's.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

They were just $17; they must have shrunk

Gee, did my cheap Reitman's jeans shrink or something? They seem smaller, somehow.

Fact is, since I started my new little exercise-in-the-morning program 5 1/2 weeks ago I've been hungrier than a springtime bear. My program: yoga - rotating my 4 Yogalink dvds (Jill Miller, who's awesome), then 1000 "sweat points" dancing up a storm with our Wii Just Dance discs. So much fun (being serious here; it's really so much fun). Plus once a week I try to get it either a skate or a swim. I've got in two swims so far.

Not a lot of new activity, right? Takes me, in total, between 45 and 90 minutes, depending on how early I manage to get out of bed. I'm surprised it's making me this much hungrier. Maybe I should just blame in on menopause. Haha. Maybe not. Okay. I'll blame Cipralex. Which is legit because I quite consciously know that I've been hungry since I started it four years ago, and I know I was never this constantly hungry before that time. But let's not totally blame the meds. I'm my own food control board, right?

I know from reading all sorts of stuff and being a smart person that it's not about the weight, it's not about the number on the scale, it's actually not even about the BMI (unless you ask my tiny, young, fit GP, who's all over the BMI) it's about health. And I do feel healthier. My back and shoulders aren't hurting so much. But, waaah. I don't want my jeans to be too small.

What am I gonna do about it? Not entirely sure what the plan is. Yet.

Anyway. Just for fun, try one of Jill's exercises. They're really helpful. First time I did these quad stretches, I couldn't go to Choir that night, my quads were soooo sore, stretched like they've never been stretched before. But I do it all the time now. :o)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sisters and brothers

I've been reading the newspaper this morning, having coffee while Charlie and M3I have a sleep-in. So so many interesting things to read today.

Joanna Manning, a progressive former Catholic nun, has long been an advocate for change in the Catholic Church. I read today that she has in the last ten years become an Anglican priest, having finally given up on the church she had so much hope for, especially after seeing the wonderful changes that developed after Vatican II. She's now happy and fulfilled doing good within a church that values her abilites and intellect.

There's lots of talk about the Church these days, what with Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet's being considered, potentially seriously, as the next Pope. I think I'd be more excited if he were even just a teeny bit more progressive. Seems he is a bit, now and again, but ulitmately, he's old school. My one hope is that maybe talking the old-school talk is his campaign schtick, and he's got a more progressive agenda in mind if he becomes Pope. Though, apparently he wouldn't wish it upon anyone, so crushing is the burden.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if this was a world where Joanna Manning would be considered a likely candidate for Pope? She and Ouellet are almost the same age (b 1943, b 1944), and they're both intelligent leaders in the church. Imagine if the leader of the Catholic Church (I have to remind myself not to simply call it The Church) believed in birth control? Imagine how good that would be for Catholic women and families in developing countries.

I miss going to church. But it was just making me so mad. Going Anglican? Maybe. I've got some thinking - and reading - to do.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Too freaked out

I stopped taking the Gabapentin. To explain why, I'll tell a little story.

Every Friday afternoon at 4 o'clock at my place of work we're rewarded with the opportunity to come to the kitchen and have a drink of wine, or beer, or sparkling water. Or coffee or tea, of course, always. We have great coffee at work. Over the past four years I've been there, it's become a nice ritual to gather round and have a chat over a glass of red or white.

Back to this Friday. I spent the afternoon in my new semi-stoned state. Got stuck a few times focusing on the sky outside the window. I didn't get all of my work done, however started thinking about the 4 o'clock chat and the wine. Then thought, hmm, I wonder if I can have alcohol while I'm on Gabapentin. So I googled it.

Nope.

While I'm sure lots of people have no trouble with it (and there was no warning label affixed to my pill bottle), it turns out the people who do have trouble mixing alcohol and Gabapentin have LOTS of trouble. In fact, two of the people on Page 1 of the forum ended up in the custody of the police, and no memory of how they got there. Other people got very, very sick to their tums, lots of them had blackouts, lots of them posted comments that the booze effects increase several-fold, and one said she got very, very surly with her boyfriend.

So, disturbed by that news, and not comfortable about my semi-stoned state, I've stopped taking it.

Note however, it made me feel "happy" during the day. Until around dinnertime, when I felt snappish and short tempered. And, not happy about how hard it is to get out of bed. And not happy about how when I get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, I stagger. The stuff makes me a bit unsteady on my feet, especially in the 12 hours or so right after I've taken it.

Last night, without the stuff, I didn't sleep as well. Got up at 5 and read for a bit. But sheesh, I'm already taking Cipralex, right? Just 5 mg a day, which is half the usual prescribed dose, but 5 mg is quite strong for me. So I've stopped the Gabapentin because I just felt ridiculously over drugged, and my hot flash complaint seemed to pale a bit in the wake of this. I still don't feel quite normal. Whatever that is.

PS: If you thought the little story was going to be me ending up in police custody, sorry to disappoint.

Friday, March 1, 2013

In like a happy, sleepy lion

Happy March! And happy Friday.

I've managed to squeeze in some exercise these past two mornings despite my zonkedness. Can't for the life of me overcome the gabapentin-induced body heaviness to get out of bed at first alarm. Or second. But I did manage to rouse myself after the third (yes, I've set three alarms, because I know myself, and I always hit "stop" instead of "snooze").

And, sadly, no time for the yoga dvd - must be on time for work! Oh yes. I'm on a quest to make it to work earlier by catching one of the scheduled buses (see yesterday), which gets me to the office more quickly. I don't get to see much of Charlie awake, but I can leave earlier in the evening. So it's worth a try.

Happily I did achieve my Just Dance 1000 "sweat points". While I still don't quite know how to select songs, or make the thing show me the song titles (as I could do in Just Dance 2), it's still really, really fun, and I've found it's the perfect thing to start the day.

So. March goals: I'm continuing the first-thing in the morning exercise. Catching the fast bus. And, in honour of the peacock on my calendar, I'm trying to look a little teeny bit more polished for work. In fact, today, I'm acturrly wearing a little squib of makeup! Laws! The sleep issues and simple aging have given me some raccoon-like dark circles, and it makes me a bit happier to look in the mirror when they're covered. I tend to forget I've put the goo on and I go, damn, I don't look so bad!

And one more thing: the slow, possibly multi-year search for a new job. Things are great here at the moment, and have been quite good since the new year. My let-it-go attitude is helping. I know I do great work. That's what counts; I'm accountable to myself and my standards.