Getting A Little Creative

March has just begun, and man, it’s starting to feel a bit busy!

Last month – when I’d originally planned to release this post – the year was still fairly new, and not much was going on.

I was going to reflect on how I hadn’t been feeling particularly creative over the last year, how – despite recent changes at my place of employment – my job, and the duties it entails, have sort of remained the same.

But as I was about to type my intentions into existence … things already have started to shift. Kind of.

Before I get to that, let me back-track a bit.

Last year was supposed to be when I finally started making changes at work – even if they were temporary ones. I contacted a more senior colleague to pick her brain, and perhaps throw my name out there.

Long story short, we couldn’t align our schedules, so I didn’t get to meet with her until mid-July. (The story’s a bit complicated, but it was out of my hands, and I won’t bore you with details.) That meeting led me to dropping by other people’s offices to chat. So at least people know I’m still here.

I’m still struggling to build that bridge, so I’m in the same spot as before. I’m trying to find a way to work on my skill set in my current position, but it feels awkward and uncomfortable.

Maybe I’m suffering from a fear of change, of failure, and of imposter syndrome, so I’m sabotaging myself. Perhaps there’s a part of myself that believes – wrongly – that I’ve worked hard enough and am now entitled to things that I probably haven’t earned.

Colour me conflicted.

Outside of work, I wasn’t achieving creative fulfillment, either. I mean, I had been working on the ongoing podcast I do with my friends Renée and Kath. But it was the only outlet, and I wasn’t parlaying that into other endeavours.

I think a lot of it was probably the result of feeling drained after long days at work, which meant a lack of motivation. If I spent time away from social media, it wasn’t to work on my writing – I spent more time watching Netflix, YouTube and *cough* other sources of TV streaming.

Look, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with watching Netflix and YouTube as a release. But I didn’t balance it with anything else. And the time I could have spent cultivating another creative outlet, I chose to spend it watching the fruits of other people’s labours.

So this post was going to serve as a type of self-pep-talk …

Which brings me to the present.

I suppose I’ve somehow been putting this sentiment out into the universe … because while things work-wise are still the same, things outside of work are actually starting to pick up.

For starters, the podcast started its third season in January. If  you’ve been visiting regularly, you’ve come across my recent post(s) promoting the most recent episode(s).  I’m trying to do a better job of showcasing it this time around.

(If you’re on my main blog page – not the page for this entry – scroll down for the most recent episode.)

Also, one of my other friends – a very talented writer/screenwriter – approached me in February about joining a project she’s connected with. I’m at the beginning stages of this journey, which means I’m simultaneously excited, and terrified.

(That’s all I’ll say about it for now, but I’ll reveal more further down the road.)

So I’m taking teeny, tiny baby steps toward being more prolific. It won’t happen overnight – far from it. But this is a very good start.


That One Time at the Yacht Club

Over the last few months or so, I’ve posted stories from my previous travels abroad.

But every once in a while, I’m reminded that within my own city, there are opportunities to feel like a tourist without even setting foot onto an airplane.

Over a month ago, my colleague (and direct supervisor) says I need to replace a work-mate on a weekend work assignment.

Admittedly, I grumble at the prospect.

When I’m told what the assignment is, my grumbling’s replaced with a slightly raised eyebrow and some cautious side-eye.

It requires a trip to a yacht club. The Royal Canadian Yacht Club.

Cut to that Saturday morning.

Two of my work colleagues and I enter the small terminal for a private passenger ferry (also referred to as a launch) that’ll take us over to the island clubhouse. It – and the adjoining marina – inhabit a small island separate from the other Toronto Islands..

A few people are sitting in the terminal lounge, chatting amongst themselves, and casting glances our way (presumably because [1] of the equipment my colleagues are carrying and [2] we are obviously not members).

We’re not even there five minutes before we’re joined by a young lady, who – as it turns out – does public relations for the yacht club, and is accompanying us to the island today.

The launch itself is a tiny vessel, with seating for maybe a couple dozen people – operated by a compact, snowy-haired, stone-faced older man.

This is going to be interesting, I think to myself.wpid-IMAG0005.jpg The launch ride from the mainland to Snug Harbour Island is about 15 minutes long; it’s not long before the tall masts of sailboats parked in the marina come into focus.

As the launch docks and we come onto land, one of the club members turns to my colleague and asks her if we’re coming to film the wedding taking place later in the day. Interesting, indeed.

The yacht club was founded in the mid-1800s (primarily as a sailing club), but over time, has expanded to offer other athletic activities to its members, both on the island and in the city, as well as organized social events.

As our small group walks along the pathway past the clubhouse, I spot members in tennis whites playing on the partially-obscured courts to my right. In the distance, close to the clubhouse, members are lawn bowling on a perfectly manicured green. The scene before me brings to mind the image of “the country club” that I’ve only seen in movies. It is truly another world.

Today, though, we’ve come to interview two members who happen to be competitive sailors. The first interview takes place inside the hangar-like tent where they keep their gear.

As I wait for the second part of the interview – which is on the side of the tent facing the marina – I take a moment to gaze out at all the docked boats of all sizes. A hare hops by. It’s strangely idyllic.

A bit later, the public relations rep takes me on a brief walk around part of the island. We pass the clubhouse, which has been rebuilt twice (it burned down in 1904 and 1918). Around the side, on the huge “veranda”, people are seated for lunch.

Around the back of the clubhouse facility, there’s a garden, where various vegetables and herbs are grown and used in the meals served in the clubhouse dining room.IMAG0013And on the other side, away from the house, is a beautiful view of Toronto’s skyline which rivals any you can get from any of the other nearby islands. Not too far away, staff are setting up a small number of tables and white linens – likely for that aforementioned wedding taking place.

We join the others, who are waiting for the sailing crew to set up their boat and get it into the water. When they finally do, we board a motorboat to accompany them as they practice.

IMAG0014These guys sail a type of catamaran that is lightweight, and – as a result – really fast. In fact, it only needs a bit of wind to get it moving.

As it picks up speed, the sailors maneouvre the boat sideways onto one of its hulls, just gliding and turning. I know absolutely nothing about sailing, but watching the boat in action is just a little bit mesmerizing.

I can only imagine the rush a trained sailor must get operating one of these vessels.

The sailors continue their practice, but for my work colleagues and me, our time on the water – and at the yacht club – is over. We have to get back to the mainland, as we’ve got some work to finish.

I’m not sure if this will be my one and only time at the yacht club. (Membership fees are several thousand dollars which – despite what the PR person says about being “decent” – is a bit too dear for my bank account.)

But if the club ever comes up with a special occasion to allow non-members such as myself to check out the yacht club, I might be on one of the first Kwasind rides over there.

So, What Happened Was …

Heyyy …

So I realize that, with the advent of February, it was a new month … which was supposed to mean a backlog of posts from travels, etc., were supposed to be up here, for all of you to read.

And then – nothing.

There are a couple of explanations for that:

(1) Lack of motivation/laziness. Right after the alcohol-induced exhilaration that comes with ringing in the New Year – and all those lists one starts to make in one’s mind of all the things one plans to accomplish – comes cold, harsh, winter. Which, naturally, wipes out any sort of (actual) sunlight or stimulus for about eight to ten weeks.

Usually, Vitamin D helps the former. But I’ve yet to find anything that helps with boosting the will to sit on my couch and write or type, even if I don’t feel like it. I have, however, mastered the art of staring at my journal. (Because as we all know, if you stare at something long enough, it will merely levitate and go in the direction that you will it to.)

(2) Trying to do things worth writing about. I know I usually write a huge list of goals (under the guise of NOT calling them resolutions) at the start of each year. Within a few days before writing the posts, I normally have a rough idea in my mind what goals I’d like to strive for. And believe me, I had every intention of doing another one. But somehow, I just couldn’t fully formulate what I wanted to write about. And then I started telling myself it was going to be a lame list, and not worth writing. And then I just got lazy.

While that was all happening, I just started vocalizing to other people what I’d like to do. Like trying my hand at the ukelele, since I had been absolutely obsessed with it for about ten minutes. Or perhaps joining a choir, because spending my days around my apartment singing along with iTunes while cleaning wasn’t quite cutting it anymore. Or perhaps hoisting myself back up onto the exercise wagon, after so ungracefully letting myself fall off it several months before.

So, I vocalized my obsession with the ukelele on Facebook. A friend offered to lend hers to me to try it out,  since she had her hands full with her newborn son. And I DID tune it using an online Web site, and tried to find a beginner’s YouTube video. But time is a tricky bastard, so I haven’t had a chance to try it again since.

Over Christmas/Hanukkah holidays, while at a friend’s party, she mentioned I should try joining a community choir, of which she was a member. I finally attended a couple sessions, at the beginning of February. But it’s been six weeks, and work has played a major role as to why I haven’t yet returned. I even managed to attend a couple of Sunday evening sessions of my friend’s new start-up choir, when my work schedule temporarily changed. But it’s now changed back, so no more of that.

And back in February, I finally made the decision to resume exercising. I felt like I was really neglecting my health – not really being active, and eating quite terribly. Plus, I’m now 36 years old. Sure, I’m still relatively young. And my body is retaining its shape – but barely. Age is starting to take its toll.

So, with the exception of a few days here and there (due to exercise-related soreness, or schedule changes), I have been trying to exercise in some form at least two to three times per week. Which is all right.  With the opening of a new barre workout place within walking distance of my home, I’ve been attempting to do that as well, to bump up my physical activity. (As you can tell, that’s the only thing I’ve managed to stick with.)

(3) Work happened – in a good way. In January, I returned to my old job, after some discussion with my boss. It’s okay, for now. But I know I can’t allow this to become a permanent situation. So before Christmas, I started doing a bit of networking – talking to folks here and there. I continued my networking into January. And unexpectedly, it bore a bit of fruit! I just finished three weeks working in another area of the building.

Boy, was it ever different. It was challenging, a bit frustrating, a little intimidating, occasionally overwhelming, very humbling, and absolutely inspiring. Oh, and my brain hurts. I actually questioned whether I actually liked what I was doing. I had a bit of a feeling in the pit of my stomach, as if I wasn’t really measuring up to the others I was working with. But when I had a feedback session with the woman who kindly took me on, she said I did really well. I honestly can’t remember the last time I heard that from someone. And that’s the kind of thing I need, to make me want to work even harder.

Will they take me on again, during the summer? Who knows? Maybe not. But maybe I’ll get another chance to work there later in the spring. That would be very nice. But if I could finagle a work situation that would allow me to try something new each month between now and, say, September – a week here, two weeks there – that would make this year much more enjoyable and would provide more incentive, rather than frustration.

So, there you have it. I’m FINALLY trying to change things for myself, instead of writing and complaining about them as I usually do.

But some other business on this blog remains unfinished. Namely, writing out those travel posts from last summer. Considering how much time has elapsed, they probably won’t be as fresh as they should be. But please forgive me for that. Hopefully I’ll be better about that this year.

Four-Day Reality

These days, when people ask me how it’s going, my usual response is, “Livin’ the dream.”

And I guess I am … sort of.

You see, about seven months ago, following a nutty 10-day-on, four-day-off schedule, I had a little talk with my boss and basically told him I didn’t think I was capable of sustaining that kind of scheduled work pace over a long period of time. I told him I was concerned for my health, amongst other things. (Which, considering the entire planet was dealing with H1N1 at the time [and frankly, I worked in one of the biggest germ factories around] was, arguably, a legitimate concern.)

So, long story short, I landed a new work schedule, and one to die for: the highly-coveted four-day work week.

Fantastic? You betcha.

But – as with anything – there’s always a catch. I now work weekends. Every weekend.

Sure, there are huge pros.

I start work on a Thursday, when most people are praying for Friday to arrive, and the week to end.  I get three days off. Three days I can use to run errands and not worry about weekend hours. To take naps at will and watch as much daytime TV as I want. And, theoretically, do the things that people do on weekends, during the week.

But there are also cons.

While I do have friends who I can see during the week, the majority have the complete opposite schedule from my own. So other than my parents, there are very few people I see regularly.

My social life has quieted down greatly. I miss brunches. Parties. Movies. A number of special occasions. On the odd occasions I do go out on a “school night”, I can’t really stay out late – or if I do, I pay for it the next day. Perhaps a lot of you don’t think it’s a big deal. And sure, it’s not – if you’re a homebody or have a family you have to get home to.

And on my days off, going out is at a minimum, mostly because where I live has often proven to be an effective deterrent.

If I actually want a weekend off, I have to book it off, often a month in advance, so the people doing the scheduling actually remember to get someone to fill in – or at least ensure I can get someone trained to be able to fill in while I’m away.

And it’s put a damper on my attitude. On Friday, when everybody is all “TGIF!” and getting ready to peel outta work, I’m bombarded by the expressions of happiness, whether verbally, Facebook, Twitter – whatever.

And all I can do is button my lips and silently remind myself that that was me, four days ago. But the camaraderie I once shared with people when I used to be on the same schedule? It’s no longer there.

And even though I work four days a week at 10 hours a day, I’m in no way safe from working overtime. In fact, it’s a regular occurrence.

I’ve done Friday nights. Twelve-hour shifts on Sunday night (which is supposed to be my “shortest” shift of the week) are pretty much a given. Even Saturdays aren’t safe. A couple of weekends ago, I worked until about 12:45 a.m. Sunday morning, only to return to work at 9 a.m. for another 12-hour shift.

I guess it wouldn’t be so bad if I actually LOVED my job. Right now, I’m just trying to find a way to like it.

Guess “livin’ the dream” comes at a small price, doesn’t it?

In Like A Lamb?

So February is done. The Olympics are over.

Now what?

It’s only the second day of March, and I already feel like I need a nap.

I’m still recovering from the last month …

Trying to find a new real estate agent, which took a bit longer than expected.

Dealing with work, which seems to be increasing its workload (and decreasing my nightly sleep) with each passing weekend.

Combined with an e-mail my boss sent out last week, detailing a new opportunity in store for me. Which would be great, except I’m kinda already doing it. (Oh, and he never actually told OR e-mailed me. A colleague of mine just happened to send me a note with her congratulations, not knowing I wasn’t ever informed.)

And I’m still trying to figure out if I can make something happen on my own terms for the summer … or if I should just be resigned to being chained to my current post?

On top of which, the bosses are under pressure from on high to get everyone to use up their remaining vacation time before month’s end. Good for me in a couple of weeks’ time. But it could prove absolutely nuts as my office becomes a virtual ghost town at different points throughout the month.

And all I really want is to get through this month a little more positive, a little more confident, and a little less frustrated – without the Ides of March giving me a sound smack upside my head.

Oh yeah – and it’s still winter.

Here’s to hopin’ for the best and not getting the worst …

My Future?

Whatever he says, PLEASE let me be happy with the outcome, I thought to myself as I rode the elevator down to the ground floor.

“He” was my already-former boss, whom I was meeting with …

For my re-assignment. 

The department of the company where I work is undergoing a complete restructuring and reconfiguration over the next several months, probably more.

The upheaval started last week, when a number of dear colleagues were let go (some of whom, IMHO, unnecessarily so, since their positions still exist).

It continued this week, starting on Monday, with a big announcement about the changes coming down the pipe. (Or at least the ones they were sure they could tell us about.)

Tuesday was Day One of many days to come – when bosses sit down with their employees and tell them that, under the new scheme, their current jobs will soon be defunct, and telling them about their new jobs. Or as much as they COULD tell.

So today was my day. 

And I have to say I was a bit surprised by the outcome. For the moment I was – no, I am – somewhat pleased.

How I was picked for this job, I’ve no bloody idea. But someone wants to give me a shot at this.

I’m still trying to process the discussion and my new role.

I’m certainly going to be doing something completely different.

And I know my new boss, whom I’ve worked for briefly before.

And it’s a clean slate.

I’m sure I’ll be turning it over and over in my mind for the rest of the week.

But when things finally get underway, I have to promise myself to do three things:

Start pulling up my bootstraps and work harder.

Try to find my work inspiring. Or at least make my work work for me.

And REALLY try not to fuck it up.

My Frustration

I originally drafted this post about a week ago, when I was in a bit of a funk.

I‘m in a better mood now, but I still hold the same convictions about work …



You know when something happens in your work life – something that’s really a good thing – and you should be happy … but instead you have the exact opposite reaction?

Well, I think that’s been me lately.

It’s a complicated situation, but I’ll try to explain in general terms.

I’ve worked in the same department for four and a half years. Sometime early on, I realized I wasn’t particularly jazzed about what I was doing. Unfortunately, I haven’t really wavered.

Twenty-one months ago, completely frustrated (or so I thought), I applied for a job at another company. Shortly thereafter, my boss calls me into his office to offer me a job on a new project.

I thought to myself, maybe this is the change I need. It may be only twenty feet down the hall, but I’d be an idiot to say no.

So I said yes. And then promptly got an e-mail from the place I’d applied to, asking if I could come in for an interview. (D’oh.)

I took a chance and told my boss, who was surprisingly fair. He understood and let me do what I had to do. Obviously, I didn’t get the job, and I’m at the current job I’m at now.

Which brings me to the present. 

This spring, I decided to start looking in another department for something new. I figured it was time, since I’d been in my present job for just over a year.

I talked to someone in the department I wanted to work for, hoping there might be opportunities to fill in during the summer. She even suggested a job swap with someone from the department I wanted into.

I then told my boss, and he understood. 

Sounds promising, right?

Well, it didn’t happen in time for summer. There were scheduling issues with other staff members. But I was still hopeful. And the other department was still willing to include me as part of their team. So I still kept in touch and continued voicing my interest.

I returned from summer vacation in August, and was promptly told by my boss that my job – which wasn’t a permanent position – would be made permanent. Which meant I had to apply.

So apply I did, and I waited to hear about when my interview would be.

And I waited. And waited.  

Amid all this, the department I’d been liaising with e-mailed me back, asking me if I was still interested in working with them.

(Um, yes?!)

I was getting excited again. This might actually happen, I thought to myself.

And then three things happened. 

First I started getting some work more in the vein that I wanted to do in the other department.

Then I was told by my boss that my job – my current job – was finally mine. No interviews to worry about, nothing.

Things seemed to be resolving themselves.

But then, just last week, a manager from my “dream” department came by my desk to visit, in plain view of my more senior colleague, to discuss my hopes to work for him. So unfortunately, when the manager disappeared and the senior colleague started asking questions, I had to kind of tell him why he was there, forcing my hand a bit.

(It didn’t help that one of my colleagues had just taken a job offer she couldn’t really refuse in another unit – for career development – and was leaving in a matter of days.)

“Why do you want to leave?” he asked.

I said plainly, “I’ve been here for four and a half years, and I need a change. Even if it’s for a month, I think it would help.”

Not even a few days later, I found out I would start doing more of the type of work I wanted to do … in the other department.

I suppose it was his way of trying to give me more opportunity. And when he finally told me, I said, “Okay.” All I could say was okay.

Perhaps it was a coincidence. But the timing was uncanny.

I can’t say I’m completely happy. And I’m frustrated that I’m still not happy.

All I wanted – all I WANT – is a change.

Yes, I sound completely whiny and ungrateful. And yes, there are people out there who don’t have my job. Or A JOB, period.

But I DON’T expect to find my dream job in the place I’m working.

There is a saying someone once said to me, something to the effect of:

“If you love your job, you never work a day in your life.”

Really, that’s what I would like – a job I look forward to going to. One where I’m willing to participate, instead of feeling complacent and indifferent. A position where the notion of working a little harder or for longer hours doesn’t elicit an inward groan, a furrow in my brow, or the corners of my mouth to turn downward. Because I like it THAT MUCH.

But most importantly? I would genuinely like a job that I’ve sought or achieved, on my terms. And I’m convinced I’m not the only one on this entire planet who feels this way.

I work in a unit where the people are really nice, and my job has decent hours and decent pay. But that’s where it ends. Because I feel that if I want to move my career forward, I can’t do it on my own – it has to be controlled by someone else. It’s already happened twice before, and I truly believed that last year’s acceptance of the job I currently hold was the beginning of a more proactive phase of my career.

Perhaps that’s just not possible in a place where people move other people around like marionettes.

Surely there must be a way to cut the strings – or find a new puppetmaster.

Days Off … or Not?

glasses-calendar.jpgA couple weekends ago, my mother was telling me about this radio talk show host she sometimes listens to while she’s in the kitchen, doing whatever.

On the particular Saturday afternoon she was listening, one of the topics being discussed was the issue of time off from work. No, not vacation time. The two days off per week a lot of us in the workforce are supposed to get from our respective jobs.

I forget exactly how this transpired, but the host asked the afternoon news announcer (my friend) about this.

The announcer explained that when she’s on her days off, she doesn’t answer her phone. Because who wants to be at home on his or her day off, making plans, only to have his/her phone ring and have his/her employer on the other end, basically asking him/her to forget everything he/she’d planned to do and come in to work instead?

The host decided to challenge her on this and ask her if she wouldn’t ever, ever work if her place of employment called her in to work.

She replied that her days off are exactly that – her days off

I know where my friend is coming from. She works in an environment where more than half the time, she gets called in to work on at least one of her days off.

But let her just try to arrange to have some time off later on down the road to visit family or take care of personal affairs. It’s this whole song-and-dance. Not to mention that for her, it makes just having a life outside of work frustrating.

The host thought differently. He basically said, if your boss calls you on your day off, why shouldn’t you go in? Besides, he added, he only worked at the station for two hours a week and if it were him, he would go in.

Imagine his surprise when he opened up the phone lines to callers to respond to the subject. Apparently they gave him a bit of a lambasting.

I suppose it depends on the job or profession. There are sometimes periods in a work week where you can’t avoid working overtime or on days normally scheduled “off”.

But isn’t there a saying about happy workers being productive ones? How does that work when employees are working at all hours, and there’s no regard or thought to giving them a couple days off to re-group, regenerate and just take care of business they can’t (or aren’t allowed to) handle outside of business hours?

I now open this up for comments. Discuss.