Longest Week Ever

It virtually never happens to me that, on any given day, I think “is it Friday today?” That was not the case this week. Every. Single. Day. I have had that thought. Followed immediately by ‘goddammit, it’s only Wednesday*!’

Every day. Fo’ real.

Partly this was because we had an internal audit this week and there was a lot of last minute paper-gathering. Partly because the auditors were planning to be in early (7am) and security at our facility means I really needed to be there at the same time. So i was in early every day (and they, ironically, were not) and then ended up staying late every evening. Only one 13 hour day, which was prompted by my husband and I alternating nights of not sleeping well. So. Long days. Not great sleep. Lots of paperwork. Long week.

The end result was pretty great – the dings we’re getting are things which are largely out of my control. Of all the facilities in my company, the auditor says mine has been the best so far. My policies were dialed, my staff know their stuff and do their jobs and we all clearly work as a team. Go us!

Truth to tell, I expected it to go precisely as it did. It’s been a really interesting and challenging year for me professionally and while we work as a great team now, we had some hard bumps in the beginning. I’ve gained a better appreciation for the people who mentored and coached me throughout my professional experience. The audit also confirmed for my staff that I knew what I was talking about when I pushed most of the changes we’ve made. So they’d already learned to trust me, but I (and they) finally got to see the payoff for all the hard work that the changes prompted.

Once I get through May, my world will calm down considerably. I’ve got performance evaluations and statistical compliance to take care of before the holiday. Paperwork-heavy days make it hard for me to concentrate long enough to read anything, so I’m pretty excited that Audio-SYNC’s free summer downloads just started. I’ve been meaning to re-read Rebecca and now I’m going to get to listen to it. To use these, you’ll have to download Overdrive, which has the added benefit of being the download manager many public libraries use for their digital media.

The other thing making my life better this month is an app. Stop Breathe & Think has got a bunch of great free content that will give you plenty to do before you want to purchase anything. I was prompted to try something new for meditation (which, for the record, I suck at) by this kind of amazing video clip which I immediately forwarded to all my employees. I also made several guided meditation cds/mp3s available  in their offices so that if they want to use them during their breaks they can.

I’ve managed to get in some meditation almost every day, even if it’s right before bed. Before bed is easiest but I’m also really enjoying meditating right after I wake up. It’s sort of like bottling the zen of that sensation of first waking in a nice warm bed and carrying into the rest of the day.

And luckily, finally, tomorrow will actually BE Friday.

*substitute any day of the week


Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.

-George Bernard Shaw

May Day

I suspect I will never spend a May 1st without remembering the May Day I spent in St. Johann im Pongau. I was traveling after a semester abroad and had met a fellow Midwesterner in Vienna. We decided to travel together to Salzburg, where my aunt had graciously let me use her timeshare.

It is a lovely town… (photo here).

There was a celebration downtown with a full brass band in lederhosen, a Maypole raising and chicken+potato salad served with beer on wooden plates for a few Deutsche marks. The people were incredibly and my travel buddy and I had a brilliant day of NOT traveling. It remains one of my many excellent memories of time spent in Europe.

Also, YES, we did the Sound of Music tour and YES, it was fantastic.

Here, the weather has been fantastic. Spring verging on summer, warm with cool breezes, and the kind of weather that makes you want to live outside.


Happy Habits

I started using Bullet Journaling back when I was in Colorado. My job involved enough traveling that it was a really good way to help me keep track of visits and conversations, as well as deadlines. Once I relocated, I got out of the habit. 

Basic stuff on Bulllet Journaling can be found at www.bulletjournal.com, but if you check out Pinterest you’ll find about a bajillion ways to customize it for your personal wants/needs.

My current job means Bullet Journaling works differently. I started in a similar way to what the author describes, with a list view for the month and a side space for reminders, etc.  I have to say, I never jammed with the (overly) complicated system for identifying each type of list item.

While having a monthly list worked really well in my old job, now it makes more sense to use a monthly view where I can keep track of call schedules and days off that don’t belong to just me.  My work and personal calendars also sync to my phone and are too convenient NOT to use. The up side is that I keep those out of my journal and focus more on other things. Sorry this is a real big picture.

I’ve fooled around with a weekly view which I may continue, but since I don’t use it JUST for work I’m likely to leave more ‘journal’ space for each day instead.

When I was between jobs, I also came to an uncomfortable realization as to how much I had begun associating my job with my identity. Given the amount of change my workplace has accepted in the last year, and the fact that we’re cranking along in good spirits, I’m going to try and make a point of focusing on personal habits that I need to get back to or spend more time on – hence the running list where I’ll mark off which days I do which things.

I like the more journal-based idea for my daily notes because I find lists and tasks helpful, but also because I use the journal for different focus at work. An important part of my day is reflecting on what went well and moments of work growth for myself AND my employees. I like to log any work concerns and pros/cons either before I leave the office or right after I get home as a way to close down my workday. When I do that, I feel less compelled to bitch about work when i could be talking about better/more interesting things with my husband.

I’ve got a section to record books I add to my TBR pile, a section for blog ideas, a section where I record any dreams I remember and my current moleskine should last me pretty handily through the end of the year. I’ve been intrigued by similar ways to use OneNote, I’ve also come to the realization that for some things having a hard copy just works BETTER for me. 

Do you have any great personal organization hacks? Have you migrated all the way digital?

Amazing kitchen things

First, I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but some genius individual has decided to make a thing that single-handedly improves my life. You can now purchase, in the pickles/salad dressing portion of your local grocery, Balsamic Vinegar Reduction Glaze. Speaking as a lazy person, I want you to know that this is literally the best thing that happened last week. I eat it on EVERYTHING. Cheese, toast, vegetables, meats – it’s good for EVERYTHING.

Second, I made this recipe for dinner tonight and it was fantastic. If you don’t like pork, the sauce would be equally great on chicken or turkey. The entire website is excellent, but that recipe is the second best thing that’s happened in my kitchen in the last week.

Random acts of cookery

I’ve gotten back into my Zombies, Run! training after a fairly long lapse (mid-December to mid-March). I discovered that while I didn’t go back to ZERO (no training) I did move solidly back to week 3. I’m enjoying the warm weather, which means I can run outside, and thus far I’m hating running less than I remember hating it previously. Progress?

My husband is out-of-town and we got a Bountiful Basket on Saturday. It had several things in it, including spaghetti squash and beets. So tonight I decided to cook some things. First, this is the best way to cook spaghetti squash. I did this and added some spaghetti sauce for a pretty healthy dinner. A spectacularly healthy dinner, when you realize that normally when my husband is out-of-town I eat cereal three meals a day.

I also decided to do something about beets. I don’t eat beets. I had three beets and when I did some googling for ‘what the fuck do I do with beets,’ this is one of the recipes that came up. So I’m making beet chips. We’ll see how that turns out.

I’m also re-watching Someone Like You, which is a movie I enjoy for no discernible reason except maybe Ashley Judd and Hugh Jackman seem like nice people? So. Crap film and less crap food (for a change).

I also walked my dog who, as she ages, is increasingly less thrilled with how fast I walk. When we get home she gives me a look which I think is designed to shame me.

Work continues apace and I’m looking at starting to ride my bike to work. I’ll time it out this weekend, but it’s fairly flat going and it would be nice to be outside while the weather is lovely. It’s been unseasonably warm and I do not give a single fuck because there is no snow. I will take whatever crazyass storms the heat brings because my run at 7pm was 70 degrees and amazing.

Let’s talk about John Green

My friend Ayesha and I share a love of many nerd things, including YA books. I think it was the release of The Fault in Our Stars film that prompted us to do a Big Read of John Green’s work. Then she had school and I had work and we got off to a slow start, but here’s how it went:

Paper Towns (reread for me)

Looking for Alaska (new for both of us)

An Abundance of Katherines (new for both)

Somehow we didn’t include Wil Grayson/Wil Grayson on that list, which is pretty different compared to the rest of these.

Anyhow, Ayesha and I (and the rest of our facebook book group) had mixed feelings on pretty much all of Green’s novels.

I think TFioS is a gimme- not the first teen cancer novel, but (I think) the first to come at it with a teen-appropriate amount of sarcasm and flipness. It also had the added benefit of an only cancer-adjacent road trip which made the book about things OTHER than cancer in a way that was totally believable. About a dozen thinkpieces/crits said things like “kids don’t talk like that,” which rather misses the point. When I was a kid that age, I distinctly remembering BELIEVING that I talked like that.

For me, that’s the thread that carries through most of Green’s work. PT and LfA have characters that I remember meeting- not exactly, of course, and probably not nearly as mythical as I remember them BEING, but the idea that those people exist and intersect with us in pivotal points of our life isn’t fiction. It’s also not accurate, but that doesn’t mean it’s not TRUE.

So precocious teen isn’t an anomoly- I don’t know a single person who didn’t consider themselves exceptionally clever and wry as a teenager – and neither are the iconic mystery-people in his books. I’ve pretty consistently thought that he does a good job of being in touch with what it’s like to be at that age where everything is simultaneously possible and impossible – having no/limited control – being fundammentally misunderstood except by a small cadre (or even just one person) and where you cannot WAIT to be older because you think that’s where all the magic happens.

My least favorite of the reads was Katherines. It was the only one of the books that didn’t really connect for me. I can’t decide if it’s because of the characters or the plot but there wasn’t much (except being convinced that you should be able to find an answer for something mostly unanswerable) that stuck.

Have you read his work? What do you think?

The Goldfinch

I know this book was wildly (WILDLY) popular, and there were large parts I found compelling, but I won’t lie- I didn’t see it.

The parts about Theo’s initial trauma and all the related strings from that incident were incredibly interesting. Watching him spend a number of years using drugs (and not doing much else) not so much. Boris was amazing. Pippa was an interesting McGuffin. And my husband had a great point about Boris being a foil for Theo, since Boris decided to live life on his own terms while Theo wallowed in other peoples’s plans.

That said, my overwhelming sense was that the book was 200 pages too long, just so that the author could emphasise how much of his life Theo was wasting. Why ‘tell’ when you can make the audience drag through it page by page…

Anyone else want to tell me how wrong I am?

The One Where I’m Wrapping Up

Yoo guise.

I have been up to my eyebrows in policy and procedure review for what feels like half my life (but has only been about a month). I’ve got about three policies left to draft/revise. I’ve got the Emergency Operations Plans books to update (read: remove policies and make it just a procedure manual). And then I am motherfucking DONE.

I’m actually making a surprise ride-a-long to the other side of the state this week, so I’m going to meet up with our internal auditor while I’m over there. I get to take a copy of my newly/mostly finalized manual and then review the audit paperwork and formats with him. You have to understand how much of a nerd I am to appreciate that I’m excited about doing this.

He’s spending SIX WEEKS at my sister facility doing the work I’m wrapping up. I can’t think of anything less I’d like than someone camping in my back yard for six weeks and lurking over my shoulder.

I’m also going to finalize an independent contractor tomorrow which ALSO has me nerding out. It turns out there are worse things than being a policy/procedure/contract nerd if you’re going to be in charge of a government-contracted facility. Go nerds!

That said, I’m leaving tomorrow afternoon so I spent a 12 hour day today trying to jam in the last few policies that hadn’t been addressed or updated. I’ve got a couple of meetings tomorrow morning and then it’s a road trip and polishing and THEN getting to read for some damn pleasure.

The One Where I Catch Up

I’m using ‘catch up’ in loose terms.

My contract review at work went really well and now I’m in the midst of reviewing all our policies and procedures in relation to all parts of the contract, in advance of the corporate auditor checking things out. I’m shooting to have my part done by the end of this month.

Let me say only two things about this:

1. Keep your policies and procedures separate. Seriously. “Policy and Procedure Manual” is an abomination against productivity.

2. This task is precisely as enjoyable as it sounds like it would be. That said, I’m cranking through it at a pretty good clip because I’m motivated to get it OVER WITH.

I haven’t had a chance to read anything not policy/procedure related since the end of January but finally got back on the wagon with some John Green books. I’ve got some facebook friends doing a read-a-long and it’s been nice to have someone to discuss with in close contact to the actual reading.

My program just had an important anniversary and I’m getting interviewed by the local paper. I’ve done a pretty good job avoiding mention in the paper thus far and I’m not exactly full of confidence in the local paper’s willingness to not hack us to bits, but that’s the gamble I guess

In other, unrelated news, I’ve been eating quinoa for breakfast (with banana) and it’s been a really good thing. Unlike oatmeal, it’s very easy to make beforehand and just reheat in the a.m.


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