Category Archives: long thoughts

New Things.

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My friend Jo gave me 4 little tomato plant babies that I’m now growing in the yard. Coffee was kind enough to pick up some giant garbage pails and drilled holes in them for drainage. I put in some stakes and, well, we’ll see what happens.  3 of the 4 plants (I think) are “indeterminate” which I now know means they have the potential to grow to insane heights and produce loads and loads of tomatoes.

While I was visiting my friend Lena, she introduced me to her Aerogarden and, unsurprisingly, there is now an Aerogarden on my kitchen countertop. As of this morning, it is working to germinate some “heritage greens” (lettuce) seeds and I am really quite excited. I decided lettuce was a good choice since, around the time that it’s edible, the tomatoes in the garden will be doing their thing – and I can eat some delicious salads and sandwiches. Once winter rolls around, I’ll switch the indoor garden over to cherry tomatoes, maybe. (Or weed. Apparently Aerogardens are very good for growing weed.)

Last week we were just about to head out for a lunch date when the phone rang – the installers wanted to know if they could come and put our new garage door on. This was unexpected and wonderful timing.  A little over a month ago we had picked it out, we gave them our downpayment, and were told it would be 4-6 weeks before they’d install.  It’s not fancy, it’s not special, but unlike our previous door it is insulated, it locks, I can open it without hurting myself, and it stays open and doesn’t try to knock me out.  Apparently garage doors have improved since the 1960s. Who knew.

I picked up a dash cam for my car and, this afternoon, spent some time running the wire from the camera to the power outlet thingie (it’s not a cigarette lighter anymore, right?) I had originally thought that I’d want it to be hardwired in – there are kits for that – and figured I would try out the camera for a bit before going through that effort. I think, but don’t quote me on it, that I am going to be absolutely fine with it as-is. I managed to hide about 90% of the wiring in the various spots around the car and I think I’ve got it all tucked away neatly enough that I won’t end up accidentally catching it on something. Hopefully. I look forward to endlessly forcing Coffee to watch video clips of me getting cut off in traffic. I’ve already forewarned him that I talk to myself A LOT in the car, so at least that won’t be a surprise to him.

At work, we get a lot of styrofoam crates – some of the medication we dispense is delivered to us in large cooler-sized boxes. I brought one home a few weeks ago and, over the weekend, Coffee was about to hack one up for me. Now I have a fantastic insulated holder for my sous vide setup. Hopefully that’ll make it easier to hold a steady temperature.  Now I just need to find a good 8 hour stretch of time to make bacon.  (Okay, I could possibly try it out on something else. Something less time-consuming. Fine.)

My indoor succulent garden is currently thriving – a combination of me figuring out wtf I’m doing, the increased daylight hours, and … luck.  Mostly luck.  But it’s really nice to wake up in the morning to see some happy plants, check in on each one’s progress (lots of good growth in some cases), and fuss over them a little (but not a lot). I am rather fond of this entire process – no weeds, no interlopers eating my plants, and only a few issues that I’ve needed to solve along the way. Highly recommended. A++, would do again.

Over and Over.

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I just took 5 days off – but I timed it perfectly so that I had 8 days off (with one day of work tucked in the middle, sadly).  The nice thing was that there was a long weekend in the mix, so my beloved husband was home and we were able to hang out together and get some stuff done, too.

As usual, my time off was a mix – visiting with friends, a little trip out of town, catching up on housework (spring cleaning, sort of?), reading a bunch of books, a few naps – and other than a few chores that I didn’t manage to work up enthusiasm to do, I think I managed to accomplish most of what I had on my mental ‘to do’ list.

Once again I’m reminded that I have absolutely no work/life balance.  Once again I’m not sure what to do about it.

Also, I am currently holding some work-related grudges that I can’t quite seem to resolve and, during the time I was away, I didn’t spend any time dwelling on them.  Every time something popped into my head I just nope!‘d that thought right out again.

( Yeah. It occurs to me that maybe I should have spent some time pondering solutions, instead, but I was honestly just feeling good about life and didn’t want to interrupt it.)

At a meeting, someone asked me about one of the work-related grudges (without knowing anything about it – it was a casual, completely reasonable question) and, when I explained a bit of the situation, they looked me dead in the eyes and said, “Honestly, you should just quit.”  .. which.. jeez. They made that statement based on only the visible tip of the iceberg!

Look, I can’t afford to quit my job. I also really like a lot of things about my job – things I wouldn’t find elsewhere…

..except that it was recently pointed out to me that a lot of the things i say I love about my job are things that don’t really apply anymore.

I’ve gotten myself into a bit of a messy situation and, one assumes, I’m the only one who can get myself back out of it. I’m just not sure how to do it, exactly, without fucking myself over, or without fucking over some of the people who work with me.

Pretty sure this is the same post I’ve made repeatedly after every vacation I’ve taken from work. So, y’know, let’s not get our hopes up.

As my friend Jo used to say in their blog:  Patterns will repeat forevermore until you realize the common denominator is you

And The Pollen Sucks Too.

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Oh huzzah, it’s the season where I remember exactly how much I hate gardening! It is simultaneously the season where I see everyone else growing beautiful plants and get jealous! And it is also the season where, like a cat*, I can’t decide if I want to be outdoors or indoors  and so I alternate between them all day long!

Sunscreen. Must add more sunscreen to every bit of exposed flesh.

I have reached the age where a Tilly Hat no longer seems ridiculous and is now on my ‘please buy me this’ list.

Fucking plants, growing constantly and wildly.  And a “native plants” garden where every single thing growing looks exactly like a weed. Because it is.  I have a map + photos and I still don’t know what the hell to leave, pull, or suspiciously endure.

I forgot to save up cardboard to put underneath the mulch on the gardens where I am trying to kill off weeds.

My method of gardening involves me going outside, staring at the garden, feeling completely overwhelmed, then heading back inside.  Once I’m inside again, I do something else for about 10 minutes, go back outside, yank a weed or two out, get overwhelmed, and go back inside. Repeat, repeat, repeat.  I can’t see any progress. I think the weeds are growing faster than I can pull them.

And I’m pretty sure I’m going to end up getting attacked by a chipmunk at some point this summer because that little creature is highly displeased with me being in the yard.

Nature, man. Nature.

* Keep your cats indoors, friends. 

Independence.

Published / by violet / Leave a Comment

When I was 17, I headed off to Toronto to live away from my parents, at university. A few months later, my mother died, my father retreated into his own grief to some extent, I was kicked out of school, and I was left to figure out how to live my life as an adult.

I made mistakes. I made plenty of them – some that haunted me for years after.  I knew that moving home to my Dad was always an option, were I willing to give up on the life I had begun to create, but I wasn’t ready to return to living in the middle of nowhere with no job or car and no friends nearby. Visiting home on weekends meant being sucked into my Dad’s grief and simultaneously filling in for my mother (grocery shopping, cooking meals, cleaning the house, doing laundry..)  Instead, I muddled along and made mistakes and solved them on my own or with the help of my friends.  I didn’t want anyone to tell me how to live my life.

I am always somewhat grateful for the hardships I went through earlier in life – at times I have a tendency to romanticize it all. Being independent has its benefits. I made my choices, no one told me I couldn’t do whatever I wanted to do, and in the end, well, here I am. That’s the simple story. I’m a self-made woman, right?

But I also remember that being independent was really hard work – and scary as hell at times. I didn’t want to admit the things that I had fucked up so, yeah, I continued to struggle through it. My mental health was incredibly precarious at times – depression, in particular – and I didn’t have the slightest clue what to do about it.  Looking at myself now, there are parts that are very withdrawn from the potential support of other people because, eesh, the idea makes me uncomfortable.

And so I am sitting with a problem.

The oldest kid still living at home is 18 and, legally and in his own head, he’s an adult. He is determined to be independent, to not rely on his parents, and he is muddling along. Part of me is very proud of him for this – for his determination to take control of his life, figure out what matters to him, and to live based on his own priorities. He is doing well at some parts of life and I am proud of him for many things he has overcome.

But, at the same time, things are not going well on some fronts. There are some concerns about him, about his mental health and general well-being. The school is worried.  There are issues with work and with friends. There are issues within his biological family. All of which is adding up to a not-great picture.

I have always wanted my kids to be well-equipped for the world – to be independent. I have also wanted them to have a solid start to their adulthood – to be prepared for the (many, and unexpected) things that pop up in life. To know how to solve problems, yes, but also to know how to find and ask for help. To be reasonably good at self-care in the sense of getting good sleep at night, eating well, balancing life/school/work, handling stress.

I have wanted to spare them some of the struggles I went through while also letting them handle their own problems as much as I can. It’s a delicate balance. There are normal growing pains associated with become an adult and there’s no way to spare anyone from experiencing them – but there are some pains that can be avoided, I think, if you know to keep your eyes open for them.

I’ll be honest and say that I don’t know what I’m doing here. He won’t ask for help, and is ducking the offers, but I can see things slipping for him. He isn’t capable of full independence but he’s essentially insisting on attempting it as much as possible.

I don’t know how much of this is normal because I have no frame of reference – my own early adult years were independent mostly out of necessity and not choice. I have to work hard, now, to ask for help from anyone other than those closest to me and I have a tendency to believe that I need to solve all of life’s problems on my own.  In other words, I understand some of his perspective – but I don’t quite know how to proceed in the face of his outward unhappiness.

WTF, parenting. This was supposed to get easier, not harder, wasn’t it?

Like A Thousand Suns Burning.

Published / by violet / 2 Comments on Like A Thousand Suns Burning.

Recently I was interviewing someone for a position on my team. This is a hard thing for me because I don’t actually believe in interviews – I don’t think they’re a great way to figure out who will be good for a particular job (unless the job is being interviewed).

When you ask people questions, they answer them in the way that they think you want. This is not helpful.

I generally default to telling the person everything I think they need to know about the position (the good, the bad, the potential, etc.) and then I demand that they ask questions. The questions they ask, the things that concern (or excite) them, give me a lot more insight into their perspectives and their priorities.

During this interview, one of my coworkers asked the interviewee the question: How do you know when you’re burning out? How do you know when you need a break?

As the interviewee was answering, I was mentally checking things off on a list inside my head. Huh.

I do not think that I am burning out.

I do think that my job is pretty intense at the moment – chock full of controversy and angry people and death (in the literal sense) – and that I need to be careful about taking stock of my life in order to sustain a reasonable level of energy to put towards my job.

My job is really incredibly good for my brain – it hits all of the right buttons to keep me motivated and interested. Some days are super easy and other days are super hard. Some days I do things that scare me and most days I do things well-within my comfort zone. I meet a lot of people. I get to provide education about a big topic. I chat with the media. I get to write, to speak in public, to create empathy and understanding.

The people I manage are phenomenally self-motivated and focused on what they do –  so I get to pop in to help trouble shoot and do some admin and otherwise mostly get to enjoy the entire team.  All of my coworkers are, in various ways, committed and passionate and range from ‘really good’ to ‘fucking amazing’ at their jobs.

The thing is, I also work a lot. Many, many more hours than my contract (ha) and often my default when I have some downtime is to do more work. This is my own fault – there is no one standing over me insisting that I work all the hours, all the days.

Part of the problem is that my job is never-ending – there will never be a time when my work is finished. All of the projects that I work on are ongoing, with varying levels of attention needed on any given day/week/month. If I’m not working on Project A, there are 5 things I can do for Project B, etc.  My email inbox is never, ever empty for more than 5 minutes. There are presentations and workshops booked nearly every week and I can tweak them constantly. There are flyers to create, spreadsheets to update, reports to send to various places. There are meetings for many committees and groups – locally and provincially.

Literally, I could work 24/7 and still have stuff to do.

This means I prioritize urgent things, of course, but it also means that I have to work really hard to stop working.

The challenge I have right now is that my work is doing such a great job of hitting all my good buttons that I am struggling to do things that aren’t work-related. My brain gets a big flood of happy chemicals when I accomplish work things (some more than others, obv) that it’s hard to find the internal motivation to do things that don’t result in that same happy chemical dump.

And since the bulk of my day is being “on” in various ways, it’s hard to hit the switch. When I do manage to shut it down, my brain is just.. empty. I could sit and stare at a wall, in silence, for hours.  I feel myself creeping toward the ‘high’ of work stuff again out of boredom.

This is a weird place to find myself. I have always – ALWAYS – had a ridiculous number of varied hobbies. Some big, some small, some done well, and some done really (really) badly – but things that could occupy my mind and generate some contentedness.  I do not want to be bored with non-work time – that’s ridiculous.

Right now, for example, I know there are a bunch of emails in my work inbox – and I could, should?, flip over to that tab (it’s pretty much never closed) and reply to a few. By not doing it right now, I’m prolonging the inevitable and probably pissing off someone who was hoping for a quick response. One email will turn into 10. It’ll require me opening up my calendar and finding space for more work, inevitably.

But I’m working late tonight – until at least 9, if not a bit later – so true balance would mean that I’m not touching work things until around 1:00 at the earliest.  Instead, I’ve been trying to putter around the house and eat some breakfast and read some articles I’ve saved.

Sounds good, right?

But I googled a work-related thing early this morning.

Then I updated my work facebook page.

I wrote a thing on my own (personal) facebook wall about something work-related.

I checked my work email this morning and checked my phone for texts.

And now that I know some of what’s lingering out there, it’s hard to focus on anything else.

It’s been very easy for me to say that I’ll just “flex my time” which is.. well, at this point it’s a bit hilarious. There are days when I am able to do that, but mostly I can’t – – because even when I say that I’ll “take Tuesday off” I’ll get an email telling me about a meeting that I need to attend… on Tuesday.

I’m not burning out in the sense that I’m losing compassion for our clients, or that I can’t find the motivation to go to work in the morning. But all of my mental energy is being used up at work and that seems like a problem.

Is there a solution?  I don’t know.