"Love My Way, It's a New Road"

Archive for November, 2019

Re-framing the Holidays

If you have read my blog over the years, you will know that since my separation and divorce six years ago, the holidays have been a bit fraught for me.  Geez, it’s hard to believe that my divorce was six years ago.  Wow, that’s a post for my Emancipation Day in April!

Anyway, back to the holidays.  Since I don’t have a strong family connection with my dad or my brother (I haven’t spoken to that Sack of Shit for years), the only family I am close to are my kids.  I don’t want to lean on them for every single holiday, so I need to re-frame what the holidays mean to me.

When my kids were growing up, the holidays were always about family.  My then-husband, the kids, the in-laws and extended family.  My Ex is one of 4 kids in a close-knit family.  We all lived close to one another for years.  The in-laws and extended family were close by also.  My kids grew up in a nurturing environment — just as I always wanted.

Once I divorced my husband, those family members are gone.  They included me very sporadically and reluctantly on a few occasions, but I knew not to depend upon them.  I realize that I have not released my married life view of the holidays being about family.  I need to do that.

I want to re-frame the holidays.  It is time because I will continue to be petulant about them until I can let go of my old ways.  Here is how I want to think about the holidays going forward:

Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful and reflective of all that I have.  As long as it involves turkey, I am fine.  It does not matter who or where I spend it (provided that there is turkey and pie). I have many things and people to be thankful for, so I will take the time to do so (with some stuffing and sweet potato casserole, please).  I want to channel peace, reflection and gratitude on Thanksgiving. Leftovers would be a bonus.

Christmas is going to be a time of pleasure and relaxation.  This year it will be spent with family, so I have to add in love and adventure since I will be visiting them.  Christmas is no longer tied to gifts.  I am not exchanging gifts with any of my loved ones this year.  That’s a first.  I am, however, sending my daughter a box of heirloom Christmas ornaments for her to use and keep. She is thrilled and excited to have them on her tree for this holiday. I am saving some for my son as well.

Christmas will be about being spiritual and appreciating the positivity in all of us. I love Christmas carols, the decorations, so I want to make sure I enjoy that.  It will also be about preparing for new beginnings which brings us to New Year’s.

New Year’s is all the cliches of new beginnings.  Out with the old and in with the new.  It’s the classic reset button.  New Year’s is about forgiving myself for past failed attempts and having the courage and optimism to start again.

It is quite easy to type these bold words and declaration of re-framing.  Now let’s see if I can truly take them to heart.  Can I stop my old, tired thinking and create a new reality of the holidays for myself?  I like to think “yes”.  I need to think about how I can create a small vision board that reminds me of these new holiday perceptions.

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Photo by Osman Rana on Unsplash

 

2020 Road Map

When reading Sheri Salata’s book, The Beautiful No,  I jotted down some notes and ideas about what would be my focus for 2020.  I accomplished quite a bit for 2019 , but it is time to look ahead and set some new milestones for myself.

One thing I am realizing is that my days off of work are precious.

I spent 17 years of little accountability for my work time.  My days were my own and I had bosses who did not have the time or interest in tracking if I was working, where I was working, etc.  I could work from home or whatever hours I wanted, provided I produced results.

Anywhoo, now I have a 9-5 job with a steady paycheck which comes with expectations that I will be in my seat at a certain time and until a certain time.  Even though I am exempt, I fill out a time card tracking my hours and the projects I work on.  Ergo, my days off or mucking around outside the office have become rarer.

I need to be selfish with my time off.  My evenings, weekends and PTO days are precious commodities which have to be used prudently. I need to prioritize what I really want to do.

For 2020, I want to focus on three key areas:

  1. Health/Wellness
  2. Money & Abundance
  3. Adventure/Discovery & New Friends

Health/Wellness.  From listening to my podcasts, I recognize that weight loss is a journey and not a number.   I need to create healthy habits and create a determined focus on adhering to those habits.  These habits will center on honoring my body with good food, movement and medical check-ups.

The tools I will use for this area of my journey include my podcasts for inspiration and encouragement; a nutritionist for guidance and eventually add in a gym for variety and classes.  The gym will overlap in my Adventure/New Friends category.

The habits that I will focus on for 2020 include:

  • Limit my eating out so I can control the quality and quantity of my food (this also ties into my frugal habits)
  • Limit alcohol (not too hard since I only have about 1 drink a week right now)
  • Move my body 5x-6x a week for a minimum of 30 minutes (so far, so good because I am doing this now)
  • Stretching/yoga for more flexibility
  • Water, water, water – make sure I am hydrating enough
  • Take a daily multi-vitamin
  • Focus on eating a primarily plant-based diet.  I will still have meat, but I will work on limiting it to 1 meal a day (eggs may be excluded…)
  • I will stop eating 3 hours before bed
  • I will sleep a minimum of 7 hours a night
  • I will journal about how I am doing with all of this at least 3x a week (it doesn’t mean blogging because I keep a small weight loss journal also).

Other things I will do over the course of 2020 for my Health/Wellness include a full round of medical check-ups.  Now I have decent insurance, so I might as well use it.

Money & Abundance. For some reason, the word “abundance” stirs uneasy feelings in me.  I think it is because I see abundance as an accumulation of STUFF or DEBT and not an abundance of savings, safety and comfort.  I will work on changing my perception during 2020.

I need to stay frugal as a lifestyle and not a short term solution.  I need to discover other things to fill my void rather than spending or buying things.  I have a tendency to want to solve things with either comfort food or a purchase rather than stepping back and asking myself if it is really necessary.

I want to focus on getting to a debt-free life.  I need to pay off all of my debts and create a savings mindset.  This is where I will create abundance — through savings, not obtaining stuff.

The tools I will use to help me with Money & Creating Abundance are my worksheets and I have some Facebook groups and podcasts for support.  I have to track my money – each and every penny.

My 2020 Money & Abundance habits include:

  • Continue with comparing my actual monthly spending to my budgets for accountability.
  • Implement the “envelope system” for my groceries and other discretionary spending.
  • Login to my bank account weekly to check in on the state of affairs
  • Take my lunch daily (this applies to Health/Wellness also)
  • Limit my dining out and take-out to only 2-3 times a month (ties to Health/Wellness)
  • Learn to love my new frugal lifestyle and creative hacks more than walking into a store.
  • Continue to use and develop my free resources (library, free concerts, art festivals) when seeking Adventure.

Adventure/Discovery & New Friends. I need to return to trying new activities.  By doing these new activities, I will meet new people and learn more about my new community.  I need to learn how to create, nurture and build deeper, lasting friendships. My habits will include:

  • Do things and plan things – spontaneity isn’t going to cut it.
  • Keep trying MeetUp activities and groups
  • Follow up when I meet new people
  • Say yes when invited to outings

My goal is 3-4 activities (primarily new stuff) every month.

Accountability:  There is no sense in creating new habits for this new portion of my journey unless I am willing to be accountable.  I have to track things so I will be able to accurately gauge how I am doing.

For Health/Wellness, I will create a chart so I can track:

  • How many weekly 30 minute workouts?
  • How many times did I dine out?
  • How many plant-based meals per week?
  • How much meal prepping am I doing?
  • Weekly weigh-ins and measurements including my journaling
  • Seek one annual appointment in the following areas:  annual physical, flu shot, optometrist, gyn, dermatologist, nutritionist and dentist.

For Money/Abundance, my accountability will be:

  • Reconciling my budget versus actual spending
  • Using my envelope system
  • Tracking my debt reduction on a spreadsheet

For Adventure & Friends, my accountability will be:

  • Keeping a calendar, a nice one, that shows my events (past, present & future)
  • Making sure I follow up with the new folks I will be meeting
  • Throw a party for myself at some point — nothing big, it can be anything, but by next Fall, I should be able to invite local folks to a get-together.

This new roadmap is up to me.  I am the CEO of my life.  I have to make the decisions and hold myself accountable.  The buck stops here.  This is the next phase of my journey.  I am excited about it.  It’s all about me.  It’s all about being selfish.

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Photo by Noemí Jiménez on Unsplash

 

 

New Road Map

I have long believed life is a journey.  A long, winding road full of bumps, detours, forks, .hills and valleys.

I spent today reading Sheri Salata’s book, The Beautiful No.  It is a quick read.  Although I have expressed my reservations about Oprah, Sheri had some good moments that resonated with me.  Not enough to buy her $20 workbook, but enough to purchase her $15 book after starting with a library e-book.

One realization I had while reading her book is I figured out what is up with neutral gear in my reset.  I need a new map.  My map for 2019 was about finding my reset.

To that end, I found a new job, moved to a new city and a new apartment, worked on a new lifestyle of frugality and minimalism, changed my relationship with the Hunter and began working on my health. 2019 has been a year of big changes.  I have taken lots of action and big steps, however, I have felt that I have come to an end.

Now that I have achieved so many big things in 2019, I need to pause.  It is time to rejoice  and celebrate.  I took a moment while writing this to let this thought sink in. I haven’t figured out how I will celebrate, perhaps when I see my kids at Christmas I can think of something.  One thing I know is that I am very, very grateful for this reset.

It is time to create my 2020 road map for the next phase of my life journey. I think my subconscious has already been preparing for this and that is the underlying cause of my unrest.  I am floating in uncharted waters, so I will feel more secure and purposeful if I have a chart or map to provide direction.

One big revelation for my 2020 road map is that it does not contain a single work-related item.  Not one. Work doesn’t need to bleed into my personal life any longer.  Wow, that’s a wonderful thing.

I am selfishly focused on me and my personal life.  That is a first for me.  Perhaps my word for 2020 will be “Selfish” or “Self-Centered”.

I like those words.  Nobody who knows me would ever use one of those words to describe me.  Perhaps that is why they are such great words for me.  It is something I need to learn to be/do.

By living alone, I am able to give myself the space to be selfish, to focus on my needs and wants.  This weekend I am spending my free time focused on me.  Selfish has begun. More to follow.

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Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

 

Stuck?’

I am in neutral gear.  I don’t feel stuck, but I do feel like I am just idling.  I haven’t tackled my debt situation aggressively.  I have money sitting in the bank waiting to be sent to the IRS for my tax bill.  I haven’t gone into hyper-frugal mode, although I must pat myself on the back for also not spending money on frivolous things.  I have been ignoring my bank account and managing my money.

On the plus side, I did complete my 401k rollover and closed my personal 401k which saves me $$.  I am enrolled in my company 401k so I can get their full match and I adjusted my withholding at work.  I have stayed out of stores for the most part which is important because I am an over-spender.  I feel like I am over-spending on groceries.  I haven’t been wasting much food, however, so I tell myself that I am still gathering my basics.  That excuse has come to an end because my cupboards are full.  I am not eating out more than twice a month (when I pay my way).  I simply haven’t taken any bold action steps on the money front.

What do I need to do on the money front?

  • Make a nice payment to the IRS so I see some aggressive progress.  I could pay off about 30% of it right now.  I need to simply get off my ass, login and do it.
  • Jump on QuickBooks and get my Maggie & Co. books updated.  In order to immediately file my tax returns in January, I need to start the prep work now, so it won’t be overwhelming come January.
  • Move some money into my hidden emergency fund stash so it isn’t in my general checking account where it could be more at risk of being accidentally spent.
  • Tell the Hunter he needs to pay me for the work I have done.  He apparently is having a cash flow issue, but that’s not my concern.  He needs to pay me, however, I need to ask also.
  • Reconcile how my spending is going in November.  I did this for October and it was a helpful snapshot of understanding where my money is going.

When I read the above accomplishments, I have to step back and say, “wait a minute, I did get quite a bit of stuff done!”  Maybe I am just being hard on myself and I am being impatient again.

Next I have my weight loss efforts also stuck in idle.  I have taken some positive steps.  I get to the apartment gym every morning for 30 minutes with 40-45 minute walks on both Saturday and Sunday.  I alternate between weights and cardio with an emphasis on weights/resistance.

I have shifted my diet to more plant-based, no processed foods.  I make my own hummus (super easy), beans (black and kidney), and I am food prepping regularly to eliminate the opportunity to make bad choices.  I have no more cold cuts, little meat (once a day if we don’t count eggs).  I focus on veggies with some fruit.  I still have some Greek yogurt, limited carbs (rice, pasta, sprouted grain bread, etc.) and sugar.  Ah, sugar.  The crack cocaine of my life.  It sneaks in daily.

I have started listening to some podcasts for inspiration.  I found two that resonate with me.  One is the pragmatic, professional “Cut the Fat” with Blythe Wagner and Ray Hinish.  They do not advocate one diet plan over another, and after two episodes I find that I like what they have to say.

The other podcast that speaks to me is by crazy, foul-mouth Corinne Crabtree’s podcast called “Losing 100 lbs with Phit-n-Phat”.  She is a life/diet coach and yes, she is always trying to sell you her coaching, but she also talks about mindset, creating good habits and she reads the same business books I have read.  I like the fact that she is taking the concepts of big productivity and mindset authors to apply with her Tribe of clients.  She likes Grant Cardone’s 10x, Jon Acuff’s Finish and more. She wants you to shift your mindset, so she talks a lot about the why of emotional eating.  I have figured out my over-eating has a lot to do with emotions.

The first step with Corinne is planning.  I can’t even do that yet.  I downloaded her free pdf to get started and I can’t even commit to planning what I will eat for the next 24 hours.  Sigh.  I have good intentions but then the Hunter comes over as he leaves on a hunting trip, we have an unexpected free lunch at work, someone brought in pastries.  You can see I am chock full of excuses, so I realize that I don’t have my mindset, my WHY, my determination to begin. That makes me sad and disappointed.

I am also realizing that this is a life shift and my weight loss journey will be a long one.  It will require patience and that is something in low supply for me.  I need to be kinder to myself.  This post by Steve Pavlina was helpful.

I must do it.  Fuck, the Hunter weighs less than me right now and that was a very sad moment for me.  I just need to sit down, figure out my WHY and then get to it.  I have started reading Sheri Salata’s book, A Perfect No, and it is speaking to me.  I plan on losing myself in that book this weekend after my walk, of course.

I wrote this earlier today and as I prepare this for posting, I realize what I need.  Patience.  A heck of a lot more patience with myself.  Life is a journey, not a sprint, so I just need to make sure that every day I am doing what I need to do and try to improve my lifestyle by 1%.  Just 1% because the results will accumulate. That’s from my potty-mouth diva, Corrine.

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Photo by Mourad Saadi on Unsplash

 

Close Call

I like my boss. She is my age, very smart, super fit, fair, kind and a little neurotic. She freely admits her propensity to be a tad high-strung at times. My tendency to react to neurotic energy with calm is perhaps a big reason we mesh well.

She is going away for 10 days over the holidays with a couple and a female friend of theirs. She was invited after they had planned the trip, so the plan was for her to share a room with this other woman that she doesn’t know. My boss gamely booked her flights, paid for her excursions and blocked out her calendar for this trip. It is a bucket list type vacation.

Then her feet began getting cold. Particularly when they sent her links to the accommodations. She would be sharing a bedroom and bath with a complete stranger. She wasn’t comfortable and began regretting her plans.

If you, Dear Readers, know anything about me, it is I am good with pragmatic advice. She confided her anxiety to me. I told her she was 100% justified. I helped her find a great boutique hotel for the middle part of the trip. I suggested she simply explain to her hosts that she travel points that were expiring. She felt relieved and happy.

Then she decided that a hotel for the first leg would be best, so she jumped on the internet and booked a great, mainstream hotel for the first spot. That’s where things went sideways for me.

She was on Trivago prowling around and my suggestion for Stop #2 popped up. She clicked on it and was horrified. Trivago identified my hotel as an LGBT, clothing optional hotel. Now, she didn’t give a rat’s ass about the LGBT part, but the prospect of a clothing optional hotel with rooftop terrace was not part of her dream vacation.

She called me into her office. “Shut the door. We need to talk”. I’m still riding high from yesterday’s glowing review. “What’s up?” She fills me in and I am dumbstruck.

“Hold on”, I say. “We both read reviews. Heterosexual couples reviewed this place and loved it. That doesn’t make sense. We need to call them.” She had their website up on her computer and they describe themselves as “family friendly”. I tell her that no clothing optional hotel would also call itself family friendly.

We call them. She cracks me up. I am to do the talking on the speaker phone. The front desk answers and I use my favorite line when something doesn’t jive with me. “I’m confused…” and I explain that I’m about to book but see conflicting information. The front desk explains that the hotel sold two years ago and they have completely re-branded. I clarify, “No more clothing optional areas?” No.

My boss and I were rolling on the floor in hysterics after the call. The pictures we were painting of old, wrinkled, nekkid men had us in stitches. Crisis averted, but that was a close call.

No wonder the admin is jealous…this is one story that will not be repeated in the office…

Women, Geez

Part of the reason I blog is so I can ruminate, reflect, research and generally over-think what’s going on in my life and in my head.  I have been trying to figure out my next steps with my minor office politics situation because I really don’t want a political situation.  Been there, done that and hate it.

Years ago I had listened to a woman speaker talking about how women treat other women in the workplace.  She was talking about how less senior/low-ranked women will oftentimes try to level things with a more senior woman.  That they subconsciously do not accept the authority or hierarchical status of the senior woman.

If I am not explaining this well, let me give you a personal example.  My former housekeeper.  I would come home from work and if she was still working, she would tell me what work I needed to do in my home.  She would comment on my leisure if I was sitting on the patio with my feet up while she wrapped up her work.  She was just trying to keep both us working women equal even though our relationship was hierarchical.  My daughter faces this all the time in the medical world as a surgeon.

The Atlantic had an article that hit upon what I had experienced last week:

Even levelheaded, feminist women can exhibit elements of queen-bee behavior at times, and they don’t have to be in senior positions. The biggest issue I heard about is what’s known as “competitive threat,” which is when a woman fears that a female newcomer will outshine her. She might try to undermine her rival preemptively—as happened to one woman I interviewed, whose work friend spread rumors that she was promiscuous and unqualified. Or she might slam her rival with demeaning comments, as has happened to seven in 10 respondents to a 2016 survey of women working in the tech industry. “I had two female colleagues who suggested I try to look ‘less pretty’ to be taken more seriously,” a respondent wrote. “One suggested a breast reduction.”

I have been very lucky that although my admin sees me as a competitive threat, she has not spread ugly rumors about me….that I know about.  Then the article used an interesting term “system justification”

Rudman found that some women’s disparagement of other women can be explained by what’s called “system justification,” a psychological concept in which long-oppressed groups, struggling to make sense of an unfair world, internalize negative stereotypes. Women simply don’t have the same status in American life that men do. So when people think, Who do I want to work with?, they subconsciously leap to the default, the historically revered—the man. Some women look around, see few women running things, and assume that there must be something wrong with women themselves.

But it was another article on the Workology website that really spelled out what I was looking for:

Women are wired for close friendship in which two people are equals and share intimate secrets. Businesses tend to be hierarchical, and workplace relationships are what Pat Heim calls “friendly.” Managers demonstrate “executive distance” in their relationships with subordinates. This kind of relationship between a “lower level” and “higher level” woman can disappoint (perhaps unconscious) expectations for close relationships. A woman may feel rejected by the senior woman. She may take it personally and dislike the senior woman.

What is interesting with the quote above is that I strive to remember this with my boss.  We are chatty in a social way, but I never forget that she is my boss.  I understand that our relationship is completely work-based and will never have a social component.  My boss, probably through the School of Hard Knocks, does not socialize with coworkers. She is my boss and I keep to our hierarchical relationship.

Fortunately the article didn’t leave me hanging and went on to provide a viable solution with my admin situation:

Transparency can also help resolve some of these issues. If you recognize passive-aggressive behavior (or perceive it), confronting the specific behavior before it gets worse can be helpful. One way I’ve found to successfully handle this without conflict is to rely on your sense of humor and understand your own work style. For example, you can say to your boss or coworker, “I’m not sensitive to criticism…in fact, I welcome and appreciate it. If I don’t hear from you, I assume I’m doing a fantastic job!”

For the drama queen in the office, ignoring the behavior can often exacerbate it. I’ve seen successful women leaders nip this in the bud by getting all parties in one room and putting all cards on the table. Backstabbing can’t survive in an open arena, so talking negatively about each other behind the other’s back is nearly impossible (at least as a tactic) in an open, collaborative work environment.

I may end up sharing the Workology article with my boss.  I haven’t decided yet.  But this thing has now been identified and I better understand what is going on.  Now let’s see if the admin has enough self-realization to look in the mirror.  In the meantime, just look for me on the high road…

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Photo by DISRUPTIVO on Unsplash

Gobsmacked

Have you ever had the phenomenon of female co-workers undermining you with passive aggressive BS? I was just gobsmacked last week and have spent a couple of days digesting and analyzing the information provided to me by my boss (also a woman – this will be relevant).

First, let me say that I am not in trouble and my boss was giving me a heads up. I appreciate the heads up and we spoke very candidly.

What happened? The first thing was I attended a company event that apparently was only for one particular department and their clients. They had over 200 people for a breakfast thing. I had asked my department admin if I could go and if I could invite a few folks. She said sure. She has been organizing the logistics of this particular event for many years, so I thought I was good to go. I attended with the prior knowledge of my boss (not her department) and apparently created a slight stir afterwards.

I was so embarrassed. I immediately apologized and asked my boss if this put her in a tight spot. It didn’t. I told her it wouldn’t happen again.  Now I am thinking that my admin simply was giving me lots of rope so I would hang myself.  Gee, thanks.

This led to my boss’ next comment, “people are noticing when you are out of the office”. Hmm, that’s interesting. I asked for a bit more information and explained that I was never out of the office without her PRIOR knowledge and that my public calendar was very clear about what I was doing when I wasn’t in the office. We talked about that and the fact that people simply do not understand what I do and how there are times that my work takes me out of the office. She was fine with it all. She had no complaints or requests that I stop what I am doing. She simply wanted to let me know that I am being watched.

Then the really interesting conversation started. The same admin that had given me enough rope and no warning so I hung myself at the breakfast seminar apparently spent most of her review time complaining about me. My boss asked her if she had spoken to me and the answer was “no”. She asked if I was disrespectful or difficult to work with, “no”. Actually, the admin admitted, she really likes me and thinks I am a really nice person to work with. WTF?

Her specific complaints include that I listen to her calls. Uh, no, I try to be very courteous and that’s what she does. Mr, Freud, can we say, “projection”. She also was concerned that I am trying to interfere with her work by getting involved. OK, occasionally because I am new and I do have suggestions on new approaches, but just tell me “no”. I am still trying to find my lane on this new work road. Basically, she didn’t have anything concrete or concrete enough for my boss to step in. On reflection, it really just seems like the admin is jealous and feels threatened.

My boss was in a very good mood and seemed to be telling me out of a place of concern for me rather than trying to correct any of my behaviors. She actually told the admin that I am much like the boss and that the best way to course-correct me is to tell me directly. We laughed about it because I said this is one of my biggest problems “I don’t do subtle”. However, based on this situation I am going to have to do a better job because I am sitting among some passive-aggressive ladies.

As my boss and I parsed this out, I jokingly said that it sounded like a kid jealous that her sibling was getting more attention from mom. “EXACTLY!” my boss exclaimed. She said that the admin ended their time by complaining that the boss spends too much time with me and not enough with her.

Like I said earlier, I was gobsmacked. I thought I had made positive inroads with this admin. I thought we were on the same team and all was well. I thought perhaps I had found an ally in this workplace. Nope, I was wrong. Naive Maggie.

I don’t think the admin is doing this from a place of hatred towards me, but one of jealousy. I recognize that the admin had wanted my job even though she doesn’t have the expertise I have. I am an expert in a very specific field and I am the only one in the company with my expertise. Which is another reason why so many people look at me with a raised eyebrow. What do I do? How do I do this? My boss knows and she really likes my work. She reports to the CEO and he is happy with my results and that is all that matters for now.

One thing this has taught me. Stay in my lane. Although I want to contribute in other ways to the company’s success, this cannot be. I need to stay in my lane and focus on the tasks they hired me to do.

I asked my boss several times if there was anything I should or should not be doing. She said no. She was fine with me. She enjoys my company and thinks I am doing great work. One thing for sure is that I have always seen my boss as that –my boss. I keep our relationship hierarchical. We will find out more this week when my formal review occurs, but for now, I simply have to take her words at face value.

I did some thinking and research on my situation, so be sure to read my next post about my ruminations on this situation.

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Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

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