January 23, 2017

The evolution of the job interview?

My last two job interviews have taken place in coffee houses, in casual dress and with not an HR person in sight.  One opportunity was found on Craigslist and the other through word of mouth.  Is this the evolution of job search and interviews?

To be clear these are interviews for positions in small, locally owned companies and are by no means for any C level positions.  None the less, they are jobs that require skills and a fairly high level of trust on the employers part.

I’m pretty sure neither employer has ever checked my references.  When I asked them, one of my interviewers said.  “No, you look like a pretty normal person.”   Score one for looking normal.

I’m not sure if this is indicative of how the job market is changing or of it simply the opportunities that I am finding attractive.  I think that employers are looking for ways to cut some costs today and perhaps attract people like me who like a more laid back work style.

The Best Thing in Life is that it totally works for me.

 

 

 

January 9, 2017

We come into this world woefully unqualified for what life has to throw at us. It’s not our fault. It’s just the way it happens.

But never have I felt so ridiculously unqualified as I have as a parent.

People have been doing this for how many years? And yet……nobody has put together a comprehensive ” how to” guide. Yes, many have written self help books on parenting and I have read them all (mostly) but none of them have really resonated with me as being authentic.

I feel like at this point in my life I should have enough life experience to be able to handle this. So how do I take my experiences and the knowledge that I have gained from them and pass it on to my kids in a relevant manner?

This is not going to be a post with a smart, well written, Best Things in Life ending. This is a real question.

How do I take my life experiences and pass them on to my kids in a meaningful, educational way that will benefit them?  Without driving them crazy.

January 26, 2017

At the age of fifty two I by no means believe that I am invincible. I was, however, a bit shocked when I headed out for my regular run today and had to stop one mile in because I was in excruciating pain.

Never in my thirty years of running have I limped home from a run.

After my run two days ago my right hip started to give me some trouble. By trouble I mean stiffness, pain and general acheiness. Nothing I couldn’t handle. Nothing I hadn’t felt before. The next day was better and I thought I was in the clear.

How then, could today have gone so wrong?

Could it be that thirty years of pounding the pavement have finally caught up with me? No, I tell myself, that just can’t be true. I’ll stretch, roll on it, I’ll rest….I’ll hope.

The Best Thing in Life is hope…..because right now that’s all I got.

January 16, 2017

Did you ever look through a kaleidoscope when you were a kid? The colors and shapes moving and changing as you turned the blue plastic tube? Pretty right?

Yes, when you are a kid it can be very entertaining.

But what about when you close your eyes as an adult and that’s what you see.

Without a blue plastic tube.

Lately I have felt like that when I’ve closed my eyes? Like pieces of my life are moving and changing but somebody else is turning the tube. It out of my control. It’s not pretty and it’s not fun. It’s scary.

I’m a list person. A schedule person. A calendar person. Plans are what I live for and thrive on. Uncertainty and change are…….unknowns.

But that is what my life is right now and I am going to have to find a way to stop the colors and shapes from distracting me. I need to find a way to make them work for me. A way to make best of them.

Oh to be a kid again.

The Upside of Technology

technology

Technology is an amazing thing.  It’s a bit ridiculous really, when you think about how far we have come in the past ten to twenty years.  We’ve gone from huge main frames to pcs to laptops to smart phones to iPads to Google Glasses in what feels like the blink of an eye.  Technology has truly changed the way we live our lives.

It does, however, sometimes get a bad rap.

For example, many feel that the increase in screen time has numbed the minds of our young.  I read an article recently comparing screen time to heroin for young children.  I personally believe that if a balance can be found with physical activity and a creative outlet, that it can’t hurt.  Don’t get me wrong, it can suck our little ones in and hold on tight if not managed properly, pulling them into a massive black hole.

Then there is the issue of distracted driving.  Not an problem until a few years ago, but now a growing concern.  The number of fatalities from distracted driving has now surpassed that of impaired driving in Canada.  Yet people still do it. I see it every single day.  Young, old, male and female.  And I know they now better because when they see me glaring at them in their cars at the stop light, they quickly put their phones away.  Ya, I do that.

But today I saw the undeniable upside of technology.  I arranged for my 83 year old mother to Skype with her twin brother who lives in England.  Neither my mom or my uncle have been able to fly for a number of years and as such have not seen each other in a long time.  Being twins they have always had a close relationship and despite regular phone calls my mom felt a bit disconnected from him.

So a Skype call was arranged.  In my mom’s eyes I performed a miracle, but in all honesty all it took was a few emails and the installation of a new app on my iPad.

The looks on their faces as they realized that they could see each another and talk to each other while sitting in their kitchens was beyond priceless.

“Your face looks fatter.”  My mom said not so tactfully.

“You’ve lost weight.  You look more like our mother now.”  He replied.

They talked about my uncles new great grandson and how his wife was doing in the facility she now lived in.  Nothing earth shattering, but you could see, and hear, that they were beyond thrilled to be on the call.  I think my mom wanted to reach out and touch the screen a few times just to make sure that it was real.  That it really was her brother on the screen and not just a mirage.

She kept saying.  “I can’t believe I can see you so clearly.”

Roughly five thousand miles away and eight hours time difference, but to them, they might as well have been in the same room. Today I saw how technology could simply make my mom’s day.  That is The Best Thing in Life and we should never take it for granted.

 

To Sleep or…….

zzz's

Lately I’ve had a bit of a love hate relationship with sleep.

If I knew that each night I could snuggle in under my duvet and fall into a deep restful sleep I would love it.  But I can’t.  So I hate it.

Sleep is such an amazing thing.  It’s healing and rejuvenating and just plain enjoyable.  Beautiful really.  And, in theory, it’s dead easy.

Lie down.  Close eyes.  Sleep.  Done.  Not always.

So why is that each night I lay down, tired out from a busy day, close my eyes and….nothing?  I toss and turn searching for the ultimate position that will send me of to lala land.  Wrapping the covers around me tightly like a baby works sometimes.  When it doesn’t, I try lying on my back.  Then my left side.  Then my right side.  Then in a desperate attempt I flop onto my stomach.  Ughh.

not sleeping

It seem like once I am in bed the world’s problems descend with a thud onto my pillow.  Along with my nine pound cat.  (but that’s a story for a different day)  All the things that have been pushed back into the corners of my mind during the day, creep out of the darkness and start circling.  Taking turns bombarding me with issues that can’t be solved.  And just when one is done pecking my brain, another swoops in to takes a turn at keeping me awake.

Then there’s the whole sweating thing.  It goes like this.

Wake up drenched in sweat.

Throw covers off.

Wait approximately thirty seconds.

Start shivering.

Pull covers back over head and attempt to get back to sleep.

Every freakin night.

I know I’m not the only one but really?  We can’t find a way to stop this?

So if sleeping sucks so much for me right now, why do it?  Maybe I should just make the best of a bad situation.  Most adults sleep 8 – 9 hours a night.  Think of all the things things that I could do with that time instead of tossing and turning and thinking and sweating.

  • Eight loads of laundry.  Washed, dried and folded.
  • Run a long way.  Depending on how strong I’m feeling and if I’m running on the street or the trail I’d guess somewhere between 30 to 40 km.
  • Read a book.  A whole book.  Without interruptions.
  • Bake.  Cookies, squares, a cake, healthy granola bars.  Whatever Pinterest can throw at me.  And I would nail it.
  • Sort all of my digital pictures and finally, once and for all, make books out of them.
  • Spend time with my mom.  Although she would probably be sleeping so that might not work out so well.
  • Clean out the garage.  No, like totally clean it out.  Everything.
  • Watch House of Cards and re-wind it every time I don’t understand what they said or what the political implications are.
  • Write a blog and post it in the middle of the night.

What would you do with an extra few hours a day?

The Best Thing in Life is to sleep.  But if you can’t, there are endless possibilities.

TBT – Motorcycle

motorcycle

Yup, that’s me.  Don’t believe me?  Can’t say that I blame you.  It’s a far cry from the slightly greying, conservative bob cut that I am currently sporting.  My wardrobe now is a tad more conservative too.  Jeans, white crew neck tshirt and vans are more my speed these days.

I think this picture was taken in the mid ’90s which would put me at about 30 years old.  I’m basing that on the jacket I’m wearing and the hairstyle I’m sporting.  Definitely pre-kids.

So why did I pick this picture for Throw Back Thursday?  I’m not sure.  Could I be missing some “wild” in my life?  Not really.  Do I have a deep seeded desire to own a hog?  Definitely not.  It’s more likely that I am just wishing I could still hop onto a motorcycle without bones creaking and muscles spasming.

The picture was taken outside of a restaurant on Granville Island in Vancouver.  I can’t remember the event but there were a bunch of us out for dinner.  If any of my friends are reading this and remember this night please refresh my memory.  Right, that’s another thing I’m starting to miss.  The ability to recall events, names and faces.

Look, I’m not “old” but I’m not a spring chicken either.

This picture is just a little reminder for me that The Best Things in Life are memories caught on film to be looked at years later.

 

 

Conundrum

kids shoes

I have two kids. My son is nineteen and my daughter is eight. Yes, you counted right, that’s an eleven year gap.  No, it was not a happy mistake.  Early in our marriage my husband and I made a decision not to have any more kids.  But life changes and feelings change and we both knew our family wasn’t quite complete yet.

More often than not when I tell people about the age difference they say,  “Wow, really? That’s quite a gap. Is it difficult?”

It actually hasn’t been all that difficult.  My son was pretty close to being self sufficient by the time my daughter was born.  Well, as self sufficient as an eleven year old can be.  The first couple of years were a bit challenging but once he was in high school things got easier.  The hardest single thing has been planning vacations.  How many things do teenagers and toddlers both want to do?  Not very many.

But for me, the most problematic thing is that it creates a bit of a time warp.

time warp

The friends I made when my son was little are still very much in my life.  Over the years we’ve been through so many things with our now young adults.  Without activities to bring us together our connections are now more about us, than our kids.  Many of these friends are now starting to think about retiring.  Not next year, but maybe in the next five or ten years?

Their kids are in university or working and some are already empty nesters if their kids have chosen to go to school back east or in the US.  No more early morning soccer practices, no need for babysitters, no late night pick ups from parties.  They have more free time and less day to day responsibility.  They can travel or even take up a hobby.  They have moved into the next stage or their lives and it’s pretty sweet.

My daughter is eight and the friends that I have made in these past few years are who I spend most of my time with.  Hanging out at the dance studio (for hours), commiserating over school yard politics at the park or escaping to the pub occasionally after bed time.

These friends are still in the small children stage of life and considerable work is still involved on a daily basis.  Some are new home owners or starting new businesses with their future stretching out ahead of them.  Job opportunities and career changes are still top of mind options.  The concept of retiring is a distant goal. Most are still planning their fortieth birthdays.  (My fortieth was…..a while ago).

The fact is I feel a bit torn?  No, that’s not right.  I think confused would be a better word for it.  In some ways it is contributing to my ambiguity on Finding my Thing.

Half of me feels should I SHOULD be getting ready for the next next chapter of my life.  Investing, getting my shit together.  You know, getting organized for getting older.  And enjoying the fruit of many years of parental labour.  The other half of me feels like I’m still a Spring chicken whose got loads of time to do anything BUT worry about RRSPs.

To be honest, I’m  not sure what The Best Thing in Life is about this conundrum.  Maybe it’s simply the fact that I got to use the word conundrum.

Julia

cala lillies

There’s a lady that lives down the street from us.  Her name is Julia.

Julia is from Europe and I’m guessing she is in her late 80s maybe even early 90s.  She has the best garden in the area.  I have serious flower envy of her Cala lilies.  Every year they bloom like crazy in her garden on the corner of Apex and Garibaldi.

Occasionally I see her daughter visiting her, but typically it’s just her and her husband working in the garden or enjoying the sun and a cup of coffee on the front porch.

Every Sunday I see her walking to the Catholic Church up the street.  Plain black dress, kitten heels and a black shawl.  The dress is a bit dated but she carries herself so well that it still looks stylish.  And seriously, who wears kitten heels in their eighties?  And walks to church?

In my mind I have imaged that she is some glamorous European movie star that has exiled herself to North Vancouver.  Like Greta Grabo.

One day last summer I was driving my daughter and a friend to dance.  As we passed Julia’s house I noticed that she was, as usual, working in her garden.  All of a sudden my daughter’s  friend screams  “there’s a bear in that ladies garage”.  I asked her if she was sure and quickly pulled a u-turn to take a look.  Sure enough. A large black bear was sitting in the middle of her garage chowing down on the contents of her overturned garbage can.  I stopped the car and jumped out to warn Julia.  The conversation went something like this.

“Julia there’s a bear in your garage.”

“What?”  (she’s a little hard of hearing)

“There’s a BEAR in your garage.”

“No there isn’t.”

“Yes there is.”

“Where?”

“In your garage.”

Still shaking her head, she walked around the side of the house.  Two seconds later she’s walking back towards me.

“There’s a bear in my garage.”

“Yes Julia, I know.”

She ran around to the side of the house and proceeded to grab a shovel and chase the bear down the street.  Ten minutes later she was back out tending to her flowers again.  Smiling and happy.  Not a care in the world.

Today I drove past Julia’s house and she was out power washing the driveway.  I thought for a moment that it was her husband since she was wearing a plaid jacket and black toque.  But no, it was her.  It made me think.  What will I be doing when I’m that age?  Will I be as active, stylish and happy as Julia?

God I hope so.

The Best Thing in Life is having a movie star down the street to be my role model.

The Wallet

wallet

I bought this wallet over twenty years ago.  I had just started my first real job and on my way home from my first day I stopped at a mall downtown.  There was a little stationery/gift store there called Perks.  I can’t remember why I bought a wallet.  I think, maybe, I just felt really good about what was happening in my life and wanted to get myself a little present.

This wallet has been with me ever since.  We have been through a lot together.

It was with me on the day that I was eight months pregnant and my car was totaled on the Second Narrows Bridge.  It got left in the console when the ambulance came to take me to the hospital.  It was still there five days later when I went to look at what was left of my car at the wreckers.  A month later I had it with me when I checked into the hospital and gave birth to my son.

It was with me on the bus trip to Seattle when I met my current husband.  I used it at Nordstrom that day to buy a great pair of shoes and later at FX McCrorys for drinks.  I remember pulling it out to buy a beer at the basketball game that night and being told to put it away.  Was he trying to get me drunk?

It hasn’t always been with me.  I’ve lost it more times than I can count.  The most common culprit is leaving it in the shopping cart at the grocery store.  In earlier years it was usually a bar or restaurant.  I seem to remember leaving it sitting in a park bench once while in a post natal haze.  Or was it post divorce haze?

What’s in my wallet?  Surprisingly, thirty dollars.  I rarely cash cash anymore but today I do.  The requisite credit cards, debit cards,  health care cards and drivers license.  A Starbucks card that I don’t use anymore.  My library card number written on a slip of paper sinD&E in Whistlerce I lost my card and can’t be bothered to get a new one.

Stamps.  A picture I took of my husband and son in Whistler years ago.  A drawing my son did when he was seven.  Oh and a Pinkberry frequent buyer card. Everett Face 2

 

 

Lastly, a small piece of paper with this quote written on it.

“There are three Cs in life.  Choice, Chance and Change.  You must make a Choice to take a Chance or your life will never Change.”

The stitching on the ends of the wallet is a bit frayed but the leather is strangely unmarked and the insides are still in great shape.

I guess in a way I am a bit like this wallet.  Pretty well made.  Seen some good times and some bad.  Sometimes full and sometimes empty.  Perhaps a little dated.  Or should I say classic?  Yet still holding it all together.

Over the years I have thought about making a change.  But I always ended up staying with my tried and true friend.  I’m loyal that way.

The Best Thing in Life is a really good wallet.