No Schedules Allowed

It’s finally Friday night and I’m so happy that the weekend is finally here. So what if the weather is supposed to be crappy weather all weekend? So what if it’s probably going to be spent doing laundry? Or, worse, work?

All I know is that I’m not going to be held to a specific schedule; not going to be pulled into a last-minute meeting. Not going to have to deal with a constant barrage of emails and IM’s. And even though there is work to be done, the fact that I’m going to be able to work at my own pace just totally makes the whole weekend!

So this post is going to be short tonite; no fluffy stories or reflections about a child-free life. Tonite is all about keeping up with my Daily Lenten promise.

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Today’s Good Deed: While walking the mutt-ster this morning, I managed to find a dollar bill on the sidewalk. After looking all around me to see if there was anybody in the vicinity that might have lost the money, I picked up the dollar and put it in my pocket. And no … the good deed wasn’t that I returned the dollar to the person who lost it. I actually made it a point to give it to my co-worker who, every work day, passes the same hungry homeless man on the way to her commuter train station. I figured that he could use the dollar more than I could.

Today’s Gratitude: Can I just say one word? Friday. 🙂

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One more thing … couldn’t resist putting a photo of this up here. Thought this was one of the coolest concepts I’ve seen in quite awhile; perfect for the annual dyeing of the Chicago River for St. Patty’s Day. Click on the picture to find out more about the Ad Agency behind the concept.

Out of My Shell

Nice Sunny Chicago Day ... Last Summer!

It’s gorgeous outside. And I know this, despite being locked up under artificial lights since 8:30 this morning, because I’ve been unchained from my desk for a lunch time break. I couldn’t let the beautiful day go by without soaking up some of that sun.

I’m getting a head start on today’s post only because I will be attending my second Meetup for the week; another one about Bloggers in the Chicago area. This apparently is one of the bigger groups (300+ members), so I’m a little hesitant to see how personal or unpersonal this event will be.

In any case, I suppose it’s a good thing to get out there in this city. After a over a year of being here, I need to find a balance between work and play. And seeing that this was one of my problems back in Detroit, I figure it best be something I correct now.

It’s amazing how the older we get, the harder it is to step outside of our shells. Somedays I’m still amazed how I managed to pick up and leave the only city I’ve ever known and start over. And having a job waiting for me was definitely a blessing in disguise; because, if anything, at least that provided me with the ability to interact with people and relate to them on some common ground (the job, our backgrounds as Case Managers, etc).

This hasn’t been the same for Hubby. While he continued to have free-lance jobs and interact with people either online or on the phone, there wasn’t much face-to-face interaction in his day. (It probably was more face-to-laptop screen or ear-to-iPhone interaction more than anything.) While I encouraged him to work outside of our apartment where there were more chances of human contact, somedays he was too busy to leave his home-office. And somedays, he preferred only furbaby interaction instead.

Either way, it’s a good thing that he discovered Meetup.com. It’s a site that allows people to search for communities and events by interest; narrowing it down to a specific location. And because Chicago is a rather big city, there happens to be more groups/communities available that suit his interests. So for the past (almost) three months now, he’s been attending various events and beginning to build his network.

Now is the time for me to start doing this. And seeing that my interests lately have been more towards writing more and blogging, it makes sense to go to this Meetup tonite. I have no idea where this blog will take me, but I truly hope that I can at least learn some tips of the trade in trying to get my blog out there and read more often.

Wish me luck!!

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Whew … 17 more days and counting until my Lenten journey is over! Go me!!

Good Deed Du Jour: Today we had another inservice at work for the entire staff. Unfortunately, the majority of my in-house staff wanted to go together; which I couldn’t allow because our phones needed to be covered for potential incoming live calls from our Customer Service area. But since two staff members left behind had really expressed interest over going to this topic in the past, I told them I’d cover for their phones and get our telecommuters to cover the phones as well. Both of them were very grateful!

Gratitude Du Jour: Thank goodness for warm sunny days! Nothing like a little bit of sunshine to give us a taste of Spring … which officially begins on the 21st! Yay!!

Triple the Thanks

“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world; someone to love, something to do, and something to be hopeful for.”  — Tom Bodett

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Happy St. Paddy’s Day to all you Laddies and Lassies … Well what’s left of it anyway.

Oh yeah, a Detroit Original ... *finally* in Chicago!

But more important (at least to me), Happy Blog O’Versary to me!!

Yeah, I’m lame; but I just had to add a bit o’ Irish to it, seeing as I started this blog three years ago to the day.

After my first Meetup last night, I was so exhausted. Not that going to the event was so stressful … It’s just that it had been a reaaallly long day, and the last thing I felt like doing was writing a blog entry. Yet I persisted. After all, I made that lofty promise both here and with NaBloPoMo. (D*mn you, the overachiever in me!)

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This week I’ve been trying to have One-on-One meetings with my staff. It’s something that I’ve learned from my previous stint as a supervisor that has proven to beneficial with getting to understand my team.  While meetings are a great way for a message to be delivered in a manner where everyone hears it at the same time, One-on-One meetings provide a person to be heard and recognized individually. And since many days I’m too busy running from meetings to meetings of my own instead of being readily available to them, I’ve made it a point to allot a block of time on my schedule just to spend quality mentoring time together.

On the drive to the West Loop yesterday.

The thing is, I now have a staff of 12 people; 10 of them that are Nurse Case Managers (CM). With six CMs, carrying out One-on-One’s are quite a chore. Adding the additional four new CMs to the list? Well, it’s simply exhausting … even if I broke them up over the past three days. But the upswing to them is that I’ve really gotten to know these four new hires.

Two of the new CMs are younger in age** in comparison to the rest of my staff. Not that the rest of my staff are years and years older than them. But with these young newbies come a fresher, more enthusiastic attitude than the more established CMs.

Then there’s the older, more experienced new hire. She has years of knowledge in Case Management and resources up the wazoo. After spending time with her today, I realize that she is definitely one (of the very few) staff members than can understand the intellect behind some of the business decisions in our department.*** And, trust me … I truly appreciate that!

Anyway, this older new hire is currently going through Empty Nest syndrome. With her only daughter now in college and no spouse in the picture, she confessed that she had been going through a difficult time. For the past 18-plus years, her life was centered on her child’s life, and now she’s not exactly sure what her next step will be.

We stumbled on THIS while trying to find parking ...

Reflecting on that conversation had me contemplating about my struggles with my infertility “next steps.” For so long, my life was centered on getting pregnant and starting our family. After the failed IVF attempt, Hubby & I went on a long sabbatical on actively TTC (trying to conceive) to decide what our next step would be. Should we try another round of IVF? Or should we look at adoption? And even if we finally came to a decision, could we even afford either option? But after a multi-year sabbatical, entwined with several pregnancies in our families alone, we finally decided to go down the Childfree Living path.

While doing this, I realized that “Empty Nesting” is similar to an infertile who finally sets free that dream of having a family. Suddenly there’s no purpose in life and there’s a struggle to find out what to do next. And the childless couple as well as the Empty Nester both share the same thought process; both begin to think, “Our lives no longer revolve around a child anymore.”

It’s just that an infertile’s “child” is merely a dream.

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One last bit about my Blog O’Versary … Thank you for all those readers and commenters out there; both faithful and new. Knowing that my voice is heard in some manner or another means that I am leaving a legacy behind … even if it’s a “virtual” legacy.

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We were told it's a large toy storage facility!

Oops. Almost forgot about my Daily Lenten practice. But really, this shouldn’t be too hard today.

Daily Good Deed: I think that today, my daily good deed happens to be setting the time aside to spend with my staff. As much as these One-on-One meetings take up a big chunk of my schedule when I could spend it working on those projects and reports I’ve been assigned to, I believe that this is one of those value-added tasks that allow me to see the bigger picture of my staff.

Daily Gratitude: It’s all about you readers today. Again … thanks for your love and support.

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** Which sometimes makes me feel so old as their supervisor … especially since I’ve always been the youngest CM/Superivsor on the block. And here I am hiring younger staff than me … eesh!

*** Here’s an example of what I mean. I know that most people are resistant to change, and I expect that. When enhancing and streamlining a piece of our established CM process, most of my established CMs will voice concerns that we’re adding an “extra” piece of work for us to do. While they may see it as non-value added step (despite given a logical explanation), this older CM actually sees it as another piece of the puzzle to a) understand the member and b) a way to “justify” our jobs.

Amateur Night

My Dad tries to "Poll Dance" in Vegas on the shuttle ... It's his Amateur Night! LOL!

How is it that I managed to attend my first Meetup group event on the eve of my blogoversary? And how perfect that I joined a group called Chicago Blogs?

Yes, Hubby finally managed to drag me (although not kicking and screaming) to one of his Meetup events. Which, seeing that it just happens to be about blogging, seems perfect as a Meetup Virgin.

WOW, did I learn quite a bit about the “geekier” side of blogging! From SEOs (a term I just learned tonight) to marketing my blog in various manners … I feel as if I’m quite behind on my learning curve for blogging. But that’s okay. Because that’s what this group is about; which is to learn from each other and share various experiences.

Seeing that I had never been to a Meetup event before, I was initially quite nervous. Although I’m the “outgoing” one between Hubby & I, there are still times that I can be quite shy. But from the moment Hubby & I arrived, we both felt quite comfortable.

So thank you, Marty, for being such a gracious host. And seriously, it was incredible to meet such a great group of people with various experiences in the blogoverse. Looking forward to picking your brain for more ideas … especially now that I finally have a registered domain!!

And now comes the time-consuming part (mostly on Hubby’s end) of designing and developing my blog …

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Well … seeing that it’s the eve of St. Patrick’s day, might as well go for an Irish version of my Lenten Activities:

Dea-Gníomhas an Lae: Today’s good deed was all about encouragement. Not only was it about encouragement to some of the new folk I met tonight; especially those that have just entered into the world of blogging … but it was also about providing feedback and confidence to all of my employees as we met one-on-one today.

Bhuíochas ar an Lae: I am grateful for the opportunity to meet new people. Being new in a city is not necessarily a bad thing … it’s just the older I get, the harder it is to meet other people outside of work and outside of my profession. So being able to meet new people and find common interests? Yeah … that’s just the whip cream on top of the banana split!

Okay all, that’s it. I’m barely keeping my eyes open at this time … Good night!

Thrown off the Rhythm

Okay, I tried to be optimistic about this whole Daylight Savings Time / Spring Forward thing, but losing an hour of sleep is definitely for the birds.

And I do mean that literally … as in those d*mn birds woke me up extra “early” this morning with all their chirping.

Our Medicare-Eligible (not really) Rain

It certainly didn’t help that I was up late the night before finishing up the previous long-winded post. Nor that I absolutely hated waking up in the dark (again) this morning.

Yes, this time change completely disrupted my usual morning routine. It’s a routine that involves getting ready for work while simultaneously spending time with my furchildren.

First up is Rain, our Senior Citizen cat. She usually follows me into the shower and stays with me until I’m squeaky clean and robed. Then she meows incessantly until I pick her up and take her to our couch where I smother her by scratching her behind her ears and under her chin. That is until she gets sick of me smothering and jumps off of my lap.

Next up is Kozzy. After I’m all dressed for work, I wake Hubby to let him know I’m taking our 14-year old “puppy” for her morning walk. The time it takes me to walk Kozzy down the street and around the block apparently is enough time for Hubby to get ready to take me to work.

Kozzy-girl trying to steal the spotlight from Yami

Anyway … when Kozzy and I go on our morning walk, it’s usually about her having to do her “business.” After she’s done, I take her to an area where she can sniff away to her little heart’s content. And then it’s back to the apartment.

Finally, there’s Yami. She is definitely a silly one. She’s the kitty who wants to be cuddled but doesn’t want to be cuddled; if you get my drift. In other words, she’ll come up to me and weave between my legs as if to say, “Pick me up! Pick me up!” But then she runs away the minute I bend down to pick her up. So every morning, I have to sit down in the chair next to her favorite “box” so that I can pet her while she props her front paws up on my knee.

After finishing that morning routine, Hubby & I head out the door; but not before reassuring our anxiety-prone Kozzy that we will return … well at least Hubby will sooner than me.

This morning, my poor pets felt the effects of losing an hour as well. Rain was so surprised that I was up “so early” that she wouldn’t even follow me into the bathroom. And Yami just wouldn’t hop into her box so that I could pet her. But the pet most affected by the time change was our poor Kozzy.

Yami in her specially "designed" box

Typically Kozzy is patiently waiting for me to put her collar on so we could go for her walk. But this morning? Well, I walked into her “room” to find her curled up asleep on her rug. She was obviously in a deep sleep, because she didn’t even move a muscle as I approached her. In fact, I had to pet her a few times on her head and behind her ears before she would even lift up her head. And once she did, she looked at me as if to say, “Seriously? It’s way too early. Let’s go back to sleep!” But after a little more coaxing, she finally stood up and stretched.

It’s just funny to know that my furbabies are also affected by the time change. While I know this discombobulated feeling is only temporary … and that the reason for “springing forward” is to make the days longer, I just want to get back to a regular rhythm; return back to my previously scheduled programming.

And quite honestly, I’m just waiting for the sun to actually come out here in Chicago. Because maybe then it’ll feel like we’re actually “saving” daylight!

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Let’s see … what language should we use today for my Daily Lenten Duties? How about Dutch?

Goede daad van de Dag: Today’s Good Deed happened to be little things again. Informing a stranger that the parking ticket machine wasn’t working. Holding the door open for someone who happened to be pushing an elderly person in a wheelchair. But probably the best “Good Deed” was to actually return to work today, given my difficult week last week … <sigh>

Dankbaarheid van de Dag: I am truly grateful for the other supervisors that I work with on a daily basis. It’s just nice to know that, unlike other departments where there is no cohesion with their peers, we can all support each other without hesitation.

Anyway, that’s it for the night. I’m definitely going to turn in so I can catch a little more ZZZ’s than last night!