Monday Musings: never say never

I’m occasionally a fan of being overly dramatic. I have a particularly high tendency to say things like “Ugh! I’ll never {insert any totally plausible action here]!”  The expression never say never is designed for people like me. More often than not, I do exactly what I say I’ll supposedly never do.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m with you on this one Bieber.

Over the last few years alone, I have a lengthy list of never-do’s that have turned into my reality:

  • I’d never be interested in golf and I’d certainly never choose a round of golf over hiking
  • I’d never date someone in the suburbs (it’s true! my entire relationship right now is based on a major oversight on my part)
  • I’d never live anywhere but in the city centre
  • I’d never move to the Okanagan
  • I’d never quit my job without something else lined up
  • I’d never buy real estate when I could just rent
  • I’d never go back to working in a traditional, corporate environment
  • I’d never be willing to do the rush hour commute from the ‘burbs

See? I told you it was a long list. This is the danger of saying never. What I’ve realized for me is that “never” really means “not right now”. I could never (see? there’s that word again!) have predicted my circumstances would shift so dramatically over the last couple of years, and how much that would impact my priorities. Everything from my relationship to my injury to my career insights to the real estate market have caused major ripple effects.  Suddenly the things that used to be never’s seem not only perfectly logical but also overwhelmingly exciting.

There’s so many other never-do’s that I still live with, yet I’m considerably more cautious with them than I used to be. I cannot predict how my priorities and goals will continue to shift. What seems like  a never-do today may once again be the most compelling of choices a year or two from now. So while I may still utter the words from time to time, I’ll do so knowing that it’s pure drama and maybe, just maybe, I’ll do just that thing when the mood strikes me.

Monday Musings: Change, change and more change

Pull up a chair and let me tell you some of the big things on the horizon that I’ve subtly alluded to over the past couple of months but never really talked about. Behind the scenes, we’ve been quietly working away at some big-time moving and shaking. It’s been exciting, exhausting, stressful and, at times, utterly overwhelming.  But mostly it’s exciting.

We are moving! To the Okanagan! The heart of wine country (in Canada, at least)! Lakes! Rolling hillsides! Slower pace of life! Yes!!!!!

I don’t even know when or how it all started. At some point while I was still on my work hiatus, we got the crazy thought “what if we sell our house and move to the Okanagan?” It seemed like a pipe dream at the time, but slowly we started investigating the situation. On a wine weekend, we hopped into an open house smack dab in the heart of wine country. While that particularly property wasn’t the right fit for us, it was the small action that set us off on a path to full-blown can-we-actually-do-this research.

Now, not even two months later:

  • I’ve started a new job for which I had to negotiate a trial period of working in a different region.  The jury’s still out on whether it will actually work, but we’re going to give it a whirl.
  • We’ve staged, listed and sold our current house and have to be out October 1st.
  • We bought a new house that won’t be ready until February 2018, which means…
  • We’ve been on the hunt for a temporary rental to carry us between our move-out and move-in dates.
  • My partner in crime has resigned from his job and will wrap up work in two short weeks, at which point he’ll start looking for work in our new ‘hood.

There have been a lot of stressful weekends driving up to the Okanagan on a moment’s notice. There’s been a lot of last minute cleaning in preparation for showings (thankfully the real estate market is ridiculous here and our house sold lightening fast). There’ve been a lot of mid-day phone conversations about upgrades and offers and counter-offers. There’ve been flurries of emails to mortgage brokers, realtors, relatives, rental agents, and prospective employers. So yeah, we’ve had a lot of stuff on the go in a short period of time.

Chances are things won’t slow down much for the foreseeable future. While it’s tiring a lot of the time, and certainly gets in the way of consistently blogging, it all feels like the right move (pun intended) and I couldn’t be more excited for the future.  Change is rarely easy, especially when you combine multiple major changes all at one time, and yet sometimes it’s exactly what you need to align your life with your priorities.

We’ve wanted a number of things to shift in our life. We’ve wanted a slower pace. We’ve wanted to have a life that doesn’t revolve around stressful jobs that pay well but don’t necessarily hold personal meaning.  We’ve wanted to be closer to some of the things we love (golf, wine, new trails for me to explore, etc.). We’ve wanted to get as close to mortgage free as possible so that we have more time and need less work to do more of the things we love. We couldn’t envision any of that happening here in the Lower Mainland. While the move isn’t going to instantly satisfy all of these wants, it will get us considerably closer in the short term. In the long term, it creates the ideal conditions for a life we’ll both love.

So for now, even in the midst of the stresses and annoyances of moving (ugh, moving, am I right?) I am trying to remind myself of all the positives on the other side.  Bring on the change!

Mid-Week Tangent: how to ruin a perfectly good morning in five easy steps

1. Spill your entire travel mug of coffee all over your cloth gym bag containing your work clothes, and all over the hallway floor while trying to leave the house as quickly as possible.

2.  Drive 15 minutes towards the office before listening to a story on the radio about texting while driving, which triggers the realization that you forgot your phone at home, which also contains your license, credit cards and the access card for your office building.

3. When trying to turn around to retrieve your phone from home, sharply cut across two lanes of traffic to make the last exit before the toll bridge and then realize this is the one exit that doesn’t just loop right back onto the highway in the opposite direction.

4. Arrive home to realize that you also forgot your house keys inside so you have to ring the doorbell and knock like a crazy person, which only makes your boyfriend less likely to come to the door because you could actually be a crazy person.

5. Miss your morning workout entirely because now it’s too late to fit it in; shower, put on makeup, do your hair and get dressed in 10 minutes so you don’t arrive at work still in your gym clothes; and then proceed to sit in rush hour traffic because you are leaving 48 minutes later than usual.

* Yes, this happened to me today and, yes, I was about as pleasant as you can imagine after starting my day off on this foot. Is it Friday yet?

TWIR #68: work trips and tiredness and hotel gyms, oh my!

Before I get to anything, happy national junk food day! I heard about this on the radio this morning and wanted to jump for joy. I’m not normally one for these ridiculous “national [insert something random] day”s, but this is one I can get behind. I don’t need to justify eating extra ice cream, but it’s somehow still comforting to know it’s virtually an expectation today.

In other news, this was a week of two trips, a lot of tiredness and a really shitty hotel gym.  As with every week since I’ve started my new job, I can’t say my workouts were all that great, but I tried to keep consistent. I give myself an A for effort…and a C- for execution. Here we go!

Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: mini road triiiiiip! (i.e. a lot of sitting on my ass)
Observations: We hit the road at 6 am and had a full day of activities so I pretty much knew a workout wasn’t going to happen. It could have, actually, as we were done the bulk of our real activities by 2 pm, but at that point it was about 35 degrees outside and a craft cidery sounded like a much better plan. It was. We left with a case of cider.

Activity: unplanned rest day/”mountain” walk
Relevant Stats: 45 min. trail walk
Observations:  I thought we’d get home early enough to work out, but we left later than planned due to the 45 minute trail walk. It was called a “mountain” on the trail sign but I assure you it was just a nice hill. Sure, we walked up it and down the other side, but I hardly consider it a true workout. Still, considering I spent the rest of the day on my ass in a car, I suppose it’s far better than nothing.

Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 30 min.
Observations: Words cannot express how bad my hotel ‘fitness centre’ was. I tried to articulate it yesterday so that when I wrote about my meagre 30 minutes of exercise you would understand that 30 minutes is all a reasonable person would be able to tolerate in that space. I tried, I really did. It was heinous.

Activity: cardio warmup + strength training
Relevant Stats: 20 min. run + 25 min. strength
Observations: Against my better judgment, I ventured into the company gym where I was pleasantly surprised to find windows (!), kettle bells (!) and a cable motion machine (!!) along with an assortment of other solid equipment. The trade off was working out around fellow employees, but since it was my first trip to this particular location no one knew me anyway. Worth it. I was rewarded with a home-cooked meal by one of my best friends who just so happens to live 20 minutes away. That made the work travel a little bit better.

Activity: unplanned rest day
Relevant Stats: successful walk to grocery store for ice cream
Observations: I had an early afternoon flight which meant the only time to work out was first thing in the morning. Lately, I’ve been pretty good at morning workouts, but I felt pressure to be in the office extra early because I was leaving so early. In other words, I couldn’t drag my ass out of bed early enough to fit in a workout and arrive at the office by 7.

Activity: spin
Relevant Stats: 4o min.
Observations: I cannot remember the last time I survived on a spin bike for 40 minutes. Lately I hit the 10 minute mark and am ready to move on to the next thing. I seized the moment and stuck with the spin bike for my entire workout. I wish I could’ve rode longer but work was calling. If only I could get up just fifteen minutes earlier every day, but somehow getting up that extra fifteen minutes early feels like getting up two hours earlier by about lunch time. Sigh.

Activity: cardio warmup + strength training
Relevant Stats: 5 min. spin + 40 min. strength
Observations: Oh man, those pushups today were not feeling so great. I’ve backed off my full tricep pushups lately and it showed.  I fit in some solid leg and glute work, though. It’s all about balance, like when I work out and then convince myself I can have a giant bowl of ice cream as a reward (and because it’s national junk food day, of course). Balance at its finest.

And now we have reached Friday and I am so, so, so incredibly excited to do absolutely nothing this weekend. There will be golf, there will be watching the Open Championship final, there will be wine, there will be recently acquired craft cider, and there will be hearty celebration of national junk food day. Happy Friday!

oh yeaaaaaaah, it’s a remarkably wonderful day!

Mid-Week Tangent: an open letter to my hotel ‘fitness center’

Let’s just forget that I should be posting about gelato, shall we? I didn’t have any over the last week. None. My heart hurts at the thought of wasted gelato opportunities. In the place of my usual gelato sins, I instead express my dissatisfaction with my hotel gym. With any luck, next week I will return with new gelato reviews. Until then, here we go…

Dear hotel “fitness center”,

I have intentionally put quotations around your name because you have over-promised and under-delivered. You bear only a tiny resemblance to an actual fitness center. When I think of a fitness center, I think of an inspiring health venue where I can access a wide variety of equipment that allows me to maintain my fitness. I think of a bright, open space that accommodates many guests. Since this is quite a tall hotel, I can only assume it houses many who may wish to work out.  You, my hotel gym of the week, you should call yourself what you are: a dungeon gym. It would most definitely help to manage guests’ expectations.

I know, it sounds harsh, but sometimes we have to hear the bitter truth in order to improve.  You are literally located in the basement, which is only the first of your many issues.  Because of your underground locale, you are dark and windowless and filled with stale air.  Honestly, I could get over all of that if you weren’t also smaller than my living room. I assure you, my living is not gargantuan. I live in a row townhouse. These are not known for having monstrous great rooms.  It is modest and works for what we need. Your tiny space does not work for what I need.

I imagine that there are something like 300 rooms in this hotel. Even if you are only at 50% occupancy right now, and even if only 5% of your guests actually want to work out, you cannot reasonably support that volume of activity. And we all know that your guests are working out either first thing in the morning or after whatever work day or conference they’ve attended.  You hold four people at a time, max.  And there is no way that more than one person could be doing any form of strength training at the same time, what with the six inches of free space you’ve provided around your lone bench (more on that later). In other words, your size is woefully insufficient. Bigger is not always better, except when it comes to fitness centers.

This is still not your greatest fault. No, your greatest fault is your utter lack of equipment. I get it, you focused on the basics: a couple treadmills, a couple ellipticals, a bike, one bench and some free weights.  The problem is that you overlooked some really simple, and not overly expensive additions that would go a long way.  How about some kettle bells? How about some weighted bars? How about a spin bike that actually costs less than that fancy stationary bike that doesn’t give you half the workout? How about a versatile cable motion machine instead of your random assortment of strength machines that take up more space and offer less options? Give me variety!

Sorry, hotel gym, all I’ve done here is criticize. I suppose it’s not your fault, but rather management’s fault that you are so down and out. Still, I have to be clear: I won’t be using your services on my next stay. Although I despise working out at work, my company does provide a free, and far better, fitness center for me. I will choose sweating in front of colleagues over the dungeon.

All the best.

Monday Musings: new jobs are exhausting

I’m tired. Really, really tired.  This happens to me every time I start a new job and yet, somehow, even though I remind myself before starting the job that I will be exhausted, I always seem to be shocked but just how very tired I get.  I’m lucky if I make it to 9:30 pm before falling asleep these days. I mean, I like my sleep and all, but that’s a little much even for me.

People keep telling me that it’s because my brain is working overtime to process all the new information people are throwing at me all day. I’m sure that’s part of the equation, but quite honestly I think that’s a really small part of it.  The real exhaustion factor for me comes down to one thing: having to enthusiastically interact with people all day long. There have been days when it’s literally been eight hours straight of meeting people. For some, this is a welcome energy boost. For me, it is the opposite.

For a long time, I thought it was just because I’m an introvert.  I’ve come to realize that it’s not just interacting with people that’s draining, it’s trying to project all this enthusiasm and energy for my work that’s the real kicker.  All day long, people are asking me how things are going so far, how I like the company, how awesome it is that the company is so committed to my line of work. I am not a naturally excited and gregarious person (except when it comes to candy and ice cream). I think the job and company seem fine so far, but a) it’s just a job and b) by no means do I get all pumped and rah-rah-cheerleader about it. I feel as though I need to project more than my baseline neutrality, though, because before people know me well my natural demeanour can be interpreted as apathy or negativity.  Nobody wants a debbie downer for a new employee.

Putting on my game face and expressing endless enthusiasm not only doesn’t come naturally to me, but it also saps me of any last remaining energy, the reserve of which is already perilously low thanks to early mornings and stress from outside of work.  Many days, I wish I could wear a sign that reads: “I may not look happy or excited, but I promise you I’m fine/the job’s fine/the company’s fine, I’m just really f’ing tired/don’t visually show enthusiasm.” It’s a bit of a long sign, I suppose, yet I still think it would be helpful. Until such time that this is socially acceptable in the workplace, I guess I’ll just have to stick with faking it and ridiculously early bed times.



Monday Musings: my thoughts on being a temporary “homemaker”

I go back to work this Thursday after a luxurious stretch of time off, close to four months to be exact. And actually, I was also off work from late November until mid-January, so when you do the math, I’ve had the extreme privilege of being able to take six out of the last eight months off. How was it, you might ask? Let me tell you, it was glorious.

I never considered myself a homemaker. In fact, I only use that term because one of our friends who was applying for a mortgage while between jobs was classified as a ‘homemaker’, not by her own choice but by the mortgage broker. I realized that, were I in the same position, I too would be considered a homemaker. At first, I found it a bit of an antiquated and mildly offensive categorization, but as I reflect on the last four months, I see that it’s really rather appropriate.

In all honesty, most of my time was devoted to various domestic jobs. I did a lot of laundry, a lot of cleaning, a lot of cooking and a lot of running errands related to all those things.  It really wasn’t as bad it as it sounds. There’s something different about domestic duties and chores when they’re not crammed into the few hours of free time you get between work days.  Cooking is fun when you’re not tired from a day of work. Laundry isn’t quite so annoying when it’s interspersed with daytime talk shows or reading.  Grocery shopping is entirely more civilized when you’re not out there with all the other post-work grumpy shoppers and weekend warriors.

There were other perks too. I had the luxury of working out whenever I wanted to, choosing at what point during the day I would accomplish tasks, and opting for a late afternoon nap when the mood struck. Hell, I could even table an entire day’s worth of chores if I was feeling lazy and turn it into an epic Netflix binge day.  My time was mine. I was almost never bored and almost always had more than enough to occupy my time.  If it sounds like I’m going to miss it, I am, but I always knew it was only temporary.

The overall verdict: being a temporary homemaker was pretty fantastic and, as I close off this brief chapter, I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to take so much time off…and incredibly hopeful that my return to work goes a little more smoothly than last time!