All Good Things…

31 Silver Linings – A Writing Challenge {Day 31}

It’s incredibly hard for me to believe that the writing challenge is coming to an end.  I decided to do it on a bit of a whim and I’d be lying if I told you I knew I’d make it through. When I commit to a person, I do my best to move heaven and earth to complete whatever I’ve said I will…but when it comes to being accountable to myself, I often fall down on the job.  I am the queen of excuses and justifications in that regard and though I had high hopes, there was a little bit of me that wasn’t entirely convinced I’d follow through.  Yet here we are – and I’ve written or designed something (Silver Linings Sundays) each and every day.

As I said earlier this week, each post was certainly not a masterpiece.  Some were better written or thought-through than others.  Some were well received by my readers, and yet often, that didn’t correspond with what I thought was my best writing. But when I revived the blog at the beginning of the year, struggling deeply to figure out what my theme was, who my audience was, what to write about…well, I decided that I’d just write for me – and if anyone came along for the ride, super.  To those who have, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  It really means so much to me when you comment or share something I’ve written.  It reminds me that deep inside, the little girl who loved to write stories in her spare time, who got such a kick out of writing papers, who absolutely loved writing for the school paper, is still in there – and I’m eager to see what she wants to do next!

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Running Out of Time

31 Silver Linings – A Writing Challenge {Day 30}

Time is a funny thing.

I’m a planner, by trade and by nature.  I need to know what is happening, what I need to do, how things are going to play out, well in advance.  (This isn’t, however, to say I cannot be spontaneous because I certainly can, but for big things, I need to know what’s up.)  For instance, I have a program in the middle of November but due to another program prior, I’m trying to get as much done this week as humanly possible.  Yet here I am, feeling like I’m running out of time – because, in my head, we are already well into the month of November.  I have to stop myself to think and remember that, no, today is still October – late October, yes, but still October, and that I have two weeks until said event.

I wonder if others ever have the same weird sense of time I often do or if that’s something unique to me and how my brain works. It’s all compounded, too, by the somewhat frantic nature of the workplace.  There are always tasks to be completed, demands being set forth, logistics to coordinate to someone else’s specifications and timelines.  I’ve said before that this issue has been greatly lessened in my current workplace but I find myself often slipping back into the old ways, the old patterns, especially when under stress and time constraints, self-imposed or not.

Yet there is a deep desire within me to defeat this feeling and simply be present.  I have of late realized that being present is something that I have to be incredibly conscious of – putting down the phone, stepping out of whatever busyness I’ve found myself in to simply ground myself in what day it is, what time it is, where I am, even for a moment.  This is especially true of the time I spend with those I love, whom I don’t often get to spend much time.  Sure, I’ll sneak a glance at my phone while you are in the restroom but I am trying to do my hardest to leave it in my purse or facedown on the table while you are with me.  Still a work in progress, like many things in life, but there is so much to be found in this moment and none other – if we just stop, breathe, and look.

About Concessions

31 Silver Linings – A Writing Challenge {Day 29}

My day job is conference planning.  I’ve spent the good part of a few days now trying to renegotiate a hotel contract that, simply put, was the pits this year.  I did everything within my power to avoid going back to this property but I knew that it would be for naught.  So, instead, I worked hard to get some concessions from the hotel to make our experience this time around a better one.  After MUCH back and forth, I’m at least satisfied that we won’t be in quite the same situation for next year’s go around.

The topic of concessions is an interesting to me.  This whole process was a great deal of back and forth and give and take, on both our part and that of the hotel.  What can you give me to make up for that which you refuse?  What can I get to make this more appealing to me to rebook?  What do we need to do to make this work for both of us, successfully?  If either party simply stood their ground and refused to budge, the deal would be off.  Our image of each other might be tainted, which could impact future partnerships.  Moreover, we would have lost the potential program dates and been back to square one in our search for a venue;  they would have lost potential revenue and the respect of an event planner, who knows a lot of other event planners.

I’ve got a late meeting coming up this evening.  I work with healthcare professionals, so sometimes it’s simply easier to do an early or late meeting.  Yes, it is outside of “normal” business hours.  Yes, it is inconvenient for me in a million ways.  But I’m making a concession – one that, hopefully, will make this program run more smoothly in the long run.

Walk This Way

31 Silver Linings – A Writing Challenge {Day 28}

I’m doing a Fitbit challenge with my bestie and her sister-in-law. Every day, we’re walking to meet the personal goals we’ve set for ourselves, while also taking part in a bit of friendly competition. Some days are better than others and last week was a bit of a bust for me. But just knowing that others are watching to see that I’m still in the mix, trying my best, means something to me – and more importantly, keeps me from quitting.

It’s the same with this challenge. I know not all my posts have been award-winners, for sure. And I’m frankly often surprised by which resonate with folks. I don’t really put much stock in my readership stats (though I’d be lying if I claimed I didn’t look or care.). But I made a commitment to write every day this month and, just like my walking challenge, I’m buoyed by the knowledge that there are folks out there cheering me on. And with just a few days to go, I want to make sure I thank you, from the bottom of my heart. This challenge, and your encouragement, have rekindled a passion I’d thought long lost and I can’t wait to see where it leads.

Can’t Trust That Day

31 Silver Linings – A Writing Challenge {Day 27}

I’ll spare you another rant about Monday. I’m certain your news feeds are full of them. Suffice it to say: I was late to work (again), twisted my ankle on the bus, and just generally dealt with all manner of foolishness. But I got a lot done, took a walk at lunch time, had an amazing mason jar salad I made ahead (for the week), and had meal planned dinner. All of this, however, isn’t terribly good blog fodder but I’m in the home stretch and refuse to give up now. (You’re welcome! Ha!)

Up in the Air

31 Silver Linings – A Writing Challenge {Day 25}

Business travel seems very glamorous…unless you are the one doing it. Dealing with long lines and ridiculous security procedures at the airport. Lugging your jam-packed luggage up stairs because your connection is too tight for you to wait on the escalator. Queuing up like cattle to board your flight, despite having assigned seats, to ensure your luggage gets on with you. Dealing with cranky fellow passengers and often…um…odd behavior from your seat mates. (Considering taking your shoes and socks off? No, just no.) the list of inconveniences and irritations that arise can go on and on.

I used to get very stressed as my trips approached. I would worry about all all manner of things, to the point of dreading it. On one occasion, I had shared my anticipatory distress at a church group and I’ll never forget the pastor’s response, “I’ll pray for you to be blessed but also for you to be a blessing to those you encounter.” That little statement helped me readjust my thoughts about traveling, and it’s something I pray before every trip – and I’ve never been disappointed.

Keeping Commitments

31 Silver Linings – A Writing Challenge {Day 24}

I am weary down into my bones but it feels like a good tired, the kind you earn.

I was up early to pick up a rental car, then a colleague, to drive to an all day workshop an hour away. When I got back, I had to drop off the car and pick mine up; then I had to deal with the low tire pressure light that’s been on all week. I tried, in my work clothes, to figure out how to check and add air but quickly gave up and dropped in to a tire shop where they did it for free and sent me on my way. Next, I had some errands to run for my church’s for middle and high school youth gathering – and then on to that for a few hours. Grocery store on the way home and now I’m lying my my couch, bone tired.

But I committed to this challenge, just as I did so to my busy day. The last 24 days have been sometimes trying but always humbling. And moreover, have encouraged me and reminded me that I CAN do this. And so here I am, under the wire, typing this on my phone and grinning, as I start thinking of what I’ll write when my 31st day is complete.

Moving On Up

31 Silver Linings – A Writing Challenge {Day 23}

At work today, I was trying to print handouts for a meeting I am going to tomorrow but the printer kept jamming.  I’d lift the cover, take out the toner, extract the errant sheets, put the toner back in and begin the process all over again.  I went through it about four times before all was said and done.

As I was doing this, almost by rote, it occurred to me that I’m one of the few in my office who knows how to handle a situation such as that.  All of us have advanced degrees, some more advanced than mine.  Yet I am the one that has the experience, the sort of “working my way up the ranks”, that allows me to deal with any office tasks as second nature instead of slinking silently away in hopes that next poor fool will fix the issue.

I started working when I was 14, making cotton candy at a local amusement park.  I held various jobs in the off season, including retail and one extremely short stint in a day care center after school.  I worked through college, first on campus in the Student Activities office and then in an office.  I can tell you with great certainty that I had little to no interest in going to work in an office after class when my friends were all hanging out and seemingly having fun. I was the youngest in the office by a good 20 years and it definitely was an old boys’ club sort of consulting firm.  Yet the office manager welcomed me and endeavored to teach me all she knew on my afternoons, holiday breaks, and summers in the office.  And learn I did!  While I couldn’t do shorthand, I transcribed dictation, wrote letters, responded to correspondence, handled all incoming calls, made copies, created handouts for meetings…the list could go on and on.  I learned how to fix errors, how to act respectfully in the workplace, and how to not let the male consultants walk all over me.  (I also learned that sometimes your VP might keep some hooch in his desk drawer, but that’s a story for another time!) I don’t think I ever realized how much that “after school” job impacted me and my career until I stood there, holding the toner today….

The Sound of Silence

31 Silver Linings – A Writing Challenge {Day 22}

The world is quiet here.

For many years, the first thing I did in the morning was turn on the tv.  I was an avid Good Morning America fan and was interested to see what breaking news I’d missed while sleeping.  My after work routine was much the same:  come home, swap work clothes for pjs or sweats, feed insistent cats, make dinner, flop in front of the tv until bed.  Sometimes I’d read a little in that mix, but the tv would always be on.  I would have to make a conscious decision to turn it off to concentrate, depending on what I was doing, because the background noise just WAS. I’d imagine there was an element of comfort to this, too, living alone.

More and more, however, I find myself leaving the television off.  At first, it started because I wanted to see if turning it off helped me keep up with the house better in the evenings – even if it was only off for a half hour between shows.  Of course it did.  Do you know how much you can accomplish in a half hour if you want to?  Load the dishwasher, switch over the wash, scoop the cat box, AND prep your lunch for tomorrow.

Productivity aside, I also started to feel more and more like I was wasting precious time on things I didn’t care about.  What was the point in sitting in front of the tv, watching show after show that I didn’t care about?  Simply in the name of “relaxation”?  I never seemed to end up feeling relaxed – I just ended up feeling lazy.  And more tired than when I first sat down.

There’s a power in turning it off, too. It almost feels like you are bucking the cultural norm to do so (and who doesn’t have a little rebellion in them?)

Most of all, however, I’ve come to appreciate the quiet.  More and more I find myself searching for peace in my days and my life.  It used to be harmony that I most greatly desired but as I’ve grown and changed, I’m realizing that safety and peace are much more important to me.  There is so much chaos in our world, in our relationships, in our daily interactions…it’s nice to simply be in the quiet.