Archive for the 'Work' Category

Wrong Season for This

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Not fair, not fair, not fair. Picture me throwing myself on the ground, having a major temper tantrum, arms and legs pounding the earth. I have a head cold. I mean, REALLY, who gets a head cold NOW???? I woke up Saturday with a scratchy sore throat. I thought it might have been from having dinner out the night before. Although the restaurant was lovely, they had music playing, which means everyone talking ups the volume, and ups it again and again because of everyone else upping the volume. But it didn’t go away. I felt poorly all day and ended up taking a nap. I woke up Sunday still congested and thought well maybe it’s allergies. Season is changing, maybe there is some pollen out there. I didn’t let it stop me from the important things like running errands and going to the block party. Monday – still congested and headache-y but I waged another foray in the Battle for a Beautiful Basement. I figured it was allergies (and dust in the basement) but when I went to the office on Tuesday, it would be banished by the closed ventilation system.

No such luck. 😦 I have a cold. I spent the entire day in the office blowing my nose and drinking gallons and gallons of hot and cold liquid. 😦 I couldn’t go visit my other mother as planned because I am obviously laden with germs. I did my coworkers a favor and am working from home today. I have my cold water with OJ to one side, my tissue box to the other, and an ever-growing mound of dirty tissues that I toss whenever I get up. It’s NOT FAIR!!!!! Itchy eyes, snuffles, post-nasal drip, and such a headache. Sigh. Do you think this means I might be spared a cold in the winter? Oh make it so.

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Some of us are feeling fine and having a good day.

Cicadas

To me the sound of cicadas is an “end of summer” sound. This feeling has grown on me over the years – I don’t believe I felt this way as a child. It seems to me that I become aware of the cicadas in September, the end of summer both literally and emotionally. They are sooooo loud once they get going. This year I became aware of them in July. I’m not sure why that was. Did they emerge earlier? Am I listening for them? One day they will be a cacophony wherever I am. The next day it is as if they never emerged. Yesterday morning I came to the office and was slammed by a wall of cicada sound when I got out of my car. Today – nothing but the pterodactyl screech of the adjoining warehouse.

For your listening pleasure, should you like cicadas, I give you the other day at work. That buzzing humming noise on the video – that is ALL cicada. That’s what they sound like. I never see them but oh wow, just listen to them sing.

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Office Creativity

the binding

Some days in the office, as the clock ticks towards 5 pm, and the air is quiet and still with everyone out on vacation, I raise my head and look about me to gaze upon the kingdom. I keep 2 live plants in my cube, and some silk plants as well. My coworker Bill probably does a better job than I of keeping the live ones in that state. He’d pointed out to me the other morning that one of them needed pruning. As I gazed about I saw the plants and realized that they needed more than pruning. They need support and they really need more soil in their pots. There wasn’t much I could do about adding dirt at that point but I thought I could at least make them stand upright.
securing the knot

My office appears to be empty of anything useful in staking a big plant. No rulers, no sticks, no rubber bands, no string – pretty much nothing that can be utilized as garden implements. Where there is a will, there is a way. I can be very determined.
tacking it to the wall

I was ransacking the drawers and shelves trying to find something string-like to tie the plant together. Nothing until… AHA!!!! Look at THAT!! A PHONE CORD! It was huddled in a corner of my desk, doing nothing, feeling neglected and useless. It was meant to work with a headset but the headset was missing a vital part, so nothing ever came of that project. A phone cord is long, pliable, and strong. But how would I pull the looped cord so that it pulled the plant upright? I have THUMBTACKS!!! Hmmm. The pressure from the plant will probably pull out a thumbtack, and I’m not sure if the tacks will hold the thick cord. Bingo! I have lots of twisty ties from cables in my desk. Make a loop with the twisty tie and tack THAT to the wall. And use LOTS of thumbtacks. Even so, additional reinforcement would be good in case thumbtacks begin popping out of the cubicle wall. Scotch tape. I have tape. One last touch – the binder clip to keep the knot in the cord. *grin*

Now if I can only remember to bring in some potting soil.

office support

Making Do On the Lunch Hour Walk

lunchtime lake

I like to get out and take a walk at lunch when possible. I’ve done that at every location I’ve ever worked. Before my current location, I worked in a very nice office park. There was a lake, the lake had turtles, wading birds (crane, egret, whatever it was), lots of green grass, pebbled paths for pedestrians, and of course wonderful coworkers (I have to put that in – I know some of them read this *grin*). Not only was it lovely right in front of our building, but I could walk through the trees behind our parking lot into another area with paths and trees. It really made for a lovely stroll.
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Well, nothing lasts forever. It wasn’t wedding bells that broke up the old gang but cost efficiencies. First they told us we should/could all work from home and they closed the office. (I don’t LIKE not having a place to be with my coworkers so I kept nudging and nagging until I got an assigned desk in a new location, close to my home.) Shortly after they kicked everyone out, they decided that everyone had to be co-located. I was already relocated, but the rest of my group would be relocated to another state. As you might imagine, by now most of them have relocated to other companies or retirement.
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I, however, continue to work and continue to come in to the office (a lot, if not always). I still like to walk at lunch when the weather and my schedule permit. But the current scenery is a far cry from that to which I’d become accustomed. (Speaking of cries – remind me to come back to THAT.) As you can see from the photos, I walk around the parking lot. Yes, I walked around the parking lots before as well, but they were surrounded by lovely trees and green grass. This parking lot is surrounded by fences and warehouses and storage facilities. The parking lot itself could serve as a set for a post-apocalypse movie. I mean – LOOK at the plant above. Doesn’t that look as if it has been exposed to some kind of radiation? It certainly does not convey an image of health and serenity.
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One of the neighboring facilities is a warehouse with large openings for trucks to back in and unload. Unearthly pterodactyl-like screeches sound irregularly from that facility (okay, I don’t KNOW that they are pterodactyl-like sounds but they sound the way you’d THINK a pterodactyl would sound). The sounds are triggered by sensors in order to keep birds from flying into the warehouse. I have no idea how effective they are as bird-deterrents but they enhance the post-apocalyptic sensation wonderfully. I debated recording it for you but that required more patience than I had. 🙂 Not to mention that I didn’t want to stand around too long and become pterodactyl lunch. Maybe they aren’t recordings.
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But still, I get outside and I do get to walk, and there are some interesting leaves. In the spring there is even a row of day lilies along one of the sides of the building. I have no idea what trees are shown in my photos. I know that one of those things looks exactly like the enormous 12 foot tall weed growing outside my dining room window. I usually try to pull it before it reaches the berry stage but I gave up on weeding this year. Can any of YOU identify it? I don’t know what the fern-y tree is either, but I like the pretty orange things on it (seed pods? leaves?). I walk up and down the aisles of the lot, looking at the cars, trying to find attractive distractions. To date my best distraction from the walking and the post-apocalyptic blues has been YOU – I write posts in my head until I get back to my desk! Thanks for reading!!!! 🙂
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It’s Not ‘Traffic’ in a Convertible

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I may have mentioned that I enjoy driving my red convertible. A lot. Somehow even when I’m stuck in a traffic jam if I’m in the convertible with the top down, it’s just not that annoying. My other car has a sun roof and I keep it open as much as possible, but it still feels like being locked in an box when I’m stuck not moving in traffic. In the convertible it feels like I’m out enjoying the day.

This week I drove up to HQ for some meetings. The weather was perfect convertible weather. I listened to the traffic reports before I left and I knew there had been a truck fire on the highway and I knew I’d hit some of the remaining jam. I hoped that I was leaving sufficiently after the incident that most of the traffic would be gone. I know, silly me, but if you don’t have hope in this world, things get bleak fast. Of course there was the 5 mile backup but you know what? I didn’t really care. I took out the suntan spray I keep in the car, took off my dress jacket, sprayed my arms and coated my face, and enjoyed the sun on my skin. Hit another traffic jam up on the Palisades, and I’m in the trees there, but still the convertible makes a difference. You can smell the surroundings much better with the top down than in a car with all the windows open. (And yes, that is both good and bad. Going past landfills is not very uplifting. 🙂 ) The Palisades section of the road had that heavy moist tree smell.

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I was far enough behind rush hour that the bridge was not a problem so I got time to actually look at the gorgeous new structures. The last leg of my journey takes me past one of the NY state reservoirs. I love that piece of road. No matter how stressful or aggravating the commute has been up to that point, the sight of the water and trees and rocks always resets the mood. 🙂

 

New Jersey Turnpike –
Like the Homeowners’ Motto
“It’s Always Something”

Kensico dam

Music to Work By

I had planned to go to the office today but my back had other ideas. I don’t know how I manage to damage my back, or my neck, or my hip, while I sleep, but I seem to have a talent that way. Anyway, I’m working from home. This week I have had the most delightful companion when I’m working from home. There is a bird sitting in the huge rhododendron bush outside the window. It is singing. A lot. It’s wonderful. It makes me happy.

Here, for YOUR listening pleasure, is Bird in the Bush (worth 2 in the hand that DON’T sing).

The best part of this video is that when I play it to test it, the bird outside starts chirping back. *grin*

My First Client

It’s official. Okay, it’s almost official. I haven’t yet finished the coaching course – I have to finish the book and pass the test. I’ve done all of the other requirements. But those 2 requirements are dependent solely on me – I don’t need anyone else to get them done. Today I finished the last requirement that needed other people participating. The course had 10 online group sessions. We’ve a large group – nearly 40 people meeting online (we’ve lost a few since the first class). As I mentioned in an earlier post, we get sent into breakout rooms – 3 or 4 of us together. Someone must coach, someone must be the coachee, and the other observes. I’ve been an observer for the first 8 sessions. I WAS about to volunteer to coach once, but I got elbowed aside quite strongly (virtually, mind you) by someone else who felt he absolutely needed to coach. *grin*

Last session I was the coachee. I’ve been fairly snarky about being a coachee. My feeling was that there was nothing one of my classmates could do for me that I couldn’t do already with my “Howard-in-my-head“. After all, I KNEW what the problem was, I KNEW I had to find a non-confrontational way to discuss it with the person in question, I KNEW that what was holding me up was what words I would use to speak to her directly. It was obviously just a matter of me thinking about the wording, trying out sentences and seeing which felt ‘right’. But I had to be a coachee and B had to be a coach. I even started my session with him being snarky (at least I felt it was condescending and snarky, I’m not sure if B felt that way) – explaining that I *KNEW* what had to be done. B did not let that bother him. He had me state my issue and what I wanted to accomplish today: I have a coworker who speaks very very very softly on all of our team calls, and I can’t hear her, and I get frustrated and embarrassed having to ask her to repeat everything, and even then I don’t always hear her. I’ve asked coworkers to move the microphone near her, I’ve instant messaged them to find out what she said, suggested to our manager that he have EVERYONE use the video and not just audio (maybe I’d be better at reading lips). *laughing* Even TYPING this the frustration returns.

Well, we only get about 15 minutes for these triad coaching sessions. We were almost to the end when B asked me what ended up being the pivotal question: What can you do NOW to address this? I started to answer him by saying “nothing, I can’t do anything until I see her in person”. And WHAM!!! It hit me. Right in mid-sentence. I did NOT have to wait to see her in person. I could EMAIL her!! Or I could IM her right before the next meeting (due later that day). This did NOT have to be done in person. You’re reading this and saying – well, could it be any more obvious???? The answer is no, it really isn’t obvious when it is YOUR issue. One thing that I have learned for sure from this coaching course is how grateful we all are for the space of time where we can think, reflect, take time. We spend a lot of effort getting things done and not as much time exploring all the aspects. I’ve learned that when I coach, the thing my coachees seem to appreciate most is the space to think and then speak.

Sharing a situation, describing a problem to another, always seems to let more light on something even when we’ve been sure there are no shadows left. Certainly I’ve experienced it over and over when I was still writing code. I’d hit a bug, be stuck. I’d start to talk to my coworker explaining the issue and as I articulated the details to her, I could see the problem clear as day. Or maybe you’ve had a conversation with a friend where you were talking about some problem or complaint, and the friend mentions some simple solution that you had never even considered. It’s the old you can’t see the forest for the trees – if you are too close, you can’t see the whole.

I was THRILLED with my coaching session with B. I will tell you that I utilized the solution that *I* came up with just this week. I sent an email shortly before the team call to the other 2 women on the call, explaining that I had a hard time hearing, and women’s voices were the most difficult for me, and could they please make sure that the microphones were well distributed around the table and could they please be sure to sit near one. OMG. They wrote back, said they would, they did, and I heard everything. I didn’t feel uncomfortable or demanding or as if I was insulting the person I can’t hear, because by doing it in a common email, I felt I diffused any sort of implication of personal attack. It was great.

Today was FINALLY my turn to be a coach in the triad. *Laughing* It’s very hard to be the coachee at times, and come up with a problem you want to discuss with someone listening, and also knowing you have only 10 minutes to talk. I’ve found, therefore, that I need to give the coachee sufficient time to tell enough of the story so I could hear what was the core of the issue. Then there is the whole aspect of trust and embarrassment – will the person listening judge me or betray me? I felt I was handling the conversation well, although there were several sentences I wanted to rephrase (and did) as soon as I said them. I felt I did manage to keep quiet and give her space to respond, and that I asked open questions that would make her think. I tried to follow the model we were given. I wasn’t sure we were going to come up with an action plan, but just as we got the 1 minute warning to return to the group, she came up with a solution she felt she could implement right away.

We returned to the group and our facilitator was asking for feedback. One of the best parts of blogging is that I can “brag”. My blog, my words, no one makes you read it. *grin* In many other aspects of my life I do try to avoid singing my own praises. (And honestly, there ARE so many things to praise when you are as wonderful as I am. *grin*) But here’s what the rest of my triad had to say in the open group chat:

From ‘Observer’ to Everyone:
It was good experience as an observer. Our Coach was so calm and asking very good question.
From Coachee to Everyone:
Ahuva was my coach, and made me feel very comfortable. Thank you so much Ahuva!
From Observer to Everyone:
I totally agree. She was excellent.

*blush* But oh yeah, you know I am feeling good about that. The facilitator read it and called it out, too. Even more exciting – my coachee IM’d me to tell me she had already acted on her solution and thanked me again. 
I praised her and told her she was very welcome, and offered to continue coaching with her if she wished (an offer I did make to my 2 test coachees as well). She was immediately enthusiastic and said she would love to have me coach her and she sent a meeting invitation for us to continue.

So I may not have my course badge yet, but I have a coachee. 🙂


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