Showing posts from 2018

The Home School Perception

I was recently reading through a thread of comments on a post online about the option of home schooling your children.  A vast majority of the comments included some variation of, "I have never met a home schooled kid who wasn't odd."  I read these comments over a week ago, and they still bother me a little, so I felt a response was valid. I have a very mixed experience in my K-12 education.  I did not attend kindergarten at all, but was instead traveling through the United States in a motor home with my parents and sister, getting far more life experience than a classroom could offer.  During this time, I did learn the basics of reading and all of that, but I also learned about people, that people are not all the same, and that I am not the same.  And that it is okay. I home schooled grade one.  My parents taught me at home, but I took exams at a local elementary school at the end of the year.  People have a false idea that home schooled kids run wild and free and ar

Food Elimination

Recently, I wrote an article reviewing my experience with EverlyWell's food sensitivity panel .  After receiving my results, which had 15 foods flagged as reactive to different degrees, I made the decision to begin eliminating them from my diet.  So far, I am seeing some significant results. I have always had digestive issues.  One could say that I have been running a long term, low grade stomachache for a couple decades!  I discovered that I was lactose intolerant when I was 15 years old, but eliminating lactose from my diet didn't cure all of my issues. When I began monitoring my food intake in 2016, I did notice some of the issues with my digestive problems subside.  I suspect overeating (even if you are exercising to get into a calorie deficit) can cause some pretty severe digestive issues as your body tries to process through the excess.  However, even with this, and the elimination of most dairy, I still had some trouble. Food allergies and food sensitivities are di

Solo Vacations

During the years that I was in school, I hardly traveled at all.  My husband and I are not especially good travel companions, and besides that we have 3 dogs, which makes arranging travel complicated.  Over the last decade, we have gone on separate vacations a few different times.  I'll go with my sister and he'll go with a friend.  These have worked out well for us because it leaves one or the other at home to tend to the doggies while we are away. However, having now finished my degree and feeling unencumbered by the weighty responsibilities of academia, I am looking to travel alone .  My sister mentioned that she had this on her Day Zero Project list, and I immediately wondered why I had not put it there (so I added it!).  My mom is celebrating her 60th birthday this month by going to Vegas with a high school friend, and then from there, going to spend a week by herself in Mexico.  It sounds heavenly. I am now planning and researching cities I could travel to by myself,

The Imitation Game: Review

I am very late to the party on this one, but I cannot resist sharing because I loved this movie.  The Imitation Game  was released in 2014, and stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightly, Matthew Goode and Allen Leech.  Based primarily on the biography Alan Turing: The Enigma , it depicts mathematician Alan Turing (Cumberbatch) and his team of geniuses as they try to crack the Nazi Enigma Code during World War II. Without giving spoilers, I can tell you there were a few general things I loved about this movie.  First of all, Cumberbatch does an impeccable job of portraying a socially inept genius.  His depiction is frustrating and yet stirs sympathy.  As the story unfolds, you want him to succeed even though sometimes he does maddening things! Secondly, I loved Keira Knightly as the female genius on the team.  True to her time, there was a concern over what was "decorous," but she brings warmth to counter-balance the aloofness of Cumberbatch.  A bit of an odd duck hers

Downton Abbey Reflection: Part Three

I do not claim to be any sort of professional critic, but over the years I have read a lot of praise and criticism for Downton Abbey and have formed a lot of contrary opinions to much of it.  I am not sure if it is because perhaps American viewers do not understand British television, or if perhaps I am just an ignorant viewer.  In either case, I will enjoy expounding on my thoughts about certain criticisms I have read over the years.  Please note, this post will contain spoilers for those who have not seen the show. One of the strongest criticisms I read was regarding the rape scene with Anna Bates in season four.  Some of the criticism I read about this detailed how this violent and "gratuitous" scene was a departure the series, unnecessary and gruesome.  I read this review before actually seeing the episode, so I was on the edge of my seat expecting something far different than what was portrayed.  Perhaps in contrast to the elegant opera singer performing for guests ups

Downton Abbey Reflection: Part Two

One of my favorite aspects of Downton Abbey is that often the most climaxing parts of each episode actually occur off camera, while what viewers see is the fallout from these story lines.  For example, the weddings between Sybil and Tom, or Mary and Matthew, we see the lead up, we see some fallout, but we do not have to endure a drawn out wedding scene.  Julian Fellowes allows these things to take place in our imaginations, freeing up time for the dry humor and gossipy byplay that this series is so good at.  This post will contain spoilers for those who have not seen the series. This tactic allows for a little extra mystery.  You'll see a scene where Mrs. Hughes gets ready to share the details of some scandal with Mr. Carson.  Before the cut scene, you get a glimpse of an expression on her face, but by the time the cameras return to this story line, the conversation is over and we are dealing with the reactions.  This affords us the opportunity to imagine Mr. Carson's respons

Downton Abbey Reflection: Part One

It has recently been announced that there will finally, officially be a Downton Abbey movie.  My love for this series must be well known, because at least five people sent me news articles to let me know!  In anticipation, I have been re-watching the series from the beginning (again), and I always find when I re-watch it reminds me of things I questioned at first, or detailed I may have missed.  If you have not watched the series in full, this post contains spoilers. One thing that always gets me is the whole dilemma with "Patrick Gordon" during the war.  Patrick Crawley, as we know, was the heir to Lord Grantham's title and estate.  He was reported killed in the sinking of the Titanic.  However, years later, a man claiming to be Patrick Gordon arrives at Downton Abbey as a patient recovering from war injuries - injuries that leave his face unrecognizable. During his stay, he convinces one of the daughters that he is, in fact, Patrick Crawley.  His story is that he

Review: Watching Baseball Smarter by Zack Hample

One of my newest pursuits, as I am done school and have a new and unfamiliar amount of free time, has been understanding baseball.  I am educating myself on its history, strategy, rules and analytics.  This is all in an attempt to successfully play Fantasy Baseball next year, but it also satisfies my love of math and statistics.  Six months ago, what I knew about baseball could have been summed up by saying this: "Some dude takes a bat and hits a ball and some other dude tries to catch it."  Not very intricate. Over the last few weeks, I have watched Ken Burns' Baseball: A Film , which is a long series depicting the origins and history of baseball.  This series is so well done.  The commentary is fantastic, but best of all is the original (and probably quite rare) early photographs and footage.  This series educated me on the long history of baseball from its rules, the early players, stadiums, racial segregation and media coverage. From there, I purchased myself a

Now What?

As my life as a graduate student comes to an end, I am surprised to find myself in my current mental and emotional state.  I fully expected to be overjoyed, bouncing off the walls and brimming with excitement, but so far I just feel tired (and many of my classmates have mirrored this sentiment)!  Perhaps I need a few more days to let it sink in that I have achieved this major accomplishment.  Not that I am so much smarter now that I have a master's degree (though, let's be honest, I am), but I have reached the finish line in a long race.  I have written thousands upon thousands of words and read even more in case studies, compiled projects and participated in what seems like countless academic discussions.  I have become a little more of who I am as a person, as a student and most of all, as a leader.  As different theories have resonated with me, I can feel that I am truly better equipped now to move forward in my career. But at the same time, my academic pursuits have bee

Family Tree Surprises

For the last two years I have been a member of, having built an extensive family tree on both sides of my family.  Since then, I have also become a member on 23andMe, and through both of these sites I have used DNA kits to help narrow down both genetic risk factors and my DNA ancestry. There is always a risk in doing this, as these sites definitely warn you, that you will discover things that are unexpected and possibly unpleasant.  One can imagine the many secret love children taking these tests only to discover siblings and cousins they had not known.  Exciting for them, perhaps, but highly shocking to other families! For my own part, I have had a couple of interesting interactions via private messages on these sites.  Through 23andMe, a young woman reached out because our genetic testing had us linked as likely second cousins. Through a few short exchanges, we discovered that my aunt (my dad's sister) is her great-grandmother.  How cool!? It was a sta

Another Fitbit Anniversary

So, right about this time last year, I reflected on my three year Fitbitversary.  This weekend marked my fourth year as a Fitbit user.  Let me wow you with some stats (I love statistics!): In those four years I have walked/run/jogged: 18.8 MILLION steps! which equates to 7,957 miles climbed 5,323 floors Per this graph, you can see that in the first half of 2016, my stats took a nosedive.  This was during my first six months of graduate courses.  I gained between 15-20lbs during this time period. Thanks to Fitbit, I got my act together.  I lost 30lbs through a combined effort of calorie tracking and increased fitness and have kept both up to this day. August will mark 2 years since I started losing the weight, and the weight has stayed off. People make me laugh when they ask how I have kept the weight off and I tell them it was my Fitbit.  They nearly always get a Fitbit, but then get no results.  Fitbit is a tool, it is empowering.  It is my fiercest lecturer an

Father's Day

As many of you know, I lost my dad during Christmastime of 2016 after a long and difficult illness.  This will be my second Father's Day without him. What surprises me most is how very unsorry I feel for myself at this time.  Instead, I feel very blessed that I was so lucky to have such a wonderful dad and for so long.  For the first thirty-three years of my life, I had an unwavering champion, a source of unconditional love, and a perfect match for my temper and wits. No matter how prepared you are, you're never ready to lose a parent.  My siblings and I discovered this, and as lucky as we have felt to have had him for as long as we did, you cannot help but have that bereft, childish feeling at the loss of such a strong figure in your life, even as an adult. Most of you did not know my dad personally, but it's possible that you have seen him.  You may have seen him in my mom's tender, enthusiastic stories of their life together.  You may have seen him in my brothe

Luck...or Sacrifice?

As a student from elementary school up through to high school, I was mostly an A student (with a few fairly egregious exceptions).  As an undergraduate student, I had almost exclusively As, and as a graduate student, I have had all As.  I have a fairly exemplary record as an employee.  In many areas of my life, from my health quotient to my credit score, I am doing pretty well. Throughout my life I have had the opportunity to deal with numerous people who chalk all of this up to luck.  I have had friends and coworkers alike tell me that "these things just come more easily to you."  I do not think people realize when they say that how belittling and insulting it is. I worked with a woman not that long ago who used this as an excuse all the time for why I was getting my work done and she was not.  I was newer in my role, had less tools at my disposal, but at the end of the day I was succeeding and she was not. "This comes more easily to you," she would say.  She d

Countdown to Accomplishment

On July 8th, I will officially have finished all of the requirements for my Master's in Management degree.  Truthfully, I will be done all of the requirements long before that date, but that is the date when the course will close and it will be final and official. I feel like I have been in post-secondary forever.  Immediately after high school, I went to college for a little over one semester, and had to withdraw so I could move outside of the country. When I was twenty, I went back to college and for the next two years I worked on finishing my Associate's degree.  I was a Dean's List student all four semesters, and even though it wasn't where I had hoped to be at twenty-two, I was glad to have it done. Just before I turned twenty-nine in 2012, I registered to go back to school again, this time to finish my Bachelor's degree.  The company I work for offers tuition reimbursement, and so for the following four years, I worked full time and went to school part t

Sweet Reunions

I hate the word busy.  I avoid it as much as possible, but there is no denying that I have been busy lately.  I am in the final push toward finishing my degree, but what has really put me behind is my wonderful, much anticipated 35th birthday celebration week with my friends. As many of you know, I grew up in Canada and moved away when I was 18 years old.  Since then, I have only gone back one time, in 2011, and I was excited to use my 35th birthday as a way to reunite with some friends and celebrate.  I had three Canadian guests arrive to celebrate.  One is my best friend, who makes a nearly annual visit to me each year, but that doesn't make her visit any less special.  One was another friend from high school who has visited me twice before, but I have not seen her since my 2011 visit to my hometown.  And the third, a friend I have had since I was 12 years old, who I also last saw in 2011.  However, with her, what was special was seeing her reunite with my sister, as they

Alone Time

So, throughout the length of my marriage - and even during the pre-marriage courtship - I have always had an abundance of alone time.  My husband and I have always been on different schedules, which has given us good quality time when we are together and given me plenty of much needed alone time to do my own thing and be "off" for lengths of time. I am reclusive by nature.  I can be "on" for work, for family and for my husband.  But like everyone else, I need my me time.  In fact, it takes a lot for me to get lonely. In the recent months, however, with my husband at home full time (and doing an excellent job at taking care of literally everything for me before I get home) I get almost no alone time.  Moreover, as I finish these last 6 weeks of grad school, even my personal downtime has been greatly consumed with preparing assignments. Recent conversations with friends and my husband have pointed me into the direction of realizing I need to focus more on incorp

Intermittant Fasting - Week One

A coworker of mine recently recommended intermittent fasting to me.  He explained that his goal was not to lose weight but rather feel more energetic and improve his health.  His experience with it was positive.  He did lose a small amount of weight (which he wasn't trying to do), but he said his energy levels had increased dramatically. I will leave the explanation of intermittent fasting to your reading enjoyment here , and simply focus instead on the experience I am having so far.  There are numerous benefits associated with this type of fasting, and I was eager to partake in them but was also highly skeptical. I am like a hobbit.  I graze all day.  I eat my first breakfast, even on weekends, at 5:30am.  I usually eat a second breakfast at 8:30am.  I snack and eat small meals throughout the day until the evening, where I usually cut myself off at 7:00pm (because of my GERD).  However, as you can see, the time frame between when I stop eating at night to when I start in t

Comparing Sisters

I have written a lot about sisters.  It's something I have a lot of experience in.  I have been a sister for over three decades, and in my expert opinion, I have the two best sisters you could ever find. Recently, when my mom was describing us to someone else she said, "if you attack any one of them, they will very quickly start circling the wagons."  This is a fact.  No matter how stupid one of us has been, we can bicker amongst ourselves, but if you come against us, that is a force to be reckoned with! However, there are also complexities that come with dealing with us, especially as through the years we have at times worked together and had mutual friends.  Being friends with the set of us is not just having mutual friendships, it's being friends with sisters.  It poses an entirely different dynamic. Here's the thing: I don't care whether you compare me favorably or unfavorably to them, I don't want to be compared.  I've had things said to me

So Small

So, there is a Carrie Underwood song that I have never really been in love with, called "So Small," which discusses how sometimes we make a really big deal of really small things and we fail to see what's really important. Despite not loving the song (and I really can't say why, it's not a bad song), I was thinking about it this week.  How we have those moments of clarity in life where we see the things that truly matter and that the rest of everything else is the noise that distracts us from it. My husband is going through this to an extent right now.  Some health issues in his family have created cause for alarm, and have suddenly made some of the other things we have been facing seem insignificant in comparison. I remember reading in the  Anne of Green Gables series as a child a scene where, Anne as an adult in college in the third book, is torn about a decision and asks herself what she will wish she had done when she was 80 years old.  It gave her persp

Employee Disengagement

It amazes me how often leaders - even longtime, experienced leaders - just totally miss the boat on the easiest employee engagement opportunities.  When employee engagement survey scores come back with opportunities listed, and then leaders willfully ignore the easy ways to make the connection that is desired, it speaks volumes to their lack of "want to" on the subject. The organization I work for offers an online recognition program where all employees can recognize each other with cards and even with points that have dollar values associated with them.  Each year on an employee's anniversary with the company, an e-card becomes available to be shared around via email and signed with pictures and comments, offering congratulations and sometimes a hearty chuckle over a memory.  It is a great way to take a few minutes out of the day to connect with someone and these experiences we share together over the course of 40+ hours every week. One of these emails was recently s

Time for Me

As I write this, I am bogged down between learning some new job functions and being in school full time and absorbed in projects.  If I think too hard about it, I feel overwhelmed and sad.  The busier I become in my life, the more I realize the importance of devoting time for myself, my health and my hobbies.  Without that balance, not only do I become less productive but life just sucks in general. Between now and July, there will not be a single evening or weekend where I couldn't always be doing something "more important."  If I am reading a book or watching TV, I could always think to myself, "I really should be working on projects."  It is exactly because of this that I am not missing my workouts or my chances to goof around! In the last few weeks, I have committed even more time to exercise, and have my weight bench set up in the garage and my husband is my designated spotter when the bar starts getting loaded up with weight.  When I am squatting, I am

Not so Inspirational

I read something the other day that annoyed me.  I don't typically like to use this space as a place to vent about things I dislike, but this really struck a chord with me.  It was a story that showed up in my Google cards when I was reading the news.  I wish I hadn't clicked into the story at all. It was this woman who had gone viral for sharing a nasty tweet about her ex-husband.  I refuse to share the story or too much detail, but it was one of those things that I alluded to recently in my post about women who say they are empowered but act very differently.  She made a tweet that said something to the effect of having moved on and all the pounds she'd shed were him. Initially, I didn't think much of her tweet.  People do that sort of passive-aggressive stuff all the time.  What really struck me was a woman who commented on it to say something like, "You are such an inspiration when I see how far you've come!" An inspiration?  How far she's co

Being Underestimated

I've always bristled at being underestimated, which I frequently am.  I have to purposely focus on not being resentful when being second-guessed or passed over.  When I was younger, it created within me a belief that I needed to prove myself constantly.  My competitive nature insists on being a part of the contest, and being underestimated annoyed me to the point that it would alter my behavior. I have recently learned different stories of people who had the opposite problem, they were overestimated.  The potential that people saw in them was like a hologram, more of an image than a thing of substance.  Whether it has been a question of their intelligence or talent, others saw in them a great success only to be disappointed when those prospects turned out to be false.  Contemplating this, it sounds like a nightmare. I would be happier if people didn't make assumptions at all, but that isn't human nature.  It is a constant battle to fight against a world that imposes the

Bravery or Ignorance

I am not a proponent at all of being purposefully ignorant.  I believe people should be engaged in their communities, aware of current events, and in a constant state of seeking to remove ignorant barriers and assumptions. However, there have been many times in my life where my ignorance has given me the courage to face situations I may have otherwise hesitated to face, because I had no idea what the potential fallout could be, or how it might be perceived.  I was acting on my instincts and being myself, and it worked out far better than second guessing myself because of knowing "facts." The biggest incident I can recall around this was back a few years ago when I was a lead over my team at work.  We were going through some organizational changes and my team, which consisted of many very long-term employees who had seen many organizational changes, were unresponsive at best and disagreeable at worst regarding the change.  I had done everything internally I could think of

Women's Empowerment

I have to take issue with the way some women demonstrate their belief in women's empowerment.  I'm not an expert in very many things, but I've been a woman for a long time now and I reckon myself advanced in this field, and my belief is that they are doing it wrong! I have noticed a lot more women's groups, blogs, communities, and pages dedicated to women's empowerment.  They proclaim that we, as women, are strong, independent, "don't need no man," and so on, and yet many of the women in these communities continue to blame their situation on a man.  Their emotional instability is a man's fault.  Their station in life is a man's fault.  I even heard a woman not long ago say that her husband repeatedly tricked her into getting pregnant.  Please don't say stuff like that and call yourself an empowered woman. I consider myself a modern woman, I believe in women's rights and true equality.  That is to say, real equality and not elevating

Culture Shock

As I reflect on my sixteen year anniversary since moving to this wonderful southern state, I think back on the things that were sort of a culture shock to me.  Granted, I am an English speaking Caucasian by birth, so coming here was a lot less shocking than it probably is for people coming from other cultures, but nonetheless there were (and still are!) some things that really caught me off guard.  It's no wonder these folks down here think it's like it's own country!  I know northern Americans who come down here and experience culture shock as well! Here are some things I learned when I moved down here: The phrase "bless your heart" is used often and it is not  a compliment!  There's a Miranda Lambert song called "Only Prettier" that has a line that says, "I don't have to be hateful, I can just say bless your heart."  The idiot neighbor you have that can't seem to find their ass with both hands?  Bless their heart. People ca

Forgiveness Better Than Permission

I was thinking about an experience I had a few years ago when I was a lead on a billing team.  Management and leadership in that group were dismal at best and often absent, so the team often felt like they lacked support and direction. When I took the role, all I had was a logical mind.  I didn't have the technical skill to use the system yet or understand the processes.  My first day as the lead over one particular team I spent most of the day trying not to get repeatedly locked out of the billing system.  I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew if I sat around waiting for guidance or permission I'd wait forever. I am a fairly intuitive person.  I can see what needs to be done and in what priority.  Through some frustrating self-training, I quickly mastered the system and started combing through tens of thousands of lines of data, identifying the problems and slowly, finding solutions. I made a lot of positive changes when I was on that team.  The month-end numbers we

Respecting Privacy

There is an episode of Frasier  where he has to go inside Daphne's room to fetch something that belongs to him.  She is not home and he enters her room and idle curiosity overtakes him.  He retrieves his book but is soon looking at all her knick-knacks, reading the labels on her prescriptions and so on.  She walks in and catches him, and after a series of events, twice where he ends up repeating this same disgraceful act, she threatens to quit and move out.  Frasier ends up buying her a car to demonstrate his remorse. Going through other people's things is shameful.  Especially when multiple adults are living in the same home together.  If you live with another adult and feel the need to snoop through their belongings, no doubt as what you see as a well-intentioned concern for them, then you have trust issues that go far beyond anything that can be resolved by snooping.  Whether you find something or nothing, the cancerous distrust that exists will remain. My sister and her


I write about Frasier  a lot.  In fact, I talk about it a lot in general conversation.  Very recently, I quoted Martin saying, "I thought this was America.  Oh wait, it is!"  Frasier  has a line for every situation, and I don't hesitate to use them generously.  But I rarely write about Frasier  in terms of what the show is actually about, despite its brilliant writing.  It is often just something I allude to as I think of a real-life story that parallels a scene.  Few television shows can match the writing of Frasier .  From Frasier and Niles' pompous diatribes to Daphne's homespun wisdom and Martin's ornery responses, everything is authentic. The numerous themes woven throughout Frasier make each episode a delight in and of themselves but ties the larger story together as characters change and grow as people, as situations mature, and problems become resolved.  Some of the more prominent themes include Frasier's search for lasting love, Niles' rel

Happy Birthday to My Best Friend

This weekend my best friend, JB, will celebrate her 35th birthday.  I honestly didn't intend to write about it or about her, but I just heard a song that made me think about her and I felt inspired. I have known her for over half of my life.  I met her about five months before I met my husband, her in October of eleventh grade and him in March of eleventh grade.  Eleventh grade was one of the worst years of my life (only slightly less bad than the tenth).  I'd switched schools, I was overwhelmed and struggling with physics and chemistry classes, I'd lost a few good friends, and I was just not a happy girl.  Meeting the two of them that year was the only silver lining, but what a jackpot! I remember the exact moment I met JB.  I remember her long, dark hair and her red lipstick and her black leather jacket.  I liked her immediately, but we didn't become good friends right away.  It took a few months of riding the bus together and walking to school before we truly beg