Thursday, September 25, 2014

Butterfly Strength Card and 'the big mad'

Hi friends,

I love making encouragement cards using my Papertrey Ink sentiment stamp set that has inspiring scriptures.  This one is quite pretty as a clean and simple card using Papertrey inks butterfly stamp. These are great cards to just 'have around' because sometimes you just have an occasion to send one. This is a great sympathy card and a good get well soon card.    I usually find I need one of these on a weekday and don't have time to make one from scratch.  A great reason to build up card inventory when the time allows.

So besides sharing this pretty card creation I thought I would tell you about a situation that happened late this summer that I'm calling 'the big mad.'   At first I called it 'the big fight' but I realized that's not the right title.  It really was just a situation where I got really, really mad.  The set up for 'the big mad' is probably easily reproducible.  If I wanted to share a recipe for a 'big mad' these ingredients would be great to ensure a really, really big mad.

1) Exhaustion
2) Feelings of under-appreciation
3) Pride
4) Mis-communication

So for my 'big mad' I started with a very healthy dose of exhausted.  The day of my 'big mad' started with me going to bed at midnight and waking up at 4am.  Why so little sleep?  Well, I had just arrived in Munich Germany and had a very challenging work agenda.  So between jetlag, sleeping in a strange bed and having a lot of work issues on my mind - a full nights sleep wasn't really an option.

Ingredient 1 - Not enough sleep.

So the other thing I added to get a great exhaustion going (think ragu - a base ingredient that requires several steps to make) was a 13 hour work day.  I had woken at 4am that day and immediately started working.  Now you may say 'Linda - that's just stupid - why would you start working at 4am?'  Well, you are right, however, at 4am German time, it was 8pm California time where my boss was and he was shooting off critical e-mails to me.  Also, I had lost my cell phone so my only connection to home and family and people I care about - was through my work computer - so I naturally logged in and couldn't help but open my work e-mail while it was open.  And lastly, I had some pre-work to do to prepare for the 8:30 am training start.  Now here again, you are probably saying - 'why would you procrastinate doing training prep until the day of training?'  Here is why.  They had a 'code drop' the day before.  A code drop means they 'fixed some of the existing bugs' so to ensure a more successful training it was way better for the learners to have 'fresh' practice deals in the system without bugs so as a courtesy to them I wanted to recreate their practice exercises with the new code drop.  Did I have to do that - no - but these learners are people I've known for years and I care about them and I want their learning environment to be the best it can be.  So I started working at 4:00am.  I worked from 4am-7:00am, then took a break from 7-8 to eat breakfast and shower and then down to training at 8:15.  Training from 8:30-5:00, then working on my bosses new 'hot topic' from 5-6:15, dinner from 6:30-8:00 and then working again from 8-9:30.  Note - the BIG MAD happened around 10:00pm.

Ingredient 2 - a 14 hour work day that was not over yet.

Again, you may say 'why after a 13 hour work day would you come back from dinner and work AGAIN?'   In hindsight - I never should have booted up my laptop, but again let me explain my motivation.  My boss had sent me an e-mail that I read at 4am.  I worked on his new 'hot issue' with the manager of the EU quote center from 5-6:15pm and frankly I felt if I didn't write up the results of the discussion with the EU manager the next day I would forget.  Keep in mind I still had another training day the next morning (at 8:30) and again, I had some prep to do when I returned from dinner and thought I'll send my boss the e-mail, finish up some training prep and THEN be able to sleep like a baby and be ready for the next days training.  And just to be clear on the bosses 'hot topic' I was feeling very prideful about this.  You see I understood the issue better than anyone else on the team and I was going to be able to get to the bottom of the issue and hash it out with the EU team and be a HERO to the entire team.  Now again, don't judge me too harshly.  Yes, there was a lot of arrogance and pride going on there, but my motivations really were sound.  You see to 'fix' the issue the way my boss originally thought it had to be done would have meant a weeks worth of overtime for the tech team (4 great guys and gals who I care about deeply.)  It would have meant they worked really, really hard on something that in mind, didn't need to be done.  They would have been asked to work weekends, the project go-live date may have had to be pushed out and it would have added a lot of work to the entire team.  And I had (after my discussion with the EU team) clarified that the issue wasn't that big an issue and did not need to be solved the way my boss originally thought.  Are you seeing the potential for a BIG MAD here?  You should.

So ingredient 3 - a very healthy dose of arrogance and pride.  I can fix this.  I can save the team.  I can save the project.  Dun dun done!  Linda the hero.  Linda to the rescue!  Applause.  Praise.  Promotion.  Bonus!

So Linda the Martyr, Linda the hero, spent 45 minutes drafting a very excellent e-mail explaining to the entire team, the issue, my recommendation for the solution and the results of my discussion with the EU manager.  I hit send and then proceeded to work on my 'other work' to prepare for training.    Imagine my surprise when my boss replies (quite quickly I might add) with a whole bunch of questions and additional action items on my brilliant solution.  I read things like 'this is interesting but, what about X, and what about Y... how will this work in NA?  Did EU agree this change will be the best solution?  And then the true 'straw that broke the camels back' statement - please reach out to the Asia and Japan teams and do the same analysis with them tonight.  EU and AP/GC overlap timezones, so please set up phone calls with them tonight or early morning to review this proposal with them, get their buy in and oh by the way, please clarify my concerns ASAP.

So ingredient 4 - a request for a whole lot of additional work to be done by me in the next 24 hours when I have no free time what-so-ever to do anything except prepare for and conduct training for 10 users.

Can you guess what those 4 ingredients made?  If you guessed a big mad flambe - you are right.

I was LIVID.  I was FURIOUS.  I was EXHAUSTED.  I wanted to scream.  I wanted to cry.  I was shaking I was so frustrated and tired and exhausted.   So I replied back via e-mail (reply all - 4 team members and dripping with sarcasm) NO.  I am not contacting Asia.  No.  I am not contacting Japan. No.  I am not justifying my excellent idea.  I am going to bed and I'm going to conduct training tomorrow.  And I wanted to also state 'Do Not Ask Me to help with this issue again.  Ever.'  But I didn't.  I wisely just said 'no' turned off my computer, took a shower and tried to sleep.  As you can imagine I did not 'sleep like a baby' like I originally hoped, but slept enough.

The next day I saw some of the e-mails from the team.  One of my team-mates actually thanked me for pushing back on the workload.  The project has caused all of us to work a lot and he too was feeling the strain.  My boss came back with something like 'um after I read this a little further, I can see why you felt that request was over the top - sorry.'   That helped a little, but the next morning I was still really, really mad.  I told my fellow training partner - 'he's lucky I showed up for work today'  'What would he have done if I just 'called in sick.''  This was especially relevant since on this training day my partner was only there till 10:00am since she had to take a flight back to the US for a family thing (this was on Thursday and just prior to Labor Day Weekend.)  If I had 'not shown up' - training would not have happened.  Now let me be clear folks.  I would NEVER have called in sick for work in a situation like this.  But the thought did cross my mind, only in the most prideful way.  What would my boss do without ME!

Can you believe that I stayed mad for over 2 weeks?  All the built up frustrations on the project piled on.  All the areas where I had disagreed with the team piled on.  All the feelings of under appreciation piled on.  And the jet lagged was still there and I was resenting the fact that for the summer, I had been away working my butt off for 4 of the 8 best weeks of summer.  Yup.  I held onto that 'big mad' for a good long time.

My boss was actually great.  He said in an e-mail on Friday - 'let's talk next week.'  Monday was the holiday and Tuesday he met with me and let me vent on quite a few of the things I was frustrated about.  He listened.  He apologized.  And yet, I held onto that mad for another whole week.  The jet lag was still with me and the pride was still bubbling over.

Thankfully I asked my church friends to pray for me.  I also starting to put things in perspective.  I am not the first person in the world to be over-worked and under-appreciated.  And I got back into reading my bible devotions and doing yoga.  When I stopped the frantic work pace and started eating healthier, being more active and counting my blessings, thankfully the big mad just slowly started to dissolve away.

Now it's just a story I can blog about and hopefully, if I'm emotionally mature, I can learn from this and be sure to never let those ingredients pile up in a day so the recipe creates the desired results.

Oh and for the record (sorry - this probably still reeks of stinkin pride) the 'hot issue' is being resolved with a very simplistic solution and NOT the big 'weeks and weeks of tech team work' my boss originally thought was needed.  So my bid mad and extra work was not for naught.  It did ultimately result in a solution that works for all, but if I had to do it over again, I would do it very differently.  I hate being 'really, really mad!'

So how about you?  Have you ever had a 'big mad?'  What helped you get out of the funk?  What do you do to make sure you don't find the ingredients all coming together to make it?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Floral Birthday Card and a new addition to our family

I saw this sketch over the summer and was dying to try this out.  When the newlyweds moved out and I got my craft room back, this was one of the first cards I made.  It's so easy.  Stamp, color, adhere. done.  I added the row of crystals to give an extra umph.  Simple and elegant and I always love the color combination of brown and pink.  This made it's way to my dear cousin as a belated birthday card.

Want to know about the new addition to our family?  Let me give you some hints:

1) It's a 'she.'
2) She's thin and tall and BEAUTIFUL.
3) I think she looks most beautiful naked, and although that makes her very vulnerable I can't bear to cover her up and plan to leave her naked almost always.
4) She goes with me everywhere I go.
5) She's very popular - everyone wants her.  When anyone see's her, she's often the topic of conversation.
6) I stayed home all day Friday waiting for her to show up.
7) Bob saw her and he wants one for himself.

Do you have any ideas about what I'm talking about?

Well, of course I'm talking about my new iphone 6!

I don't know why, but it seems very obvious that my iphone would be a she.  I do plan to get a case for her, but I hate covering her up.  I'm going to look for a 'naked' case, one that let's her shine through and doesn't cover her up.  I love leaving her without a case, but it's pretty risky..... nuff said.

I lost my phone during my first day in Munich in late August.  I think I was just not very coherent after the jet lag and either was an easy target for theft or just simply careless.  Regardless my old phone was gone.  Upon returning home I dug through the junk drawer and found a very old clam-shell phone and put it into use for the few weeks before the iphone 6 is ready.

On Friday Sept 12th, I awoke at 2:45 am and let Joey out. I booted up the laptop and placed my order at 3:02am.  Friday Sept 19th, Mr. Fed Ex arrived with my new baby and I got busy getting to know her.  So, far, I LOVE her!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Masculine Birthday Card & Bright Green Capri's - size XL

Wow - what a strange title for a blog post!  Do these two topics have anything to do with each other? Well, actually no.  But I'm in the mood to talk about both so here you go.

First, above is a fun birthday card I made a few weeks ago.  I love the fact that this can work for ANYONE.  I have such trouble with men and birthday's.  The only success I've had with masculine cards in the past is to use a nature scene (like tree or something) but this birthday cake works well for a guy - don't you think?

So now that we've got the card out of the way, let me tell you about my new bright green capri's - size XL.  Sadly, the 15 pound weight loss I achieved a few years ago has all been gained back.  Sigh.  I know many of you can relate.  What happened?  Well the first year, a few pounds came back on.  I should have been concerned but we were moving and life was busy and heck it was only 3-5 pounds. Then 2014 happened.  Work, Stress.  Travel.  Stress...... not a great combination for maintaining a healthy weight.  I gained 10 pounds in 12 months.  Sigh.  But I'm down 2 pounds since Sept 1st so I'm on the right track...  I've been logging my food using my fitbit and working extra hard to get to the gym 3 times a week, and 10,000 steps every day.  I also started doing 20 minute Yoga routines every morning.  I had too.  My whole body ached from working too much and moving too little.

I highly recommend doing yoga every day.  It's made a huge difference for me.  I just do a little routine up on the 3rd floor (available to me now that the newlyweds moved out.) I start with this great little stretch with a belt where I hold the belt in front of me and go up and over my head and around to my back.... it's a great stretch for shoulders/arms and is EXACTLY what I need to counter all the computer work I do.  Then I do three Sun A's and three Sun B's.  If I have time I do dancer or tree, but generally I hit the floor and do 60 crunch type things for the abs and then 2 eight breath bridges.  To finish I do a side stretch and I'm done.  The core work is really good to do every day.  It's so much easier to do the ab work now that I do it daily.

Sun A...

Sun B....

Shoulder stretch...

The shoulder stretch is one that Rebecca does a lot in our Thursday night hot yoga class.  You can check out her blog (OmGal)  ...She's an awesome yoga teacher... love her!

Oh and to make it FUN, I burn a tiny piece of real Japanese incense and turn on my TV (sound only) to soundscape channel.  Bob makes fun of me and my 'yoga' studio!   I entice Tank to join me with a treat.  He gladly hauls it up two flights of stairs for a treat and he sits on the floor and watches - either out the window or at me.  I love that he keeps me company.  Joey?  Well, he can't easily climb the stairs - so I give him a treat and he hangs out on the first floor with Bob.

So what does any of this have to do with bright green capri's?  Well,  I like bright green. I like bright colors.  And even though I"m not a size small or even a medium, I decided to buy them and actually wear them in public.  Here is my thinking.  My rear end looks big in black, grey, brown, pink, red and green.  the color of my pants sadly does nothing to even disguise the size of my tushy.  So I figure, buy what fits, buy what I like and get a top that covers the widest part and HAVE FUN.

So when I saw these on sale at Athleta last week, I bought them.  And I wear them to yoga and Zumba.  And lots of other girls are wearing bright colors - even if they don't wear size small.  The key for me, is get them to fit.  I'm not really an XL, I'm probably more of a L, but with capri's,  I don't want them too tight.  They stretch out and get see through.  That is bad in ANY COLOR.  So this fall, I'm rocking the bright green capri's.

What do you think?  Should big girls stick to dark colors?  Would you dare to wear these in size XL or even S or M?  I hope so.  Life is too short to not do what you love.

Thanks for visiting my blog today.  Have a great day!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Who loves fall?

Hi friends,

I love fall, how about you?  Even though we are still having hot and humid weather here in New England in September, there are still all kinds of tell-tale signs that fall is soon to arrive.  The markets already have local apples (YUM), the days are shorter and leaves are just starting to fall - just a few.

This card is a perfect celebration of the end of summer start of fall, with the yellow sunflower heads and the yellow/brown backgound papers.  I made this card for the commission order I got this summer, but had an 'oopsy' on the lower portion so adjusted this one to be square.  I kept this one for myself (sent the other 3 'non-oopsy' ones off) and am glad to have it.  One of the girls I work with had a heart attack over labor day weekend and Wednesday underwent triple bi-pass surgery.  I'll send off this cheery card to her to let her know I'm thinking of her.

So, the last time I posted a blog entry, it was mid-August and the craziness of the summer was waning.  Let me give you a further update - I'll try to keep it brief.

Sarah and Ivan love their new apartment in Beverly.  It's great that they have their own place and they are having fun decorating on a budget.  Last I heard they were trying to figure out how to put bookshelves in the living room.  Ivan started a new job in Mid-August and really likes it.  It's precision manufacturing work.  He works on a microscope and very carefully puts extra tiny things together to test semiconductor electronic devices.  He likes the hours (8-4:30), he likes the steady pay check and he likes the skilled nature of the work.  Sarah got a new job that she will start in September.  She will be working for a start up publishing company as an editorial assistant.  The company publishes books on cooking, crafts and anything else that is new and up and coming.  She is excited for the opportunity.  Both will be working in Salem MA (the next town over from Beverly) and they will have an 8 minute commute to work.

Eric headed back to school to start his Junior Year at Clemson University.  He will continue studying Bio-systems engineering.  He had considered switching majors to Bio-Medical but decided in the end to stay with his current major.  Bio-systems would be anything to do with biology in engineering  It's a broader and newer field than bio-med.  Think water purification or bio fuel, not just heart valves and knee replacements.

As for me, well, I had another crazy work trip last week.  This time I was off to Germany.  It was a good training trip.  The work was hard, but we had really good success with this group and they were a tough group to teach.  I lost my iphone in Germany - I blame it on jet lag carelessness.  Thankfully the phone was 2 years old and I was planning to get the new iphone.  I found an old clamshell phone in the junk drawer and am using that until I can get my new iphone.  I forgot how spoiled I was with all the user friendly features of the iphone!  the worst part of my clamshell phone is the ringtone.  I have no options and have selected 'dancing cowboy' as my tone of choice.  Yes, it's as bad as you would think from the name, but believe it or not, it was the best option I found.

Well, there is banana bread baking in the oven and I'm off to do some yoga before I head over to Market Basket and Trader Joe's to get food for the week.  If you have been following the news, we are all SOOO glad the marketbasket management fiasco is done.   Thankfully it had a happy ending and customers and employees alike are excited for the future.  If you missed the story, you can check it out here.

Market Basket Story

Thanks for visiting.  Have a great day.