Will we have a White Christmas?

Xmas mason jars

Our new #HoHoHo marque sign

Toronto is having a more typical Canadian winter. And unlike many who are complaining about the cold and all the snow we have received, my husband and I are ecstatic! The last two winters have been pitiful. We didn’t go snow-shoeing once. And skiing/snowboarding was pathetic.

Xmas mason jars

We bought these new Xmas mason jars as well – set of 3

So my hope and wish if for this snow, if not perhaps a blanket of fresh snow, be present for Christmas. It’s been a rough year on many levels – a White Christmas will give us that little sense of peace and give us the break we deserve.

I wish we had more time to savor Christmas. Each year it comes and goes faster and faster. I find myself not sitting by our tree, reading for pleasure, listening to tunes, etc. These days I’m more working overtime by our tree. I still put on the Christmas tunes but a whole CD will go by and I swear it’s like I haven’t heard one song.

Winter-themed nail design

I decided for a winter-theme look

So I do what little I can to try and enjoy this time of year. I even pampered myself with a winter-themed nail design (my manicurist is an artist!) And we spent Friday night staying up late wrapping the first batch of presents we need to ship to my in-laws in Thunder Bay.

One thing I am always excited about – gift giving. As much work as it is to shop for everyone it is the one tradition I pride myself in. And it gives me such great pleasure to spoil my loved ones. Even though our daughter is passed the age of believing in Santa, she will have her stockings filled to the brim from, well, we can say from the spirit of Christmas and Santa.

I have seen those Facebook posts about how Children should only receive a few gifts – that it makes it unfair when their friends whom have little gifts (mainly the ones from families less fortunate than ours). I understand – and we teach our child not to brag. And we’re very thankful that presently, we are in a position to splurge a little during Christmas time.

Even when we were not in the position we are in  now, I would fill our daughter’s stockings – maybe most of the presents were from the Dollar store. But it was never about the amount we spent – it was the fun of opening gifts on Christmas day together.

Anyway – one more week left. I have to hang on just for one more week…

A little peace of heaven

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Regal Princess at Port in Antigua

We came back recently from a 7-day Caribbean Cruise on the Regal Princess.

A splurge and gift to ourselves was upgrading to a mini-suite with a balcony.

Best. Decision. Ever.

The extra space made it a little home away from home. The balcony allowed an escape from the busy crowd. And the extra attention from our cabin steward… Magnifico!

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View from our balcony.

Having constant view of the ocean really helped me calm my nerves. Even in the dark, just the sound of the vessel cutting through the waves was enough to sooth me. If there was any room for me to drag a mattress out on the balcony so I could sleep under the stars, I would have!

This just confirmed how burnt out I am. With work. With everyday life. Though, everyday life would not be as hard if it weren’t for work… Work is slowly killing me. My blood pressure is up, my body weight is up…ugh! I can’t even stand to look at myself in the mirror!

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Our private over-the-water cabana in Amber Cover, Dominican Republic

Getting away, though, sort of let me forget all that I had temporarily left behind. And even though I worked out everyday, walked a lot and took the stairs as much as I could, I escaped my body image. I wore a 2-piece and didn’t quite care but just took the liberty and feeling good not being bound or restricted with too much clothing. On formal nights, I brought formal pants and loose, sparkly tops. Comfort was what I aimed for and it was wonderful.

But now, I am back to reality. I need to do something – my work, my physical health and my mental health. Of course all of theses things are tightly connected.

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Mountain top view in St. Thomas

So for the next 2 weeks it is going to be hell at work as we wrap things up for the year while also getting ready for the first of January.

There’s little I can do about minimizing stress with work for the next 2 weeks. Until the holidays come I will visualize the sea and the view from our balcony… just to try and escape in whatever capacity I can.

Sunset from our balcony – Antigua port

On Being a Firefighter’s Wife, Part IV

This entry will not be as heavy or serious as the previous 3 On Being a Firefighter’s Wife. It is just something that’s been on my mind lately – In all honesty, it has to do with me more than my husband.

The realization I’ve had is that he has been a firefighter for a few years now. His shift has not changed. During their shift cycle, there are still two weekends where he has to work one or two days. On one of those weekends, he is gone all Friday and all Sunday. On the other one of those weekends, he is gone all Saturday.

The Saturday one I can take. Sometimes, we get invited out to social events with friends and he can not be there. Over all, though, I’ve adjusted to that. Plus, when he comes home to us Sunday morning, for a full brunch and some type of outdoor outing, it’s a great feeling! I can not describe it. It’s just… wonderful! To have him home with us safe and sound.

It’s like a cheesy feel-good family movie. I’m up early to greet him, then when he comes through the door, our dog nearly pounced towards the door, barking and whining as he wonders why it’s taking so long for daddy to come in, our daughter wakes up to give her dad a sleepy hug…

And the small things that makes life happy starts to work its magic… the smell of freshly made coffee from freshly ground up beans, eggs & bacon sizzling in the frying pan (or whatever we’re creating for brunch that day) – Both the smell and sound infuses into this Sunday morning bliss.

Then, that weekend where he works on a Friday and Sunday comes along. It’s not that it’s just 2 days of the weekend. There’s just this bit of empty feeling I get when he is not home with us after a long week of work – I can not celebrate that crazy end of the week with my best friend. Nor do I have him around Sunday… the last bit of peace before the daily grind hits us again.

This empty feeling I get is worse now that my work load and responsibility is so heavy. It’s always been there, though. From the start of his career. I know it sounds so trivial but I thought I would be use to it by now.

And it surprises me that I’m still getting that bluesy feeling when I don’t have him at the start and end of a weekend because I’m such an independent person. I’ve never had any issues doing things on my own – In fact, to this day, I love being on my own from time to time. I continue to leave early weekend mornings when he is home, to get a manicure or pedicure, every now and then – Just to be on my own for small doses at a time. Or reading at a coffee shop – for an hour or so. I never am the type of person that needs to have some one with me when I go out and do or see things. When I’m on a business trip, sometimes, I am on my own for dinner and in the evenings. There’s nothing I love more than to dine somewhere and explore afterwards, completely on my own.

Yes – these Sundays when he is not around. I still am not really getting use to it – And I’m not sure if this feeling will ever go away, either.

Getting back on track…

I’ve become a person I don’t identify with anymore.

It can happen so easily. And it doesn’t happen overnight. But one night is all it takes for one to wake up the next morning and think, Who are you? Where are your boundaries? How did everything spin out of control?

For me, it has been 1.5 yrs since I’ve felt more like me.

A lot has happened in the last 1.5 years. Without going into too much finite details I will say some key points:

  • Whatever depression I had experienced two years ago, which lead me to therapy, has pretty much been kept at bay. Not to say it’s not lurking in the shadows waiting for the right opportunity to pounce out at me, but from my cognitive behavioral therapy sessions, I’m still able to exercise myself back on to a straight path anytime I feel like I’m being sucked back in to the darkness. More importantly, I no longer have suicidal thoughts!
  • Regardless of whatever shitty people or shitty things people have done to me, I’m still pretty confident in who I am, which is something I completely lost 2-3 years ago.
  • While this past year has been the most challenging, I am still feeling blessed with what I do have in life.

The issue is that I have this extreme want to excel my career.

On the one hand, it’s been quite obvious the vast number of skills and management responsibilities I have seen over just the past 6 months alone come to being. I am doing things that I know is what will launch my career further down its path.

On the other hand, I have lost that balance. I am sometimes a workaholic, working overtime and like this weekend, spending a few of my free hours each Saturday and Sunday to catch up on a workload which I will always be behind in.

I am a very accountable person. But not just because I have been given a lot to be responsible over, but it is in my nature to do what I can to not fail. I take great accountability in everything that I do. It is both a strength and a weakness.

What I want to do for myself in 2016 is to know when to stop, know when I need to just let go of work and spend some peaceful time, while at the same time, being efficient with my productivity at work.

The challenge with the former – even when I’m not working, I’m thinking about work.

The challenge with the latter – my new manager (a.k.a. NM), is not one to allow me to be efficient. New manager is all over the place with projects. I am not the only one who has observed this. All my close co-workers have pointed this out upon meeting NM for the first time. NM is everywhere, is what they will say.

It’s true. How many times has NM double booked dates/months for clients where I would have to spend a considerable amount of my time trying to sort out on a calendar that is one of my key performance indicators? How many times has NM allocated time for meetings on new ideas NM wishes to push only for our VP to decline as it isn’t top of our priority for our company? Not bad ideas, mind you, but given our low resources and the long list of top priorities, said ideas are just not important enough to discuss right now. I spent half a day on my business trip discussing one of these “to-do” projects where there was so much more we needed to discuss first.

And finally, how many times has NM emailed me, stated a certain procedure which is new to me (as has been most of my job) and that we will discuss it together first, only to then get frustrated with me a week later for not working on that procedure? Yet I was instructed to wait on it until we’ve had a chance to discuss it. <- This has been the worst. Not just from NM’s poor lack of memory and proper management style, but just the demeaning approach put on me. The tone of voice can be abrasive and sometimes even shrill.

My challenge is to manage my NM and this will prove difficult.

My first task is to document all that I do for my projects, specially when there is inconsistency with NM’s work and/or communication (with documentation where possible followed by clarification. I will remain diplomatic but firm. If NM shows anger or frustration for how I decide to do my work, I will eventually need to take all my documentation and approach my VP for advice.

This tactic of mine is not to seek revenge or try to ruin NM’s career. It is simply has come to a point where if I do not do anything, the only person who will suffer is me.

I’ve had lengthy discussions with my husband about this and he continues to encourage me to remember that I deserve taking a break and to not let work own me.

Anyway – wish me luck. 2016 is not going to be easy but I am optimistic something good will come out of this.

 

The 80’s won’t leave me alone…

I really do have BOOM 97.3 to blame for this. Especially whenever they do an all 80’s long weekend.

I’ve always been an 80’s music girl. My go-to music when I want a bit of nostalgia would be:

  • The Smiths
  • New Order
  • The Cure
  • Depeche Mode
  • David Bowie (though classic Bowie also comes from the 80’s)
  • House Martins

Lately, it’s been more pop-80’s music. Top 40’s. You know, the cheesy stuff.

I’ve been craving for more Platinum Blond’s “Crying Over You” and “Situation Critical”. Or “Never Surrender” from Corey Hart. Even Bryan Adam’s “Summer of 69” has been on my mind.

Something in between the new wave/alternative and pop-dance cheese of this era would be “Take On Me” by A-Ha and of course, who can ever forget, “Don’t You Forget About Me” by Simple Minds (popular also because of The Breakfast Club  – thank you, Mr. Hughes. RIP.)

The thing is, this latter list, I don’t have from my old CD collection.

[And yes, I still have a library of my old CDs. I would stop expanding this list but whenever my in-laws want to know what to get me for Christmas or my birthday, it’s a lot easier just to give them some music ideas. They don’t do the online ordering thing so CDs is what I get.]

I’m hoping to have some time over the Christmas holidays to do a bit of shopping to help build my pop-dance 80’s playlist.