My Secret: Adjusting to New

I wish I’d brought my ball chair home from the office. It’s pleasantly bouncy, keeps my posture upright and my core engaged. I like it a lot. It may seem like a small, insignificant wish in the global pandemic, nonetheless, I miss my chair.

My “home office” is set up on a collapsible table we usually use for picnics, covered with a beautiful blue tablecloth that my mom made. It’s wedged in a small upstairs room, alongside bookcases and phys.ed equipment and one of my collections of shoes (don’t ask). I’ve added my “I’m not Bossy, I’m the Boss” sign and important office supplies like my staple free stapler and the particular black Sharpie pens I like best. I brought up a dining chair from downstairs. All in all, it’s pretty comfortable. And yet, after two weeks of working from home, my lower back is killing me. Oh for my ball chair.

Of course, I’m very happy to still have a job, especially a meaningful, interesting one. The work I’m doing every day supports others in this truly challenging and extraordinary time. Even so, there have been surprising adjustments I’ve had to make working from home.

In Better than Before, Gretchen Rubin writes that one of the keys to happiness is knowing yourself. I’m using my hard won self knowledge to decide what to do when so many things are new. I know that to be happy, I need a regular routine that structures my time so I can be productive. That means I’m getting up at the usual time, doing some exercise, having a shower, doing my hair (so important!) and getting dressed. I’m “shopping my closet” and putting together outfits. I even cleaned off the soles of some of my shoes so I can wear them inside and feel more put together. These actions may seem trivial, but they’re more than that. They let me take a little control over the only thing I can control. I feel more like myself.

Once I’m at “the office” in my little room upstairs, working equals most of the day spent online and on screen. Figuring out virtual meetings and a new workflow is more exhausting that I thought possible, and even though it’s going well, my brain is drained. Articles about working from home advise people to take regular breaks and lunch, with a walk or something active to recharge. In the last two weeks, that’s become very important. I’m telling colleagues that I’m on lunch and encouraging them to do the same. Setting boundaries ensures that no one part of my life takes over another.

And here’s the secret: what’s really getting me through this new world we’re living in are all these small things. These strategies I use and other little celebrations like a happy wave in a virtual meeting, the sight of encouraging words chalked on a sidewalk or a friend sending me a wonderful Elizabeth Gilbert quote. Not to mention the comfort of a good book that lifts me above the everyday.

I think I’ll be OK without my chair.

A Thought for International Women’s Day

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

A job is posted. A promotion become available. An opportunity opens up. Interested women might choose to wait instead of stepping forward. In contrast, men will apply to a job they aspire, no matter if they lack experience or have many other commitments on the go.

This is my lived experience. These are my observations. As people in my work and personal orbits have decided to move into leadership roles or apply for a promotion, I’ve seen the pattern I describe above time and again. While not every woman acts in the way I’ve described, it’s more common than many accept.

Women might think they need to get more experience, expertise or education. They may have the primary role in the home as a caregiver and feel they can’t find the time. Women may believe they’re not ready. And then women don’t apply. But good news! I’m beginning to see a change. More younger women seem to be ready to take the risk and put themselves forward.

Why might this be? Because of how women have been and are encouraged to see themselves by society and those in power. Gender roles are strongly engrained in our human communities. We are deeply socialized to believe, think and act in certain ways. The biases and assumptions I grew up with through the 60’s to 80’s don’t serve us. People everywhere want to freely express their identities, whether non-binary, woman, man, or LGBTQS2+.

All of us, and especially those who have power, can work to disrupt the pattern. I want women to value their worth and what they have to offer. I want every woman to know that she can put herself forward at any time and boldly state what she wants and aspires to. We need mentors and managers who clearly see the women in front of them and systematically help, encourage and support their professional growth and learning. Women, indicate your interest for the promotion, apply for the job, and say yes to the opportunity, even if you think you’re not ready. Most likely, you are ready and you have the skills and passion to learn the job.

Happy International Women’s Day!

My “20 for 2020” List

Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and many other books, has initiated a fun way to think about things you might want to accomplish in a year. She and her sister, Elizabeth Craft, who co-hosts the Happier podcast with her, started back in 2018 with an annual list. Part to do list and part semi-resolutions, the 20 for 2020 list gathers some thinking about what the year might bring.

Image by Monfocus from Pixabay

I wrote my list in January and have been working on it. It’s enjoyable and not too stressful. These are things I really want to do and try; writing them down has given me a little extra push to follow through. I’m assessing as I go, so we’ll see what happens!

I’ve decided to publish my list here as an extra piece of accountability. Maybe someone will come up with a brilliant idea to help me out or even want to tackle one of these with me? Let me know!

Here’s my list:

  1. Get a thistle tattoo.
  2. Try intermittent fasting 1x a week.
  3. Do 10 “real” push ups.
  4. Make ice cream two times.
  5. Go on a writing retreat.
  6. Read three books on writing.
  7. Attend a writing course.
  8. Do a 5 km open water swim.
  9. Visit London and another part of Europe.
  10. Get married.
  11. Write 2 blog posts per month.
  12. Keep a one sentence journal.
  13. Choose a signature colour.
  14. Grow my hair longer.
  15. Start a weekly family update.
  16. Read the bible more.
  17. Create a photobook.
  18. Get a new kitchen.
  19. Get a mammogram.
  20. Call my parents more often.

I’ll post an update in a few weeks.

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