Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Interview

I've never really given much thought to my career path - effort, yes of course, but thought?  Not so much.  When I was a little girl and people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always struggled with the answer.  Even as a young girl, I understood the fight of all those women who had gone before me so that I may have the opportunity to be whatever I wanted.  The thing is, though, all I really ever wanted to be was a mommy.  I dropped out of university after a year and a half, because I just had no focus.  I knew I wanted to learn everything there was to learn about everything, but I really couldn't afford to pay thousands of dollars a term just to learn arbitrary things with no end goal in sight.  It wasn't a logical step for me. 
At 20, I was working in a coffee shop - a brother-in-law of a friend from high school came in and said, "Hey, we're hiring at the airport if you'd like to apply..." and my life was forever changed.  Literally within a week, I had a job, a career that I loved.  It was there that I learned how to deal with conflict and adversity, how to be efficient and organized, how to balance a strong work ethic with genuinely enjoying what you do, how to be outgoing and professional equally.  I don't know of any University courses that could have taught me these skills as well as organizing a 24 hour delay for 320 passengers expecting to go to Mexico.
Ten years later, after four lay-offs, I applied for a job, not knowing where - just knowing they were looking for a lot of the skills I had.  Turns out, I had applied for a job with Canada Post.  While the challenges were much different than that in the airlines, I found that I had a job with security, a job that paid well, and a job that allowed me to provide for my son.  I hadn't been looking for it, but it found me.  Here I learned the art of compassion in a way I had never known before.  My eyes were opened to how many broken people live in this world, and how caring just a little bit can change their world.  I learned to supervise all walks of life by appealing to their humanity, rather than enforcing productivity and volume and procedure.  It's been an awesome life lesson for me.  One lesson I can't imagine being taught in a lecture hall on a Monday morning in business class.
Five years later, an opportunity found me yet again.  A temporary management position was brought to my attention by a coworker, with the belief that I would be a really good fit.  I fancied up my resume, rewrote my old cover letter and said a quick prayer.  Weeks and weeks went by without a word, and I assumed I would receive a "thanks for applying, however you do not possess the basic requirements for this job" because in point of fact, I do not possess the basic requirements for the this job.  It requires a certificate program which I can easily attain, but do not have yet. 
A call came in asking me to come for an interview.  An interview!!!  Prepare as I might, it had been five years since my last interview.  I had no idea what kind of questions they would ask.  I knew of STAR competency based questions, and tried to familiarize myself with the Situation, Task, Action, Result answers. 
I had no idea what I was in for.
Funny enough, on the day of the interview I wasn't the least bit anxious.  My plan was to go in and dazzle them with my charm and humour.  Unfortunately, charm and humour only get you so far.  Especially when the interview was over an hour and a half long.  These were not the questions form 15 years ago.  These were not, "What is your greatest weakness?"  I should say, I'm thankful for that, because seriously who can say what their weakness is without expecting to get fired - my answer is evidently the cop-out answer - I'm a perfectionist...but it's true - I expect the best from myself and from everyone else - so I can sometimes be a little hard on people who I do not believe to be giving their best.  But, I digress...these were insanely difficult questions.
They give you a definition of a word, and then ask you a question, which you must answer with STAR which demonstrates the qualities of the definition of the word.  I know, have I lost you yet?  Because then the question is four fold. 
Naturally, I lost my train of thought in the middle of my answer.  Naturally, I forgot the question in the middle of my answer.  Naturally, I could not think of one single example of anything I had ever done in 15 + years of working.  Naturally, I forgot what I was saying in the middle of a word.  I was a mess. 
A hot mess, though.  If I could have been offered the job based on my hair, I would have had it in a second.  My hair really rocked - held the curl, nice volume.  I was impressed. 
We got through all the questions.  I was able to have a coherent conversation about the job requirements, how the working relationship is with the disability management team we have, and what effects the new collective agreement would have on the job I was applying for. 
And then came the awkwardness...
The interview was over, and I stood up to shake hands with the two gentlemen doing the interview.  I shook the first man's hand, and then put my hand out to the second guy and he left me hanging.  It felt like my hand was there for 30 seconds, but it probably closer to 1 or 2 seconds.  He says, "oh I'm walking you out.  I'll shake your hand later..."  But then puts his hand out...after my hand was down.  So I put my hand back up, but his was gone.  Three times I tried to shake his hand.  Three times unsuccessful. 
How do you recover from something like that?
Some people might ignore it.  But not me.  I acknowledge it.  And it's awkwardness.  And then try to make a joke about it.  I don't know...this could have been the make or break it moment.
I'm still waiting to see if I'm the successful applicant.  Either way, I'll be happy with the outcome.  Because God always has a way of taking care of me and giving me what I need even when I don't know I need it.  Fifteen years of providing jobs and experiences that have given me an education that, in my opinion, far exceeds any University degree.  Truthfully, I still lack the focus.  I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up, and I still just really love being a mom (and dream of being a wife some day).
But it sure is nice knowing I don't need focus.  I don't need to know what the outcome is.  I just need to do my best, give my all, and trust.
I'll keep you all posted.  Can you believe they made me wait the weekend?!?!?!  I mean, seriously, if I get this job...I have a wardrobe to plan!!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Les Mis - My Review

One of the benefits of being semi anti-social (hmmm, maybe just semi-social?  I think the anti looks misplaced...) with my nose in a book, and very few engagements written on my calendar is that I get very, very excited over things that regular people with regular social lives may over look as just another part of another day. 

For instance, I was in a movie theater watching the trailers for upcoming movies and almost stood up and cheered when the preview for *Life of Pi* came on.  First of all, how did I not know it was being made into a movie?  I usually know stuff like that.  Second of all, it is probably one of my favourite books and one of two books I have read twice (the other one being Rapture of Canaan, which I totally recommend).  The twist at the end of Pi took my breath away.  I had to read it a second time so I could picture it in my head knowing what I didn't the first time around.  I will have to read it a third time now, because in discussing how badly I wanted to see the movie, my brother mentioned he started reading it, but had stopped because of how it was total blasphemy, and against every thing he believes in.  I need to read it again to see if I'm completely naive, because I saw it as a beautiful representation of God, nature, the resilience of the human spirit and what it can overcome.    It is so amazing to me how people can read the same thing and have completely different interpretations of it.

So you can only imagine my excitement when I heard Les Miserables was coming to theaters. (Side note: Probably the only thing I really, really, reeeeeeeeeeaaaaalllllllllly want to do before I die is go to New York and experience a real live Broadway show.  And Central Park.  At Christmas time.  Preferably with a boyfriend - seeing as how it's my dream and all, we can make it as unrealistic as possible, right??)   I could not and did not wait - I went to see it on Boxing Day.  Let me tell you folks, the movie did not disappoint.  Having not seen it on Broadway, I had no idea what to expect - but I was blown away.  It reminds me how I long to live in a musical, where it is common to break into song when something a) awkward or b) lovingly is needed to be said.  But Gah!!  If I were the Academy, I would give every single actor an award, Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, Amanda Seyfried, the chorus.  Boom...Oscar, Oscar, Oscar. 

Along with the amazing acting and the singing and the falling in love, it also reminded me how very fortunate and thankful I am to have been born into the 21 century as a woman.  We really, really have come leaps and bounds.  As a single mother, I cannot fathom having to hand my beloved child off to strangers (horrid strangers at that), while I work to support them by any means necessary.  I cannot imagine having to stand up to an army to fight for a better life and for what I believe in and die for that belief.  Ahhh, and what a wonderful story about second chances - it is truly never too late to start again.  Oh the power of hatred and anger, how it eats us up inside and destroys us.

The only complaint I have about the whole experience is the woman who sat beside us in the theater who felt the need to do a running commentary throughout the whole movie.  That's right...all two hours and thirty eight minutes.  Out loud.  For two hours.  And thirty eight minutes.  She was oblivious to our shushing - probably because she was too busy talking.

"He's a prisoner."

"Oh my, he's starving.  Look how fast he's eating!"

"Do you think he's going to fall?"

"He doesn't have his papers.  Oh no.  What will happen?  Will they catch him?"

And when words escaped her, she just filled the silence with...




Did I tell you how long the movie was? 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas!!

I'm probably not the only one, but Christmas is my favourite time of year.  I've been listening to Christmas music since December hit.  How can you be in a bad mood listening to Christmas music?  Our living room looks like the North Pole opened up and puked lights and decorations and presents everywhere.   Of course, having an eight year old is really the only encouragement you need to make every Christmas the best Christmas ever. 
I'm sure this will be remembered as the last year that Q believed in Santa.  He's already starting to debate the logistics of Santa...thinking it impossible rather than magical.  I love his innocence.  I love his ability to believe in something that is just so completely, well...impossible.  He's been asking questions lately, though, that tell me his innocence in *this* category is slowly fading. 
"Why didn't the dog bark last year when Santa delivered presents?  She barks at everything?"
"It's impossible for Santa to deliver to every child in the whole world in one night."
"The Norad Santa Tracker is so fake.  They said he was in Vancouver, but the news said he was in Winnipeg." (Geez, multimedia...get your stories straight please...)
It reminds me of my best friend's son who said when he was about this age, "Mommy, I'm pretty sure Santa doesn't exist, but could we just pretend for one more year..."
This was also the first year there were no toys under the tree.  I mean, don't get me wrong, there werent just books and clothes and underwear, but there weren't any Legos or Hot Wheels or Stuffed Animals.  There were movies and video games and sports equipment and an iPod.  It's the end of an era, really. 
Hopefully the end of a cluttered, trip-over-wayward-toy, why-is-that-toy-so-noisy era...
So today, I will leave you with some amazing words from some amazing Christmas carols.  We sing them so often by memory, how often do we stop to think of their meaning?

Joy to the world
The Lord has come.
Let Earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare Him room
A thrill of hope
A weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks
a new and glorious morn

With so many horrible events taking place in our world lately, I'd say we are desperately weary, all looking for a reason to rejoice. 

Merry Christmas from our home to yours!!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

In Which I Almost Die From a Brain Infection (...only not really)

The top of my phobia list is without a doubt, bar none, totally and completely - the dentist.  Whether it's genetic, the fact that I come from a long line of Brits, or just luck of the draw, I have really crappy teeth.  I think I had my first root canal before I was 20.  The pain from an abscess is probably only comparable to child birth or having a limb cut off with a saw.  I heard somewhere that in times of war, dental work has been a form of torture (well, pulling teeth with pliers, and such but potay-to, potah-to I say...).  My second root canal was done partially without freezing (torture) because it was the end of the day, the freezing had worn off and the dentist did not want to wait for more freezing to take effect.  I sat in the chair with tears streaming down my face as the hygienist held my head down by the pressure points (so I could not move) and the dentist said, "This is a painful lesson to learn, but hopefully you've learned it..." 

Yes, I learned my lesson very well. 

Never, ever, ever go to the dentist. 

When I do have a dentist appointment, I work myself into such a tizzy I have to cancel because I am physically sick to my stomach from worry.  My third root canal I bailed on (only postponed, really, because I've learned the need for a root canal does not simply *go away* like a cold or food poisoning...) the morning of the attack on the twin towers. 

Generally, years and years go by before I can summon up the courage to go to the dentist.  And usually, it's only because I am in some sort of pain.  Logical people would say, "the more often you go, the less it will hurt..."  But I think we've established I'm not all that logical to begin with, and phobias don't often have much to do with logic anyways.  Appointments made for the dentist are usually only done with tons of pep talks from caring friends, and a bottle or two of wine - and that's just to get me to *make* the appointment...

About four years ago I found this awesome dentist.  He is handsome to look at, super nice, and has reaaaaally pretty teeth.  He specializes in *sedation dentistry* however, I've never needed to use it because he talks me through every single step of every single procedure.  I still avoid him like the plague, but it's a little less worrisome when I know Ativan is in the cupboard if we need it. 

Three years ago, I had a filling fall out.  I left it for a year.  Sadly, a year was too long.  He filled it saying he thought he had saved the nerve but we couldn't be sure.  He said if I ever woke up with a swollen face, to get to the hospital right away.  Otherwise, we'd wait and see.

I've been a ticking time bomb ever since.

Two weeks ago, I wake up to this bump in my gum right where that tooth is, so I do what anyone with a disabling fear of the dentist would do...I ignore it.  A few days later, and the bump gets a bit bigger...going right into Christmas...this is all I need.  Determined to just leave it, I google...

"Can you die from a tooth ache??"

...and in less than a second I have pages and pages of examples of people who have died from an infection in a tooth.  The most extreme cases - the infection spread from their eye tooth (the one tooth I'm having a problem with...) to their brain and they died of a Brain Infection.  Well, literally the next second, I was on the phone begging to get in to be seen.  The last thing I need is to leave my child motherless because of a tooth ache.

"Aggressive" is the word my dentist kept using to describe this bump in my gum above the tooth.  "Ah...this infection is aggressive."  "Can't we just do an open and drain?"  I ask (as this will now be my 5th root canal, I'm familiar with the lingo).  "No," he says. "It is too aggressive."

So instead I do two different antibiotics for a whole week - three times a day.  And book a root canal for January 17.  (I'm feeling ill at the thought already)

The meds are done.  The bump is still there.  My dentist is on vacation out of the country until January 15. 

And I'm left with the instructions, "If you wake up and your face is swollen and you have no movement of your facial muscles, you must get to the hospital right away.  It means the infection has spread to your nasal cavity and you've gone septic."


For someone who has irrational fears of dying from a totally obscure way, this is the last thing I need to hear.  I seriously check my temperature 5 times a day to see if I'm *burning up* from some infection that is ravaging my body.

The funny thing is...I have no pain.  And...while the swelling hasn't gone down, it's not getting worse...

...I have a sneaking suspicion it might be a canker sore.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Heavy Heart

This morning I woke Q up the same way I do every morning (well, every morning that he doesn't wake me up with a "Mom-my, I'm hungry) with a "Wakey, wakey eggs and bac-y!!!"
Okay, so it starts that way.  Then it's, "C'mon!! Rise and shine!!" 
Then it's "Q.  Now.  Up."
Today, I reminded him that he had a super exciting day - a field trip to The Nutcracker and he'd get to ride on a school bus.  That got him up.  He ran downstairs to open his advent calendar. 
Then he chattered away the whole way to the babysitter...
"Mommy, how many sleeps til Christmas?"
"I think Santa starts delivering presents at 1 am.  Do you think so?"
"I love spending Christmas Eve with Daddy because we go skating and stay up really late - but not too late, because Santa comes.  We watch where Santa is on the Santa Tracker and we play Monopoly."
I dropped him off at the babysitters.  He gave me a big hug.  I said "I love you!" and kissed the top of his head.  He said, "I do too!!"
It was just another day.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  Certainly not super special. 
Today, parents in Newtown, CT took their children to the babysitters, to school just like any ordinary day.  Their children excited for a visit from Santa, maybe a field trip on a school bus.  Kisses on foreheads, whispers of "I love you!" in little ears.
It is horrific and tragic that some of these children did not go home today.  I cannot even begin to imagine the devastation these parents must be going through; their lives never the same.  A huge hole in their hearts, their child gone too soon.
Today there are three specific children I think of that did not go to school because their little bodies are battling tumours and the ill effects of chemo and radiation.  Modern science has nothing left to offer.   "I love yous" are precious and plenty and kisses are never ending.  Prayers are constant.  Every time I think of them, I lose my breath, because I cannot fathom anything worse than watching your child, no older than 5 or 7, die before you, helpless to do anything but pray for a miracle.
My heart breaks every time I think of these children and these families.
Every morning for me is an *extra* ordinary morning because I have been blessed with a healthy little boy, who right this very minute is safe and sound.  He's happy.  He's not scared or worried.  I can say with confidence that I know he will wake up tomorrow, healthy, happy and safe.
And I am so grateful.
I hope and pray that I never take for granted the ordinary mornings.  The cuddles.  The kisses.  The talks.  The laughs.  The games.  The school plays.  The spelling tests.  I pray that I never take for granted the awesome responsibility that has been bestowed upon me - raising up my beautiful boy.  It makes things like *things* and money so completely irrelevant in comparison.  I have a gift that has been horrifically stolen from far too many, far too soon.  With every grateful prayer I say for my son, I will pray for peace for those who have gone, for those who long for little fingers and tiny kisses.
I am overwhelmed with sadness tonight for those robbed of their little blessings, taken to heaven far too soon.  Tonight when you tuck your babies in and kiss them goodnight, say a little prayer for those mourning the loss of their children.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Lessons at Middle Age

I've learned something about myself recently - which in and of itself is pretty amazing considering how old I am.  You'd think that by the time you hit 35, you'd know everything there was to know about yourself.  Evidently this is not the case, because I just had a pretty big life lesson.

Feeling as though life was passing me by, that I was wasting my nights away with my nose in a book, or blogging, or watching "Greys Anatomy" - I resolved to take on more projects.  I was going to be busy.  Life was going to be hectic.  Every moment from dawn to dusk would be filled - it was going to be great.  I was going to feel useful and productive and a real live contributing member of society. 

And it's not like it's any big deal.  I mean people do it all the time and they thrive.  They're the better for it.  I was so excited.  There are two people who come to mind immediately who are constant over achievers and they LOVE it.  You two, you know who you are.  I am amazed by how much they fit into a 24 hour period.  I wanted to be just like them. 

At Q's school, I volunteered to be the 'Emergency Preparedness Coordinator', Editor of the PAC (they don't call it the PTA's the PAC - Parent Advisory Committee) newsletter (monthly distribution to 245 families), and I also volunteered to organize a Christmas craft for 66 children at a Christmas Craft night at the school.  This involved cutting out and sewing together by hand 66 felt coffee sleeves. 

Next, I joined a book club.  I was super excited about this.  A whole bunch of ladies sitting around discussing a great read, drinking wine and eating appies?  Seriously, what could be better??  Nothing much in my books.

Q has soccer twice a week and skating lessons on Tuesday.  Tack on a half an hour to an hour a day practicing for his spelling test on Friday (by Thursday night we were still spelling Invisible, i-l-l-i-s-e.  There were tears and I don't think they were Q's).

Christmas at the Post Office is always a little...hectic (and that is putting it mildly).  It's pretty much a given that I will work 6-7 days a week for the month of December.  This is the deal.  Co-workers post statuses on FB about not being contactable for a month and not to start looking for their body or knocking their front doors down.  The thing is, I love being super crazy busy at work.  It makes the day go by fast.  I feel useful.  I feel smart!

I was busy seven days a week. Busy, busy, busy.

Turns out, I do not thrive being busy all the time.  Turns out, I am the type of person who thrives being at home in the evening reading a good book, watching a t.v. show or two, imparting my wisdom on my blog and getting an average of 9-10 hours of sleep a night.


I had four loads of clean laundry sitting on my couch for a week because I didn't have time (or was too exhausted) to fold it.  I hadn't grocery shopped in weeks and just ran to the store for essentials like milk and bread.  The house was a mess.  Q was eating Chef Boy-R-Dee or McDonald's for dinner like every night.  Christmas cards that I pride myself in making every year had gone unmade.  My blog was neglected.  My friends were neglected.  My life was in disarray.  I was in a continual state of agitation and panic.  

The rush I get from being busy at work is not the same rush I get from being busy in LIFE.  

I haven't read a book in months.  I had to bail on the book club.   I bought store made Christmas cards and have been carrying them around in my purse for a week now, hoping to find the time on my lunch break to write "Merry Christmas, Love C and Q!!"

I learned my lesson. 

I am not an over achiever.  I am an achiever.  That is it.  I love having my nose in a book whenever I get a free moment.  I love writing on my blog.  I love having a clean house, with clean clothes.  I even really like making Q a healthy meal for dinner and having time to clean it up afterwards.  I love, love, love sleeping - and functioning on 6 hours is NOT an option. 

I cannot change who I am. Well, I guess I could...if these qualities were really super bad or destructive.  But I think in this case I'll just roll with it.  I don't want to run myself ragged for the rest of my life.  I want to be happy.  I can take on a volunteer project here and there, sure.

But my number 1 priority right now, is raising a healthy, happy child.  And the best way to do that is being healthy and happy myself. 

And by actually being there, present.  That's pretty important too.

I guess an old gal really can learn new tricks.