Over the span of my career, I was most fortunate in being asked a few times if I would be interested in a short term assignment as a manager, to fill a vacant position until it could be staffed permanently.
When that happened, I always felt like an award show nominee. The fact that someone thought highly enough of me and my work to extend such an invitation was a huge honour and for that I was most grateful.
I chose carefully and I accepted five times.
But looking back, even though I was told I did fine, I didn’t always think so. I was pretty hard on myself. I always thought I could have done better.
The bigger questions were why was I so exhausted when each assignment was over? Was it me? Would more training have helped? Was it a right fit for me? How did so many of the managers I looked up to make it look so easy?
As I reflected back over my agonizing decisions to accept, and the dissection of events when the assignments were over, I believe I should have paid more attention to my gut and to the struggle I was feeling.
After the last assignment, I realized that even though our society and our culture keeps telling us that climbing the ladder is a good thing, management might not be for everyone. I knew conclusively that it wasn’t for me and I finally knew the reasons why. Continue reading
Regular readers of my blog are probably familiar with my adventures in shopping that involve a lot of research, testing, comparison and disappointment that often sound like a story about Goldilocks.
When some products are too big, others are too small, and over the course of multiple shopping trips, I hope to find the one that is just right.
One such situation these days is my hunt for white socks. All I am looking for is plain, white, mostly cotton, athletic-style socks for very casual situations. Sounds simple, right?
For some reason, manufacturers and buyers for stores don’t seem to be on the same wave length. Plain white socks are hard to find.
For years I was able to find them here in Canada at a well-known store (that shall remain nameless). One day, I bought a pack of three pairs that left me with the impression that they had changed. The answer came a few washings later when the elastics completely gave out and the socks were falling repeatedly. This didn’t happen before. Someone must have changed the “recipe”.
I switched to another brand that was available at that time, which lasted a few years until they discontinued the men’s small size and carried only “one size fits all”. Continue reading
It always puts a smile on my face when a restaurant menu contains a note saying something to the effect of “Please advise your server of any allergies or intolerance”.
To me, that means I’m in a restaurant that will likely take some extra precautions to do its best to ensure my food won’t cause me issues. This definitely takes some of the guesswork out of dining out.
Over the last 13 years, since the discovery of my intolerance to wheat products, the number of restaurants that have adjusted their menus to accommodate wheat-free/gluten-free diets has been impressive and heartwarming. And over that span of time, the improvement in the ingredients, recipes and dishes that have been offered has been spectacular.
I hear the same from friends and colleagues with sensitivities to nuts, eggs, dairy and shellfish. It is getting easier to make informed choices.
When it comes to dining, it is certainly a competitive market. I genuinely respect those establishments that have gone the extra mile to retain and attract clients by helping them navigate their options whether through little icons next to menu items, menus that specifically address dietary concerns, or in extremely well-informed service staff.
I admit that I have to contain my shrieks of delight when the server or the chef says, “Tell us what you’d like and we’ll see how we can modify it.”
Being the over-apologetic Canadian that I am, on a few occasions, I have apologized for asking so many questions about the menu, but I have been met with much reassurance. One chef even went so far as to say that it helps keep things interesting and challenging in the kitchen, in finding clever ways to make the menu work for the client. That completely made my day!
But what happens when a restaurant makes no such accommodations? Continue reading
I was recently walking through the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, admiring the work of celebrated impressionist painter, Berthe Morisot. After a few minutes of roaming through the exhibition, I caught myself doing what I usually do at art museums.
Not only do I admire masterpieces from afar to get the big picture on what the artist was trying to convey, but I often zoom in very closely to observe the intricacy of the brush work that was needed to achieve that vision.
In doing so, I often come away feeling inspired, thinking to myself that maybe I should get back into painting to try my hand at that technique.
Similarly, when my camera shutter captures a really amazing picture, some of it is technical knowledge and some of it is luck. I often think that if I had the free time to play with all of the settings, to better master the principles of photography, maybe luck would be less of a factor.
The same thing happens when I’ve surprised myself with something I’ve produced in the kitchen. I say to myself that if I just spent a little more time practicing the technical skills, I could get even better at it.
There is no disputing that I have the soul of an artist and that inspiration comes pretty easily. The question is whether there are enough hours in the day to explore all of the art forms which interest me.
With maybe 50 to 60 years ahead of me, could I ever do it all? Continue reading
When I wrote the blog post “Deleting without Watching – The Madness and the Guilt” a little over a year ago, little did I know that I was on the cusp of a serious change when it came to my TV habits.
In that blog post, I shared the guilt I felt in deleting programs my PVR had recorded but that I did not even watch. Scandalous… I know!
But in doing so, I was (sort of) following traditional rules of de-cluttering: if it’s been sitting there for a certain length of time and I haven’t watched it, will I ever get back to it? When I was really honest with myself, the answer was pretty clear.
When the new shows rolled out in the fall months of 2016, I gave several programs a chance, but I was getting a little more ruthless in my programming choices. I set a boundary: if after 2-3 episodes I wasn’t really loving the show, why was I still watching? Sadly, only a few survived and remain on my list today. Funny enough, “Designated Survivor” is one of them. (Is art imitating my TV life?)
I hate to admit that using that same rationale, even some shows I enjoyed in recent years have dropped off my must-see list. What happened to the kid who used to push up the national average for TV watching?
You could say that without really thinking about it, I wasn’t watching TV out of habit anymore, I was watching TV with more of a purpose.
Once the bar was raised, the available space on my PVR started increasing… and increasing. And in doing so, not only had I freed up space on my PVR, but time was freeing up in my life as well for things that mattered more. It was a seismic shift. Continue reading
Severe thunderstorms were in the forecast. Being the good boy scout that I am, on my way out, I opened the entry hall door and pulled an umbrella off the shelf. It was one of my favourite ones, if one can really have a favourite umbrella, but my little black one was perfect: sturdy, wind proof, lightweight and didn’t cost me a fortune.
Unfortunately, as I opened it up to prepare for the showers outside, I was reminded that on its last use, it didn’t open as easily, so I forced it and unfortunately broke one of the spokes. What a sad day that was. It was like I had lost a best friend, yet still hadn’t had the heart to toss it until I found another one. I knew I had a spare or two stored here and there, maybe it was time to take a second look and see if one of the understudies might be able to take over for the star umbrella.
Over the coming days, the umbrella hunt yielded a surprising collection of eleven: two in the car, one at the office, four in the entry hall closet, one already in my messenger bag, one in my suitcase, one in the basement workshop and one in the bottom of the Saran Wrap drawer (…don’t ask… I don’t know either!)
So I lined them all up on the dining room table and prepared to check them all out like a royal performing a ceremonial inspection of the guard. It did not take long to realize that out of the eleven, only eight were truly functional. Three were ready for their final resting place where I am sure it is all sunshine, rainbows and never a scattered shower. Continue reading