Tag Archives: musings

Rocky Mountain View

On our last drive from the Okanagan to the Northwest Territories, M and I

stopped at the Overlander Hotel, just outside Jasper National Park.

It was a wonderful respite after eight hours of driving through the mountains. There was great food with a wonderful room in the original lodge that was built more than 100 years ago.

The view from the dining room is stunning, with the mountains gazing serenely from their redoubt.

Greetings from the beautiful Overlander Hotel.

Pausing My Life, Part Two

When I left off at the end of part one, my boss was becoming very ill but was still at work.

Her decisions had started to become dodgy and unreliable, a complete reversal of character and ability for her.

I needed a rest from the demanding situation and took my summer holidays, and while I was away, she suffered an embolism and was suddenly gone. It was extremely and very mercifully quick.

I rushed back to a funeral, a dazed and grieving staff, including three new hires, and a huge workload.

Despite the fact that everyone knew she was terminal, people were shocked; many had bought into the notion that she was curing herself through traditional medicine, a modality in which she had such complete faith that it bled over to others. (I believe. Do you believe? Or something like that.) The new hires were more shocked than anyone, since they hadn’t been aware that she was sick.

As a group, we started putting one foot in front of the other, and got on with it, in spite of feeling sad and stunned. We got going again; we had to. The work carried on.

I was placed in an “acting” role and I set about the business of wrapping my head around all the things that needed to be done. There were a lot of them.

In the meantime, however, a coup was fomenting. A couple of people who were “grieving” on the surface were planning to put their chosen candidate into the head role – a chosen candidate whom they could control.

20 days into my new job, I was sitting in my temporary new office at my temporary new desk, bordering on letting myself slide into a private little collapse. I perched on the edge of my seat, white knuckling the desk’s edge, breathing hard and teetering on the verge of just walking away.

I had a few hostile employees who wanted to replace me. Others were angry at my boss for dying, and for telling them that she was getting better when she wasn’t. We experienced all the stages of grief like we were on a rocket sled.

No one had any idea how much had to be done, the timelines involved, and the contingencies needed. People kept materialising out of nowhere, demanding everything and taking responsibilty for nothing. Criticism hung on the air like a fog. And, there was the imposter factor. I kept thinking that I didn’t know what I was doing, that I was a know-nothing kid dressed in her mother’s work clothes, that I was in waaay over my head.

So I did. I pressed pause. I shut the door to my office. I set the phone to voice mail. I sat, and I meditated.

After I got rid of the ex-narcissist out of my life, I had learned meditation from my counsellor, and in this maelstrom of work and emotion, I had stopped doing it. I needed to get back to it.

I took a break, I re-grouped, and I fought my way through it, day after day and week after week.

I focused on what was going well: top notch support from head office, a supportive spouse and friends and faith in myself.

I won the permanent position. I got my staff in line; the ones who are discontented are moving on, and new ones are coming in. But it was a hard slog and I had to get tough. The staff who failed in pursuit of “their” candidate were angry and bitter.

It’s getting better now. The learning curve angle is beginning to soften, and a good team is starting to develop.

But pausing my life? Yes. It’s necessary. Sometimes you have to stop, take a look, and decide if this is where you should be, if it’s for you. A realistic self-examination is key, not just for yourself but also for those you work with.

That’s something that I learned from this, both by watching it and by experiencing it myself. Being able to recognise your weaknesses and consider them is not shameful, and being realistic about your strengths isn’t shameful either.

What is your opinion?

Pausing My Life, Part One

Do you ever feel like you need to take a break from your life?

Just press the pause button, sit back with your coffee or tea cup and turn everything off for an hour?

No phones, internet, television or other “urgencies.”

Last year, I took on a high stress position. My boss, whom I got on with really well, had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and she had decided that she wouldn’t take life-extending treatment, as those treatments would interfere with her life quality. She just wanted to keep going to work and living her regular life as long as she could.

I was her number one, the “safety” person who could temporarily take over and run things when she wasn’t feeling up to it.

As time went on, I did more and more of her job as well as my own. It became almost hellishly stressful, especially when my boss suddenly decided that her cancer was cured.

When that happened, I knew that the efficient, I-am-taking-this-in-stride-it’s-part-of-life portrait she was presenting to the world was a big pile of … something.

Day-by-day as I watched her deteriorate, she explained how certain things happening to her – such as the swelling lymph nodes that began to bother her – were signs that her body was expelling the cancer.

She was so invested that I just went along with her.

But when she started convincing other colleagues that she was getting better, and they started believing it, I wasn’t so sure. But still, I said nothing. And besides, it wasn’t my place to say anything anyway.

Then it became worse. Her decisions started to become questionable, and when I tried to offer alternatives and/or cautions, I was met with an incredible wall of stubbornness that I hadn’t encountered before.

I suspected that the cancer either had metastasised to her brain or the stress of presenting a picture of recovering health was just too much.

Maybe it was both.

But the fact was that she was acting out of character and I began worrying about the fallout. Her behaviour was beginning to have a negative impact on our workplace. At that time, the impact was small, but I knew it would become larger.

I saw what she was doing; that she was attempting to think positively in order to remain hopeful of a remission. But her version of that had turned into a very serious case of denial, and that denial was affecting everyone around her.

So, taking a break from my life? Pressing pause and just taking a breath? Right then, I probably would have given an arm for that.

Have you ever felt that way?

Should we say anything to those who are in denial?

What do you think?

Stay tuned for part two …