2018 Goals

Back in 2017, I still used my blog as a place to ‘put’ thoughts.  Not always to publish! And look what I found, a list of things for 2018.  What’s great is that I have updated on a few!

Plan a weekend in Canberra for Floriade

A week or two ago, I picked a weekend and booked an Airbnb.  That’s it, I’m now committed before other things crowd out my calendar.  And I have a car, so that bits easier than in some years gone by. Coincidently, Floriade is the same name the Dutch use for their flower show, says my DUtch friend.

Try rowing, in summer

Not yet, but summer comes again in 2018…

Attempt a monthly ‘browse’ of a book store, cause it makes me happy!

I haven’t really done this.  But what I did do, was ask for Christmas to have a membership to a bookstore.  The upside is free entry to book launches and talks.  I also get no postage in Australia and a discount, but given I seldom buy books, I’m not too fussed about those details.  I have bought one book this year, and one book voucher.  And I’ve ‘nicked’ a few books from free libraries.

Getting into ordering Who Gives A Crap toilet paper

The reason I didn’t do this sooner, was that they come in BIG boxes and now I have a big home this year, I’m a bit better at storing them.  They were set up for auto resend, but when I got the reminder, I was a LONG way from running out of toilet paper, so I pushed in out more.  I’m pleased I’ve gone ‘plastic free’ on one more item.

Set up composting at my parents/my house

YES! I ended up with a worm farm for my birthday.  It lives in the garage. After the period of using Bokashi in the loft, I can tell you, the worm farm is way less smelly!

Grow a garden!

It took a while to get going, and only my parents return at Easter gave me the kick in the butt to get onto it.  But I’m please to have five vegetables growing now.

Something is eating my broccolini
Cabbage is also tasty to the slugs

Overwhelmed by work

Another archived draft that was never published, in late 2017.  Based on my career change lately, I feel it’s topical to share this now.

I’ve blogged in fits and spurts for a number of years, and it all started due to having a lot of idle time at work.  Whilst I’ve remained with the same employee, I have let this blog take a back seat and really seen my career grow and change in the past few years.  I largely don’t blog about work, but if you are interested, I have a smallish collection of tagged posts.

In early 2014, I did a six week period ‘acting’ as a manager, and from there, other opportunities unfolded as my company (six months as a manager of a small team in late 2014) saw many restructures and many generations of staff leave.  I was permanently appointed as a Field Manager in April 2015.

In those to two and a half years in the role has been all elements of managing field staff (here’s the ‘one week in‘ debrief, and ‘one year in‘).  They are powerline workers and labourers who install poles.   Overall, I think the job is a fantastic fit to my skills and my personality.  I like being involved with ‘day to day’ works.  I love that we do emergency response.  I like that I have such diversity in my role: from chairing interview panels to assisting with logistics on setting stock levels or appropriately scraping materials, managing a huge fleet and the renewals/upgrades/returns.  Days rush past and I can nary remember a time when I could draft a blog post in working hours!!

But wow, of late, I’ve been overwhelmed.  Where 2015 and 2016 saw reductions in field staff, and that was brutal and destabilising, 2017 is the year of reductions from all the supporting staff.  There’s been wholesale changes to sections like: training, HR, fleet management, engineering & standards and clerical support.  As an organisation of thousands, I believe have ‘subject matter experts’ in areas like that, REALLY help.  They can make business wide decisions or at least ensure consistency.  They can have specific knowledge.  They can negotiate quantity discounts.  However, with every in a full time employee comes from ‘business savings’.  Sometimes, what that means is pushing some of those tasks to the regions.  Now, I do things like

  • scan and file log books into a centralised system (but only one type – heavy vehicles do TWO log books everyday)
  • updating what was fixed & when.  Previously a paper form went to someone else to process.  I knew those people – they used to get SO bored!
  • write interview questions, complete inordinate additional tables/forms to appoint and wonder why it takes from April to August to get a job even CLOSE to filled

Everything seems to take so long.  And be so hard.  Every decision or email seems to need a handful of people included.

I keep thinking if I do more, I’ll be on top of it.  More will be achieved.  And… I mostly succeed, stuff gets done, things improve or move forward or change for the better.

Then I realise – I let work take all of me.  I literally get annoyed when a friend/date asks me when I’m free during work time.  In my mind, I’m sometimes indigent they’ve also interrupted my day with yet another demand.  How could I possibly predict if I’ll have ANY energy left on a week night to meet with them.  Then I resent that I crowd my weekends with ‘have to dos’ with chores to keep the next working week afloat.  I actually ‘worry’ I can’t socialise as I won’t get the week ahead prepared and chaos may descend.  It’s ridiculous.  This is NOT how people live.  People actually cook and prepare every meal fresh; not batch cook on a weekend or live off ready prepared freezer meals.  Or is that a ‘should’ – I listened to a podcast today and the presenter admitted he doesn’t cook, and I didn’t think he was a bumbling non-adult.  He just… didn’t. Doesn’t (Well he does now, it was an ad for Blue Apron, but anyhow).  Who knows how he feeds himself and his health.  That’s it right – I worry.  I worry I am not eating healthy ‘enough’.  That my convenience meals are generating waste (which long time readers KNOW I hate).  Some of my errands and chores are adding to the burden on weekends – needing to go to a bulk store, drop off compost, drop off soft plastics, return books to the library.  But none of those will I give up, as I really DO feel they align to what’s important to me.  But I resent that they are seemingly taking up time I could have fun in.  Time I could enjoy with others.  And I blame work.  Well, I blame me.  I stay back an hour or two to get some more done.  I know I have a commute, and really, without it, imagine!  In the past few months, I have pushed myself to exercise more and overall, I can’t fault that decision.  I just need to find a balance between work – exercise – life.

Does your work gobble up your life? How do you stop that from happening?

Getting into the manager groove (in 2016!)

From the archives; drafted but never published. The guys did their training in April 2016, so I expect this is from early 2016!

Some will remember the first time I stepped into a management role in February 2014.  I was really struggling with the influx of communication and how the heck to get people to do stuff.  It was a six week stint, and by the end of it, I had a better handle on things, and really did appreciate readers advice.

Two years on, I’m permanently appointed as a manager.  I started the role just after Easter in 2015, with indirect and direct reports in the vicinity of 75!  It’s hard to imagine now, as that number has seen a number of staff have their volunteer for redundancy.  I’d say my ‘count’ is closer to 45.  I appreciate that everyone who is at work now, wants to be at work.  For a long while, we were struggling with demotivated people who just wanted out!

Moody shot!  All the photos I took when I was working, died with the return of my work phone & iPad

Now, the business is still talking about more cuts, and I can’t see how – not when I look to my team.  We all just hope they’ll find cuts elsewhere.

Despite further staff needing to go, the business has allowed some opportunities for people in the team to develop, train and improve their skills and income. It gives me the greatest pleasure to work one on one with staff and see where they’d like to move long term or how they’d like to develop.  It’s incredibly strategic – working out ‘who goes where’, trying to get people to where they want, but also develop people in time to fill holes in the business.

I’ve shortlisted applications, I’ve interviewed, and I’ve short listed for appointments.  Telling those who haven’t succeeded is hard – and so many people just take it on the chin.  Others, whinge and think it’s unfair.  The best response are those who are mature enough to see there’s somewhere they need to grow.  I’m learning to be better prepared to have and give that feedback.  And with each pass through the system, I learn how to better equip applicants so they can shine in their application as much as they do day to day.  Running a ‘job readiness’ course has made a world of difference to the quality of applications.

Early next week, I’ll announce some of the most long sought promotions.  For SO LONG they’ve wanted to be a live line worker – working at high voltage without turning the power off!  It’s as technically challenging as it can get, and it’s financially rewarding.  It’ll topple the apple cart – as there are some stars that have silently risen.  There are some candidates who have misplaced confidence.  It will be a undertaking to deliver the news with the sensitivity it will require.

This is a lot of words to say – I love the job.  I love developing staff.  I love seeing people grow.  I relish the day they eclipse me!

Highlights of early 2018

Easter 2018 was a family reunion.  My parents returned for two weeks from their year in Tonga.  My youngest brother came from the UK with his wonderful GF.  SO we did some fun things:

Manly beach for a brunch with my family and aunt & uncle
My brother’s GF loves make up, so I got her to do mine (and Dad took portrait shots of all us kids, to print and display in their home in Tonga)
My bro gave his GF tickets. Buying on arrival (online) was super cheap as April is serious shoulder season. Tricks for young players

Outside of Easter, I got up to some fun with my gfs from water polo.

Being kooky at a concert – the Irish band the Script
The main act

Someone suggested my first ever girls weekend away.  It was awesome! I BYO’d all my challenge meals, and we each took a meal to cater for.  They were kind enough to suggest dessert would be ‘walk to ice cream parlour’ so I could stay home if it was torture.  I didn’t stay home, but asked for high fives when I didn’t give into even a taste!

Weekend away on the cusp of the cold snap, with the girls from water polo. This is how we enjoy Saturday nights!

One of our girl posse got engaged and had AMAZING cakes/sweets.  She’s an awesome baker, but seems she has other friends who are equally amazing.  I think I actually might have left before having some…

Amazing engagement cake, for a gal who dislikes cake

But cake is no good if you don’t like it.  So another friend made her a two beautiful cookies in the initials of the bride and groom

Alternative engagement ‘cookie’ for the non cake bride to be

Casting my mind further back, when I took a month off my ‘old’ job.  I worked on getting one of my bucket list items done!  I picked apples and made a pie.

An apple farm in Bilpin, where I went to pick apples
Apple pie 1
Not settling for boring apple pies 😉

Aside from an engagement party, we also had a WEDDING! It was lovely, just the right size.  All the girls stayed at my place, and we shared ubers in and out of the Eastern Suburbs.  It’s a season of weddings, we have two more before the year is out from the photographed group below!

One of the polo girls got married, and I got a great selfie

And on a quiet weekend, my local friends suggested a flower show.  I thought it was a tour of gardens, but alas it was more of a ‘best in show’ style.  It was right up our alley, as we often walk to the Flemington markets, which sell flowers, fruit and vege!

Went to my first garden show in a neighbouring suburb. My local friends think we might enter next year. I’ll do the arranging, they do the growing!

Well, that’s made up for some lost time (or at least, some time the blog was offline).

Eight week challenge

With many thanks to a new friend who has worked tirelessly to align the old blog content and integrated my two ‘new’ posts, and now it all look and feels the same, back and front.  Here’s a photo of my lovely French friends who helped make this happen, Antoine and Chloe

Chloe, Antoine & me

Today, I want to share a disturbing number of photos of food, that I’ve taken during the first five weeks in my eight week F45 health challenge.  Yep, yet again, I’m focusing on reducing my weight.  But not just the number. I dream of being able to do unassisted pull ups.  And having defined abs. But the route to this path is to get back to 74kg which I achieved in September 2017.

Up and down
Day 1. Meal 1. Green smoothie. Surprisingly tasty! Seriously, the banana and rice malt syrup elevated the green stuff

The gym I go to, you can order all lunches and dinners to be prepared ($150 for 10 meals as a woman), and you pick up from the gym twice weekly.  That means you only have to handle breakfasts and two snacks per day.  Of course there’s an app and website, with the meal plan.  And you can search all the recipes, should you want to substitute.

Marinated chicken with salsa

Prepped meals come in plastic chinese food containers.  Which, does not really align to my zero waste ways.  So I am washing up every one of them, and reusing them in so many different ways, including on the weeks I prepare my week’s meals, rather than buying them.

Breakfast (I forgot the spinach)

I’ll admit, generally speaking the recipes and meals have been great.  I have also created a few new strong opinions on food.  I do NOT abide by half a meal being parsley.  I understand that baby spinach and lettuce get boring, but there’s no way parsley is an alternative!

Salmon and beans, The garlic bread was a treat as I was away for a weekend with my water polo friends
What i missed out on – ravioli with burnt butter an sage sauce. Even parmesan

The first two weeks are ‘keto’ or no sugar, dairy or carbs like rice or pasta.

Snack – carrot sticks with almond butter

Not all breakfasts are green though:

Berry smoothie
The BEST homemade b’fast – kale, onion, halloumi and boiled eggs

Here’s some of my cooking attempts.  There can be a whole heap of vegie cutting, so I usually get a whole heap done on weekends, so I can come home from work and make life easier for me.

Asian chicken in lettuce cups, which I think I’d call San Chow Bow (but spelling.. no idea)
Spice rubbed steak with sweet potato mash and beans. I started to innovate and add the red cabbage as it was in the fridge and gotta be good for me
Salmon with beans. And ‘use it up’ cucumber.

And the results?

Yippee

So far so good!  At the start, middle and end of the challenge I have detailed weigh in.  The scales works out the body fat percentage and muscle mass.  It can even work out the circumference of your arms and legs and trunk!  I’ve seen improvements in all these measurements, though I did lose a little muscle mass 🙁  I also note that a similar scan from October 2017 were a little better.  Back then, I was doing F45 but no following their diet.  I did often eat small or no dinner as I was feeling queasy after a hard work out.  I’m not sure that’s an optimal long term strategy!

Oh and I asked for some photos whilst I was doing assisted (by oversized rubber bands) chin ups, and I can see muscle definition!!

Can you see those arms working?

I continue to work out at least 4 times, ideally 5 times a week, and follow the meal plan almost religiously.  I allow myself one treat meal per week.  And tomorrow it’s brunch and I CANNOT wait!