Rainy Days Won’t Get Me Down

39

Traffic sucks, the yard is flooded, and the cat is flipped out by the sound of the rain on the skylights. The driving wind caused the chimes to sound all night, which made my sleep more restless than usual (it was a nice counterpoint to the cat yowling). But the rain is also welcome, despite the inconvenience…the plants in my yard are finally green again, the peach tree is blooming, and I’m looking forward to the hills being green on my next big bike ride. The reservoirs need filling, or the draught this year will be truly epic.

Trotting to CalTrain and to the office in my (non-breathable) rain gear was a hot experience, though…and even though the sun is peeking through the clouds right now, I can bet that the skies will be dumping buckets of water on me when it’s time to head home. That’s just how my luck is rolling this week….a broken washing machine, dumping the contents of my purse into a puddle this morning, taking the wrong train on Tuesday and adding 30 minutes to my commute. It’s been that kind of week, but the rain won’t let me down.

So I’m filling my thoughts with happy rain memories. Sleeping to the sound of rain on the roof. Hanging out with my sister Amy and her husband Todd during a rainy winter in Seattle. My first successful bike ride in the rain. Puddle jumping as a kid.

Rainy days won’t get me down.

Efficiency

WP_20130629_005

Are we forging forward, or are we speedily going around in circles? This question and the theme of efficiency has been circling around in my head all week. We need our washing machine serviced, and it took Sears four visits to figure out they had to replace our washer. In the interim, we got to use laundromats for clean laundry, a very inefficient process. And now that Sears is replacing it, we have some new inefficiencies until we actually have a new washer.

I see it at work, too. We’re running fast at Fuze, but sometimes we might skip crucial steps. It’s important to understand that purchasing is a process, and we can only make the sales process somewhat more efficient. Small purchases are easy, but big purchases are hard and require more deliberation. Even if we’re frustrated with the complexity…efficiency is often about executing flawlessly, not refusing to engage.

Relax and Breathe

WP_20140212_002

Sometimes I get too up in my head. I worry about everything, and I overanalyze every interaction. I’ve been in this state for the past few days, which is probably not surprising because I’m in a new job. I worry about failure. I worry people won’t like me. I obsess over whether I’ll ultimately be successful. I stress out over every customer interaction.

Last night I realized I was making myself miserable, and that I was probably making my co-workers miserable too. I am being too intense, not having any fun. Neither the fate of the world, nor the trajectory of my career, rests on my first two weeks at Fuze. Life is an adventure, and I am learning and experimenting — moving up the curve quickly (I hope!) but I really shouldn’t be so tense.

As of today, I am giving myself permission to have fun…to try and really connect with people, to experiment and fail, and to even occasionally smile. And at the end of the day, if I fall on my face…I can go home and cook dinner and laugh about it over a glass of wine with family and friends. I don’t have to be perfect, and I’m going to fail until I learn more. And that’s OK.

Relax and breathe. Wax on, wax off.

Beginning Again

So, here’s my confession…I think I blew my first week of work. I’m really out of practice at this “starting new” stuff, and it’s become apparent that I need to focus on moving up the curve quickly. So, what did I get wrong? A whole plethora of things like speaking up too early, positioning myself as an expert without understanding my audience, and being a little judgy about my new product.

It’s this weird balance…I wanted to say something and add some value. After all, I’m the new hire and I should be able to help out somehow…right? I’m also coming off of six years at Microsoft where I was arguably a veteran and expert. I should have something substantial to contribute, right?

Well, right and wrong. Context is important too. And by speaking up too loudly about Microsoft and our products, I learned that everyone still thinks I’m a Microsoft fangirl. And perhaps a bit of a boor.

How do I fix it? Well, I’m still figuring that out. Maybe a little more quiet time and a little less speaking. Probably by having some 1-1s and buying some coffee and humbly asking questions and advice. And quite likely through strategic criticism of Microsoft and its products. I work for a different company now, and while I love Microsoft’s solutions they’re not always the best. Balance in my positioning and messaging is really crucial.

It’s time for some baby steps while I keep firmly in mind that I am, in fact, beginning again.

Sunshine and Friendship

SUnshine

Yesterday was special. It was kind of like every Sunday — a day on the bike, being a Training Ride Leader for Awesome Ahead. But it was also special. Special because I’d missed the past couple of weeks due to illness, and also because it was sunny and gorgeous (rain ruled the past two Sundays). Simply put, it was a perfect day on the bike.

Except, of course, that my body didn’t want to be on the bike. For the first 10 miles, my heart rate was 20-30 beats higher than it should have been, and peaked at about 210 on a relatively gentle hill. My body was protesting the Awesomeness, and reminding me that I’d been sick of a long time and perhaps had over done it at the gym this week.

Because my biking Sundays are rare and precious, I kept going. At mile 20 I was feeling significantly more like my old self. I was able to laugh and joke with friends and meet new people. I basked in the sunlight and the connection between pedals and muscle.

How many times do we struggle to get started and really focus on something important? Yesterday was tough, but all the more special because I worked through the toughness and had a wonderful experience.

Cognitive Dissonance

16966618-Google-vs-Apple-vs-Microsoft

It’s been a weird week. After six years of living the Microsoft life, I’ve changed jobs and my toolset has also changed dramatically. Old toolset: PC, Surface, Windows Phone with core apps: Exchange, SkyDrive, SharePoint, Lync, and Yammer. New toolset: Mac, iPad, Android Phone with core apps: Gmail, GDrive, Hangouts, Fuze, and Yammer.

I knew it would happen, but my productivity has completely gone out the window. I lost my 2000+ contacts and couldn’t find a way to import them into Google (I had them in a .pst file, which my Mac couldn’t read and my Gmail account wouldn’t upload). The loss of my contacts had me wandering the streets of Burlingame unable to get hold of a friend that I’d scheduled a meet up with….and eventually sending me home in frustration.

I also lost my ability to navigate simple tasks, like searching for information in my company directory or tracking down the IT person who was strangely absent and left me half- configured in my company toolset.

I’m a Luddite technologist, I’ve decided. I do not love technology for the sake of technology. My heart does not accelerate at the prospect of a new widget. I am not an early adopter, unless I find a technology that significantly improves the quality of my life, my productivity, or makes me happy. My new tools accomplish none of these things yet, nor are they particularly intuitive for an ex-Microsoft fangirl like me.

But ask me for a net analysis in a year, when I’ve gotten over the frustration of not knowing how to print a document on a Mac and not being able to find my company directory in Gmail. Maybe then I’ll have something nice to say. Right now, I’m kind of in a “who moved my cheese” moment, even though I know I have no one to blame but me.

Soft kitty, fluffy kitty

WP_20140212_001

Warm kitty, soft kitty, cuddly kitty that makes my lap a home. Feelings of peace and contentment surround you as you stretch out on my legs and begin to purr. I don’t even mind when you leave fur on my trousers, or use me as a podium for your licking marathons. Your soft purrs and yawns of contentment are reward enough.

Tiny kitty, sprawling kitty, protesting kitty that resides in my bed. For something so small, you surely take up a tremendous amount of space. You want the warmest spot on the bed, which is usually where I am laying. You plot evil schemes to stage a bedtime coup and steal the warm covers. Misdirection and verbal harassment are your weapons, and you work under cover of night.

Demanding kitty, protesting kitty, kitty that only vomits hairballs between midnight and 5 am. You spend your days sleeping so that you have energy to stalk me when I return from work. You demand that your litterbox be cleaned, you complain until you’ve been fed chicken. And when all these tasks are done, soft and warm kitty emerges and you settle down purring on my lap.

Satin kitty, purring kitty, snuggly kitty…I am a slave to your charms.

Titanium Saddle

cervelo

She represents great feats of daring, endurance, and strength. When we pair up together – her frame with my bones, her pedals and my muscles – we can scale any climb. I hear the rushing of wind around us, and I feel the exhilaration of our joint feats.

I seek out untraveled roads that allow us to hold back time and the pace of progress. Roads that allow us, for some moments, to dream that all streets are created for bicycles. Avenues where the center lines are not necessary and the sweeping lure of perfect pavement beckons us ahead. We quicken our pace, for around the next bend is the promise of paradise.

How great a feat of engineering – that a mere 13 pounds of carbon, steel, and a little titanium can carry me from San Francisco to Los Angeles. I am thankful for the talent and inspiration that created every innovative leap in her design, every delightful gear and mechanism. I am blessed by designers who understood that there’s beauty in efficient design, and made her parts to deliver that message boldly.

I swing my leg over the titanium saddle, and clip in my cleats so that we’re joined as one in our fundamental partnership of sweat and labor. We face the open road ahead, and I smile as we begin.

Quiet Reboot

Image

 

I had breakfast with a friend this morning, and he said that it was nice to be associated with me because – among other things – my life was drama free and I seemed happy.  I took this observation as a great compliment…I do strive for a stable and sane life.  Even when pushing the reboot switch.

I do this every few years, and I’ll probably keep on doing it for many, many more.  I have a few missions in my life, and when I find that I’m deviating from true north I course correct.  In the act of course correcting, sometimes it’s necessary for a reboot (and how apropos for a former employee of MSFT).

The Missions: 

  1. Contribution – I need to feel I’m materially making a difference in my community, workplace, and friendships
  2. Fitness – I want to be fit in my body, mind and soul.  For me, this mission starts with physical fitness. My mental and emotional happiness seem to flow from physical fitness.
  3. Learning and Engagement – I will wake up excited every day.  I provide the energy, personal focus, and commitment and the learning will follow.

So, I’ve decided to leave Microsoft because I was deviating from True North.  It was time to press the reboot switch and find a new way to follow The Missions.  And in the process, I’m instituting a couple of procedural changes.

Change #1 – Every day has a focus on fitness, even if it’s only something small.  Every (work) day will also have several hours of dedicated, committed work-based learning and contribution.  No short cuts, and no days off.

Change #2 – I will write something every day.  Today starts my warm-up period as I get re-acclimated to the process of writing down my thoughts.  It also will serve as a reminder in the days to come.  I’ll start with tiny pieces like this one, and I’m going to work up to short stories or a novella.  Email does not count.

Change #3 – As long as I am following #1 and #2, and heading in the direction of True North, I am going to be kind to myself.  Not just kind, but proud that I’m accomplishing The Missions and fulfilling my commitments.  That means no more negative internal or external talk track, and maybe even rewarding myself.  (This change will probably be my hardest)

So, here’s to the quiet, drama-free reboot.  And it’s not even New Years Day.