This week I am trying frantically to finish preparations for the first big business meeting of the year and my first international trip of the year. This evening I was griping to the kids about the insane pace right now and the loss of even a day off for the next two weeks – not even a day to slow down and pack! Argh.
And then I paused for a moment, randomly clicking around the interwebs because I had reached that point where the words and the graphs on the PowerPoint slides no longer made sense to me and remembered. After the big, stress-filled business meeting I am going to Palawan! Immediately after my business review is complete I am climbing aboard a Philippine Air flight to Puerto Princesa with my colleagues and coworkers to attend our annual strategic, team building and development meeting. On Palawan!!
I really lost perspective. Palawan is the largest of the 81 provinces in the Philippines. In ancient times Chinese traders traversed land bridges from Borneo to Palawan. They were followed by many, many migrants to the Philippine Islands. The caves of Palawan have revealed china, pottery and other artifacts from those first visitors.
Palawan was also the first area within the Philippines colonized by Spain in 1622. Centuries later the Japanese invaded the province on May 18, 1942.
What excites me, though is that Palawan is considered the last ecological frontier in the Philippines. Its 1700 islands are covered with tropical rain forests and vast areas of marine wilderness. One of those unique treasures is the underground river in the Puerto Princesa National Park. Check out the Wikipedia info on the park and the river, but also check back here in a few weeks and I will post my own pictures and impressions.
The first day of our Leadership Meetings includes an excursion down the subterranean river. After that we get to listen to some speakers from Frost and Sullivan and Forrester, play some team building games and flesh out our 2015 strategy. And I almost opted out. I almost chose to just fly home to have a weekend. Forfeit my voice in the strategy sessions. Watch the snow melt in my yard rather than paddle down an underground river. I was ready to burrow back into my winter hibernation cave rather than explore a Unesco World Heritage site, one of the New Seven Natural Wonders – paid for – in full – by my employer.
It is so easy to lose site of the bigger picture when we are caught up in the urgency of the now. It is important that I am well prepared for the upcoming meeting. It’s important to my career that I present well and dynamically, that I engage my audience and that my presentation is relevant and vital.
It’s not necessary, however, to lose site of the rest of my life. I am still lucky enough to have two of my adult children who choose to live with me (and yeah, I know, rent is cheap with me, but I don’t care!) and the one who doesn’t live with me, who lives thousands of miles away in New Hampshire, works for the same company I work for. We are connected. So, so connected.
I just had to report all of my vacation days for 2014 (apparently there was a glitch in the tracking software and although the hours were deducted from my accrual, the actual dates were lost – try recreating every day you took off for the last year, not easy!) and I took a lot of time off in 2014. I was lax about taking time out for the first few years working for my company so I had a lot of days accrued. And I took 29 days off in 2014. That’s a month and a half of paid time off last year.
Some of that time was to be a barely-needed care giver when my mother had surgery (a post will follow some day about my appalling lack of ability to handle a real crisis during that time, but I am still processing it and can’t get it written yet). However, even more was time off during the Holidays and a leisurely trip to North Carolina to wonder at my sister’s brilliance and revel in my parent’s garden. Another week was to ride the train from Colorado to California and play with food and photographs and paper with my sister. I had a month off to just be me in 2014. That’s a luxury many don’t share.
Lucky for me I still have time to reaffirm my willingness and even my strong desire to participate in creating strategy, building teams and being a part of this oh so wonderful world – and a chance to paddle down an underground river in just a little over a week. I need to go pack!
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
― Mary Oliver
My elder daughter. Cassie… this is going to be good!
I am still working on my resolutions – I really work on them all year long. I realized last year that they are perpetually in draft form which doesn’t get in the way of me working on them and keeps them fresh and vital all year long.
I moved over the holidays from one state to another as well as one job to another which has left me feeling a little disconnected and insubstantial. I left two of my kids in the other state – they are young adults, not kids, but still. They are my babies regardless of age.
My employer has a very rich and robust intranet with all of the customary business related data as well as a lot of more employee focused, not necessarily business related features. One of the articles up this week is focused around New Year’s Resolutions. It has some pointers that you would expect, check your finances, get in shape, track your performance with an eye toward the mid and year end reviews, but there are also a couple of points that made me sit back and think Wow. I really like the company I work for. I know there are underlying reasons – happier employees equal more productivity, yadda, yadda. I get that Mr. Employer is not more concerned about me than about the health of the company. But still. They don’t have to include things like this on the intranet, either. Take a look at these, taken verbatim, but not credited due to privacy concerns.
• Try to be a better listener. Whether at home or at work, listening is a gift you can give that costs you nothing. Listening does not involve solving the other person’s dilemma – that’s their job. When offering support by listening actively you can give family and friends just what they need to approach their own concerns in a new way.
• Reach out to your elderly relatives. They may covet their independence – but still need your help. Open a conversation aimed at finding out what kinds of assistance they might need and would accept. Even simple things like help with lawn-care or shoveling snow can be a good first step.
• For those with young children, try to take the words “Hurry up” out of your vocabulary. Sit yourself down and strategize ways to make your morning and bedtime routines a little slower and saner. Your kids will thank you.
• Consider volunteer work. There is certainly no shortage of need in the world – resolve to do your part to make the world a better place. If you choose a volunteer activity like helping rehab a home for the homeless, or coaching a baseball team, you get the benefit of adding exercise as you help the world.
So, for my 2009 Resolutions as they are right now:
1. Write. Just write. Write something. A poem, journal, scenes, a break out novel, a song, a prayer… write!
2. Work on a richer financial plan
3. Get back to a size where I am comfortable in my clothes
4. Exercise weekly – options
1. Walks with Leah
2. wii fit (but more than just slalom skiing and the soccer ball head butting thing)
3. A Yoga class
4. Salsa dancing
5. Learn to play tennis with Sammie
5. Reengage in life
6. Find a church
7. Volunteer -ideas
2. Soup kitchen or food pantry
3. JDRF or ADA
4. Voting precinct
8. Laugh out loud every day
9. Hug my monsters several times a day
And thanks to the employer:
10. Work to be a better listener
11. Eliminate “hurry up”, sighs, any passive aggressive communication of a hurry up emotion from every morning
12. Reach out to Great Grandma and Great Grandpa. They may not need much from me but more and better company and I can provide that readily enough – just have to do it.