Friday, June 14, 2013


How many assumptions do you make about yourself, your life, others, work, how things will be?

Remember my buddy who I sent the care package to earlier in the year and how I couldn't believe he was thoughtful enough to send me a gift to cheer me up when he was going through crazy stress?

Well, his reality is that his wife just had her 6th surgery in the past 3 years and it is seriously looking like her condition is going to be a lifelong disability.  They have a 5 year old who is vibrant and smart and has had to take on the emotional burden of not having a Mother around very much while watching her Dad hold things in so he doesn't overtly show too much he is falling apart inside, when we both know, they know. 

On paper, they show like a "perfect" family.  Mom and Dad, both Doctors, one child they cherish, reasonable expectations for life.  They are not world travellers, don't eat out much, OK with one child, thankful, do not intend to trade up their first house -- He said the next move he makes will be to the grave yard...  Modest cars and lifestyle.  They own a timeshare within a few hours drive away.  They enjoy skiing and golf. 

They felt they had planned well, made good decisions and were on the road to early and sustained success.

Until it didn't.  Neither of them anticipated the massive change in events when the first "simple" surgery occurred.  He is at the point where he can barely talk about it.  He has missed so much work and sleep that (in his words), if he was an employee, he would have been fired by now.  Luckily his patients have been understanding.  She works in a group practice so her associates have been taking over. 

This is not the way he thought their lives would be at this stage of their careers.  Because of chronic exhaustion, worry, preoccupation, it has led to a few accidents on his end recently.  One which totalled his early 90's car.  No big lost there and he was fortunate not to be hurt badly from it.  Having to buy a replacement car though ate up more time than he had.

I often try and put myself in their shoes in an effort to understand how it must feel.  Both of them are career driven, giving people and it slays them to be so off course.  And because there is a child involved, it isn't all about you and your career or financial planning anymore. 

The psychological impact of seeing your parents go through something like this and being dragged to the ER in the early morning hours, with your Mom in extreme pain is significant.  Neither of them have available family support.

Be grateful for your health, for time, for each other, for all the minutes, hours, days, years that are "going your way".

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


It doesn't take much for me to feel appreciated.  A small gesture, a smile, a heartfelt "Thank You", a good hug. 

D started his new position at a great time because he got to experience employee appreciation day with a different division.  It turned out to be a full on all week affair!

There were catered lunches for 3 days at different nearby restaurants, an ice cream truck one afternoon, then small ipod speakers and finally a gift card of your choice.  He opted for Home Depot since we have work at the cottage this summer that will require supplies. 

I told D I want to work there!  The bubble popped when he reminded me that would mean full time hours...Nope, not going there.  Plus there is the small issue of not being qualified...

We couldn't believe how different this new department is compared to where he was.   Work has been busier for him.  And commuting again has been an eye opener.  He had gotten more used to working from home and the time saved from not driving than he thought.  I've had to readjust the budget for increased gas consumption.

So D has a week of MW appreciation planned for when I come back from my next trip.  I'm excited!  The last time someone did something like that for me at work was admittedly 12- 14 years ago and it wasn't a whole week. 

When I first started working at the one office, I got surprise flowers one year, a bottle of Grand Marnier another and a cheese cake sent from a renowned cheese cake place in NYC for my 3rd year.

I still remember coming out of a room to find this styrofoam cooler with dry ice stuff puffing out when I opened the lid.  I thought someone had sent me frozen fish (happened before)!  Happily it was something much richer and yummier.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Random Thoughts: Ambition

Have it?  I used to think I did.  Now I'm not so sure anymore.  For D, he used to think it would just develop and now, he doesn't think he has enough.

He went to school with guys who have made it big time.  And he skis with guys who have sold business for many multi multi millions and are still looking for the next business idea and working.  Us?  Continuing to work wouldn't be high on the list should either of us "make it big".

This is a topic that comes up once in while when we talk about some of our "big" dreams.  If only we were ambitious enough to make more money (instead of talking about how much we can cut back)...

The potential is there but the desire has disappeared over the years.  I certainly feel as if my ship has sailed for that.  I peaked early.  Even the mere thought of ramping up again gives me a heavy feeling in my chest.  D is still in the position to climb should he suddenly decides he wants it but I'm afraid having me as an example doesn't help things. 

I don't sit on any advisory boards or publish research or seek a position outside of my area of work.  I just help people one on one.  Is that not enough?  When I read articles of what some of my colleagues are doing to advance our profession outside their office hours, I am amazed at their stamina.  What happened to mine?  Why don't I want to get involved?  Sometimes I do feel bad about it.

So are we just not ambitious?  Or did we never "have it" to begin with and have deluded ourselves for decades thinking we are just choosing not to exercise it?  And are all early retirement hopefuls out there in the same boat?  Is it something we ought to feel ashamed for not having ample of?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Sad Relationship

An acquaintance recently confided something personal to a small group of us.  This conversation came about from a discussion on commuting -- How some of us don't miss it one bit (me!) and how his was almost 4 hrs a day!  He gets to ride in a luxury car but still, it is just short of 4 hrs! And when he has to travel for business, it is significantly more.

Chatting with a group of women vs men tends to illicit deeper questions and discussions.  So I asked how was it impacting his family life and marriage? 

He is in an "OK" marriage.  His wife wanted to move so they moved ("happy wife, happy life") and now is complaining she never sees him.  It didn't dawn on her that he'd be away longer until they actually moved???  She has it in her mind that because he is an "executive", he can leave whenever he wants and he just isn't doing so (choosing work over family).  Whereas he didn't get to be where he is in the organization from working less.

She has proclaimed she will never work again and is spending money to the tune of about 45 - 50K/yr on stuff.  To be fair, he is looking to upgrade his car to one that is in the 6 digits fairly soon.  It seems like they are goading each other on financially (maybe to get back at each other?) instead of tackling the real issues of loneliness (both), couple's teamwork (purpose), health and future planning. 

Then the D word came out (not from us).  The long commute gives him a lot of time to think about the concept of divorce.  And the financial consequences of paying child and spousal support for a long time.  He's going to stay put.  Doesn't feel he has any choice.  You could have heard a pin drop, we were so silent.  The amount of sadness emanating from him was thick. 

For a guy to open up like that, to a small group of women he didn't know all that well, you know things are really eating away at him.  Later confirmed he had been developing health issues from all the stress.

I hope just having people listen helped because there really weren't anything any of us could do for him. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Slow Down

I'm having one of those weeks where I keep thinking it is a week later than it really is.  Yup -- I know what you're thinking -- Present much??!!  So I'm feeling more rushed than necessary.

I was on hold with Banana Republic and a very friendly gentleman is helping me sort out why my return hadn't posted yet.  I know it got there because the package had been tracked.  I'm thinking it has been 2 weeks since they received it when lo and behold, it has barely been a week and it takes them 5 business days to post and up to another 5 days to refund. 

Talk about feeling stupid.  He was ultra generous with me though and apologized for it taking so long...which made me feel even more silly but at least we laughed about it.  Hope he did not think I was some crazy woman who has nothing better to do at home than online shop, return things and then call and harass companies.

For the record, it was my first time ordering online with them.  They have it down to a science.  You even get a return label right away.  And if your package comes in a recyclable bag, you can just reuse the bag for the return because they designed it that way.  Impressive.

It's great if you know your size as the online store is a different entity from the store.  You cannot get the full collection and order by style names as easily.  That's what tripped me up.  He even apologized for that when it was my error!  What a guy.

Before that I was on the phone with my cell phone provider to ask questions about my first bill since switching phones.  I noticed a line item on the bill that didn't make sense. 

By the way, it is a good idea not to turn in your old phone for money because should something happen with your new one, you will have to pay through the nose ($730 + tax for mine) to buy one outright with no contract. 

Whereas if you still have another smart/super phone lying around, they will just charge you a small fee ($21 + tax) to transfer your account over.  I had originally decided to give them my phone (they offered me $40) until I smartened up. 

I also declined their hazard insurance.  Something about $69 upfront and $10 or so monthly for 3 years so that should I drop my phone and crack the glass, I'll get a new phone or a stand in for either free or for a significantly reduced price?!  She lost me after the first 10 seconds. 

Whatever happened to just being careful about your possessions?  Why is it "acceptable" or "funny" or "laughable" when something breaks due to preventable clumsiness?  I didn't grow up in a environment where that was acceptable.  There were major consequences for irresponsibility.  You wouldn't think so at the cellular store.  They make it sound like it is to be expected so you might as well buy some insurance.

Finally we just found out from our neighbour the property valuation people could do their assessment without having to do a full interior inspection!  I had just sent an email back saying forget it -- Neither of us are willing to take time off work for it.  That I thought based on the facts we sent, they were able to figure it out.

So now I'm mad and have sent another email requesting the same courtesy and a re-open of our file. 

And finally, finally -- Went with another couple to a well known Japanese restaurant for dinner on Friday and found out it was under new ownership.  I had been going there for well over 10 years and was really looking forward to a great experience. 

What a disappointment.  It felt worse because I had been telling our friends what to expect and we got none of it.  The slashes to the menu were extreme while the prices had gone up.  In addition, having a new server who didn't know how things worked made for a less than relaxing end of the week.  Being offered miso soup at the end of the meal?!

I realize the new owners have every right to do whatever they want but a bit of warning will go a long way to remedy the shock to long time customers.  As for this one, there's no reason why I would ever return.