The Top Five Life Simplification Plans for 2014

The theme for this year’s Get A Grip project is “Don’t even tell me you don’t have time!”  But, what if you don’t?  What if you have so freaking much happening, so much new information coming in, so much noise and stuff and nonsense that you just don’t know where to even begin looking for 15 minutes every day to get something done?

My dear,quite simply, it is about simplification.

There are 46,000,000 ways to simplify your life according to The Google.  Similarly overwhelming results come up on Pinterest.  And they’re ridiculous.  “Five Hundred Ways To Simplify!”  Trust me, honey, five hundred of ANYTHING is not going to be simple.  Ever.  “A 365-Day Project for Simple Living”.  Um, I don’t know anyone who isn’t overwhelmed by the thought of committing to a 365 day project.

So I did some digging.  I think any list for simplifying that has more than about 15 things on it is missing the point.  I found some that I really like, though.  Check them out:

  1. Checklist:  Tips To Simplify Life  I love this one.  It’s all about setting boundaries–storage, time, and your personal commitments.  If you have lots of storage space, you’ll need lots of stuff with which to fill it.  If you have lots of junk mail coming in, you’ll find yourself surrounded by it or the stuff it leads you to buy.  If you’re in a group that makes you uncomfortable, you’ll spend time and energy trying to fit in with people you don’t even like.  Lose it.  Lose it all.  Unsubscribe from every last bit of it.
  2. 8 Ways to Simplify Life This one focuses on the stuff that we need to do and have, and looks at it from the perspective of simplifying processes.  Yes, you have a yard.  Does it have to be a complicated yard?  Yes, you have to eat.  Does everything have to be a 3 course extravaganza every night?  Yes, you need potions and pastes with which to make yourself presentable.  Do you need a hair style that takes 45 minutes every day?  Do and have what you need, but there’s no need to put on a show.
  3. 10 Tips To Start Living In The Present  This one is about how we feel about where we are in our lives.  It’s deep.  Only one of them is about stuff, and the other nine are about you.  I keep coming back to it–think  beyond old solutions to problems?  BOOM.  He’s talking about fixing from the inside out, because what’s going on inside of your head is likely reflected in your surroundings.  Ouch.
  4. Almost Amish:  10 Principles for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Life I love me some Amish.  I love the quiet community of it.  I love quilts and barnraisings and buggies.  I like that this article includes the idea of knowing your neighbors and sustainability by shopping locally–money is important, and keeping it close to home and spending it wisely provide such peace of mind.  It also touches on God and faith, and while I’m not outwardly religious, I find great comfort in my concept of a higher power.
  5. 10 Ways To Simplify Life By Color Coding Those papers in your office that are just all over the place and you know what’s in there but finding any one thing involves messing all of it up?  Yeah, they go here.  Anything, any process can be color coded.  The first time I ever saw the true genius of color coding was in the movie “Yours, Mine & Ours”–the original with Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball.  Two people with 17 kids between them fall in love, and Henry Fonda comes up with a system that assigns them a bed and a bathroom schedule.  Holy crap, it was genius.  Color coding will revolutionize how the people in your home identify and use stuff.

BONUS:  Zen Manifesto:  72 Ideas To Simplify Your Life OK OK I know, 72 ways to be simple CANNOT by definition be simple.  But I like ZenHabits, and I like Leo Barbauta’s blog.  And this isn’t a list of 72 things to be done, at the end of which your life will be simple.  Pick five, ten things on the list that fit your life and go with them.

Simplifying your life is about setting boundaries.  Anything that adds stress to your world, and this includes people, should be subject to the boundaries you set.

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Get off the couch.

I think the hardest part of Getting A Grip is figuring out how to keep that grip.  It starts out like a New Year’s Resolution:  Oh YEAH I’m gonna get on top of this mess, and I’ll get rid of all that stuff and I’ll cook dinner using locally sourced ingredients every night and I’ll have fresh flowers on the table and the house is going to be no more than five minutes from clean at any time.  And you do it.  You get a routine in place (need one?  Email me.  I’ll help you put one together) and for one month or three months or six months you just kill it.  Everything happens as you hope it will and you have a smile on your face.

One day it stops.  I have clean dishes in the dishwasher and dry clothes in the dryer, and I’d think, “eh, it can wait” because I KNOW it only takes 10 minutes to take care of either one.  And instead of baking a loaf of bread on a Sunday afternoon, I’d watch five episodes of The West Wing.  The house is so nice and quiet when the laundry’s not going all the time…

And I’m at square one.  Again.  Ugh.  How do you snap out of it?

My old tricks didn’t work, either.  When the house is a disaster, I could guarantee a miracle would happen if I turned on an episode or two of Hoarders and saw where five bad decisions could lead me.  BOOM, I’m up and the kitchen is clean.  The whole point of Get A Grip is not to be all Gwyneth Paltrow and provide ridiculous examples of how your life could be more fabulous if only you were slightly more perfect.   I didn’t need a revolution.  I just needed to get off my couch.

The excuse I was using for being on my couch was that my job made me sad.  And it did make me sad.  But that didn’t mean I suddenly got to go on a housework strike.  I’m very fortunate in that I managed to marry someone who would let me wallow in self-pity take time to assess my options and he’d pick up the slack let me work my way toward a solution when I get like this.

There was a lot that I couldn’t control.  What it came down to was identifying what I could control, and focusing on that.  Work wasn’t going to improve on its own; I had to get off the couch (omg seriously) to make that happen too.  Being a grown-up means that when life hands you lemons, you get to decide whether or not you even want the damn lemonade, and if you don’t, you can opt for something else instead.  Like Diet Coke, or even a martini.  And a snack.  Not that you’re medicating with food (anymore…), you’re just calling your shot.

This week, I started a new job.  I’m working with a colleague I’ve known and respected for years, and I will be doing what I enjoy.  I took a bit of a pay cut to do it, but in the long run it’s going to be worth it.  Taking control doesn’t mean you’re a control freak.  It means that you have the means to decide who you are and what you will be when you grow up.  It also means that there are no more excuses to let the laundry pile up, and that this family only works if everybody does his or her share (even Boo, who knows she needs to pick her stuff up at the end of the day).   So when I go four months without entering a grocery store, that means somebody else has to or we become hungry, and neither of those are valid options in this house.

The catalyst for my getting up off the couch was the unfairness of it–poor freaking me, all sad because of work, because everybody else has such a perfect life.

someecards.com - Oh, you hate your job? Why didn't you say so? There's a support group for that. It's called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar.

I got over it, and by “it” I mean “myself”, because I had the power to fix it all along.

It’s good to be off the couch.

“I promise I’m not an idiot”: what to do if you lose every single piece of identification while you’re on a trip

OK so this past weekend, I met up with some of my gal pals (who are LOVING that I just called them that) for a long-awaited weekend of beer and cursing relaxation.  I flew from Vegas to Baltimore on Thursday afternoon.  About 3 hours into the 4-1/2 hour flight, I took out my wallet so I could buy a cocktail.

Cue the foreshadowing music.

Roughly 18 hours later, I was at my friend’s house in Hershey PA (you know you were wondering where the Vegas locals go for vacay…) and I grabbed my purse because we were ready to go get some food.  I started pulling stuff out that I wouldn’t need with me (i.e. flight snacks) and I realized that my wallet was not in my purse.

I was 2100 miles from home with no money, no cards, no driver’s license.  What’s a girl to do?  I answered a round of “You’re kidding, right? Are you sure? Is it in your suitcase/in the car/under the couch?” and then it was time to deploy.  The first phone call was to Southwest Airlines, who told me 25 minutes later that I needed to go to southwest.com to fill out their lost item report.  Because nothing is more reassuring than telling the internets that you are adrift in Central PA with nothing that says you are who you are.  Yikes.  Clicking “submit” was like telling Jesus to take the wheel, let me tell you.

Then I called Mr. Incredible at work, which was humbling.  “We may have a situation.”  As ever, he hit the ground running and cancelled cards and did All The Right Things.  He’s good in a crisis.  And then after that, there wasn’t much to do.  It was day one of a 4-day bender trip, and I was in good company who, I must say, rallied to my aid.  Those bitches ladies do not let one of their own go thirsty hungry.

In the back of my head this whole time was the nagging question, “How exactly, in this post-9/11 era, does one travel without identification?”  I called Southwest again, because talking to people is more comforting than clicking around some anonymous website.  “Randy” told me “Oh, just go to the airport, they’ll know what to do.”  Um…..?  That’s not very reassuring, Randy.  Can you give a sister a heads-up about what’s in store?  “There’s a process.”

Cue more foreshadowing music.

So Monday afternoon, well before my flight, I got to the airport.  I went to BWI lost and found, just in case.  Nope, nothing there, but go downstairs to the police and see if they have it, because sometimes they put stuff like that in their safe.  HOPE!  Alas, nothing there either.  Le sigh.  So I schlep back upstairs and two terminals over to the Southwest counter.

“I lost my wallet on the way to here.  I don’t have any ID at all.  Can you help me?  I promise I’m not an idiot.”

And he did.  He did some quick verification as to who I am and where I’m going, and then he checked my bag, so I wouldn’t have to get a suitcase through security.  Then he gave me my boarding pass and sent me to security.  “Good luck, ma’am.”  Eeeek.

So I’m cool like Fonzie (“ayyyyyyyyyyyy” *two thumbs*) in line.  I get to the “picture ID and boarding pass please” lady, and I say “I lost my wallet.”

“I’mma need help up here”, she calls over her shoulder.  Everyone in line immediately looks at me like I’m Up To Something.  I step over into the penalty box and try to look inconspicuously wholesome.  A few minutes later, TSA Officer Dash comes up to me and starts asking questions.

“What happened?”

Duh.

“Do you have anything in your purse with your name on it that you didn’t make?”

No.  Not even a business card (stupid no-glory job).

“What time’s your flight?”

About two hours, and it’s delayed.

“Are you a smoker?  Smoke ’em if you got em.”

Geez.

He then gives me a form to fill out, which grants him and the TSA to access “A Database” that contains my information.  I will be answering some questions about my life, and that will verify my identity.

Okaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay.

He gets on his batphone, hits 1 and CALL, which means a red phone rang in a secure room somewhere off premises.  He gives his own verification code, gets one back, and gives my name and date of birth to start the process.

He asked where I work, where I live, where I lived before that because I haven’t lived where I do for very long, what kind of car I own, the name of one family member, and a couple other questions that only I would know the answers to.  Basic life stuff, nothing really invasive, and it’s all in a database somewhere.  Freaky.

I get past that portion of the program, and it’s time for the swimsuit competition.  I receive a THOROUGH pat-down from a very nice and professional female agent.  Let’s just say, she and I became, and shall remain close, and I will always remember this encounter fondly and with no regrets.

And then I’m through.  So if you lose your wallet on a trip, there’s hope.  You’ll get home.

Here’s what I wish I had known or done in advance:

  1. Quick inventory of what is actually in my wallet.  Insurance cards, AAA card, etc.  For no other reason than to be able to determine quickly just how up the creek I really am.  Also, cleaning out anything unnecessary (am I going to Costco on this trip?  the children’s museum? work?  then I don’t need those cards.)
  2. Copy of at least my driver’s license somewhere in the world.  Even if it had been at home on Mr. Incredible’s computer, he could have emailed it to me, and then I wouldn’t have been *quite* so sketchy at the airport.
  3. Dude, check around the floor before you get off the damn plane.  Really.  Are you new?

As an epilogue to this adventure, I received an email from Southwest Lost and Found yesterday:

“We are happy to tell you that we have located an item that closely matches the description of your reported lost item.

You only need to reply to this email, within 45 days from today’s date, with the following information to facilitate its return:

1) Verify the shipping address for your item.

2) Method of payment for the shipping cost. (Why do I have to pay?)

  • We use FedEx ground to return items and would ask that you supply a FedEx account number to pay the shipping fees directly to FedEx.
    • If you do not have a FedEx account, one is easy to get by clicking here.
      or,
  • If you have a preferred shipper, please give us the company name and your account number and we will do the rest.

After we receive this information, the item will be shipped to your desired address and we will close the report. We cannot hold these items in perpetuity, so if we do not receive a reply within 45 days, the item will be salvaged and the report closed.

We would like to thank you for flying Southwest Airlines and to invite you to try us again.

Sincerely,

Southwest Airlines Lost Item Recovery Team”

You better BELIEVE I’ll be flying Southwest again!  HOLLA.

Not Everything Needs To Be Perfect

Let me say (write…) that again:

Not Everything Needs To Be Perfect.

Ideally, everything in your home will have a home of its own (“a place for everything, and everything in its place yadda yadda yadda”), but the goal of this whole thing is not to have your home look like OCD City.  Really.  The cans in your pantry do not all need to be facing the same direction (although it’s lovely when they are, it’s also kind of scary), and the towels don’t all need to line up on the towel bar.  You don’t live at Pottery Barn.  Your home is not a movie set.  You are not Gary and Elaine.

Your home should be your soft spot to land.  It should be your sanctuary from the rest of this prickly world.  You should be able to pull your car into the garage, walk into your kitchen (mudroom, whatever), put down your bag, sort your mail on an empty flat surface, feed whoever in your home is hungry, and then chill out for a little while before bed.

Think about it.  What would that be like?  Because it’s possible.  That could be what many (not all, because I’m not a freaking magician) of your evenings are like.  Not perfect.  Just… easy.  Well, easiER, at least.

This is about being able to sit in any chair in your house.  It’s about eating at a table, or at least being able to choose to eat standing up in the kitchen instead of it being the only reasonable place it can happen.  It’s about having a clean towel next to your shower, and clean sheets on everybody’s bed.  It’s about having people over to watch the Oscars or the Super Bowl or just dinner (or the Tonys, which are next week!!!) and not spending two solid days clearing a trail from the couch to the TV to the bathroom.  It’s about having a general idea of where just about anything in your house is.

It’s not an impossible dream (♪♫to dreeeeeeeeeeeeam the impossible dreeeeeeeeeeeeeeam♪♫).  It’s a reasonable expectation.  Really.  It is.  It’s doable.  I promise (or as Boo says, “Pinky swear!”).  It may take some time to get there, though.  You may not know where or how to start.  You’re not alone.  A lot of people don’t know where to start.  Hell, when I was first keeping my own house, it was a disaster.  I alphabetized my movies (it’s always been lurking just below the surface…) but there was not a clean plate to be found.

The idea of hiring a Professional Organizer seems quite lofty, yes?  It does.  Hoi, polloi, aren’t we fancy and helpless, not being able to clean our house?  Don’t think about it like that.  One of my clients said it so perfectly:  “It’s like you’re a personal trainer for my house”.  You know how you go to a gym (or, like me, you may have friends who go to a gym) and there’s a person standing next to you, cheering or coaching or somehow encouraging you to continue?  She (or Hot Muscle-y He?) guides you through new routines, correcting your form, making sure you don’t take on too much, pushing you to keep going?

That’s me.  That’s what I am able to do.  And to be crass and talk (if only briefly) about money, I’m likely within your budget.

So there it is.  When someone asks for an explanation of what I do (and they have a few minutes…) that’s what I tell them.  I’m not going to swoop in and make your life perfect.  But I can help you Get A Grip (get it? makes sense now, doesn’t it?) on it.

Business and Miscellany

This has been a landmark week in Get A Grip World.  I officially exist as a limited liability corporation.  I spent some time pondering what the name of my empire will be (I sometimes think in terms of Oprah…).  I wanted it to have significance, and to evoke a sense of expectation and curiosity.

I am Galore LTD.  Isn’t that fabulous?  What’s better than galore?  There’s never a galore quantity of something bad (unless it’s being described sarcastically, and I get that, because I speak sarcasm).  Galore means there’s more to come so you better keep your fork.  A synonym for “galore” is “a-go-go” and I don’t think it gets more awesome than that.  Galore is abundance.  Galore is having enough to share.

Galore is also my favorite album by The Cure.  I mean, I know it’s a greatest hits compilation, but it’s SO great!  Just Like Heaven?  Possibly the best song ever written.  I remember being at a party in the early 90s, and they played this song and EVERYBODY sang along and it was just joyous.  That right there?  Total galore.

ANYWAY.  I’ve always loved the idea of galore, and when it occurred to me that Galore could be to me like Harpo is to Oprah (again, I think big), I knew it was right.  It felt right.  I didn’t even have to ask if it was stupid (do you ever do that? have what you think is a great idea and then tell someone about it with the qualifier “is that stupid?” Me too.) because it fit.  So there we are.  Galore.

In other news, I have a newsletter that is getting rave reviews!  You can sign up for it over there—> in the sidebar, up at the very top.  It’s weekly, so you don’t have to worry about suddenly getting a million emails from me.  It’s utterly spam-free.  It’s readable in five minutes or less, and it has links to fabulous things that you won’t find here.  It’s the Friday Huddle-Up, and I’d love it if you gave it a spin.  No pressure.  Well, not much pressure.  You can always unsubscribe and I won’t hold it against you (for long…).

Here’s to Galore!  Cheers!

Hit the road, Jack!

We went to Disneyland last week.  Boo is 3-1/2, and we always said that we would take her when she was old enough not to be carried all day (interestingly, “old enough” is not the same as “willing”, but whatever).  I’m a notoriously anxious traveler/over-packer, but I tried really extra super hard not to make everyone else crazy.  I made it until about Thursday afternoon, I think.  More on this in a minute.

Now that we’re home and unpacked and the laundry is done and put away (!!!), I think a wrap-up is in order.  Chances are, this isn’t our last trip to the Magic Kingdom, and we learned quite a bit about how we are when we take our show on the road.

Here are my Top Five Questions to think about when you’re planning a trip.

1.  What’s your priority?  What’s the purpose of the trip?

Mr Incredible and I were on board with making this about Boo–her first time to Disneyland was going to revolve around her schedule, her moods, her interests.  Not every trip is going to be a pure child-focused family vacation–most of our travel is to visit family or attend events.  Those trips have a different dynamic and we have specific expectations for them.  When we’re in visiting mode, we want to be on our best behavior.  We don’t see relatives as often as we’d like (unless it’s WAY TOO FREAKING OFTEN, and stay tuned for some future musings about dealing with family…) so there’s a lot of talking and not always a lot of action.

Last fall, we flew to Arkansas to attend my cousin’s wedding, and we learned that it’s important to scope out where the fun is when you get to somewhere new.  You’re going to have down time, and you can’t depend on good weather.  We spent a lot of time driving around in the rain on our way to sit down and chat and eat.  That can be tough on kids, and they get bored fast.  Most towns have indoor play facilities, and you can sign up for a free “introductory” tumbling or dance class if you have shorties who need to burn off some steam for an hour or two.  Don’t be above Chuck E Cheese (OMG, seriously, it’s its own level of hell, but it can be a lifesaver).

2.  Just how much do you actually need to do?

A family vacation can have such a sense of urgency.  You don’t go away often, so when you do, you want to get a lot of bang for your bucks.  And you run yourself and your family into the ground trying to do and see ev.er.y.thing.  Don’t do that.  Don’t be Clark Griswold.   If you’ve never been to where you’re going, do your homework.  Find out the must-sees and must-dos.  Ask your friends if they know anything about your destination.  Chances are, they do, and they can give you invaluable tips.

Another thing, don’t over-schedule your days.  Carve one thing in stone per day, and other stuff can fall into place as it will.  Downtime is important, even for the most enthusiastic travelers.  Will the kids take naps?  Are there places to go during downtime that don’t include locking yourself in the hotel bathroom for five minutes of privacy?

3.  Is all that stuff really necessary?

I’m a notorious over-packer.  Back in the glory days, I would pack a suitcase of just shoes because you just never know if you’re going to need three pairs of black stilettos.  Now?  I’m pretty confident about my stiletto needs.  If I’m not home, I’m not going to want to stomp around in 4-inch heels for 12 hours.

Mr Incredible travels quite a bit for business, so he’s an ace when it comes to packing.  He can fit five days of clothes in a duffel bag and a quarter of our big suitcase.  Love him.  And now that Boo is old enough to sleep in a bed and eat from regular plates and use a bathroom, her packing has gotten seriously lighter.

Check the weather before you go.  Pack for layering, use jackets with hoods instead of umbrellas, bring at least one nicer outfit every time, and extra socks and undies are never a bad idea.  Beyond that, less is more.  It’s not like you’re going to the moon.  If you forget something, or find that you didn’t anticipate something, chances are, you’re not far from Target.

4.  What are the dealbreakers?

Before you back out of the driveway, make sure that everyone, or at least the deciders, is on the same page about key elements of the trip.  For example, I have a pretty firm “No IHOP” rule.  Mr. Incredible knows that barring some unforeseen disaster, our family breakfasts are not going to happen at IHOP while we’re on the road.  We have conversations about wake-up calls and how and where we’re going to spend our time (Park Hopper tickets make this an essential discussion).  Everybody in the group, even the non-deciders, has expectations about what will and will not be a part of the trip, and communication about this is so important.

Which brings me to my previous point about The Crazy.  I tend to get hyperfocused (NO!  really?  Nuh-uh.) and I sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture in my pursuit of whatever I think needs to happen.

I’ve gotten better.  Yes I have.

But it still happens.  A dealbreaker on every trip you take needs to be manners:  we are kind to each other.  Not just superficial and passive aggressive and “OK fine whatever you want to do.”  KINDNESS.  As tired as you are, so is everybody else, and chances are at least one person in the car is about to go all stabbity if they hear someone say or do XYZ one. more. time.  Pay attention to the people you’re with, not just to where you are.

5.  Can you take extra days off from work before and after the actual trip?

We left town on Monday, came back on Friday.  Our Disneyland adventure was bookended by weekends, and I think that’s the way to go.  Ideally, we also have part of at least one business day when at our disposal, just in case.  Like, when we were coming home, we discovered that the brakes on our car needed work (no emergencies, just rough stopping).  We hit town, and there was (technically) time to take the car in before the end of the day.  Of course, it’s important to keep the Dealbreakers in mind when you start piling errands on before and after the trip.  Does someone in the group prefer to stay close to home once we get there?  PERHAPS.

I think my point with all of this is, don’t force perfection upon your vacation.  You’re not going to Hawaii so you can tell people you went to Hawaii.  You’re not dragging your family on a cruise so you can have the best family picture in the Christmas card out of everybody who puts pictures in cards.  You’re not taking your 3 year old to Disneyland so you can jumpstart her love of Pirates in the Caribbean (true story).  This isn’t a show you’re putting on.  These are memories you’re building, and when your kids are grown, they’ll remember how they met ALL the princesses (even the elusive Princess Tiana).

They’ll remember walking across the highway to the beach instead of jumping right back into the car after lunch and going to the next stop.

And so will you.

Give them the old Razzle Dazzle

I’m struggling with this whole “go to work” thing, lately. I know it’s necessary, that no 8 to 5 cubicle gig is going to be my paradise, that the bigger picture calls for me to do this for a bit longer, that things are slowly improving here.  But man, it’s rough right now. It was better for a while, but I’m afraid this (and this) is the new normal.

There’s politicking going on.  I’m on a committee that is supposed to be autonomous, and yesterday it became apparent that we are expected to adhere to an agenda.  The consequences of not doing so aren’t clear, but at the end of the day I felt uneasy about the whole thing.  I’ve been thinking about how to spin this to cover my own ass and still be a “team player”.

My Shelf Of Professional Development

When I hit up my reference library to my immediate right, I find all sorts of good advice about breaking the rules and finding my strength and delivering happiness (and Audrey Hepburn’s bio, but whatever) and not sweating the small stuff and I don’t feel like much of that is applicable when employees are at such a professional disadvantage.  I seem to be in survival mode most of the time.  It’s exhausting.

That’s the name of the game right now for a lot of people:  Play along, but be careful.  Jobs are scarce, and even when you’re under-employed (that’s such a crappy phrase…) it feels like you need to tap dance extra quickly in order to remain in the kickline (that’s a Rockettes reference, because I love me some Rockettes).  It’s time (for me at least) to come up with a survival plan.  It’s time to [insert trumpet fanfare] Get A Grip At Work!

Yuck.

OK, so what do you need in order to feel better about work at the end of the day?  For me, it comes down to how productive I was, if what I did had value or relevance, and how I feel I’m perceived by my colleagues.  The first one, I have a lot of control over.  For the first months in this department, I allowed myself to languish.  Like Susan Hayward.

I want to live!

Pauvre de moi.

I had to shake that off, because it was really having a negative impact on who I was outside of work.  I drank too much, I wasn’t nice to Boo 😦 or Mr Incredible :(.  It really was horrible.  So, since I wasn’t given stuff to do at work, I found stuff to do (like, um, write a blog, among other things…).  And that helped immensely.  It gave me a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.  At the very least, it passed the time.

Adding value or relevance in how I spent my time was also something I could change.  I made a lot of noise about this, because I realized that if I wasn’t an integral part of this team, I wasn’t necessary.  OK, so give me something important (see also: something nobody else wants to do but it needs to get done) and I will KILL it.  I will do that unpleasant task so well that you can’t POSSIBLY continue to ignore me.  This got me noticed, for sure.  Suddenly, the higher-ups were stopping by my desk to chat about work and not-work stuff.  Woohoo!  Kristie = Team Player!

How I feel I’m perceived by my colleagues… ugh.  When I was in college, I majored in Psychology (which is why I’m so wildly successful now…?) and one of the more unpleasant things I remember realizing that applied to me was the concept of being a high self monitor.  I get very involved in what I think other people might be thinking about me (when the reality is that I may or may not even be on their radar, which is its own set of anxieties…).  This is a tough one to get past, because there’s a fine line between accepting that we all live in our own little worlds and being freaked out that people are flat out ignoring you for what must be reasons that they all talk about (um, hi, paranoid much?).  I’ve come to realize that if my first two Components of Workplace Contentedness are in place, the third one kind of fades away.  Funny, that. If I take charge of that which I can control, that which I cannot control loses its thunder.

Breakthrough.

As for the shenanigans that are happening with my committee right now?  Well, it’s tricky.  I need to keep tap dancing and give ’em the old hocus pocus and assume that my time spent is spent well.  If someone has already decided what the outcome will be, then that actually takes the pressure off.  It’s their game, not mine, right?  My stuff is documented (because, you know, I’m organized…) which means my ass is covered.