Monthly Archives: June 2012

What a difference a job makes

It’s been a few years since I’ve had a job that really leaves me feeling as though I’ve both accomplished and learned something at the end of the day. For my first job out of college I was lucky enough to work with a supportive and inspiring team of people, many of which I’m still in touch with today. I loved the work and my co-workers even more. But being my first entre into the working world I was mistakenly under the impression that most offices operated under a similar philosophy with the open,warm and close-knit environment I had become accustomed to. I could not have been more wrong.

As I moved and bounced around to a few different companies, I slowly found myself jaded by the burned out, overworked and underappreciated co-workers around me. I am someone, for better or worse, that is hugely impacted by the energy and mood of those around me. While I almost always try to perform to the best of my abilities and rarely turn in work that is not up to par, it’s so difficult to stay motivated and positive when those around you look miserable and spend the day talking about how much they hate their work.

At my last job, work really started to feel like torture work, in fact just getting out of the bed and making it to the office every day felt like a job in itself. While the decision to leave wasn’t exactly a tough choice, the decision to move into my current role was. I was intimidated, insecure and most of all petrified to fail.

Admittedly, the learning curve was pretty high, and I still have a lot to learn, but for the first time in a long time, I really like what I do. I have pride in my work and most of all feel proud to work for my company. While I can already sense the tidal wave of work that’s heading my way I’m excited, feel up to the challenge and know I have colleagues and supervisors who truly want me to succeed.

The thing is, I never realized how much an impact having a job that I really hated didn’t like was having on my life. Although I invest 10 times more energy into my current position, and feel a lot more pressure to perform, at the end of the day I’m left feeling surprisingly energetic. My last job left me feeling drained, exhausted, unmotivated and worst of all disposable. I didn’t feel any a sense of ownership for my work and felt little support or commandery from co-workers.

Now, not only do I feel professionally and intellectually satisfied at the end of the day, but I feel happy. I’m happy that I enjoy what I do, I’m happy that I work for a company I believe in and  I’m happy that I go to work everyday with people I enjoy spending time with, inspire me raise the bar and push me to consistently give more.

The thing is, I didn’t realize how unhappy I was until I decided to stop going through the motions and make some changes in my life. No, things aren’t perfect and again they probably never will be. I still get stressed and anxious at work, I’m sure I will discover things that I find less than perfect about my job down the road, and some days I still may want to kick off my heels, pour myself a glass of wine and sit on the couch all evening but that’s OK because all in all, I actually enjoy what I do.

So like myself, you may have heard it a million times and may want to roll your eyes at the mere mention of it, but work doesn’t always have to feel like work. We spend too many hours of our lives working to hate what we do or who we do it with. If you’re not happy do something else. Even if it takes months to make the change, make it. It’s worth it. It’s worth the fear, uncertainty and insecurity you may feel because when it comes down to it, if you have the opportunity to do what you love, do it.


Yoga: My Happy Place

About a month ago I was really beginning to  feel the physical and emotional effects of a lazy winter spent hibernating in my apartment avoiding the cold and more importantly the scale at all costs. I grew tired of not liking what I saw in the mirror and decided to pick back up the one thing that always helps to bring me back to center, yoga.

When I stopped dancing a few years ago, my life was left with this deep void that was, and still is, so very difficult to fill. After graduating college I found myself looking for new ways to stay fit that didn’t involve pumping iron at the gym or squeezing myself back into my leotard and tights, a friend of mine suggested yoga. I, like many, first responded with a bit of skepticism thinking now how in the world can sitting on the floor with my legs crossed chanting “ohm” for an hour and fifteen minutes possibly point my body in the direction of flat abs and a perky butt? I couldn’t have been more wrong. Not only did yoga do wonders for my body, but it helped to reduce stress and bring some much-needed perspective to my life.

So maybe I haven’t quite mastered this pose yet… I’m working on it.

I’ve been going to yoga here regularly for over a month now and I can’t even begin to express how much of a difference it has made. I sleep better, have more energy and have even resumed my healthy eating habits. Apparently when you leave a yoga class you don’t really find yourself craving a burger and fries, who knew?

So I’m happy to say I’ve found my happy place. I guess twisting my body into impossible shapes among twenty or so sweaty hippies just does it for me. Hey, whatever works!

Namaste 🙂

A country in mourning: European Championships 2012

It’s over. The beloved Dutch “futbol” (soccer) team has lost all 3 of its qualifying games in the 2012 European Championships. Last night the Dutch were defeated by the Portuguese in their final attempt to move to the next round in the competition. I don’t think there was a dry eye in all of Holland. 

I’m not exactly a um “sports enthusiast.” Let’s just say I generally choose my teams based on A. the uniforms B. The number of cute players on the team or C. the country I’m living in (I like to go where the party is). I couldn’t care less if a team wins or loses and terms like “off-sides” and “corner kick” might as well be Chinese.

Our friend Rick painting the Dutch flag on my face!

I have to say, the Dutch have made me a believer (supporter? fan?) whatever. I now proudly sport my orange shirt, paint the Dutch flag on my face and curse (in Dutch of course) at the TV like the best of them. Is it possible I’m turning into a soccer hooligan?

Dear God. I hope not…

While I think it’s safe to say I will most likely never get into a fist fight or shed any tears over a soccer game, I have to admit, it really is amazing biking down streets lined with orange flags, seeing kids of all ages wearing the jersey of their favorite players and hearing bars packed with screaming fans. It’s hard, even for cynics like myself, not to get a little wrapped up in all the excitement. Even if it is just for a few days…

Better luck next year Nederland! 🙂

Daddy’s little girl

As a child, I was the definition of  Daddy’s girl.

A few bats of the eyelashes and a poke of the bottom lip and he was all mine. His rough exterior, 6ft tall frame and deep voice were  immediately rendered useless.

Despite long hours working as a doctor, taking calls in the middle of the night and leaving for work before we even woke up, I have to say, no matter how exhausted my dad was, he never missed a soccer game, field hockey game or ballet recital.

In fact, my Dad really made an impression with all the ballet moms during one of my classical ballet competitions in high school. When it was my turn to compete the announcer called my name  to which everyone politely and quietly clapped as I walked out onto the stage. My Dad, who was probably among the only men in the audience, yelled (in the silent theater) “GO KIA SEALS!” All heads turned to my Dad as my mom put her head down and pretended she had no idea who the crazy man sitting next to her was. Poor Dad.

In Amsterdam over Christmas!

When middle school came around, more specifically the boys started coming around, we all saw a whole new side of my father… One that still scares my male childhood friends today. I remember one time in 6th grade my “boyfriend”, with whom I used to hold hands with and listen to TLC , (“Waterfalls” was our song, a true child of the 90’s) called during dinner. My Dad picked up the phone said, “She’s not here” and hung up (it might have even been “she doesn’t live here”  I wouldn’t have put it past him). I was horrified. My dad just hung up on the love of my life! How rude!

My mom who was equally horrified, albeit for slightly different reasons, said, “Jerry! You can’t just hang up on the poor boy!” Dad didn’t see what the issue was.

At 12 or 13 I started to get the sneaking suspicion that my Dad was more involved with my brother’s soccer team than my dance studio. I also began to wonder if  he enjoyed going to my brother’s soccer games more than my ballet recitals. I just couldn’t imagine why. I quickly brought this to my Dad’s attention who said the only volunteer activities they have at my ballet school involved using a sewing machine or baking (let’s just say not my Dad’s fortes).

Ever the manipulator I had a trick up my sleeve. Just that day a sign-up sheet went up at my ballet studio asking for male volunteers for our spring production of Sleeping Beauty. Dad said of course he would volunteer (he assumed he would help build the set or do some heavy lifting). Not quite… turns out they were looking for men to actually dance in the ballet. At this point, there was no turning back…

My Dad was a truly good sport, attending all the rehearsals and quickly making friends with the other Dad’s who had fallen for a similar ruse.

When the time came for dress rehearsal my Dad’s love for his only daughter was without a doubt put to the test. The costume required all the men to wear tights. Tight tights. To this day I don’t think he’s gotten past how tight the tights actually were. I now know my Dad really loves me.  (I would include a picture but that’s just a bit too cruel for my taste).

My poor Dad has put up with a lot over the years…

I have to say, I’m a lucky girl 🙂

I love you Dad. Happy Father’s Day.

Week 2 on the job

I have survived. I’m nearing the end the second week at my new job.

I can proudly say I know where the bathroom is, know the names of the people sitting across from me and even know how to use the fancy chip payment system in the cafeteria. What can I say, I’m a fast learner.

I don’t think I blinked once my whole first day…

While most of my first week was spent looking like a deer in the headlights with a smile plastered across my face (truly American I know…), the nerves have finally begun to recede.

The truth is, at this point in my life, I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect job. I have inspiring and enthusiastic colleagues and get to do what I love all day, write. While taking criticism of my writing, albeit constructive, may take a little getting used to (let’s just say I haven’t had this many red marks on my writing since AP literature in high school…) and having someone tell you you’re brilliant feels a whole lot better, I know this is the only way to truly improve.

Let’s just hope the damage already done to my self-esteem isn’t too crippling… (just kidding… kind of).   

It’s far too easy to feel intimidated working for such a huge global company (nearly 115,000 employees) and among the best and the brightest in the field, but I just have to remind myself that I do in fact have what it takes.

So it may take me awhile to pick up the company lingo and I may feel petrified intimidated a little while longer, but I have to say for the first time in a while, I finally feel I’m exactly where I should be.

Sebastiaan snapped this picture outside my office on my first day! 🙂

So long lazy days…

For a little over a week I’ve been temporarily job free, and I have to admit, fully enjoying the pleasures of unemployment.

I’ve taken day trips, sun bathed on our balcony, took some yoga classes, started a new book, watched a marathon of The Real Housewives of Vancouver and even enjoyed a few 2pm happy hours (much happier than 5pm FYI).

But today, it’s time to bid farewell to the lazy days. I start my new job tomorrow. No more sleeping in, gourmet breakfast or mid-morning television watching. Good-bye cat naps in the sun and impromptu lunch dates.  So long shorts and sandals and hello pencil skirts and heels.

Life as I know it is about to drastically change… OK, I have worked before and I was only unemployed for a week, but c’monI was pretty good at it.

The truth is, I probably would have completely lost it given even 1 more day without a job. As much as I’ve enjoyed lounging around in my pjs and eating egg white omelets on the balcony (I’ve really enjoyed this), I’m already starting to miss the challenge, structure and most of all satisfaction that comes from feeling as though you’ve accomplished something at the end of the day.

So I’m actually pretty excited to start working tomorrow, especially because I really think I’m going to actually enjoy my new job. I’m even looking forward to getting dressed before 10am, wearing makeup everyday and using my brain for more than trying to understand the complexities of Kardashian family drama.

So yes, good-bye lazy days, I’m a little sad to see you go but definitely looking forward to what’s ahead. I’m a bit hysterical and on the brink of a full-blown panic attack, nervous and feeling slightly intimidated to step into my new role tomorrow, but I just have to remind myself that I’m up for the challenge. With positive, smart, energetic new colleagues and interesting projects, I know this will be a wonderful and much-needed step in the right direction. I can’t wait to begin! 🙂

Oh man, this may be a bit harder than I thought 😉