Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Winter Safety

Ah, winter. What a glorious time of year.

- The roads get covered with gooey gunk which rivals the grease trap in the kitchen of the Ol' Home Fill 'Er Up And Keep On A-Truckin' Cafe.**

- The sidewalks become a disgusting mess of frozen puddles and salt deposits with the sole purpose of ruining my favorite "It's Winter But I Don't Have To Admit It Yet" boots.

- The driveway becomes stuck in an infinite loop of Being Shoveled and then Being Filled With Snow From The Rotten NeighborSpawn Who Insist That My Driveway Is Better For Sledding Than Their Own, with only sporadic interruptions for when Lady Nature decides that my yard is a disgraceful mess and needs to be whitewashed.

So, yeah. Winter. Woot.

I'm fairly lucky. While my driveway is a source of difficulty, at least it isn't long. And if it snows overnight while the cars are in the yard, the shovelling isn't awful. Just pull the cars into the road and *kapow.* Instant clean.

And it's not like this season lasts forever, either. Yes, it starts getting cold in September. Yes, it's still not tee-shirt weather in April. But at least the snow is only really awful from January until the end of March. And the days don't stay short forever. In fact, just this morning I realized that there was light for my Getting Ready For Work ritual. Which is nice.

However, I do have a bit of an issue with one thing:


Walking around My Friendly Home State can be a mess in the wintertime. It never used to be such an issue - Prior to the move, I had to walk around a small parking lot at work. I could dictate how far I wanted to walk on my Shopping Endeavors, and walking up my driveway was a slice of schnitzel. There's hardly any drive to walk up. No complaints there.

But now, I've got a bit of a hike.

When we evacuated our prior Working Establishment in favor of new digs, we gave up our Cooshy Parking Lot of Awesomeness in favor of a parking garage.

Which isn't awful, I admit, when it snows and I don't have to shovel my car.

However, this parking lot is (depending on which side of the building I exit), just under a quarter of a mile away. Which means that I have some hiking to do.

That becomes difficult in the wintertime because:

- I do not live in a flat state, where you can see from one side to the other uninterrupted. I have mountains all over the place Being In The Way. To that end I do not just travel in the X and Y, but also in the Z.

- I work in a lovely older neighborhood whose establishment thought that bricks made a fantastic paving medium for sidewalks. Not the rough kind of brick, either... No, walking on these puppies is an adventure not unlike fresh fuzzy socks on a clean hardwood floor. Careful footsteps can make your walk a little safer, but you never know when the dog is going to come barreling around the corner and send you skittering across the living room on your rumpus.

- I am not old and decrepit, so I enjoy pretty shoes. That means I don't always choose the sneakers or clonky winter boots that would keep me safe... Sometimes I pick the pretty heels that make me feel like (brace yourself...) a female.

Now, that's not to say that residents of my fair Work City don't understand my plight. Last evening, as I was slip-sliding down the sidewalk on my Boots of Sunneriffic Might, two gentlemen passed me and regaled me with a little ditty I hear often on my adventures: "Be careful there! Whoops! Are you alright?"

I forged onward. I have my own little arsenault of tricks that help me feel more in control of my appendages:

- Stick arms out as if to create an A-Frame around one's trunk. This increases wind resistance in case a skid occurs. In addition, it airs out ghastly underarm odors that can occur when Heavy Winter Jackets are installed.

- Bend knees to increase proximity from posterior to sidewalk. This leaves a shorter distance to landing in case of an unfortunate fall, thus protecting That Which The Opposite Sex Ogles.

- Don't pick up one's feet. Just slide them along the sidewalk, lessening propulsion to impulse speed. This takes forces (other than gravity) out of the equation for toppling to the ground, so it's more of a fall and less of a forceful hurling of one's self to the pavement.

By and large, these rules keep me from Eating Dirt during my trudge from the office to my car.

However, it must have become apparent that I wasn't employing teleportation, and was indeed using My Own Two Feet to zoom from my workplace to the garage, and couldn't possibly be making safe choices unsupervised.

And so my employer created Safety Instructions just for travelers like myself.

These commandments have been issued in what I'm sure was constructed to be a whimsical fashion - Trying to catch the attention of the masses and impart their Safety Knowledge without bludgeoning the workers over the head with proper walking practices. Their thoughts aren't unlike my own - arms out, shuffle your feet, bend your knees... However, they took it one step further. For your enjoyment:

Don't Endanger Your Posterior, ReaderFriends. Make Good Choices Instead.

** Thank you, C.W. McCall, for that timeless piece of classic music!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Momentous Occasion

Today is a big day.

"But why, Sunny?" you surely must be asking. "Why is today so big?"

I'm glad you ask.

Today is a big day, because today is the last day of freedom for one of my very dear friends.

That's right - Tomorrow, the Corporate Workforce will be one Wonderful Northern Woman stronger.

However, it will also be the day that another graduate of my Alma Mater leaves our beloved state for greener pastures. And that gives me pause. (And pouts. But mostly pause.)

Sure, I could make her a present with my two hands. But that process takes forever, and I still haven't even gotten through her Christmas gift. By the time I finish that and get it to her, and then make something else to commemorate this exciting day, she will have quit this job, and the one she got after it, and be living in a yurt taking care of a generously-sized herd of dog-e-beests** with her Hubsters. And today is just too important for that.

So, I'll be crafting something of a different sort: The Sunny Smiles Guide to Not Ripping Your Hair Out in CorporateLand.

So without further ado... this one's for you dearheart. Give 'em hell.

* Greet yourself with a bright, sincere smile every morning when you look in the mirror. Corporate peoples can, on occasion, be snobbish little snots... so it might be the only friendliness you encounter during your day.

* Opportunities are everywhere. Always always always say yes when given a task - you never know when you might get a trophy for being the awesomest at filing.

* Only talk about what you would feel comfortable hearing about within office walls. No one wants to be That Coworker, who is avoided in the hallway because of a difficult case of oral diarrhea.

* Don't be afraid to employ a popular office-place tactic to make friends with your coworkers: The candy dish. There's nothing like bonding in the name of snacks.

* Lunchtime is a treat. Make sure to step away from your desk and spend at least twenty minutes doing something entirely different from what you are employed to do. While being devoted to your job is wonderful, and while it may seem difficult to break away during the early days of your employment, I assure you that you don't want to gain a reputation as That Girl Who Will Give Up Her Lunch Altogether Because Some Idiot Screwed Up Their Deadline. Helping is wonderful... but don't set yourself on the road to burnout immediately. Besides - lunch is yummy.

* Use headphones if music is essential to your workplace endeavors. As much as you may love Sir MixALot, your neighbor might think he's the stupidest musician ever, and I don't want to come to a funeral with the headline "Young Up-And-Comer Dies in Brutal Pen Stabbing."

* Check behind you before you dance. Copy room... Break area... Your cubicle... These are all totally danceable spaces, but if someone walks up behind you when you're busting a move, you're liable to look more like you're covertly dealing with a wedgie instead of expressing your inner ballerina.

* Kiss your special someone every night as soon as you get home. Don't immediately launch into stories about how your hellacious day really sucked (or about how your epic day beat the socks off of every other workday in the history of time). Remember that you are both people with important duties, and that your relationship is important to nurture, too.

* BUT, don't feel like work must stay at the workplace. If you're upset, talk about it. That way you'll have an explanation for why you yelled at the dishwasher for making a funny sound. It's also justification to devour a guiltless pint of Chunky Monkey for dinner.

* Eat healthy as often as you can. Yes, pizza is delicious... but if it makes you smell funny, try to save it for special occasions (like your first Friday-after-a-long-workweek). You will spend your first month making first impressions... Don't let them be stinky ones.

* Stretch whenever you get the chance. Some offices have a daily stretching regimen. It can be a time to bond with your coworkers. While you work out the kinks from sitting ergonomically for such extended periods of time, see if everyone can share a (clean, suitable-for-work) joke or piece of trivia.

* Treat three-hole-punchers with care. All it takes is one misguided tug of the catch-tray to send those obnoxious little chips flying all over the place... And then you have to vacuum, which sucks.

* If you find yourself in the enviable position of having a lunchroom that is frequented by the Snack Fairy, please indulge. But indulge cautiously. It's wonderful to enjoy a special treat in the heart of a bonding moment with fellow snacky-coworkers. But it's not so wonderful to be That Girl Who Lurks In The Lounge Waiting For Her Next Free Nom.

* Clean your desk before you go home every night. It not only gives you a fresh start every morning (and a chance to make sure you didn't miss any immediate-action items that may have landed on your desk), it also gives the Office Pixies a place to dance during the night. And if there's anyone whose good side you want to be on... It's those Pixies.

* Leave notes with any paperwork you abandon on a coworker's desk. While they might know exactly what gift you're leaving them, there is always the possibility that they're having a suck-tastic day and that one little report will push them over the edge into insanity. That's what post-its are for - jot a quick message about what you're leaving and why... And sign it. That way, when they lurch over the edge into oblivion, you'll be safe from certain death at their rage-addled hands.

* E-mail your friends and loved ones often, to make sure they know you haven't forgotten them. While this is the first step in a tremendous journey for you, it is a difficult step for them as well.  They love you bunches, and great crocodile tears are leaking all over the place as you spread your wings.

Much love, S.S. <3

** Kind of like wildebeests, but smaller and more snuggly.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Glitter on the Inside

Happy New Year, oh Friend of the Reader Persuasion!

I hope your holiday was fantastic and full of fun. Whether you lit a menorah, trimmed a tree, regarded an aluminum pole or celebrated in another fashion entirely, I hope your days held all the beauty and awesomeness that the end of the year can bring.

In addition, I hope you got totally tanked over New Years and started the year doing something fantastic – like locking lips with a local beauty who you would never have had the nerve to approach. Or perhaps streaking down Main Street. Whatever suits your fancy.

As we ring in 2012, I can assure you that there are a host of New Years posts populating the Blogosphere talking about “changes” and “new beginnings” and all that jazz. And you know what?

That sounds like a plan to me.

The New Year *is* a time of new beginnings. It’s a time to use old traditions to make a new start for a new segment of your life. And perhaps the most popular New Years tradition – outside of Excessive Alcohol Consumption or Public Displays of Affection – is the New Year’s Resolution.

Now, I live with a New Year’s Naysayer. Yes, it’s true… Boyfriend of Amazingness is not one for the following of the New Year’s Resolution.** And, for the most part, I agree with him.

I’ve always made resolutions shortly after New Year’s. As a volunteer at a local Center of Organized Religion, I sit down with the kidets every Sunday and try to do something constructive with their time (outside of eluding the sermon and having snack). So, at the first of the year, it’s kind of a given that we’ll do Resolutions.

Since we’re following tradition, there’s a certain protocol we follow:

1)      Arrive in class and realize that it’s the first Sunday of the New Year.
2)      Scramble around attempting to find where we “Safely Placed” last year’s resolutions.
3)      Find the old resolutions and distribute them to the troopers.
4)      Read through old Resolutions – hilarity ensues.
a.       Spelling
b.      Artwork
c.       Weird resolutions that were achieved
d.      Conventional resolutions that were not achieved.
5)      Brainstorm as a group for new resolutions.
6)      Distribute construction paper and Colorful Writing Instruments to kidlets.
7)      Assist with spelling.
8)      Offer guidance to kidlet who insists that her only resolution is to talk to the boy she has a crush on.
9)      Offer suggestions to kidlet who insists that he’s “too old for this baby stuff.”
10)   Share new resolutions.
11)   Put “Somewhere Safe.”
12)   Eat Snack.

Despite its outward appearance, it really is a fun process. Watching the kids see what they created a year ago, realize how they’ve grown, and move forward a year older is an inspiration. (Because if I tell myself that often enough, I won’t feel old as I regard their fresh young faces and realize that I was an adult before they were even born.)

It’s also a chance for me to exercise a little childlike optimism of my own.**1

There’s something liberating about sitting down with a blank sheet of construction paper and a fresh pack of crayons to create something lasting… Like a list of things to try not to screw up over the next twelve months.

Popular resolutions of my own have included:

*Remember the location of these resolutions on New Year’s Sunday
*Clean more often
*Eat at home for less than $15 a meal
*Start yoga classes
*Make more time for family

But while these resolutions were fun and exciting, I usually ended each year with a list of things that left me feeling as though I had wasted twelve months of my life not accomplishing some very basic tasks.

Sure, there were always resolutions I completed. I did find time to visit my family. I do clean when I have time, and sometimes when I’m really not hungry, I can save an entire meal’s worth of money by just having a peanut butter sandwich.

But one can definitely see where BoA is coming from. New Year does not equal Prepared To Conquer All Inner Shortcomings.

So instead of creating a big long list of goals I wouldn’t realize last year, I decided to try a different route.

I could focus my energies on lots of little endeavors, or I could focus on one really big, really important aspect of my life.

So that’s what I did.

Last year, I resolved to Follow my Bliss.

What does that mean? It meant doing whatever made me the most happy. Some days, that was sitting on the couch with a bag of potato chips and a Disney movie marathon. Some days, that was dance workshops. Some days, that was writing. And some days, I would indulge in a nice sulk. Sometimes I would even cry.

But at the end of the year, I was a happier person. Making decisions because I was on a conscious mission to increase my personal happiness led me to have one of the most positive years of my life.

(Don’t worry, I’m almost done being a sap. Sit tight.)

So as this year drew to its inevitable close, I spent more than a little time worrying about what new commitment I should make to a Better Sunny in 2012. Following my Bliss is a life choice. It’s not something I did for a year and will now move on from – It’ll be a permanent part of who I am because I was able to devote a full twelve months to make it part of who I wanted to be. Looking back, I had no idea of the impact it would have. Looking forward, it scares the snot out of me to think what my next decision might be.

But, after much deliberation, I settled on one I thought I might be able to stick to.

(One that will rock Boyfriend of Amazingness’ socks, because he thought I had picked one very different from what I’m about to tell you. Or, at least, phrased differently. Don’t worry, honey – I promise not to go nuts.)

For 2012, I will attempt to follow one goal:

Share your Sunshine.

2011 had its ups. 2011 had its downs. Tumultuous would be a great way to describe it, but sounds a little more negative than I would like. Maybe “exciting” would be a better word to convey the changes and adjustments and fantastic new turns that popped up in the road.

But there were times throughout the year when – while I was still focused on following happiness – I forgot what happiness I had right then. I would get wrapped up in stress, or sadness, or anger, or stress (think that might be a big one?) and forget that I’m Sunny for a reason. I have sparkles inside that are meant to be shared. Sparkles that are easily smushed by negative emotions. Sparkles that wants desperately to escape. Sparkles just waiting for me to let go of that pent-up breath, so they can ride the Peppermint Breeze to freedom.

So, ReaderFriends – How will you share your sparkle this year?

**A fact he makes up for tenfold in his application of beer and kisses. So really it all comes out in the wash. Isn’t life grand? :)

**1 Because, you know, I do that so infrequently.