What’s the Most Embarrassing Thing YOU Did Today?

Sometimes, when there’s a perceived need, you do something spontaneously that you later look back on and say to yourself, “Well, THAT was an embarrassing moment!” And that happened to me today.

Image from  @agus_et_al via Twenty20

It was one of those intense days at work. I’d gotten tired of waiting for help on a couple of diversity and equity volunteer things and just dove in to do them myself, which included direct-messaging a C-suite member to get a project going and having a minor hissy fit at accounts payable to get a payment made. I’m glad I got the fit of energy, and truly understood that people are extra busy and have stuff going on in their own lives that may make MY priorities not theirs! But my adrenaline was up.

Then some other work stuff went on that entailed me getting news about more changes coming up (hey, we’re Agile!) and then having to pass said news on to my team in a good change-management fashion, looking at the positive (always a challenge for someone with a personality quirk of immediately seeing the worst in something and uttering the F-word). And of course, the coworker for whom this news would be most unwelcome had to be the first one I ended up talking to.

Here’s my news, coworker! Take notes! Image by @mcirillo1961 via Twenty20

I was telling the news to my colleague, who I’d been on-ramping for a little over a month and been working really closely with, and she was expressing her doubts as to whether she’d be great at her new thing or whether she’d enjoy it. Out of the blue, I went into Mary Poppins mode and, yes, I, who’ve lost my voice, launched vigorously into one of the first songs I ever learned in my whole life:

In every job that must be done there is an element of fun.
You find the fun and -snap- the job’s a game.
Then every task you undertake becomes a piece of cake
A lark, a spree, it’s very clear to see…
That a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down!

Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman.

Yes. In a Zoom meeting, I sang a Julie Andrews song to someone whose parents weren’t even born when I toddled into a darkened theater and saw my very first movie, Disney’s Mary Poppins. With hand gestures. Oy. Potential career-limiting moment! (Here’s a link to the original; a version that I can share is below.)

To my coworker’s credit, she lit up, agreed, and said I should blog that. So, I did. I probably actually made a good point, because one of the things I’ve been telling new hires and people new to being members of an Agile team is that, in the planning meetings for each quarter, you need to find something that not only fits in with what your team’s been asked to do, but that you and the team can have fun doing. Make it educational, where you learn a new skill! Make it fun, because you’re collaborating with interesting people! Make it fulfilling, because you’re creating something that will be useful!

We just hold each other up like a big ole umbrella – good tactic for coworkers, friends, family, and community members at large! Image by @holypunkface via Twenty20

Yeah, just call me the team’s personal Mary Poppins. And by the way, I am grateful that while I work to keep my team’s spirits up, they do such a great job at keeping mine up as well. Everyone should be so lucky!

Mentoring Is Scary

I’ve had more than one conversation on the topic of mentoring in the past couple of weeks, starting with the Lisa Eggerton talk they had at work. The general consensus is that “mentor” is rather off-putting for lots of people. When someone asks to be your mentor, you start to imagine having to have regular meetings on top of your already busy day, think of ways to build up this other person, and scariest of all, be wise at all costs! After all, you’re a mentor!

Penney is my mentor in reminding me I need to rest a LOT.

No one’s ever asked me to be a mentor, which makes sense, because I’m not a high-powered executive and haven’t been for a long time. In fact, my career path is headed in a pretty downward direction right now. But, does that mean I don’t mentor people? Nope, not at all.

The consensus among the women I’ve been talking to about mentoring is that it actually works better on an informal basis. When someone comes to you and tells you they’ve got a thorny problem to deal with and asks your advice, you’re mentoring them. And when a colleague gives you an insight into how you can do something better, that was being mentored. Not so scary. No one was under any (imagined) pressure to be wise and pithy, just to be helpful.

I guess the older chickens finally mentored the young ones about roosting, because they finally all sleep together.

Thinking back, most of my mentors didn’t set out to mentor me at all; they just lived their lives ethically, kindly, and insightfully. I just watched, listened, learned, and asked a few questions. I didn’t formally ask, “Will you be my mentor?” like we were going to go steady (or however they put it now). (Thanks to Doc, Georgia, Steve, Roberta, Hedy, Mike, and Craig, to name a few who may have no idea they were mentors.)

And now, I do find colleagues asking me questions, often in my managerial role, where I give them pointers and ideas for doing their jobs better. I think that’s the most important role of a people manager: to help people grow in their jobs, find work they enjoy, and be productive. So, yay, I’m a mentor, too.

Nothing to do with mentoring; I just liked this beetle’s antennae and how big an Alfred hair looks next to it. It’s a Southern Masked Chafer, a type of scarab beetle.

Sure, formal mentorship programs have their place, and there are some good ones where I work and in other workplaces. But, don’t think that you can’t serve as a mentor if you’re not a manager or if you’re “just” a friend. When we talk to each other, ask good questions, and really listen, we’ll find mentors everywhere we look!

Take advantage of your opportunities to both learn and teach others. It’s a good plan. Thanks to the coworkers who helped me think about this!

Humor Is Your Buddy

Thanks for the kind words about my stress dreams and such. I’m honestly okay with having some extra-anxiety-filled times occasionally, just as long as I have some extra-chill time to balance all that out. And I generally do! I share a lot of my fun times and relaxing, so I hope you know I’m not always a Debbie Downer, even if I AM overly inclined to introspection.

This is the most Debbie Downer picture I could fine. The stubble is a Zoom enhancement, not my actual face.

One of the most wonderful things I’ve found as I deal with all the interesting new challenges that have been coming up is that it doesn’t take much to lift my mood and help me see what’s good out there. I’m so glad I have a support team of friends and family who can always be counted on to provide perspective, without guilting me about how I feel, telling me to just smile, or downplaying my concerns.

Yesterday, I dragged myself out of the office after some hard work and hard conversations (don’t worry, I’ll LIVE), and took my fully vaccinated self over to the salon to get a haircut by the fully vaccinated Dan. I’ve had a good run of luck with hairdressers the past few years, and he’s the latest good one. We have a lot in common and similar senses of humor. By the time we finished telling stories about our mothers, cranky people, and random stuff on television, we were both laughing so hard I’m amazed he was able to cut my hair. Good thing I have one of those spiky cuts.

Much perkier me after talking to Dan. The donkey needlepoint and my favorite hummingbird shirt also helped my mood.

I then sped on over to the Bobcat Lair house, where I got to hang out with Anita and catch her up on the doings from the last couple of weeks. As I told her all my stories, my tales of woe, and my challenges, it suddenly became quite clear that some of my hard stuff was making life much easier on Anita, because she’ll get to start remodeling her house in Cameron. Things are moving in a good direction, just on a twisty path! A new phase in our lives is coming, and it will also be a fun one.

Then I started telling her all the good news happening with our buddy Mandi, all I learned from Apache this week, and of course how cute the chicks are. I realized I felt MUCH better. I was totally blanking out on the good that may come from some of the hard stuff, especially my life in Cameron!

And after I went to bed, I got to text with Lee and Kathleen and have fun with them. Yeah, Kathleen can’t hardly walk, Lee keeps losing his data, and I’m feeling old and tired, but we have each other, we can find the humor in everything, and we know good times are coming not too far down the road.

Having a supportive community makes ALL the difference. Thanks for being part of my community.

That’s what I need, perspective, humor, and the ability to look at things past the next few days. I’m gonna apply that in all that I do, and maybe I’ll make it through next week at work after all. I hope you, too, can see better things on the horizon and that using your buddy, humor, you can get through the rocky path toward something new and fun. Let’s do it!

Who Supports Whom?

I was thinking about support even before I saw that it was the UU Lent word for today. Right now pretty much everyone needs support, right? Times are so confusing for everybody. Still, many of us are called on to support others. And sometimes the people we support need us to support them, too.

Yesterday, when I blew on this dandelion, I imagined each seed was flying off to touch someone in need of care and support. Cheesy, but what the heck.

My boss at my software job made this point yesterday in our Zoom meeting, when he said he’d probably be needing to reach out to us sometimes, too. We’re all glad we have jobs that we can do virtually and that we haven’t been laid off yet, but it’s still challenging. Remember, it may not be all that great for your boss, if you start to feel gripey.

I am really glad that I can be there to listen to the people I manage, because it’s hard enough to work from your personal cell (mine is even in a basement, and at the moment a bee is trying to attack my monitor), but it’s even harder when your work gets frustrating. A couple of my team are dealing with that, and they NEED to have someone to vent to and to tell them to just do their best, because none of us is at our peak of efficiency right now.

This wonderful friend curls up to me, sighs, and sends calming vibes. Well, he does that when he’s not running around like a goofball and barking for attention.

The concern I have right now is for the people I know or work with who are isolating all by themselves. It’s easy for me to immerse myself in my tasks, but I’m hereby reminding myself to check in on people like my sister, my stepmom, my coworkers, etc. We have all these fine ways to keep in touch, so don’t think, oh, their other friends/family members are supporting them. Your support is also important!

Suna’s Support Team

Hello Zoom, my old buddy.

As for me, I’ve got my precious dogs to help. Carlton has been especially good, since Vlassic is hanging out with Lee’s brother, who’s mostly alone in his RV. I do treasure my daily walk to see the horses and Fiona with him! (Fiona is healing, I think.)

I have to say, though, that the Zoom company, whoever they are, is my biggest support system. I’m sure they are getting rich, but I don’t care. It is so great to be able to talk to my coworkers, my friends in my nonprofits, and groups of online friends. I am so grateful for the technology that some of us lucky and privileged people have for keeping in touch.

He has no fat, because he is on the go all the time.

And of course, there’s the Hermits’ Rest commune. It’s so helpful to have the family around to support each other. I just wish I had ALL my family with me. I guess I better go send those supportive texts, letters, and emails now!