Getting started

Don't expect words of wisdom or earth shattering revelations, just my thoughts and observations about living in Ottawa, being a public servant and trying to live life every day to its fullest

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Less than healthy and the perfect pineapple punch - I do not believe in being sick. I do not have the time or energy, and winter is really to short to spend time inside feeling miserable. And yet ... well, I have been less than healthy. It snuck-up on me. One minute everything was OK and then suddenly I couldn't get out of work fast enough. I felt weak and pathetic and just generally miserable, totally unmotivated to do anything, certainly not willing to even try to troop through it and go to work regardless. I suppose another reason being sick is against my better judgment is that it SUCKS. Although sometimes you need to be sick to remember how great it is to always be healthy.

Being at home for a few days can either be hell or can be a great opportunity for reflection. The cure of winter blues is opportunity, focusing on what is right and how to get there, the cure is snowboarding and seeing friends. Moping around the house is probably not the best time to try and find inspiration - which brings me to the Kool Aid! The Perfect Pineapple Punch for the bureaucratic blues - which was what I really had (the feeling of irrelevance, of my inability to contribute - not the feeling of body aches) was "LOCoP".

I spent a whole week being revitalized in Cornwall (who knew Cornwall could be so inspirational). It was an opportunity to learn, grown and reignite my passion for the public service and life in general. Being surrounded by people who are there to learn together and being given the tools to over come issues was truly reinvigorating and part of me feels like I have joined a cult. My cult is lead by an ever evolving "faculty" to which anyone can step up and offer to support. We believe in working together, in collaboration, in listening and in sharing mental models to help develop better understandings of issues and opportunities, to developing the spaces to ensure our organizations stay people focused, become real Learning Organizations.

Funny thing is that the Perfect Pineapple Punch Kool-Aid we all seemed to be drinking hasn't worn off, there is a little bit of calming down and a reality check which I know people at work will provide soon enough, but beyond that - this new way of thinking is slowly taking over and I am glad to be part of it.

To Wave 8, I say thank-you for everything you shared with me and for an exhausting but invigorating week. I don't think the bureaucratic blues will be sneaking up on my anytime soon - but I know the perfect punch to help us, if they do. I feel like I have been on a natural high for a week and I am grateful to the people who shared that with me.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

International Woman's Day - Celebrating the accomplishments of women is easy in Ottawa; I am surrounded by some incredible, intelligent, passionate and compassionate women. This city is teaming in them - they are here to make a different and have the tools and tenacity to actually do it! Ottawa basking in an abundance of dynamic women who are ready to effect real change.

I also know some wonderful women in Canada and around the world - I will not list them all, or this will be a boring post and I don't want to accidentally leave one off. They are blazing trails and sticking to their guns - not just in careers that excite them, but following their hearts and never letting barriers stand in the way of pursuits that keep them balanced, be that travel, mountain biking, teaching, skiing, climbing or volunteering. Our jobs alone no longer define who we are or how we make an impact.   

Recently I have received e-mails from friends scattered around the world who muse giving up their jobs and having babies. Part of me is sad that they are leaving behind the potential to make a difference, but I suppose it also gives me hope ... if these fabulous women choose to raise children, then there is hope for future generations. I find that my baby-friends seem to be a lot more level-headed and pragmatic than others I have crossed in past adventures. Spending a lovely afternoon with such a couple and their very well behaved 13-month old really made this point.

To all my wonderful women friends - keep doing what you are doing. Make a difference in the way you need to and continue to inspire me. I learn from you all and I know the world is a better place because of you all.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Winter driving - This was the first year in a while that I have not changed my own tires. I like changing my tires, there is something empowering and meditative about it - plus, I like to practice so that if I am in a situation where I actually have to change them in winter, I know what to do. I do a lot of winter driving. Apart from heading to the ski hill as often as possible, I have also done the trip twice to my parents place since Christmas. The drive - while beautiful - is remote and deserted. I learned just how remote and deserted ten days ago.

The drive over was long. Traffic leaving Ottawa really slowed me down and resulted in the "interesting" parts of the drive all being done in the dark. I have been lucky enough not to have done the first parts of the drive in the dark in a long time. And so there I was driving in the dark on a very windy night. And then outside Bancroft I hit the first of two white outs. Driving along at 20km, not being able to see the road and hoping you are on the right side of the road when cars head at you can be terrifying, especially when you don't have anywhere to actually stop to let the weather blow over.

A few when driving in conditions like that - test breaks and tires to see how slippery the road really is, never use the high beams, be hyper aware and know that you have to trust your passenger side mirror, lastly, love the way that on-coming traffics' lights play off the snow in the sky and light every thing up.

The drive took six hours (90 minutes longer than usual - it could have been worse). I figured on the way back, things really couldn't be any worse, right? Wrong! The road was dry and fast until the half way mark when I hit light snow and conditions slowed down, but it was still very drivable. Soon after I pulled onto Highway 41, I picked up a pick-up truck and followed him until we ended up on the scene of an accident. The two of us were first on the scene.

It was a roll-over. A car heading in my direction had hit black ice and skidded into oncoming traffic pulling a full 270 and in the process hitting an SUV full on. The SUV ended up in the ditch, on its side, the driver strapped in and hanging from her seat belt. As the men extracted her from the vehicle, I called 911; but there was no service. We tried to move her into my car, but decided it would be too hard to get her in and out, so instead she spent 40 minutes on the tail gate of the pick-up truck wrapped in my jacket and blankets as we waited for the ambulance. While others dealt with getting traffic through, I sat with Shauna and tried to calm her down.  

An ambulance was called by a passing car from a house down the road and eventually the fire trucks arrived as did the police. Once Shauna was on her way to the hospital, I was given permission to head out - following the ambulance, after removing the inch of snow that had accumulated on my car since I had pulled over. The total drive home took 5 and a half hours.

There is no moral to the story, or learning. Just a reminder that the roads are dangerous in winter and that we should always stop and help.