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

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pulling it together

This post has taken over three months to write. I am posting it tonight because sometimes you just need someone to hang with and watch bad TV ... Mao was that someone.

I was trying to get my life together post-fire which was surprisingly hard. And then the cat died. This post is about Mao - the best buddy I could ask for, who was there for me through thick and thin. One of my very first posts was about how great he was - and he was.

The fire was hard on us. He was home when the fire started and was found hiding in a side room, eyes large and scared of the noises, the people and the smells. We were displaced for three weeks and lived in separate places. And when we finally came back the house smelled funny and stuff was all over the place. Instead of windows I had plywood boards, there was still broken glass in the hardwood floors and across my garage, I was missing furniture, my deck was covered over with tarp to protect the electric room underneath and there was absolutely no food in my house - it all had to be thrown out. Neither of us were comfortable in this space which seemed like our old home, but wasn't. Mao and I tried to maintain our routines, he would still run to meet me when I got back from work, rolling over to have his belly scratched; we would spend our evenings on my upper deck; he would beg for treats in the morning and sleep on the sofa during the day.

When things were bad, when I didn't think my house would ever be re-finished, when my neighbours hated me, Mao was there. He never left me and I think he knew I would be OK, that I would figure this out. On those days when I didn't want to get out of bed, he would snuggle a little more, lick my hand and be a calming presence. When things were going well, he was the affectionate, loving cat he always was - purring, playing, eating, begging and sleeping. But then he started eating less and sleeping more, I too started eating less and sleeping more - we were stressed. Living in a shell of a house slowly took its toll.

But Mao wasn't stressed, Mao had cancer. He had a massive tumour rapidly filling his belly and by the time we found out - it was too late. I had 48 hours to say my good-byes. To spoil him with bacon and ice-cream, until he wouldn't eat bacon and ice-cream. And then I had to make a choice for him - because I loved him so much I couldn't see him suffer. Mao died in my arms on June 21st, 2012.

He is missed every day.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Learning to quit

For the last eight or so years I have defined myself as a public servant. I always believed that working in the government was what I wanted to do and where I could make a difference. I wanted to fight the good fight, but fight from the inside for change. And to this day I believe in the public service and how government (not Government) works to help Canadians. After almost a decade I still believe that - despite everything I am about to write.

I need to quit. I need to leave. I need to do something else. I can no longer be a public servant. I am no longer a public servant. I can no longer do what I do - and yet I am committed to the project I am working on and know that people I work with believe in what they are doing and how it will make Canada better.

Sometimes the hardest part is admitting you have a problem - and I have a serious problem. I am not happy doing what I do, despite the fact that I know it is a fantastic project. It seems paradoxical, and I am not yet sure why this is the case, but I plan on spending several months figuring it out and asking myself "what next". What do I want to do when I grow up? How do I want to define myself? Why?

And don't think this is some sudden mid-life crisis precipitated by the marriage of my younger sister, or a questioning of my mortality and legacy because my cat died. This is not a desire to give it all up and back-pack around the world because my house caught on fire, nor is a rejection of Ottawa per say. This has been peculating for a while, in fact I first told my boss that "I quit" on Friday April 13th; but then the house caught on fire, the cat died and my sister got married - I had a busy summer and quitting takes a lot of thought.

Here it is - my path to quitting. Will I actually quit? I am not sure. Maybe I will take a year of unpaid leave, maybe I will take an interchange, and maybe I will stay. I have threatened to be out of Ottawa within a year before, I have promised major life changes on this very blog, and yet nothing came to them - but now I have a plan. The first step is to know me; to actually think about who I am, what has shaped this person I call Tabatha, and where I want to go. Does this path differ from the one I am on? I don't know - but until I start asking the hard questions I will never know.

I am learning about me so that I can face the choice I will eventually need to make; to stay or leave (full disclosure - I am pretty sure I am quitting). I want to share this learning, these insights about me and I would encourage you to undertake your own voyage and ask who you are and what you want. Don't take what you have for granted, challenge yourself and learn from the experiences around you - embrace them and let them shape you. And if you need guidance, let me know and I can point you to a very talented lady who is always eager to help.