2018-06-27 Back to Reality

I’m Finally catching up to real time after my glorious vacation and getting back to reality. In truth as things were coming to an end, reality began creeping in on me and it was sort of a struggle to really enjoy the final day of my trip. The stress of what was just around the corner weighed heavy on me which had everything to do with what was supposed to be another work trip to California quite literally starting the morning after I arrived home from Florida.

The facts were as follows… plane arrived home from Miami at 11pm and flight out to San Jose departs at 6:30am. When I booked my flight out, I was totally in the zone, feeling great about everything and had no doubt I could make it work. That, folks, was a serious delusion. A trick if the mind.

Sitting in the condo on Saturday I started to have serious anxiety. What was I fucking thinking. I was going to be beat down from travel, not sleep because I was flying out and have only a few hours to unpack and pack and take care of anything needed at the house or with my kids. At that point I felt like a very neglectful parent.

Circumstances beyond my control were also in play, which is their dad taking a new job which requires travel every week. So they’ve been mostly solo for the better part of a week and a half. They are teenagers and very self sufficient but that doesn’t change the fact that I was missing them. I probably needed to see them more than they needed me, but it is what it is.

Anyway sitting on the couch with Jim I began to unravel and we talked through it. The only answer was to cancel the California trip. I felt very much like that this was me being caught between a Rock and a hard place, but cancelling was the right answer.

The rock was the reality that if I tried to make it, I would be a useless lump to the team, tired and worried about what I’d left undone at home. I would be meeting the people paying us for our contract Work for the first time and I was afraid my first impression would be dismal. And.. if I pushed the trip out a few days, like my boss first suggested, I would miss the rest of the team sort of defeating one of the main purposes for going out there. It was also going to cost a lot more to change flights, get a room, and Uber to make it work. It would have been a waste of money and I was worried about that too.

The hard place was that this whole thing, if I cancelled, would reflect poorly on me in the eyes of the people I’m working for. Either I look like I’m poor at planning or that I just can’t hang under pressure. Neither one of these things is true of course. I’ve come through with flying colors in really high pressure Work situations before. Many times. And I’m an excellent planner, most of the time.

This one, not so much. Like I said, a trick of the mind. I’m a hard worker, and very dedicated and dependable and will sometimes (too often) take on too much or rather allow too much to be piled on. That’s what led to my crisis at the last job. I was a star and keeping that status meant taking more and more on all the time. So much so that I nearly drowned.

During my time off after quitting that job, I did a lot of reflecting on the situation. I had to come to terms with the fact that the company I was working for, specifically the president, was never to be satisfied. They would always push for more as long as I would allow it. Zeroing in on that is key. I was allowing it. I was willing and didn’t push back. I was the one with my hand on the faucet and refusing to turn right. I didn’t want to loose my status or reputation, and that, my friends, is the real hard place.

I feel very much like this current situation was made to test me. Did I learn my lesson? I’m still in the drivers seat of my life. Could I make the right choice for my health and happiness? The answer is a resounding “yes”.

I cancelled my flight and was straight with my boss about it and let him handle the comms. to the team and to the People funding our contract who will have to wait for some future date to meet me. I spoke to our HR person to get advice about the flight cancellation and she was helpful. They were both very understanding and helpful. Will it tarnish my reputation? Perhaps. But I need to be ok with that.

It’s taken me a few days to come back to reality, to get my house in order and re-establish a cadence with my day, and re-connect with my kids. It’s super clear, in hindsight, that any other choice would have been a disaster. My challenge now is sticking to my guns and not allowing this kind of situation to creep up again. I need to recognize it off in the distance and manage appropriately. Seems easy enough from where I am now, and my mantra of “balance” is the key.

Hey, that reminds me of a poem I wrote once that was a parody of a Meghan Trainor song. The poem was called “All About that Balance”…


I wrote that in 2014. You think I would have learned long before now to follow my own advice. Such is life. 😜

Now Returning to My Regularly Scheduled Programming,
~Miss SugarCookie


2018-06-17 Nashville Day 3 – Hey, I’m on a Boat!

I’ve kind of always wanted to be on a boat while someone was blasting that “on a boat” song. And now I have. 😜

That was actually the third best part of my day yesterday. I realize why it’s a thing. There was a lot of prep and errands leading up to this excursion so we weren’t out on the water until like noon. The company rented a pontoon boat which had partial shade thank the Universe, or me and my pasty white skin would not have made it through.

Pontoon boats don’t go fast, so we basically got out of the dock are in the open water and cruised along the reservoir for about an hour. After a while I was kind of thinking about how everything looks the same no matter which way we went and hoping I was with People who wouldn’t get lost. The lake was Huge.

Eventually they decided on a spot to stop and drop the anchor. Now I’ve never done anything like this before so I was basically following everyone’s lead. They all got in the water. Yikes. It was definitely not the time to bring up the fact that I have a mild fear of drowning because I’ve had not one, but two near terrible experiences where drowning was a threat.

As I stood there at the back of the boat and watched them thinking about what was going to happen next, one dude said, “are you getting in”. I responded without hesitation… “not without one of those” and pointed at the float devices which had all been spoken for at that point. He promptly swam back and let me have his. At that point I was sure I was the center of attention (which is also not awesome). He asked if I knew how to swim.

I said “I know how to not die”. It’s true. I could swim to the shore if I had to, but free float in the water is not my style. The water was fine, I floated around a while and chatted with different people about nothing of consequence and pretty soon people were getting back in the boat to have food and drink. Great idea!!

We hung out for quite a while. It was actually really relaxing just sitting on the boat with the breeze, pondering life. I was drinking a little but not enough to even get a buzz. It was a good afternoon. Before we pulled up the anchor everyone got back in one more time. I grabbed the float thing again and this time just laid on it and let the waves in the water float me away.

I almost ran into another person and then struck up a conversation with him. I’m so much better and more comfortable with one on one conversations. It was another one of the founders of the company, whom I had not worked with or talked to in the past. Another great guy. These people are all pretty great. We chatted for a bit and then were hailed back to the boat because it was time to head back. Three of us had flights to catch, myself included.

The boat excursion would be my last taste of Nashville and it was great to end the trip on a high note. I mean, I may not have made it sound that great, but anytime I get a chance to test my fears, overcome a challenge, be outside on this beautiful planet pondering my existence is a pretty amazing time.

The trip home was just as revealing. It was the second best part of my day. With each step and flight and car ride closer to my home, I felt more happiness and relief. Yes, the trip was intended to be a fun retreat, which it was, but it was still work and as such I set expectations for myself which took some effort to meet.

I wanted to make a great first impression. I hope I did. And now that I’m home I’m hoping to have a little time to reflect on all of it. I’ve got some decisions I need to make rather quickly and I don’t want thinking about Work interfere with my vacation too much.

And last, but certainly nor least, the very best part of my day… being picked up at the airport by my love who brought me flowers from his garden. As he handed them to me he said “I know the rules, these are from the yard”. 😊 Now HE’S a keeper!!!

He exceeds every expectation. Nobody has ever parked the car and met me inside before. He’s certainly never late and he’s extremely thoughtful. He took my bags and opened my car door and then drive me to my house. He was perceptive enough to recognize how tired I was and to just see me in safely and then leave me to recover from my travels.

It’s a good thing too because I was deliriously tired. Yeah, dizzy tired AND got called on to do a work thing from the west coast (which I knew was coming so that wasn’t a surprise). I got that done and fell to sleep right away after. That’s why I’m doing my final recap of my third and final day in Nashville from this treadmill in Nebtaska.

Four plane rides down. Eight to go.

Next stop… destination unknown!!

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-06-16 Nashville Day 2 – Two Truths and a Lie

Just one of the team building, learn about each other, fun things we did on my work retreat yesterday. I’m basically a day behind reporting from Nashvegas, so I don’t think I can consider this “live”. Most of the day yesterday was very work centric. Up early (hangover and all), checking in on my normal daily tasks, and putting the game-face on to head downtown early-ish for a full day of presentations and activities.

Home base was a conference room on the 20th floor of the “WeWork” building downtown. The first event of the day was the photographer. Headshots in a courtyard between buildings across the street. Picture this.. it’s 9AM and already like 85 degrees and humid as all get out. Everyone was in their suits and it was sweaty (except for me, I don’t sweat). I kid.. it really wasn’t that bad. They had breakfast brought in and then we had introductions, which made me extremely nervous for some reason. That’s where the “two truths and a lie” came in. As soon as they said we were to include that at the end of our intro, my heart started to pound. What on earth could I make up about my self or my life. Anyone who has ever played poker or “mafia” with me knows I have no poker face.

They went clockwise around the table and I was dead last, which is the worst because I had to deal with the thoughts in my brain the whole time other people were talking and could not really enjoy the game. I did a quick intro of who I was and how I was introduced to the company and then when it came to my two truths and a lie I basically said..

“Well, I am 44 years old. I once lived in London for a year and I’m currently getting a Masters of Fine Arts in Writing.”

One of the dudes was like, “there is no way you are 44”. Hahaha! (Exactly the reaction a 44 year old wants to get).

I looked over at my boss who knows I am in school and he said, “I can’t say anything because I know too much.” Then someone said “Is it London”, and I smiled. “Yup, London is a Lie”. No need to draw things out longer than they need to be.

I could say more about being 44. I could write a whole post about being the oldest person at this retreat, or having the oldest children of the group, or having just live through a whole lot more life drama. I can’t say I feel the same as I did when I was 34, because I definitely don’t. Staying fit is tougher. My body and my brain get tired in ways I don’t think you can describe to a young person. That’s not me trying to be old and wise or something. It’s just me pointing out how I feel now versus how I felt back then.

These people are not that much younger than me, but they seem to be. They seem to have a lot of ambition and drive and whatever that quality is that makes people a success. Call it Grit or stamina or internal motivation. It’s evident in just about every one of the people on this team. I know I’m different and I’m not sure I ever had that quality they seem to possess, but I think my need to do good work and impress people and get a little positive feedback probably makes it appear as though I do.

I never really intended to get on this tangent topic but sometimes one thing leads to the next and “there you are”. Perhaps I’ll go a little deeper on the dynamics I have found myself in with a very Silicone Valley role. A world that I feel in some ways that I was built for, and other ways, I’ve been fighting my whole life to maintain balance around. An analytical brain with a soul that just wants to write poetry. What is a girl supposed to do with that? (Make money and write poetry – that’s what!).

Anyway, late in the afternoon we broke from the conference room as they had a few private meetings they needed to have and a group of us walked two blocks to Broadway. Now the Nashvillian that I sat next to on the plane told me about “Honkey Tonk”, but you just don’t really know how much of a thing it is until you see it. Bars, 4 stories tall, live bands and music on every floor, one right next to the other. Drunk people everywhere. Bachelorette parties, country dancing, singing, laughing – and it was only like 3:30 in the afternoon.

We spent a little time in one place, called the “Honkey Tonk” and it was hopping. After that, we walked to the end of that Broadway strip (which was a river), and up to the 4th floor of that building to sit and look out over the river. We got stuck there for about 1.5 hours because it started pouring down rain.

It was that delay that ruined my master plan to get to dinner at the “Burger Up” which was near the Air Bnb we were staying at.

By the time we got back to “the office” people were talking about going somewhere more upscale and we ended up at a very nice Chinese restaurant (the nicest I’ve ever been to), where we ordered just a crap-ton of food to share family style. It was seriously a lot of food.

Here’s what I have to say about that… so much food, and one of the only times ever where every entree was so much better than the apps. The apps were seriously mediocre. It’s interesting cuz that typically my favorite part of any nice meal. I’m not a very good blogger cuz I can’t even say where we were. I don’t recall. If it comes up in the future.. I’ll have to write it down for posterity.

I did get a picture of the Peking duck we ordered. I’ve never had THAT before. By the time it arrived I was so full from all the other food I could barely have any of it. But I powered through. It was pretty tasty.

By the time we arrived back at “home”, I was seriously wiped out from the day. I changed into my pajamas and called my sweetie and then crashed hard. It was a pretty full day indeed. I knew the morning would be coming soon and another extremely overcrowded day involving a lot more social interaction, a boat, and two flights to get home-home.

Stay tuned for the conclusion to this action packed trip! The only thing missing will be more lies. 😜

The Nash-saga Contines,

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-06-15 Nashville Day 1 – Live from 12 South

I don’t know if ya’ll have heard the news – Nashville is the new Hotness and like all great fast growing metropolitan areas, each neighborhood has its own name/flavor/vibe to pull the cool people in. Our Air Bnb is apparently in the 12 South district – or so I’m told.

I arrived yesterday in the early afternoon and was picked up at the airport and promptly driven to one of the famous “Hot Chicken” places in town, “Princes Hot Chicken”. Really interesting because the guy I sat next to on the plane was pretty chatty and lives in Nashville and was telling me all about all the things I should do and see and eat while I am here. The Hot Chicken thing was on that list. I’m not much for spicy food so I’m really glad they had “mild” hot chicken option. Heh!

It was good, but messy to eat and a long wait in a very busy restaurant. There were five of us at lunch, and it was a decent first meet up. I had no idea that I would be overdressed, but “schmeh”. After that we headed to the house on Elliot street. There was a grocery store near by and folks decided we needed to get a few things for the house. The short story on that one, is that we overdid it (more on that later).

That evening dinner was at a place called Sambuca and it was really good food and good live music too. THat’s the other thing the guy on the plane told me about, that there would be bands and singers all over the place. So far from what I have seen, he wasn’t wrong.

At dinner was where I met my “boss” for the first time.. I mean, technically there are three founders to the company and they are all my bosses and one of them was the guy who picked me up from the airport. But at dinner, I met the guy who is basically the lead of the project and giving me my work. It’s very strange having worked with someone for like 6 months and meeting for the first time in person. He’s a great guy.

Toward the end of dinner, I was feeling very tipsy and not sure why since I had only had one drink and one glass of wine. That’s when I realized the waiter had been pouring wine into peoples glasses all throughout our 2 hour dinner. Ummm, OK. After dinner we walked to a hotel next door that had a “rooftop” bar on the top level. There were more drinks and something I haven’t had in years – shots of tequila. Oh My! I sipped my one drink and did my shot like a champ and spend most of the time chatting with folks about all kinds of stuff, some of which I don’t recall at the moment for some reason. 😉

Needless to say, I didn’t have a great sleep and was a hurting unit when I woke up today. Nothing like starting off with a bang. I’m sure there will be a lot more food and drinks and conversation in the next couple of days. I need to try to stay up for the challenge. Let’s do this!!

Doing the Smashville,
~Miss SugarCookie

2018-06-14 Next Stop Nashville!

For a while now I’ve been mostly “everything is awesome… life is amazing… blah-blah-woof-woof”. It’s really nice to be a part of this repeating record, especially given what I’ve been through to get here. It doesn’t make for very exciting writing though. I mean, day after day of the same routine gets boring to write (and most certainly to read too), so today I’m happy to be reporting live from the airspace just above Iowa.

Yes, it’s leg #1 of my two-week, whirlwind travel burst across the US. In total, I’ll be on 12 flights in the next two weeks. Today is the start of it. As I said I’m up in the air now and will be landing in Chicago in about an hour. Then it’s up again and back down at my first destination which just happens to be Nashville!!

I’ve never been but I’ve had a couple people tell me it’s a great city. Though I will only be there for 2 and a half days, I’m going to get to experience a couple really great things. Dinner out at a great place with live music tonight, co-working downtown with my Work peeps tomorrow, and out on a boat on a lake on Saturday. Winning!!

I will be meeting my boss(es) in person for the first time today. That’s pretty nerve racking but I’m sure it will be fine. I just have to keep telling myself that like a tiny little pep-talk until the moment arrives. My anxiety about this sort of thing never gets better but history has repeated itself so many times. I feel it, but the moment arrives and the social autopilot takes over and, Walaa!, everything goes just fine.

The most insane part of it is that I worry what my hair looks like, and clothes and how they might judge me. I professed a while back that I was coasting into “don’t care” mode about what other people think, and in general, that’s still true. However, these people are signing my paychecks (virtually speaking), so there’s still a fairly significant desire to make a great first impression.

I brought one of my favorite business casual dresses to change into at the Chicago airport so I can arrive looking the part. One of the other consultants who lives in Nashville is picking me and another person up at the airport so I’ll have to have my A-game on from the start. Considering this trip is supposed to be a retreat, half of what we are doing is social and “fun”, so I have to be prepared for that too.

For that reason, I brought my “dress to impress” dress to wear to dinner tonight. I swear, if I’m wearing that dress, it doesn’t matter what kind of a hair day I’m having or what I say. All I have to do is show up and just Coast through whatever the event is. Yeah, the dress is THAT powerful. Its like Popeye’s spinach. Most assuredly that’s all in my head, but whatever.

Tomorrow we are going to the office downtown and I guess they are having a photographer come in to take headshots of everyone to put on the web sight. Whoa! That sounds serious. Again, whatever. It just means I had to also pack a suit. My professional wardrobe has dwindled quite a bit in the last 6 years, but I still have one nice (relatively new) outfit for job interviews and funerals. That sounds so bad, but it’s true. In my everyday life I will NEVER wear that stuff again. If I went for a job and going to an office wearing business attire was part of the deal, my response to that is “no thanks”. Actually, if I can swing it, I will never go into an office again.

This new remote worker lifestyle is IT for me (minus any regular travel). Now that I’m becoming a “Cloud Guru”, it’s almost a guarantee because that is the whole point of the cloud and cloud computing. You can be anywhere in the world and log on and do your thing, run your business, spin up new servers, or run serverless. Yeah, you heard it here first folks.. server-less computing is the new black!

Anyway.. I’m feeling the plane doing a slight decline and I’m guessing my time here is almost up. The next time I write will likely be from Nashville.

On the Move Again,

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-06-05 So Far So Good

Yesterday I managed to get 3 out of 5 things checked off my to-do list for the week. Not bad! I also faced my arch nemesis head on and won a battle but the war waged on. I’m referring, of course, to snail 🐌 mail ✉️.

It’s a never-ending pile of papers that need to be opened, sorted, and tossed or shredded or filed. Or, “gasp”, require some follow up action. 😱 As of right now, it’s all open and sorted and I have a handful of action items.. including a check that needs deposited. That’s one action item I’ll be doing right away. Especially considering the fact that one other piece of mail revealed my house payment went up 150 bucks a month this month due to refiguring escrow account fund deposits and distributions. I question how they could be so off about it. Seriously. The fact that it requires that much of a correction means something like property tax or insurance went up. I need to look into the details of that more. Oh the joys of home ownership.

Now that I’m living paycheck to paycheck, every ounce more equates to more hours I have to work to stay positive. I worked out a budget at the end of last year and my goal, as it should be, is maintaining my lifestyle and seeing more money come in than go out. I had a target to get my savings/safety net back to a certain point by the end of June.

In May I took a few hits to my visa, some of which is work related which I will be reimbursed for. New tires were about 400 bucks and that’s on me. Watching my spending on food and groceries and other random things at Target (like new summer clothes and swim suits for the kids), things need reined back in a bit. Averaging that out across the last 6 months I’ve gone over budget by several hundred dollars each month.

However, I sort of set an unrealistic goal considering my spending history. I was basically targeting cutting things by more than half. That’s a challenge. So all things considered, I’m doing ok. The bottom line is clearer than it ever has been before. I need to re-crunch numbers with recent changes and see where that puts me.

I’m really hoping I can hit my goal with finances this month. It’s only the 5th but so far so good.

Today I’m back in dev mode working with AWS Quicksight and building shiny new dashboards for the customer. I can spend all day looking at my finances but at the end of the day, the hours I put in actually working are the ones that really count. The good news is that this stuff is really cool and I’m getting paid to acquire new mad skillz. Another goal would be to get certified in some capacity by the end of the year. So many goals!!!! Time to stop writing and start positioning myself to score!! 🥅

Working for the Weekend and Beyond,

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-06-01 June Flipping First

Holy Rollovers Batman.. it’s June First!! April showers bring May flowers and May was so Hot, let’s hope June is so Not!!

One of my unwritten goals this week was to get 7+ hours of sleep a night. I had no excuses for not hitting that target. Kids are home, I can get to bed by 10, it’s summer now so I can sleep past 7, should have been cake. I was stars across the board right up until yesterday.

Two nights ago I was up late communicating with my Work peeps and then up at 6 to watch first shift for a go-live. All that = 6 hours or less. Funny though when I checked my Fitbit it still had a star and said I slept over 8 hours. 🤨

Looking closer, it thought I was sleeping yesterday when I took the kids to see “Solo”. Uhh really?! I wonder how it determines someone is asleep. I must have been really still during the show. I know it looks at heart rate too and I wonder if it thought I was in REM sleep or something. If I thought about that for a second when I saw it I would have looked at the analysis page that shows a breakdown of types of sleep… awake, REM, Light, and Deep. And I know it uses heart rate because some nights it says it can’t calculate the complex because of a lack of HR input data.

I acted too fast though and deleted the erroneous row from the dataset to get a true picture of my night/day’s sleep. As I suspected 5 hours and 51 minutes. So I lost my star rating for yesterday. Today I’m back up to 8 hours so I may still hit my goal for the week (in average sleep per night). Right now I’m at 7 hours and 21 minutes average, so I should only need to get 7 to stay on target.

So this week the focus is work and sleep. I’ve come to the conclusion that I always try to do too much. Too many goals and targets and expectations. I have to pick and choose just a couple areas of focus, well and not let the other long term goals suffer so much.

So no reading or poetry this week. No worrying about food or steps. Minimal social meet ups (besides the Solo event yesterday). And Solo wasn’t a social Meetup, it was classified as a basic need, like food or sleep. 😜 I was able to take the kids, which is why I’ve held out so long. I needed to know if their dad was going to take them last weekend. Since that didn’t happen I got the honor.

If I was into critiquing movies instead of cheeseburgers, I would have given it 7 out of 10. But since that’s not my jam, I’ll just say it was above average with decent acting and an ok story. Definitely not as good as Rogue One. Definitely better than episode 1 and 2 (but that’s not saying much). The action sequences didn’t really get my heart pumping much.. after all, my Fitbit thought I was sleeping. Ha!!

Today it’s going to be another hot one. I’m gonna Work some and then hit the pool with the kids. I may be focusing on sleep, but I’m still all about that balance.

Sing It!

~Miss SugarCookie