Practice reverse gossip

I first heard this phrase last year in episode 181 of the Happier podcast. It stuck with me enough that this is the second time I’ve mentioned it here.

As you can imagine, it’s basically a resolution to start saying good things instead of saying bad things. Why? Well, you know how when you start gossiping, you just keep gossiping? It’s kind of hard to stop once you get going no matter how icky it makes you feel. The idea is the same. Once you start focusing on the positive in others, then you’ll see more positive as well. According to the sisters/hosts, it becomes a big happiness booster once you’ve adopted it as habit.

I’ve been thinking about trying it out for a while. I have my moments, but sometimes I’ve just got too many balls in the air to try to manage a different way of dealing with anything. Since it wouldn’t really take a time-consuming effort, I’ll call myself on that semi-bullshit excuse.

So, why don’t I do it more? I’m not really sure. Dwelling in the moment perhaps instead of making the decision for the greater, long-term benefit. Like when you could go to bed and get a good night’s sleep, but then you decide to stay up and watch a movie instead. You forget that you could feel great in the morning if you hit the hay and instead focus on the immediate gratification. Only the next morning, you wake up regretting it and feeling better exhausted. Same kind of thing.

Last week, I had the opportunity to tell someone about some feedback I’d gotten about something they’d done. I have a sometimes rocky relationship with this person and we’d actually hit one of our valleys just a couple of days before. But instead of keeping the lovely compliments to myself, I called him up and told him exactly what had been relayed to me and how meaningful it had been to the storytellers. I was immediately grateful I’d done it because I could just tell in the person’s voice that it had made their day. And that was a nice feeling.

Do you make an effort to practice revers gossip? Do you ever try to only focus on the positive?

Vancouver Marathon

Truth be told, today might actually be one of my favourite days of the whole year.

For the third year in a row, Kevin and I set our alarm clocks and ventured downtown to hang out at the finish line of the BMO Vancouver Marathon and cheer on racers as they came in. This year, we had six friends racing, three in the half-marathon, three in the full.

The timing is a bit funny for the races. The half marathon goes at 7am and the full goes at 8:30. Since our fastest halfer was going to be coming in at around the start time of the marathon, that was when we aimed to get there and we got there right on time. We waited for only about ten minutes before he passed by us. Our other two friends running the half marathon course came by shortly afterwards.

We got to take a bit of a breather then and walked around the finish line area and down to the festival on the street below it. We met up with a couple of our friends/finishers and listened to their experience of the race.

Once we parted ways with them, we walked back around and got back up to the race just in time to see the men’s full marathon champion cross the finish line. That’s always a really exciting moment to experience. Shortly afterward, the women’s champion came through. Interestingly, the two are engaged to be married in just a few weeks’ time.

We got to see a couple of local celebrities finish the race.

Then our marathoner friends started coming in.

Yes, he is juggling while he is running or joggling as the kids – and his bib – say.

We got to see all but one of the people on my list finish the race. Unfortunately, by about 1pm, after we’d been there for 4.5 hours, Kevin was becoming weary and his injury was acting up from too much standing. We had to pull the plug on our cheer station.

As always, this is the best experience for getting a boost of motivation and get your head into the right mindset to get back on track. It’s such an inspiring place to be and you’re surrounded by non-stop, endless good energy.

All my friends are in Hawaii

Okay, not ALLLLLL of them, but it certainly feels like that’s true. Six – SIX – of my friends are in Hawaii right now and that doesn’t even include the one who lives there. And only two of them are there together. Plus my acupuncturist. She’s there, too.

Ever since Kevin and I started dating, I’ve been saying I want to go to Hawaii. That, as we covered last week, has been eight years. Funny enough, in those eight years, that isn’t among the long list of places we’ve actually been. We’ve been to Detroit, to San Antonio, Prague, to Seattle, Portland, Calgary, Toronto, Orlando, Arizona, Whistler, Ucluelet, Victoria, the list goes on and I’m sure I’m missing some of the destinations.

Still, in all of our planning and traveling, we’ve never made it to The Aloha State and I don’t really even know why. Usually when we’re traveling, there was is a reason – an event, a game, a loved one or two. Just like last week was the first time we’ve had a week off at the same time and not gone anywhere, we’ve never gone anywhere just to visit. And that’s probably why we’ve never prioritized this trip – it isn’t our usual type of vacation. I envision a lot of time on the beach, a suitcase full of books, a mostly quiet time interrupted by hiking, swimming and exploring. But mostly the beach.

We have our travel plans for 2019 mostly laid out, but maybe Hawaii will end up on our radar next year. Until then, I’m living vicariously through my friends. Send postcards!

This was the last time I was in Hawaii, back in 2007 when I visited my friend, Jason.

Why do I do that?

I was talking to a friend today, about my goals for my life, about his. Through our increasingly frequent talks, we’ve started to discover that our paths are very similar. They’re not exactly parallel, but they are somewhat aligned. When he tells me about the things he’s working on, I am sometimes enlightened by his findings. When I share mine, I think he feels similar feelings of recognition.

Today, we were covering his new routine. He’s spending a lot of time, as I mentioned before, being uncomfortable. I like the idea, but I don’t think I really got it until today. He was telling me that he doesn’t plan to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday. Now, he is a sports guy. He and I rarely discuss sports because we always have some deeper topic to explore, but his breadth of sports knowledge always surprises me when I hear him talking to others. Still, not watching Super Bowl LIII. He explained his rationale, “How many times do I need to watch the same game? How many times do I need to see the same plays? Am I watching it just so that I can talk to everyone at work about it?” He noted that if the Seahawks (his team) were playing, sure, he’d watch it without a doubt, but since they aren’t and he doesn’t really have any feelings towards either team, he isn’t going to give up an afternoon for the marathon of a game. As he put it,

I don’t have enough time to do the things I want to spend time doing to give up an afternoon to do something I don’t even care about doing.

This! This is what I’ve been talking about and saying to myself when I contemplate a life focusing on consuming only things that serve me.

I started to wonder why it’s a given that I watch the Super Bowl. I certainly had reason a couple of years ago and last year we had a party to celebrate my mom’s birthday, but when I am cheering against a team more than I am cheering for one, why would I bother? When I already feel like my weekend is too short and when I know in advance I’d prefer to read a book over sit through a game that is meaningless to me, what compels me to do it anyway? Is that what makes sports lovers who we are, that they have an unstoppable belief that today could be the day when something amazing happens? Do we believe an uncrushable optimism that we may witness magic at any moment?

For the record, I’m not saying I won’t watch the game. I’m undecided. I probably will. But that’s a downgrade from the mindless commitment I’d made to it before our chat this morning.

But, as Greg noted, it’ll probably the game people call this best one in years…after/if he and I both avoid it, that is.

Will you watch this year’s Super Bowl? Who, if anyone, are you cheering for?

I almost made someone cry today

It was in a good way. Well, sort of. Let me tell you about it.

So, we live in a, I don’t know, 30? (details aren’t my jam) story building. There are nine or ten suites on every floor (again, details.) Unlike other Strata groups we’ve lived under, this one is smart – and maybe lucky. They’ve invested in a full-time, live-in building manager (smart) and she is a workhorse (maybe lucky.) She has a couple of residents who also work for her, doing cleaning and a variety of other tasks. As a team, she and her right hand woman are around a LOT. They know everyone and where they live, what they do and what they’re up to without being invasive about it.

The building manager seems to do the managing and the Right Hand Woman does the dirty work – often literally.

A few months ago, we got in the elevator with the Right Hand Woman early in the morning. She was just taking her young kids to school, but she commented on how someone had spilled something sticky on the floor of the elevator and “what were residents going to think if they saw that.” We all went on our way and I presume she doubled back to clean up the mess shortly after.

Minutes later while we were in the car, I told Kevin how I was still thinking about it. I’m always in awe of the different types of people there are and how her reaction had been considerate of the residents when my reaction would have been, “screw these idiots.” I admire her sense of duty to the greater good because if I feel that, it’s a very rare occurrence and how lucky we are to live in a world where people like her exist and spread their good deeds and hard work.

This morning, as I rode the elevator down, I found two bags of abandoned garbage just sitting in there. I mean, who does that?!? The two other residents I rode with were prepared to just leave it there because, well, that’s exactly what they did. I’d assumed it belonged to one of them, but when I realized that it’d just been left in there, I went back, picked it up and took it to the garbage room. (All the whole thinking, “screw these idiots.”)

I went on my way, completed my run and came back to the building. As I got into the elevator, the Right Hand Woman got in with me. We said hello and smiled. I scanned my fob and pressed the button for our floor then realized that she was there to just ride the elevator and polish the inside walls, door and panel. She asked me how Kevin’s back was today. I gave her a quick reply and asked how she was doing. She said she was okay and continued to work her modified Swiffer to remove some scuff marks off the wall. And then I told her that she did a really good job in the building.

She froze.

Then she spun around and looked at me, her eyes already tearing up.

She said, “all we ever get are complaints. You have just made my whole day.”

It isn’t that I don’t think about how good a job she does – that they all do – every time I see her/them. It isn’t that I don’t appreciate their dedication at times when I can’t see them as well. It’s just that I’d never said it before. And, to be honest, saying it made my whole day, too. At the same time, it made me sad that so many people can live here and so many people can see these people every day and never think to say something nice. (Like I hadn’t.)

I recognize that sharing this may be bordering on the does an act of kindness really happen if you never post about it? behaviour that I railed against last month, but that isn’t why I’m sharing it. I’m sharing it because it never hurts to tel someone that you notice what they’re doing or that you value their contribution. The world needs the people who are going to take care of us all and it needs the people who are going to let those people know that we’d be lost without them.

Tell someone today.


Here’s my own story of being on the receiving end of a compliment that still makes me feel warm inside.

Also, check out the Compliment Project where I picked up that photo and found printable for the poster featured in it and seven others!

Finally and for the record, I do know the same of the Right Hand Woman, I just didn’t want to use it.

12.14.18

In some ways, I like the end of a year as much as I like the beginning of a new one. I don’t know if I ever realized that as much as I have this year, perhaps because I’ve been writing so much lately and thinking about what to write in the future. It dawned on me that there are a few activities that I always tend to gravitate towards in the time between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Things like decreasing the email sitting in my inbox (1360 – 1096 of which are unread) and reducing the amount of *stuff* I have (I don’t want to go minimalist, but I do want to more finely curate my collection) and cleaning out spaces because I love the anticipation of filling them up again.

Without realizing it until very recently, I’ve even started an End of Year Resolutions list. These are things I want to finish – or at least start to tackle – before 2018 is through. And until now, the list has been entirely in my head. It includes:

  • Empty or at least significantly reduce the email in my inbox
  • Finish transferring all my old blog posts to this page
  • Clear out our PVR
  • Investigate banking options and switch to a new household bank/account
  • Empty out our freezer
  • Transition from Apple Music to something better
  • (Re)Organize my office
  • Update my health insurance benefits

How about you? Do you have anything on your end of year to do list?

11.06.18

Kevin and I had very different experiences of our first full day in Vegas.

This was his.

Mine was good, too. It was just primarily indoors.

Yesterday was day one of the conference I’m here for: KronosWorks.

In my day to day work (and I’ll try to limit how boring this is), the tool I use the most is a scheduling and timekeeping software made by Kronos and it’s called Workforce. I’m logged in from the minute I get into the office until the minute I leave. In addition to using it to manage all of the 200 employees I am responsible for, I also do all of the maintenance and optimization for our local application.

Coming to KronosWorks is good exposure to what other companies from all over the world are doing. It lets me meet new people in similar positions and learn about new technological and human relations advances.

The thing I love most about KronosWorks, though, is the focus on labour strategy and employee engagement. It speaks to my heart.

We started the day with a number of stories about customer cases and product related announcements. For the second year in a row, the general sessions were hosted by Katie Linendoll. I’ll admit that I didn’t know how she was before last year, but I was reminded that I quite like her.

The keynote address was delivered by Platon, a worldly, passionate and talented photographer, storyteller and humanitarian. He told incredible stories about photographing world leaders (more have sat for him than any other photographer) and other people from all different walks of life. He coupled many of his photos with background details that were heartfelt, heartwarming and spoke to human connection and vulnerability. It was all truly inspiring and it served the audience well, people working with people everyday, embracing the knowledge that people are any companys greatest asset and in many cases swimming upstream in a corporate world that doesn’t always accept that.

There’s only one other person from my company here and even though we’ve never met, we’ve worked together extensively. We were able to meet up before the general sessions and stuck together through the buffet lunch. (Som Tam, ftw!)

Once we were done, I ran up to the expo to connect with my friend John. I first met him when he led a workshop at our site and he and I are now connected all over social media. We see each other at conferences every year and every time I feel great affection for him. He’s so much fun and his high energy is really fun to me. Also, pro-tip for the Kronites out there: he always has candy at his booths.

After a couple of early afternoon workshop sessions, I headed to the presentation that John was giving. He joked that I’ve seen it a bunch of times, but honestly, it never gets old. The topic? The 5 Currencies You Must Pay and Retain Great Employees. I LOVE this stuff.

John talks a lot about leadership, talent retention and employee engagement. While talking about how feedback is effective, he argued that negative feedback has a bigger impact than positive feedback does. He said:

‪People say love trumps hate, but that isn’t true. Hate is more motivating than love. The difference is that there are more lovers than haters in the world so love always wins out in the end.


We got a little downtime after my 4pm session and I headed to our room to relax, refresh and change my clothes before our industry dinner.

KronosWorks is always full of great content during the day and even greater entertainment in the evening. (Like that time we got the private visit to Harry Potter World!) After the first day of the conference, there are about six different industry dinners taking place. The idea is that by networking with people in similar industries, you’ll get to share solutions and processes.

This year, the manufacturing industry dinner was at Chateau Nightclub in Paris Hotel. We were shuttled over there from our hotel and made our way through the casino and nightclub entrance, up in the elevator and onto the rooftop.

When we walked out, we immediately noticed pool tables and decks of playing cards laid out on other tables. There was a huge version of Jenga set up in the middle. (The sounds of its collapse was terrifying!)

I’m sure my eyes lit up when I saw that there were also a couple of fortune tellers set up at separate tables – one read tarot cards and the other read oracle cards. I chose tarot. AND I LOVED IT.

I sat and talked with her for a long time and only left because a line started to form and it would be weird if I stayed there all night.

There were a couple of permanent bars and food stations situated throughout the space. There was caesar salad, macaroni and cheese, a legit cheese table, turkey and roast beef dinners. Desserts came out later and we grabbed some coffee to go.

We’ve been sticking pretty close to “home” since we left Vancouver so we decided to forgo the shuttle back to the hotel and took a walk across the street and over to Bellagio to see their fancy seasonal display.

First, The Strip.

We got to the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Garden and saw something just as joyful for me as seeing the card readers. This year’s harvest display is called Falling Asleep and it features a resting goddess of the harvest being watched over by some fairies.

It’s beautiful! 😍

After leaving there, we were going to take the tram back to our hotel so we walked towards the back of Bellagio before discovering that a new (to us) walkway had been built through Vdara and linking to our Aria Hotel. We explored the space between and got our legs moving.

Day 3’s agenda: more of the same. Kevin is hitting up a different pool and I am conferencing all day.

10.21.18

An alternate title for today’s post might be: The Best Ideas Come at Night.

In the middle of it, to be precise.

I was telling someone this past week that I used to be really resistant to thinking about work at home. It was an ongoing and snarky joke I’d tell, “as if I want to be thinking about that person when I’m lying in bed. In the past year, however, I’ve started to embrace exactly that.

I have mentioned before that I work with a LOT of people. There are about two hundred whose lives I can and do directly impact as it relates to their schedules and time off and there are between ten and maybe forty with whom I interact on a more managerial level less regularly. With the latter group, the thing that we are managing is the former group.

Schedules are a sensitive topic and for good reason. As such, and as we are going through generational and demographical changes, our approaches are in a period of great transition. Employee satisfaction and engagement is a very important topic to me and creative thinking about how to boost those occupies a great deal of my time. In parallel, our industry (manufacturing) is facing changes of its own. With warehousing costs on a constant rise and customers demanding more influence on our business, I also have to consider innovative approaches to our existing policies and practices to make all sides happy.

Does that sound exhausting? Often times it is. Thankfully, I also find it deeply rewarding.

I am very much a get it done kind of person. I much prefer acting over talking and I have little patience for complaining without making moves towards change. It has taken me a long time to appreciate the value of deliberation time and I’ve started to lean into that more and more. Now, to be clear, this isn’t an indefinite timeline. In fact, it’s very specific. I have learned to say both, “let me think about that” and to give it a deadline, “I’ll get back to you tomorrow/when I find out about X/after I talk to so and so.” The turnaround is often less than 24-48 hours. I do not stand still for long.

I am also a rule follower. In a union environment, that makes it much easier to do my job. I am clear on the expectation and I can critically think through an issue with confidence in my conclusion. As my boss once affectionately referred to me, I’m the most annoyingly black and white person he’s ever known. I took it as a compliment.

So, as a critical thinker who thrives on results, but is working in a time of great transition, I’m often challenged to come up with new approaches to finding traditional results in changing landscapes. Sometimes the road ahead is obvious. Other times it isn’t so clear.

In the past several months, my new approach has been to think it through and then let it go. And here’s the thing: it has worked like a charm. What I’ve found is that I deliberate on an issue, go home, forget about it and then I’ll wake up with the perfect solution. As I described it to this person last week, in my dreamy sleep state, I’ll often let go of my grip of traditional approaches just enough to be able to the answer the questions I’ve been facing in ways I would never come up with by the light of day. There’s a certain amount of out of the box processing that creeps in during the night and combines the perfect dose of knowledge with a matching measure of creativity. Together, they often result in progress and me standing in my boss’s office saying, “I dreamt the solution to that problem last night” or “I woke up at 3am and I know exactly what we need to do.”

To the me who was so deeply against using home brain power for work solutions, it’s been surprisingly rewarding and an interesting point of self-discovery.

I’d heard to the best ideas happen in the shower, but for me they come while I’m sleeping. How about you?

There was never a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope.

~ Bernard Williams

Full disclosure: I wrote this post in its entirety between 230 and 4am this morning because I’d woken up with a great idea about a freelance project I’m working on. Apparently this process is successful both in and outside of the office.

09.23.18

There’s a new guy in my hallway at work. He’s a young kid, less than half my age. He’s polite and he’s nice. He’s quick to laugh and make a joke.

My hallway is mostly quiet, full of engineers and studious types, then at the end is my office. I’m not loud, but I’m certainly not quiet either. I sometimes get really self-conscious about the noise I make, but I have a very high-traffic role and there are often people stopping by.

On Friday afternoon, the new guy stopped by my office and said:

I wanted to tell you that when I hear you laugh, it brings me joy. I’ll be working at my desk and I hear your laugh and it always makes me smile.

I’m sure I blushed and, to be honest, I didn’t really know what to say. I thanked him and told him the truth – that I think the world is a better place when people share such lovely comments and compliments.

He went on to tell me that he’s noticed that I always seem willing to talk with anyone who stops by and that, as he described it, is “a very nice thing.”

More blushing.

I thought a lot about that interaction over the weekend and what it meant to me. I also realized that it meant even more to me than I’d realized at the time.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve spent a lot of time and energy exploring and developing my beliefs about dealing with others in a professional sense. I have strong feelings about how others deserve to be treated regardless of our differences. I spend a great effort standing up for what I feel is right for the people most impacted by the decisions made within our organization. I’m constantly coaching my peers to have more, better communication with the people we work with and one of the pieces of advice I stress most emphatically is to treat people like they’re human beings.

I don’t believe that means coddling or giving people what they want, in my opinion, that means having frank and honest conversations and always delivering the truth with transparency.

What the new guy said – at least the second part – provides a glimmer of proof that I’m becoming successful in my goals of being an open door and a place to go when people have concerns, questions or just plain want to talk.

It isn’t my nature to be surrounded by others, but since I’ve identified this challenge, I’ve also realized that someone needs to take responsibility for changing it. And if not me, then who? This is truly a work in progress and one that takes awareness and deliberate action every single day.

I knew it was working just based on my own experience, but it’s nice to know that others can see it, too.

Complimenting someone else feels good for the sender and receiver. Try going out of your way to say something nice to someone today.

08.27.18

On Saturday I went for a long walk in the rain. So long, in fact, and so much rain that it soaked right through my jacket. And it was glorious.

Today, it’s back to sunny and even though we can’t see the smoke, I hear that the air quality advisory is back in effect.

I’m torn between two distinctly different places these days. They are, “is summer already almost over?!?” and “isn’t summer over yet?” Don’t get me wrong, I am so ready to kiss the hot weather goodbye, but for the first time in my life, I’m really really really feeling like the days are just flying by too fast to even notice them individually.

Have you ever heard this before? It’s credited to John F. Kennedy, but apparently he borrowed it from the New England Council when he debuted in a presidential speech in 1963. I heard it for the first time this morning on episode 62 of Happier in Hollywood. Traditionally, it refers to politics and economics, but in the sense that it was used in that recording, it referred to success. I am firmly of an abundance mindset. I have strong feelings about sharing wealth – finances, faith, kindness, experience, success – that sharing what we have is the best way to grow all those things in our own lives and to share in others’. As Liz Craft also put it, we succeed in groups. And now I have a new favourite proverb.

🙌🏻
One last thing for those of you who were curious, here’s my chicken. It turned out great and yes, I tried a little bit. I attribute my success to the premiere episode of the classic cooking guide, Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party, Putting the Pot in Potluck, when Martha Stewart sang the praises of always brining your chicken before cooking it. (She does it for three days and Snoop thinks she is crazy.) I’m not going to pretend that I’d know the difference it makes, but I did it anyway.

And while I’m bragging, I also made gravy to go with it.

What adventures did you undertake this weekend?