Archive for the ‘work’ Category

I am learning in life to slow down.  When I first moved to the DC area, I was fighting crazy commutes from Springfield to the Navy Yard with 3 colors of metro lines in between.  Then after the long commute home, I’d trek up to McLean for an evening event, and I would find myself talking on speaker phone and painting my nails while sitting driving in traffic.  I would plan 2 social events in one afternoon and inevitably be late to both due to traffic and my inability to leave the house on time (always rushing – literally running from bathroom to bedroom to grab my things and get out the door).  I would have 35 minutes of “free time” before a choir rehearsal and decide that I could make it in and out of Tysons mall (parking alone takes 10 minutes) with a visit to the Ann Taylor Loft sale rack.  My record time was in and out of the store with a purchase in less than 7 minutes.  (Am I proud of this?!  Needless to say, I was late to rehearsal.)

Constantly rushing.  Running.  Apologizing for being late and doing nothing to change my habits.  Having important phone conversations in the grocery store check out line.  Making to-do lists during meetings.  You get the picture.

Even when we have interviews in the corporate world, we pride ourselves on multi-tasking.  I can have 10 documents open at once and keep my head on straight!  Well, maybe, but I bet I’m not being as efficient or productive as I could be if I just focused on one thing at a time.

Look!  I can paint my nails and drive!  (BAD IDEA – no explanation needed.)

I’m a good friend!  I can talk with you on the phone and grocery shop simultaneously!  Well, my friend hears beeps in the background and me saying “say that again?”…and my shopping takes 40 minutes instead of 15. (still working to get away from this habit…)

Even the Harvard Business Review understands the problems with this method of operating, as explained in the article “The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time.”  The main trade offs to multi-tasking are that we are much less productive, we run out of steam, and we’re only partly engaged in everything, rather than being fully engaged in anything — not to mention that some multi-tasking can lead to physical danger!  (<cough>, like the time I completely changed clothes while driving down the highway because stopping for 3 minutes to change would have been a damper on my 2.5 hour drive.)

I really don’t want to be an inefficient worker!  And I really don’t want to be the friend who’s talking to you but looking around the room for the next person I need to grab (though I know I do at times).  I’ve improved my focus while driving, though I did drive with an apple and spoonful of peanutbutter in hand the other night…

One hidden blessing that has taken me a while to appreciate is how marriage has taught me more of how to slow down and focus.  Part of it stemmed from living much further from friends and having an introverted husband who cannot physically spend every waking moment with a group of friends, jumping from event to event.  I was resentful of these things at first and missed my overwhelmingly full social life;  now, however, I actually have time to rest. I have time to read.  When I see a friend, our time and conversation are intentional.  I’m more punctual (well, working on it).   At home, Jon and I sit down to watch a movie – and there is no simultaneous texting, emailing, half-doing.  We eat dinner at our table, even if it’s a mish-mash of leftovers, and there is no TV droning in the background.  We go on a walk and talk.  We have important conversations (usually) while looking at each other, not while typing on the computer or doing something else distracting.  It’s amazing the difference it makes!  I definitely have room to grow here, but the benefits of slowing down and taking one thing at a time have already been a blessing.

honeymoon in Dominican Republic

(Looking at the ocean is definitely one easy way to single-task; I could stand here forever and just look and think.)

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Best of

I’m taking it easy this Friday as I jump into the holiday weekend, so I thought for any new readers I would share the most popular posts from TheHomelyHouse.


Treasure Hunt

A Deeper Country

DC: Could It Be Love?

Meet My Pen-Friend

My Pen-Friend: On Men and Marriage

Learning how to rock climb and how to be married

Here I raise my Ebenezer

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I made it through all of college without ever being addicted to caffeine.  Occasionally I’d have some hot tea on a late study night, and it would do the trick.  I was so caffeine averse that on sleepy car trips (seriously, I could doze at the wheel so easily on my 2.5hr drive home for holidays) I would drink half a cup of gas-station-cappuccino and be honking my horn to the music without even realizing it.

Here I am in Corporate America, and my caffeine intake is slowly but surely creeping up.  At first it was hot chocolate before long meetings.  Then hot tea every day.  Then ¼ a cup of coffee.  Now a little more than half a cup, and when it wears off after lunch I am a goner!

Must caffeine drinkers constantly increase the dosage?  This is a drug!  A nice high, but then the lows are lower…

I will say (though I’m against this dependency and want to break it), my quality of life commute is much better with some caffeine streaming through my veins.  I toss an ice cube in my cup and gulp it down before leaving home.
I say “goodbye” to Jon when leaving without being angry at him for getting more sleep than me.
I notice the pretty farm and neighborhood lake (often still as glass in the morning) as I drive to my bus stop.
I read without falling asleep and actually remember the book when I’m finished.
I don’t fall asleep on the shoulder of the commuter next to me (and believe me, that definitely brings on some bad looks and audible sighs from the person I keep falling over on).
I can say “good morning” to my coworkers, and sound actually comes out of my mouth.
I don’t feel angry at the world for taking my time with buses, lines, escalators a mile long, and crowded metros.  I can enjoy the time I wouldn’t otherwise take to read/think/meet a stranger.

Could I ever be this way naturally?  Who else struggles with this?  And is there a secret to getting off caffeine, or will you tell me the typical things like “get more sleep and exercise?”…because sometimes I don’t have time for that.  Open to suggestions. 🙂

(My orange cup is pretty cute, though!)

Title – Lyrics from “Java Jive” – best song we ever sang in high school choir!

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Little did I know when joining Corporate America that I would gain so many skills:  data analytics and excel formulas, project management, corporate event planning, process improvement, change management, margarita making, Halloween costuming, arts and crafts…

It is hilarious some of the skills I’ve discovered in the past several years – haha!  I didn’t even realize I liked costuming and crafts until my first week on the job when the annual Halloween costume contest was announced, and my boss (head of sales for our division) informed me in a very serious/competitive manner that we had to win.  “OK then!”  At first I scoffed that somehow I was put in charge of our team’s costumes…and now I’m a bit of a control freak taking charge and get really excited about it!

An application of orange face paint, about 20 styrofoam lollipops constructed, a toy gun set and a few golden tickets later, we had a winning team of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Bad photo – but that’s a chocolate waterfall in the background; some people thought it looked like a large gravestone or a woman’s behind, but thankfully the decorations weren’t the main judging points! (And some of the teammates here weren’t really dressed up but just joined the pic.)

Though our costumes year 2 were much better, I think the judges didn’t want the same team to win every year.

We made that entire UP! house out of cardboard, fabric, paper, and LOTS of hot glue gun sticks.  All the clothes were things we owned, and the only things we bought were the cane, doggie ears, collars (and other pieces to make them look like those in the movie), some white hairspray, bird feathers, and our little boyscout’s supplies.   Then I got to wear my bird costume again last year in return for a free burrito at Chipotle!  (dress like a farm animal –> win a free burrito)  Maybe sometime I’ll be the bird again, and Jon can be the boyscout.  (notice the background – that’s the house at Paradise Falls!)

This past year the theme was Rock ‘N Roll, so we took a twist on that and dressed up as the cast from The Sound of Music.  All costumes except the nun robes, knee socks, boy’s hat and suspenders (we made those by cutting apart a winter scarf and turning it into lederhosen straps) were from GoodWill.  I also scored on that GoodWill trip – the skirt I wore for Sound of Music is actually a Banana Republic seersucker skirt that I wore for real to work yesterday, and I also found another summer skirt and cardigan (not pictured here) from J.Crew that I wore last week.  Awesome!

Maybe one day this will turn into my quasi-dream of being the stage and music director, choreographer, makeup designer AND costumer for a musical…maybe just for my kids’ middle school production, but that would still be so fun!

Does your work do crazy things like this?  Surely it’s not just us…

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Another fun tidbit about my Pen-Friend, Marnie, is her charming artistic skills.  Many of her letters contain little sketches of maybe a bird “family” in her back yard, funny stories that just had to have a visual picture, sketches of family members, etc.  She told me once that Don was reading the scripture passage during Sunday school at church, and when he read the words “new disciples”, he somehow pronounced it like “noodisciples”, which sounded like “nude disciples” and left the class howling with laughter.  Marnie just couldn’t help herself and sent me the following sketch:


Even funnier was when she sketched me on a horse, the summer I worked at a dude ranch.  Funny for so many reasons:

1) I am so not the ranching type.
2) It was rather out of my character to spend a summer working at a ranch.
3) I only rode a horse maybe 2 times the entire summer because rather than being a real wrangler, I had the job of kids’ club leader, violin player, waitress, baby sitter, rock hauler, landscaper, hole digger, room cleaner, skit performer, pie-in-the-face victim, rodeo game player, line dancer, 18-passenger van driver…(what am I forgetting?)

But if we are thinking in terms of comic illustrations, then this is it!

All that said, the summer was FABULOUS and life changing in many ways.  How could it not be when I got to teach kids about Jesus, work with wonderful people, meet NFL players and Mac Powell (who called me “Miss Regan”), play my violin by a campfire on the top of a mountain, and wake up to this every morning?

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Worlds Collide

I have always thought it was a small world – running into family friends in random airports as a kid, my dad knowing every woman and child at the Fall Festival (well, he delivered all their babies and has a spectacular memory) – but the DC area has opened up a whole new small world of bizarre connections and “world collisions”, as I like to call them.

– I’ve run into countless sorority sisters in the elevators of my work building.
– I’ve run into my childhood best friend in the cafe of my work building – didn’t realize she had gotten a job in one of our regional offices and was in town for training.
– While walking towards TJ Maxx from my car, I see a college friend (who at one point I thought I was dating; oops, my bad) step out of 7-Eleven.  He had moved to town 2 days prior and worked just a few blocks from me.
– I leave my work building one day during lunch and hear my name.  High school boyfriend, whom I had not seen in probably 5 years, works literally across the street from me.
– A few dates into my relationship with my husband, he starts to proudly tell me of his third cousin who was a Heisman trophy winner – “oh my gosh!  I babysat his boys when I worked at the dude ranch!” Total bubble burster.
– I find a new roommate online (a few years ago) and then check her out on Facebook to make sure she’s legit.  I then see in one of her photos that she was a bridesmaid in V’s wedding, whom I met and became friends with on a family trip to Austria in 3rd grade (our families proceeded to be pen pals and visit each other in US/England multiple times). When V moved to the states years back, my roomie became BFFs with her and was in her wedding.  The Christmas before then, we noticed a stranger in V’s family Christmas card. “Oh that must just be V’s friend” – little did I know she would later become my roommate.  Whom I found online.

There are more.  Family friend since pre-school moves to town shortly after I do, and I now have college/Fellows Program/pre-school friends all mixed into one group.  Worlds collide!  Another college friend moves to town.  Another friend since first grade moves to town!  High school BFF passes through town each summer on the way home from her family beach trip.  Maybe DC is just a cool crossroads or great place to be, but when I moved here, I didn’t know a soul; now when I go to work in the morning, I am not surprised if my new coworker used to be roommates with so-and-so and was sorority sisters with you-know-who.  Always keeps things interesting!

Besides being the nation’s capital and having lots of cool jobs, this is enough reason to visit this place.  Can’t wait for springtime and cherry blossoms!

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Cute New Colleague

Living in the DC metro area, I am often discouraged by the moms working extremely long hours (or people just choosing not to have kids at all), especially since I grew up in the Midwest, where most of my friends had stay at home moms – that’s just what everybody did!  That said, I have recently been impressed by some of the women I observe who manage to have rockstar careers and sweet, well-behaved kids that seem perfectly well adjusted, even if mom is away from home a bit.

Today was quite the fun surprise, when the executive director (head of our whole global franchise) was back early from her maternity leave to take care of a few things, and for some reason she had to bring her baby to the office for the day; she led a meeting for our national sales team with regional teams on videoconference, while she nonchalantly fed her newborn a bottle, burped him, and put him to sleep in his carrier.  I have seen people bring their babies to show them off to the team, but never have I attended a meeting where the presenter was cradling a cooing little bundle of joy.  Awesome.

Makes me think of one of my favorite movies as a child, Baby Boom.  It’s not really the best movie, but with age I am realizing I hardly saw any movies as a child, and with a strong love for babies (and plot centered around a baby), this had to be my favorite.  (actual thought process – In the movie, Diane Keaton has to take the baby to work with her, and it’s a total disaster.)

Before and shortly after my marriage to my sweet man, our friends started taking bets on the date of our first child’s birth, due to said love of babies.  Ha!  Look at us  now – more than a year and a half of marriage with no offspring yet.  Take that!  We are loving the freedom of being married and enjoying our family of two.

…but if you have a baby, I’ll probably ask to hold her and get a little fill of that sweet baby smell.  And then give her back. 🙂

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