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The Diary that Talks Back


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There's always so much pressure on the first page. If I'm writing in a journal, I'll usually leave the first page blank.


My husband is my best friend. My daughters are 2 and 6 years old.


My mother in law lives with me. It's challenging.


I have a Masters degree and a career that makes me super happy. I'm working toward a promotion as director at my organization.


I have lots of friends but none of them are really career focused like me. My husband thinks I have little in common with them. Maybe he's right. I like hanging out with them, our kids are good friends, and they are a big part of my life. I love them. We help each other out. We care about each other. But I can't really talk about my career. I never talk about my career. I don't want to make people feel bad about themselves by comparison, especially the stay at home moms. I'd love to have a friend - even just one - that I can connect with on that level.


I think I'm a pacesetter. I took a leadership course where they defined various types of leaders. The pacesetter, they said, is the worst kind. It destroys the organization from the inside. I panicked. I stayed back to discuss with the course instructor, who insisted that I'm warm and that would offset any pacesetter tendancies I might have.


I still wonder whether I'm destroying everything, not just my organization, but everything.. from within.

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My mother in law told my husband last night she doesn't feel appreciated. She lets my kids watch cartoons all day. She doesn't clean, although that's cool because I don't expect her to. But I'm a bit of a clean freak (ok, I actually put away the toaster and kettle after I use them.... I like spotless). I think it makes her feel messy by comparison. I rarely watch t.v. She watches t.v. a LOT. She stays up through the night and sleeps during the day while our 2 year old watches t.v.


When I get home, I immediately turn off the t.v. (if my child is watching it. Of course, if my MIL is watching it, I don't), clean the house, sit my kids at the table and do school work or art with them. I think I'm a pacesetter.


Definition of a pacesetter:


The Pacesetter: This leader sets high performance standards for everyone, including himself. He walks the talk. This sounds admirable and has been widely believed to be effective. The data, however, indicate otherwise, with a -.25 correlation with climate. Why? Pacesetters tend to have trouble trusting their followers. Their self esteem rests on being smarter, faster and more thorough than everyone else. They unintentionally undermine the efforts and morale of those around them. Before dismissing your pacesetting candidate, however, look at the followers. If they are already highly motivated, with strong technical skills, a pacesetter can be effective because the followers’ styles and competence already fit with the pacesetter’s expectations.


I read books while my husband watches t.v. He thinks it's pretentious.


I'm really good at what I do. I mean really, really good. I have an awesome reputation. I often have people approaching me, asking me to work for them. I do things properly. I do them well. Lots of other people don't. I'm sorry, that's just the truth. I like to read books like The Fountainhead and Steve Jobs biography. They make me feel like less of a freak. I've always felt like a freak. I've always made people feel bad about themselves by comparison to me.


I'm working at being more nice. But it's hard. My boss expects a certain standard from me. When my employees don't perform to that standard, my boss doesn't accept that. It's difficult when you're expectations of the people around you are higher than their expectations of themselves.


Right now, my priority is making my mother in law feel appreciated. But I'm also worried about my poor baby's brain. It needs stimulation to grow properly. Watching 10+ hours of t.v. isn't ok. Even when I'm home and I turn off the t.v., my baby will go into my mother in law's room and watch Caillou in there.


I guess the cleanliness thing is less of an issue. Maybe I can let that go, and go out of my way to do nice things for my mother in law and spend lots of quality time with her, but still draw the line at t.v.

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My husband has a huge family. I'm talking countless cousins, uncles, etc. With that many relatives, there's always a new tragedy just around the corner. Last weekend his uncle passed away. The weekend before, his cousin was shot. You can't make this stuff up. There's also a lot of other family drama and tragedy that weighs heavily on the hearts of my husband and in-laws. I don't want to go into detail. I feel like it's not my story to tell.


I feel like a third wheel. My husband and his mom talk for hours and hours about their family. Yes, their family. It's not mine. I might wish it were, but I'll never really be one of them. I haven't even met most of them. They live in a different country.


I have little family. It's complicated. There's a wall. I can't break it.


For that reason, I really love having my in-laws with us. I love my husband's family. They're more family to me than my own family. I love that my kids have a healthy relationship with at least one set of grandparents. It means that world to me.


But I feel invisible in my own home. I come, I go... I'm not really there. They're talking in their language about their people. Nobody bothers to fill me in. I take my kids upstairs. I spend a lot of time upstairs these days. I want to feel a part of my family. I feel like we're becoming two families living in one home - there's me and my kids, and then there's his family.


Last night I called my uncle. I don't know why. He has been a homeless acoholic most of his life. Even his children can't talk to him, he's too toxic. I had his address because I started sending Christmas cards to his residence some time ago. I looked up the phone number. I called him. We haven't talked in probably 20 years or more. His brother, my father, died of a drug overdose when I was a small child. I wanted to see if he could tell me anything about my dad. I think about my dad a lot. He's such a big part of me. I want to find him, some piece of his, something about him...


When I was little I wanted to learn SO bad so I could read my father's books that he'd left behind. I thought I could find him in there. I taught myself to read. I would sit there and pretend to read Passage to India. I would read the letters aloud really, really fast. I thought that was "reading".


So I call my uncle. He's incoherent. Decades of substance abuse do scary things to people's brains. I had low expectations. I laughed at his jokes. He said I sounded happy. He asked if I was happy. I told him I'm very happy. I asked if he was happy. He said, "oh, I'm as happy as a pig wrapped in a ____ blanket". I'm not sure whether he was being sarcastic. I told him I was his brother's daughter. He asked if my dad was still alive. Then he said, "no, he went to heaven first". I asked a couple times what he remembered about my dad. He said he remembered my dad sending him $50 in jail to protect himself, that he appreciated it. I asked if he remembered anything from their childhood. He was incoherent. I told him I loved him. I said I'd call again next year.


I think the only place I'm going to find my dad is in myself. Maybe even in my daughters.


I think I just needed family of my own. Marriages are good when they're balanced. This is starting to feel unbalanced. Even when my husband and I talk, he usually wants to complain about his mother. I tell him I don't want to talk about her. I need balance. I need my own family.

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That's such a great idea! I love it. I insist they speak their language at home so my kids learn but I've never sat down and tried to learn it myself.


I also feel like I need to pull back from them, though. I need my life to be more about me that about them.


I have no problem going to church every Sunday (although I'm an atheist), adopting their habits (kneel for my MIL when I greet her, only pass things with the right hand, dish up her food and serve her, address her is a particular way, etc.), sending a huge portion of our monthly salary to their family... It's a lot of compromise but I'm willing.


All I need is to keep myself in tact.


I love going to work these days. I look forward to Mondays. Friday afternoon I'm pumped and happy and looking forward to spending the weekend with my family. By Saturday I'm feeling down. By Sunday I'm completely miserable. Monday morning I can't wait to get to work.


I've always loved my work but I've always loved weekends even more. This is new for me.

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2014 New Year Resolutions


1. Be Happy


There is no duty in life except the duty of being happy. It is our only reason for being in this world. With all our duties, all our morals, all our commandments, we seldom make one another happy, because these do not make us happy. A person who is good can only be so when he is happy, when there is harmony within him, in other words, when he loves. This has been the rule, the only rule, of this world - thus taught Jesus; thus taught Buddha; thus taught Hegel. For each of us the only thing of importance in this world is his own inner self - his soul, his capacity for love. When this is working, we may be eating plain porridge or cake, we may be wearing rags or jewels - but the world will be resounding in the clear tones of the soul. It will be a good world, a world going on in proper order. -Hesse


2. Get a director position


3. Go to weekly meditation


4. Become friends with a mom who has a successful professional career


5. Become really strong (push ups, squats, pilates, jump rope)


6. Keep a journal


7. Delegate, take breaks, lay on the sofa and do nothing... sometimes


8. The one-thing-per-week rule: For anyone in my life (employees, husband, MIL) pick one thing at most per week to give negative feedback on or ask them to change. Sleep on in at least one night before delivering the message. Before delivering the message, carefully select the setting and words used.


9. Color - get color into the home. Plants would be good too.


10. Take the training/courses/conferences I say I'm going to take. Don't let schedule get so busy that I pull out. Make my development a priority.


11. Don't let the urgent overtake the important. What's important:

-my husband

-my daughters

-my happiness

-our health

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Ok, so I'll report back on Thursday.


1. What did I do to make my MIL feel appreciated? Did it work, and if so, how could you tell?

2. Don't give negative feedback to husband or MIL.


...and for tonight, my only job is to eat, drink and be merry!


Thank you to anyone who took the time to read this. I appreciate it SO much! And Happy New Year!

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Re: #8. Ask people to change?


Not sure who granted you that right.


That's a good point. Ill have to think about it some more.


Sometimes you do have to ask people to change things but its like if an employee isn't meeting deadlines consistently, and you have to sit down with them to identify the issues and help them develop a better strategy.


Or at home, my daughter is getting chubby because my MIL feeds her deep fried chicken daily. So I want to find a tactful way of suggesting we try baking the chicken sometimes instead.


Not like asking them to change something fundamental about themselves. But sometimes you have to negotiate some things if they aren't working... Don't you?

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Last night I dreamed that I was going to give a presentation. I was so pumped - I practised the whole thing in my head. I kept waiting and waiting and finally realized that I was dreaming and I'd never actually get to deliver the presentation.


I'm at a point in my job where I feel it's time to move on. I've even discussed with my supervisor and she agrees I should get exposure on new things. We are considering a secondment, but all the opportunities they keep bringing me seem dull. I recently interviewed for a position that I thought might be interesting. But then I checked the outlook calendar of the guy who's currently in the position and it looked sad. The few meetings he had looked uninspiring.


I love my current job. I can't imagine anything more exciting. Anything I would be better at. A part of me hopes I don't get accepted for a new job.


I recently turned down a job that sounded so so so awesome and exciting. Regular travel to Europe, even Asia. So challenging. It would have been temporary - just 1.5 years. When I discussed with my supervisor, she and the other execs became concerned and discouraged me from taking it. They thought it was a step down.


People can be so narrow minded. No long term vision. I think I just see things so differently from other people.


When I turned down the job, I called my husband bawling. I rarely cry. It broke my heart.

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Reporting in:


I've been trying to make my MIL feel more appreciated and she seems much happier. I asked her if she'd like to come grocery shopping, which was good since she wanted to pick up chocolates for the children. We got to bond, especially after running into our psychotic tenant, lol.


For NYE we had some friends over and I tried to get her to come out of her room and hang out with us but she wouldn't. I took her dinner in her room but I did insist that she at least come out for the group photo.


Yesterday we visited my sister and I made sure to sit beside my MIL and engage her in the conversation throughout the day. I was a bit cold so I wrapped a throw around myself but my MIL started drifting off sitting on the sofa, so I laid the throw over her. Later, my husband and I were playing cards with my sister and her husband. We asked my MIL to join but she didn't want to, so I brought her a book of Alice Monroe short stories and she enjoyed it.


So, just little things. And I thanked her for coming to visit my sister, thanked her for buying chocolates for the children.... Just tried to thank her for the little things that I really do appreciate.


I think lately we've both been getting on each other's nerves. She's been nitpicking and I've become colder. I haven't been kissing her in the mornings and I know I should have been, but I wasn't quite feeling it. I just need to focus more on appreciating what she brings to our lives rather than dwelling on the little things that bug me.


Also, there were 3 times that I wanted to give negative feedback to my husband. For example, when there was a stain in the carpet and he tried to scrub it out with soap and water. Small stuff. I bit my tongue. It worked well.

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I'm pretty pumped about the new year. I'm convinced it's going to be incredible.


My husband has independently come to the conclusion that he's done dwelling on his negative family drama, that it's unhealthy and he won't carry it into the new year. He just called me to tell me. I'm glad.


I'm also optimistic about our finances and our future. Some good opportunities on the horizon.


We moved into a new house earlier this year. It's big and new and spectacular. We are so blessed. (It takes forever to clean though. My plan is to get an offer for a director job and then negotiate with my husband that I'll accept the offer if he lets us get cleaning help!


My husband is currently looking for a new job so I've taken it upon myself to help him search. I've been applying to cool places like California and Paris, lol. It's fun to dream.


I've got a bit of weight to lose. I actually enjoy losing weight. I like the nagging slightly-hungry feeling in my belly. I like being hungry when I eat; food tastes so much better and you really appreciate having it. I gained a few pounds when my MIL started doing all the cooking. I just figured it was more efficient to eat her food instead of preparing my own. But that experiment didn't end well so I'm going back to my lifestyle of moderation and clean food. It makes me happier anyway.


I've never felt more self aware. I became more self aware after participating in this assessment where 12 of my colleagues (peers, direct reports, supervisor, etc.) completed long surveys, anonymously, about me. It really made me realise that perceptions are everything. You might have your side of the story but you rarely get to tell it. I also started writing in a big sketch book. I write all sorts of stuff - quotes, lists, musings, etc. The goal is to help me figure out what my objectives are, how I would measure success, what's working and what's not.


In a course I took I came accross this notion of wicked problems. Problems where you can't just sit down and come up with a solution, because there perhaps isn't one correct solution, or you might only know the question after you've found the answer. Solving these problems is an interative process. If it's working, do more of it. If it's not working, do less of it. Get up tomorrow and do it again. It's such a weight off my chest. So simple. Refreshing.


Something else I'm super grateful for is the group of wise men behind me. I have this wonderful collection of guys who are either retired, consultants, or close to retirement. Guys who are former Senior VPs, CEOs, etc. The "dinosaurs" that, unfortunately, few people think have anything to offer. When they're in these high positions, everyone wants to flock to them. But once they retire, it's like they're dead. Nobody wants anything to do with them.


I think it's so important to have historical context, to understand the history of the thing you're working in, of your organization.... It gives you wisdom beyond your years. We've become so myopic. Change drives everything.


In older societies, such as African tribes or the native americans, the oldest person in the community was consulted on all important decisions. He was considered the wisest. Our society is so different.


So in my work, I consult often with these guys. One is a paid consultant who actually helps my team with a lot of our work. Another is close to retirement and he proof reads all my reports and notes. He's also wonderful for brainstorming. One of the smartest guys I've ever known. Another now does international consulting but we go for lunch often and discuss my work. It keeps him up to speed and it challenges me, makes me more confident.


I am unworthy of their assistance. I'm so grateful.

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We take turns handling the finances. I will be in charge of paying the bills for a few months, then he will, then me... It's actually been a long time since I handled it. Feels good to be back in control.


Well, I use the term control loosely.


At least I now know what we are up against. I can quantify it.


New year, new challenges, new reasons to be irrationally hopeful.

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Many of the issues iat home are resolving on their own. My weekend was wonderful, didn't feel crappy at all. I actually didn't feel like coming into work this morning. Normalcy has been restored! lol.


My MIL is suddenly into cooking healthy. No more deep frying the meat, and she's been on my husband's case about eating sugar. I suspect she noticed we're all getting fat, lol... My husband, my two kids and I have all put on a noticeable amount of weight in the past 3 months.


Yesterday my 6 year old looked down at her tummy and said, "my belly looks fat and I don't like it". So I sat down with her and asked what the issue was. She said her belly was so big, it hurt. Yikes. I told her we could start making sure we eat super healthy together and exercising together (skipping rope contests, dance offs and mom-and-daughter yoga) but the most important thing is that you always love yourself and accept your own body.


That was difficult. 6 years old is WAY too young to start worrying about weight.


I have decided it's time to start my consulting firm. I've been talking about it for too long. All this time I could have been actually working on it, rather than talking about working on it. But then, you don't want to start consulting when you're too young or inexperienced. People perhaps won't take you seriously and you can damage your reputation. So I think it's the right time. I'm young, just 32 years old, but I have a solid network and a good reputation within my occupation. Between my husband and I, we bring plenty of experience in different sectors.


So I brainstormed on various approaches or angles I could take, and I think I landed on one. I got the domain and server for a website. I'm doing it! Yay.


We have two potential clients already that we're following up with. Both have the potential to be long term, sizable contracts.

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Reporting in: 2014 New Year Resolutions


#4. Become friends with a mom who has a successful professional career


I realised I already have at least 2 good friends with awesome careers. They're just in another city.


8. The one-thing-per-week rule: For anyone in my life (employees, husband, MIL) pick one thing at most per week to give negative feedback on or ask them to change. Sleep on in at least one night before delivering the message. Before delivering the message, carefully select the setting and words used.


I already used up my one things for my husband this week. This morning I stubbed my toe twice on his big, heavy shoe. I was also grumpy. It was a Monday morning and my coffee hadn't kicked in yet. oops...


9. Color - get color into the home. Plants would be good too.


uh oh. I think I've killed all the plants in our house. I fertilized them last week but it must have been too highly concentrated. Maybe my goal should be to get silk plants...


10. Take the training/courses/conferences I say I'm going to take. Don't let schedule get so busy that I pull out. Make my development a priority.


Ok, I'm kicking butt on this one. Decided to get my PMP (project management) in February.


I had approval for $14,000 in training for 2013 and I only used $9,500. Even then, the fees are mostly for international travel to conferences I was instructed to attend more for the networking than the actual substance. I want to be more deliberate and proactive in my training this year. The PMP will be an awesome start.

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I recently went through a competition for a promotion within my organization.


First, the HR representative sent me the wrong job posting. So I actually prepared for the wrong job.


At the end of the interview, they said they'd be contacting the successful candidate right before Christmas. How insensitive is that? So basically you leave everyone else hanging over Christmas. How are they supposed to be at peace and enjoy the time with their families?!


A couple days after the interview, one of the interviewers added me on linkedin


I ran into one of the guys I would be supervising in the mall, who I was told through the grapevine also applied for the job, and he hugged me. Freaked me out. I mean, I'm super friendly with everyone at work but not in a personal contact way. It messed with my head. I thought maybe it was his way of gloating because he knew I interviewed and he got the job, or maybe he was trying to suck up because he'd heard that I would get an offer. I'm sure it meant nothing but you know when you're left hanging and you'll take any clues you can get.


So now it's 3 weeks later and I've heard nothing.


Also, they were looking to fill a second position from the same candidate pool. So I'm left hanging, wondering whether perhaps I didn't get the first job but there's still hope for the second one. I really thought the guy adding me on linkedin had to be a good sign.


Given that this is within my organization, I'm surprised they're being so insensitive. I know they have to wait for their top candidate to officially accept the position before they can reject the rest of us. But still, even just a quick follow up call would have gone a long way.

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This is business --- feelings doesn't really play into it.


And I get that when you're just some candidate off the street. But these are people I work with. When I'm conducting interviews, these same HR people are supporting me so I'm one of their "clients" you could say. And the non-HR people, we support each other in our work. The guy who added me on linkedin, whose job I would be taking over, I helped his group define their mandate when they first started up.


Yeah, it's just "business". But there's a certain amount of curteousy that you normally extend to people you have long term professional relationships with. I'm not upset or anything, but I do feel like they could have handled it better.

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Honestly, that is how you are looking at it. But in reality, HR exists to support the corporate structure, not you. To protect the corp from lawsuits from

disgruntled employees.


I am sure it could have been handled better --- but expecting that behavior is akin to believeing in Santa!


The guy who added you...his job you would be taking over....but you didn't get it? I am confused. Is he the guy who hugged you in the mall?

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The guy who added you...his job you would be taking over....but you didn't get it? I am confused. Is he the guy who hugged you in the mall?


I interviewed for Chris's job. I meant I would be taking over if I was successful, though it's looking increasingly likely that I wasn't.


Roger reports to Chris. Roger hugged me in the mall.


(totally fake names by the way.)


But I'm not too worried because I was actually far more interested in the second position that they were looking to fill. Also, there is another guy who is leaving the organization and I would kill for his job. Not sure how they're going to fill it, but if I can I'll definitely apply.


So still lots of good opportunities keeping me excited.

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Not really. Recently I was applying for jobs which would actually have been a demotion. Everyone was so annoyed with me, including my husband, my MIL, my boss... Even the people interviewing me were like "what are you doing?" lol, they were so suspicious like they were being set up or something. Then my senior executive and HR got concerned and went to my boss to ask her what she was doing so wrong, that I was so desperate to leave that I would take a demotion. Everyone expects me to move up really quickly and people are always telling me I'm going to be running the organization soon and such. And here I am, asking for a demotion. Lol, I'm such a dork.


When nobody would let me take a demotion, I thought maybe I should try for a promotion instead. If I don't get one, I'll probably be just as happy. There are a few people who get me. We have a career counsellor who works here and he totally gets me and says I shouldn't let anyone else determine my path. I also met a highly successful corporate coach/instructor who said he was just like me and there's no way he could have been happy leading a big organization, with all those people holding him back. But for the most part, people just think I'm stark raving mad. I like to think I see opportunities where others don't.

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So I'm looking at furniture for the new home we recently moved into.


Here is a dining table we love.




This is the space it would go in. I think the rustic look of the table woudl contrast nicely with the more feminine, delicate lighting but the contrast could just come out awkward. Not 100% sure.




Here is a chair I want to get to put in the corner of the living room next to the window. I want a big tropical plant next to it and a reading lamping hanging over it. I think I would basically live there. Does this look like a good reading chair? Beige cloth may be impractical with small children though.




We saw these big pictures that we liked. One on each side of the big window in the living room. Only problem is that we want more bright colors and this is dull.




Here is a picture I took of a hotel I stayed in recently. It inspired me. I love the egg chair! This is sort of the look I'm going for. My home is all grey and white, but I feel like the bright yellow contrast is soon to be outdated and the new color is now like an emerald green. But it could just be in my head because I love emerald green right now so I see it everywhere.



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