Light.Bulb

Ever have that moment when reading or listening to a TED talk (weirdly specific, yes, but you’re nodding sagely, aren’t you) when a little piece of wisdom triggers complete and utter understanding?

Some days when I’m feeling like I need a boost to get in the right mindset, I scroll through my LinkedIn feed for a bit of work-based inspiration. Today was one of those days and I was not disappointed.

When she says:

There’s a world of difference between stress and disappointment or stress and that knowing dread of “I’m in the wrong career”

And suddenly my current situation makes perfect sense.

When I set my mind to do something, I give it everything. I don’t take defeat very well and am really bad at knowing when to just let it go.

So instead I find outside excuses to justify why I’m quitting.

The other day I wrote a pretty cranky post that in hindsight I feel a little ashamed of. I have never been motivated by money before as far as work goes. It’s always been about personal satisfaction. So why suddenly am I mad about money?

Bcause I’m not. I’m disappointed that I’ll never be a master at the work I’m engaged in.

I like being good at what I’m doing and being considered knowledgeable to those I work with. And in my current role, I’m really, really not. It’s subconsciously dawned on me that I never will be and the conscious me is having a wee bit of trouble trying to digest that.

So. I can either have a tanty about something that may or may not be factual and make that the reason. Or I can own up, admit that I’m in the wrong place for me and move on.

Light. Bulb.

It’s Time

For me, there comes a point in every workplace situation where I go “Ok. I’m done.” Sometimes it comes after a few weeks. Sometimes it comes after a few years.

Is it a personal flaw? Do I have commitment issues? A pathological need for constant stimulation combined with recognition? Or am I just incapable of standing still?

Who knows. I’ve come to the point in my lifecycle where I’ve almost accepted it as “just the way I am”. But always ALWAYS the point comes. Once it happens, it’s a matter of deciding what to do.

Do I keep putting up and hope that things will magically change?

Do I see what I can do to change things up internally?

Or do I look elsewhere?

I’ve slowly worked my way through the first and second options over the past 18 months (being sleep-deprived, I had not the energy to put myself out there at a new place) and still, as the Stones would yodel, satisfaction has not entirely been forthcoming.

I could gripe in detail but basically it comes down to payscale.

There. I said it.

For some reason, I feel slightly grubby for wanting to be paid more. I don’t know why that is. But I think I’m worth more.

And I’ve done my damnedest to prove worthy enough to be paid above a basic admin wage. But I guess that glass ceiling is going to haunt me here because people (and when I say ‘people’ I mean those at the top) don’t think of me as anything more.

I know things in NZ are different to Australia. I understand now why poverty is so visible here – the pay to cost of living ratio is so out of whack, it’s ridiculous.

I get paid $20k less here than I would in Australia and houses cost about 30% more (no bullshit. A 3 bedroom shithole here will put you back the same amount as a 5 bedroom refurbished Queenslander in the seaside suburb of Wynnum. I know because I’ve looked.)

But still, I have degrees and diplomas. I have a wealth of knowledge and the skill and tenacity to keep adding to that. I am conscientious and hardworking and relatively easy to get along with.

I am worth more.

So Option 3 it is.

Brave New World?

Now we all can be like the Jedi Council

I’ve been working from home since Monday and this is not totally new to me. Before moving to New Zealand I worked from home as a freelance graphic designer/administration assistant – and I liked it.

I’m self-motivated, good at setting up routines (and more or less sticking to them) and managing my time appropriately to get things done. I would make time for self as well as work. Aiming for a solid work/life balance was one of the main reasons I left the ‘rat race’ because in all honesty, when you are working for someone else their needs will always come before your own, no matter how flexible they profess to be, because they pay for your services. It’s just the way it is.

So here I am, back to working from home. And it should be ok. My partner is here to deflect, tackle and otherwise manage Little Miss (who turned 3 on the first day of Lockdown. Seems fitting, and all who know her would laugh then nod sagely) so I can get solid concentration time.

Do we all have pants on? Nobody will ever know.

But I am finding it so hard to concentrate. Maybe if it was by choice I was working from home, it would be – feel – different. But at the moment, I am struggling to find my footing, get into a rhythm …. essentially I’ve lost my mojo.

Maybe it’s the compulsive reading of news reports late into the night that builds on an already heightened level of anxiousness.

Maybe it’s the broken sleep. Not an unusual thing – Little Miss is not a champ at sleeping through and even less so at the moment. Perhaps she feels my anxiety.

Maybe it’s the not-quite-knowing what to work on, now that projects are being halted – or cancelled.

Having said that, there’s a couple of exciting opportunities that have just fallen into our laps, including offering more online workshops. Silver linings, people. Look for them.

Maybe it’s the struggle within our team to try staying connected while all working together at distance that has me feeling off-kilter.

We have many and various tools to help us stay connected in real-time. One of them is the Microsoft Teams platform – very secure with lots of cool features that we’re known of for a while but are now getting super-proficient at using (handy, since we ARE the Digital Workplace team and Microsoft Teams is our ‘schtick’).

The trick is knowing “how” connected you need to be. We have a daily Teams Hangout set up and are figuring out as we go the ettiquette that comes with having audio and web streaming.

Don’t be like Callum.

Should we streaming video all day while we sit at our desks? In some ways, it totally replicates working together in the same room – you can see if someone is away from their desk or in another meeting – but unlike working in physical proximity, it feels way more intrusive.

Or maybe that’s just my age showing. I think my boys do this kind of thing all the time (gamers) but for me it feels slightly strange.

Today I’ve taken the option to be “in” the Team Hangout but with both my video and mic turned off and my music on. So they know I’m here and it’s a simple “hey” or message to let me know they want to talk but not streaming myself to them finally makes me feel a little better – a little more focused and calm – than I have all week.

And since my wifi was playing up a little this morning, I feel safe using that excuse if questioned (not that I think they would – we’re all in this together and everyone is respectful of each persons’ coping mechanisms).

How about you? Are you fortunate enough to be working from home? I am so very aware that there are those losing their livelihoods over this. And there are those on the front line, taking the risk of catching Covid-19 in order to support the rest of us with life essentials or take care of the sick and suffering. By comparision, I am extremely fortunate.

This is merely a transition to another way of doing business.

And it’s important for me – for us – to remember that.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

It would be fair to say I get around job-wise. Throughout my illustrious working career I have had the opportunity to experience so many roles – some wonderful; some not so much. The following has turned into a bit of a novel so I’ve split it into two: BCH (Before Crap Happened) and ACH (think you can figure what that stands for). Brace yourselves.

I find myself on yet another “step-to-the-right” in the dance laughingly called my ‘career path’ (more like drunken stagger) – still at the same workplace but using a different, more technical skill-set to the administrative/marketing role I’ve been filling for the past 18 months. I’m a little nervous but mainly excited about it but if you look at the experiences I’ve had over the past *cough* wee while, there’s many things I’ve already done that should help me pick it up and run with it fairly quickly.

My working career (outside of the usual after-school shenanigans) started way back in 1991 as a Coles Deli Assistant, working my way up to 2IC (which just meant I got the lucky task of coming in super-early on a Monday morning to get the rotisserie chickens cranking and set up the cabinet for the week and do the scale report to make sure we weren’t diddling the customers). Then we moved to Sydney, added a second baby to the family and I began my library studies, which led to the first twist in my path.

Had a lady haughtily demand EXACTLY 1kg of sausages “No more; no less, young lady!”. My face probs looked like his.

After moving all over the country, we landed in a small town in WA, where (on the second attempt) I became Library Officer at the Primary School two of my three kids attended (yep, quite a gap there between paid jobs). I loved this job dearly and it’s still the longest stint in one workplace in the same role (4 years). It was pretty perfect – school hours and school holidays but none of the responsibilities of a teacher (poor sods – I have so much respect for teachers from my time working with them in schools) as well as the pleasure of scouring through reviews to pick all the books.

I vividly recall reading the review for “Harry Potter and the Philosophers’ Stone” and knew it would be a hit but was unsure if it would be too hard for the kids (poor town; struggling/itinerant families; lots of behavioural issues). I ordered two copies, thinking if nothing else it would be perfect for teachers to read aloud and ended up having a waiting list of kids clamouring to read it and having to buy a few extra copies to keep up with demand. The second time I remember purchasing a book as part of my role and thinking “This is gonna be HUGE” and being proven right was for – you may know it – the first in a 4 part series called “Twilight”.

The cover in the review I read for “Twilight”. Weird, huh.

During this time I also was a casual Woolworths Cash Office Administrator on weekends. I scratch my head at this memory, wondering why on earth I did this, with three kids and already working five days a week – then I remember the expectations and mindset I was living under at the time and it makes sense. Taught me to count money real fast and honed my OCD for all notes facing the same way in neat and tidy bundles.

New town in a new state, and of course the school system was different – I had to be a teacher to work in a school library – and the local Public Library was not going to be hiring any time soon. After a brief and terrible stint as a Learning Coordinator for a state government funded adult learning centre (which didn’t actually have a building for the centre – just a room in another state government funded centre which just made it all sorts of awkward and complicated), I got lucky, scoring a job as a part-time Typesetter/Graphic Designer at the local newspaper, with no prior experience apart from the fact I was comfortable with computers, could spell and had done a module of study in my library technician’s diploma on colour design and basic formatting of promotional collateral.

We hid a coworkers’ Bionicle that sat on his computer and sent him ransom notes with accompanying Bionicle parts as part of regular newspaper office shenanigans. He was most displeased with us.

After a time I did manage to get a position as a casual Library Officer at the local library, covering shifts on Saturdays and sometimes their one late opening night per week. It was a good gig. I was studying for my Bachelor of Library Science at the time (while still working at the newspaper cause apparently I had 35 hours in a day back then), so it gave me great opportunities to put theory into practice and vice versa.

I almost blanked out the three years I spent as Library Technician for the local TAFE college after leaving the newspaper to do some full-time (but short-lived) study for a teaching degree (that’s a whole other post in itself). TAFE was a great learning experience as my manager was a great mentor willing to share her years of experience with me. Sure, she was the quintessential cranky librarian and scared the bejesus out of most people but she treated me very well … and she was so nice to my kids (as well as being a complete push-over with her own. Softie at heart.) that I couldn’t not like her. But working for State Government was a long, slow death and I did not want to slowly evolve into the quintessential cranky librarian.

How I imagine I’d look now if I’d stayed …

So I left full-time employment at a very decent government pay rate and moved onto the local Catholic High School as a part-time Library Officer … not sure how I passed the interview with regards to religious beliefs for that one but somehow I did. It was ridiculously low pay for a fully qualified librarian at $15 an hour but I loved the school ethos – they really cared about their students – and of course, the kids were great to work with.

But then … the “eccentric” (i.e. batshit crazy) … library manager at the Public Library left, which led to my next big break.

As Library Manager in a regional library service – one main branch, one teeny-tiny little room in a very interested area known as the Gemfields – I had the responsibility of managing staff for the first time as well as being accountable for a substantial budget. Exciting, scary and very difficult at times but I loved every minute of it … ok, not the minutes I had to ‘have a talk’ with certain persons for upsetting the applecart every time they walked into the place … but the rest of it was great. Honestly, after the last manager’s crazy antics and passive-aggressive management style, I did not have to do much to look fantastic – and I thank her for that, wherever she is.

Then Peter Beatty did his thing and ruined my perfect little life in more ways than one. This career sidetrack led me straight up Poop Creek and onto Poop city …

That’s not how you flip an entire state the bird, Pete.

After March 15 2008 (yep, I still remember the date), the council I was working for was amalgamated with three other surrounding shires into one giant mega-council. It covered an area of roughly 60,000 sq. kilometres with offices spread out at roughly one-hour-drive intervals from each other. That and the fact each office had its own unique culture made it seriously dysfunctional Due to the necessary restructure, I was offered the role of Manager Community Services. To this day, I’m not sure why. I guess I’d proved myself capable of management to a degree in the previous 8 months as Library Manager.

Just managing the shenanigans of the library service growing from 2 branches to 10 would have been enough challenge. But instead I had to take on Community Services, a portfolio which included libraries, pools (dear god, I shudder just thinking about pools), halls, art galleries, aged care facilities, youth facilities and – best of all – community groups. I want to say it was THE WORST decision I ever made but circumstances being what they were at the time, I felt I had no choice but to accept. Nine months later, I had what you could nicely refer to as “a spiritual awakening” but what most people would call a nervous breakdown. Even though my heart knew I really shouldn’t have taken that job, the advantage of hindsight shows that I actually learnt a lot and grew so very much from that complete and utter personal and professional smackdown of an experience. Let’s just call it a Turning Point and leave it at that.

#Accurate

While I was recovering sufficiently to be able to deal with the stresses of a ‘normal life’ again, Lady Luck smiled upon me and I found myself working from home as a Freelance Proofreader for a friend, proofing advertising collateral for various big name companies. Not a huge amount but enough to give me ‘pin’ money and help my severely battered self-esteem compose itself. It also gave me a taste for the freelance life and I really liked it.

But life was about to deal a few shockers and I was going to need more regular work … (to be continued)

Time and Space for Creativity

Bottom half of a boho dreamcatcher with flowers and feathers
The last time I was really creative …

I haven’t posted an update for so long as its finally dawned on me that you need time and space to be creative. And I just don’t have it. Or at least what precious little I do have, I’m busy numbing myself to cope with the time and space I don’t have.

Let me explain …

I was going to actually total up all the time I spend working at a full time job plus the daily commute plus home duties (thankfully assisted greatly by NIH where Little Miss is concerned) then add in the night-time shenanigans of putting her back to bed from midnight til 3am on average but that is just too bloody depressing.

Let’s just say a full time job plus a toddler who doesn’t sleep leaves me with precious little mental ‘space’ for creativity.

I starting thinking about this post a few weeks ago – then the shit hit the proverbial with illness on the home front and whatever small space I was going to allow myself to try crafted a halfway intelligent post vanished.

So here I am (waiting for AA to come and reboot our car battery because life wasn’t finished being a complete and utter bitch obviously) trying to spew out what is *really* bothering me about not being creative for the last 6 months or so. And it all boils down to this: Joy.

Creativity brings you joy. And life at the moment feels rather bereft of it.

Work is a bit of a mess of three different role responsibilities that have me trying valiantly to make sure I don’t drop any balls whilst surviving on broken sleep for I can’t even fucking remember how long. I can see the mistakes popping up and it breaks my perfectionist little heart and I just pray that workmates don’t think I’m a complete idiot but in all honesty, I don’t know where I am or what I’m doing most days.

Home is fine except for the fact that a toddler is always going to be an emotional stretch … but I can feel the physical and spiritual effects of not sleeping an uninterrupted 8 hours – damn, I would settle for even a 6 hour block – for over 2 years taking its toll on me.

Money is real tight, thanks to having a mortgage back home still to pay while we hope and pray the house will finally sell. Rent here is much higher than Australia and pay rates are so much lower so that puts us even more behind the 8-ball. I mean, we still manage to pay our bills on time and buy groceries and have leftover cash for a breakfast out each weekend so it’s not completely dire … it’s just extra stress on top of an already stressed-out mind.

Whatever time and space I do have, I play puzzle games on my phone.

I know, right?

I was trying to figure out why I do that the other day and something Brene Brown said in her Netflix appearance helped me understand. (Yes, I have become a convert. Yes, I have downloaded and listened to her book “Daring Greatly”, which I think is why I’m doing all this self-analysis again. Yes, I am probably going to mention her frequently from here on out.)

She was talking about how her first TED talk went viral and she found it so hard to handle that she spent a day at home with the peanut butter jar and a spoon, watching the complete series of “Downton Abbey” (if I didn’t love her for making sense of courage and vulnerability, I would have loved her for that alone). And after it was over, she started googling facts and figures from that era and hit on Teddy Roosevelt’s famous speech about the man in the arena and the rest, as they say, is history.

She asked the audience something along the lines of :

“Who-all [cause she’s from Texas] has done that?”

“You’re numbing yourself with a show or a movie and you’re not ready to step back into the real world when it’s over so you start searching for related stuff on the internet?”

Ahh.

I play the games to numb myself. To just switch off and ignore the stresses in my life – of which I do acknowledge there could be far more and perhaps I’m just tired and a tad whiny today. Someone should put me to bed.

And because of the numbing plus the stresses, I just don’t have the time/space/energy to be creative anymore.

If I really want some more joy in my life, I think this needs to stop.

And now for something completely different …

I have a thing for circles lately. I don’t know if there’s a hidden message in it. Maybe I’m subconsciously thinking I’m back at square one in the circle of life (possibly a mixed metaphor there but whatever).

Once again,  I have a small baby which means I’ve pretty much lost my independence for a while – at least until she’s weaned.  But it’s not so much the constant demands on my time, sleep and body that troubles me.

It’s money.

Even though I’ve been doing a little bit of work here and there, it hasn’t been regular and has equated to little more coffee money (once upon a time they called it pin money – but who needs that many pins?).

It certainly hasn’t been anything that could cover some expenses while I’m on maternity leave. Fortunately I go back to work in a few months – and I say fortunately because I can’t stand not bringing money into the house.

Money is such a touchy subject for me. In my first marriage, I felt incredibly guilty about not working for the first six years, even though the main reason was that we had three kidlets under the age of five and could not have afforded the childcare costs.  At that stage, I only had the qualifications to be a check-out chick – so I would have basically just handed over my wage each week. Add to that the fact we were in the Army and moved on average once a year and my prospects were really poor.

Even though it seemed the logical choice to wait until they went to school – I ended up getting permanent part-time work when the youngest was 12 months old – I was made to feel that I was a burden because I didn’t earn money. And it wasn’t my imagination either – he said those very words to me years later.  It may have just been the divorce talking but it still stabs me right in the heart to recall it.

Nowadays there are so many articles highlighting the ability of stay-at-home mums to improve the lifestyle of a regular household. After all, they cook, they clean, they mind your child … if dad plays his cards right, he may get some “personal time” …

To pay for all that (and I don’t actually think they included ‘personal time’ in their sums) calculates to some ridiculous six-figure amount.  Even though it seems a terrible shame to put a price on motherhood, at least it gives us a measuring stick in terms that modern society can understand.

So I work hard to enjoy these precious 10 months or so that I have with Little Miss before we all get thrust back into the fast-running stream of work, daycare, home, chores, bed, repeat. I budget whilst making sure we still have a bit of fun. I do what work I can from home to bring in a little extra.

But even though it’s a totally different situation with a totally different partner who I know doesn’t have the same viewpoint, I still can’t seem to shut up those niggling inner demons about being perceived as a burden and not pulling my weight.

Don’t worry bout a thing …

bob-marleyMost of this pregnancy has been smooth sailing. And I’m not talking about the fun physical changes to me or the little life inside either. I’m talking about the emotional hormonal pregnant woman rollercoaster.

Calm. Happy. Going with the flow. Not particularly worried about anything, really. Just like Bob with a well-lit spliff hanging off his lip.

Until I hit 30 weeks.

And then HELLLOOOO anxiety! Where have you been? You almost missed the party! Only 10 weeks to drive this woman and her poor husband truly crazy before Little Miss arrives and all hell really breaks loose.

It started with antenatal classes. I decided a while back that it was worth doing them because:

a) NIH needs to have the ‘full’ experience and it’s only fair he has some warning of what’s coming; and,
b) it’s been a while and I thought a little refresher course for me couldn’t hurt.

And it was all fine … right up until the end of the first class, when the leader (lecturer? labour whisperer? ) said two little sentences:

“Partners, listen to your wives’ breathing during labour. When she goes from pushing sighing breaths out like this “whewwwwwww” at the end of a contraction, to a deep guttural “wherrrrrrRRRRRRRRR”, that’s a good sign she’s going into second stage and wanting to push.”

When she made that noise, crystal clear memories of that EXACT feeling that hits when you’re getting to the business end of childbirth came rushing in and I barely managed not to exclaim “Holy FUCK!” out loud and scare all those poor sods who don’t know what’s coming.

But I remember now. I know what’s coming. As I explained to NIH later, just because I’ve done it three times before doesn’t mean I like it. I cried at home afterwards.

And since that little meltdown, it’s like I’ve opened the worry flood gates and everything is getting to me.  I spent a good two days sitting at my desk at work with headphones on – not listening to music; not making or taking a phone call – just to stop people from talking to me. I was mortally afraid I’d cry if they asked me a question I couldn’t answer … like “How are you?”.

I am exhausted but only sleep about 4-5 hours a night, waking up at 4am to worry about anything and everything.

I worry about work. I’m currently recruiting for my job and feeling the pressure. What if I can’t find anyone? What if the person I pick is shit? Or – even worse – way better than me?  Will there be enough time to train this person or is my co-worker going to be left carrying the load?  If I’m going to be completely truthful, the biggest fear I have at the moment for work is losing my shit and crying in front of someone.

I worry about money. We are so very fortunate that I qualify for maternity leave here in NZ and get 18 weeks paid plus enough unpaid leave to have a year with Little Miss before heading back to work. But we still have a house back in Oz that we haven’t been able to sell. Luckily, we’ve been able to rent it out for almost a year but it only covers half the mortgage, so we’re picking up the slack on top of the rent we pay here. That’s fine when you have two incomes … but things will be very tight after July.

Of course, I worry about labour. The clock is ticking down to the moment where I will be required to push something the size of a watermelon out of something the size of a lemon. Last time – in fact, the last two times – I had a hot bath to soak in for most of labour and it worked absolute wonders in taking the pain away and making those hours leading up to the main event much easier to deal with.

We don’t have a bath in our flat. That scares me. The bath was my go-to. I knew it worked. How will I cope with the pain this time?

Of course, there’s the classic – Will she be ok? Is everything going to go smoothly? Will there be complications? And I can’t even bear to think about worst-case scenarios. My mind just completely does a 360 degree turn.

And then there’s the afterwards. I have 18 years of care ahead, starting with nappy changes, breastfeeding, colic and a few years of no sleep.  I’m not in my twenties anymore.

What about my other kids? Sure, they’re grown up and all but how’s this going to affect my relationship with them? Will they like her? Will she understand who they are? When am I ever going to have the money or the time to fly home to see them again?

Around and around and around in my poor shrinking brain cell head.

Funnily enough, now that I’ve written it all down and am reading it back … things really aren’t so bad. I mean, sure, labour is hard and painful but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not that long.  I can choose a water birth in the pool at the birthing centre or just go in when things start getting interesting and sit in the normal bath to ease the pain.

Nine times out of ten, childbirth goes well. And if it doesn’t, we are very close to the largest teaching hospital on the North Island, with all the medical facilities to cope with emergencies.

My kids are grown ups now, and lovely warm-hearted human beings to boot. They’ll be fine and the addition of Little Miss will only add to our shared relationship. Besides, they have their own lives to lead and don’t rely on me anymore.

I’ll cope with breastfeeding and nappies. I have infinitely more patience than I did 20 years ago and after dealing with three kids under five years old, one tiny baby seems much easier to handle.

The house will re-rent for more money or sell.  And if all else fails, I’ve crunched the numbers and know that we will cope. We won’t be living the life of Riley but to be honest, we will be more interested in sleep than anything else for a while – and that’s free.

Whoever takes over at work will be fine. My co-worker is an awesome teacher and so easy-going. He’ll take care of the newbie. At the end of the day, work will go on without me and I’ll be missed about as much as the proverbial hole in the bucket of water.

In the end, perhaps Bob Marley was onto something … even without the toke on a giant spliff.

I’m dreaming of a … BIOS PXE boot?

NEMHydra_PXE_BootDevicePriority2

Oh my god what is this?

For the past six weeks, I have been on a major learning curve. Like, HUGE.  I considered myself fairly proficient with technology. Almost advanced, even. Then I started this job and now I realise what I knew was just a teeny tiny tip of the gigantic iceberg that is all things hardware, software and world wide web based!

All my dreams are about keyboards and data and trying to recover passwords I didn’t know I had to have and understanding procedures that are not procedures but merely checklists. I guess you could say that each night my brain is trying to sort through the learnings of the day and figure out where best to shove it so I can retrieve it again – a defrag, if you will.

I was warned when I started that documentation wasn’t strong and part of my role is to fix that up. I’m bugging everyone in my section with “how do you do this?” then writing up a procedure for it as I go. I’m well aware of the irony of creating the “Infrastructure for Dummies” guide that I wished I’d had when I started but at least the next poor bunny will have a little more to go on than “BIOS settings for PXE boot (Enable)” when trying to reimage a computer for the first time.

The conversation went something like this …

Me: So, how do I do this?

Them: Easy – we have a document for it. Just follow the steps.

Me: Huh. Ok.

[Finds document. Reads document. Scratches head. What the actual hell is a PXE boot? Is it small and green and pointy?]

Me: Uhhhhh. What’s a PXE boot?

Them: Oh. It’s the setting in the BIOS.

Me: [slowly, trying not to upset them] Uh, what’s the BIOS?

Them: [looking at me now like … well, like the dumbarse I am] Uhhh it’s the Basic Input/Output System.

Me: [pause. FUCK. Just say it.] Ooookkkkaaaayyy. How do I find it?

Them: [trying not to sigh] Just turn the computer on and hit the delete key until it comes up.

Me: Well! Why didn’t you say so in the first place?

Don’t get me wrong. They are a great bunch of people and infinitely patient with what must seem like a constant barrage of questions from me. But they’re computer engineers. They know this shit like the back of their hands. I, on the other hand, am a complete novice.

But I do know how to write a step-by-step guide. It’s probably been a great way to cement the learning process and build my confidence a bit at a time in the process.

And all my procedures start with the very basics, such as:

  1.  Turn computer on and hit that delete button until a blue screen of jibberish shows up.

Pain is gain?

cartman beefcakeThere’s a #Beefcake fitness challenge going on a work and whilst I do have a habit of being a ‘joiner’ and am all for office camaraderie, I think I may sit the rest of this one out.

The first week was stairs – 300 and something of them situated in a tower block not far from the workplace. The idea was to see how fast you could do it in.

Whilst I was tempted – it was one week in from starting and I do want to make a good impression – my knees said “Do that and we WILL kill you.” My left  hip chimed in with “And I will ache and ache for days so you can’t sleep.”

Fair enough. I skipped it.

The second week was 30 minutes of exercise. This could be anything from walking to gym routines – and a variety of different activities would get you bonus points. More people took up this challenge, including myself. The fact it coincided with the release of Pokemon Go was probably a major motivational factor. I did that one – mainly because I walk a minimum of 60 minutes every day to and from work. Why not take advantage of an existing situation? I didn’t care about the bonus points; just getting my name on the Beefcake Challenge ladder was enough.

Last week was “5 for 5”, seeing how may squats, lunges, burpees, sit ups and push ups you could do in five minutes. That’s five minutes for each activity, not five minutes total. I thought “Nah. I’m good.” and decided I would wait to see what Week Four would bring.

I walked past the Company meeting room around lunchtime on Thursday and the #Beefcake organiser was just finishing his session with a person checking his times and counting. I popped my head in to say a few encouraging – ok, smartarse – words. Before I knew it, I was doing squats. 80 of them. In five minutes.

Two things I have learnt from this experience:

  1. Doing 80 squats from a cold start is not going to end well. And not just for that day but for days and days and days after. The pain – oh, the pain – of trying to sit on the loo; get into the car; get OUT of the car or walk around the lake – lying in bed, even.
  2. Mr #Beefcake Challenge has missed his calling. With two sentences, he managed to get a fairly sensible woman who hates squats with a passion to do them. And not just do them but do LOTS of them. He should totally be a fitness instructor … or Head Torturer for some dictatorship.

The only thing that makes me feel better about the whole painful episode is that there are several people hobbling around the office at the moment muttering “Curse you, Phil” under their breath.