Monthly Archives: April 2017

Ready for the world…

Tomorrow is the first day in the new job. I am not sure I am ready for this yet but I imagine that like most things, I will learn by doing and by not giving up. This will work as long as I don’t let the voices in my head speak up too often or too loudly.

This week off was a really great one, not quite long enough to do all of the things I had planned to do. Then again, learning not to do everything on my list of things to do during a week of no work is an important development area for me ๐Ÿ˜‰

On Monday, I went to the Amsterdam Museum which is housed in the building that served as the municipal orphanage from 1580 to 1960. The museum was fascinating. My only disappointment was that to go in the exhibit titled “The Little Orphanage” you had to have a kid to gain admission. Next time, I’ll borrow one.

Tuesday, Little C and I took the dogs and headed off to the Noordoostpolder – which is where the tulips all grow in field after field. We spent 7 hours touring around Friesland, stopping to look at a church that was for sale (mysteriously right after I had said to her ร have always wanted to live in a church” and there it suddenly was) ย and making a list of various other places we also needed to go and visit. We stopped in some woods along the way to let the dogs run and after that, it was pretty much three small dogs snoring in the backseat of Astrid for the rest of the way.

Wednesday, we loaded up the car again, this time with GG and drove to her childhood home. Her mother’s birthday was Wednesday and it was time to meet the aunts and uncles. GG and her sister told me that I should feel fine about my own Dutch since they have a German uncle who really has a terrible accent. He’s even named Wolfgang. It was a good evening, interesting to be around so many people who have known GG all her life. They were definitely curious about this American. I had asked GG to give me a list of each of her relatives, along with a distinguishing physical characteristic so I wouldn’t get the names wrong. I managed not to mess up any names. And, yes, my Dutch accent was pretty good ๐Ÿ˜‰

Thursday was King’s Day. Amsterdam in particular turns orange. We had a pretty mellow version of it until the evening where the celebrations were lots of fun but left me with 12 hours of unbelievable hangover. As GG says “we’re not 18 any more”. That meant I missed lunch with a friend on Friday and had to skip Happy Hour at the Van Gogh Museum. The idea of going anywhere near anything with an alchoholic content is vastly unappealing at the moment.

Saturday I made up for the lunch I missed on Friday, much to the amusement of my friend Sabine. We went to the north of Amsterdam and spent our time exploring tiny alleys along the dikes, where there are houses built on the top of them. I am not sure where my next move will take me but an old brick house on top of a dike overlooking the river has a great deal of appeal. From a practical perspective, probably a better idea than a church in Friesland.

As for today, it was tackle the garden day. The grass got mowed (weed whacked) for the first time ever, the flowerboxes replanted, the lounge furniture cleaned up and placed for sale – so as to make room for something else, the windows washed and all of the left over beer bottles from the family visit in December finally returned for their deposit.ย 6 euro and 80 cents worth of beer bottles!

I also managed it through most of the week to not look at my email and not think too much about work. I read four books and genuinely tried to be a little bit more chill.

I am excited about tomorrow, nervous too.

It’s (almost) official…

While tomorrow is my last official day in this role, the celebrations of my pending departure began last night. After the second to the last visit in Radiation B3, Little C and I went off to meet Big C (my manager) and our colleague, Marion. The women of my team (past and present) wanted have a proper launch me off into the world dinner. It was an evening that provided yet one more reason to be thankful for these amazing people who have inspired, laughed with me, pushed my buttons and more than anything believed in me during the last few years. Even when it looked like everything was imploding in my work environment, these were the women who looked at me and said “You can do it”.

As I reflect on the past 1.5 years in particular, I have realized how much having women to inspire me at work has shaped where I am going to next. I’ve spent most of my life working in areas where women were scarce and rarely in positions of leadership. If they were, they almost seemed so far away that having a normal conversation with them was not something I would attempt, figuring they were busy enough. I think that before I moved to the Netherlands and after, I have surrounded myself with strong, independent women in my out of work life and that was a good way to keep going. Yet it really does make a difference when you find them working for the same employer that you do. In my last 1:1 today with Big C, I thanked her for that and let her know just how much having her as role model has impacted me.

This afternoon, it was my farewell lunch with the team. I had secretly hoped and not so secretly said to GG and Little C that if I was lucky, no one would show up and I would be spared your classic introvert’s nightmare of being the centre of attention. It wasn’t made any more appealing by a week ago Little C telling me she needed a picture of me because they were planning to put on the cake, that Big C thought it was the appropriate thing to do. I was appalled. I said to Little C “Why can’t I have a Minion cake? What is this bullshit with putting a photo on a cake? I am not dead!” She told me that it was an English custom and Big C was insisting on it *eyeroll*

Here’s what was waiting for me when the cake came out…

DX Cake

I think this goes down as the second best cake of my life. The first being the one my mom made for my 11th birthday of layers and layers of home made cream puffs between ice cream. She told me it was a once in a lifetime cake based on the number of hours that were involved in putting it together. This cake definitely places a high second, in 43 years.

As the cake was shared, there were the usual Knights of the Round Table behavior of banging on the table calling for “Speech speech”. You probably know by now talking is not a problem for me ๐Ÿ˜‰ I told them the truth, that it hadn’t really hit me until last night that I would be leaving people. Instead I had focused on finishing up all of the job responsibilities, juggling the new ones and not stopping to actually give place to my feelings. I acknowledged that each and every one of them had contributed to the person that I am through the last 3.5 years and that I am going forward into this amazing job based partially on experiences from the current one and being part of that organization. It’s completely true, even the shittiest moments taught me something about myself and gave me another set of skills or determination. Most importantly, it helped me to keep building for new things as the losses came, both at work and at home. Anyway, I got verklemmt and teared up and they got uncomfortable with so much emotion ๐Ÿ˜‰

After lunch, I had a meeting with some of the interns that will be working with me in the new job. Which was fun and inspiring. Hah, they think I know stuff ๐Ÿ˜‰ And then came the real moment, going to pick up my new business cards from the mailroom. That’s when you know it is official, when you have business cards! Mine say very boldly (so there’s no shying away from it) Program Manager – National Empowerment Plan. Yowser…

Today was Little C’s last radiation – Hurrah! Which is probably something I want to celebrate even more than my new job!

Tomorrow will be one last day of handover meetings and then at 1645, or probably slightly later, the auto responder goes on and says “For the old job, please contact so and so” ๐Ÿ™‚

Thank you for being part of my inspiration!!!

Sad that it went by so fast

it’s the tail end of Easter weekend here. For us, it is a four day weekend, which seems like such a large amount of free time on Thursday evening. The next thing you know, it’s already Monday night *sigh*.

Let’s see, aside from the fact that it was Easter, Saturday also marked one year with GG. In true to us fashion, she had dinner and theatre ticket plans with her best friend and I was hosting 28 women at the meetup. This pretty much describes our relationship very well, two independent types who happen to like being together alotย but not at the expense ofย our individualย selves ๐Ÿ˜‰

This morning, we drove down to Delft, where GG’s sister is in the process of renovating her new house and had Easter breakfast with her sister and her parents. Henry and George were also along for the festivities and greatly enjoyed their own personal Easter eggs.

Then it was off to the garden center to score a weed whacker – for the small amount of grass that I have, some new plants and a new bed for the boys. They were pretty happy about that, George has just come over to climb into it. I figured it was about time to put their car seat back in the car and I had a 25% off one item coupon!

We’re counting down, four more working days to go. On Wednesday night, the team members I am closest to are taking me out for a farewell dinner.

And as for Little C, on Friday, we had the visit with the doctor before the trip to the holodeck. She has three more to go. This Thursday will be the last radiation. I’m excited for her. It means that we have three more tries to figure out how to get our portraits hanging on the walls of amidst all the important people. We thought it might be fun to see how long it took people to notice…



April doet wat het wil…

George, Mika and Henry in speed order…

literally translated, that’s April does what it wills. Probably in response to the weather originally. Last week, Sabine gave me a book to borrow called (in Dutch) Amsterdam: History of the most free thinking city in the world. It’s written by Russell Shorto (an American). I got to page 57 and realized that I was missing the most critical parts, the Dutch was too much. I borrowed it as an ebook from the library (in English) and I am so glad I did. Once I am finished reading it in English, I will go back to the Dutch version and start all over.

It is fascinating ๐Ÿ™‚ For starters, it is a quick orientation on why certain streets carry certain names and who those people were in Dutch history. It’s also an introduction to Spinoza and Erasmus — so I am building myself quite a reading list of where to go further.

Yesterday, Henry and George met Mika for the first time. This is the second Mika in their life, since Lientje’s cat companion before Moortje was also a Mikha. The canine Mika is a little less terrifying than the feline Mikha was ๐Ÿ˜‰ After Little C’s time in the holodeck – I can’t help but making the association between radiation and the original Star Trek – we headed off to the meadows of Twiske where dogs can roam free and you can cross all kinds of bridges, see llamas and cows on the same farm and breath deep that unique smell of Dutch springtime, manure, grass and sun. I really like that smell.

Het Twiske

Yesterday was a reminder of how good things are in their very ordinary way. Sometimes, in the stress of the moment or the stress over what could be the next moment, I don’t notice what surrounds me. Walking with Little C and the herd yesterday, in the sun, without worrying about the time, reminded me of how good my life here is. ๐Ÿ™‚ An unexpected bonus is that since Little C is a dog parent for the first time, she walks with a backpack complete with water bowl, water, dog food, treats and every other thing you could need. Only a bonus for us hangers on!

In other news, eight more working days to go. I got the news this week that I will be responsible for a team of four interns. Umm, I am pretty sure I said last year when I was weighing career paths that people management was completely not my thing after spending a morning playing a board game that’s all about management. Be that as it may, I will be getting four. I have to select them from a pool of a 100 and build a team with them so that during the six months they are doing their internship, they are definitely part of building something. Something tells me I am going to be working from the office a great deal more in the coming weeks…

As far as the rest, even though my official start day is 1 May, I’ve already begun doing both jobs. I am not surprised… for the moment it’s a matter of setting some boundaries ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m looking at it like Scrum, iterative development that delivers value in every sprint ๐Ÿ™‚ย ย  Luckily, that’s a way to organize my thoughts in a good manner and a good way to work with teams. I need to teach them that ๐Ÿ™‚

At any rate, 8 more working days to go. I’m looking forward to my week off. I have plans to wear a hole in my museum card and to leave the city at least once on a day trip!

Plastic wrap, a blonde, latex and body paint…

It rather sounds like a stereotype of what people think happens in Amsterdam, doesn’t it? Well, before I get credit for a more exciting life than I have, I should disclose that it all happened in the context of Little C’s appointments today in the hospital.

Since last week, we’ve been meeting regularly in waiting room B3 for her daily radiation. Today, after radiation, we got to go to the Special Effects room. It has a fancy French name that makes it sounds like a Michelin starred restaurant. But really, it’s where they make the body armour from latex and silicone for later on during the radiation treatments – somewhere around treatment 15. Of course, we were super curious about every step of the process. The tech was really excited to talk so much about his work and walked us through every detail, including how to start doing this at home. If you should want to, of course.

I’ve figured out how to get to the hospital via bike now that the spring weather is here. It’s a good ride, takes less time than by car since I can park right out front of the entrance – and I don’t have to pay for parking ๐Ÿ˜‰

They have “invited” Little C to come five times a week. It is a five week cycle so that means we will get plenty of stamps on our coffee cards…

I noticed when I walked in the entrance today that the hospital has a strange aroma of urine and bacon mixed together. I am pretty sure that’s not a new line of industrial air freshener. At least, I hope not.

The radiation techs are used to me now. I try to meditate while the treatment is happening and match my pace to their instructions over the speaker to Little C to breathe in, breathe out. It’s a little fast to be restful so I will have to keep it at my own pace. The tech asked me if I did that every time? She just noticed it for the first time today – I think she thought I was taking a nap in the chair previously. I should tell her that if doesn’t sound like there’s a hibernating bear in the room, I am not napping ๐Ÿ˜‰

Twelve more work days of this job, thanks to the 4 day weekend for Easter. I am taking the last week of the month off so that I can start in the right mental space on 1 May. I am a little anxious that I don’t have enough ability to think deep thoughts anymore to tackle this work. However, I know that’s not something I can’t start doing again, once I shift gears. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself!

George is back to his normal self, his stitches healed beautifully and that obnoxious collar is gone. He’s much less accident prone now. I think it must be a relief for him. I know it is a relief for the rest of us not to hear him crash into things!

Aside from that, spring is here and I am reminded again of what a beautiful city this is!