Xnay to the Reach Out

It started earlier this year and peaked in summer.

A saying had crept into emails, conversations and conference calls.  Crept in like some kind of invasive species being harbored by the innocent.

“I’ll reach out.”  “We reached out.” “Let’s reach out.”

One crazily busy day I took notes and counted 20 occurrences … before noon.  I shuddered … we were in deep.

Conference calls were especially prone to it. Example

Call Leader Q: “What’s the status on X?

Someone, anyone A: “We’ve reached out to (any name/any department) but there’s no update available at this time.”

Call Leader Q: “What are your next steps?

Someone, anyone A: “We/I will  reach out again then we’ll reach back to you with an update.”

“Reach out.”

It officially had become the catch phrase for saying you’d done nothing at all.

It was the new cover.

Think about it .. it sounds so gentle that no one’s ever going to challenge it.  Let alone .. follow-up on it.

Oh good gravy.

It’s overdone, misused and now .. meaningless.

The funniest instance happened during a regularly scheduled call at a regularly scheduled time with regularly scheduled participants and a regular percentage therein who  regularly … were never heard from.

One such person was called upon.

A scuffling of papers and scraping sounds ensued.

The reply, “Uh .. sorry I was multi-tasking, could you repeat the question?”  Followed by a mumbled promise to reach out.

I reached out to ensure the phone’s mute button was fully engaged before I LOST it.  Lost it.  Laughed so hard I cried.  In my office. Pounding my desk.  Feeling like the only sane person in the asylum.   That’s when I knew I had to do something.  I couldn’t trust myself not to blurt out “Oh good gravy” on a call.

I paid attention to my words.

I steadfastly avoided the term.

I shared my feelings with my team and challenged all of us to use action words that actually meant something.  Words like: called, wrote, stopped by, checked in on, held a meeting with, followed up with, etc.  And, I also made sure everyone knew that if they were called upon and found they’d missed a step, they could admit it and we’d could go on.   The last thing I wanted was a team giving me mumbled promises about reaching out.

It’s taken time but there’s been a shift. Or maybe I’m desensitized. Not sure.

By all means reach out – but can we save it for charity, compassion, kindness, and … the Four Tops?

 

What particular office vernacular makes you cringe?  How are you at “touching base,” developing “synergies,” picking “low hanging fruit,” and “brainstorming?”

 

 

 

 

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Categories: Attitude, Determination, Growth, Joy, Life, Opinion, Personal, Thoughts, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Random Five Friday

It’s Friday! It’s random! Let’s go ….!

1.  Our trees are have peaked and with the rain this week many have let go.  There are still beautiful scenes to behold and yesterday I noticed another favorite of fall – that rich  autumn smell. The fresh smell of wet leaves and plants letting go of their summer glory.  The fragrance that reminds us all what Mother Earth smells like and all that she gives us.

Many scenes like this one right now google.images.com

Many scenes like this one right now google.images.com

2.  I’ve taken the past 3 days off.  Why?  Because after leading an 8 1/2 month project while also covering another’s duties for 7 of those same months, I hit the wall. Everyone around me asked the same questions: what are you taking time off for? Where are you going? Are you going away? What are you going to do with all that time???? And my answer was the same: nothing. I’m not committing to anything. I’m going to rest, read, rest and read, in that order.  And I have.  I don’t feel the urge to “fill up” every spare minute with more to do.   You?

3.  Heard this morning of that a friend’s Dad passed away last night.  That’s the stage of life we’re in now-a-days.  Most of us have (mostly) grown children + aging parents and there’s a whole lot of both. Tomorrow I’ll make up some soup & other foods and have Hubbs drop it off to the family.   Good thing I am rested and had that time off ~ see how that works?

4. Tomorrow marks 4 years of blogging. 4 years!  In my very first post “Who’s the turkey” I wrote about things that I still write today – Mom, cooking, traditions, personal, relationships, joys, life lessons, and faith.   Some topics can stand the test of time.

5. And this last photo is for my blogging buddy Dianna who writes at “These Days of Mine.”   She has a pair of wild swans who visit their yard in S.E. Virginia and when I saw this picture I had to snag it for her.  Taken in my home province of Saskatchewan, Canada earlier this fall, I call this one “Seven Swans a  Swimming.”   Millions of birds are very happy to summer “up north” where the world’s wheat basket is located.   And yes, there are only 68 days till Christmas!

photo credit: Owen Lasseur

photo credit: Owen Lasseur

How’s your week been?  Do you ever take time off just to “be?”  Are you seeing migratory birds in your neck of the woods?

Categories: Animals, Faith, Family, Friendship, Growth, Home, Joy, Life, Personal, Relationships, Thoughts, Women, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

The beautiful moment after the door closes

“Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn?  Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven’t the answer to a question you’ve been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you’re alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully.”
― Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

That beautiful moment after the door closes is here and today feels like it is mine, all mine.

an Emjayandthem (C) Photo

an Emjayandthem (C) Photo

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Faith, Gratitude, Growth, Life, Quotes, Relationships, Seasons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

R5F – Say Hey ~I love you

It’s Friday and time for 5 random thoughts ~ here we go:

1. Last night I stopped for groceries ahead of the weekend. Why? Those cute lil’ Cub Scouts who camp there on Saturdays, that’s why.  They’re adorable, irresistible and I am absolute putty in their hands. Yes, I dodged them and fully admit it.  Please forgive me.

popcorn_cub scouts

I don’t have a prayer against an army of cute. Google.images.com

2.  Have a couple of friends going through trying relationships of late.  It’s hard to witness because sometimes, as an “outsider,” you can see things the person “inside” cannot.  Doesn’t mean you can say anything though.

True that

True that!  Google.images.com

3.  We’ve had cooler temps lately but loads and loads of sunshine.  I don’t know about you but the sun shining just makes everything happier, brighter … and better.

There's a photo opp every 20 feet!  An Emjayandthem (C) photo

There’s a photo opp every 20 feet! An Emjayandthem (C) photo

4.  My cordless phone battery died.  You know the one that made us feel so “with it” cause we weren’t tethered anymore? Well here’s the kicker: no one sells cordless phone batteries now.  I can find a replacement online but .. is this a sign that people really have  dropped the land line?  I still have the (now-ancient) plug-in-the-phone-jack-and-work-without-batteries-phone.   When our power goes out and the cable/phone modem is kaput, it still works.  Hmm … perhaps the cordless phone is out and the land line remains!

Like this .. only beige.  Google.images.com

Like this .. only beige. Google.images.com

5.  Heard this song in an airport recently and I’ve been playing it ever since.  Check out Michael Franti & Spearhead singing a happy Reggae-inspired “Say hey I love you.”

 

And how was your week? Dodged any cute kids lately?  Any relationship advice to share? How are the temps in your neck of the woods?  Do you still have a land line?  Are you digging any new tunes of late? Do tell!

 

 

 

Categories: Food, Fun, Growth, Holidays, Humor, Joy, music, Opinion, Personal, Random, Rants, Thoughts, Useful Information | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Two for Tuesday ~ Resemblances

So there we were Sunday, oldest boy, grands and I, out shopping for Halloween costumes.  I know Halloween is weeks away but this happened to be a weekend where 1) he had the kids and 2) I didn’t have plans – whoop!

We started out slow but smart – at a Chinese buffet – Yum! The kids love that because they can each dish up whatever they like.  Later, an elderly couple stopped by to compliment them on their “nice” restaurant manners.  Apparently the kids they’d been seated to the night before were “beasts,” per the Grandmother. Yikes, glad that wasn’t the case for us.

Care to play along?  On Tuesdays, pick a topic and segue into it!

Care to play along? On Tuesdays, pick a topic and segue into it!

We arrived at the store and found our way to the Halloween display.  Now if you’re going shopping with me you need to know we try everything – all the displays, the sounds, the costumes, you name it.  We weren’t in a hurry and I think that’s what the kids like the most – we “moseyed” and they had time to point, laugh and be silly.

MJ ran right past the Princesses (yay!) and declared her choice: Supergirl.  AB hand-picked a white Ninja costume with, ahem, built in muscles.  Of course he had to get the $2.00 sword and she couldn’t resist the $4.00 bejeweled mask.    They stayed in costume the rest of the day :).

An Emjayandthem (C) photo

Kids spell love “T-I-M-E” ~ An Emjayandthem (C) photo

Talking over their Halloween plans, I mentioned growing up on a farm and how we couldn’t go “trick or treating” door to door – our nearest neighbor was a 1/2 mile away.  Instead, I told them that my Mom and Aunt would load us up in the Pontiac (with the heat on high) and we’d visit 4 or 5 farms (mostly relatives) where we’d sing a song (Billy Boy) and enjoy home-made treats. By the end of the night – and 5 farm visits later – we had a pillow case and a tummy full of treats.

Most of the time we made our costumes and we recycled year after year.  As we got older Mom would break down and let us buy a costume. Remember the plastic clothing? Freezing cold and guaranteed to rip 20 minutes into the wearing.  And those masks let us all experience our first full facial sweat.  Yuck.

google.images.com

google.images.com

Their excitement was palpable and it was in watching MJ’s facial expressions that I remembered a picture of me taken around that age.

this MJ at age 3; on the back, in my Mom's handwriting is "MJ and The Look!" An Emjayandthem (C) photo

THIS MJ at age 3; on the back, in my Mom’s handwriting is “MJ and The Look!” An Emjayandthem (C) photo

Compare to the cheeks on our MJ:

MJ on her 5th birthday ... look at that excitement!  An Emjayandthem (C) photo

MJ on her 5th birthday … look at the excitement! An Emjayandthem (C) photo

Come to think of it, I’ve always loved Halloween and the excitement that came with it.  I wasn’t a fan of the scary/gory stuff (still not) but the dressing up and the planning and the treats and the rest of it?  Bring it on!

Frankie hated Halloween. image from thebuzzmedia.com

Frankie hated Halloween. image from thebuzzmedia.com

How about you?  When you were a kid, did you make your costume? Ever recycle year over year?  Do you remember a full facial sweat in a gorilla mask?  What was the best home-made treat someone made then?  Do you see family resemblances across your generations? Do tell.

Related:

 

Categories: Animals, Family, Fun, halloween, Holidays, Life, Personal, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Random Pulaski Friday!

It’s Random! It’s Friday! Here are 5 random Friday thoughts ~

1. In addition to today being smack-dab in the middle of a 19 day event known as Art-Prize (an urban, open art festival /contest where what the people think matters most) today marks the start of “Pulaski Days!Celebrating Polish heritage, this is a weekend-long event of kielbasa, pierogies, holubchi (cabbage rolls), beer and of course, lots and lots of Polkas.  Tonight we’ll meet up with friends at one of the Polish halls and eat, laugh and, of course, get our Polka on! I’ll check out the “art” next week – or not.

2. Took a road trip to points north Wednesday.  My meeting started early afternoon so I had time to meet my Father-in-Law for lunch first. Arriving at a restaurant filled with Seniors,  I spotted him at a table about as far from the door as you could sit.  It was the seat you take when you don’t mind everyone knowing you have yourself a lunch date.   It’s also the kind of place where people like to linger because the food is good, the wait staff is friendly and nearly everyone gets called “Honey” or “Sweetie,'” at least once. We enjoyed a tasty meal and meandering conversations and I couldn’t help but think of her, my late Mother-in-Law, and how much she’d have loved that moment.

3.  On Facebook, have you ever noticed that friends & family share recipes of really yummy/naughty foods …  at night?  Sometimes my morning FB feed is filled up with cheese bread, caramel cake and pie recipes.  Right after the posts on workouts.  Hmmm.

4.  Speaking of workouts, I think I own most of them. I get bored easily. There was a time I was running, but then my knees started hurting.  Then came yoga, which I still like, but have never mastered.  Walking bores me and Zumba … well that’s just an epic fail. The only program I’ve stuck with is this one:  Kettleworx.  I found it in the clearance rack (that could have been a sign …) and gave it a go.  I started with the smallest weight and worked up.  The instructor is corny and the editing isn’t great, but it’s a 20 minute weights workout with a slow-enough pace that I can actually .. f-o-l-l-o-w along.  And you know what? It’s working.  I am stronger – noticeably so – and my clothes are looser.   Hmmm.

5. And finally, I have made no secret of the fact that I’m a list maker.  Always have a list. Yes I never find money in a winter coat pocket .. I find a list.   And this little saying here hits way too close to home.You?

oh yeah!

oh yeah!

How about you?  Have you ever danced a Polka? What’s your favorite? (Mine is “Idon’twantheryoucanhavehershestoofatforme)  Any cool doings in your town this weekend? Are you a late night recipe poster? What’s your workout of choice?  And lastly … can you remember a phone number without writing it down? :)

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Food, Fun, Humor, Joy, music, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Where dreams are born

Yes, yes I did :)

Yes, yes I did :)  Google images.com

Growing up in a farm family of five kids we not only rode in the back of a truck, we drank from the hose and the tap down at the barn.  We lived in a house with lead paint, climbed trees, jumped off barns, tied a toboggan to the back of the snowmobile and let ‘er rip, rode our ponies bareback and more.

I remember being around 12 and thinking it would be cool to smoke a cigarette – ick – glad that habit never stuck and no, I never smoked more than 1 or 2 puffs of it.  Cough! Gag! Sputter!  Bet you’ll never guess our hiding spot while we tried this out?  The hayloft.  Dry as tinder – surrounded by bales – and it made perfect sense at the time -but I shudder about that one now.

I also remember swimming in a fast moving river,  skating on a (mostly) frozen pond, snowmobiling by moonlight, mowing the lawn in flip flops and running quickly through the bull’s pasture.

We did it all and lived to tell the tale   My kids have only done a few of these things and the grands, even less. Somehow I’m not so sure that’s a good thing.

The freedom I grew up with gave us opportunities to make decisions for ourselves – good and bad.  We learned the consequences of our actions.  We saw what can happen when things go terribly wrong.   We saw what can happen when …  they don’t.

When my brothers and sisters and I reminisce about these adventures, Mom just shakes her head and covers her ears.

Google.images.com

Google.images.com

How about you? Did you survive … or thrive?  What was the last thing you did that made you feel like a kid again?

 

 

Categories: Animals, Attitude, Confidence at any age, Determination, Faith, Family, Gratitude, Growth, Home, Life, Life Lessons, Opinion, Personal, Random | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Quiet islands

I read once that a Sunday well-spent brings a week of content.

shh_Sunday

I completely agree.

However – having taken Friday off – I actually had Sunday .. yesterday.

Waking to a quiet house – hubbs golfing and youngest boy working – I poured my coffee and took a seat in the screened-porch.  Listening to the birds chirp and caw, I reveled in the peace and quiet.  Later I meandered back inside to a stack of magazines and let the sunlight warm me as the page flipping began.

When it was time to dress for an evening meal out with friends, I felt as rested and restored as a day at the spa might bring .. without the cost.

I don’t know what all this week has in store for me but I am thankful to have had two Sundays ahead of it.

quote-sundays-quiet-islands-on-the-tossing-seas-of-life-s-w-duffield-341670

Do you keep a small part of a Sunday for yourself?

 

Categories: Faith, Home, Opinion, Personal, Relationships, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Wisdom, Women | Tags: , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Random Five Friday ~ September’s end, just like that

It’s Friday! It’s Random! Let’s go.

1. Got a flu shot yesterday. It hurt. It still does.  The end.

2. A co-worker recently moved back from a stint out East. Great guy, experienced, kind, and funny as what.  He’s a big guy, about 6’4″ with an equally big voice. His office is next to mine and he has a tendency to land in my doorway, all Kramer-like, and startle me .. at least once a day. But I love it.  We laugh, we talk and we share stories about our lives, our families and our frustrations.  It goes kinda like this:

3. Remember last week when I bought the Honey crisp apples?  Well .. sorry to say but these were picked on the green side.  Now this is a deliciously sweet and crispy apple.  But these … weren’t sweet at all.  So I had no choice, really. It was destiny that they find their way into an Apple crisp.  My office-mates sure were happy yesterday :).

You know I brought Iced Cream, too :)

You know I brought Iced Cream, too :)

4. I took today off.   It’s going to be 76F and sunny, and we all know what’s coming.  Sometimes, in the face of deadlines, conference calls and project updates, you just have to go for it.

Google.images.com

Google.images.com

5.  Arriving home last night, I heard a dog barking. Not a bark I know.  You see, when you live in a place for a while you get to know the barks of the neighborhood There’s the yippity-yappity dog 2 doors down who we’ve have come to ignore because she’s the kind of dog who barks …to bark. Then there’s the big hearty husky with a mournful howl who always makes me a bit sad when I hear him.

But this was different.

I looked outside and saw him…. right across the street. The neighbor’s dog .. the one who is never out on his own. Never. Not in the 10 years they’ve had him. And there he was .. pacing, barking, kind-of wagging and then – wait – and there he was out in the road looking hopefully to each passing car …

“Oh no,” I thought, grabbing Frankie’s leash.

We don’t know these people well .. he’s a bit .. off.   The kids go from this house to their Mom’s house and back again. But I remembered the last name from mailbox mix ups and Googled a phone number for the grandparents who live nearby.

He barked hard at me … and when I set some water down, he promptly followed me back to my doorstep where he sat as I dialed.

“It’s o.k.” I said.  “You’ll be all right,” I said.

Thankfully the Grandma answered. (That’s the thing about older people, they still have land lines and they still answer the phone!) Quickly the daughters were dispatched from where-ever they’d been back to the old guy leaning against me. His tail wagged and tears fell,  including my own.

And once again I found myself thinking that life has a way of putting us right where we were meant to be.

The poor old boy gave me a full-body lean while we waited.  An Emjayandthem (C) photo

He trembled as he waited.  An Emjayandthem (C) photo

And how was your week?  Any “Kramers” in your world?  Do you get a flu shot? Have you made any furry friends lately?

 

Categories: Animals, Attitude, Determination, Faith, Family, fear, Gratitude, Life, Personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Monday, Monday

google.images.com

google.images.com

What a great weekend!  Stayed in with Hubbs Friday, visited Grandpa Saturday, and cozied in that night, too.   It rumbled, rained and roared most of Sunday and ~ yep, you guessed it, I stayed in then, too.

Cooked, read, cleaned and rested.

There’s nothing bad about today, I’m just not ready to let my weekend go.

You?

 

Categories: Animals, Fun, Growth, Life, music, Personal, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Work | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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