Monday, April 12, 2021

Another One of Those Things...

Just as I had never imagined myself as the type to enjoy living in a little village the only shops of which are a BILLA and a horse (!) butcher, nor as someone who'd bake her own bread (have not bought bread at a bakery or supermarket this year at all), I always found "gardening" one of the top 5 most boring subjects of conversation and pitied people whose lives seemed controlled by the need to water their plants, rake leaves, protect vegetables and flowers from hailstones, etc. Having a garden of my own was never a priority of mine, but ever since the rocket salad I planted last year grew like weed and survived the winter frost I got a little hooked and asked Highflyer to "donate" a stretch of lawn to my project. I have now sown a medley of edible and purely decorative stuff, partly forgetting which I distributed where and am now waiting for those flowers and vegetables to slowly emerge from the soil. I'm taking a very chilled approach and the garden furniture I ordered weeks ago and which is scheduled to arrive later this week probably excites me more, but still: the joy of a (tiny) garden! This pandemic has changed me in more ways than I would ever have imagined and I'm not mad about it...

Monday, April 05, 2021

Opposites Attract


These days, when you hear the word "test", the first association is probably "Covid test". Well, we've been taking plenty of those, too, recently, but I got Highflyer a different, and more expensive, kind of test for his birthday. Well, actually it was more a present for myself and I felt slightly guilty as he bravely clicked through all 177 questions while I kept him motivated with the promise of dinner. It was the Gallup/Clifton Strenghtsfinder test that I'd been eager for him to take for a long time. If you have ever worked in a corporate environment in general, and in an L&D environment in particular, you will have come across different types of questionnaires that are used as a team building instrument. They focus on preferences, psychological wiring, leadership and communication skills and are called HBDI, DISC, Insights Discovery, PCM, Wingfinder, etc., etc. My personal favourite has always been the Strenghtsfinder (fun fact: some colleagues of mine pronounce it "strangefinder") assessment that evaluates your strengths and talents and, among other things, lets others (i.e. your team mates when used in a work environment) understand better why you are so good and quick at certain things while you really dislike and are not great at others. There are 34 strengths (in the cheaper version you only get your top 5) and I have experienced that people can really relate to their results. My top 2 are "adaptability" and "empathy" and I can definitely relate. 
Why was I so interested in getting Highflyer to take the questionnaire? Well, because I was convinced (and ultimately was proven right) that his strengths would be very different from mine. It turned out that his top two, "analytical" and "harmony" are in fact at the very bottom of MY list, i.e. 34 and 33 out of 34 whereas my top two rank in the bottom third of his list. Is that a good thing or a bad thing now? You can interpret it either way, but I personally find it fascinating as I find it proof for the theory that a) opposites attract and b) that people who are apparently wired really differently complement one another in the best possible ways. In fact, we have not had a single disagreement in all the time we've known each other (the past 12 months of which we've spent more or less joint at the hip, thanks to this pandemic) and are so great at communicating I often catch myself thinking "wow, it can just be so easy! Who'd have known!". I don't think we could be more different in the way we approach things and our general look on life, but we are actually an example of the main message of using this evaluation in a team setup, i.e. that in order for a team to be successful and work well, you should not hire people who all share the same strengths, but combine different ones. Yep, not only works in the workplace.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Memorable. Or Maybe Not.


Last week I sent a friend a birthday present by post. For the second time. It was also Highflyer's birthday yesterday, the second in a row when the only option we had was to celebrate it at home. Last March, when I had no idea that my birthday 10 months later would happen during a lockdown, least of all his next one, it seemed a very "unique" and "memorable" experience that he could tell his grandchildren about (provided his children will produce any). 
I even ordered the first ever photo book of my life last summer and entitled it Lockdown Memories. It was a Christmas present for Highflyer (and yes, I am THAT annoying person who is super organised with her presents and has them months in advance) and by the time I selected the best photos of Spring 2020 I had no idea what Winter 2020 would look like. It still turned out really well and I get pretty nostalgic looking at it. But still, Hello, Groundhog Day! I guess there should be a saying along the likes of "Be careful what you consider memorable"...

Monday, March 22, 2021

Somewhat Unreal. Still, Or Again. Not Sure.

 

Last Spring, at the beginning of the pandemic I got seriously stressed by following the news obsessively and soon chose an approach of only very selectively consuming (serious, official) news for the sake of my mental stability and sanity. It was all too crazy and uncontrollable, it seemed. Recently, I have reverted to the same "censored" approach and tried to suppress my urge to refresh news headlines several times a day. We're back to experts warning about ICUs reaching a critical level of patients and my parents still don't know when they will be vaccinated. I'm still my chirpy old self, mainly, but I am really, REALLY beginning to get sick of "the situation" stretching like some stale old chewing gum and would not mind some...ANY...good news for a change rather than the same depressing and alarmist headlines. No, scratch that, what I actually want is a timeline or certainty. Will we ever be able to meet large(r) groups of friends indoors again without worrying that one of them will carry a potentially lethal virus? Will socialising be allowed before we have all lost our remaining social skills and/or have become too afraid of meeting more than 2 people at any given time? Will we hear again this summer that next summer everything will be back to normal and we'll be able to travel freely again? There's only so many times I can hear, not to mention believe, this promise...

Monday, March 15, 2021

Compartmentalisation

It has been one year that I've lived (!) and worked (!!) predominantly in Highflyer's house. It does not look nearly the same as it did when I moved in last March...without knowing in the least that it would be MOVING IN. It was only supposed to be a temporary solution for that temporary (insert ironic chuckle) pandemic situation. We all know how that turned out. 
I have long since turned one of the "children's rooms" as designated by the house's previous owners into my office and equipped it with a proper chair, desk, monitor, etc. The other room has become my sewing/ironing/reading room.
There's frequent talk of people being so sick of those long months of working from home and many of my friends an colleagues actually feel the same. I often think the only reason why I have not yet tired of it to the same extent and I don't tend to feel too stressed even though my workload definitely has not decreased is the fact that I manage to switch off (work) quite easily. I am in the privileged situation of having a separate office room both here and in my flat in Vienna, rather than just a corner in some other room. 
After work I put my laptop on lock screen, put my work phone that I also use as a mobile hotspot away, close the door to my office and don't actually go into that room until the next morning, pretty much the same like a regular office. If your living arrangements allow you to do the same and you are not a heart surgeon or epidemiologist advising some government or other so that you need to be on call 24/7, I can wholeheartedly recommend this approach. By literally stepping away from work in the evening, I tend to not give a thought to it until I wake my laptop up from its sleep the next morning.

Monday, March 08, 2021

Momentum. Kind of.

 

Due to the fact that I studied English at university, a subject that most students take with the goal of becoming a teacher eventually, and made quite a few friends during my studies, many of my friends are teachers. This means that as of last week, they are among the "chosen few" among the Austrian population who have received the first dose of their Covid vaccine. Not even my parents (aged 70+, with my father being in the high-risk group as well) even have a date when they will get their shots. 
What until recently seemed very abstract with me actually only knowing one person (my cousin, who is a doctor) in this country who has been vaccinated, is now becoming real and I feel that we're gaining a bit of momentum towards some kind of normality, eventually. There are days when rising infection rates, warnings by medical staff that ICU beds might again become scarce soon and news about yet another new virus mutation makes me feel powerless and afraid that we're now stuck in some kind of pandemic "Groundhog Day" situation forever. The fact that my friends are getting vaccinated (and reported no side effects at that) gives me a bit of hope.

Monday, March 01, 2021

Ten Steps Ahead

 

I've been engaged for almost 10 months now, having said "yes" just after Lockdown number 1. At that time, any kind of planning for any future event seemed futile and we had decided to combine the wedding with our 100th, aka respective 50th birthdays (happening next year) anyway. The only thing that was decided right away was that we (okay, make that I) knew that it would happen in or close to my native Klagenfurt, preferably by the lake. So far, so good. Now that people have started asking me if we had a date and or/location yet, I refreshed that browser tab with a wedding location website that I had last visited months ago, only to find that one place I had had my eyes on was no longer listed. I've since found others, with one in particular and have actually already received an offer. Baby steps and I am still not in full on planning mode, but there is one thing I weirdly have begun thinking about in idle moments: my speech. It is the one thing that is not time-sensitive and as I am not a planner by nature and take pride in the fact that I don't need notes when holding a speech, I could totally just wing it. As I feel that I have a lot to say about the love I not only feel for the groom, but so many people in my life who have shaped that half-century, it's something I like to think about and I've made a few mental notes. Fast forward to 2022 and we might not have a date, nor a suitable location, but there will definitely be a speech ready to be held.

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