Managing it All

Okay, so I’m a manager. There are 20 employees that work at the hotel and I am somehow supposed to keep the peace, encourage, discipline, watch, trust, calm, compliment and otherwise do all those things with employees managers must do.

When I got the job, as ecstatic as I was, I was unprepared and have honestly… been winging it ever since. Some good advice has come my way, some good books have graced my kindle and some good and bad experiences have helped me grow into a Manager I truly believe I would like to work for (most of the time).

The other day though… I found a blog I really want to put out there. Many of her posts are exactly how I feel and others were lightbulbs popping on. So here it is:

http://www.askamanager.org

Managing my personal life however… I’m not sure any book could help with! With two kids, the dogs, horses, cats, house and acreage to care for… my husband and I are often ready to crash right into bed. So worth it though. Time management at home could be better handled (so could the dust in some corners) but we like our full plates.

This weekend I am taking a vacation day to clean the trailer, house, dogs & horses. Why take a vacation day for it? So this weekend we can get away from it all!

As much as I love my job, I have not had a vacation in almost 2 years. When his family comes to town our game plan is for me to spread my two week vacation out over their month long visit and still work 2-3 days a week.

But this weekend is ours. That’s how you manage it all. Make sure there are days that are YOURS. Not the kids, friends, families. Yours.

Careers give us focus, but they serve a purpose. To provide. If you do not take advantage of that then what is the point of it all?

My phone may still ring while we are out on the trail but that’s cool. I’ll manage.

That’s what I do.

The sun sets on a great ride.

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The Rain has Come

Finally. After wildfires and barren pastures the earth in Oklahoma (and most of the midwest) is moist again.

My husband and I went riding today in between downpours. We love this weather. The cool breezes, gentle rain and brisk air. Did a few turns around the acreage and turned in when the thunder started back up.

However, I did drop my phone and didn’t realize it until we were back in the house. He made a run for it and saved my precious Cobalt. (I named my phone, it is to smart to be nameless)

The horse were frisky but well behaved and the dogs enjoyed tackling each other in the thirsty grass.

The kids had a marvelous morning finding eggs hidden around the house. Normally we do this outside but with the rain our options were limited. The baby is finally old enough to enjoy the hunt and once all the eggs had been collected her sister distracted her long enough for us to hide them again so she could keep having fun.

Now to keep them from becoming overnight chocoholics…

A beautiful day in so many ways.

Next weekend we are going camping for two days with the horses and after that his family is coming to visit.

The trailer is almost up to par for where we want it. Long term goals are hi-ties as well as some other nifty gadgets. For now though she is almost ready and looking great.

I sanded down and repainted all her minor rust spots, husband redid some of the wiring and we stocked it up.

Did a trial run with the horses last weekend and they loaded just fine. Flash took a bit more cajoling but once he realized this wasn’t the average sardine can we had had to load him in all went well. Especially as we let them hand graze each time they got in and out without fuss.

Sometimes we get caught up in our own little world and as we worked with the horses, I felt such gratitude that we have horses. That we have what we have. All the turmoil in the world right now, our lit bit of acreage is seemingly apart from it.

We know it isn’t though and we must treasure every moment that is ours to cherish.

The rain came and washed away the ashes of the fire, the dust from months of dry days, and soon everything will be green and blooming.

Today was a good day.

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Sleep eludes me.

While working on a project (Photos printed on magnets for our new trailer) I was sorting through my… many… digital photos. NOT the smartest thing for me to do right before bed.

There are so many pictures of Annie, missing for 11 months. Right now I can still say she was with us this time last year… that is a milestone I do not want to hit.

Photos of me skinny(ier), friends that are no longer here, horses pre-scarring injuries…

Yet, also photos of the children growing, laughing, playing. My husband and his family. Our dogs and cats enjoying a lazy life.

The good out weighs the bad but I battle melancholy and sometimes wonder if perhaps I take to many photos. Perhaps some of the sadness for past events would fade faster without so many reminders.

Then I find a photo that captures a wonderful moment that might have been forgotten and it reminds me not just of that moment, but that I am grateful for all the photos because while yes, I have my hurts mixed in, I don’t want to forget them.

Who wants to forget their mothers eyes? Moments of a friendship that has parted ways but was wonderful when it was there? The golden eyes of a beloved dog that may yet come home or the warm brown ones of the dog that is long buried? A daughter’s smile and her sister’s laugh…

So it wasn’t the brightest idea to rifle through photographs before bed… but as I ramble before going to sleep… I realize that I am one of those people that likes to move on by having something to look back on. Whether with smiles or tears and hopefully a good mix of both.

Thank you, Louis-Jacques-Mande Daguerre.

Why no photos shown in a blog post about pictures? That would be because right now I can’t just pick one and this is not the place to overwhelm people with our family memories in living color. Just know my girls are way prettier than me, my dogs are amazingly cute, the horses are amazingly awesome and my husband is the best.

And those pictures remind me of that and much more.

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Back in the Saddles

Today’s horse activities went great. Now that King is Vet confirmed sound and raring to go, we hit the round pen. Perhaps not the most thrilling event but a good way to test how he is feeling, moving and all that. Other than needing to work on bending again… he was in good spirits and fun to work with. Didn’t stay on to long, it has been a few months since I rode and did not want to jump on and work him down from the get go.

We did some relaxing exercises to see if any needed some reworking but he was on his game. Sidepassing was great, gate was great, whoa from a trot could use a few steps less but he is doing it without rein pressure and I’m happy with that.

Afterwards he helped me clean up some trash that had blown into our pasture. Pool noodles and trash bags oh my!

Trash Day

  Ending on a good note and hitching King up with the others I headed in for some water and to watch them stand tied for a while. Now that we have a trailer and can  hit the wild blue yonder (well… the well maintained blue yonder that is) we figured we needed them to get used to just standing there for a while. As all three fell asleep in the breezy sunlight I’m not to worried on this part quite yet.

My husband isn’t the trainer type guy so he asked me to work on some of Flash’s stuff once I was done riding King, so once they were done napping I headed back out and lunged Flash for a few minutes in the round pen where he was happy to get some energy out. Once mounted we simply worked on backing (rusty), stopping (perfect) and maintaining momentum (lazy).

He was a perfect team-mate today and the main thing Tom asked me to work on we made progress with: Side passing. Flash has never really understood the point of this and his rider (cough) never really pushed it. But watching King and I handle gates and manuever in tougher spots I think has shown him it is a valuable tool for his partner’s repertoire.

Not wanting to push Flash too much we only worked on it for a little while and I stopped once he was doing a diagonal walk. Progress is progress!

Basically it was wonderful to be riding again and honestly, I wish I had done more with Flash’s training while King was on medical leave. Two months would have done a heck of a lot and I think Tom would have felt better about our upcoming trail ride in public.

Bad me. I have some work to do!

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Surprising Journey

So we headed out on Saturday to fetch home our new trailer and visit a few people along the way. Future tip to myself: Do not drive 2000 miles in 4 days with 2 kids. Amazingly… they were actually very good- we just felt very bad for them and made sure to have some nice surprises along the way.

We were able to visit my uncle and his family, rekindle an old friendship, see some beautiful parts of America and hide from a tornado in the coolest place: A NASA museum.

On the trip there we made plans to see my old friend from Germany and meet her husband. It has been 19 years since I have seen her and thanks to facebook she found me and we have been getting re-aquainted. Meeting at a German restaurant seemed the right thing to do and it was wonderful. First they joined us at a nice park we found for the kids to expend some energy in and chatted up the husbands and quizzed each other on current likes, dislikes, politics (Gasp!) and so on.

Not much has changed! We were both pretty surprised to find out we had even more in common than we did back then (some life experiences, not just personality wise) and it made for some interesting conversation. The food was great, the kids had fun and both my husband and I left knowing these were two people that we would make an effort to see and keep in touch with.

The second day ended with us visiting my family for an evening of bbq, games and fun. It has been 3 years since we got to see them and it was wonderful. None of them had met the baby yet and my oldest is so different at 8 than she was at 5.

My cousins are now taller than me and that is just not fair. They have turned out pretty fabulous if I do say so myself. I’m proud of both of them. Both boys, it will be interesting to see what happens the first time one of them gets serious with a girlfriend!

The next morning we headed the eight miles to pick up our new trailer and sooo exciting. It was better than advertised and we were surprised at how little work we will have to do to it. Sandpaper and paint away some rust spots (steel trailers are worth it imho), add two high ties, get the normal accessories (chock, wheel lock, trailer aid, first aid kits, etc…) and of course personalize it!

Our friends we had had lunch with the day before told us about the NASA museum in Huntsville and suggested meeting us there when they realized how much my daughter loved astronauts and space. It was a bit of a detour but she had earned it and honestly, we knew we would love it, too!

Arriving at 3:30, we headed for the Saturn complex where she could see an example of the huge rockets that had blasted our men and women into space. It was amazing, but twenty minutes in a guy starts running around telling everyone to go to the auditorium. There was a tornado with more possible rotations spotted!

Naomi & NASA explaining the tornado sighting!

The worst part was our friends were out driving in it on their way to NASA to see us. When they didn’t answer their phone at first it was pretty nerve-racking. They finally got there and a few minutes later the employees signalled the all clear and we started exploring again.

Bigger

Their's is bigger.

By the time we got out of the museum it was time for dinner and we once again headed to a German restaurant (thought a different one and parking was much harder with a trailer!). The extra time to visit made our day and saying good-bye sucked, but it was again worth renewing that friendship.

That night we put the trailer to the test and camped out in it at an RV park. While it wasn’t the perfect night we learned how to make sure the next time is. On our way home we found another fantastic park for the kids to play in in Arkansaw.

The oldest one is almost done with the second Harry Potter book and I’m about to finish The Land of Painted caves. Long road trips have their benefits!

Around 9pm we rolled in our driveway and crashed, glad to have made the trip safely.

As always, very grateful to our wonderful friends for taking care of our dogs and horses while we were away. They are the best.

Things I learned:

You can never have to many gold fish or Milanos.

Drinking to much water IS possible when it is night and all rest stops look scary.

Seeing family is worth the road trip.

Renewing old friendships can be a great experience.

Make sure the estimated schedule includes diaper changing pit stops.

NASA is a great place to be stuck during a tornado watch.

My kids are awesome. Wait, I already knew that…

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Talk about a bi-polar day

Full of ups and downs, this Friday had some of my best highs and worst lows that my job can offer. People impressed me, depressed me, surprised me and did as expected in both good and bad ways.

Some decisions are so hard and painful even though you know they are the right ones. Others are easy because they are right, but hard to explain to the very people you are doing it for.

We are undergoing so many changes and I am proud of the ones that handled it with grace, understanding of those that have questions and grateful for the ones who support the new way we are headed together as a team.

It is still hard some of the other issues that did come up however and while the majority of the day had great results, we did have one depressing moment that I was hoping against.

In the end though, the team we have is strong and I am lucky to work with them.

To rubber band the other way, I am very excited about tomorrow. My husband, daughters and I are road tripping to pick up our long-awaited horse trailer (years in the waiting) and getting to see loved ones as well. Most of the time will be on the road- but even a few hours with those you miss is worth the extra effort.

Reminding myself it is not wrong to be excited about good things in my life when so many others are facing obstacles is hard, but today I just can’t let other people’s choices take away my joy.

We’ve waited a long time to be able to get this trailer and worked hard for it and I am thrilled our patience paid off. The whole new to me for a used trailer is so true.

Tack Around

The Awesome Tack Room allows the horses to load and unload with full access to the rear thereby not having to load through a small opening. They can also turn around to unload by walking out. The tack room is rounded and has no edges for the horse to hit. Our 3 horse Double D

The graphics are brown like our truck and it has an awning and sink with walk through door to the horse area.

Nothing fancy but perfect for what we wanted and I love it!

Can’t wait until the time comes where I’m showing pictures of it hooked up to our truck Denna with our horses happily munching hay.

So now I am going to go to bed knowing that I’ve done my best with the right intentions and that in two days I will get to hug and hang out with some of my favorite people. My family. Even though it will only be one afternoon, I will cherish it.

Also… I am very grateful to have such wonderful friends who whole heartedly jumped in to love after our dogs, cats & horses while we are away. Thank you!

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On another note…

I love my husband. That is all. Because he is awesome. That is all. Really.

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Get er done.

It is silly but… it took me 30 years to realize making a bed can be symbolic. Making my bed always seemed like a waste. To me mornings were for jumping up, dashing to the bathroom, scrubbing things that needed it, dressing, eating and heading to school/work/ride/play.

The next time I viewed my bed was as I prepared to jump in it and sleep again. So what was the point?

Two months ago someone told me they made their bed because it started the day with a sense of accomplishment. Okay okay… a small one, but still, she had completed a task.

A few days later I saw my husband making the bed and he shrugged and said, he just felt like doing it. Well, I couldn’t let him show me up! No, Sir!

The next morning when he came in the room it was already done and I winked at him. That day I seemed to get more done than usual. Not that I don’t take pride in my work on a normal basis, but it was a good day.

Soon I realized that on days I made the bed… I liked the feeling of having completed a task already. It was a good feeling and once at work I wanted to repeat it. While the big stuff always gets done the little things that seemed to trifling to do right that moment became another way to say… I got that much more done. Such a minor thing and yet… by NOT finishing something else I would lose it. So I seemed more determined to not let something slide to the back burner.

She was right. Talk about a light bulb for me. Such a silly thing to me and yet… it has started to be the kick start to my day. Now I worry if I don’t bother to do the simple task of making my bed, what else will I wiggle out of??? So the bed gets made, I feel like I accomplished something and to hold on to that I make sure I get even more tasks done.

While I shall say, once again, I am NOT stating I didn’t get anything done before. It has become just that little oomphf to my day that often gets juuuussst onnnne more thing done at work. To keep it going.

Being honest here!

So kiddos… make your bed. Mama was right.

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Don’t mess up a compliment!

As a manager, let me tell you, I love sharing positive reviews and comments with my employees. However, as a little tip for those out there who may one day read this:

Do NOT… when told a customer e-mailed how great you were doing _(insert action here)_, and that you made their day by doing _(insert awesome above and beyond duty here)_, tell your manager that,”That must be from Mr. & Mrs. Studebaker! They were so nice!”

Why you ask? Unless it was a very unique circumstance, if the compliment is for doing something that is part of your job, by actually knowing which customer sent in that e-mail you are telling me one of these three things:

1. You don’t normally do your job, so the one time you did it you remember who you helped. This implies that this is not a normal effort for you. If this situation comes up… the correct response is,” I wish I remembered who it was, I did _________ for so many people last week I can’t place them!”

2. You didn’t actually do it and you had a friend contact corp or e-mail me. WORSE, you had a friend post a positive review for us. Why is that worse? It makes us untrustworthy and you untrustworthy to our potential customers.

3. You asked the customer to do it. This isn’t the worst of the three, but you don’t want us to KNOW YOU ASKED them or for us to think it! Let us believe the customer did it all themselves.

Just a friendly tip. I would rather think my employees help so many people that they don’t automatically know if they got a compliment it is “this” person. Us managers want to believe you are out there wowing every customer. So if you aren’t, help us keep the illusion, eh?

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My Mother

This will be short, I really cannot bear crying much more. Not that I have tonight but on the 26th I could have rivaled Niagara Falls.

It was the 8th anniversary of my mother’s death due to multiple causes. Smoking being the major unifying theme.

While she got to hold one of her grand babies, we never shared a mother’s day or learned about each other as mothers on a more level ground. There were no phone calls asking her if I did that as a baby or bragging about her grandchild’s milestones.

My uncle put together a wonderful video of clips showing my mom through her childhood years and it was beautiful. The next day he sent me a message saying my mom was beautiful, and fun, and a wonderful person. Remember that and smile.

He is so right. At the end he had added in the poem I wrote the day she died and I was glad to know that I can now read it with a smile and not heartache. Well, not the overwhelming all-consuming kind. The ache will always be there.

I miss you, Mama.

~ ~ ~

I am the breeze across your skin,
I am the heartbeat from within,
I am the music that stirs your soul,
I am the will you will never let go.

I am in the sky, I am in the sea…
I am in the grass, and I am in the trees.
I am everywhere you will ever be,
so please, don’t you cry for me.

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