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Christmas in July

July 12, 2018

sprig of hollyI know it is still six months before the winter holidays and New Year’s. But I wanted to tell you this news.

During the months of July, August, September, Operation Santa Claus is in full swing packaging up gift boxes to ship to soldiers, sailors, and air crew who are deployed during the winter holiday season.

This year, Bloomex has partnered with the Canadian Armed Forces to help promote their Operation Santa Claus initiative by providing customizable gift cards to accompany the gift boxes.

Canadians can go online, create a card (for free!) and have it sent overseas to deployed troops.

Help spread a little holiday cheer to the men and women who have to be away from their families during such a special time. It is a huge morale boost for Armed Forces members to know that the work they do at home and abroad is appreciated by all Canadians.

The deadline for creating a card is 3 August so be sure to make one (or many) today!

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Toastmasters: Ice-Breaker

July 3, 2018

I joined Toastmasters this year to help me develop better public speaking skills. I decided to publish my speeches on my blog. You’ll find them under the Toastmasters category.

The first Toastmaster’s speech is the “ice-breaker”. Members are supposed to use this speech to introduce themselves to their Toastmaster’s club. After a few weeks of thinking about how best to do this, I came up with:

I identify as a heterosexual, cis-gender female; a descendant of white European colonial settlers.

Yes — after weeks of thinking, that is all I came up with. Then I started to research why it was so hard for me to talk about myself. I did some personality analysis — that’s right analysis and research — and determined that my personality type is INTJ.

That led me to do a personality typing quiz from 16personalities.com. The 16Personalities quiz, which takes about 10-15 minutes of your time, is based on the Myers-Briggs framework as well as the Big Five personality types. You may have come across these kinds of categorizations in your workplace but for those of you who have not, I will explain.

The 16Personalities test divides your personality into four main factors; Mind, Energy, Nature, and Tactics each with its own sliding scale.

Mind

The first scale is for MIND and measures how we act in our surroundings and indicates the degree of introversion or extroversion. I lean towards introversion. Actually, I lean very heavily on the introversion side of the scale. I prefer solitary activities and although I do attend social events, I find them very draining. I much prefer small groups to large parties.

My youth was spent reading books, playing with my dog or having one friend over for a play date. When I was young, I was extremely pleased when we went to our summer cottage with no electricity, no running water, and very few people around! I prefer non-team sports such as swimming or horse riding. Often, introverts think animals are better than people.

Energy

The Energy category reveals how we see the world. The two sides to this scale are Intuitive (N) and Observant (S). Intuitive people rely on their imagination, ideas, and possibilities while the Observants focus on the actual world and things happening around them. I found that I am closest to the Intuitive N side.

Intuitive people, love research (I had to research how to do a speech about myself) and learning and discovering new things. However, I’m not totally over to the N side of the scale. I do have some Observant (S) tendencies. I love my routines and I value highly practical and realistic solutions to any problems that I’m trying to solve but I prefer to find new and innovative solutions to solve those problems.

It’s no surprise that my curiosity and problem-solving desires led me into the sciences. I had thought about being an astronaut (until I experienced riding roller coasters). After that, engineering appealed to me. However, my Observant tendencies prevented me from seeing more than three dimensions in 2nd year university multi-dimensional calculus. I ended up with a M.Sc. in Food Chemistry.

Nature

The Nature scale reveals how we deal with emotions and what role they play in our decision-making. People on the Thinking side, prefer logic and rational arguments. They follow their heads rather than their hearts. People on the Feeling side follow their hearts and express emotions easily.

I’m very strongly on the Thinking side. Here’s how Thinking people deal with their emotions.

They don’t.

This tends to give us the reputation of being cold-hearted. We’re not, we just prefer that rationality over-rule personal feelings about something. If you’re looking to sell a Thinking person something, don’t try to get us to feel how good it is. Tell us the specs and we’ll decide whether or not it is worth the money.

Thinking people expect logical and rational thought processes to drive all arguments and tend to become extremely frustrated with those who defend their position because they feel it’s just right. On the other hand, Thinking people will easily change their mind on a subject if you present logical, well-thought out arguments backed-up by references in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Tactics

The two ends of the Tactics scale are Judging (J) and Prospecting (P). They describe our approach to work, planning, and decision-making. Judging people value structure, clarity, predictability, organization, and planning. Prospectors are flexible and relaxed. They are nonconformists who prefer keeping their options open and spotting opportunities.

I am very much on the Judging side of the scale. I love order, structure, and the scientific method! Besides the M.Sc., I also have a Certificate in Records and Information Management and I was an organizing and productivity consultant for almost 10 years.

Many of you might be asking how I cope with the erratic uncertainty that is military life. The answer is: I have a plan! Actually, I have many plans. My imagination (N factor) has gone into overdrive and imagined every possibility and created a plan for each one and discussed them in great detail with all of the people inside my head.

My Type – INTJ

Based on this quiz my personality type is INTJ, The Architect. Famous INTJs you may know include Star Trek’s Mr. Spock and Seven of Nine, and Dr. House.

If there are INTJs in your life, here’s a humorous article that might help you understand how to relate to them.

And now you know all about me…

I identify as a heterosexual, cis-gender female; a descendant of white European colonial settlers with an INTJ personality.

Kudos to military kids

April 15, 2018
201804_army_kids

I’m so proud of these two! Photo by: Mianafrey.com

Back in 1986, the US Secretary of Defense, Casper Weinberger, declared April as the Month of the Military Child to recognize and appreciate the children of military families who cope with the challenges of frequent moves, family separations, and life transitions.

I haven’t before mentioned this here on my blog because I have tried to keep my children’s life private. However, now they are both adults and I’d like to take some time to tell you how amazing they both are.

Two years ago, I wrote Leaving the Nest, about how our son moved to university in Canada while we were living in England. I wrote again about how he moved from university residence into his own apartment. He is doing very well. Not only is he maintaining high marks at school, he’s volunteering at an animal shelter, and doing all his own housework including cooking all meals, cleaning, laundry, etc. He just became a “cat parent” too!

Our daughter, having done secondary school in three different countries in three years, meant that she had to collect a few more credits in order to graduate from high school in Canada. This summer she heads off to college in Kingston while we remain in Winnipeg. She is really looking forward to her program and already has a list prepared of things she has to take with her.

Here are a few qualities that I’ve seen in my military children:

Resourcefulness: Living far away from extended family, military children learn to cope with many things on their own. They are not hesitant to call on a friend for assistance when needed.

Alone-ness: Military kids are used to living in places where they haven’t yet made any friends or watching their friend move away. They are comfortable being alone.

Friend-making: Military kids move very often and are used to making new friends in new places. Because they know their time is short in a specific location, they learn to judge character quickly.

World Issues: Because military kids have been to many different places and met many different people, they tend to have a larger world view and can understand the global impact of issues such as war, immigration, political systems, etc.

Travelling: Navigating through airports, train stations, foreign cities is a challenge but military kids seem to be quite capable of doing this without encountering too much difficulty. They are aware of personal security issues and know how to keep themselves safe. From the time they were about 8 years old, they were able to pack a suitcase for overnight or for several weeks.

Moving: Our kids moved seven times before they were 20 years old. They know how to pack and unpack everything in a house. They can get set up in their own place with ease.

Organizational Skills: Living a military life means planning, lists, and being on time. I’ve actually had both of my children ask how civilians manage without having these skills.

Levelheadedness: Don’t panic — plan! If there is a change of any type, military kids can cope. They are calm and cool in a crisis because they are so used to adapting in varying situations.

If there are any other qualities you’ve noticed that are unique to military children, add them in the comments!

Let’s talk. Let’s listen.

January 31, 2018

Earlier this month an acquaintance from high school passed away. We grew up a few blocks from each other but was a few years older than me. He was in Vocal Jazz. I was in the Stage Band. Music was a big deal in my high school and the band & vocal groups toured together often and I got to know him a bit a during our travels.

He was a totally cool guy — one of those high school icons. Everybody knew who he was. He was kind, friendly, outgoing, and had a razor-sharp wit that would make the entire group burst out laughing. He could quickly and deftly put a bully in his place (which would also make the entire group burst out laughing). If anyone had asked me to define the word “extrovert” I would have immediately said his name.

We knew each other but we weren’t more than acquaintances. We always said hello to each other in the halls and I was thrilled when he accepted my Facebook friend request 30 years (OMG yes 30 years!) after we graduated.

The thing is, I never told him how much I appreciated his sense of humour, his extrovertedness, or the way he just shut down those mean kids in high school (Man, he had cojones!).

And now it’s too late.

I know the reason behind the Bell Let’s Talk initiative is to remove stigma from, and have open, honest discussions about, mental health. Yes, we do need to do that but we also need to talk to each other. Really talk — and really listen.

The internet was supposed to be promote the interconnectedness of everything. Email, then social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat) were supposed to bring us closer together so we could relate to each other. Instead, people post irrelevant memes and advertisers clog the space peddling their wares.

So, here is my challenge on this Bell Let’s Talk Day — start talking. Say what is important. Respond to other people. Open a discussion. I don’t care if it’s about religion, politics, books, cookie recipes, Superheroes or science fiction. Just have a real conversation.

And remember if someone is talking, LISTEN. Listen to understand, not to reply. Set aside your self, your opinions, your beliefs, and accept someone for who they are and from where they come. Watch this excellent TEDx talk by Celeste Headlee and learn to have better conversations — in person and on social media. And as that old Bell TV commercial used to tell us, reach out and touch someone.

Happy 2018

January 1, 2018

Rebel_sm.JPGThe last three months of 2017 were fortunately rather quiet but there are a few events to highlight.

In October, a new family member joined us, Rebel. He’s a Rhodesian Ridgeback/Lab cross.

Our son came from Ottawa to visit us on his reading week in October then again over the Christmas holidays.

Our daughter is in the process of applying to various universities in Ontario.

We’ve had to re-learn what winter is all about. With two vehicles, we had to buy two sets of snow tires. We had block heaters installed in both vehicles too. We think it was worth the investment as the temperatures are bitterly cold.

It has been a quiet fourth quarter and we’re thankful since we had such a hectic summer.

Thanks to all of my readers and I wish the best for everyone in 2018.

The first month in Winnipeg

October 3, 2017

Packed up in San Antonio

We’ve been in Winnipeg just a little over a month. Here’s a recap of what happened on our move.

Our packing day was scheduled for 28 August. The packing crew arrived and packed boxes. Normally, the following day the truck is loaded but the truck that was supposed to take our goods to Canada was stuck in Houston and due to Hurricane Harvey, could not get to San Antonio in time. Another truck picked up our goods on 30 August and then our goods would be transferred to the Canadian truck whenever it managed to get to San Antonio.

I was concerned about this because every move where we’ve had stuff transfer from one truck to another, boxes or other items have been lost or damaged. However, due to the hurricane, there wasn’t much we could do about it.

We arrived in Winnipeg late in the afternoon of 31 August. We reported to the Customs and Border Security Agency (CBSA) at the airport where they went through our entire inventory of household goods that were following later on the truck. We alerted them that our vehicles had left San Antonio on 23 August and were waiting at the bonded warehouse in Winnipeg for us to collect them. We filled out lots of paperwork. We thought we had done everything correctly so we proceeded to the hotel.

On 1 September, (Friday before the Labour Day weekend), picked up the keys to our RHU from CFHA then we worked to retrieve our cars. At that point, we found out that we should have gone to the central CBSA office (not CBSA at the airport) to officially clear customs. We ended up filling out even more paperwork and after several trips between the CBSA office and the bonded warehouse, and almost $700 in fees to the Registrar of Imported Vehicles, we had our cars.

We spend the Labour Day weekend having internet installed, purchasing kitchen appliances. (Luckily, there were some good Labour Day sales and we got a bit of a discount.), and cleaning our new home.

The following week started in a rush with our daughter starting at a new school and my husband starting work. Our appliances were delivered and we were told we our furniture would be arriving on 8 September. We were quite pleased as that would mean only one week in a hotel.

Arriving in Winnipeg

On 8 September, we met the truck driver at the CBSA office and filled out even more paperwork to claim our goods. We were also told that we must not sell or give away any items on our inventory list (including the cars) for at least one calendar year from our entry date or we will have to pay duty on those items.

Not surprisingly, when the truck unloaded our goods, there was a box missing. It was the “parts/set-up box.” For those of you unfamiliar with a military move, whenever the movers disassemble a piece of furniture, they wrap the parts in paper, tape it, then write the name of the piece of furniture on the package, (e.g., “master bed parts”). Also, at the end of the packing day, any odds and ends lying around the house that weren’t previously packed, get put in the parts box. These items can include hooks for a specific picture frame, an extension cord, toys or pens that have been retrieved from behind large pieces furniture, etc.

So, on arrival, our beds could not be reassembled. It’s been a month and we’re still sleeping with our mattresses directly on the floor. A sub-contractor was assigned by the moving company to make the repairs but he’s been “waiting on parts” for almost 3 weeks.

Also in the last month, we’ve attended 3 social functions, I had a job interview (and I got the job!), our daughter has been busy with homework. We prepared claims for the Destination Inspection Trip (DIT), the move itself, and our final out-clearance from the U.S.A.

The main and 2nd floors of the house are organized and staged (except for the beds on the floor). The basement is still a mess though. We don’t have a garage with this house so we decided to buy a garden shed and pay for the installation service. If we had arrived in Winnipeg during the summer, we would have built the shed ourselves but now that school/work are back in full swing and winter just around the corner, we felt the installation service was worth the extra expense. (Also, the shed was almost half-price so that helped off-set the installation costs.)

It’s been a very busy month. I can’t believe it’s October already.

Nine signs that you’re going to be posted – Murphy’s Law

July 22, 2017

Several people have asked me how you know you’re going to be posted. The real answer is that the military uses a complex method of succession planning which takes into account available jobs and their requirements, the skills and availability of military personnel, any compassionate reasons a member might need to be in a certain location as well as the members’ personal preferences.

Normally, military members are given at least three to six months’ notice before a posting. Sometimes it is a year’s notice if the posting is overseas and language training is required. Occasionally, members don’t get much notice but generally that only happens if there is an event such as an unforeseen early retirement that was not accounted for in the succession plan.

After having lived through ten military moves, I’ve noticed there are certain “Murphy’s Law” indicators that a posting message is soon to arrive.

  1. You see people out of context. This means you see people you know but not in the place you know them from. For example, one time I saw my horse riding teacher’s husband at the orthodontist’s office. Up until that point, I had only ever seen him at the farm and even then, only occasionally. I visited the orthodontist (with one of my kids) only once every two months. So, to see that guy in that place was very out of the ordinary. Two weeks later, we got a posting message.
  2. You can drive around without a GPS and not get lost. Recently, I had to take my daughter to her driving lesson. Our usual route was under construction and I managed to take another route without using the GPS and I did not get lost.
  3. You find the best place to do your favourite activity or you’ve just started a new activity. When you arrive in a new city, it might take you a few months to find somewhere to do your favourite activity. For example, you might go to several yoga studios before you find an instructor/class that is right for you. Or, you may have decided to start a new hobby such as painting. Whatever it is, you can be almost guaranteed that once you’re comfortable, you’ll receive a posting message.
  4. You’re comfortable in your job and considering seeking advancement.
  5. You’re recognized by grocery store cashiers and bank tellers.
  6. You’ve just finished a mega-shop at “big box store” and fully restocked all the products the movers won’t take.
  7. You’ve found excellent service providers (e.g. hair dresser, baby sitter, esthetician, etc.).
  8. You’ve finally hung all your pictures on the walls.
  9. The moving company tags from your previous move have all been removed from the furniture.

Are there any other signs you’ve noticed?