office expressions.

musings from my experience at the home/office.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Life Lesson

I have learned a few things through some tough situations over recent years.

1: The more negativity you speak over a situation or person, the worse your perspective and ability to think clearly will be.
2: If you are a person of integrity, and honor your words with actions that match, people will notice and trust you, respect you, and look for opportunities to give to you. You shouldn't need to tell people you are 'being honest' or that they can trust you, that only makes people wonder why you feel the need to say such things.
3: Sometimes werking for a faith-based organization can make you want to quit because religion is too intertwined with politics.
4: Other times, werking for a faith-based organization with honest and discerning people can help cut away from the religion and politics, and restore your faith in your belief you are working with like-minded people toward a greater purpose.

I learned #4 today, and while I'm still in the middle of an interesting situation, I feel affirmed, supported and hopeful. Today was a great trip to!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

4 Years!

It's hard to believe that four years ago today, the.home.werker was sitting in White Bear Lake, MN waiting to get her 'up-do' for the big day with all of her closest girlfriends, sister, and mom. The day was sunny, in the 80's, with a clear sky and the perfect summer 'ambiance'. Every little detail fell right into place (i think!), the church was packed with 200 of our closest friends and family, and then we had what is now a legendary dinner/dance reception, thanks to the entertaining style of our DJ. Oh, and the cocktail reception overlooking the golf course as the sun was setting wasn't half bad either!

This post is dedicated to my husband, best friend, and renaissance man, Jake! Jake cooks, cleans, hunts, fixes cars, works on a ranch, sews buttons back on clothes, snuggles with our dog-child, and loves to work with his hands...even if that means brewing beer from our kitchen and making homemade bbq sauce.  Jake is a sensitive guy, the least judgmental person you will ever meet, and finds incredibly terrifying things like backpacking the grand canyon while it's still snowy, or cutting up the elk that he be rejuvenating!

Jake is a 'do it yourself' kind of guy, if there's a way to get something done, he'll figure it out! Some of these projects over the past four years have included:
-making wooden advent wreaths for his friends
-rebuilding a forty year old motor cycle engine
-cooking things like ravioli, split pea soup, and our Easter ham like a pro in the kitchen
-replacing the brakes on our jeep, the hood mounts, and fixing the AC. He also installed a new motor in his car for the driver's side window.
-Jake wired his car with an ipod jack...I still to this day do not know how he did that.
- in addition to brewing his own beer, Jake also made some of the best hard cider I have ever had!
-refinishing cheap Ikea furniture and free furniture from the side of the road into a matching set.
-he is currently growing a nice little crop of carrots in our garden patch.

As you can see, I am married to a man of many talents. He is passionate about the outdoors, he is creative, and he has the patience of a saint (which has helped him accomplish all of the projects I just listed, including being married to me!).

Even though he's often at class while I am werking from home, I love when I hear the turn of his key in the front door. Just having him close by brings me incredible peace and comfort, even if I'm in the middle of a conference call and he's in the middle of some crazy Pathology reading assignment. His companionship and commitment to our marriage are often what make werking from home a lot less lonely. I love you, Jake!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fever Pitch

I am running at a million miles an hour and I can feel it in my bones. Even taking time to spend with family this past weekend, I had this nagging urge to bury myself in werk and not come up for air until I had tackled everything in front of me. I am on a roll right now, and it feels good, but it is sometimes hard to turn off.

I think this fever pitch feeling is indicative of werking for a highly purpose-driven organization that also seeks to develop and challenge it's employees. It's a good thing and probably the reason why I am staring my 3 year anniversary with the organization in the face and wouldn't dream of leaving yet. For a restless and driven Millenial, that's a big deal.  Most of us average 2 years with a company and move on and move up.

Random thought of the day:
Here's something new I learned from a webinar with Guy Kawasaki today. One of the 10 ways to 'enchant' people is to have a genuine Duchenne Smile. It's combination of smiling with your mouth and smiling with your eyes (or smizing, according to Tyra Banks). Apparently this is endearing and promotes likability. According to Wikipedia: “Research with adults initially indicated that joy was indexed by generic smiling, any smiling involving the raising of the lip corners by the zygomatic major…. More recent research suggests that smiling in which the muscle around the eye contracts, raising the cheeks high (Duchenne smiling), is uniquely associated with positive emotion.”[15]

It also means you are showing off your crows feet if you really know how to smile. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Stopping for Gas

The conference in Manhattan was quite a gem, something that will have a great impact on my team and the work I am doing in the future, I hope! The total New York, New York experience was just kind of 'ok' for me. Growing up in Bucks County, PA, I had the beautiful convenience of living close enough to the Big Apple that I knew it was there if I wanted it. If Ellis Island had a loyalty card, I would have earned a free trip to the top of Lady Liberty at least twice! Travelling into the city for fun things like the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall at Christmas, or a trip to the MOMA or Guggenheim with my art classes are experiences I will never forget. I also will never forget how incredibly relieving it felt to LEAVE THE CITY. In for a day by train/ferry/car/bus, out the same day and headed home on the Jersey turnpike.

New York is busy, crowded, and in constant motion. Which some people can only take in small doses. Apparently, I am one of them. I realized this as my second evening in the city was coming to a close and I stopped dead in my tracks to watch the sun set over the Hudson River through a little crack in the buildings. It was a small reminder that life outside of the concrete and skyscrapers really did exist. Thank you, God!

I have realized, while I am part-city-girl, I should probably change that to say I am part-mid-size-city-girl. Places like Minneapolis, St. Paul, Denver....they are big enough to help me feel connected to culture and diversity, but small enough that I am not overwhelmed by them. I can drive around them with ease, I can walk around them with relative safety, and I still don't seem to exhaust my list of 'favorite places' since there is always something new to try. And, cheeseburgers don't cost $20.

I started my journey home by purchasing a $20 shuttle ride to La Guardia from the hotel. I was waiting in the driveway of the hotel for a 15 passenger van to pull up with the words 'Air Link to La Guardia' on the side. Instead, I was approached by a guido wearing a thick gold chain and an accent like the Godfather, telling me to hop in his Chevy Surburban. The 'Oprah' inside of me was .2 seconds away for asking for his ID to prove he was not kidnapping me. Then I saw another passenger in the van and his luggage and figured this must be ok...right? I'm still a little unnerved about how this all went down. After taking 30 minutes to go two blocks through Times Square to the next hotel and pick up the last two passengers, we were speeding through the city at 20 mphs (that's fast for midtown traffic, I'm guessing). I hopped out of the SUV at the LGA and waded my way through security, wishing to high heaven I was not wearing 3 inch heels.

Everything with the flight seemed to be on time, which I was grateful for since LGA comes across as nothing more than a glorified bus stop. It's dirty, small, and I'm honestly not sure if they even have AC. Here's how my flight unfolded:
1. Plane arriving for the 5:15 flight didn't arrive and de-plane until 5:45.
1.5. The plane was crowded and I thought I'd do myself and others a favor by gate-checking my carry-on suitcase.
2. We missed our departure slot with Air Traffic Control because of #1, and sat on the runway for a good hour and a half.
3. Because we missed our original departure and bad weather was on the radar, we were re-routed over Canada.
4. Because we were re-routed over Canada, we had to stop for gas in Kansas City.
5. Because we had to stop for gas in Kansas City, we didn't arrive in Denver until 11.(Original ETA: 7:47)
6. My carry-on suitcase was not at the gate in Denver, it was checked with the other baggage so I had to wait at the baggage claim.
7. The.home.werker, wobbling along in painful heels re-unites with Jake and Lexi at DIA, and falls into bed around midnight.

I made it, but I'm not quite sure that the free cable TV on the flight really covers the extent of inconvenience we went through on that flight. A free flight voucher would have been nice, but hey, I got home in one piece! However, I do know a lot more about The Real Housewives of NJ and Gene Simmons than I ever thought I would. It's good we don't have cable.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

NY, NY, Manhattan, the big apple, the city that never sleeps...

Yep, that's where I am. I am here attending a conference all about Customer Experience. I am two keynote sessions deep, on our first morning break, and so far the content has been incredible. I don't even mind the conference room chairs yet, probably because I'm on the edge of my seat furiously scribbling notes.
I am thankful that I grew up on the east coast, and that being in the heart of Manhattan (my hotel is literally in Times Square) is not something new to me. Otherwise I'd be extremely disappointed to be stuffed inside a hotel 24/7. 
After a few snafu's, of trying to hail a cab at the airport instead of realizing there was a taxi line of 200 people to wait in, getting my hotel room rate hiked up upon check-in, and consuming a $20 cheeseburger (least expensive item on the menu)...oh, and spilling coffee down the front of my new khaki dress 15 minutes before the opening session this morning and realizing that my old job title (Marketing Coordinator Specialist) is included in the attendance list among mostly VIP's and Execs from Fortune 1000 companies...I'm hanging on to optimism that no one noticed any of these things and that my 'fails' so far are merely indicative of being in one of the most expensive cities on the planet, attending a conference on behalf of my entire team and trying to represent them well, and realizing that the jump from home.werker to manhattan is quite extreme. Or at least it feels that way. Hence the blog post in the middle of the networking break.

My cab ride from LGA to Times Square in the middle of evening rush hour.

My $20 cheeseburger. The waiter told me to take a picture, he must have known it was expensive too. :)

The view of Times Square...a few months too late for New Year's Eve!
One more thing, I am really really thankful I work for a mission driven non-profit. The for-profit world just feels different.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

12 hours

Well, today is a longer and lonelier day than usual. Jake has his clinical in the hospital today, which is really exciting for him for lots of reasons. For me, it's a long day home.werking, and trying like the dickens to figure out why Lexi is barking at the door, only to take one step outside and come right back in. We have done this at least 6 times now.

Currently, there is a large thunder cloud over our house, so she's just going to have to wait that one out before I'll sit out there with her as her golden-retriever-security-blanket. Or at least that's what I think she thinks as I am. See? 12 hours alone with a slightly ADHD golden and mounds of computer based work will make you start thinking your dog is part human. Good thing I've got a journey to coming up in the near future. However...

I love my dog. (She is worried I am going to make her go outside alone...see the anxiety in her little face? No? It's there, I promise.)

She has more personality than most people I know. ;)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Well, I made a little change of environment and I am sitting at the kitchen table today, and so far, the change has been a productive one! Not only have I checked a lot off on my 'to-do-to-day' list for werk, I have welcomed the guy who fixed our screen doors as well as the sprinkler man to our house. I am really thankful our property management company is SO on top of service requests, I feel like that is fairly unusual in the world of 'renting', so here's a shout out to Dunn & Co.!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

White Board

I need a white board. I am a visual learner, and all of these sticky notes to myself are starting to become counter-productive. Instead of reminding me of the important things I need to do, there are so many that I am becoming overwhelmed with what to do first for which project. 

In the Land.of. Cubicles, I had it all mapped out and in front of my face every day. I even purchased special-super-skinny-cute-colors of dry erase markers so I could fit more on my board with the finer point marker. It was a road map of my projects, 1-3 months at a time and it kept me on course. 

It also served as a brain dump/mind map of sorts, where I could draw lines between ideas and processes and everything made sense. People even would ask me to 'go to the white board' on a regular basis in meetings, because just talking things through isn't always the best way to communicate with people. Sometimes, you have to draw it out. And as a lefty, artist, and someone who loves using visuals, white boards are just the best. 

Now I just have to find a white board that can hang over the back of my guest room door and be easily taken down when I have overnight guests. Next stop: The Container Store.
Something like this would actually help me feel more focused, believe it or not!

Friday, June 10, 2011


Do your days and weeks ever seems to turn into a complete blur? I'm having one of those weeks, where I can't even fully appreciate the fact that it's Friday because I didn't really even notice Monday- Thursday as distinct days of the werk week. Yes, there's a lot going on this week, but I think this blur might be symptom of being the.home.werker.

I don't check werk emails on the weekend, and I'm really REALLY good about not even thinking about werk when I'm not supposed to (like on Saturdays and Sundays). But on Monday-Friday, I have my office in my home, and aside from the emails and meetings, there is nothing to make it distinctly a Monday or Friday. No, "Dear, God, please help me get through this day" as I walk through the doors on a Monday morning, exhausted from my incredible weekend and quality time with Jake. No building or desk to slap me in the face and remind me it's Monday, and I'm not at home anymore.  I don't even remember what I wore on what day of the week anymore, because it simply doesn't matter. Which is honestly really nice.

When it comes to Friday, there is no 'buzz in the air' and I don't get to watch the office go dark after 2pm on a sunny summer Friday afternoon as people sneak out to their cars a little too early. There is no awesome feeling of putting together a cute 'casual friday outfit' that incorporates cute jeans and heels, because today my friends, I am wearing stretchy-werk-out-pants.

So maybe a small part of me misses the werk-wardrobe required by the land.of.cubicles, because it's one way I always used to express my creativity and personality in a And maybe part of me misses knowing the enthusiasm of 'TGIF, get ME OUTTA HERE!' feeling as I sped toward happy hour with some girlfriends.

However, it's Friday, and we've got some fun stuff planned for the weekend...and because I'm the home.werker, I don't have to stress about getting clean sheets on the bed for our guest, planning what I'm bringing to the bbq this afternoon, or when I am going to get the house clean. This can all happy simultaneously while werking from home. And I can still pull together a cute jeans/heels outfit for my Friday night really, Happy Friday to me! (and you too!).

I just did a google images search for 'stretchy pants'. You should thank me for not being willing to post any of the atrocious images that I now have burned in my mind...sick.

Funny Workplace Ecard: Please stop scheduling Friday afternoon meetings.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


The past two days I have taken a 'lunch break' to chat with my sister and nephew while they eat lunch together. Yesterday we skyped, and today we chatted on the phone. In past jobs, I often would call my sister when I needed a brain break or run to the parking lot to seriously vent to one of the few people (Em is one of these people!) who can handle my venting without judging me.

When I started working in Colorado at my desk job almost three years ago, the pace of my 8-5 picked up dramatically and I usually found myself calling her on my way home...talking to her voicemail because now she was on the clock doing her wonderful piano teaching gig.

Now that I werk from home, I can get in touch with her without worrying about finding a private place to have a private conversation.  My home office is about as private as it can get, and connecting with my sister is one of the best ways I know to have human interaction during the day without feeling overly self conscious about how much I talk about work or personal stuff...she cares about both!

The bonus to my lunch break the past two days: sneaking little glimpses and conversations with my favorite nephew. He's getting to be so smart that he remembers specific things he and I have talked about or joked about in the past. I taught him about the word 'barbecue' a few weeks ago (at least, he pretended it was a new word!), which he pronounced 'gar-ba-cue' at the time. Yesterday I was asking him what bacon smelled like, and he said..."Hey Beans, does bacon smell like barbecue?", with the cutest little twinkle in his eye. It made my day.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The 3 hour Tour

Yesterday I found myself rolling down 1-25 toward at 7am, bracing myself for two full days of software training. Not exactly the most exciting start to the week, to be sure!

Training started at 8am, so I was there before 8, ready to get the show on the road. Only to learn that the original meeting request had been changed to begin at 8:30, which really meant 9am because it was a Monday morning. We all know that it's better to ease into Monday mornings whenever possible.

After 3 hours of a very high level overview of the software, we were informed that the training was complete and we could stick around for lunch, but other than that we were free to go. OK?! I was able to attend my once-monthly-in-person team meeting and head on my happy way back up 1-25 to the home office. So, that werked out better than expected...again, I'm thankful I didn't have to fly into town from out of state for this. I'm pretty sure I would feel differently about the outcome of the 3 hour training...

Because my search for a funny photo having to do with today's post didn't surface much, how about this?

Friday, June 3, 2011

for you or from you?

Thanks to my incredible sister-in-law, Ann, I now have a new approach to greeting cards. I usually cringe at the thought of plunking down $3-6 for an occasion-specific card, when I know that I have the ability and supplies to make cards for people...if only I would plan ahead a little more. Ah, the price of convenience when you are a procrastinator.

I find a lot of joy in finding the right gift to give to people, especially if it's going to surprise them or make them laugh as they open it. I was able to give Ann her belated birthday card in person this year, and since we are still getting to know each other, I figured I'd stay away from the gushy 'sister-in-law' cards (of which there are none), and go straight for the classic-Ridder-potty-humor card.

When Ann opened the card and saw the pudgy man wearing cut-off jean shorts so short and tight that his hairy butt cheeks were poking out, I knew it was the moment of truth...and she passed with flying colors. She got as big of a kick out of it as I did picking it out, and I'll never forget what my brother Josh said: "That's not a card FOR Ann, that's a card FROM Jill!".

He got me there, but ever since that day, Ann has found and sent me at least two more holiday versions of the hairy-butt-cheek cards, and I have been on the receiving end....not the giving end. So, perhaps the card really was FOR Ann in the first place, because now I am bound and determined to find every theme of this card that exists on planet earth...and if I can't do that, I might just have to photoshop some together!

This post is relevant to homewerking because this lovely piece of 'Easter' art arrived in the mail and is sitting on my desk. It's hard not to look at, isn't it?? :)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

May 14- June 2

May 14-June 2 are officially a little black hole on my homewerker calendar. I have this nifty vintage 'flip' calendar that my mom picked up as a souvenir when her family was vacationing in Colorado...probably back in the 60's. I have always loved the vintage look of this calendar, but I now LOVE it because I live in Colorado and have lived close to quite a few of the scenes painted onto it. Every day I try to remember to flip the day counter over so that I can at least know what day of the month it is...something that seems to have elluded me more and more since I've started werking from home.

After arriving home last night from our week and half long trip to Minnesota, I realized that my beloved flip calendar was stuck in the past, on May 14...the day I left for the Domincan Republic. So much has happened since then that I find myself looking at 'June 2' did THAT happen?!

Here's a top ten for the first week that I was absent from the home office:

Week 1- Dominican Republic
10. Getting another stamp in the 'ol passport in la Republica Dominicana.
9. Feeling my brain crank out the ancient high-school spanish and having 11 year olds laugh at my horrible grammar.
8. Cafe con leche, every.single.glorious.morning.
7. Experiencing the Caribbean for the first time, both the good and the hard stuff all in one trip.

6. Getting my hair done by some Compassion moms in their vocational training 'beauty school'...lesson learned, olive oil spray is not for the Gringa hair!
My hair has never been this flat. 
5. Americans can be very needy people, especially when travelling to 'unknown' places.
4. Man does not live on bread alone, but also on chicken, rice, beans, and plantains!
3. Getting a renewed vision for the purpose behind my job, and the urgency behind everything we do as an organization.
2. Meeting my 'dominican family', sweeping their floors, doing their dishes, fetching water together, and being joyful together.
Amy and I with the Patos family!
1. That hug from Melani that seemed to never end, when she realized who I was. Melani is 6 and my parents have sponsored her with Compassion for over two years, they even got to meet her 2 years ago.
A sleepy Melani and I on our way to have some fun!