Hi everybody; I'm sorry I disappeared for a while. I was doing final edits on Anywhere But Here early last week and travelling on business to Coral Gables, FL late last week - needless to say, I fell a wee bit behind on some things!
Actually, this was my first experience on travelling for work. Until last Wednesday I had never flown or worked outside my home office. The flying seems to be the #1 question I'm asked and yes, I liked it fine. It was ok. Besides the fact that the landings seemed kind of rough and there was some turbulence, it was ok. I wouldn't hesitate to fly again, if need be. And it would have to be "if need be" due to the high cost of airplane tickets!
As for the rest of the experience, I'd rate it as a solid neutral. I rate it as such because frankly, I found an equal amount of pros and cons to the situation. For example:
Pro - I got to meet a lot of people that work in my field and it was good to share experiences, insights and knowledge.
Con - I was still working, the same as I do at home. The difference is that here I can go home after work. There, I went back to a hotel room, and every night I was checking e-mail for the office online to make sure I didn't get railroaded by an emergency or swamped with simple questions that I could answer "on the fly."
Pro - I didn't have to cook, as meals were either covered or will be reimbursed.
Con - The food in Miami is awful. Sorry folks, and I mean no offence, but they even managed to mess up mashed potatos with funky spices. Everything is either 5 alarm spicy (which is suicide with my acid reflux) or so bland you might as well chew on cardboard. I know now why the girls in south Florida are so skinny - the food isn't edible!
Pro - The weather was great! It was in the 80's and felt like April/May around here. That definitely agreed with me, especially when I found out that it rained here all day Friday while it was sunny and warm there (although I didn't get to enjoy it until 4:30 p.m. when my meetings broke for the day).
Con - The traffic was awful. Add to that the fact that President Obama was at the University of Miami Thursday (which happened to be my first day of meetings), which pretty much put things in gridlock during the late afternoon.
Pro - Lots of things within walking distance.
Con - Because you don't park for free in Coral Gables or Miami. I see why downtown is so opulant! It's $2 just to part for a few minutes, and an average of $10-$20 if you need to park for any length of time. They do not waste time, money or public resources on parking lots. It's meters everywhere. McDonalds and the hotel we stayed at were the only places that had free parking.
Pro - Flying really is the fastest way to get anywhere. Our trip home Saturday, including layovers, was roughly 4 hours. That's a fraction of the time it would have taken to drive.
Con - Miami International Airport must be about 20 miles long, and I walked every bit of it. I (unwisely) wore boots with a slight heel on the way in Wednesday, and had huge blisters. I wised up Saturday and wore socks and well padded shoes for the return trip Saturday.
Given all of this, I rate travelling on business as a "church camp experience." What does this mean? Well, when I went to church camp as a kid, I came home and told my parents "I had fun, but it's the kind of fun I only want to have once." I never asked to go back and never did. It was a perfect "once in a lifetime experience."
And that being said, it brings up a point that may be awkward for some - overall, travelling on business is the same as church camp. I'm glad I had the experience, but really don't care to see it again. And if this is going to be a requirement of my job from now on, well, I'm not aiming to become a high-power, globe trotting career woman. It might be time to pursue a mid-life career change. But that's a whole other issue to be discussed at another time.
So that's my impression and analysis on travelling on business. It's opened my eyes - some in good ways, some in bad ways, and some in ways yet to be determined, as I'm still processing a lot.
Take care all. More later.
Welcome to my latest "mini blog series" on surviving the holidays! In these weeks leading up to the holidays I'm going to offer my experiences, insights, and observations on getting through the holidays without losing your sanity. I'd like to open this series with a list of do's and don'ts - basically, simple tips that will help you get through this season with less stress and more time and resources to enjoy what the holidays are all about.
DO keep a schedule with you at all times, as this is a season filled with cordial invitations to events of all sorts - and those invitations can come at any place, at any time. It's never safe to be without a calendar this time of year. If you don't have a mobile device, get a small calendar that you can carry in a purse, briefcase, or pocket.
DON'T be afraid to decline an invitation. It simply isn't possible to do everything - there's too much going on. There is a polite way to decline an invitation. Simply say "I appreciate you thinking of me and offering this invitation, but I'm afraid I'm not going to be able to attend." You don't owe anybody a doctoral dissertation on your calendar. It's perfectly ok to say "no" just because you need time to do other things, or for yourself.
DO go ahead and make travel plans and arrangements now. Waiting until the last minute is stressful to you and rude to the hosts. It takes a lot of "doing" to hosts guests in your home, so be considerate and let them know arrival and departure dates and relative times now so they can plan for your visit accordingly.
DO make shopping lists. In this season of buy, buy, buy, it's easy to lose track of how much you've bought. Do like Santa - make a list and check it twice.
DO check your resources to avoid needless spending or duplicating resources. I was fixing to buy more wrapping paper this past weekend - until I checked my supplies and discovered 10 rolls of paper from last year. People won't remember what wrapping paper, gift tags, bows, boxes or gift bags you used last year and truth be told, you probably didn't remember until you pulled it out of storage.
DON'T be afraid to ask someone on your gift list what they want if you're completely stumped on what to give them. We usually buy gifts for the same people year after year, so after a while it's hard to be original. Don't try. Just ask.
DO ask the people on your gift list if they're ok with receiving gift cards for presents. People seem to have strong opinions on this. I love them, as do most of my family members, but I've had some friends that believe giving gift cards is wildly offensive and insensitive. I actually plan to do an entry just on this topic soon.
DO regift if you got something in the past that hasn't been opened or used, but be careful and DON'T regift it to the person that gave it to you. In fact, if you get something that winds out in the "strorage" drawer or closet, it would be wise to put a note on it indicating who gave it to you to prevent such an embarassing error.
DO observe important traditions, but DON'T feel obligated to hand on to ones that don't mean much to you - or others. Things tend to pass in time. People get married, people have babies, people die. Some things stay and some things go, and that's ok. Keep what means the most and let go of what doesn't.
DO take care of yourself and mind your health - mentally and physically. Be sure to take time out for yourself, excercise, eat right, and get enough sleep. It's easy to skimp on self care during this busy season.
DON'T go off your medications now. I'm not being a smart alec. Money is typically tight this time of year, and often people decide to skip the medication refills to save a few bucks. Don't do it. Your doctor put you on your medication for a reason, and you feel better because of it. If you go off now, you will suffer. This is no area to skimp on ever. It's for your better health. You have enough on you without having to battle your body as well - and you will if you go off your medication. So don't do it. And if, by chance, you do feel it's ok to do so, I urge you to do two things: Do it under doctor's supervision, and strongly consider waiting until January and making this a New Year's Resolution instead.
DO realize that there's no such thing as a perfect holiday. As much as we'd all like our holiday to look like a Norman Rockwell painting, realize that's art, not reality. We live in an imperfect world and it shows that every day, in every way. It's extremely rare for things to go as we planned, and they never go perfectly, People get sick, cars break down, things get sold out, casseroles burn, wrapping paper tears, turkeys don't cook right, gift bags bust, the milk goes sour, people fight, shipments get delayed, bad weather hits, somebody moves and the Christmas card is returned on December 26 leading to misunderstanding and hurt feelings - the list can go on and on.
So there you have it - a few simple, common sense list of suggestions to get through the holidays. I believe that's a good place to end this entry, as well as a perfect lead in for the next entry in this series.
Next Time: Can't We All Just Get Along - It's The Holidays! (or, Reality 101)