Those Across The Table Struggle Too


Have you ever thought much about the people you deal with every day who sit or stand across the table or counter from you and provide a service? Far from robotic, these too are average folks who get up, go to work, do the best they can and go home. They have personal struggles, mental health issues, real-life disasters, hopes and dreams, wants and needs just like me; just like you.

Not many of us care to know quite frankly. When we go in to renew our licence plate stickers and get in that 12 person deep line, shunting our way up to the counter, we just want to pay our dues, get the sticker and leave. We may even share with those we meet for the rest of the day our complaint about the long line, the inconvenience of the process and high fees, and to finish off our rant, complain about the attitude and tone of voice of the man or woman who served us.

And this lack of thought isn’t confined to someone at the licencing centre. No, we likely don’t give much of a thought to the well-being of the Bank Teller who handles our transactions, the person who serves us in the drive-through, the shopkeeper who sells us an item in their store. If you’ve got something – some things – on your mind that worry, stress, preoccupy and keep you from focusing on what you’re doing with a 100% positive attitude, why is it hard to understand that the other people we interact with daily have similar challenges?

Now, to be clear, when we are dealing with such people, it’s inappropriate for both you and I to stop and ask with sincerity how they are doing and whether or not they’d like to open up and share their problems with us. We don’t all have the necessary training to start with and there’s that growing line behind you that you’re now holding up and in doing so, you’re compounding their stress to serve others. And surely, you don’t really expect them to honestly share much of anything with you in that public setting, nor expect them to fully trust you whom they don’t know much at all?

What you and I can do however is our very best to be everything we’d expect in return: courteous, respectful, kind, pleasant to deal with and yes, smile which makes us nicer to deal with.

You might think this is a given; it’s known, basic, interpersonal skills 101. However, I see many people approach those behind the counters and treat them poorly. Raised voices, a lack of manners, scowls at the outset, seemingly looking to provoke an altercation, foul language, animated faces and drama more suited to a theatre stage than a bank reception area. I’ve even found myself apologizing for someone else’s rude behaviour when it’s my turn. Just acknowledging the difficulty they had providing service to the previous person goes a long way.

The thing is we expect the people who serve us to be 100% focused on us. Some would say, “That’s what their paid to do so yes, just do their job.” And honestly if that’s your reaction, you’re likely one of the people who doesn’t care to think about other people as, well…. people. Why would you assume they shouldn’t be working if they’ve got problems on their minds? My goodness, many people would sit home for long periods were this the case.

The truth of the matter is that a great number of people with problems, worries, stressors and mental health challenges find the inner resolve and strength to go about their work day each and every day. They do bring their problems with them to work, then to the grocery stores where they stand in line served by others, then to the gas stations or bus stops where they are surrounded by more people and served by the Cashier or the Bus Driver. On the outside they may look like they’ve got it all together; not a care in the world. On the inside, hidden away from the public, they too may be dealing with all kinds of things we’ve no idea of.

So it’s important therefore to be kind, respectful and yes, even empathetic when we don’t get the absolute best from whomever we are dealing with. If the Waitress neglects to bring us the ketchup we asked for, it’s surely not something to make a big deal over is it? Ask a second time and be kind about it. Maybe she’s worried about getting a call from the school about her child’s behaviour, perhaps she received an eviction notice just before coming to work and she’s conflicted with being here at work serving you so she holds on to her job, but really would rather be packing up or planning to fight it.

To close, I often suggest to you readers that you take advantage of counselling services to unburden your load, share your troubles and in so doing, move forward. That person listening to you, for all their expertise is a human too. As you pour all your feelings out, you’re one of 3 or 4 to do so that day and every day. That’s a huge responsibility they take on gladly, and while they are paid well, they also pay a price you can’t measure.

Be kind, show gratitude, be understanding. Every day with everyone.

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You Only Have So Much To Give


You have to love working for a Manager who demands you give it all you’ve got; then when you empty the tank, they question your commitment and willingness to go above and beyond. Where exactly do they think that extra energy is going to come from when you’ve nothing left to give?

Imagine an hourglass if you will, just turned upside down and the grains of sand rushing out the narrow opening and spilling into the bottom half. When those grains are falling, let’s see your productivity at it’s highest. There’s so much sand in the upper half, pressure and gravity come together to keep the sand moving quickly. However, as time elapses, so too does the quantity of sand remaining. Much of the sand is spent and collected in the bottom half, and there’s less pressure being exerted on the remaining grains. Some might actually adhere to the glass and not fall through without a gentle tap on the sides. Eventually, all the grains drop and there’s no more to be had; your productivity is similarly spent.

Like that hourglass, you’re energy is done, you’ve left it all on the work floor. While it’s easy to reach over and flip that hourglass so the process can be repeated, people don’t work the same way. Oh sure we all have some reserves to tap into, but those reserves are also finite. You just can’t keep expecting an inexhaustible amount of energy to be exerted of anyone. People are not perpetual motion machines.

Here’s where the hourglass analogy fails though. When looking at the hourglass, we can visually see how much sand is in each end. We can then at a glance tell how much is left for the upper half of the hourglass to give. People on the other hand; you and me, not so easy to tell at a glance how much we’re holding back and how much we’ve got left to give – if any.

When you go out to buy an hourglass, you’ll find big ones, small ones, and some timers that look like an hourglass only have enough sand to fall for a minute. Others are 3 minutes, 30 minutes etc. In other words, while we might mistakenly ask for an hourglass, we don’t actually want one where the sand will fall for an hour. We still might call it an hourglass. It’s really a sand timer or sand clock.

In your workplace, you can probably think of people who seem to have an abundance of energy. They are productive when they first arrive to work and they seem to pick up speed as the day goes on and when they leave at the end of the day, they still have a bounce in their step. Just as easily, you know the other types of people where you work who start off productive and in short order they need a break to recharge. They go in spurts, needing breaks or their lunch/dinner time to find the energy needed to complete their work and then they race out the door at the end of the day, entirely spent.  Different people, different sizes of hourglasses if you will.

Poor managers don’t get this though. They see some employees as if they were intentionally holding back, tipping their hourglass at a 45 degree angle so some sand remains lodged in the upper half and not giving it their all. Even when someone looks exhausted, the poor manager has a pep talk or cracks a whip expecting more; expecting the employee to jump up and be fully productive as if they just flipped that hourglass. But each employee is a varying size of sandglass. What some supervisors fail to understand is that by the time someone arrives at work, they’ve already spent some of the energy they had earlier. Not everyone arrives fresh, fully ready to go, and not everyone works at the same pace. Some have to work conservatively if they are to make it through the day. Unfortunately, some in management hold up the one employee as a shining example for the rest and compare each employee to the one with the seemingly endless energy. “I need you to be more like ________.”

Rest, sleep, drink, food and time; these are some of the typical things people need to re-energize. We can only give so much and then if we aren’t provided with ways to build our energy back up – or we fail to take measures ourselves to increase our stores of energy, we’re in trouble. Our bodies will take measures into their own hands and either illness or total exhaustion will shut us down. Our brains might be willing, but our bodies only have so much to give.

So we have to look out for ourselves and for each other. When you work for a good manager or supervisor, they get this too. Sure there are times when the old, “we all have to give more” speech rally’s us for a short-time. But when that short period evolves into our everyday work environment, don’t be surprised when staff start failing; calling in ill, taking time off more often, perhaps leaving for other jobs, or taking mental health leaves. The accumulative impact of this is the same workload spread even more upon those remaining. You can’t get more out of those already giving it their all.

Thoughts?

 

Think You May Lose Your Job?


There are several reasons you might find yourself thinking more often about losing your job. Has your company been downsizing and your seniority eroding so quickly your long-held belief that it couldn’t happen to you is eroding right along with it?

Maybe it’s restructuring, poor performance on your part, a change in Supervisor and it’s pretty clear they want to clear house and hire their own people or for some reason, the boss you knew and liked has changed and their new behaviours and actions have given you reason for concern. There are many reasons you see, for being worried about your employment. So what’s a person supposed to do?

For starters, and this is nothing really new, find your resume and start updating it with all the training, additional education and employment you’ve had since you last looked at it. Open up that drawer of certificates you’ve earned at work, or that computer file with the courses you’ve taken. Now is the time to get those things on your resume; and take these certificates home!

Why now? Okay let’s get to the worst case scenario. Suppose some people come to your work area today about 15 minutes before your lunch and tell you that you’re being let go. Suppose too they tell you they are here to walk you out, that your things will be boxed up and ready for you to pick up in a couple of days. You’re to take nothing but your coat, your lunch and they’ve brought backup just in case by the looks of it.

Not very nice I admit, but my point is to make it clear that you may not have the time to get things before the axe falls. Oh and by the way, employer’s walk you out not because they feed off the power of humiliating you, but rather they want to protect their assets, and emotional employees (and you will be) sometimes don’t act fully rationally, nor do employers and employees always agree on who owns what. While your personal photos and knick-knacks are clearly yours, other things that aren’t so clear might be materials you created on behalf of the employer, USB sticks, cell phones, personal computers, keys, access cards, etc. Yes, the escorted walk out off the property might be embarrassing but it could have you later wishing you’d taken the time to gather your things personally.

So it comes down to two things; is your looming departure beyond or within your control? If you feel your performance is the cause for your worry, then you must ask yourself if you’re interested and motivated enough to change your ways and up your performance. If you don’t care whether they fire you or not and you plan on behaving exactly the way you have been, that’s your call.

Now, another thing to consider is whether you’re up for a personal, closed door chat with the boss. Knowing where you stand is important for many people; even when the news is bad, a lot of people actually feel better knowing the situation they are truly in rather than stressing over the situation they think they might be in. You might not be called on to use your imagination much at work, but it will be working overtime creating all kinds of possible scenario’s in your mind until you know the truth of where things are.

Why does imminent loss of employment worry people so? Well it’s more than just the loss of a job. It’s the loss of a reputation, the loss of an identity as an employee and whatever your job title is at the moment. It’s financial worry too, and depending on your age and job prospects, it could have you fearing your days of having an ongoing income are done if you lose this job. When you fear this, you fear the future and however you imagined it is now in jeopardy.  There’s also the stigmatism of telling family and friends or doing what some do; leaving for work as usual but having no job to go to while they job search so they can avoid upsetting others in the hopes they’ll get another job immediately.

When you really feel the axe could fall any day now, best to start taking home whatever personal possessions you’ve got in the workplace. The last thing you want is to suddenly recall 4 weeks after being let go, some item you believe you left at work and having to contact the employer in the hopes of getting it. If they tell you it’s not there, you may be convinced they threw it out or possibly even kept it and this will just result in more anxiety, more bitterness and this isn’t healthy.

Start getting your references together too. You know, the phone numbers, job titles and emails of the people you trust at work will speak well of you if/when you’re gone. It’s so much easier now rather than later.

Whatever you do, don’t start stealing company property. This is one way to get fired for sure. Do check into your financial situation. Cut back on your spending now to buffer the possibility of a loss of income. If you have benefits, think about a dental or optical visit now too.

Start looking for other employment; put out feelers and network. Wouldn’t you rather leave on your own terms?

 

 

How Long Should I Wait After Applying?


One question I often get asked by job seekers I work with is how long should I wait to follow up with an employer after applying for a job.  So today, let’s look at this question from both your point of view as the applicant, and the employers point of view.

First however, let me ask you to honestly think about your own comfort level in general with picking up the phone and making the follow up call. Are you comfortable doing this and just want to know when, or are you uncomfortable making the call no matter when the time is right? You see, there are many applicants I’ve worked with who don’t really want to make that call and would put it off indefinitely unless I sat right next to them and gently pushed them to make the call. Okay, so you know deep down whether you’re likely to make the call in the end. Good.

As to when is the right time to make the call, I’m sorry to disappoint you but the answer is a very unclear, “it depends”.  Oh keep reading though, I’ll give you more guidance than that!

Looking at the job ad, are there any indicators of a deadline date? When you know the closing date to apply to a job, you have to assess how close it is coming up or indeed if it’s past. Knowing where you stand on the calendar with respect to this date guides you as to what to say when you make the call. If the deadline date is another two weeks in the future, you can still call to confirm they received your application and you can go further and ask if you might be able to pick up a more detailed job description, additional information on the organization or perhaps an annual report. The smart thing of course would be to inquire about the more detailed job description prior to submitting your application so you can include more relevant information on your resume that others will not. Just a hint.

Should the deadline have passed just recently, you should definitely make the call now. You may not have ever been someone who hires for a company, but I have and I talk with others who do. Many employers receive resumes up to the deadline date and then wait a couple of days or more. Why are they waiting when there’s a position to fill you ask? While they sift through the applicants to determine possible candidates, they also heed who calls and who doesn’t. Their assumption is that the go-getters, the ones who are really hungry and want the job the most are the ones who will call. Not desperate you understand, but they are viewed as determined, professional, show initiative and the employers are then also able to hear the applicant’s voice, their ability to express themselves and now they have additional information which they don’t on those who just sit home and hope for a call.

I bet you’re argument however is that today many job postings clearly state no calls; that only certain applicants will be contacted. This is one frustrating thing for those who are good at following up and it’s the best argument possible for those who hate picking up the phone and talking to an employer. It levels the playing field for those who are glad not to have to call. Well, guess what? Do an experiment and call some employer’s anyhow. What!? Seriously? Fly in the face of the employer’s wishes and call when they ask you not to?

Here’s a strategy to try. (And after all, if your current way of going about things isn’t working, continuing to go about things the way you are up to now just might continue to end in no positive results.)

Determine that you’re going to call. When you do, don’t just say, “Did I make the cut?” and then hang up. That’s what the employer asked you not to do. Try this:

Hello, my name is ______ and I’m competing for the position of _____. I understand and respect your wishes not to be contacted for an interview, so I’m calling just to introduce myself so I stand out from the competition, and want to expressing how grateful I’d be for the opportunity to demonstrate my strong interest in person. If there’s any additional information you’d like, I’m only too happy to deliver that to you.

So, you haven’t actually called with the lame, “So, are you going to interview me?”, and you acknowledge you’re aware of their instructions not to bother them. Is it a gamble? Sure it is. So is applying for a job in the first place. You might like it and you might not; the whole application is a gamble. You will succeed with some employers in showing them how polite and professional you are – determined to succeed where others are not. Or you will turn off an employer who doesn’t want anyone to show initiative, tenacity, determination or resolve.

Keep track of the jobs you apply to and which ones you follow up with a phone call and which you don’t. Look for patterns and what works over what doesn’t. Do more of what works.

When you do call, be in a quiet place, resume in front of you, pen and paper ready, know your calendar. Good luck!

Tomorrow I’m 60. Yahoo! Yippee!


Way back in 1959 on June 13th at 2:30 a.m., I entered this world, born into a middle class family in Etobicoke, Ontario – then a suburb of Toronto, Ontario in Canada. Tomorrow will mark a full 60 year anniversary of that event, and I’m obviously not hiding it.

I’ve yet to have one of, “those birthdays”. You know, the one that you absolutely live for such as when you can finally get your driver’s licence, drink alcohol or legally buy cigarettes. Nor have I yet to have the birthday that shatters your self-image, like dreading turning 30, hitting the big 4-0, or turning half a century old! To me, every birthday has been something to look forward to. This past year, it occurred to me that I could say I am 59 years old and born in 59. Well, tomorrow I can no longer make that claim – ever.

I don’t feel 60. Wait a minute; I don’t know what 60 is supposed to feel like, so I can’t say that. What I can say is that I don’t see turning 60 as a bad thing; and a bad thing is what I hear a lot of others say as they blow out all those candles with both a paid up insurance policy and fire extinguisher near at hand. I think I’ve always felt younger than the number itself suggests from a stereotyped point of view. I’ll see that as a good thing.

So it was funny to me yesterday when a colleague at work popped her head in to ask me a question about one of our co-workers who also shares June 13 as her own birthday. I volunteered in our conversation that I was in fact turning 60 and she immediately tilted her head slightly, looked sympathetic and said in a sweet voice that would give you a cavity just listening to her, “Oh! I’m sorry!” and she meant it too. She’s less than half my age at a guess.

My reaction was to laugh and say how I relished the opportunity to celebrate another birthday. After all, those who don’t want to celebrate their birthdays eventually get their wish…think about that one.

No seriously, I see a benefit to be had in turning 60. As an Employment Counsellor, a lot of people I partner with and support see their advancing years as a negative. I wish I had a buck for every man and woman who has said to me, “Well my age is a problem. I’m 46 and no offence but that’s old.” Well if 46 is old, I’m fossilized!

One of the things I’m grateful for (and there are many) is my general health at 60. I have an excellent record of attendance – missing less than 3 days a year for about 8 of the last 9 years. I’ve got drive, creativity, energy to burn throughout the work day and still feel totally invested in the people I work with. I love the role I’ve got at present and I know I make a difference which gives the work I do so much meaning.

I see turning 60 as a good thing for those older folks I come into contact with. Maybe I’m some kind of inspiration to some, perhaps they even view their age as a strength and an asset as I do after we spend some time together. You see by now, I’ve got this rich history of a life lived including work spanning Retail, Manufacturing, Social Services and Recreation sectors. I’ve experience as an entrepreneur, Executive Director, front-line and middle management employee. I’ve worked with two large municipalities and the Province of Ontario in unionized settings, plus worked in Not-For-Profit and private profit businesses. It takes time to accumulate all these experiences, and I draw on each and every one of them often in the course of my work. It’s this diversity of experience that helps me relate with people and be relatable to people.

I guess I don’t fit the idea of a worker slowing down, putting in time until retirement, coasting through the day, being a passenger more than a driver of change and innovation. Geez I must be annoying for some who’d like me to pull out a white flag and say, “I’m old and I feel my age is a problem too.” Well I don’t.

I have come to believe that what’s going in your head (what you believe and how you see yourself) is your biggest asset or liability when it comes to interacting with your world. See age as your problem and you’ll move, act and use words that affirm you see age as your problem. So the world will acknowledge how you feel and agree. Don’t be surprised then when others confirm it. On the other hand, see your years as an asset to be revered and proud of and you’ll move, act and use words that show gratitude and pride  and the world WILL acknowledge how you feel and agree.

It starts therefore in your head. If I see my age as a problem to be hid, I’ll get sympathy, pity and commiseration. I don’t want that! I want people to be happy for me, maybe even re-evaluate how they see aging; well a tad anyhow.

Having been diagnosed as having Type 2 Diabetes 3 years ago, there won’t be cake. Whatever! But presents? Oh yes, there should be presents! Yes, I’m still that little kid who loves presents. Best wishes will do as well; or donating to a charity. Now that’s cool.

60 is ‘gonna be great!

Rebuilding The Damaged Psyche


My business card says my job title is Employment Counsellor, but in truth, I spend a vast amount of my work life providing emotional support, helping others to see the good in themselves and doing everything I can to help people rebuild their fragile self-confidence. Yes, there’s so much more going on in the course of my day than employment counselling alone.

I’m fortunate to be in such a position actually and it comes with tremendous responsibility. When I think of all the people I’ve come into contact with through the course of my work, it’s more humbling than anything to realize just how lucky I am to have met so many wonderful people. And what makes it all the more remarkable is that our lives always intersect when they are at a low point; unemployed and financially dependent on social services support.

I tell you though, some of the stories I’ve been fortunate enough to have shared with me give me tremendous hope for many of them. You would be amazed to see and hear the resiliency in their voices; the determination to improve themselves and make better lives for their children, their hopes for a better future. To see the impoverished and only assess them by their financial health would be a mistake. They are first and foremost people, and they are deserving of respect, care, support and service with integrity just as any other person.

But here’s what I find tragic and regrettable. The vast majority of the unemployed people I come into contact with all share a damaged psyche. How they view themselves in the present and their prospects for the future is skewed because of how they’ve been treated in the past. Now sometimes the treatment they’ve experienced is clearly abhorrent; mistreated physically, sexually, financially by an abusing partner for example. However, I’ve also come to believe that far more people are held back, put down and damaged by less overt sources.

Just yesterday I was assisting a young woman as she crafted a targeted resume for a job she’s interested in. I noted in the choice of words she used during our conversation that she was fixated on her lack of paid employment as a barrier to getting an interview. I pointed out how some of the phrases she was using communicated a lack of confidence and doubt about her suitability for the job, and that in an interview, she’d be better off changing her language. I said I’d like to work on changing how she marketed herself but that first she’d have to truly believe in herself. She replied that I had my work cut out for me then because in College, they were all told their biggest liability was their lack of paid work experience and until they were hired, there was nothing they could do about that.

!

Isn’t it interesting to hear how this comment resonated so deeply with this one student? She told me that her lack of paid work was her biggest worry now that she was done school. So just to be clear, what she has going for her is: 1) just graduated with a diploma 2) she’s early twenties and can make a long commitment of service to an employer 3) she has 4 non-paid, positive experiences on her resume in her field, 4) she’s got the right aptitude for the position she’s going for and 5) she’s determined to succeed. And yet, with these and other positives to celebrate, she’s held up and hung up on that message from a trusted and respected Teacher that her lack of paid employment is this huge barrier.

I only have her version to comment on of course, but I would hope that trusted Teacher would have focused not on the lack of paid employment itself, but on strategies to circumnavigate the problem of a lack of paid employment. For her resume, I suggested we ditch the words, “co-op placement” entirely. While true, what I know to be the case is that not every employer values volunteer, co-op, internships and seasonal positions as much as they value paid employment. So instead of a heading, “Work Experience” which implies paid work, I always use, “Relevant Experience”. Under this heading, an applicant can put all their non-paid work right alongside any paid jobs; it is collectively then,  a summary of the positions held that are relevant to the job being applied to.

When we were done, I pointed out how we were still faithful to the truth; there were no lies on her resume, but the lack of paid work was now entirely concealed. What I saw in her was a smile, her shoulders dropped and relaxed from the tense, stress feeling she presented with initially, and she said, “I like it!” What was really happening was a small shift in her self-perception. She could defend this resume, she felt better about how she represented herself, and this sparked a boost in self-perception.

I don’t always win and I sure don’t know everything. I do know there’s more I don’t know that what I do know and this has me keen to learn more and keep discovering new approaches, new strategies and new ways to improve. What I do know with certainty however is that there are a lot of people walking around, appearing to function, ‘normally’ who are suffering with a damaged psyche. Let’s be careful to help not hinder, mind our words, mind our actions.

Happiness In Appreciating Small Things


If your workplace is a hectic, physically demanding or mentally exhausting place to work; if the volume of your workload has increased and you’re barely treading water, you might find that heading into work on Monday morning, you’re already living for Friday quitting time.

While weekends and days off are satisfying and something to look forward to for most, it’s not a good sign if you go into work just for the money, focused on getting out. This kind of mentality in the workplace can make it a toxic place to be if that attitude is spread among the majority. You could end up losing an appreciation for the work you do, think and talk poorly about your employer, your job, the environment and soon enough you become viewed as negative in general. If this happens, you might find fewer people want to hang out with you both at work and on their personal time; simply because most people would rather hang out with positive people.

Having said all this, you might be in agreement but wonder what you can do about it as there’s no way to change what you do for a living. The environment is intense, dusty, staff work in isolation or people bark to be heard over noisy machinery all day, etc. You might enjoy your job itself but just find nothing to look forward to except that weekend on the far horizon. Problem with this thinking is that if that’s all you look forward to in a day, even when the weekend is here, your thoughts of the upcoming return to work on Monday ruin your full enjoyment of Sundays.

One possible thing to try is to identify other things throughout the week that you look forward to and will enjoy. These can be things both at work and when you’re away from the job. I’m talking small things here; not major events. String together enough small things that you find pleasure, happiness or gratitude for in a day and your mood can shift slightly when they come to mind at work.

One small thing I personally look forward to each morning and have immense gratitude for is having a shower. It’s no simple feat from an engineering standpoint I suppose to get hot water readily available in every household in our community, but to me, it’s a simple thing I look forward to upon waking. Were my water to go cold or have to be shut off for even a day, I’d really come to appreciate what I’d lost even more and rather quick! It’s not that their long, but how I feel rejuvenated and invigorated gets me off to a great start each day.

I also look forward to the clothes I wear; that favourite pair of shoes, that shirt that usually draws a few compliments, maybe the colourful socks that I wear just often enough to be noticed and have a few laughs about.

Yesterday at work I was extremely focused at one point, working away on my computer and suddenly I thought of two things I was looking forward to once I got home. Those two activities each brought a physical smile to my face as I thought of them, and I could predict a pleasant evening ahead. What were they? Well, not everyone will share my view, but I looked forward to cutting the grass and watching my favourite football team play a game on television. Sure it’s only an exhibition game, but it was a first glimpse at the team after a long winter and early Spring.

You can view cutting the lawn as just another chore if you like, or you can view that same activity as one of the privileges of home ownership. I love the view of the backyard when the grass is freshly cut; the smell of the cut blades mixing with the lilac blossoms and everything at this time of year is lush and a mixture of intense greens. The tulips are in full blossom, the trees have their full canopy of leaves back, the hosta plants are healthy and spreading; it’s everything you strive for as an amateur gardener. It was so nice, I laid out supper on the back patio and it was just nice to sit back and take in the view.

Maybe your day gets a little brighter when you think of some facetime with a loved one far away; a grandson and daughter in my case, or perhaps a brother, mother, sister or father in yours.

Another thing I’ve come to appreciate and look forward to over many years of long commutes is the actual commute itself. Mine is an hour commute to work and another hour home. Being a mix of city and country driving, I realized a long time ago that I want to appreciate the changing scenery and the ride itself. The goal isn’t to drive fast and get to work or home as soon as possible, but rather sit back, take in the sights of rolling fields, rising suns and the odd wildlife here and there. Having a vehicle you enjoy driving might, as in my case, make the actual drive fun too.

My point is to appreciate the small, daily things that take up a lot of your time. Living consciously in the moment. having gratitude, looking forward to things might do for you what they do for me. Good for our mental health!