One month in…

I’ve survived my first month at Pegasus Health – four weeks and four days to be precise.

I’m finally starting to understand what people around me are on about, and am able to be helpful here and there. It’s a really challenging role and I am loving it. I’m not one to live life in the slow lane – the work is a good mix of busy-ness, but with some time to think and absorb what’s going on.

One thing I have reflected on is how much more pleasant my work environment is from my last role. I don’t mean the view out the window – the people and the culture of the place is just vastly different. I am starting to see the nuances of the relationships between my workmates, and while they don’t always get along, there is a good-natured camaraderie amongst them.

This is in stark contrast to the previous place – the last few months at RC feel like being in the middle of a vipers nest. Some of us who have left recently (and some that are still there) have been on the receiving end of the consequences of speaking out against decisions made by higher ups – usually a stern talking to or in some cases, a strongly worded letter of warning. When I left RC, I pointed out (and it was acknowledged) that staff morale was extremely low. Smart and capable people were not to get anything done because the bosses didn’t trust them to talk to anyone outside the organisation or to make decisions for themselves. The justification for this is that they were “keeping us safe”. Safe from what I am not sure. It was extremely frustrating.

To be honest, I hadn’t realised how hard it was to work at RC until I left. The first year was really great, and then as the best and brightest walked away, it became really unpleasant.

So I am delighted to find myself working somewhere that allows people to get on with the job – each person is trusted to do their job well and, amazingly [sarcasm], they do! People work hard, they have a laugh, they stop for lunch, and actually talk to each other. It’s a vibrant place. I love that there are hot savouries to celebrate something most weeks and a constant supply of lollies and coffee to keep everyone going. Each of the last 24 days has flown by. Long may it continue!

Blog, I missed you!

Poor old blog – I posted a great plan for the year and then just got on with it! Now it’s October and I realise I haven’t blogged all year.

So, what have I got to say for myself? It’s been a busy one!

In August last year I joined the Dallington Residents Association, as they were looking for new members and a new secretary. I put my hand up for the job. I blogged about that here.

Then in May this year, the Chair resigned and I found myself in the role of interim Chair (and voted in as the new Chair following the AGM in May). It’s been a big learning curve for me to be involved in local community politics, and hugely rewarding. Our committee is a group of very dedicated and long-serving members of our community – they’ve been very supportive and helpful as I learn the ropes. I couldn’t ask for a nicer bunch of people to work with.

It’s lucky that I really love doing this work, because it’s like a second part-time job! I probably work 10-15 hours a week on top of my ‘real’ job; attending meetings, keeping in touch with people, helping to plan activities, representing the committee in discussion of local issues.

It’s probably good that I’m a sticky-beak!

It’s been a wild ride

I’ll post up my review of the past year in the next few days, but I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on the last few months. It’s been amazing, but so busy. I’m amazed at how much mental bandwidth it takes to start a new job! After six months, I think I’m a just starting to get the hang of it. New people, new routines and new skills is a challenge, but I’ve also needed to learn a whole new language! My new job comes with its own database of information that I really don’t know much about at all. I’ve really loved getting a crash course in these, and I am lucky to have patient workmates who are happy to explain their areas of expertise to me.


I took an opportunity the other day to wander through the Otakaro Avon River Corridor (residential red zone). I wanted to get a sense of it – where it’s up to and how its looking. Before I note my impressions, here’s the back story.

Stephen and I recently joined the Dallington Residents Association. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for ages, but just haven’t had the time. With Stephen less involved in hockey, and me travelling and working less, now seemed a good time. So I answered a call for a new DRA secretary. It’s a great little group with some good ideas, but maybe lacking direction and a bit out of touch with the resident population. Dallington has changed massively since the earthquakes. We lost approximately half our residents, and I suspect that a lot of those were older people. Demographically, Dallington is now a young suburb, with almost half of the residents being under 30. That’s in stark contrast to the DRA, where the average age is probably around 60. While the DRA has some great ideas about community events and beautification, I think it has been slow to react to the changes that the earthquakes have caused.

This month Regenerate Christchurch released a discussion document for the various land use options its considering in the area. At our last DRA meeting, I suggested that we could hold a workshop for residents on the options, with the objective of producing a submission from the DRA on our view of the options. The committee agreed, and that workshop is scheduled for 31 October.

So this is why I found myself wandering along the new Otakaro bike trail thinking about regeneration.

And what was my sense? It’s a beautiful place. The river looks as though its well on the way to regeneration all on its own, taking parts of the neighbourhood with it. And that feels right. Maybe for this area, regeneration means letting the river find its place again. Maybe it’s about giving the land a chance to settle, and then we can figure out what bits to give over to the river, and what bits we can use again.

I stopped along my walk to look at the plants and trees that now delineate the house boundaries.

In my logical brain, I look at the land and understand that its an valuable asset. We can’t realise that asset unless we use it for something. But in my heart, I feel sad for the people who had to leave. I know some of them went willingly – they took their money and found more stable ground to rebuild on. But a lot of people left only because they had to. If that was my former home and I was faced with the prospect of it being sold on to new homesteaders, I’d be upset, and maybe angry. It seems too soon. Leave it alone for a while. Give people a decent chance to grieve.

How long does that take? It feels like seven years isn’t enough. It might take 20 years. Or fifty. Can we afford to wait that long? I think we can, out of respect for the people who were moved out.

Two months in…

I’ve been at my new job for two months now, and I’m loving it!

The first month was really just about getting my bearings – figuring out who everyone was, what they did, and what I did. The second month has been about getting into the flow of work and making sure my awesome team has everything they need to get on with business.

I don’t think I truely appreciated how stressful my previous job was until I left. With the benefit of two months of distance between me and Synapsys, I can see more clearly how difficult it had become to work there. My current job is busy, but nothing like the kind of craziness I dealt with every day at Synapsys. I would walk away from my desk each day feeling like I hadn’t even made a chink in the mountain ahead of me. And then there wild be a new, bigger mountain the next day!

It’s been challenging to get a crash course in a whole new subject matter, but also really interesting. What started out sounding like a different language is starting to make sense. And the staff at work  are genuinely committed to what they are trying to do.

I am so proud of what we’ve already achieved, and we have so many more adventures ahead. I can’t wait!

Out with the old…

I start my new job on Monday. No-one was more surprised than me when I handed in my notice at Synapsys. I loved my job and I loved (most of) my workmates. I wasn’t seriously looking for a new job, but when I saw a Programme Manager position, I applied without even thinking about it.

It’s frustrated me in the last couple of years that my job had become almost all-consuming – so intense that it didn’t leave much room for side projects. I’ve blogged lots of times about cutting back, doing less, keeping life simple. I’ve done it, but I haven’t liked it. I have seen all the amazing creative things going on around the city, but I haven’t been able to get involved. I’m hoping this new job will give me a chance to get my sticky beak into some of that stuff now. I’m super excited about that! And of course nervous too … it’s a hard transition to make going from being at the top of my game when I know what I’m doing, to knowing very little about the industry I’m moving into. But I am ready for the challenge.

I will really miss some parts of working at Synapsys – mucking in and getting things done together, knowing that when the shit hit the fan my workmates were there for me – professionally and personally. I must admit that I am surprised to find myself in the (rather large) Former Synapsys Employee Club. I thought I would be a lifer.

I’m not sorry to be leaving behind the timesheeting, the difficult clients, the travel, and most of all, trying to get things done on a shoe string with not enough time or staff. The past few years I’ve known I could do a better job every time if I had a bit more resource. That’s frustrating. I’ve had to learn to walk away from “just good enough” jobs. That’s okay sometimes, but I didn’t like that it had become the norm.

So onwards and upwards for me! Eek!

What do you do…?

People ask each other this all the time. “So, what do you do?” Of course, what they mean to say is “how do you waste your time in that 8-10 hours of daylight each day?”

I never know the etiquette of asking this question. I am terminally nosy about other people’s lives, and I always want to know these kinds of details about them. In my perfect world, what-do-you-do-for-living? would be closely followed by “how do you spend your other time? What are your hobbies? What are your passions? What kind of family are you from? Where did you grow up? Do you have kids? Do you want kids? Where did you go to school? What are you doing after this? What about after that?”. Honestly, if I wasn’t being polite, I could be relentless. Once I decide I like someone, I want to know all about them. People and their lives and their choices fascinate me.

But, anyway, back to the point. At hockey on Monday, we got to the “what do you do” conversation in the locker room before the game. Some people were definitely more forthcoming than others.

Why is this? Are you reluctant to share what you do with others? Is it a status thing? i.e. you don’t want to position yourself as being of either higher or lower status than others in the conversation. That was my assumption.

For me, the only reluctance is around explaining what I do. When I taught sociology and anthropology at the University of Canterbury, explaining my job was straightforward (see how easy that was?). Everyone understands the concept of a university lecturer, even if they might be a bit hazy on the sociology/anthropology bit. So it would be a conversation starter: “Oh, what does a sociologist do?”

Now, I am an educational designer and project manager. They are vague, hard to explain terms. They don’t really sound like a proper job. Telling people what I do nowadays is often a conversation stopper. People don’t really know what to make of “educational designer” and I have trouble explaining it. Usually I resort to “I write training manuals for polytechs and other places like that”. But that’s not really what I do. A big part of my job is actually managing my own and other people’s work processes. It’s what I really love doing. I spend a lot of my day tracking work coming into my company from clients, recording it, allocating the work to an educational designer, editor or graphic designer, and then sending a beautiful product back of to the client for them to wow over.

I need to develop a slick patter for when people ask me the job question. The starting point for me? I love my job. Did I mention that? I really do.

Check us out if you like: SYNAPSYS

This and that

It amazes me how much life can change in such a short space of time. A year and a half ago, I was living alone in an apartment in the city, I had just started a new job after just having returned from an extended jaunt abroad. I was happy-ish, but a bit lost, wondering what the heck I was going to do with my life. I had a feeling of being surplus – what was my mission, my goal?

Then blamo! Everything changed. First, I became a Nana. It didn’t materially change my life much at all, but it made me feel differently about thinking-forward. I had another whole generation of people that I could have an influence on. I started to reshape myself around the idea of being Nana to baby Wyatt. What kind of Nana was I going to be? Cool, of course. Involved. Caring, present, but not ‘in-your-face’, playful, but still strict-ish. So now I was Brigid-Bebe-Mum-Nana.

And then in February 2009 (on Valentine’s Day, in fact), after seeing the movie “He’s Just Not That Into You” I decided I needed to shake things up some more. I wanted to meet someone to share my time with…

I made a list. Someone had once told me that if I wanted something, I should think about what form I wanted it to come to me in, write down what I desired, and then put this out to the universe and wait. I had just read a book about a women who describes doing this: The Wishing Year, so I was feeling inspired. I made a list of all the characteristics I wanted in a potential mate. All the really big important things (intelligence, humour, looks, secure, doesn’t want more kids…) and all the little incidental things that seem like just a bonus, but help to sustain a relationship over time (wants to travel, likes nerdy things…). Some of the things on the list seemed silly to put there, but hey, it was a wish-list so I figured I might as well go all-out.

I met Stephen online a few days later, and we started dating in March. Without an exception, he ticks every item on my list.