Eager Beaver

Last week, I covered another Microsoft PAC. I think it was my sixth. I’ve been with the same group, the Resellers, every time. This group is onto it’s third lead since I started working with them. The last guy, who reminded me of my brother in that he got along with everyone, left for greener pastures. The new lead, a woman I’ll call Wilma, had been on the job for 2 weeks when the Partner Advisory Council cropped up.

As I typed along, I noticed something. She took every action item.

“I’ll post that in the portal.”

“I’ll get that answer and email it to the group.”

“I can get the spreadsheet right now, and you can play with it while Fred is talking.”

She wanted to get all the action items at the end of each day. I tried to highlight things in red as I went along, but it got pretty tough to keep up. All I could do was shake my head. She reminded me of this.

eager beaver.jpg

I thought, Girl you’ve got to slow down. Let other people do their jobs. Oh wait. You’re still trying to prove yourself. And I thought about my old job at IDC. It was constant going, deadlines, adrenaline. I’d wake up at 2:00 a.m. in a cold sweat, trying to remember if I’d FedExed that package to Ireland. Did I? I was so tired I could not remember.

The new lead had an assistant. Let’s call her Betty. We hit it off right away.

“How long have you worked for Microsoft?” I asked her.

“Oh, I don’t. I’m a vendor.”

Imagine my surprise. Betty and Wilma had a good working relationship already. I thought they’d worked together for months, if not years.

“No, I do different events. The rest of the time I live in my small town.” She smiled.

I could appreciate that. We went on to discuss how Microsoft people are all in, all the time. They’re on 24/7. They’re completely committed. Betty went on to say the culture is like this. It’s the standard.

“You know, Susan, if you’re so tired you can’t form complete sentences, that’s bad.”

We both noticed Wilma struggling with this. Don’t get me wrong. Wilma is fabulous. Her adorable Canadian accent shone through, especially as she got more tired. She’s quick and on top of her game. I admired her drive. But working to the point of exhaustion…yes, it is bad.

I thought about the treasure verse from the book of Matthew. That verse always confused me. I have no treasure box laden with gold coins. I have money, of course. I spend a lot of it on a mortgage each month, which depletes the old bank account considerably. Does that mean my treasure lies there? I don’t think so. I think time is even more of a treasure than money. We receive a finite amount – an amount we don’t know the measure of – over the course of our lives.  I do know I don’t want to spend all my time at work. We’re so much more than our accomplishments, our rank. The time that I do have I want to give to family and friends and serving God wherever and whenever I can. I aim to be an Eager Beaver in those areas. I want to create a lasting investment.

Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. – Matthew 6:21


Conference Post Mortem

Swag alert!

Swag alert!

Just thought I would check in.  The spring PAC (Partner Advisory Council) is over.  I’m under an NDA so I can’t say much more than that.  But perhaps you would know what lessons I gleaned this time?  Well, boys and girls, sit back, relax, and let me tell you.

You might feel invisible to your crowd, but you aren’t.  Let’s say your group schedules breaks but doesn’t ever take them.  You find yourself typing and typing and typing.  Your bladder stages a protest.  It reaches critical mass.  Reluctant to disturb the flow of the presenter and the questions, you sneak out the service entrance to find a restroom.  Unbeknownst to you, your absence causes a stir.  “Where did she go?”  They send out a posse to look for you.  They scour the bathroom.  They call your cell phone.  As if by magic, you’ve made it back to your post in 3 minutes.  Nobody thinks to look for you back at your station.  You don’t answer your cell phone because you’re taking notes again. Not my true story, but one of them.

Smaller groups rock.  Especially if you get the same group you’ve had since 2012.  Which I have been blessed to do.  I missed one PAC – the spring one last year – due to some failed electronic communication.  Other than that, I’ve covered them all with the same people.  It’s gotten so I know who pipes up the most.  I know their voices and accents.  They guy from Germany wants to discuss licensing issues.  The Dutch counterpart is all about improving the customer experience.  The Brazilian guy, well, he’s just very nice.  The very best part?  The guys like me.  They know me.  They believe in my ability and they like my work.

My PAC leader, someone who could be a brother from another mother, is a genial guy. He likes people.  His welcoming attitude sets the tone of the gathering.

He passed me in the hall during one of our infinitesimal breaks the first day.

“I left something on your desk.  A present, ” he said.

“Oh, thanks,” I said.

A present?  What?  That doesn’t happen.  I thought maybe it was a card or something.  Nothing major.

It was a box containing a brand new 7″ tablet.

The PAC leader appreciates my work.  So much so that when he passed out 7″ tablets to all the participants – 10 of them –  he gave me one, too. He didn’t have to do it.

One of the guys from the U.K. looked over at me and said, “How do you do it?”

I said around my smile, “Well, you guys are great.  You make it fun.”

He smiled back.

Doing this kind of work makes me realize the impact of an encouraging word or gesture. Even if we come from different nations, we’re rather similar on the inside.  We all want to feel like our contribution matters, like we’re important.  A couple of the regulars came and shook my hand at the end of the day yesterday.  One brought chocolate from his native country and made sure I got some, too.  I’m overwhelmed at the favor God bestowed through this experience. Now, if only someone would edit the notes for me…

Nice Boys

Eliot and Isaac

Yesterday, I got a distress email from my Microsoft conference boss.  She had some horrible notes she couldn’t wrangle alone.  I put in 7 hours for 28 pages.  Good times. That, combined with babysitting my darling nephews, made for no time to blog.  Sorry.  Thankfully, Jonathon and Zac stepped up to help.  We sure enjoy those little guys.

Before I tackled the notes, I’d promised Eliot, 5 and Isaac, 3, a hike to the creek.  The sun shone down weakly thorugh the gathering clouds.  Rain would show up again in the next day or so.  We wandered up the street.  I pointed out squirrels gathering nuts for the long winter.  Chickadees swooped around us.

Upon reaching the pond, Isaac started throwing sticks into the water.  Then they both progressed to rocks.  I moved them down the path.  It was slow going.  Pick up a choice rock.  Admire it.  Toss it pond-wise.  Repeat.

“Hey guys?  Let’s keep moving.”  The clock ticked.  I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me.

We wandered on the gravel path.  The trees above us alternated green and gold leaves. When we reached the creek, more sticks begged to swim.  Big or little, it made no difference.

“Aunt Susan, look at this!”  Eliot held up a large stick.  Instead of pitching it, he held it under his arm.  Ditto with a couple of rocks.  Isaac kept his hands free, charging up the path.  Eliot poked along.  He had no reason to rush.

We crossed over the new bridge.  Isaac hopped up and trotted over.  I helped Eliot clamber up.  Wary, he glanced at the water a foot below us.  Getting dirty would be uncomfortable.  Getting wet would be much worse.

A couple of weeks back, a work crew carved a new path out of the hillside.  The boys agreed we should explores it.  Up and down we marched, avoiding a few tree roots.  I spotted a blue-winged woodpecker along the way.

“Look!”  Isaac picked up a rock for me to check out.

“No,” I said.  “We’re leaving the rocks here now.  They’re holding up the hillside.”

Isaac, ever creative, picked up the ostrich-egg sized rock and moved it from one side of the path to the other.  There!  Much better.  I chuckled.

Suddenly, the path ended.  Ahead of us, the crew had prepared the ground.  The freshly dug earth showed they planned to extend the path’s length.  The ground still contained uprooted plants.  Rocks bulged out of the dirt.

“We’re turning around here,” I said.

“No,” Isaac said.

Oh boy.

“Yes, we are.  We can’t go any further down this path.  See?  They’re not done with it yet.  We could stumble on those huge stones.”


I thought for a minute.


Isaac didn’t like that one bit.  He ran past me down the path, back the way we came.


Then he turned and looked at me.

“I’m gonna punch you in the face!” he said. His little face scowled at me.

Oh boy.

I did my level best not to laugh.  This is his new catchphrase.  He’s the youngest.  I gather he garners respect when he says this, in spite of his pint-sized cuteness. He can’t even reach my face.

“Isaac, come here.”


“NOW!” My voice rang under the trees.

I got his attention. He walked over to me.

“That is not acceptable.  We don’t say that, especially to people we love.”

His pale blue eyes looked into mine.  What would I do next?

“You know what we do instead?”

He said nothing.

“We hug them!”

I grabbed him in my arms and held him close. I felt him relax. I released him.  We smiled at each other.  We walked back to the bridge. After a few more rock-tosses and some photo ops, we made it home safe and sound.

I want to remember that when people close to us “act up”, it’s not their true selves. This, folks, was not the happy-go-lucky Isaac I know.  Even nice boys have rough moments.  Heck, nice girls, too, especially when we don’t get what we want. Can we give people the benefit of the doubt?  I’m up for trying.

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.
 – I Peter 4:8


Shine of Satisfaction

It’s over.  The great Microsoft PAC of fall 2014 has ended.  Let’s all observe a moment of silence.

That’s enough.

I took the notes, I edited the notes, I emailed the notes to my boss.  All 107 pages of partner goodness.  Yessir.

I feel like this.

Minus the eating garbage and bleating, of course.

I could have more editing to do.  The notes might get returned in the event I missed some particular formatting.  It’s possible.  But for now, I’m basking in knowing I did the best I could do.  I made a concerted effort to type cleanly the first time in order to save on editing later.

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time doing this.  The “take a moment and reflect on your achievement/milestone” part of life often eludes me.  I tend to gloss over things as if completing a big task didn’t really matter.  I never want to toot my own horn.  Because I’ve gathered over the years that this is what we think of as pride.  But I don’t think it is.  Attaining a worthwhile goal boosts your belief in yourself.  It’s a confidence-builder.  And boy howdy, have I needed one.  I’ve been itching for a new challenge for a while now.

I went into this conference with a certain amount of trepidation, fully aware of how grueling it would be and wondering if I still had “the right stuff” to pull it off. I prayed before and during the sessions.  And something strange and wonderful happened:  I relaxed.  I felt that peace that passes understanding soothe my spirit.  No matter what, it was gonna be okay.

I don’t think I’m better than anyone else.   I’m sure I could – and will – continue to improve at dynamic transcription.  My abilities do have limits.  For example, my shoulder still throbs despite the massage I got earlier today. However, I’m happy with what I was able to do and that I got to contribute, in a small way, to the success of the meetings.  It’s enough.

Praise the Lord; praise God our savior! For each day he carries us in his arms. – Psalm 68:19






Get your own theme song!

Warning:  my thoughts are all over the map today.  Now you know.

The notes are all done, and so am I.  I am bone weary.  Emailed them out last night.  Whew!

At least I didn’t get sweaty doing them, or incur a broken nose.  Kept all my teeth, too.

It didn’t help matters that we did the kettlebell challenge today.  I almost bailed on class.  Sacrilegious!  I know.  But when you feel like your right shoulder is affixed to your ear, you start to second-guess your regular activities.  As it is, my legs are finally awake.  Four day of sitting on your keister, then suddenly jolted into 100 lunges will do that for you.

It’s a cold, damp fall day.  The cats snooze in different places.  Zac is helping my dad with some work at the church.  Jonathon is at still his job.

I am alone.

Yes.  Amazing!  I’m never alone now.  Zac is like my taller, blue-eyed shadow.  Well, not really, since he rarely follows me around except to ask for stuff like money and ravioli.  Not necessarily in that order.

I’m learning to pace myself.  Life is a race.  Sometimes it’s slow and steady.  Predictable events occur on a regular basis.  Sometimes, like going to the Microsoft conference, everything is intensified.  You need to be in sprint mode.  It’s only for a short time, so you take care of yourself while you’re in it.  You eat well, exercise, get as much sleep as you can.  You enjoy the energetic part of  the journey. You see the turnaround while in the curve and kick to the finish.

Now, I’m back home.  I’ve got a full weekend ahead. Birthday parties, time with family, church.   I need to get refreshed so I don’t bite anyone’s head off.  Today is our now infamous pizza-and-movie night.  Friday.  Ahhh…that’s the ticket!

I want to be able to say this scripture (below) when I die.  For now, I’ll have to settle for completing tasks in an incremental fashion, doing the best I can.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.  – 2 Timothy 4:7

Pacing Myself

Last week:

Conference, partners with
Foreign accents, note-taking
Lost in translation.

Vs. this week:

Being mom again,
Back to real life and kids and
Making the sandwiches.

One of the first things you learn when you take up running is that you can’t run fast for very long.  Your endurance is nil.  Gone are the days when you sprinted everywhere.  Ruby still does this.  She runs up the stairs.  She runs down the driveway.  She runs to the bathroom.  Okay, some of us might still do that.

But if you want to run distance, you can’t do it fast.  I ran on the treadmill today.  I started out pretty slowly.  I could not go as fast as I had in the past due to coming back from my injury.  I could go longer, though.  And I did.  I ran three miles today, which is the farthest I’ve run since January.  Yes, I walked between the miles and stretched a bit, too.  But it felt good.  I didn’t even get queasy.  And I beat the guy on the treadmill next to me.  Not that I was looking.

Running is like so many things in life.  Sometimes your runs feel good.  You feel like you could run forever, to Venus and back, soaring among the stars.  You could make a lovely holiday home there.  Other runs are torture.  You’re tired.  The desire to run has dried up, an exotic bird flown to a warmer climate. Something you ate in the last 24 hours threatens to make another appearance.  You’re hurting and achy.

Take this week.  I have very few things on my docket this week.  I have a few social engagements, Zac’s 9th grade registration orientation (yikes!), church stuff and the usual rotating list of household duties.  Last week was different.  We were staying Seattle at a hotel for a couple days, then, at the Bellevue Hyatt taking notes for the Microsoft PACs, finally returning home to the chores and the rest of the time editing the notes.  I had to put some things off in order to prioritize the main event.  I had to pace myself then in order to finish and not get discouraged.  I could not finish all the corrections in one day.  Each day required new strength and effort. This week, I must dredge up motivation to do the daily tasks with joy.  It’s a bit of activity-whiplash, I suspect.  Yet each of these weeks are important in their own right.

I am learning to pace myself here, too.  The cold and drizzly late winter weather makes me contemplative.  I  can choose to find the good things and be happy.  It’s been said, “The trouble with life is that it is so daily.”  It’s true.  But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have value.  It’s just different.  These days require strength and effort, too, albeit of a different sort.  Meals must be prepared, bills paid, children ferried to school.  And a mom with a good attitude helps the family stay on course. This run will strengthen me for the next one.

Finish Line

snoopy dancing

The notes are done!  I just want to


or even

Yes, I am *that* happy.  No matching outfits or mullets necessary.  This dancing, of course, on the proviso that the notes don’t come back to me for more edits.  So far, so good.  Ten hours of editing this time.  Whew!

I sure hope heaven is one big party.  I think some of us are going to need it after this life is over.

And…Zac’s D.C. trip is paid for, courtesy of the IRS.  And I never really had to get dressed.  Not that I’m telling you that.