Tag Archives: women

Careful What You Wish For… (Working From Home)

I’m very thankful to work remotely for a great company, and there are definite advantages in working from home.  But, it’s just like any relationship.  The advantages can eventually become the disadvantages.

It’s the little things that drive you crazy… like the fact that you can’t control when people mow their lawn, or when a loud truck drives by your house.  It can be disastrous if someone knocks when you are on the phone, so my dogs go in a closed room faaaar from the desk and a sign goes on the door when I have important conference calls.

Working over telephones, it’s hard to tell when the speaker is finished or someone new is going to pipe up, so there is the frequent unintended interruption of your colleagues.  You also have to work a little harder at interpreting meaning since you can’t see facial expressions.

You learn to not have overnight guests during the week since most people don’t really get what it means to ‘work from home’.  They bang kitchen cabinets, get ice from the dispenser, and walk into the room talking all the while risking your professionalism.  They don’t mean to cause trouble; they just haven’t experienced working for a paycheck from home.

The obvious differences are not having to dress professionally and the lack of office socialization.  Working in an office brought some of the best relationships I’ll ever have.  My girlfriends from work have shared many tear-producing laughing spells and gotten me through many crises.  I miss them.  I have to try a little harder to get my regular dose of friends.

It is true that I don’t spend as much money on clothes, shoes, and jewelry as I did when I worked in an office.  The result is that now I never have the right clothes to wear, anywhere.  You see, I hate to shop.  Needing to shop for work clothes got me in the stores, and then I bought all kinds of clothes and shoes.  Now, I just keep putting it off and will eventually be that oddly-dressed lady who generates chuckles.

Wearing comfortable clothes while working brought its own harsh reality when I put on ‘real’ clothes a few weeks after starting the remote job.  It’s harder to notice that you are gaining weight.  I couldn’t believe it until I started realizing that I didn’t walk from the parking garage to the office anymore, from my desk to lunch, to meeting rooms, to the kitchen,…

It’ is great to avoid commuting in rush hour.  But that evening-hour commute gave me opportunities to stop by the grocery store or the drug store.  Now, it seems I’m perpetually out of the basics.  In the old days, I would not venture out of the house without makeup applied and hair done at least a little.  I no longer consider it worth the time to ‘get ready’ just to run to the store.  So, I tend to put off going altogether or pretend I’m invisible and run into the store looking like an embarrassment to my younger self.

In the end, the biggest difference is freedom in where you live.  I’m thankful to the now-friend who offered the original position to me.  It allowed me to move back to the southeast.  Now, I can have a casual weekend dinner with my Mother and Grandmother, and that’s the best advantage.  Now, if I can just figure out what to wear…….



Say WHAT???

I am repeatedly struck by the impact tone of voice has on any one remark. Whether from a spouse, friend, family member or co-worker, the same sentence or phrase said with an ounce of care will carry your message much further and it really isn’t all that hard. Seems that all it takes is a little bit of awareness and keeping kindness and/or that person at the center of your mind, vs the specific desire to be right and/or make your point.

This seems to ring true especially with spouses or other close one who you spend a lot of time with, somehow concentrated in times of stress or over holidays! Take the common situation where you and said person are in a conversation either which each other or another third party and one of you says something incorrectly. Possible responses are (bold used for emphasis of tone):

No, that isn’t right, it was…
..that isn’t right, it was …
..that isn’t right, it was…
Actually, what I remember is

Amazing what a good choice of words and a kind tone will do for you.

My husband and I have agreed to call each other on these kinds of things when we see them and this is one area we are actively working on. The way I see it, I aspire for our dialog (and relationship) to be one couched in mutual respect and kindness that shines through… and therefore I am working on making that last option more of a default reaction.

I’ve also found this whole tone thing to be key when talking to our lil puppy Zuger (who is topping the scales at 100lbs now). It is too easy to be angry/impatient with a puppy when they have no idea what they are doing… for example, when you want them to come,  are you basically yelling their name or are you saying it in a very excited tone that indicates that if they do come, there will be so much fun in your current location that they shouldn’t miss it? I continue to work on that one.

So in a world where voice to voice conversations are diminishing in favor of the typed message… how do you work on this? Can you get do-overs? The best advice I’ve seen lately is as follows:

How can we guard against that tone?  If you feel it creeping into your voice, slow down or stop, take a deep breath, and start again.  Or, if you realize ,after the fact, that your tone may have garbled your message, make amends by apologizing for sending out a mixed message, clarify it, and then move forward.

… And I have to say, in a conversation with an employee recently, I stopped mid-sentence and apologized for the tone that was coming out of my mouth and said I wanted to start again. Repeating my words in a different tone changed the conversation.

I can’t say I’m advanced in this area.. But I am aware at least and isn’t that the first step to sustained change?

A very happy new year to you and your family!


Capturing sweetness

Recently my father in law passed away. At too young an age… unexpected, sad.

Events like this somehow tweak your perspective and I’ve had flashes of great insight during these trying times. When I can get there, it is so sweet and savory that I’ve been trying to capture it.

The best I can explain is that the goodness is to remember that nothing lasts forever. For me, this small simple key seems to unlock my ability to enjoy true happiness and more importantly, contentment.

That is to say, life is sad, happy, angry, frustrating and joyful – all at once and all at different times, for different lengths of time. But right now, embody….down to your tippy toes… that this moment, this night, this job, this weather, this health, this relationship, this pet, this situation WILL CHANGE.

If you can truly feel it and appreciate the feelings that you are having, good or bad – the challenge of your colleagues, the stress of your job, the joy in your dog, the battle with fitness, the achievement of your day – you are truly living and that is all we have.  Because it will change, just as it has always changed….Then one day we are gone.

If you waste all your time being so stuck in the actual emotion at the second, really stuck, and not just watching it all flow by and experiencing it, you have truly missed out.

Life is unbearably sweet and precious! Step back, smile and marvel at the wonder of it all.

~ Michaela

Four Legged Lessons

For five years I worked at the ASPCA.  Day after day I watched neglected and abused animals enter our front doors. Day after day I was inspired by the resilience of their hearts – their ability to love again. I fostered a lot of dogs but never adopted. One Friday, a Daschund/Chihuahua puppy was placed in the palm of my hands and was asked, “Will you take him home for the weekend?” That was 13 years ago. And Lyle is the most consistent male relationship I’ve had.

Every day I love him more. Every day we understand each other more. I have learned a thousand things from him. But here are just a few:

Stretch: Each morning, very first thing, Lyle basically does a full sun salutation and then rolls on his back and writhes around. He does this each time he sits too long too. I sit bent over a lap top all day, sometimes 14 hours. So I am trying to do the opposing stretch each time I get up from my desk so I don’t grow a hump.

Don’t be cool: Whether I’m gone 5 minutes or 5 days, when I return I get the same greeting from Lyle. There is jumping, running and pure joy. When I am excited to see someone, I play it cool. Even though my heart may be jumping and running inside, on the outside, it’s more like, “Oh you’re here. That’s cool.” But I am trying to show people how truly happy I am to see them (without licking them).

Be open about what you want: If Lyle wants attention or food or to go out, he is very clear about it. There’s the stare, then the nudge, and then the talking, not barking, he actually talks. I’m afraid to ask for what I want, I might seem needy. But no one will ever know what you unless you tell them. I recently applied for a job I wanted badly, and at the end I channeled Lyle and told my interviewer that this was my dream job and I really really wanted it. He told me that someone who is passionate about the job was exactly what he was looking for.

The most important thing I have learned from Lyle is not as easy to put into practice. And that is: The best way to really know someone is to smell their butt.


We’ve only had Zuger, our greater swiss mountain dog, for four months. At 6 months old, he is still a very big puppy (topping 65 pounds currently). In my short dog ownership, we’ve gone through lots of – ahem – ingestion and elimination cycles with issues at both ends as to be expected.

The great thing is, he treats each one like it is brand new…. meaning, he doesn’t get hung up on whether he was sick yesterday or ate something he didn’t like, he just dives in completely oblivious to the past, focusing on what he is eating or expelling at that moment. BTW he isn’t territorial about food, just very very focused, treating every kibble like it is manna from heaven.

In the last few years I’ve tried hard to develop my ability to be in the now.

It is not easy when you are balancing work, working out, husband, extended family… and so forth. It is so easy to get caught into futures or rehashing past.  I can’t say I’ve “learned” to be in the present from him, but he actively teaches me this every day. The life bonus I get by taking the extra moment to really give him a good rub down starting from his head through his chest, taking more time than I would have imagined necessary when introducing him to new person, food or activity (especially when trimming nails), and understanding when some good quality time on the couch will make both of our days much better.


Not until writing this blog entry did I realize that Ellie is going to be 2 next month.  I can’t believe I’ve had her that long – I don’t remember what life was like without her around (although if I took a look back at my credit card statements I’m sure it would remind me that I was at the bar with friends more than I was in my own home).

That said I’m sure the biggest thing Ellie has taught me is to slow down.

Pre-Ellie, I rarely spent a night at home.  I was always going out for dinner, drinks… different activities – always having a great time but never slowing down.  At first, Ellie had some pretty bad separation anxiety so I started staying home more to work on that, leaving for short amounts of time to get her acclimated (side note – now it’s me that has the separation anxiety).  Once I started slowing down and staying put for some time, I found other things that I enjoyed doing… reading again, making jewelry, reality TV, cooking… the list goes on.  But it reminded me that it’s okay to stay home and have some alone time (ironic since I was living alone and working from home… alone… but in any case).

I’m sure she’s taught me much more than that, but right now I’m having a hard time thinking through the barking… the weather is finally getting nice enough to leave the windows down and she insists on talking to all of the neighborhood dogs.


I am a long-time dog owner, currently have two dogs (Oz and Monte), and believe you’re guaranteed smiles every day when you live with a dog.  So, it’s a challenge choosing one thing I’ve learned from my companions.  But, I think the most important lesson they’ve taught me is to always be willing to reach out.    

Dogs don’t let the fact that you’ve just scolded them or taken away their favorite possession make them withdraw or interact any differently than they did an hour ago. They let it go and face the next moment with the same hopeful, trusting attitude.  They are still excited about any communication or activity.  They don’t let their confidence get impacted by a negative interaction or feel any less worthy because their action wasn’t aligned with expectations, either someone else’s or their own.

 This is both an important and difficult lesson for me.  We make mistakes, and so do our loved ones.  We can’t let that influence our willingness to be the one to reach out to our partner, our family, or our friends.  That’s true even if we’re hurt, we’ve tried too many times, or we’re just having a bad day.

I’ve learned many lessons from being around dogs for forty years and I aspire to be more like my dog in many ways.  If you want to see some of the lessons our canine friends provide, check out this dog philosophy.

Now, where are my guys for some more smiles………


I’ve always believed that things happen for a reason, even bad things.  The dogs we have now came to me through bad circumstances but were meant to be ours.  We had a dog, Andrew, when we lived in the country that was the sweetest mutt.  He belonged to the neighbors and they totally mistreated him.  My neighbor was out of work and Andrew was very destructive, tearing up our other neighbor’s Christmas decorations and misbehaving (as puppies do).  When my husband asked me what I wanted for Christmas that year I told him to go to the neighbor and pay him anything he wanted for the dog. 

 I’m sure he felt that he got off pretty easy that year but it was the best present I’ve ever received.  He brought Andrew to me on a night when it was sleeting and Andrew had been chained to a tree in the back yard with no shelter.  I loved that dog to pieces.  The problem was that while he loved us, he also loved the neighbor’s kids and he tended to sleep right in the middle of the road between our houses.  It wasn’t that big of a deal because 1) we couldn’t break him of it and 2) we lived on a dead end road.  But, the worst finally happened and he got run over.

A few weeks later I went to a pet store in the mall and they wouldn’t sell me any dog because I said that the dog would spend most of the time outside.  Then I went to a dog pound in St. Louis (so deplorable that it has since been closed) and found Valentine.  The volunteer took me straight to her and when I saw on her card that she was picked up on my birthday, I knew she was meant for me.   Ten years later she is still the sweetest girl but she’s protective of me when my husband isn’t home.  Plus she’s smarter than many humans.  She wanted me to say here that she is NOT a dog. 

Last year we lost LB, our Jack Russell.  His death was so traumatic for all of us but especially for Valentine who was very lonely.  We found Cooper on-line at a nearby shelter and went and picked him up (after Valentine approved) the day we tearfully scattered LBs ashes in the back yard.  Cooper was totally meant for us too.  He is silly, sweet and oh so entertaining.  I’m sure Valentine is second guessing giving her approval when Cooper is aggravating her to death. 

And the dogs we have deserve every bit of love and spoiling that we do.  Things happen for a reason and while I miss our doggie family members who have passed on, our big happy family is exactly as it was meant to be. 

– Susan

What have you learned from your dog?