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Home again

11 Feb

It seems like yesterday and forever ago at the same time. Five months to the day, give or take time difference math it’s too hard to do on a Saturday, about 230 of my closest friends and I celebrated the end of our amazing MBA experience. There were speeches and toasts, music and dancing, hugging and kissing, and quite a few tears by the end of the night. Oh, and pizza. At 4 a.m. But that’s a story for another post.

And then we scattered to all the corners of the world, with business plans, job offers, interviews, hopes, ideas, and no shortage of memories – helped along by a LOT of Facebook photos.

And now we are home again – whatever the definition of home is. For me, it’s not the place I called home before the MBA, it’s a whole new city – Calgary. But somehow in the last few weeks, it’s sort of crept up on me and finally become home.

Downtown Calgary

It’s a combination of things. Like how I finally know my way around enough to know when the cab driver is taking the “long way” to my house. The fact that I’ve found a great neighbourhood restaurant, decent pizza, a library and a grocery store all within 3 blocks of my house. Hosting my first grown-up dinner party in my new apartment with a few good friends, and lots of wine. And how I caught myself walking around in the sunshine yesterday, watching a few snow flurries come down as people rushed by on lunchtime errands and realized hey, I kinda like this town. Whatever the reason, I’m officially ready to consider myself at home. Hello Calgary, pleased to meet you.

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Backwards and forwards

16 Apr

That first line is always the hardest. It’s like that chore you just don’t want to do – your mind looks at it, and then invariably skitters away to something easier to tackle, or simply as an alternative thing to do (like checking Facebook for the umpteenth time!). But, dear reader, you will be pleased to note that I have made it – made it back into the blogosphere!

So what’s been happening? Let’s indulge in a quick catch-up – studied super-hard all term,worked to develop a marketing plan for a social enterprise to combine education, financial literacy and football, wrapped up exams, watched Oxford dominate in the Boat Race, and did some quality traveling. I totally get that I’ve condensed 3 months into a short paragraph, but more on those things in later posts. After all, that’s the looking backwards part.

Looking forward is actually way more fun. With a just under 2 weeks before the new term starts, it’s interesting to think about what happens next, now that we’ve passed the half-way point in the program. The big thing on many people’s minds is finding that perfect post-MBA job opportunity. Some are already enjoying the pleasure of having offers in hand, while others are going through interviews and preparations in order to land that perfect spot.  Still others are gearing up to launch their own ventures, supported by investors hoping to get in on the next big thing. In one way or another, people are getting ready for the next phase.

In the spirit of looking ahead, it’s also impossible to ignore the metaphor provided by nature – spring has sprung! Cherry blossoms, tulips, casting off winter layers and warming temperatures are just some of the signs.

Oh wait, one more sign of spring – federal elections in Canada! The third in just over 5 years, maybe this time it will actually be about something? One sure way to make elections matter is to vote in them. Lots of people have been doing all kinds of things to encourage people to vote, so here’s my two pence – VOTE!

On that note, I’ll take my leave. Here’s looking forward to you!

It’s so hard to say goodbye

7 Sep

So heads up – if you thought this was a soppy sentimental post, you can just move on right now. I’m not sentimental today, I’m mad!

Why, you ask? I’m discovering how difficult it is to exit my life. Not the leave-taking of friends and family, familiar places and the like, although I’m sure that will warrant its own post at some point. Right now, it’s the extraction of myself from services that is proving excruciating.

My cell phone provider sold me a plan – a bundled voice and data plan – at a single fixed rate. Imagine my shock and horror when I called to cancel my service and was told I’d be subject to not one, but TWO cancellation fees, one for voice and one for data!  Yup, $400 plus taxes, to NOT have something.  What made this even worse is that when I gave the guy on the other end a piece of my mind, he passed me on to a smooth-voiced calm Englishman (the irony was not lost on me) who was able to placate me with a completely different offer – a stripped-down minimum-charge plan for the remaining 10 months of my contract for $225 including taxes. What a difference a dude makes!

Now it’s not that I don’t expect to pay some sort of penalty to leave a contract early. I read the fine print, and I’m not unreasonable. What made me really annoyed was the completely different treatment and information I received, simply because I challenged the first offer.  What happens if you don’t, I wonder? If you are not savvy enough to push back and say, oh I don’t think so! I guess you get stuck with the hefty price tag, and the poor service.

It makes you wonder too, what else we are putting up with, simply through a failure or lack of inclination to speak out.  What else would we ask for, of whom?  What would get better if we demanded it?

There was some good news today – I can readily extract myself from health care coverage with a single phone call, and I can choose when coverage starts and stops.  Thank goodness some things are simpler than others.

Beginnings and endings

28 Aug

What a month it’s been! Full of beginnings and endings of all shapes and sizes.  Admittedly, this has meant some time spent away from the blogosphere, but it has been worth it.

First the beginnings.  There’s a new man in my life  – he turned 4 weeks old on Friday, and now weighs in about 12 pounds.  Our family recently welcomed a brand new baby boy, making me an aunty for the second time.  He has a special calmness about him that only tiny babies seem able to achieve, that really makes you want to just close your eyes, sit still and breathe in his fabulous baby smell. When he looks at me (as he is just starting to do) I am filled with anticipation about what the world will be like for him as he grows up, and find myself committing to doing my very best to making it better than he found it.

The other big news was an ending and beginning in one – the end of a 5-year stint with my last employer, and the beginning of being a student again!  It was definitely a bitter-sweet moment to turn in my parking pass, clean out my desk and say goodbye to the great group of folks I’ve worked with. If any of you are reading this, you will be missed. 

And finally, a true ending – moving out of my apartment, and getting rid of almost everything I’ve owned and used to make a home with for the past several years.  It’s amazing how we get attached to things! Not to mention, how many of them we accumulate when we stay in one place for a while. By my count, this is move #5 in 8 years, but it doesn’t get any easier, although your friends get better at moving stuff around.

Oddly, there’s also a strange sense of being untethered, because although I’ve moved OUT of one place, I haven’t really moved IN to the next one yet.  A three-week hiatus before landing in the next place I’ll call home will be an interesting physical and mental space to inhabit.  More on this next time ….

New beginnings … the trailer

20 Aug

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on the blog … but even though the blogosphere has been quiet, there has been SO MUCH going on in the real world.  Thought I would provide a sneak peak of some upcoming topics …

New Beginnings … some of the brand-spanking-new things that I’ve been up to!

How inclusive are we really? … a look at some of the ways we think our society has evolved vs. what people REALLY may be feeling.

Where did all this stuff come from? … the life and times of dealing with all the stuff you accumulate in a lifetime, and how you get rid of it when the time comes.

Hope you will check back soon!

Me and Gran go back to school

26 Jul

My grandmother was born in Barbados in 1913.  At the age of 10, unlike many girls her age, she got the opportunity to enter the prep year for high school.  Two years later, her father passed away.  Facing tighter financial circumstances as a result, her mother opted to take her out of school to save school fees.

Two generations later, I’ve had the benefits of attending high school, attending university and achieving a first degree in engineering.  And now I’m heading to Oxford to do my MBA at the Said Business School. Said is an amazing institution with an ethos closely aligned with my own interests, backed by the incredible legacy of the University of Oxford.  I’m excited beyond words, and very proud of having been accepted to a program that I’m sure is going to exceed my expectations and challenge my boundaries. 

It’s a bit mind-blowing to be honest. One personal concern? That I’ll live up to my grandmother’s legacy. Despite not finishing high school, she was accepted to train as a nurse in her early 20s, and went on to become the first female pharmacist qualified in Barbados.  She raised 5 children and helped many more in the neighbourhood, in the very tough post-World War II economic conditions in Barbados.  She never learned to drive a car, but she was full of other knowledge that helped her touch many lives. She left some big shoes to fill.

 My grandmother and I were both born in the summer, me in August and her in July.  Today, she would have been 97 years old. Looking back on her life, I can’t help but wonder what she would have done with my opportunities. More importantly, what will I do?  Wherever she is, I hope she’s looking out for me.

Happy Birthday Gran.

Where did you buy that?

4 Jun

I need you to do me a favour.  Before you read any more of this post, get up and go look at your stuff. Open your closet, your pantry, your super-duper designer shoe cupboard.  Look at your stuff, take it in.  OK, come back now.

Do you know where your stuff comes from? Who made it, grew it, helped get it from wherever it started to you? If not, you should.  Here’s why:

  • According to the International Labour Organization, there are about 215 million child labourers at work across the globe.
  • Tobacco is one of the main agricultural industries employing children. Children are being poisoned by green tobacco sickness as a result.
  • Multi-generational poverty in some of the world’s poorest places is the main reason that children often need or are forced to work
  • Unless companies understand their supply chains, you could be purchasing items made by children.

The fact is, sometimes a bargain isn’t really a bargain. Does it really make sense that you can purchase a “hand-made” item for as little as $5? Made in some country thousands of kilometres away from your local mall? How far you could you get on $5?

So what to do? Get the facts. There are plenty of brands out there willing to share their supply chains with you. They audit the factories and locations where their goods are made, ensure proper conditions for workers, and work to prevent child labour.  Some of them, like Nike and Gap, made this shift when others exposed their secrets. Today, Nike is embracing transparency and sharing how it continues to work on managing its supply chain. Other companies like Patagonia and Timberland have always focused on producing high-quality items in ethical ways.

Even if you aren’t in the market for fancy shoes, you can still make a difference.  Pay attention. Question the “deal”. Get to know more about how goods are produced.  Get to know the Story of Stuff.

Buy less, but buy better.Your wallet has power. Use it wisely.

Glad you could join me

2 Jun

Hello? I’m here!!! Can anyone hear me? Is this thing on?

You’ll have to pardon me, I’m pretty good at yelling at inanimate objects. In fact, one of the main reasons I started this blog is that I really needed to find an alternative to yelling at the radio every day on my way home.

If you are anything like me, you’ve probably come across things in the news, on TV or online that really make you want to grab a megaphone and head out on to the street, just to speak your mind.

Since I’m new here, maybe I won’t yell today. First impressions and all that. But just you wait … the folks at BP have yet to let me down … but that’s a story for another day. First impressions and all that.

Wendy