Friday, December 28, 2007

Looking Back, looking forward...

Well, Christmas day was a quiet affair. I went to my parents for dinner and we all ate big dinners and imbibed some nice wine, crackers were pulled, gifts were opened and afternoon naps were taken by my parents while I regressed and watched Finding Nemo. I had some great gifts:
  • A wonderful calendar of garden photos all the way from the Hollywood Hills, taken by Naomi herself of 'Here in the Hills'.
  • A macro lens for my dSLR (does the Snoopy dance).
  • A monopod for my camera :)
  • Perfume
  • The usual choccies
  • Socks (thanks mum!)
  • Aromatherapy paraphernalia (thanks CQ and D)
It is perhaps no surprise that two of my closest friends bought me aromatherapy and 'pampering' style gifts for Christmas. As you might know I have been feeling rather stressed the past few weeks, due to work, study and a family situation and lately I have not been feeling myself at all and I have not been well. I am feeling a little less stressed now which is good news.

January is named after the god 'Janus' who had two faces and could look forward to the new year and back on the old one. Quite frankly I will be glad to see the back of this year. It has pretty much been my Annus
Horribles. For most of the year I have been dealing with my divorce which is now settled, though at times it has been very hard. It was the right thing to do but after 14 years of being together it was difficult to deal with. My mother became ill in April and was in and out of hospital many times which was worrying, but is thankfully doing much better now. I changed jobs in April due to my post in the organisation being cut. Luckily they found me another one but lately I have had to fend off sabotage of my projects from another team leader whilst also facing the potential cut of my post in further downsizing in the organisation (I am still waiting to hear the outcome). In the summer my family were affected by the flooding in the UK and then in September my niece was killed in an accident with a car. Since then my younger brother has launched a personal and abusive attack on me and I can't even imagine what I have done. It has been most upsetting and I have been very down at times with too many tears shed.

Of course it wasn't all awful. I did get to visit Vienna which was lovely and I did pass my last round of MBA exams which meant that I could proceed to the final project
and I will hopefully graduate next May. I am sincerely optimistic that 2008 will be a kinder year. I have much healing to do still and will have difficulties to face on the work front and my studies to finish. I do not make New Year resolutions but, like Janus I do face the coming year with hope and the resolve to put 2007 behind me where it belongs. I wish all of you a prosperous New Year, filled with health, wealth and happiness, especially for those of you whom I know have also had difficlut times. I wish it for myself too.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

It's 6am on Christmas morning and I can't sleep. This hour of the morning is not a stranger to me on this day. As a kid I would always be too excited to sleep, wondering if Santa had been and looking forward to opening my presents. I would be so excited that this hour of the morning would be no stranger to my parents either on this day, as invariable my brother and I would wake my parents up whispering loudly or moving around (quietly we thought, but I suspect more like bull elephants). I remember sneaking down to see the presents under the tree and being filled with awe and wonder at what seemed a miracle to my young mind.

As I grew older I learnt that Christmas was a time for giving as well as receiving and to this day I enjoy watching others open the gifts I have bought them more than receiving gifts myself. The look on their face when you have got it just right is priceless and I must admit that I get such a kick of seeing someone I love made happy by a gift that I have chosen for them. If there was a real Santa then I can truly understand what his reward is for doing his night's work and I am not just talking about the mince pies and assorted drinks left out for him!

However, no matter how central the giving of gifts is to this celebration, I think it is important to remember the true meaning of Christmas, which is not the commercial whirlygig of buying presents, but in peace and goodwill to all men. I remember learning about the men in the trenches during WWI coming across No-mans-land to meet, share rations and play football together on Christmas Day. I am awake because my family is divided. Since the death of my niece it has fallen apart and some upsetting things have been done and said. On this day, I am awake pondering all of this and wondering if our family can play it's own game of football.

I wish all of my friends in blogland a very Merry Christmas and for those who do not celebrate it, Happy Holidays. Seasons Greetings, goodwill and peace be with you.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Santa's Little Helper

Hi! I cannot believe how busy I have been lately or how stressful! I had three meetings on Tuesday and two of them were to do with the 'Alpha Male' situation (see here). After a very tiring day it looks like our corner is being defended by the team leader so I am optimistic but I am not naive enough to think that things will be smooth. The team leader was meeting with Alpha Male today so I guess I will find out what the outcome is tomorrow. Still, the good news is that I got my MBA essay finished and handed in. I had to stay up until midnight after getting home from the meetings but I worked all evening and I did it and I think it's good enough to pass. I am much relieved. I think Tuesday was one of the most stressful days in my life!

Anyway, during one of the micro-breaks I took away from my essay over the weekend I came across the little fella in the clip below which made me laugh. I do believe he is all set to help Santa deliver the presents this year :)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Mind Googles

I was idly checking my blog site meter stats yesterday as it made a pleasing diversion from the essay I had been slaving over all day. It can get tiring solving your organisational problems y'know so a girl needs a small break! Anyway, I was marvelling at how flung some people are that visit my humble blog. Lately I have had visitors from Morocco, Guam, Australia (Hi Melody), Czech Republic, Germany, Russia, Spain (Hi Mar), India (Hi PS), Canada (Hi Carmi) and just about every state in the US (Hi All) and from all over Great Britain. It's quite amazing to think that people are able to read my ramblings from so far away!

I also found it interesting to see how people came to my blog. I recognised many of the folks who often visit me and found that a lot of people end up at my blog through Google. These are the search words that seem to bring them here:
  • Bobcat or Bobkat
  • Smallest castle (in the world/ in England/in Britain)
  • Bouncy balls
  • Gorillas
Interestingly enough my nom de plume brings flocks of people to my site. I can only assume they are disappointed when they get here if they are looking for large earth moving equipment, a patented hull design or llamas! Yes, you read that correctly, llamas (check out the links in bold). However, one set of search words particularly amused me and perturbed me all at once. I cannot begin to wonder what type of person this is or why, after typing in those search words they visited my blog, or why they should think that these particular 'items' would be any different on Christmas Eve to the rest of the year. Sometimes, I think such questions are best left unanswered.

For now, it's back to the essay for me, wish me luck as I'm up against a tight deadline, and next week I have an important meeting where I find out if I still have my job or if Alpha Male is being put back in his box. After that I have my work Christmas meal. I'm not sure I'll be in the mood but hopefully I will have something to celebrate rather than sorrows to drown.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Great gifts!

I am still extremely busy so I haven't been around in blog land much lately. I am still trying to finish my MBA essay which I am having all kinds of trouble with and to top that I am currently working all kinds of hours to keep my job. I don't want to go into details but a senior manager from another team has decided that the strategy work my team does should be under him. He is a typically pushy Alpha male and has been sabotaging a project I have been working on by gaining support for having it scrapped in favour of his project, which would mean he would secure the funding and staff he is desirous of at the expense of my team. This is causing me quite a bit of stress.

At least I have finished my Christmas shopping! I am just waiting for one or two things to be delivered (fingers crossed). However, for those of you still struggling to find that 'hard-to-get' present for that tricky friend or relative that has everything, or who is difficult to please I have a few ideas which might help (links to sites in bold). For the dog lover or sports enthusiast I think the calendar above is ideal as it combines them both! Apparently it is packed full of Westies having fun!

I haven't forgotten the cat lovers either and I have found this delightful tea towel holder. It is both a novelty cat item and a useful thing for the kitchen or cloakroom. How delightful!
For those who like to have the newest gadgets and who like to lead the way in the fashion stakes I think this banana mobile phone holder would be perfect! Talking to fruit it is also healthy for the calories counters among your friends and family.

So there you have it, your last minute difficult present problems have been solved! I do not charge for this service, the looks on their faces as they open their gifts is enough reward. I will try and visit you all soon :)

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Brussels (sans sprouts)

I am back from Brussels now and although I spent most of my time there in meetings I did get a free evening to explore. So, straight after the first day's meetings I went back to the hotel to freshen up and then it was straight out and about.

The weather was showery and chilly but that didn't dampen my spirits as I always love being in a foreign city with time, no matter how little, to explore. I have been to Brussels on business before so I headed straight for the Grand Place, a wonderful cobbled square surrounded by grand historic buildings. The first time I saw it, it made me gasp at it's architectural grandeur. I did not expect it to have the same effect on me again but I was wrong. It was dark by the time I got there and as I rounded the corner and the square opened up before me I stopped dead in my tracks. I was met with quite a spectacle.

The square was full of people and nearly everyone was watching a light show which was playing on the church like building that dominates one side of the square. Operatic pieces and other music (such as the piece in my video), filled the square and the lights changed with the music to create a kind of theatrical spectacle. I stopped near to the life sized nativity and Christmas tree and recorded the video above on my mobile (cell) phone. It's not quite the same as being there but it's the best I could do.

After watching for a time I went to find something to eat and then visited the Christmas markets where I bought some hand made decorations and. of course, chocolate before heading back to the hotel, via the Grand Place where the lights and music played on.