Removing the mask. One drink at a time.

Now generally speaking nothing good comes from a night out drinking with colleagues – there are just too many pitfalls, missteps, and smart phone cameras out there to navigate through. Especially for the (ahem) inexperienced drinker like me.

Okay, maybe it’s not that I’m inexperienced, but more out of practice. My evening meal glass of wine suits me just fine, so when I make it an evening of…well let’s just say it was more than one glass and leave it at that…and I reconnected with another side of myself. Apparently the cool side of me.

Yes, that’s right – forget all those stupid team-building activities that involve straws (unless you are drinking from them) or trust games (unless it’s holding your purse while you go to the washroom).

Forgot those, I’m telling you the surest way to bond with a team member is to go drinking and dancing with them.

My colleague and I get along, but the running joke in the office was that I’m a bit of a nerd and have issues with human contact. I think I’ve pretty much dispelled that bad boy and the funny thing is that I was just being myself.

It’s true. My colleague let me know that she thought I was pretty cool when I drink. I corrected her by saying that I’m pretty cool anytime I’m not at work, whether alcohol is involved or not.

Unfortunately the first time she has really interacted with me outside the office gave her the impression that I only let loose when I drink. I would like to turn that around and say that it’s probably more accurate to say that I’m only straight and narrow when I’m at work. Which leads me to the realization that apparently I have been wearing quite the HR armour around the office.

So it was with great interest that I was reading the latest post at Fistful of Talent, where it’s recommended that HR be “real”:

Help us be real by letting our guard down every now and then, too. People want to work with others who they can share a laugh, an adult beverage or tough personal situation with and not fear judgment.

I’m not about to start swinging around the office and organizing pub crawls, but clearly people aren’t getting the big picture of who I can be when I relax and remove the filters.

So, I’m not making any kind of “resolution” here – I’m not a big fan of it. In fact, I’ve added that word to the Workplace Drinking Game...which should help be big time in being more authentic and engaged (two shots!).

Cheers!

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’tis the season for drinking games

I’m getting a jump on the end of the year lists. There is little value, but hopefully a bit of entertainment in the one I’ve put together:

My 2013 unofficial list of most over-used words (mainly in HR)

Hack
Geek
Engagement
Hashtag
Work-Life Balance
Gen X / Gen Y
Gamification

These are in no particular order and I’m not planning to elaborate. At least not right now.

I have quietly and discretely started a drinking game whereby you have to drink a cup of coffee every time you read one of the above words on Twitter or in a blog. The result is that I have such a massive amount of caffeine in my system that I haven’t slept in 2 weeks.

I’m thinking of switching over to shots. At least that way, I can blame my eye-rolling and belligerent responses on the alcohol.

I’m not against the principles and concept of these ideas – I’m just annoyed with the over-use, over-application, and over-labelling of these terms. And in case someone is keen enough to want to review my own blog and Twitter stream…yes, I know – guilty as charged.

The difference is that I’m using them in an ironic sense.

I’m #hipster like that.

Confession (and wish) of a grinch

Today I’m going to blog about Christmas and please do not even think of ragging on me because I used the C-word. I’m so allowed to use it when I refer to me and what my family celebrates.

My younger brother and I grew up in a middle-class family, with parents that both worked outside the home. We certainly never wanted for shelter, food, or clothing and when Christmas came around, we definitely never missed out.

We had Santa, we had trees and decorations, we had Christmas Eve at home, and visits to family. Never perfect, but is there such as thing?

Then when I was a young adult, things changed. My family changed and just like that there were two households to go to. Actually, three if you added in my boyfriend’s too. Christmas changed for me, but I was an adult, of course it was going to be different.

And then I had my own family and the focus of Christmas was my own household and the amazing joy it is to watch kids get so incredibly excited. There was still food, family, and visits, but now with a new perspective. Once again Christmas changed.

However, I have to admit something. Something that has once again begun to surface and will stay with me for the next few weeks.

Christmas time makes me really sad.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy what’s going on and will not bring anyone else down. It’s just that under the surface, there is always a layer of melancholy just waiting to come forward. Holiday music makes me tear up, shopping for gifts makes me swing between frustration and futility, and the family events seem so empty. Even writing this post has become way more emotional than I anticipated.

Every year I watch the animated Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and desperately want to have that kind of epiphany and transformation. To have the cage around my heart loosen so that I can go and serve the roast beast.

I often denounce this time of year as so commercial and artificial – the idea of stressing out trying to figure out what to buy something that they probably won’t use seems ridiculous. I frequently dream of escaping over the holidays to somewhere that has not much more than a beach and warm weather.

And we have entertained the idea of nixing gift-giving, oh except for the kids, and of course we need to get something for those that will get the kids something, and then,….well shit, never mind. We will do the gift thing.

Yes, we celebrate Christmas – trimmings and all. Why? Because I have good memories of this time and because my kids enjoy it so much. It’s cool to see my surly 13-year old light up at the idea that there are gifts hidden somewhere in the house. And it’s nice to know my daughter wants us to make sure they we wait to decorate the tree on a night when she isn’t working.

And I smile, I bake, and I share in the experience. But just like in a play, when the curtain goes down, so does my enthusiasm.

There are people who love Christmas so much that they want to wear elf shoes and hug everyone the closer it gets to the 25th. They get more and more excited as they eat their way through the days on their advent calendar. They decorate their homes and offices. They bring in cookies and candies. They hand out cards and hum Christmas songs.

And they get really pissed off with those people who are known as “Grinches”. Those people who don’t laugh at cutesy email cards. Those people who don’t participate in the gift exchange. Those people who ask if it’s really necessary to listen to the Chimpmunks’ version of Christmas carols, or any carols, one more time.

People like me.

Some people don’t like Christmas because they can’t stand the excessive consumerism, the religious aspect, the forced gatherings, the over-eating, and the stress

While I’m not crazy about these aspects…it’s not that.

But some people aren’t fond of it because it’s a time of year that makes them blue. Makes them feel lost. Makes them feel disconnected.

People like me.

So my Christmas wish for this year is for the tinsle-lovers to stop and think before you call someone a Grinch just because they are not as excited as you think they should be about Santa’s impending visit.

After all, a Grinch has a heart too…even if it’s two sizes too small.