How we leave our cat for holiday

We have a very old cat, but we are people who like exploring and like visiting family, especially over the holidays or long weekends. As the holiday season is approaching we planning to be gone for a little less than a week 2 months in a row. I thought I would share how we prepare our home and our cat for us to be gone.

  • Water: We use a water bubbler pretty regularly, but we fill it up when we leave on vacation. It can hold and cycle about three days worth of water. We then fill up his regular water bowl and depending on if we are going to be gone more than 3 days an additional container of water and a Tupperware of ice. In summer they are both ice.
  • Heat:: So we are really lucky in that heat is included in our admittedly high rent because we can leave the heat on to a more reasonable level versus a minimum level. We typically leave it around 71 when we leave in the winter. In the summer, we leave it at 80 but leave on fans and make a cool spot under are bed with a fan always going.
  • Activity: Our primary activity is cuddling, but we do want to make sure he is able to use his mind and hunting skills when not sleeping. We typically hide treats around the apartment for him to sniff and pull out. Keep his toys in our catnip container for at least 24 hours before we leave. Then set up his scratching boards and window toys.
  • Clean: Mostly we make sure there is no clothes or fabric on the floor and set up a second kitty litter tray is we are going to be gone more than half a week (it is actually our travel one).
  • Food: We do a day of wet food for when we are leaving and then a half a cup dry food for everyday we will be gone including that first day.

The Other Side of the Interview

I have done so many job interviews over the years, for almost 7 years I have been interviewing regularly, whether for college, internships, or jobs. I have read interviewing books, listened to experts, done trainings in the interview (confidence and the handshake). To this day, the TikTok algorithm shows me interview tricks. However, until this last month I had never been on the other side of the table. To participate in the interview on behalf of the organization to be the one to extend out an offer and to have to make this decision.

Now, I am not the be all end all of this decision and I am not organizing the interviews, but I have a say, got to write questions, and am part of the discussion with my department and HR. I was really surprised by what when in behind the scenes. The interview is supposed to give both parties (sides) a way to move forward and feel confident accepting and offering the position. Each question relates to a quality of work and the position itself: goal setting, DEI, relationship building, passion, etc. I was really surprised by this, and how much it worked to find the information in the interviews.

What I was most surprised by were where the red flags flew. I thought there might be people that were rude or I didn’t feel were qualified, but that didn’t happen. People were polite, professional, and looking for a job that was the best fit for them. The red flags were raised consistently in the answers for continuous learning and conflict resolution. To preface with what was asked for one after hearing about a successful project they were asked ” Knowing what you know now, how would you improve the project if you were to do it again?”. We frequently run events multiple times a year or at the least annually and we want to know that someone can keep growing and improving for attendants and for our organization. Later in the interview, they were asked “Tell us about a time you had a disagreement with a coworker and how you resolved it.” Our work is largely subjective in it’s contents and people approach topics very differently there is no one correct way, disagreements happen and we want to insure that this is a person that understands that and can work and collaborate with others.

The Audacity! I know that you are only told to brag about their accomplishments but my goodness. I on so many interview forms was just like no. We only had 2 candidates genuinely answer the continuous learner with something real and logistical. Everyone else, said I should have charged more to reflect it’s quality or I should have spread it to more people because it was so excellent, etc. I mean truly we had one person talk about personalization and one talk about prep time and I was so relieved.

Similarly to the conflict question, I am thrilled you were right and have good instincts. However, the idea that you just push and push or start without getting approval on a large budget project makes me afraid! Just say I pulled the data, I conducted a poll with our area of service to show this is correct, I asked our volunteers who would had to implement, we COMPROMISED. You can absolutely be right, but the answers put people at the bottom of my list to hire.

We are making our final decisions today regarding who will receive the first (and hopefully only) offer. It was a pretty stressful experience, but I hope we are making the right judgements. I think my main tip from this side of the table is focus on how you are to work with as well as the level of work you do. These are people you are going to be with 40ish hours a week and no one wants work to be harder than it has to be.

Presentations and Public Speaking

For my job I regularly have to talk to large groups of people, give presentations, and guide discussions. You probably couldn’t tell that public speaking is one of the things that I never want to do. I did not seek out a position that required this, but as positions grow and change more and more is expected of you. When I first started doing any kind of public speaking was not successful. My voice got really high pitched. I overcorrected and spoke so slow it wasn’t clear when a thought was ending.

To be clear, I still do not like public speaking. Often my face gets more red than I want to. I say “uh” or “umm” or “so…” throughout. . It is not my main skill though I have learned a couple things along the way. What is your biggest tip for speaking to a crowd?

  1. Don’t practice too much. If you practice ’til word perfect and then get mixed up during, it is incredibly hard to recover naturally.
  2. Keep 1-2 examples for what you are presenting in your back pocket (memorized) and out of your formal presentation. You can either use them as examples if you get questions or if not throw them out as extra examples at the end of the section. This will make you look like a content expert and like you can think on your feet.
  3. Look above eyeline. For virtual presentations for me this is the top edge of my computer. For in person, it may be a back door, the clock on the wall or a window.
  4. Talk at a speed where you can hear what you are stay. Use punctuation to take pauses and breathes. After each major ideas take a break, either to ask for questions or move on.
  5. This is the one I struggle most with: Stop talking once your point is made. Say what you mean to say and nothing more. Answer just the question that was asked. Give a chance for questions or requests for clarifications, but over-explaining can lead to rambling and more confusion than just letting the audience receive the initial point.

Things I learned from my first concert back

This past weekend I went to my first concert since the pandemic first hit, and one of my first major concerts ever. It was outdoors in the city where my partner and I went to college. It was a progressive rock/metal concert. Due to the conditions of the world it was a dual headlining tour so that as many bands as possible could get back on tour, with limited outdoor venues around the country.

It was an incredibly fun experience. I did feel safe, but also I got to see one of my best friends and meet some other cool people. I will say that it could be incredibly overwhelming. Here are some things I will know to move into for the second.

  1. Your feet and legs will hurt. You will be standing. jumping, walking for a long time. This maybe in line, at the concert, or dealing with parking. Wear shoes that don’t kill you.
  2. Bring cash. You will want at least a beverage of some kind and the cards take long and hold up a line.
  3. You will feel gross at some point. Whether, god forbid, you have to go to the bathroom or it’s just the beer cans at your feet. My friend did get a drink dropped down the back of their legs while people were walking (it was not not funny).
  4. There is always a more hard-core fan. People are there for a good time and because they love the entertainment, and boy do they. Fan watching is so fun and you can always find someone more into it.
  5. There is space for you! Whether you are there for a hard-core most experience, to have a date night in the back, to listen to music bopping a long in the crowd, or something any where in the middle. There is space for you to enjoy the concert however you want to and people really seem to respect that because they are doing their own thing.

Quarter of a Century

Today, I turn 25. I will have been through a quarter of a century on this planet and what a time to be alive. It has been a long and full couple of years. I have lived in 4 states, visited 22, been to 4 other countries across three continents. I have had roughly 13 places of residence, while going to 9 schools through my bachelors. This has led to meeting hundreds of people and being able to explore places my whole life.

However, it has been rough sometimes. I was in a severe car crash, 3 severe illness, and your run of the mill trauma of life. One time a toothpick went through my foot. My brother has been imprisoned in come capacity for the past four years. Family and friends have died. I have cried in public more than I want to count. I have been stranded in an airport lobby by myself overnight, lost on a mountain in Alaska for hours, and bullied throughout my school years.

Not to complain because I have also had quite a magical life. I have travelled, been on safari, and been safe and happy. I fell madly in love with my partner of the last 5 years. My friends are incredibly smart, funny, and the kindest humans you will ever meet. My family is full of some of the world’s best humans, even if some of them have left us too soon. I learned instruments and built sets. There were flash mobs, movie marathons, and all-nighters. My home growing up was full of movies, books, and dance parties.

I am hopeful that I get to keep going for another 25 years. My only goal is less weird injuries and Urgent Care visits. Overall, I will take it all in whole to keep the rest. Happy birthday to me!

College Visits and Vibes

So I recently finished a week of college visits with my younger sister (who is a rising senior). It was wild. One going anywhere that has started to open up in the past year is nuts. Second, driving in Boston is the worst. Third, on paper and going in-person are such different experiences that it can be jarring. We visited 3 major universities and drove through another. Personally there were three major things I noticed that changed my feelings about the schools.

One, how welcoming the school is when you arrive. Are they excited for you to start your journey with them? Are they selling the school to you? Are they being upfront about any inclusion or access policies they have, this may look like informing when buildings with ramps and elevators are, financial aid, housing policies, dietary support, etc.

Two, the other prospective students. Are they excited to be there? Do they seem anxious and nervous? Do they seem like feel they are entitled to a spot at the school (smug, legacy status, etc.)? These are the people you could potentially be spending your time with, living with, stuck in classes with, etc.

Three, all colleges of stated values and ideals, but what are they selling it as. We had one school sell it as a stepping stone to success, that it’s graduates were the most hireable. One school focus on the college experience and community. Another about the love of learning and all the ways they promote curiousity. Another, talked about the next step in education and figuring out yourself. There are no wrong answers but there are better fits and it’s important to pay intention to what they think you will get out of their institution.

Good luck visiting!

I learned: Out of Office Emails

Out of office emails are very helpful if they are put up at the right times. They tell people when they can expect to hear back from you and to assure others that you are not just ignoring them. This has happened a couple times and has unfortunately while nothing was technically done wrong, people’s feelings can get hurt and/or feel like you are bad at your job.

When I first started I was bad at evening remembering to set my out of office email. especially when I would only gone for a day at the top of the week. Once I got a hang of remembering to turn on the out of office… which took a minute ( I have been in this job for over two years). I was still have frustrated people trying to reach out to me while I was gone, even when my out of office email went on first thing (6:00 am) the days I was out.

What I learned is that you have to turn on your out of office (or at least for the people I work with), while you are still in the office. At least the last half hour you are actively working. My goodness the grace it gives people when they have received an out of office and you respond whenever, versus when they don’t and you just respond as soon as you can is astonishing. So that’s what I am going to keep doing for now. How do you approach your out of office?

Morning Person

I am not a morning person. Every person that has been with me before 9 am can tell you this, any roommate, sleepover friend from elementary school, family member, you name it. I am in every sense not a morning person. I do not wake up well, it takes me a long time and I fall immediately back to sleep at least once. Then once I am up I am groggy, forgetful, clumsy, and often grumpy as heck for a while. Because of this I need to wake up early.

Honestly, it feels really counter intuitive because I hate the morning, but the days I wake up early are my best days. It feels odd because I don’t do anything with my extra hour or so, but my regular hours feel better. Basically I started waking up at 6 or 5 totally on accident because I was falling asleep so early after work and was waking up accidentally after so many hours. Now I have started waiting up at 6 intentionally.

I still get to be groggy and have the time and space to fall back asleep, slowly drink coffee, check my phone, etc. The mornings aren’t better but I totally get to enjoy a large portion of my day. I also get to be less stressed about figuring out if I am able to start work and talk with others without feeling as overwhelmed or rushing into reboot mode for the day as the same time as work mode. I feel like the morning allows me now to become a person and wind-up for the day.

Are you a morning person? If not, what do you do?

Validation – I need it

Today my boss pulled me aside and told me that some of the volunteers in my committee had approached them, saying that they were denied information and were left out of an event. My body clenched. I fully was prepared to go into defense mode. Explain the history, the precedent, my communication strategy. Before I could even open my mouth, my boss told me that she was so confused how they could forget a meeting that they were at and that it was incredibly unprofessional that all the feedback was coming through communications thread but not directly. to me at any point. My muscles relaxed,

All of a sudden. I didn’t feel in defense mode. Not only had my boss been there but my boss believed me. I wasn’t over reacting or taking things personally. It wasn’t something I needed to guard against. It was something that I shouldn’t have to deal with. It was such a relief not just to know the way I was feeling or responding were valid, but that my standards were reasonable and I wasn’t just misinterpreting things.

While I think eventually it’s easy to come to the conclusion to you need to have and express the feelings you are feeling. It is another to understand that your standards are normal. The way that you are experiencing the situation should not be happening, but is.

I think especially in professional or collegial settings it can be even harder because there is a certain amount of decorum expected, especially in group settings. Being new to something and everyone having a poker face, I never know if I am misinterpreting something or that my assumed standards coming in are different than reality. You will put up with so much for a pay check and if you don’t know that you shouldn’t. Please if there is something happening that shouldn’t be and someone you work with isn’t bring it up. Bring it up. Validate their experience. They probably think it is something should be dealing with or because no one else is reacting that they are overreacting.

Anyway. Validation is lovely.

Makeshift Tuna Noodle “Casserole”

Making meals is hard and planning ahead when grocery shopping can feel really overwhelming. This a quick and easy one-pot meal that tastes delicious, costs minimal amounts while being made of mostly pantry staples, and is a relatively balanced meal. Let me know what your go to easy meal is!

Servings: 3

Ingredients:

  • One box shell noodle Mac&Cheese (store brand: $1 per box)
  • One can tuna fish (roughly $1.50)
  • 1/2 a cup of frozen peas ($1.50 per package)
  • 1-2 tbsp. Butter
  • 1-2 tbsp. Mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 tsp (2/3 shakes) dried Thyme
  • Pepper

Steps:

  • Boil water for mac and cheese and cook noodles according to directions. With 5 minutes left on cooking time add the frozen peas to the pot.
  • Strain noodles and peas into colander. Pour back into to pot add butter and coat noodles and peas.
  • Add in tuna, mayo, and lemon juice and combine well.
  • Pour in cheese packet from box, thyme, and add pepper to taste.
  • Enjoy.!