Friday, March 7, 2014

#BIT14 - 24/7 Conference Planning

A year ago, when Doug Peterson and I began the monumental task of moving the annual ECOO conference from the GTA to Niagara Falls, we had no idea what was ahead for us. I don't think either of us could have predicted just how much time we would need to devote to this project.

As things progressed, we found that emailing each other back and forth a hundred times a day wasn't totally effective so we started doing Google Hangouts. Daily. Sometimes 2 or 3 times a day. If a day went by without a Hangout, it seemed strange. What we discovered very early on is that Doug is very much a morning person and I am a nighthawk. This often resulted in communication gaps, but we filled in the gaps when we each worked best: Doug at 5:00 am and me at midnight.

Now we're at it again - planning for #BIT14. Not quite at the stage of requiring daily (or hourly) Hangouts, but certainly many emails back and forth. The other day, Doug emailed me at some ungodly hour of the morning and summarized - perhaps - why the 2013 Bring IT, Together conference succeeded as it did.

He said:

"Damn, I'm full of ideas first thing in the morning.  You work best at night.  This conference gets the benefit of a chair 24/7!"

It is so true. 

Friday, February 28, 2014

An anniversary...of sorts

Today is the first anniversary of my last day of work and I find myself wondering where this last year has gone. What people say about retirement is so true - I am much busier than I have ever been!

A few weeks before my last day at OTF, I had a conversation with my friend Jeff Holmes. Hard to believe, but I was bordering on a bit of a panic. I was so worried that I wouldn't know how to fill my days, that I would be bored, lonely and totally lost without a daily routine. HAH!!

Before long I had signed on to do some contract work for OSSTF, then some work for OTF. At the same time, I had rehearsals for uxperience, the Uxbridge variety show for which I am the music director, and I was ridiculously busy organizing Bring IT, Together, the annual ECOO conference, with my good friend and co-chair, Doug Peterson. Looking back, I think I spent more time every day in front of my computer than I did when I was working full-time. Insane.

In May I was elected to the Board of Directors for the Condo Corporation where I live. Not overly time-consuming, but another 'job' to do.

In June, I joined the Rotary Club of Uxbridge - maybe because I actually thought I didn't have enough on my plate. Rotary is all about 'service above self' and brings a whole new meaning to volunteerism. I love being part of the Rotary 'family', even though the meetings are at 7:00 am on Thursdays - I am NOT a morning person. As a member of the Youth & Vocational Committee, I have agreed to help form an Interact (Rotary for youth 12-18) Club at Uxbridge SS.

The months have flown by. The fall was busy with conference planning, daily Google hangouts with Doug and trying to find time to plan my retirement celebration from OTF. The conference was a huge success, Christmas was the usual craziness (except that I had a few hours with both of my daughters on Christmas Day for the first time in 9 years) and in late January I finally celebrated my retirement from OTF. This was good closure for me.

As I complete my first year of retirement, I realize that I am not slowing down at all. Doug and I have started the planning for round 2 of Bring IT, Together; uxperience is in full swing for the May show; I'm involved with several Rotary activities and I am finding a need to make a to-do list for year 2 of retirement.

The number one thing to do this year is to learn how to say 'NO'!!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Wake up call #2.

A couple of months ago, I wrote my first blog post. Entitled 'DO IT NOW', it was a request for everyone to stop delaying, stop putting things off, stop saying 'later, later'. I was glad to see comments that the message hit home with some of you. Sadly, I have no doubt that procrastination was a huge factor in Rob's very premature death.

In the weeks since he left us, I have had some conversations with other widows, whose husbands or partners also died from heart attacks. I discovered a pattern through those conversations. This may be a huge generalization, but it seems that (many) men have either a fear of doctors, medical tests and check-ups or simply a false sense of invincibility.

What is it about doctors that is so terrifying? Is it a fear of learning that something could be wrong? That there could be trouble ahead? Is it a feeling that 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'? Whatever 'it' is, I wonder if these men have thought about the devastation that would result if something did, indeed break. If it turned out that they weren't invincible after all. Maybe it's time for these men to re-think the whole avoidance-of-doctors thing and consider the unthinkable...what if...before it's too late.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A big thank you...

to those of you who sent love and support to me yesterday and those of you who were there to celebrate the life of an amazing man - Rob. It was very comforting to see so many people there - family, friends and colleagues.

I spoke about the things that were important to us both, and I spoke from my heart. I hope he heard my words. While I am not a religious person, I like to think he knew we were all there for him.

I felt some closure by the end of the day, but today was difficult. Maybe it was the finality of it all, or the unknown that lies ahead for me, or just pure exhaustion. Maybe all three.

My request to postpone my retirement for a few months has been approved, so I'll have something on which to focus my energies and something to keep me busy as I move my life forward.

I'm not sure what comes next, but I'll just figure it out - one day at a time.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Take two.

Shorter than my first post, this one is mainly a thank you - to those who read my first post last Friday and to those who are sending me virtual hugs, words of support and comfort and positive thoughts. I'm very glad that many took my message to heart, understanding that life is way too short to take anything for granted.

Perhaps it is simply the wonder of technology, but I am repeatedly amazed - daily - how connected I feel to my PLN, even though I am here and you are all out there. I cannot imagine having to endure this with only the telephone and mail delivery once per day to feel the love and support from all of you.

Today I wrote the words I will say at Rob's memorial service on Wednesday. It was very difficult to capture 5 1/2 years in a few paragraphs, but it was somewhat cathartic. Even though he's gone, my memories of him and our time together will live on.

Again, I thank you all.

Friday, August 17, 2012


This is my very first blog post - on 'Cyndie Uncorked'. You may deduce from the name of the site, that it should be full of content about which I have been waiting to write for a long time. That will, indeed, happen. Sometime down the road.

For today, my first attempt at blogging will be much more reflective, with a bit of sadness.

On Sunday, the love of my life, Rob, died very suddenly. To my knowledge, there was nothing 'wrong' with him physically that may have alerted us to anything problematic. He just said he was feeling a bit weak and tired. 2 minutes later he was consumed by what appeared to me to be a seizure. Apparently, this is what a heart attack looks like. I don't believe he suffered any pain.

It has been almost five days and I'm finding it really confusing to follow my emotions. They range from deep sorrow, to anger, to loving memories of our time together, back to anger and all points in between. Following my emotions is totally exhausting.

My message to any of you who are reading this, is "Don't wait". Don't put off that trip, or redecorating, or updating your eventual wishes, or recognizing the importance of the connection you have to your partner, and connections with your family and friends. Do it all now, before it's too late.

Maybe it's helpful for those of us Rob left behind that it is summer time and our kids are still around to help us through this. My own daughters will be back at university soon, and they will need to be fully present for and committed to that. I'm hopeful that before then, I will find my own lifeline, so that they will feel okay about not being here for me all the time. They need to get on with school and their lives.

I do know that I have a ton of support from my Personal Learning Network - all of you, and for that I am overwhelmed and eternally grateful.

As a last word, for those who say "I'll do it later", please don't wait until then. DO IT NOW!