On being a grandparent

My fourth grandbaby was born this week. I helped out by taking care of his 19 month old big sister while his parents were at the hospital. Being able to be present to give this support to my daughters is one of canstockphoto17685636the reasons I started my next chapter back in January.

Why is it so important for me to spend time with my family as my four grandchildren grow up?  My father died when I was just 4 years old. His death left my mother to raise my 3 older siblings and me alone. Her parents lived 3 hours away.  We only saw them a few times a year – a 3 hour drive for a mom and four kids was a big deal back then. My father’s parents had died before my parents were married. And my own daughters grew up without grandparents. By the time my husband and I were in our 30’s, all of our parents were deceased. None of them lived to age 70.

As a professional woman, I have worked far more than 40 hours a week since my late 20’s and been in management since 1984. When I had babies, a 6-week maternity leave was the norm. Both my daughters went to infant programs in daycare centers when I went back to work. I learned that babies start to smile at their parents (and it’s not just gas) at around 6 weeks old. I realized that I would miss her first smile being back at work.

I treasure the times I have now with my grandkids. My daughters are appreciative of the help I can give but don’t want it to be a burden. I have heard people my age say being a grandparent is great but it’s really nice to be able to hand the kids back to their parents. Yes, kids are demanding and tiring when you are no longer young. Continue reading

Just breathe

Our quarterly IT Town Hall was this week. It’s a chance to bring all staff together, welcome new employees, and recognize promotions and special individual accomplishments. Each IT leader highlightedcanstockphoto15842113 3 successes in their areas this quarter and their 2016 priority projects. I commented on the changes we’ve made: re-establishment of IT governance, process improvements to ensure a more stable production environment, and our new visual management board.

We squeezed all of that into the first half hour so we could get to our guest speaker, Dr. Francois Adan, Medical Director of UH Connor Integrative Health Network. She gave us something we could all use: techniques to manage stress.

In 50 minutes, through very compelling stories, we learned what seemed like relatively simple techniques. It’s all about breathing, mindfulness, positivity, and gratitude. Basic practices we can apply every day. With Dr. Adan’s engaging speaking and teaching style, it was a delight to learn from her.

So what did we learn? Continue reading

Do you know your big rocks?

April is a mixed month for me. No, I’m not talking about the fact that we had snow this week. In April, I celebrate many happy milestones, including my birthday and my wedding anniversary. Andcanstockphoto25793802 now, both my daughters have April wedding anniversaries. And the blooming daffodils along the road remind me that spring is finally here. 

Yet, there is always a sad part of April for me. My father died from Hodgkin’s disease on April 23rd, just a few days before my fourth birthday. Losing a parent as a child leaves a hole in your heart and shapes who you are.

Stephen Covey has a great story about “big rocks”. If you’re not familiar with it, just google it. Our families are our big rocks and my daughters remind me of that. And as little as they are, my grandchildren are also big rocks for me.  Every time one of my daughters calls me on FaceTime and I see a cute little toddler smiling at me from my iPhone, I fall in love with them all over again. Continue reading

New year, next chapter

You need to own your own career and be open to the possibilities – this is the advice I have often given others over the years. It applies whether you are early, mid or late career.

I announced my resignation as CIO at the University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers this week. As you can tell from my profile, with 30 plus years in HIT management, I’m neither early nor mid-career.

I have considered for some time what I want my next chapter to be, in both my professional and personal life. I want to live close to my daughters and grandchildren in New England so I can spend more time with them. I want more flexibility in my work with the potential to work less than full-time over the course of a year, and I want to do work I really enjoy.

I’ve decided that this means a mix of consulting, coaching, and interim management work. The first opportunity to start a new chapter has presented itself so I’ve decided it’s time to make the change. Continue reading

Time to stop and smell the roses

That old saying “stop and smell the roses” could be updated for the road warriors among us to “stop and look at the incredible aerial views”.  Recently, I was on a flight that included the dreaded holding pattern and circling.

The destination airport was closed due to heavy fog. But out my window was a beautiful sight. Light, fluffy clouds and green forests dotted with little towns as far as I could see.

I had been doing my usual on a business trip…..catching up on email and work reading. I prefer aisle seats but this flight I ended up in a window seat. So with a great view, why not “stop and smell the roses” a bit.  Or call it being mindful as many of us are now trying to be more often– fully aware and in the present moment.

The pace we go is faster and more intense than we may like. Weekends are filled with commitments, errands, and more work. I think “what would it have been like to live the slower or simpler life of my grandparents,” but then I’m quickly back to reality. I do appreciate the many advances we take for granted.

We’re in constant motion. Continue reading

Meet your future workforce

Future IT worker helps with the a/v during the morning presentation.

Yesterday the IT Department hosted 25 children for Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. This annual event is a great way to encourage both girls and boys to consider careers in health care and information technology.

I kicked things off at breakfast and talked with all the participating young people (ages 6-13) and their parents. I met many of the parents and children individually as they signed in and ate breakfast.  One parent said to her child that I was her boss’s, boss’s, boss.  I said they should think of me like the principal at their school – in charge of everyone in our IT department. I thought it would relate to them better than saying CIO. Continue reading

Operation Baby Blanket

Operation Baby Blanket? What’s that? Is that the code name for a new software implementation?

This CIO is the grandma of Hannah, an adorable two year old; two more grandbabies are on the way.  While I’ve done various crafts in my adult life, I don’t do it enough to call it a hobby. And my crochet experience is limited. I did make a baby blanket for one of my daughters 30 years ago.

So I surprised my family two years ago when I told them that I would make a baby blanket for Hannah, and I actually did it. Now, a second grandchild is due in December. Could I make a baby blanket for her in time? Would I be able to squeeze enough time out of my evening email work session to get one done?

I needed to design and create a baby blanket in time for the baby shower.

I am happy to announce that I presented a finished crocheted baby blanket to my daughter, Katie, at the shower last weekend.

How did I meet this goal? Basic Project Management! Continue reading

Balancing career and family

I just had the joy of taking care of my 20 month old granddaughter for two days. Her day care center was closed this week so my husband and I flew out to LA to have some fun and help out.

It reminded me how hard it can be to balance a career and a young family. Parents take turns getting ready for work while watching small children. Getting kids out of the house with all their necessary supplies can be an organization challenge in itself. One parent does the drop off and the other may handle the pickup. Figuring out who has to be at work by when and who gets done in time is the family dance. If there are long commutes, multiply the challenges and logistics. And then theres the home front again after a long day – Continue reading