Un-Apple?

Who out there has broken up with Apple? (No, I don’t want to hear from the Android all along crowd, unless you have break-up information.) I’m not big on regrets, but right now, I’m really sorry I let my first smartphone, an Android, turn into an Apple. (It was a company phone, and…) I’ve been quite the i-Girl for a long while, but especially after FOUR calls to/from Apple to sort out something that was actually straightforward (and not resolved to my liking), I wish I could just trade in my phone, watch and tablet and make a clean break.

I don’t like proprietary bunk, and I especially don’t like being told I can’t wholly edit my account. Sadly, all of my i-devices are alive and quite well, so I can’t really switch them all out in the foreseeable future.

I am Google and Chrome all the way, and may have sincerely been one of the first people with a Gmail account, so it makes sense to go Android when I can, but if Apple won’t allow me to change my “alias” email (I can add, but can’t delete the one I want to see go away), it makes me want to plan my break-up NOW, ages before it will happen.

So if you’ve made the switch, what do I need to know? What do I need to do? I know apps will change, and that’s not the worst thing. I can certainly download all of the photos and save the important (read: dog!) ones, and I presume the phone company will have some way to export/import contacts – or not?! (I am suddenly reminded of all of the friends who post on Facebook “New phone; lost all contacts… message me with your number please!”)

I’m going to go do some yoga. I actually told one of the Apple reps he made me want to throw my phone – and I meant it.

Customer Service

I took a day off last week to go to the Social Security office and to DMV, along with a few other spots, in pursuit of making my legal name-change official. (So yes, if you don’t follow me on Facebook, I have returned to my maiden name. Really though, once this election season is over, just Chan or Channon is plenty. [And if you are local, no I’m NOT Chan Bryant. We both use Chan as a nickname, but our given names are notably different, and I am not running for sheriff.])

I am going to guess DMV and Social Security offices look a lot alike all over the country. It would be foolhardy to suggest our local DMV is the only one understaffed, using a convoluted alpha-numeric “take a number” system (that actually has some logic behind it, strangely enough), but our local DMV has had a reputation for poor customer service and very long wait times, so I was only hoping that I’d get done with both efforts (literally across the street from each other, so no travel time involved) in time to tackle few other errands before the close of business.

I reviewed the requirements, filled out the applications and double-checked my documents before I headed out. I didn’t take it as a good sign when I met a computer kiosk for check-in at Social Security, but I waited fewer than five minutes, and wasn’t with the efficient representative in the back much longer than that before I exited with the receipt saying my new card would be in the mail.

Riding that wave, I was optimistic when I went across the street to DMV. I wasn’t shocked to hear I couldn’t get a Real ID without the actual Social Security Card, and given that I have no big travel plans ahead, I happily enough proceeded with the “Federal Limits Apply” version. After less than 10 minutes, my number was called and I found myself in front of the friendliest person ever to work at DMV. She answered a few almost random questions I had about the name change, Real IDs and more, and again, I was on my way with less than an hour invested in BOTH offices.

Next stop was the bank. My bank is actually a credit union, and for thirty years, we’ve had a love-hate relationship. Every time I am about to break up with them, someone with exemplary customer service wins me back. The branch manager at my favorite location won me back in spades after my purse was stolen last fall. The entire mortgage department locked me in indefinitely time and time again over the winter-to-spring refinance debacle (not their fault and not a story worth revisiting), and the two tellers I saw last Friday continued on the remarkable trend. Even their annoying app that brought me to tears the night of the stolen purse (no ability to shut down my card through the app!) is being continually improved.

It was a day filled with women dishing out good service with a smile, and I feel the universe owes them all this mention, even though they’ll likely never see it. I don’t know that I’ve mentioned much at all about my job in years, but the thread of customer service is continuous, from firefighter/medic/dispatcher to today’s Service Coordinator in a multi-franchise, spanning much of the state automotive dealership.

When pressed to define what I do, I laugh and say I bat clean-up. Others say I’m a Jill of all trades. The manufacturers I hold credentials with would likely say I’m alphabet soup (BDC, service advisor, brand champion, etc.), but in the end, I spend all day trying to assure happy customers, happy technicians, sane service advisors and more. So when I am on the receiving end, I have very high expectations of customer service and at the same time, I try to be very patient and tolerant when those hopes are dashed. I hope for good service, and I want to be as gracious as is humanly possible when I’m disappointed. I know some days it’s harder than others to leave not-work on the back burner while you are working, and almost without fail, the person waiting on you isn’t intentionally raining on your parade.

When was the last time you had great customer service? What businesses have earned your loyalty and trust?

And are you a customer who inspires above-and-beyond levels of service? There’s one customer in particular who is my role model. I met her just before she was diagnosed with cancer. Even when her brother had to drive her and the car in for service, she was radiant and exuded joy as she introduced him to me and thanked me for inquiring about her health. I think of her when I know my foul mood is showing, and it inspires me to exhale and smile whether I want to or not.

There’s a co-worker who is sarcastic and very much a realist, but he NEVER fails to speak or tap on my desk as he goes by, even if it’s the 15th time we’ve crossed paths before lunch. He’s the one who dubbed me Chanpagne. He just has an easy, humorous way about him, and even when he’s griping, I laugh. He also finds acerbic yet publicly appropriate ways to call me out when I have let someone get under my skin. We can’t all be PollyAnnas, but we can all make others’ days brighter, in our own ways.

So thank you, to those of you who have been along for the ride through the various renditions of my blog. Kindness and candor are always appreciated here, and many of you have helped me, taught me, more than you know.

Little Helpers

There’s so much I want to say and share, but digging deep and baring the soul is hard work. In the meantime, let’s get to know each other (again, better, etc.).

Today, it’s all about the little things I’ve discovered that make life easier, better. We are all about finding joy and laughter, crafting peace and living with grace.

Old friends know Gretchen is high maintenance. (Read: the dog is highly intelligent and overthinks everything, creating much anxiety in her little head.) I have mixed feelings about “home hubs” and too much automation, but the “puppy plug” changed our lives instantly.

Amazon calls it their own smart plug. We used it to replace the (broken) old school timer we were using to light the living room in the evenings, whether I was home or not. Here’s the best part: you don’t have to buy a hub! I downloaded the Alexa app, created an account linked to my Amazon account, and selected a pre-sunset turn on time.

Best of all, as long as the house and I both are connected to WiFi, I can do what I please with the plug. The pampered princess won’t have to be in the dark if I forget to bump the timer up or back as the nightfall moment changes. The pet sitter doesn’t have to remember to leave a light on for the girl. I don’t even have to remember to turn the light off.

Our perfect, precious sitter is much more than a little helper, and if you don’t know the story, Gretchen found her on her own. We are so, so grateful for our amazing neighbors, but especially so for that one young woman who loves Gg and tends to her happiness.

Chike is my morning everything. Thanks to the magic of manufactured nutrition, I get my coffee and the high protein breakfast I need in one large cup. I just can’t do FOOD in the morning, but I am not fit to be around without coffee and sustenance. I’ve used a lot of protein powders and Chike peanut butter flavor is the one constant on the smoothie shelf in the pantry.

I sure hope the summer heat is on its way out, but I need help staying hydrated year-round. I drink at least 100 ounces of water daily, but like a lot of people, I need electrolyte support sometimes. I keep a tube of Nunn tablets in my purse, at my desk at work and in the drawer at home. My favorite flavor is the watermelon, but I also like lemon lime, tropical and … all the flavors. I use the sport formula, but again, all of them taste great and work as advertised.

There are plenty of other goodies I use daily and loyally, but that’s the list for today. What makes your life easier?

Why?

I remember getting in trouble for asking too many questions as a child. I guess that’s why I loved philosophy and still like knowledge just for its own sake. I also want to reconnect with you and connect with new folks too, so here are a few points I’m pondering today:

  • Why do I exercise?
  • Why do I own no fewer than four coral cropped/capri pants/leggings?
  • What’s your favorite flower and why?
  • Do you have a favorite color?

And my responses…

  1. I exercise because I feel better when I do. Yes, it’s good for me, but it doesn’t really allow me to eat anything and everything. I’m currently listening to a podcast that suggests exercise slows down the aging process, and that’s cool too, because longevity seems to be in my genes and I want to be as active (mentally and physically) for all of the years I get. I also just really find it satisfying to work out. I will never be a fast runner, but I can run faster, longer, etc. I am comparatively strong, and I enjoy lifting bigger, heavier things, or turning what once was very heavy into a high-repetition weight. In short, I exercise because my body was built to move.
  2. It’s not a purely rhetorical question. It’s a symbol of the rather mindless way I’ve shopped in the past and I’m struggling to purge. I want to only keep what fits and makes me smile when I wear it (those basics we just have to have aside; I love black leggings in the gym, but don’t find joy in black pants, no matter how practical they are or how often I reach for them just because they work). I happen to really like all four pairs of coral things, so they stay until they wear out or I no longer reach for them regularly.
  3. I don’t really have a favorite flower. I love them all. In the past, I have said the gardenia is my favorite, and I do love those dark green, slick leaves and the highly fragrant, creamy blooms, but I also have come to appreciate my grandmother’s favorite carnation for the same reason she gave me… there’s a lot to be said for a bloom with staying power.
  4. See above; many times, I claim green, hunter or emerald or … as my favorite, but if you look around my home, a slightly darker red and every shade of blue dominates the scene in every room except the guest room, which is peach (light coral?) and a nearly teal blue. In my wardrobe, grey is my favorite staple.

Drawing lines

There’s a pleasant little challenge on my Facebook page now that spilled over onto my Instagram account and now… here we are. Not all of my pals are on all of the same social media feeds I am, and I want all of the feedback, all of the thoughts on this one.

I started this book about a year ago. I can’t remember who recommended it; ironically, I think I saw it on a social media feed. I follow an assorted mix of folks on Facebook, Instagram and once in a while, even Twitter, so many thank to whomever planted this seed.

And here’s the discussion, in typical Chan, stream of consciousness and almost run-on sentences…

I perceive myself as confident, capable and sometimes, yes… a badass. I am not senile or ignorant; I know I was a pioneer as a female firefighter in the 20th century. I realize that not many 50 year old women can squat, bench and/or dealift more than their bodyweight. While I work for and with some phenomenal, smart, talented women, I do still work in a male-dominated industry, and I hold my own. So imagine my surprise when one of those female powerhouses cut me off yesterday and scolded me, “Don’t sell yourself short.”

So I ask you friends, where is the line between being candid, self-aware, etc. and selling one’s self short?

Or as I asked on Instagram, where is the line between humble and selling yourself short? Heck, I don’t even claim to be humble. I play to my strengths and will go so far as to give myself credit for surrounding myself with people – especially in my girl tribe – who compliment and/or challenge my weaknesses and “areas with room for growth and development.” Being humble is a virtue I can only work at growing into, but now I’m curious… do I sell myself short?

The unvarnished truth is … I know I do. I want to pull (deadlift, if you prefer) 300 pounds. It isn’t unreasonable, given my build, my knack for picking up heavy things, or even when compared to my PRs (personal records) in other lifts, but for reasons I won’t even try to explain, the deadlift is my humbling lift. It’s THE ONE where my head gets in the way and I can’t find my way around it. Yeah, those of you who know about my back are making the same, safe, fair enough excuses I make, but the truth is, I am strong enough, fit enough, to move 300 pounds the roughly 30″ it takes to pull the bar off the floor and lock out with my short arms and legs straight, from the sumo stance.

But we aren’t here to debate whether I should or could deadlift 300 pounds. (I WILL, and you’ll all hear all about it when I do!) The point is, if I dismiss my potential there, I am selling myself short. And like any good fan of true-false tests, if it’s not 100% true, it’s false. So therefore, I do sell myself short and I need to stop!

So talk to me about selling ourselves short. Where are the lines and what do we do about them?

Etymology of Chanpagne

Thanks for stopping by. I’m going to guess most of you are old friends who found me from Of Pups n Pearls. Some of you have known me since Chanknits, and a precious few may know me “in real life.” Either way, the past year has been fraught with change, and the best way to get re- or newly acquainted is to keep reading.

This is my 7th blog, according to WordPress. I actually began blogging with Blogger, and some of the WP blogs aren’t really mine. For at least a couple of the sites, friends added me as a safety net, and most of the ones I really created are no longer relevant. I don’t knit much at all these days, but that’s a time/priority problem, not a total lack of interest, and Mugsy and Sissy don’t need their own forums now that they have crossed the rainbow bridge. Of Pups n Pearls was supposed to be benign enough to last a lifetime, and while I will always be a dog person and a pearl lover/wearer, if you stick around for a bit, I think it will become clear why I needed a fresh start, which is both new and a nod to the past.

The “real life” folks may have an inkling as to the inspiration for the name, and you’re probably in the right neighborhood. In college I bonded with Dom and Asti, and immediately decided bubbles were my friends. I would even add Sprite to red wine just to have the fizz. A few years later, a fire service friend dubbed me “Bubbles” (both because of my personality and my … glutes), and today, I always have a sparkling wine chilling at home. So when a colleague began calling me “Chanpagne” a few weeks ago, it felt like picking up a favorite book in a beautiful new edition, or sliding into a classic linen sheath on a hot summer day. I’d like to think I’m a little refined and have reconnected with my bubblier side again, so here we are.

Other things you should know if you’re new here…

  • Gretchen Greer, aka: Gg, the girl, Princess, or any other nonsensical term of endearment that may flow out of my mouth or off my fingertips, is the only dog in residence these days. She leads a charmed life, and is an only dog by choice, which remains surprising to me after her intense attachment to Sissy, our beloved, gone too soon Basset Hound. Lady Gretchen Greer is a Jack Russell Terrier with her own staff, an anxiety disorder that is managed with tricks, pampering and pharmaceuticals.
  • We reside in The Woods, which is the blogiverse term for our little house in the woods. If you’re new, you’ll find I make up words and names constantly.
  • We escape to the Outer Banks when we can, but only off-season. Gg isn’t a fan of hot weather and neither of us enjoys crowds, and OBX really is beautiful any time of the year.
  • I work in the auto industry. Currently, I lack a job description (seriously), so let’s just say I am in service and used to be a service advisor. Gg works there too, or at least I think that’s what she’d say; she goes in with me on Saturdays (when I do go in) and co-workers and customers seem to enjoy her. They think she’s sweet and well-behaved, so it’s gratifying for both of us.
  • Yes, I used to be a firefighter and I still love the big red trucks (and especially the pretty hunter green ones of my volunteer station, and the white and yellow ones too). I left because of a back injury that had me on permanent desk duty.
  • That’s ironic because I also love weightlifting and running, both things I thought I’d never do again after my not-wholly-successful back surgery many years ago. Conventional medicine has changed its approach, so yes it’s safe and smart for me to be active and strong.
  • I love to cook and bake, although I’m a better baker than a cook. I suspect like all the blogs before this one, this will be a mosh of ramblings, book reviews, recipes I enjoy and who knows what else?!

That’s probably enough of a recap for some and an introduction for the rest of you. I hope this is a return to regular posting, but we’ll see. Is there anything you’d like to know or see me write about soon?