Amy Artisan

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Category: Reflections (page 2 of 8)

It Is Time!

Nine months ago today, I embarked on a new adventure – I left consulting and came to work for a client. Ultimately this job means a relocation – from the Midwest to the East Coast – but for these past months I have been back in northeastern Wisconsin.

One week ago today, I had the privilege of leading a 5:30 AM meeting in one of the manufacturing facilities here to inform everyone that it was time to begin using the new computer system. The months and years of planning, designing, building, testing and training were over – we were “live” in the system.

The days, weeks and weekends leading up to that moment were long, the sleep minimal, the stress high. And yet, here we were – as I looked out across the room, I was amazed. A sea of project team members, managers, supervisors, leads & other super users were wearing their safety green t-shirts emblazoned with Go Live Support on the back – much like “Event Staff” or “Security” at a concert or sporting event. After a few last minute instructions, it was time for us to get out on the production floor and start transacting in the new system. From that moment on, the day was filled with supporting the business – there were some hiccups but before too long there were reports of “thumbs up” as people were doing their work – a supervisor came into the ‘war room’ to give us high fives as her team was running well. At various points throughout the day, when together with teammates, one of us would comment to the effect of “…this is surreal…are we really live?”


Late in the afternoon, I left the plant for a bit and returned to the main building to debrief with the rest of the project management group. Waiting for me on my desk was a cheery bouquet of flowers from my family – with a sentiment just perfect for the day. My throat ‘caught’ for a moment…even though I haven’t seen my family a lot while on the project, they have definitely been with me through the highs, the lows and everything in between.


In the early evening, long after arriving in the parking lot in the midst of a severe thunderstorm, I walked back to my rental – exhausted and proud. As a teammate and I paused in the middle of the parking lot to reflect on the 960 days since we started on this adventure, it was almost too much to comprehend.

On July 4th, the project team got together for a cookout & cricket – even the extreme heat couldn’t keep folks from smiling at the previous day. Later that night, some of us were back at the plant as 3rd shift started using the system. Storms were rolling in – while walking from building to building the sky was filled with fireworks and lightning – that was so appropriate.

The past week has been filled with more long hours and a few more issues to resolve as everyone continues to get comfortable operating in their new normal. Of course, this past week has been the hottest of the year & many hours have been spent in the hot warehouse and plants. Each day, the safety shoes have felt a bit heavier – I may have been walking around my office in my socks a couple of times.

In 15 years of consulting, by the time go live came sometimes I had already moved on to the next assignment and sometimes I was there as they flipped the proverbial switch. Last week, I was completely in the middle of it and couldn’t have been prouder to be with that team.

And now it is time…to begin looking ahead to what is next with work…my days ‘up north’ will be coming to and end as the local operations will no longer need the project team…we are already looking ahead to the next phase of the project.

And now it is time for me to focus on the “what is next” in life. After almost 13 years in Chicago, it is time to move on…new adventures await me in the Keystone state.

But for a bit, it is time to reflect, renew, remember…

It is time! has been a common phrase around here since the Packers won Super Bowl 45. A teammate and I would use it often in reference to project “stuff.” So as it was time to finally go live, we ordered rubber bracelets (in green & gold, course) for the entire team: Project X – July 2012 – Go Live – It Is Time!


As seen by recent blog silence, life is pretty busy these days. After more than 900 days on this project up north, we are in the final stretch before go live. Busy workdays have become even busier. But, we are also in a beautiful time of the year up here & the scenery can provide a respite from some of the intensity. Case in point…my Wednesday evening walk. After a long day at the office, I left with no plans other than picking up dinner and crashing in my hotel room. Instead, when I got back to the hotel I put the takeout in the fridge & quickly changed to go for a walk. A few minutes later, I was at the waterfront for a walk to the lighthouse.

As I stepped out of the car, this was my view. Immediately, I felt some of the stress of the day start to dissipate.


As I walked out towards the lighthouse, I took in the sights and sounds while processing the day. Birds were overhead & diving into the water for a snack. Fisherman were out. The sounds of a family along the shore. And to my right, the sound of unsettled water lapping against the breakwater.


The unsettled water seemed representative of how the day felt – all sorts things churning & vying for my attention.

After standing at the base of the lighthouse for several minutes while taking in the amazing view of the sun setting behind the towns, it was time to walk back. On the walk back, the water to my right as so calm it was almost glassy. Calm and peaceful.


As I walked back to my car, both sides of the water brought to mind a simple reminder: sometimes it is so easy to focus on the churning and sometimes the extreme calm can be mesmerizing. It is the combination of both that makeup our days – what we focus on can make all the difference in how we move through the days.

In Pictures: February 2012

For being the shortest month (even with an extra day this year), February was filled with quite a bit of fun. A highlight was having my sister come visit, up north, for several days – a separate post is on the horizon for that. In the meantime, here is February 2012 as captured with the smartphone camera…

What made up February? A bit of knitting…knit valentines for loved ones; a birthday gift knit came off the needles (a month before the gifting) & was blocked on the hotel floor; the Snow Moon was beautiful over the bay – the shots are from 2 different nights; the first stop once Rebecca arrived in WI was a tour of Lambeau Field; Rebecca & I also spent a few minutes along the shore in a local park; stumbling upon Meyer lemons in W-mart & having to pick them up – one sat on my desk for the week & brought many a smile; on Leap Day, winter “finally” arrived – about 9″ when it was all over.

A new…

Wasn’t it just last week that we were opening up the 2011 calendars for a new year? And now, a new year is upon us once again. There is something refreshing about opening a new calendar. Even in this age of e-everything, I look forward to the traditional calendars…on my fridge, a large month-by-month from Dad (this year…Reading Woman); at my desk the Dilbert page-a-day that provides a bit of daily laughter – some days are so spot on; also at work is a small monthly calendar on the wall – last year it served as a countdown to my summer vacation with my sister in Italy; and a weekly planner to track all the little & big things that converge from all corners of life.


As I look at my new weekly planner, I wonder what new adventures will fill the pages in this new year.

Looking back on 2011, while the blogging here at AmyArtisan was minimal the entries in the weekly planner were full & included many things that I couldn’t imagine as I started using my 2011 calendars.


Many of these deserve a post of their own but for now, the highlights…a fantastic Italian adventure with my sister…after 15 years in consulting, a career/job change…sweet times with my girls in Texas…a bit of gardening & canning in the midst of it all…and many lovely moments with family & friends…

In this new year, I think that “a new” will be a common phrase around here…a new job means a new home in the coming months…a new home will mean a new routine (friends, church, etc.)…a new focus on the artisan side of life & a return to blogging.

It has been 6 years since I first hung out the shingle at AmyArtisan…and while there are so many more e-places to compete for time, in the last year I have really missed writing out here. So, as I get started with my new year I look forward to filling the e-pages out here with snippets of the adventure called life in 2012!!

Curtain Call*

Today, I got in my rental and headed south from Marinette for the last time. It has been 535 days since I started this project. The work has been hard; the hours, intense; the stress level, high at times. In 15 years of doing this type of project work, this was definitely a unique project. As I leave, the project is still incomplete and so my departure is bittersweet; however, at this point in time as they are regrouping and planning a new go forward it makes sense for me to transition out of there. I leave “my part” of the project in very capable hands and I know they will do a great job moving forward. I will still be working with them remotely a few hours each week.

a few memories of the time up north

– The people I have worked with are folks I’m glad to have had on my team and many are new-found friends. For the majority of my days up there, I shared an office with my client counterpart (who quickly became a friend). We were in an office that is normally for one person only so it was a bit cozy but we made the best of it. We joked that our team was powered by Diet Mountain Dew, Solstice gum and Advil. But another component of the success was laughter – even when things were especially intense we would find something silly in the midst that would make us laugh. Several people commented that they knew they could always count on us to be smiling. My work was focused on the “people side” of a new system implementation – and a definite highlight of the project was watching my team of trainers evolve from their “current” day assignments into confident trainers of the new system.

– The time “up north” has been good. Being in a small town has meant a change of pace – a time to slow down & refocus. The speed limit in town was 25MPH & I managed to keep to that speed limit and not get a ticket while adapting to that slower speed. While up here, a new routine emerged and a new sense of familiarity. Reading the local paper each day provided insight into the people and the area. After the situation at the high school late last year & being a part of the community in the midst of it, I will always feel a bit “we are Marinette” in me.

– The work days were long.  I had grand plans for knitting during evenings in the hotel – the results were mixed: my Winter Olympic sweater was the biggest project; a slew of small Christmas gifts were knit; some assorted small knits for me; and dishcloths – lots and lots of dishcloths. I hardly made a dent in my never ending “to read” list. But the refocus point that I’m most proud of is the commitment I made to my health and fitness – even while living out of a hotel I made lifestyle changes that will continue (more details in another post).

– Most weekends, I trekked back home to Chicago. But I also managed to spend several weekends up north & being a bit of a tourist: Munising, MI; Appleton; Door County; Washington Island; many hours along the shoreline; and even a tour of “the frozen tundra” of Lambeau Field (indeed I am a Packers fan after this project).

– So now I begin transitioning back to life in Chicago – it’s time to reclaim my apartment from the chaos that has arisen from only being home for a bit on weekends. I look forward to rejoining my book club. I’m ready to plug back into a local church. There are many friends to catch up with. It’s time to think about a bit of gardening & weekly trips to the farmer’s market – both of which will lead to more time in the kitchen!

– And it is time to turn the lights back on here at AmyArtisan – maybe a series of posts from northern adventures that never were shared; definitely posting as the artisan side of life reemerges in the coming weeks. And I’m sure there will be plenty to post after my upcoming summer vacation – 10 days in Italy with my sister, can’t wait!

– P.S. As part of my farewell this week, some humorous stats about my time on the project were shared, among them:

58 round trips = 20+ days in the car
= 29000 miles driven
= driving around the world 1.16 times

(hmm…no wonder I’m tired!)

*Why a curtain call? In some circles, the WI/IL border is referred to as the cheddar curtain. My use of the term in my office brought numerous comments from the WI native that shared the space and became a good friend during these days.

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