Monday, January 7, 2019

2018 Recap: Deanna's Goodbye 2018, Hello 2019

Goodbye 2018

Well, it's the first day of 2019, and I was lying in bed this morning reflecting on the past year. It has been nothing like what I expected my year to be, but it's been a good year.

2018 started much like any of the past few years with my rather quiet life. When I say quiet life, I live on a vineyard, do freelance editing and proofreading work, read a lot, cook a lot, drink wine, and enjoy time with the love of my life. A typical day involved coffee in bed, some reading, getting up, making breakfast, some work, an afternoon of reading, then dinner, a bit of TV and bed. Rinse, repeat.

Then in about March of the year, things changed because Steve got a job doing an IT due diligence for a bank in South East Asia because an Australian bank was divesting of its assets in the region. I could smell it in the air. Change was coming. Steve was excited about the opportunity, and he began talking about taking on a project overseas.

Amanjaya corner

Usually, when Steve takes on a new project, I don't get involved. This time Steve wanted me involved, and as he set up the project, he slotted me into the role of PMO Director and project manager for the Enterprise Systems comprising HR, Finance, Risk, and Payroll. I rather begrudgingly agreed to do it because he promised me it would only be for a short time and we'd be done in December of 2018.

Well, it's now January 1st, 2019. The project is only halfway done. *SOBS* The timelines got extended twice, but we think the end might be in sight. We are now targetted to be done in June of 2019.

So 2018 has been a challenging year for me. I got pushed back into full-time corporate work. Those of you who read the bloggity regularly will have heard me bemoaning the fact that I'm crazy busy. I am! I don't think I've ever worked so hard in my entire life. The project is intense and challenging. The client is challenging. The seller is difficult. I run the entire operations of the project, manage the day to day staff issues on the ground, finances, and budgeting, on top of originally also running four different project workstreams. I've handed off some of the project management work to someone else but am still way more involved than I like.

I honestly don't know how it happened, but I only wanted a small back office role where I sat quietly in the background and got left alone to do work. Instead, EVERYONE and his horse comes to me for anything and everything. I seem to have become the go-to person for questions that need answering. It's crazy. Why won't people leave me alone? I never wanted all this responsibility or to be in a leadership position, yet here I am. *SIGH*

Phnom Penh traffic

Amidst all that, I had to adjust to living in a third world country — stinky streets, pollution, questionable food. Fortunately, the local people here are lovely. Some of the ex-pats who have been here a long time were extremely helpful and pointed us in the right direction many times when we needed something. We slowly found our way around. Learned what restaurants were safe to eat at. Where to shop, etc. We lived in a lovely 4-star boutique hotel for the first five months of our stay in-country. After that, at Steve's insistence, we moved to an apartment in a new building. The apartment is lovely, and it took a little bit to get used to, but I'm starting to enjoy it.

As of Boxing Day, we have been here exactly seven months. Of that, we've only been home for two short breaks for a total of three weeks. Alas, people think when we go home we are on holiday but no. We go home, and we are still working. We have offices in Sydney too and staff working out of Sydney. So we go home and have a mad rush to get things done after being away for months, doctor and osteopath appointments, so much mail to collect we need a shopping trolley, re-stocking of meds, and sneaking in a few nice meals at our favorite restaurants.

Steve keeps saying to me that given the conditions (it's not that bad) and how tough it's been, he's surprised I haven't spat the dummy yet and how well I'm taking things. But seriously, what am I going to do? Chuck a fit? That's hardly professional, and I run the damn Project Office. Quit? Where does that leave me? In a strange country with nothing to do? Go home? And be by myself for months? Steve and I are joined at the hip. We do not do well apart.

Burgundy converse

There are a few things that keep me sane. I vent a lot to my BFF, Gem. A LOT!! She cops a lot of my whinging, and she knows what I deal with on a daily basis because I tell her. I made a very good friend in one of the ladies I work with. We are both very similar in that we are introverts, perfectionists, and we love to shop. We keep each other sane, and when we discuss work, we are the balance for one another. I encourage her to do certain things and stand up for herself. She does the same for me. We give each other perspective when we are neck deep in our own problems at work.

I've discovered a love of cheap dresses and shoes. Something I can't get back home. I have a favorite store I go back to frequently and the markets. I've managed to snag dresses as cheap as $2.50, and they are nice enough to wear to work! Most of my dresses average between $7 and $9. And the shoes here are super cute. I've discovered a love of cute flats. I used to be the girl who only wore black shoes and matched black with everything. I now have shoes in (almost) every color of the rainbow and have specific shoes for specific dresses. Steve indulges me because no matter how hard I try, it's hard to do much damage when the average dress is $7. It's funny because I went to this one shop and they asked if I had a store discount card. I said no, but if they wanted to give me one, I'd take it. I was told I'd need to spend $100 to get one. Do you know how hard it is to spend $100 in a store? And how many dresses I'd have to buy at one go? That's pretty much impossible.

I should mention that it's not horrible here. Yes, it's a third world country, and we ride around in tuk tuks. The traffic is horrendous, and people do not follow any road rules. They have them; drivers just don't follow them. And yes, surprisingly, there are very few accidents because everyone is a very defensive driver.

Phnom Penh food

The food here is also very good. We've discovered some great restaurants and great food. It's also very affordable. We each get a $20 a day per diem to cover food and expenses. That $20 a day is enough to feed us for the day if we are not extravagant. Steve and I can get a great meal of fried rice, salad, and two drinks for $7. Sometimes, we don't feel like much for dinner and have these steamed pork buns instead. That will cost $2.50 for both of us for dinner. There's a local burger place that's just opened, and they are running a special right now. Two burgers, two fries, two chicken drumettes, two drinks for $6.50.

I won't lie, work is very stressful. It's intense, there are a lot of problems, and it's a daily grind. And learning to live in a foreign country was hard too. I was one big ball of stress most of the time. But the big turning point for us was shortly after my parents visited in September; we hired our own full-time tuk tuk driver. It's probably a bit extravagant to have our own dedicated tuk tuk driver, but OMG! The instant reduction in my stress levels. It was so nice to be able to get around without any problems, to have someone who spoke good English and who knew his way around the city. We are so blessed, and I am so grateful to have found Heng, our tuk tuk driver.

On the reading front, I usually set myself a goal of 100 books to read each year. By March, when Steve started talking about the due diligence work, I knew things were going to change. I hustled to get my reading challenge done by the end of May because I knew with the way he was talking come June, there would be zero time to read, and I was right. Since June, my reading has limped along with between two to six books a month compared to the fifteen to twenty plus I'd regularly get through in previous months. My focus has been on books I've enjoyed and authors I've enjoyed rather than reading as many new-to-me authors and titles where the outcome could be iffy. For 2019, I've only set my goal at 25 books because I know I won't have time to read much.

2019 reading challenge

So this is my life right now. Lots of work. Tuk tuk rides. Cheap dresses and cute shoes.

Things I'm looking forward to in 2019 include my best guy BFF, Arni coming to visit in March. The end of the project (please God let it end!). Reading as much as I can squeeze in when I have the time. And most of all, keeping my cool and not inadvertently stabbing anyone on the project. Oh and lots of cuddles from Steve because, bloody hell! He owes me!!

Here's wishing you a fantastic 2019. Tell me, what are your goals and plans for the year?

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  1. What a great post Deanna you sound like you are really busy but there is also lots of good things in there as well. I look forward to catching up when you get home and the project is at an end hugs

    For me life will be plodding along and I am doing my best to catch up on the books I have to read I do love reading

    have Fun


    1. Yes, extremely busy but also hoping to get some reading down in-between and on weekends. Thank you for all your support.

  2. Yes, me too. With the plodding on, that is. I've spent 3 months in Benidorm, so my reading has suffered. Too much socialising! But of a back list, although I still read about 150 books.

  3. What a different lifestyle for you. Talking about stepping out of your comfort zone! But, I'm sure when you go back to your regular life in Australia, you'll look back on this very fondly. What a broadening experience.