Riding the Changing Tide

I enjoy writing this blog, hopefully as much as you enjoy reading it. Plainly, I like being able to share my work adventures with those who are interested. Unfortunately, the last 18 months have been less than ideal and fairly whiny – for obvious reasons. As I alluded in my previous post, the tide was starting to change.

When I posted the last blog, I was on a bit of a winning streak. For the first time in forever, I was winning things, amongst them tickets to see Gary Mehigan. Being a major Masterchef fan, that was a huge deal! There was the second place hamper I took home from a raffle. I haven’t won much in my time. Unlike a colleague of mine who just wins at absolutely everything. I recall going to a breakfast event with her and a few other people from the office years ago. She had such a huge haul by the end of the two hour event she needed all six of us to cart it back to the office. For her, it wasn’t a streak; it’s just the way she rolls. For me, it doesn’t happen so often. So when it does, I celebrate and share the news!

So much win
So much excitement!

Aside from those two, I had a couple more which still gets me excited even months after the fact. There was a recognition from Downer for assisting them in their day to day functions while I was on crusher box duties. It’s an internal recognition program for Downer employees, somehow one of the supervisors nominated me and the crews unanimously voted for me during that month. When I was informed about getting the award, I was floored and I still am. The certificate is now proudly framed and displayed in the home office. Funnily enough, the frame it is in was part of the raffle hamper. How’s that for coincidence!

Downer Cert
So much excitement still!

Another great win from this little dalliance with lady luck was a Department of Local Government (DLGC) scholarship for the highly esteemed Women in Mining WA (WIMWA) mentoring program.  For someone hell bent on forging a successful path in the industry, this was a huge deal. This and the Downer recognition made me realise that the path to that corner office, is definitely possible!

But as tides would have, there’s always the ebb and flow we have to live with. Once the sinus issue was sorted and the minor stress of cysts averted, it was time to head back to work. As I was sidelined for some time, I had to undergo a fitness for work check before being cleared to go back. Having not seen the inside of a gym or stairs in months, I suffered through all the requisite squats and lunges and was sore for days. Even before the muscle aches subsided, more not-so-fun news! As the wrist still wasn’t 100% healed, doctors professional opinion was to lay off pushing it too much until it’s fully healed. As there were no opportunities for me with my employer outside the manually laborious process operator world, I opted to put my dreams of an illustrious operator career on the back burner for now. As I was technically no longer fit to fulfil the duties of my role, I resigned from the process operator role. Now, I explore what’s out there.

angry girl
I may have gotten this from Google, but I am certain this was my expression after all the squats and lunges.

There were several struggleville moments. Moments where only Mulder and Scully could distract me from the absolute disappointment of having to walk away from the operator experience nursing an injury. Moments where I had no idea what was next, knowing how tight the industry is at the moment, it was very scary there for a while.  Moments when it felt like my career in the resources industry was going to go the same way as majority of Mulder and Scully’s cases – hanging, no clear resolution, filed away in a boring filing cabinet in the dungeon office.

However, even in the darkest of days, there were rays of sunshine and positivity. I am very lucky to have a great support system. Luckier even for the folks I never expected who reached out and are actively helping me with identifying what’s next. Pleasantly, I had no idea that some of those who have rallied around me would. So it’s been very encouraging to have made such great connections. Admittedly, there has also been some disappointments. You know that saying about how you find out who your real friends are when times are tough. I can tell you now, that is so very true. But in saying that I think we need these times in our lives to do a purge, cleanse and start fresh – not just with our goals but also with the people surround ourselves with and value.

Crew dynamics have changed since this was once our mantra. July 25 will always be synonymous with Action Man and I will always dedicate time on that day to remember. 

The task on hand is to plot out what the next career challenge will be. The last few years as an operator made me realise my strengths and weaknesses. It has given me a better understanding of what I am actually capable of. Having had the opportunity to work across a few functions on site also opened my eyes to other options and possibilities.

By now you may have made the same conclusion as I have, the WIMWA mentoring opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time. Now I get the chance to be mentored by an influential and inspiring leader in the industry. The program commenced recently with an induction and launch. Although its “women in mining”, there are men involved in the program as mentors. It has been over a week since the launch and I am still on a high. It was such a different vibe to what I have grown accustomed to over the last few years. It was a very supportive, positive, encouraging environment but also challenging. It challenges you to think, to explore and to do great things, to be better.

Really enjoying the ride right now.

Although there’s no FIFO happening at the moment, I am hoping to continue with the blog and entertain those who take the time to read it. I have a feeling what’s next will just be as exciting and awesome a ride as the last one!

Remember, we gotta take the good with the bad. Don’t forget to celebrate the wins – however small, CELEBRATE!

Yes, I am experiencing massive rock breaker withdrawals.


Speaking of celebrating, I actually won something else recently; tickets to a magazine launch and a networking event for female entrepreneurs and creatives. I now simultaneously actively plot out Plan A and B. In a nutshell, very exciting times ahead for this stubborn gal, so stay tuned friends!


Back in it… kinda!

So, how has everyone’s year been so far? How many resolutions have turned into permanent changes? How many have been broken?

I know it is a bit late to be asking as we are now well and truly into the second quarter but I think it pays to take re-evaluate regularly. Majority take the opportunity to take stock during the end/start of each year. I believe it is important to take stock every few months; it’s the only way we can ensure we are still on the right track. It also allows us to be grateful for the good things which have come our way and to highlight the opportunities for improvement for the not so good things that hit us.

Holiday sunset. Taken from my old stomping ground.

For me, putting together another (late) blog entry is always a great opportunity to ponder; which means I should probably learn to update more often and regularly. But here goes the first one for 2016!

Since returning from the lovely six week holiday, it has been interesting getting into the swing of things at work. Thankfully the wrist is on the mend and I am slowly getting back out in other areas of the plant. At the time of writing, I am cleared for full duties under observation. Unfortunately, a bout of really nasty sinusitis has prolonged the final sign off process. Hopefully, I will be back on -track sooner than you can say: the never ending wrist saga may actually have an end.

The view from the crusher box – my domain for the last few months.

Before the sinus knocked me out for several swings, I was back in the plant and had to relearn a few of the basics. Although I already completed a couple of months in the crusher box, there was more to get used to as I started getting clearance to broaden my free range area a bit more. The technicalities of the equipment, I had no problems with. Except for the few instances when gap checks turned into an all out tug of war between me and the crusher! For the most part, no issues with the equipment side of things. Having stayed up to date by reviewing and updating the safe work procedures and helping out in the permit office, I maintained familiarity with the plant. It’s the other nuances of being out and about that had me stumped.

Readjusting to night shift is a given. Mind you, not as hard as the first time around. It is actually semi-manageable now – with or without the unwelcome wake up calls from the cleaners. Of course, getting dirty, muddy and dusty comes with the territory and something I sort of enjoy, still! Even being completely drenched from the waist down to the socks an hour into shift wasn’t too bad. Trudging around muddy areas with boots getting heavier by the second was challenging but bearable. Relearning and remembering the secret hiding spots for hose clips, ready-made minsups and various useful knick knacks was a bit challenging. Assessing whether or not I have the right gloves for the tasks also took a bit of getting used to – yes, it really does make a difference folks.

It ain’t all bad on night shift.

Getting used to being out in the heat and staying hydrate was also a challenge. Hydration is always very important, but more so during the hotter days. I wasn’t very good at this the first few days. When you work indoors, it is easy to forget to drink a lot of water. But when you are outdoors, especially during summer or any day over 25 degrees, you must stay hydrated at all times. Even if the hydration bag isn’t the coolest look or the most logical (it induces a bit of sweating in the back area), it is a very handy accessory to have. Equally handy too, is making sure there’s a ChapStick handy to prevent ouchie, wind burnt lips. Something I still struggle with – always have and seems like I always will!

Dealing with the fall-out of being injured for over a year and still being on light-duties was and is beyond challenging but realistically, very much expected. I mentioned this in previous posts and it seems to be part of the new normal I have to contend with. The resentment and animosity from majority of the pack is palpable. Heck, most of them don’t even try to hide it. Their reaction is obviously based on their own assessment of the injury and what the recovery time should have been. All based on their own perceptions and their understanding of the situation, of course. Not much I can do because most of them aren’t interested in the facts. Explanations about the prognosis and recovery haven’t made a difference and I honestly do not think it will make any difference going forward. The only thing that can be done is to keep calm and carry on. The breathing and counting to 10 sometimes helps too!

Drenched! Not even an hour into shift. Must get back into the habit of packing spare socks all the time.

My new normal also involves constantly keeping track and being mindful of how the wrist is faring and reporting anything unusual or any pain ASAP… or risk copping another written warning (this bit was not verbalised officially but it’s my guess based on previous events.) It’s whiny, I know… but I am still convinced that this injury cannot be all bad. Even if the negative experiences out of it have been numerous so far, it cannot be all bad. It just can’t. As my magic physio says, it may serve to change my perceptions on work injuries and could serve as a significant learning experience in the long run. Although, that remains to be seen for the moment… now back to the more exciting story on hand!

The examples cited above were the little speed humps, minor challenges.  It turns out that the most challenging readjustment of all would be getting used to the toilet situation: the unisex toilet situation to be specific. I am not sure if I shared this tidbit before but not all areas of the plant have female only toilets. This is understandable as there aren’t very many females working around the plant. So certain areas have unisex toilets only. Of course, the option to walk a bit extra to get to the female toilet is always there. For those of you whose concept of a unisex toilet is based on the TV show Ally McBeal, imagine the opposite of that and you would have a better picture of the ones we have. After a minor misdemeanour at the start of my tenure on site wherein I blatantly took the vacant stall while my colleague, the memorable Action Man, was in the only other stall. I would like to think that I have a better understanding of onsite unisex toilet etiquette.

Purple no more!

It took a few minutes for me to realise that I shouldn’t have taken the only other stall right next to him during that embarrassing first encounter or some may refer to it as that “teachable moment”. I probably should have waited until the coast was all clear – stalls and the other bit. It cannot be denied; it got a bit uncomfortable after that realisation, and then very quickly crossed over to really uncomfortable. More uncomfortable for him though as he aborted his mission pretty quickly. After that uncomfortable experience I thought it best either wait my turn or find another block of toilets regardless of distance if a member of the male specie chooses to use the stalls. It’s not just about their privacy; it is for your own welfare too sometimes.

As I look back on my first quarter, I am a bit behind where I intended to be. Sadly, with certain things beyond my control kicking my butt at present and dealing with the injury fall out proving to be more draining than expected, it has been a challenging first quarter. Thankfully, I am stubborn, determined to catch up and make the most of the rest of the year! Funnily enough, the tone of my year actually changed significantly between the time I started and finished this post. But you will have to wait for the next update to find out about that!

No, this is not courtesy of Photoshop. No post production touch ups, just the vivid setting on my camera.