What DO Administrative Assistants do?

Happy Administrative Professionals’ Week!

When I tell people that I am an administrative assistant, I’m often asked what that is.

Now, what I do will not be exactly what the administrative assistant in your office does because responsibilities differ depending on the industry you are in. When I worked in a small grain buyer’s office, I mostly did accounts receivable and invoicing, but when I worked for a large steel manufacturing company, my position dealt with a majority of the filing with a sprinkle of accounts payable work.

(Are you bored yet? I totally understand if you are. Sorry ’bout that.)

In my current position, I have three bosses, which has its ups and downs. These are a few of my job duties:

  • Typing memos, letters, meeting minutes, and company-wide bulletins
  • Scheduling meetings and booking meeting rooms
  • Arranging hotel accommodations and conference registrations
  • Supplying meetings with coffee and water, and ordering lunch if needed
  • Sorting and distributing mail

So, as you can see, administrative professionals take care of many different tasks that help keep the inner workings of an office running smoothly.

Administrative professionals are always learning new things. To help keep my skills fresh and up-to-date, I became a member of the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP), a professional association based in the United States that provides networking and education opportunities to administrative professionals. This year, I decided to jump ship and join the Canadian-equivalent, the Association of Administrative Assistants (AAA), so I could be exposed to content more relevant to Canadian administrative professionals. The one thing I would like to do with my membership in the AAA is help create a branch in Lethbridge to bring back the networking element that was lost when IAAP changed their organizational structure in 2015. I might just start with a Facebook group and go from there. If you are an administrative professional and live in Lethbridge or surrounding area and would be interested in a local networking/education group, send me an email and we’ll set something up.

On Administrative Professionals’ Day, which is April 26 this year, it is customary to show appreciation to the administrative professional in your office with cards, flowers, and lunches (Starbucks gift cards are nice too, just saying.) The thing I look forward to the most on this day is the Administrative Professionals Gala that 94.1 CJOC and 98.1 The Bridge put on at The Coast Hotel and Conference Centre. It’s a night of drinks, appetizers, and prizes, and the last two years I have attended the gala I have won prizes, so I’m hoping for a trifecta this year! (Aaaaand I’ve probably just jinxed myself.)

My husband and me at last year’s Administrative Professionals Gala

So, to all the administrative professionals out there…

Silly Caucasian girl loves bloody revenge film

Author’s Note:  HERE THERE BE SPOILERS! Initially, I was not going to talk too much about any of the scenes or the plot of the movie, but my husband informed me that “if you haven’t seen it within 10 years after its release, it’s your own damn fault”.

Back in my younger, formative years, I would join a group of my friends at the local cinema to see what us young kids called a movie (true story!) Now, I am a thirty-something homebody that cannot remember the last movie she saw in a theatre. Anyway, it was during one of these excursions that I saw an epic movie trailer.

As it finished, I’m pretty sure my mouth was gaped open and my heart was pounding in my chest from excitement. I had to see this movie.

Kill Bill: Volume 1 premiered in October 2003, a time in my life when I was experiencing some personal lows and nearing rock bottom where my mental health was concerned. I saw Uma Thurman’s character as a strong, relentless champion that I clearly was not at the time — but  she was one I could draw strength from.

The movie begins in blackout as the title credits flash in white text, the only sound you hear is a woman’s heavy breathing. A few seconds tick by, the heavy breathing continues as title credits flash on and off of the screen. Throughout the theatre, I heard whispers and tittering as the audience’s imagination concluded we were about to come across an intimate scene. Suddenly, a woman in a wedding veil is shown on screen, her eyes frantically darting around, blood spattered on her face — her laboured breathing making sense now. The audience let out a collective “OH!”, and I was hooked.

One of the things that attracted me to Kill Bill was that it was one woman against everyone who did her wrong or stood in her way. Seeing her go against her enemies and triumphing in such a fantastic (and yes, violent) way was therapeutic for me and helped get me through some tough times. I am a shy, introverted, good-natured person with a strong moral compass — and The Bride is my alter ego.

I have two of these vinyl figures — one at home and one on my desk at work.

Points/Questions I have about Kill Bill: Volume 1

  • How did Nikki NOT freak out when she saw her mother had been killed by The Bride with a knife to the chest? Did her mother prepare her somehow?
  • I own a Pussy Wagon keychain.
  • I have Elle Driver whistling Twisted Nerve as my cellphone’s ringtone (I can’t find the right one of Auld Lang Syne).
  • The scene where The Bride is in her hospital bed and discovers that she is no longer pregnant is so gut-wrenching — a great performance by Uma.
  • I have a Kill Bill-related vanity license plate on my car, but I was not able to get “PSY WGN” for obvious reasons.
  • O-Ren Ishii is my favourite member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad.
  • Does it not look like it was a young Bill who murdered O-Ren’s father in the animated sequence?
  • I love the sushi bar scene! “Do you understaaaaand?”
  • One of my favourite pieces of Kill Bill memorabilia that I own is a replica of The Bride’s Hattori Hanzo sword a friend acquired for me from a comic book store in Calgary.
  • I was familiar with Zamfir’s song The Lonely Sheppard before the movie. My grandmother had  a few cassette tapes of his music that I would listen to while she babysat me when I was younger.
  • O-Ren’s speech after she beheads Boss Tanaka — priceless!
  • I have dressed up as a Crazy 88 many times for Halloween.
  • The House of Blue Leaves set is my favourite, especially the garden.
  • I own a pair of yellow trainers similar to The Bride’s. They even have fake blood on them courtesy of a Motley Crue concert I wore them to.
  • Tarantino’s music choices for fight scenes amuses me greatly.
  • The fight in the blue room with silhouettes is gorgeous.
  • “Is she aware that her daughter is still alive?” WHUT? I think my eyes bugged out again after hearing that. What a cliffhanger!

I had never seen any of Quentin Tarantino’s movies before Kill Bill, so initially I was surprised by the amount and type of violence I saw. After watching Volume 1 a few more times, I understood his style better and eventually could laugh at some of these scenes — much to the horror of friends who had not watched the movie as many times as I have.

Once I saw Kill Bill: Volume 2 in April 2004, I grew to appreciate the film even more and began my journey as a full-fledged fanatic (say that three times fast!)

Points/Questions I have about Kill Bill: Volume 2

  • I was not surprised to see that Samuel L. Jackson was the “coloured fellow that plays the organ” at the wedding chapel. Not one bit.
  • But I was also not aware that David Carradine played Bill until I saw him for the first time in Volume 2. The last time I saw him in something was when he played Kwai Chang Caine in the television series Kung Fu: The Legend Continues that I watched with my dad on Saturday afternoons when I was younger.
  • I still cannot get over how well done the live burial of The Bride was. Limited visual and mostly sound, transporting the whole audience into the wooden coffin with her.
  • *strokes her imaginary Pai Mei beard and laughs heartily*
  • My two favourite fictional female warriors have had to claw their way out of a grave — The Bride and Buffy Summers.
  • Another character that I have dressed up as is Elle Driver. I even committed to dying my hair blonde just for the costume.
  • Gargantuan. That is all.
  • The eye squishing shot always makes me squirm.
  • The Bride seeing her daughter for the first time. Just wow.
  • Also, how cute is B.B.? Gosh, that kid is a heartbreaker.
  • I love the exchange about the pregnancy test between The Bride and Karen Kim. Just two women who understand and respect each other.
  • The Five-Point-Palm-Exploding-Heart technique!
  • “The Lioness has rejoined her Cub, and all is right in the jungle.” *sigh*

It always surprises people when I tell them that Kill Bill is my favourite movie, but it surprised me as well. I’m usually more of a comedy/romance type person, but inside I think I’ve always been a bit of a fighter. I’ve contemplated learning a martial art or how to sword fight, but then the chicken shit part of me that hates getting hurt kicks in and I forget about it.

I’m just a silly Caucasian girl who loves a bloody revenge film.

Damn you shiny distractions!

I had big plans, BIG PLANS for what I was going to write for this week’s blog post, but some shiny things were waved in front of my face and I succumbed to their wiles as I waved a dismissive hand at my blogging responsibilities.

Sorry ’bout that.

But I think it’s good every once in a while to give myself a break from the extreme pressure I put on myself to write a blog-worthy post *cough* and churn out a piece of tripe.

So here it is.

I have finally been making some headway as far as work is concerned. It felt like I had been lagging behind since the beginning of December, but after working some overtime a couple weeks ago, I’d say I’m caught up to about March now. Huge, HUGE relief. (I hate being behind, but sometimes with my job it cannot be helped.)

This reduction in my stress levels allowed me to actually focus on relaxing at home in the evenings instead of trying to plan out the next work day in my head, thinking of everything that needed to get done. It was in this relaxed state that the shiny things took control.

I paid for a month-long subscription to Ancestry.ca and couldn’t stop clicking through all the hints that had popped up since the last time I subscribed to the paid content. The first night, I stayed up a little later than usual just clicking through immigration records and photos of gravestones. I mostly worked on the part of my family tree from the U.K. and got as far as my 4th great-grandfather and grandmother. I also found out that one of my ancestors baked a birthday cake for a member of the royal family back in the day. Very cool! I used Google Maps to help me plot my places of origin — all of which are close to London!

I heard that Netflix added some new content recently, so I spent some time browsing through their new additions. MISTAKE! Soooooo much good stuff! I had to add the new Louis C.K. stand-up 2017 to my list (sorry, but I’m a fan) as well as 13 Reasons Why (have you watched it? I’ve heard really good things so far!) But I have to say, if you are waffling on what to watch next, watch the BBC drama series Thirteen. It was amazing! But I will tell you right now that there are no plans for a second series, so enjoy the five episodes you do get. Just… wow. I’m not saying much because I really want you to see it for yourself… then we can discuss it once you have!

Photo credit:  BBC

Like I said, I had big plans for a great blog post that obviously didn’t happen. But I only work three days this week then I get a nice five-day weekend, meaning I will have time to type up a super spiffy post for you!

Then we’ll be about square. *draws a square in the air with her right pointer finger* ;)

My AncestryDNA results

I’ve been meaning to write this entry for a few weeks now, but other posts always took precedence over it. My life finally became boring enough to give me the opportunity to write it. ;)

I received my AncestryDNA results about two months after I mailed off a tiny test tube of my saliva to Ancestry’s lab in Ireland (I’ve seen that other kits get sent to Utah. I’m not sure why my saliva was so special that it had to be sent overseas). I didn’t mind waiting this much time to receive my results because, for one thing, it was realistic due to the large volume of kits they would have received from individuals who received them as Christmas gifts. Secondly, I would hope that they would need a proper amount of time to complete the test, otherwise I would have received inaccurate results (and I ain’t paying that much money for a botched genealogical test!)

I’m not sure how loud I gasped when I first saw the email with the subject “Your AncestryDNA results are in!”, but I do remember my eyes bugging out of my head and my fingers were suddenly unable to type properly while trying to text my husband that I finally received that long-awaited notification. I logged into the website with bated breath, my left hand covering my mouth as I read my results.

I was not surprised that the test determined I was 50% Eastern European since my mother is 100% Polish. I also was not surprised that I had roots in Great Britain, but I originally thought them to be 25% instead of 32% (this may also shed some light about the great love I have for London, England). The biggest surprise was the 9% Finland/Northwest Russia since I have never heard of any family being from this region and thought the 9% would be Netherlands. Once I read further into my analysis, I understood that these numbers reflect “where your ancestors came from hundreds to thousands of years ago”, so my ancestors probably immigrated from Finland/Northwest Russia to the Netherlands and I just haven’t been able to go that far back in my family tree yet (something I now look forward to doing!)

Another neat thing you get out of the results are relationship links to other people who have taken the AncestryDNA test that are related to you. Through this feature, I found out that I have a third cousin living in Edmonton that I have never met (at least I don’t think I have). I’ve already been creepy and stalked her on Facebook, but I’m too timid to friend her (AWKWARD!) Maybe I will if we connect through the Ancestry website first.

And the more people take the AncestryDNA test, the better the results become regarding your ancestry! This past week, AncestryDNA introduced a new feature called Genetic Communities which are groups of AncestryDNA members who are connected through DNA most likely because they descend from a population of common ancestors, even if they no longer live in the area where those ancestors once lived. This feature, which is still in beta testing, was where I understood and finally found my connection to the Netherlands.

Now that I have a better idea of my ancestry, I am tempted to obtain a paid subscription to the website so I can add more information to my family tree.

And maybe eventually I’ll make contact with that third cousin I’ve been stalking.


This past Friday, I attended a viewing party for a documentary titled Embrace. The film follows Taryn Brumfitt, a body image activist, who posted a powerful Facebook post of a reverse before and after photo of herself. The before photo was of Taryn on stage at a body building competition, and the after photo was of her completely nude (though strategically covered), sitting on a stool, and noticeably heavier and less fit than her before photo. Taryn’s photo attracted both positive and negative comments, and from those comments, she was inspired to set out on a journey that took her around the world to speak with people about body image.

Not even five minutes into the film, I was already tearing up and discreetly wiping tears from my eyes — it struck a cord with me.

But I was not the only one.

At various points in the movie, women around me nodded their head in agreement or spoke aloud about how they could relate to the experiences the women in the film had. The subject matter was so relatable that we spent two hours talking about our own experiences, thoughts, and feelings after the movie finished.

I was both surprised and saddened as the women in the room described verbal, emotional, and physical abuse they have endured regarding their bodies. Some spoke of the various diets they have been on in an endless battle to reach what society has deemed the ideal body shape. Others spoke of how they had to finally quit striving for the “perfect” body, throw out their bathroom scale, and start focusing on their health instead of their dress size — these women are my heros.

One thing Taryn spoke about in her movie really hit me hard in the gut and has been turning the gears in my head ever since. She talked about how she feared that her negative body image would influence her young daughter, Mikaela. Taryn did not want her daughter growing up loathing her body and worrying about needing to be a certain body shape for society to accept her.

It was then that I felt a very heavy weight placed on me. I realized that I am my daughter’s very first teacher and role model. She looks up to me, already emulates me (the good and the bad), and thinks the world of me. I’m careful not to talk down about myself around her, and we talk about eating the right foods to stay healthy, and if we talk about her height and weight, it’s always positive. Even by doing all that, I feel like I need to do more — not just for me, but for her as well.

I have very low self-esteem,  my diet and exercise habits aren’t the greatest, and I dislike my body as well (I’m trying really hard to not say “hate”). I didn’t add anything to the discussion after the movie and listened to everyone else instead because I felt if I opened my mouth to share my experience with my own body image, I would immediately start crying. Now, I feel this huge obligation to better myself and change my thinking about myself or have my daughter develop the same negative thoughts about her own body. I can’t have that.

I really don’t want her to feel that kind of pain.