Don’t we all know the saying "once in a blue moon?" It's when there are two full moons in one calendar month...very rare! Well, after about 2 ½ years we got hit up yet again in December!
We had a full moon on December 2nd, a new moon on the 16th, and will have another full (blue) moon on New Year's Eve. As the Intuitive Healer I’ve seen occasionally over the past few years reminds us, it's been a very good time to notice, honor and support our own unique phases: activity and rest, introversion and extroversion.
Astrologically speaking, communication issues can be easily triggered—we need to remember to stay consistent, tactful, and flexible. Be easy and gentle with yourself and others. Everyone's moods and energies—our internal tides—are affected by the moon's magnetic energies.
In addition, Mercury went retrograde on December 26th and that lasts till around January 15 '10. All our communications issues will be even more challenging!
The Winter Solstice groaned through with typical deep, dark blackness and just a tiny teasing slice of daylight. And then days later, we had bright blue skies, sun and frost on rooftops and trees for Christmas – very rare for the Pacific Northwest. The sunshine definitely brightens moods.
I know I’ve written in earlier posts about when a bunch of things have gone haywire with communications, my patience has been tested, and a bunch of relatively “small” things have physically broken this past month (iPod, neighborhood power outage when it wasn’t stormy, car keyfob on occasion, water leaks, you name it). But then I remind myself…my address is NOT the Lower Ninth Ward. I’m doing OK.
Full moon New Years Eve? Oh, my friends shudder. Anyone out there in emergency room work or law enforcement? My hat is off to each of you.
I looked at the moon tonight after meeting with a good friend for coffee and catching up. It’s like an overly swollen football right now, proud and glowing bright in the inky blue night sky just after the sun disappears. Just a few more days.
I uttered these words early last week when I met up for coffee with a family friend I hadn’t seen in over 20 years – the wife of one of my Dad’s co-workers, who has known our family since my brothers and I were very young. Turns out she has been working for many years at the same company where I’ve been working on a short term assignment – in the building right next door! So many small world connections at this company it is just unreal: one of my team members is a neighbor and also used to work with the husband of a cousin of mine in Oregon, another is the step brother of my sister in law’s best friend, and another I used to work with indirectly at a prior contract gig about 3 years ago. What is it about this place with so many Six Degrees things going on at once? Delicious.
So when I had coffee with K a few days ago (the family friend) and made that "right thing" comment her response was, “Wow, you are very wise to know this at your relatively young age!” We laughed. You know, I hadn’t really thought of my age, early 40-something, as “young.” But I guess that’s because I tend to spend a lot of time with friends who are slightly younger than I. On the other hand it is also nice that age doesn’t really matter much anymore. I cherish the people I resonate with and adore my friendships as extended family, whether 10 years younger or 10 years older or anywhere in between or beyond. I’ll never forget my folks visiting me at college and commenting on how young the students looked! At the time I had no idea what they were talking about. Now that I have 20 years of life under my belt since college, I get it.
OK, so the right things happen when they're supposed to. Really? Sometimes I say this to convince myself it's true and to fight off the deep DNA urges to be impatient and worry. All that has done is burned up energy I could have spent elsewhere and left me with a slight crinkle between my eyebrows which is a likely target for a shot of Botox. But, for now I'll stick with bangs and a personal vow to not worry so much.
Work wraps up end of December, and after that who knows. I do have a handful of job leads - including a couple possibly where I am right now - which is comforting not only for my sanity but my wallet as well. I'm tired of feeling the burn from the Recession. I think we all are. But perhaps it was a correction that needed to happen and has happened as I've witnessed in a few cycles during my adult life (but not as severe). And OK, I'll say it outloud...I'm tired of my skimpy paycheck. I LOVE the team I've been working with, but I've been living on half or less than half my typical income for 7 months. I guess these things come before us as life lessons to learn about saving and investing. And, to be thankful. I can still get by just fine. My house is still standing, I'm in good health, I have wonderful family and friends and I'm not hungry.
I've also learned to listen more to instinct and other intangibles, the "dark matter" that is out there and defies rational, practical definition but nonetheless packs a punch. I'm trying to understand, breathe and be gentle...understanding this is a Blue Moon month and the universe is giving us a strong dose of wacky. Things have broken, communications have gone haywire and most everyone I know is stressed with the holidays right around the corner.
Yesterday I had the thrill of reconnecting with a friend from high school I hadn't seen in, gulp, nearly 25 years. She and I had traveled as part of a group to eastern Europe and what is now the former Soviet Union in the mid 80s with our Russian language teacher. Turns out she's been living in various places in Europe for years and was back here in the States very briefly to see her Mom. Through the magic of Facebook we got back in touch after all this time and she and her husband and I had coffee and some good laughs. It was as if no time had passed (well, other than some crinkles and a few grey hairs). It is simply magical to reconnect with someone after over half a lifetime and just pick up right where we left off. How do you cover the past 20 some years in just an hour?? These are friends where you can just look eachother in the eye and just "know" and "feel" the life connection. Lots of life has happened. We've all had successes, struggles, tragedies, changes, growth, learning and so much more that goes beyond what we can put in words. And there's a lot of comfort in that type of bonding from peers.
So, I embrace all of this and look in wonder to the time ahead...tomorrow is the Solstice, Christmas is mere days away, the decade is ready to turn, we have a full moon New Years Eve, and beyond that...who knows. My tired calendar is ready for the recycle bin and a crisp new one is ready to take its place. I decided on pictures of the Greek Isles. I love the bright blue ocean, colorful architecture and sunshine, especially this time of year.
Meanwhile, my mind races with what's next: more job hunting, networking, time here in fivenineteen, getting trained for another 5K or two, the scary Diet Coke detox upcoming in January, home projects, pro bono work that might turn into something paying, including launching a Blog for the company's website. And I seem to have become fascinated with Arctic issues, so I may use this downtime next month to read and learn...the issues with melting ice, political disputes in the region, the indigineous peoples and their many ways of life. I can't wait for the New Year and what lies ahead. And yet, I remind myself to be patient too.
"...wow, you don't let grass grow under your feet, do you?" This was K's response after recapping a few things I've dabbled in the past year or so. Oh she's so right!
Sometimes things on my mind just have to come out. It’s like a huge surge of internal energy that literally pins me here in the home office chair until it gets formed into words and typed out. OK, it’s the weekend and the schedule’s pretty wide open today so I can just go with it. I’ve been keeping posts to just about one a week, usually on a weekend anyway so It’s Time Again. I’d love to write more but I find I have to be in a certain mindset and after a day at work my brain is too tired, but it's a good tired. Just not the best state for writing.
There will be another “gift” of time coming this way as my current work assignment wraps up at the end of December. I really enjoy this team and the work and would LOVE to stay on longer but the reality is that’s not going to happen for a lot of us. But, on the other hand we all knew our time there would be short so it’s no surprise. I’ll have more time in January to focus here on fivenineteen and where I want to take it moving into ‘10. And things job-wise should hopefully improve in the new decade as we pull out of this stupid Recession. Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to resuming the part-time and pro bono work I was doing for a colleague who's started up a consulting business (see "A Seat on the Panel with a Paycheck of Zero" for more on that.)
Oh. One more thing to add to the “When Things Don’t Work” post – my beloved T3 hair dryer. Good grief I spent $150 on that thing and only had it about a year and a half. And yet Friday morning I plugged it in, turned it on and it made THE hugest, loud POP and then a horrific grinding sound. And smelled. Yep, I think it’s done. And nope, this is NOT the way to start off an early morning where I’m trying to get ready for work and make a little extra effort to look nice as I was hoping to reconnect with a recruiter. As I like to say, “we wear our hair every day,” so investing in a good haircut, color and styling tools/products is high on my list. That little dryer really did its job….it was a travel model too so the handle folded up nicely for packing. Dang, I miss business travel – really and truly. Anyway, the faster I can get my hair dry and the waves smoothed down the less wear and tear there is on it and the less time I need to get ready and out the door. Thankfully I have an older dryer to use as a backup. It doesn’t work on one of the lower speeds any more but it works. So that's now the iPod, my home office scanner/printer, the new Christmas tree lights which were DOA, the garage water leak, the hair dryer oh and the on-off timer on a floor lamp switch in the living room which have all crapped out within a couple weeks for no apparent reason. It IS a blue moon month so things are a little wacky for sure!
Now…what was I going to write about again? I love tangents but it’s time to get back on track here. Oh yeah…Nasty Habits.
How about these?
Yep, these are things I've taken comfort in, sometimes more than I should I suppose.
Ohhhh, Diet Coke. Bless you and damn you all at the same time. The girls who wrote the book Skinny Bitch call diet sodas "Satan in a Can," and that's pretty much spot on. I can down it all day to keep the caffeine going through my bloodstream and it's the beverage of choice for me to stay alert when I have a late night hockey game (that and a mega dose of Vitamin B). This is a 20-year addiction that's gripped me so tightly it's downright embarrassing. And unhealthy. For years I worked at companies where sodas were complimentary so my consumption just escalated as a result.
I'm going to cut it out of my life starting in January and frankly, I'm scared. I'm scared of the withdrawal side effects. Scared I won't have any energy. Scared of being tired, moody and bitchy during the process. BUT, I know I'll feel better once it's all flushed out of my system. Stay tuned for more posts on my upcoming journey through Hell with this "DC Detox" next month! And join me in a toast as I raise my stainless steel hydration bottle full of water meanwhile!
Red Wine. Funny how two of the three I called out here are beverages?
Yeah, there's something nice about unwinding with a glass of wine at the end of a long workday while getting dinner ready, watching TV or just reading email or web surfing. I even joined a wine of the month club a few years ago, where a local wine merchant picks a couple bottles each month (mostly reds) and sends out a nice document about the history of each, the regions where they originate, and a discount on more of the same for that particular month. I did this for years and then realized, as much as I enjoy learning about wine and having a choice of bottles to grab when heading off to a party or to just sit looking cool in my wine rack, that I really didn't need to do this. That's hundreds of dollars a year just on wine and for me recently that just doesn't make economic sense. I also found that cutting way back on red wine consumption reduces the frequency and intensity of migraines I tend to get, mostly with hormonal cycles so have said my gynos over the years. I still enjoy a glass every now and then, but I don't miss it.
Shopping. This will never be purged out of my DNA so I embrace it and learn to manage urges to shop/spend unnecessarily. It doesn't cost anything to look!
You know, when I was in my early 20s and just starting out in my career and post-college life I had this feeling deep in my bones that every year would get BETTER. Call it naive, call it crazy, but that's how I felt. I felt with every year that went by I'd be smarter, healthier, more cultured, more worldly, more glamorous, and yes, wealthier.
OK, reality hits hard. Doesn't always work that way.
Maybe it's because that time of my life was in the late 1980s when glitz was still in style and economic times were properous in general. I figured that was how post-college life would be forever and ever with nowhere to go but up as I got more established as an adult with my career and life! I got a job mere weeks after graduating from college and while the pay was low compared to other entry-level jobs it was in a glamorous office location in downtown Seattle and the year-end bonuses were very generous. Far different experience from other college grads who coincidentally happened to graduate when the economy wasn't as booming.
Fast forward to the early 21st century and I now have a townhome I love, but is also nearly 30 years old and it needs work. Gone are the days of $550 a month rent with a roommate, where a broken toilet was a quick phone call to the landlord to get it fixed! Now I gotta pay for the fixes myself. New appliances. New 400 sq ft back deck. A massive water leak. Paint, inside and out. And, likely next year, a new roof for all of us in the HOA. I love my townhouse but also am humbled at the work involved in keeping a home maintained and stylish. I still have lingering 1980 fixtures in a few rooms and carpet to rip out and replace with flooring or tile.
I also realize how a lot of the frivolous shopping I used to do over the years needs to stop and focus on more important things like beefing up retirement accounts and home maintenance. This clangs even more loudly in my face as I wrap up my current work assignment and go into the world of unemployment yet again, but hopefully not for long.
You know, there is such a huge feeling of relief when you stop trying to impress people with material shit. I'm going to write about this more in future posts, and hopefully it won't get too bitchy during the Diet Coke detox but we'll see.
Well, here goes.
I love Edges and Ends of things. Huh? The tip, the extreme, the very very edge. I think this is a subset of my fascination with maps and geography actually!
What do these places have in common?
Neah Bay, WA
Tierra del Fuego, Argentina
Hobart, (Tasmania) Australia
Marsala, (Sicily) Italy
…they’re all on the end (or pretty close to) the end of a piece of land or continent! After that it’s nothing but ocean ocean ocean.
I remember traveling in Moscow in the mid 1980s with a group and after finding a map of the Metro, I spotted one line that went FAR, far to the east away from the central hub, much longer than all the others. I convinced my friend B to go ride that route with me all the way to the end to see what it was like! We jokingly called the end of the line “Siberia,” but it was just deep, outer suburbs, really. No idea where the hell it was. And at that time, as long as you didn’t surface above ground, a single Metro fare ticket was the equivalent of a nickel.
So, I guess I’m back to maps again – ha! Seriously though, link me onto Google maps and I can zone out into another world and hours can go by before I realize I’ve been into “globe porn,” scanning maps, zooming in on various cities, wondering, imagining what life is like there, what’s everyone up to. It truly is mind boggling! I find the wonderful beach in Trinidad where I spent an afternoon relaxing in the sun and swimming a few years ago (Maracas Bay Beach, a perfect half circle inlet of the ocean on the north coast of the island…and Trinidad is pretty near the southern end of the Caribbean islands chain so there you go!). I zoom in on Neah Bay, WA and dream about a road trip to check it out. Sunny Key West, Florida…how long does it take to drive all that way from Miami? I’ve been as far as South Beach but haven’t yet visited the Keys.
How about Tristan da Cunha, St. Helena? This is the most remote inhabited island in the world, located in the south Atlantic ocean. Even stumped an amateur geographer like me – never had heard of it! Population under 300! Wow, you better get along with your neighbors, I suppose. Need to get out of town? Don’t charter a plane as there’s no airport – you can only get there by boat.
I thumbed through National Geographic while in the dentist office waiting room and got swept up in a story about a nuclear powered ice breaker that takes tourists from Murmansk (Russia) to the North Pole! Talk about a cruise of a lifetime! See the people in a circle with all the flags in the picture? That’s the North Pole, and the flags of all travelers, standing in each of the Earth’s time zones all at once. I think if I could be standing and holding hands in that circle I would cheer for joy and burst into tears all at the same time. $20,000 and I am so there!
And then a couple of days ago I stumbled across an article on cnn.com about the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. Three people from Shishmaref, Alaska will attend as witnesses to the erosion their town is experiencing as the permafrost is melting and no longer protects their island from the violent storms of the Chukchi Sea. The entire town and its hunting/fishing lifestyle, unique dialect and entire way of life is in jeopardy of slowly vanishing into the ocean.
“As far as outsiders are concerned, Shishmaref might as well be at the edge of the Earth.
Only 20 miles south of the Arctic Circle and less than 150 miles from Russian Siberia, the village's geography alone makes it seem uninhabitable.
“Its 600 residents endure temperatures that drop to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter. Polar bear sightings are common. Water is scarce. There's no plumbing in most homes; ice is harvested from lakes in microwave-size blocks and melted in buckets. No roads connect Shishmaref to the outside world.”
Of course I had to go find this town on a map immediately. Holy crap that is REMOTE. I gasp and wonder how in the world anyone could choose to live this way, and yet at the same time feel a deep warmth and respect for the traditions that have gone unchanged there for hundreds of years. And I also chuckle when I read about kids learning about walrus tusk carving while listening to their iPods. Even remote towns like this see a little injection from the modern world I suppose.
As I close my browser window I feel a dizzying rush of returning back "home" so to speak. The same feeling I got as a child after sitting with my grandparents looking at a globe, or thumbing through an atlas in my parent's library.
And there, my friends, is my first, fairly un-edited attempt at explaining this passion.
Now, it's back to "home" and reality. First stop: laundry!
The engine light's on in my car so it's time to get it to the shop even though it seems to be running just fine. My laptop blue screened yet again last week, even after updating drivers and flashing the BIOS (I might sound very technically savvy but trust me, I just know enough to be dangerous). The laptop is 3 years old and I'd hate to plunk down more money for a new one right now, so maybe it just needs more RAM (?). My beloved iPod which I've had around 2 1/2 years now dies after 20 minutes even after getting a full charge. Oh, the places that iPod has gone with me! Business trips, vacations, countless workouts on the treadmill and outside. I love the schizo mix of music on it and it kills me to think it might be on its last legs. How much of a pain is it to get a new battery?
I decided this year to get two small artificial trees instead of a real tree for Christmas, and found a great deal on a faux mini spruce, just 3' high, in a wonderful ceramic pot, complete with tiny white lights. The delivery arrived a few days ago, I unpacked it all excited and plugged it in - and got nothing. The lights don't work! Is it worth shipping the whole thing back due to this? For me, probably not. Christmas lights are cheap so I will likely just take the ones that came on the tree off and put on my own. Oh well!
And with the rain starting up again full force here (very typical Pacific Northwest weather), I came home one night to find water slowly seeping through a tiny crack in one of the concrete walls in my garage. The garage is partially built into the ground, so who knows what's going on here. Might be some drainage problems from the back deck up above it.
Actually, I was thinking about the car engine light issue and the small garage leak on a long walk today - when the iPod crapped out. It was a rare sunny and somewhat clear day today, especially for late November. I said no thanks to all the Black Friday shopping nonsense today and decided to head up the big hill in my neighborhood for a 5-mile walk.
Other than the iPod dying, it was a good workout. I love veging out to great music when I exercise, but maybe the iPod going silent was meant as a much-needed break for my eardrums or a reminder to just stop and take in the real world sounds around me, rather than drown them out with music.
That’s how I got here
Feels like forever
I wanna swim away
And breathe the open air
But I feel so afraid
And then I hear you say
Hang on when the water’s rising
Hang on when the waves are crashing
Just don’t ever let go
I’m so hungry
How can I stay here?
For what I hold so dear
Like a hurricane
It takes everything from me
Wake me from this dream
Hang on when the water’s rising
Hang on when the waves are crashing
Just don’t ever let go
Hang on when you’re barely breathing
Hang on while your heart’s still beating
Just don’t ever let go
Three days, thirty years
So hopeless, doesn’t matter
Don’t say it’s too late
If you blink your eyes
The sun is rising
The sun is rising…
Hang on when the water’s rising
Hang on when the waves are crashing
Just don’t ever let go
Hang on when you’re barely breathing
Hang on while your heart’s still beating
Just don’t ever let go
I sowed a lot of seeds in this job hunt, and a few of them recently sprouted up in a huge clump all on top of eachother, literally within hours of getting this interview scheduled. The interview was scheduled in the morning, and by that same afternoon I had yet another in-person interview (completely separate from this one) set for the following morning AND two additional phone screens - each for separate jobs as well - later that afternoon.
After accepting the offer I canceled those other appointments, but explained I would likely be job hunting again in January unless I get extended or reassigned somewhere in this company. Then, the phone rang again - it was another recruiter giving good news that a hiring manager wanted to meet me in person! Oh gosh...I'd completely forgotten he had submitted me as a candidate for that other job a few days prior. So, I told him I was no longer available. It got a little quiet on the phone, but he was genuinely happy. Really and truly - it is feast or famine out there. The email and phone can be quiet for days, crickets chirping, and then all of a sudden everything hits and explodes.
I'm glad. I'm grateful to be getting back to work and to a routine. I suited up many times in a dress, pantyhose and heels, whether it was 95 degrees out or blustery, rainy and 50. I've also spent my days here in the home office in shorts, a t-shirt, flip flops and no makeup more times than I'd like to admit and kind of got used to seeing myself au naturel rather than cleaned up.
But, I now have a job through the end of the decade (what's left of it)! And I have no idea what is "really" going on with the state of things (quick questions about the 'weather report' in the interview but there was not much time to drill in further.) I won't understand the politics initially either, but I'll know they are there. Honestly, the pay is nothing to write home about, but all the more reason to have something short-term. And technically it's a hell of a lot more than my current income level of ZERO...plus I'll stop being a "Professional Check Casher" claiming unemployment. Yes, I'll definitely continue the "Money Diet" I wrote about earlier.
Working short term contract assignments for the past three years has sharpened my edges and street smarts - I've learned and continue to learn how to build rapport and relationships quickly. Shy need not apply!! At times I joke it's like being an Army brat or an exchange student...always the new kid and under the microscope. I've zoomed in and out of very, very different work cultures and continue to draw upon the great things and reject the toxic practices. I've learned what to share and not share, as longterm employees don't always know or understand anything different than where they've worked; my stories and recollections often are greeted with blank nods and stares. [That's OK; just paradigm stuff and all]. And I've learned that no matter how great things seem on the surface, there are fires burning and messes everywhere.
I keep my eyes and ears alert and open all my senses up wide to the vibe and environment around me. I've learned to trust my instincts. For example, I'd never visited this company where I'd interviewed before even though it's very well known and established. It's a large campus tucked away off a 4-lane road full of strip malls. Once I drove past the main entrance, I felt a wave of calm, even though I had the usual pre-interview adrenaline flowing. I thought to myself that somehow, this was where I'd be working. I don't know how else to explain it but that's how it's been every time with each job.
Even if it's short-term, this is where I'm supposed to be. And I can't wait to dig in.
My grandparents had a double-sided jigsaw puzzle at their house. One side was the United States (each state was its own puzzle piece) and the other side was a map of the world. This puzzle was the coolest thing ever (and I loved puzzles as a kid in general). As we did the puzzle together they would name each state and something about it like a famous river, the capital city or a favorite landmark they'd visited; they had driven in their camper all over the country and through Canada and Mexico too on many camping and fishing trips and had lots of memories to share!
One year I got a globe for Christmas. It had raised mountain ranges and a small, clear plastic dial on the North Pole with time zones. I couldn’t believe it was possible for it to be daytime here and nighttime for other people in the world at the exact same moment! And all those lines…the Equator, latitude and longitude – my parents would try to explain what they meant and that they were just imaginary lines. I was positive they were wrong; after all, the lines were there plain as day, so people living on the Equator must have a big blue stripe going through their cities! Maybe the people were painted blue too. My grandparents traveled several times to New Zealand and tried explaining how the International Date Line works. Too confusing!
As I looked more closely at the globe I noticed there were tiny dots in some parts of the oceans. What were these dots? I learned they were their own countries or islands off the coasts of some larger countries. This was astonishing: how could an entire country just be on one dot? Wasn't it crowded? How did people even move around? I just couldn't comprehend the idea of living on an island.
And later when I discovered my parents' large Atlas (perhaps when I was old enough to be trusted not to tear pages or spill on them), I saw much larger, detailed closeups of the countries I'd seen on the globe. But the Caribbean and South Pacific islands? Still, relatively speaking, just tiny dots.
I guess I was fascinated by these tropical islands because it was such a stark contrast to where I lived. In the Pacific Northwest the ocean is unforgivingly cold, not like a warm, inviting bath. The water is greenish grey rather than clear, turquoise blue. And we don't necessarily need a plane ticket or a boat to get out of town.
My first trip to Hawaii was in high school. I will always remember the moment I first felt the water. A warm ocean!! I didn't want to leave.
Ten years later I made my first of two trips through the Caribbean - the eastern and southern islands from St. Thomas all the way down to Trinidad, just off the coast of Venezuela. This region fascinated me most of all. I couldn't believe the stark contrasts between the islands. Martinique had a boutiquey city vibe about it, while Dominica was much more rural and laid back - lush, green trees and rolling hills. I took a downhill bike tour with a small group and I remember whizzing through hot breezes and the thick honey scent of flowers. We stopped at a little fruit stand to grab a snack - called It's Nice to Be Nice. Love it! On some islands the British influence remained strong, including driving on the left. Others drove on the right. This got confusing from country to country, honestly!
Now I look at those tiny dots with a smile, as I've experienced a few of them firsthand. That glorious, turquoise blue water. Warm smiles. Relentless, pounding sun. Drippy, overhead air conditioners from businesses and apartments in town. Plants and bushes everywhere that would only survive as indoor houseplants here. And a far more relaxed pace.
The next time I visit I'm leaving my watch at home.
I also started doing something I haven’t done since changing beds while candy-striping at the local Hospital back in the 1980s and doing a recurring radio news broadcast at a Braille library in the 1990s: I volunteered my time and started working for free. Guess that keeps my once-a-decade pattern going!
Volunteering has been a part of my memory since childhood, and I owe the lion’s share of that to my Mom. My Mom was an elementary school teacher, supporting both she and my Dad while he completed his MBA studies full-time when they were newlyweds. After I was born, Mom became a full-time stay at home Mom and Dad went back to work full-time. This was the late 1960s so it was perhaps generally more expected that these things would happen.
But what I remember about my Mom when I was younger was that she was never the watch-the-soaps-all-day type of stay at home Mom. Nope, along with raising my brothers and me she was an active volunteer and hard-core at that. The calendar was always out on the kitchen counter, full of blue-ink circles, red-ink birthday reminders, scribbles and to-dos. The phone was always, always ringing. People were coming and going all day long in and out of our house for meetings or maybe a friendly game of Bridge.
I can’t begin to compare my volunteer work with her decades of accomplishments, but I do understand and appreciate the importance for us to take part whenever we can to give back to our community, and I thank her for that message and influence.
In September I began working pro bono for a longtime colleague and friend. He’s launched a consulting firm and I am working around 8-10 hours a week providing very basic project management to the back-end structure of the business as we get foundations built, procedures put in place, while our sales team passionately pursues our first win (and the bank – meanwhile and hopefully – says YES to a funding loan).
Frankly, I was both humbled and honored to be asked to do this work. He and I have known eachother for about ten years, so we already have an essential bond of rapport and trust built up. We're about the same age and have pretty much grown up professionally together through good, bad and really, really ugly. And we both know what we're like on a bad day too which is very important and not necessarily what you would discover about a new hire right away!
Meanwhile, in support for our local community and to promote our business, he has participated on panels at a local college with classes focused on Resume Writing and Interviewing. And when he was invited to return recently he asked me to join him. I was very honored to be asked and more than happy to donate my time to do so. I can be a bit long-winded about lots of things, so any speaking practice in public with pressure to keep answers short and sweet is good!
I found it ironic to be speaking to a class about interviewing and resume writing when I too could be learning from this as well! But once I started speaking about the work A and I are doing, my passion for it and answered questions from the class it all just flowed seamlessly. It felt great to speak about past experiences, things to do and not do when interviewing and to share real-life stories supplementing things that might be taught by the instructor from a textbook! And to see people take notes while you're speaking? Wow.
But I didn't get a chance to share my best interviewing tip on how it boils down to comfort - dress professionally but also stay comfortable and wear the right socks/hosiery/underwear underneath it all. Maybe I'll get to that next time.
I have other vivid memories of going to my grandparents’ homes for dinner. Every Sunday it seemed my brothers and I were piled in the car with my parents, headed over to visit one set or the other. I feel very fortunate to have had all four grandparents in a nearby city, and to have known them all when they were young, active and healthy (and one is still alive today in her early 90s)!
What else was great about visiting my grandparents, besides endless fun, great food and enormous amounts of hugs? Their houses had…STAIRS. These houses were older, full of character, creaks in the floors, cracks in plaster and fancy chandeliers. Oh, the stories these houses could tell! The faceted, glass doorknobs looked like huge diamonds and I imagined they really were! Some stairs led down to basements – basements! – full of wonderful old artwork, my grandfather’s desk with a black rotary phone, typewriter and adding machine, shuffleboard tiles built into the floor and an easel with colored chalk for doodling. Another basement had small, old machine parts for my brothers to dig through, the washer and dryer and funny comic strip clippings on the walls. It was all endlessly fascinating.
The “up” stairs led to bedrooms, plushly carpeted with scores of old family photos on the walls. One staircase was so steep it just seemed so daunting and enormous to me, especially as a child! What a journey to just go upstairs to bed!
Long before the copious discussions about the turn of the century (and millennium), as a young girl I remember wondering what the world was going to be like in the year 2000. I knew how old I was going to be - and that was about the only definite thing that happened as it turned out from my predictions (no, we're not living on the moon yet, for example)! I thought about the big change going from 1999 to 2000…kind of like watching all the nines on an old odometer bending down all tired and flipping over to zeroes.
So what did you do the night all those nines turned to zeroes and the '1' became a '2'? I’d always had dreams of being at Stonehenge or the Pyramids or maybe on a beach in Tahiti.
But rather than hanging out on exotic beaches or at historical landmarks, I spent the night of Friday December 31, 1999 at work, sipping sparkling cider and munching on lasagna from Olive Garden. I was in the Helpdesk/Call Center industry at that time, working as a vendor on the campus of a major software company. There was simply no doubt: that night – and all the preparations leading up to it – was going to be All Hands on Deck. Time off would have to wait.
Our department Director had ordered in food for our whole crew working that night. We had beefed up staff because, well, we had to be prepared for just about anything that might happen, in every time zone we supported (which happened to be just about every single one).
Remember all the Y2K paranoia? We were worried computers were going to crash, power was going to go out, food would get automatically dumped from inventory – people were even hoarding canned food in some extreme cases. Generators flew off store shelves and some people filled up their gas tanks as if they were expecting a hurricane, not a New Year. We heard reports of relief that Y2K would fall on a Saturday - an offpeak time for most business - so the REAL test would be Monday January 3rd. On and on and on.