And...We're Still Here!

Looks like Judgment Day, Rapture, whatever you want to call it didn't happen after all.  Everything's still on, everyone!  Hope you didn't cancel your Sunday plans.

Ha.  Well, I knew if our time was up yesterday, at least I got to sneak in one more birthday and celebrations to go out with a bang. 

Yep, May 19 is a special day, hence this Blog's name.  And when it comes to celebrating my birthday, the window between the actual day and Memorial Day is fair game.  This year it was a typical day at work, but as I was driving to the office Thursday I remembered that it was also my start date anniversary in this engagement!  After that long, dry spell with no work plus delays pinning down the start date, it finally happened.  While I try to keep looking forward and not dwell on past negatives, I'll admit that whole episode still is a little scabbed over and not healed.  OK, that sounds gross.  Let's go with that there's a scar.  And this engagement - a year and change so far - has been my longest since I pulled the plug on more steady type work and went into contracting/consulting.  I'll be around at least until the end of June and after that it's a question mark whether I'll be extended out further.  Time will tell.  Meanwhile I continue to tweak the ol' resume. 

So it was a special day - the weather warmed up and I even got a couple of lingering tasks I had been struggling to get off my plate completed.  My co-worker L took me to lunch and we had a nice outdoor table...finally, some warmth!  And the consulting firm I'm currently with does a social event every month called Third Thursday, which is a fabulous way to network with others on our other engagements and just unwind and relax with the team.  Usually we gather at the office itself, but our CEO had a great last minute idea for us to meet up at a restaurant right on Lake Washington.  Nothing better than great drinks and munchies and laughing with a gorgeous view of the lake and the sunset as your backdrop.

T took me to dinner on Friday at Brix, a wine bar not far from my house which has a wonderful menu and atmosphere.  They've been around a few years now and it's fun seeing how they've worked out the startup glitches.  We toasted with Lemon Drops (ahhh, hadn't had one of those in awhile) and enjoyed a 3-cheese plate with flatbread crackers before our entrees arrived - I chose the pesto and chicken flatbread pizza (which means leftovers - YUM) and T the roasted chicken breast, beautifully plated with sauteed spinach, potato puree and mushrooms.

After a great Silpada training event yesterday afternoon - always so much fun seeing the girls and meeting new people - I met my folks for dinner at Wild Ginger.  This is a wonderful Asian Fusion restaurant and they've now got a suburban location in the Bravern.  Verah nice!  We picked a few satays (small plates) to get us started (sea scallops, a slice of flank steak with peanut sauce and chicken with green curry) and then we enjoyed a wonderful dinner - family style entrees to pass around - of seared ahi tuna, beef curry and a side dish of pea pods with shiitake and portobello mushrooms in a fabulous oyster sauce.  How can I be hungry again just writing about this?  The flavors are truly spectacular.  

Today starts and ends with hockey.  What better way to cap off a birthday weekend!  I'm watching the Canucks/Sharks playoff series with fingers and toes crossed.  The Canucks have not made it to the western conference finals in over 15 years but they're here now and hungry.  Maybe, just maybe this is their time.  But I'll keep it at that.  Don't want to piss off the Hockey Gods.

And later today I'm running to the mall to exchange a couple of birthday gifts (cute stuff but sized a little too optimistically, ha) and then to the rink tonight for my own team's game.  Love love love summer hockey!

So I'm trying to come to grips that I'm now - gasp - 44...and what the hell is it all about anyway?  I'm feeling inner tugs and pulls that while I'm very happy to be employed and all, I'm not fulfilled.  Not that a job should be one's life fulfillment anyway, but I want to spend my time and energy on things that fuel my inner sparkle and passion.  Technology.  Writing.  Jewelry.  Hockey.  Fashion. How can I combine my eclectic interests and make a good living?

Ah, now that's more fodder for future posts.  Stay tuned!


Beat the Bridge...Beaten

Ah, bridges.

How much we depend upon our beloved bridges around here in the beautiful Puget Sound region.  Pulsing arteries jampacked with cars, buses, bikes - and painfully clogged during those peak commuter hours.  We've got so much natural gorgeousness around us...lakes, the Sound (salt water), rivers, mountains - all within a short drive for most of us.  Meaning, you can't go far without eventually running into one of those.

Today was the annual Beat the Bridge run/walk to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.  The jewelry line I represent, Silpada Designs, has JDRF as its charity of choice.  One of the girls on our local team here had a wonderful idea for us to do Beat the Bridge and pledge to donate the commission from one of our jewelry parties as part of our fundraising!  What a great idea! With 10 of us participating and an average party commission at around $300 (yes, it's true) we were excited to set our team goal at $3000!  Which bridge you may wonder?  The University Bridge, not far from the U of W campus where the race starts and finishes. 

This was planned back in February. And yes, we had the best of intentions.  However, the Universe had other intentions, which I discovered around 6am this morning.  

Bottom line, we didn't go.  Damn that pouring rain already!

I knew that I'd be walking most if not all of this 8K - and most of the other girls were planning to as well.  Back in February I figured this would be a great way to kickstart getting back in shape for this summer's 5Ks by restarting the Couch to 5K plan I've written about in here occasionally over the past year.  It's an 8-week running and walking program - just 3 times a week - that gets you ready to run a 5K when you're done.  And yes, it works!

But illness and stress earlier this year really sapped my energy and my poor lungs.  I had a bad cold and cough for about two months - it just wouldn't go away.  It was all I could do to eeek out a game of hockey, much less hit the treadmill or go outside in our (cold, shitty) winter weather.  Soggy, soggy soggy.

Nevertheless, I was ready to get out of bed super early and drive to the freeway bus stop where my carpool was going to scoop me up this morning on the way into Seattle.

But let me back up to Saturday for a minute...a glorious, sensuous, warm and sunny day - the kind of day we've been starving for here all spring.  Spring so far this year has been a repeat of our rain-soaked, chilly winter sans the snow.  I had a few things planned for Saturday but decided to squeeze in another mini-adventure when it dawned on me that I really should verify I know how to get to the freeway bus stop where my carpool was going to pick me up.  I had an idea in my mind of how to get there, but realized it had been - gasp - nearly 10 years since I'd ventured to that bus stop with a friend.  I'd better go drive over and check it out!  And it was a beautiful day - a perfect excuse to open the sun roof and get some vitamin D the natural way, crank some music and just drive.

So what's the big deal about this bus stop?  Well, it's perched literally at land's end before the freeway turns into one of our two floating bridges that connect Seattle with the suburbs.  These bridges were built decades ago and at the time were very state of the art given they 'float.'  Lake Washington was determined too deep to do any sort of structural building underneath, hence the floating design.  And I'll keep it to that because I'm no expert in structural engineering.

Now, there is an oddly creepy-looking pedestrian bridge over the freeway on the east side of the lake, which is how my friend P and I last got to that bus stop nearly a decade ago.  P and I have fallen out of contact and I'd forgotten where we had parked to walk across that bridge, hence my sunny journey in the car yesterday.

Boy am I glad I checked it all out.  There are major projects underway to build a second portion of this particular floating bridge to help with congestion...and, as I soon found out, plans to remove that pedestrian bridge!  Yep, once I figured out where to park and found the foot trail that was supposed to get me to the pedestrian overpass it was all blocked off.  Wow.

So it was a neon yellow vinyl fence that stopped me from my foot journey over the freeway.  And I was not one to rebel and climb through.  Who knows - it might not be structurally sound any longer.  Actually that's not a good feeling since thousands of cars drive under it every day, but anyway I wasn't going to chance it.

But I looked across the freeway and could see people waiting at that elusive bus stop.  How the hell did they get over there?  There was no parking lot near it at all - just a carved out covered area in a small, grassy hillside to stand or sit. 

As I started to get a little frustrated (NOW what?) I paused for a moment and just drank in everything around me.  I'm standing on a dirt trail in beautiful sunshine.  I'm mere steps from incredibly ritzy homes (in the 'high rent district' neighborhood around here called Medina).  And I'm also mere steps from, well, a 20 foot drop down to a roaring river freeway, with the hillside below covered in tangled, dirty weeds from decades of car exhaust.  How rare is it we stand still so close to a freeway like this?  Thankfully my time roadside has been those rare occasions when I've been in a fender-bender or have a flat tire.  It's just astonishing watching and hearing the amount of cars whizzing by every second and being so close perched at the angle above it on the foot trail.  I think back on how many thousands of times in my life I have gone back and forth over that bridge.  As a child in the back seat of my parents' old station wagon.  On my own as a teen and a freshly-minted drivers license in an orange 1970 Volvo (LOVED that car, wow). And countless times as an adult.

I jumped back in my car and drove back to the main road.  Aha!  I found a small, gravelly parking lot for bus commuters.  The trick was to park there and walk over the main road that goes over the freeway, not the pedestrian bridge.  Then, jump onto the trail on the bus stop side and voila - you're there!  Wow, cryptic.  Believe me I tried searching online for maps long before I got in the car.  Anyway, a little resourcefulness pays off.

I walked over the freeway, again in awe of the cars whooshing by below me.  And looked to the west toward our beautiful, shining Lake Washington and the Olympic Mountains a little hazy along the horizon.  This is our back yard.  And how awesome it was to take it in on foot rather than as a stressed out commuter.  As I stepped onto the foot trail down to the bus stop I ran into a very nice lady out walking her dog.  She was disappointed that the pedestrian bridge was now closed off - she sounded like she walked over it fairly often so this might have been a really recent closure.

After my bridge and freeway adventure I drove over to my friend M's house.  Back in the car, I laughed to myself and thought WOW, I am SO GLAD I did all that foot trail and bus stop homework a day ahead of time.  I am a terrible morning person and I would have been a total zombie case trying to figure it out that morning, worrying my carpool would be held up. 

After a quick visit with M (she is going to host a jewelry party in combination with her new office opening and we're so excited!), I headed back home, grabbed a bottle of pinot grigio and walked up to my neighbor A's house.  We're getting in a groove of watching any of The Real Housewives series (on Bravo) that she has in her Tivo a couple of times a month.  Sadly I have not yet made the switch to flat screen TV but that's another post.  If any of you follow the New York housewives, you'll understand the pinot grigio (it's the signature drink of one of the cast). 

So after getting caught up with A and laughing our asses off at fabulous trainwreck TV, I headed home to carbo load with some penne and pesto and forced myself to bed early.  I knew I had to leave the house around 6am to get to that good ol' bus stop for my carpool.

And, it started to rain.  What a huge contrast from the tease of sunny spring we had earlier in the day.  I kept optimistic - the weather forcecast for Sunday was a 'chance of showers.'  Actually, around here you could use that forecast every day and be pretty accurate.

I was tired this morning.  But I got out of bed, got dressed in my walking/running gear and after scaring myself looking in the mirror I dabbed on a small bit of foundation (my face is naturally ruddy so anything to tone it down helps) and a little flick of mascara for those tired eyes.  Keys, hat, sunglasses (I'm eternally optimistic plus sensitive to glare)...and...phone.

Wow.  My phone had blown up with tons of voicemail and texts last night after I'd forced myself to go to bed early, but I didn't see any of it until early this morning.  I keep my phone downstairs at night because I don't feel a need to have it with me 24/7.  

When I saw how my carpool driver plus a ton of others in the group were going to cancel, the wind went out of my sails.  Just poof and pffffttt.  Why cancel?  Rain. Yep, it was still raining hard this morning and even still is now in the early afternoon.

So I was a sheep and I bailed too.  I felt a little dejected because I was looking forward to trying this race for the first time with friends, but I have to know that it just wasn't meant to be.  And I won't dig too deep for the reason right now.

'Cause I'm tired.    


After 18 Months...time for a quick mental vacay

...I'm spending today enjoying Mother's Day and a few family birthday celebrations, so I will be back later this week or next weekend with more fivenineteen ramblings!

Happy Mother's Day to all Moms out there!


Changes Dunked in Silver

May already??  Wow. 

Well, it was quite a week.  And how could we not recap a week without a big nod to the Royal Wedding - ?  C'mon, even the most anti out there saw a few clips of it or at least the pictures?  And maybe even cracked a smile?  It was breathtaking.  Not so breathtaking for me to feel like getting up at 3am to watch it live, but I do know of a few ladies who did get up early and have a pajama party - with their best HATS on.  Love it!  And pass the tea and scones, please, darling.

So, changes.  Changes are good - good to refresh, re-analyze and re-group.  My work assignment is getting a brief extension at least into the summer - possibly into the fall - but that still has not hashed out.  Good Lord have I been back at work nearly a year?  Yes indeed.  All of that stress and anguish I went through prior to landing this gig won't soon be forgotten.  So nice to have it far in the rear view mirror.  But with a few scars...and that's OK.

Two of my closest co-workers wrapped up their assignments this week and are moving on.  One won't be going too far it turns out, as she'll be joining kind of a 'cousin' team of ours, but I'll miss her 'partner in crime' that she's been this past year.  Another is required to take about 3 months off - that's the rules with some kinds of contingent workers - and she is hoping to return and pick up where she left off.

I'm happy for them both but admittedly a little sad.  But moreso I have a shitload of hilarious memories.  Things that may have sucked before but are now funny. 

I capped off the workweek with a wonderful dinner with my dear friend L at Brix, a wine bar a short drive from my house.  She's a part of that circle of friends I get together with a few times a year - we're all about the same age and went to elementary school together.  Unwinding over a nice pinot gris and to die for risotto was heavenly.  L and I can just smile at eachother and 'know' what we're each thinking.  Oodles of memories over some 35 years.  

And the silver, silver, silver flows and flows.  I'm taking a few extra steps in my Silpada business by doing a sort of correspondence course with a coach at the corporate offices.  She sends me 'homework' each week for 4 weeks and I send it back at the end of the week.  She sends me feedback, the next week's 'homework,' and we also chat on the phone during the week too.

Ugh.  I know myself pretty well and am realizing where I'm doing well in promoting my business and where I suck monkey butt.  I have a party next weekend that I'm SUPER excited about.  And one night I met up with a good friend I hadn't seen in quite awhile for dinner and half priced bottles of wine.  She asked about the jewelry I was wearing, I let her road test a few pieces during dinner, and voila - that evening I had a very nice order from her!  So I feel comfortable when people approach me with questions or compliments.  I've been complimented on my jewelry from random strangers in the grocery store to the cashier in one of our work cafeterias.  You can bet I never go anywhere without my jewelry on and a handful of business cards.  Yes, I'm learning the nuts and bolts of direct selling.  It's all about connections, people!  The woman who is hosting my party next week noticed my jewelry at work and it just flowed from there.  You never know!

But I hate picking up the damn phone.  It's no problem for me when I'm doing follow up calls to make sure people are happy with their jewelry and to answer any other questions, but just making outbound calls to people I know to talk about what I'm doing and to ask if they'd like to host parties.  Well, ew.  I am so not a sales person, and frankly, when I get home from work I am tired and the last thing I feel like doing is picking up the phone.  I feel like I'm intruding on people's dinner time or other quality time with family.  And you know I don't mean to be whiney in here because I DO love what I'm doing as a side business, but that's the area I need to really work on.

And it suddenly dawned on me why.

Email!  Texting!  Facebook!  So much of my immediate circle communication is through non-phone, social media methods!  Aha!  Is that something unique to me?  Or to this part of the country?  I have beautiful snail mail postcards in my supplies which are used to send out reminders about parties.  I don't know about any of you, but around here we stick with Evite.  Is it because it's 'green'?  Or technological?  It's SO much easier to set up parties and have reminders sent automatically via email.  

So these are some fun self-discovery things...part of the reason I chose to start this business was to get out of my comfort zone and do something I'd never done before.  Same as my plunge into hockey back in 2003.

I'll be speaking during part of our monthly team meeting this week and I'm really honored to be asked. It's very informal - just sharing the tips I've learned from this 4-week course I'm doing on my own - but I really appreciate the chance to participate more in our meetings.  'Cause they're super fun!!

And now it's time to head to the bank and run other fun errands.  Got a shiny new Silpada license plate frame on my car - let's see what happens!