From the Neck Up

Sometimes a little vanity is exactly what I need for a lift.  This time, it started at the dentist.

I don't particularly enjoy going to the dentist, but I sure love how great my teeth look and feel when they're done cleaning.  Thankfully I don't have any major teeth issues save for a few fillings from my early teens and a crown about 10 years ago.  Pretty typical.

So after that recent checkup I went home, smiled in the mirror and then ran my fingers through my hair.  Dark roots, split ends. It's time.  Time for a color touch up and haircut!

I broke up with my hairdresser earlier this year.  That's the only way I can describe it and while it's sad it's a story that needed to end.  After over 20 years, everything went poof and fizzled out with unreturned phone calls when I needed to make an appointment.  She left her salon many years ago - I'm guessing around 10 or 12 - and started going to her clients' houses to cut their hair, bringing all her equipment with her.  This was fine by me as I'd known her a long time and trusted her, but it put a more intimate spin on our relationship into a sort of almost-friendship, even though we didn't seek out eachother's company otherwise if that makes sense. And no, it wasn't a true salon experience getting my hair cut sitting in my kitchen (she would use a spray bottle to wet my hair and dry it when she was done - no shampooing) but she hadn't raised her rates in years so I mentally justified it that way.  And I got used to it.

But I got tired of hearing her drama every time she came over to cut my hair. From restraining orders with her boyfriend, losing her home to foreclosure, her father's death, bankruptcy, it was surreal. And it's too bad, because she's very talented and precise with her craft.  Through late 80s big hair to an attempt at the Jennifer Aniston shag from the Friends years in the 90s, my experiment with bangs in late 2008 and everything onward, she did it all well.

Now I have H, a bubbly late 20-something who cracks me up. She's at the salon where I get my highlights done.  And her chair is just a couple down from another H, my colorist of probably 20 years.  You might think I'd be nervous having someone else cut my hair after so many years, but it actually was refreshing and fun!

H and H got me all cleaned up.  Stress seems to manifest itself in my hair, and the greys are coming in fast.  Wiry little fuckers. Looking back on the past year, stress has definitely been right at my head table, leering at me and poking, prodding...so I fight back with a great cut and a little more blonde!

Have I bitched about peach fuzz in here before?  If I have, it's time to again.  I get it waxed off my jawline area a few times a year and while my skin is a little irritated for a day it's so worth it.  That awful, colorless fuzz is extremely aging so away with it!  And once it's gone, makeup goes on so much more smoothly.

Why am I doing this?  Well, a girl's gotta look her best, especially when it's time to pound the pavement again and job hunt.  Let's face it - age discrimination is out there...although I'm told I look a lot younger than my 44 years.  I'm proud of my experience and talents, for it's a story that's uniquely, wonderfully mine.

I worked at home on Friday.  And when I got back upstairs after making a quick lunch I looked in the mirror again.  

Help!  I need eyebrows!

So I called my favorite spa and sure enough, they had a late afternoon slot open with M, my awesome aesthetician.  Now, I'm no chicken when it comes to waxing.  But the eyebrows are a different story.  'Cause I puff up quite a bit afterwards and it takes a couple days for the redness and puffiness to go away.  Although my hair is naturally ashy brown (shot through with a few greys now), for some reason my eyebrows have always been super light. I swear by MAC Browset - it's like mascara for your brows and just adds a little nice color.  But on a day like Friday, working at home, sans makeup, the brows are pretty much invisible.

NOW I feel better.  Blonde, brows done, shiny teeth...somebody hire me, dammit!      


A Chilly Solstice?

I'm sitting here surrounded by flat, grey silence.  And I've written about this before...how different Sunday mornings feel.  Quiet with hardly any cars on the road.  Thick clouds and drizzle today.  Yes, this is our typical mid June-ish weather...we joke that summer officially starts after the 4th of July.  We've had a couple of recent, sunny teaser days but of course during the workweek.  Yes, a chilly Summer Solstice it may be!

Workweek.  Hmmmm...in 10 days THAT will vanish from my personal rhythms.  How the hell did 13 months go by in the blink of an eye?  What's next for me?  I feel free and yet a little terrified too.  I remember this roller coaster ride.  And I hope this ride is far shorter than the last one.

Connections, connections.  Networknetworknetwork.  One of my favorite learnings from my side jewelry business is "the fortune is in the follow up."  I love this and embrace it.  Whenever I feel I might be too pushy calling or emailing someone back about a job opening, for general networking or just asking for help, I whisper this to myself before I pick up the phone or fire up the keyboard.  And it works!

I love Six Degrees connections.  And I made a new one Friday over a fabulous Thai food lunch over in Seattle.  The Lower Queen Anne neighborhood is amazing, and you can't walk 20 feet without running into a Thai restaurant.  Ahhh. Remember that group of women I meet up with a few times a year for dinner...friends who go clear back to the elementary school years?  Well, the husband of one of them forwarded my resume to a colleague of his, and a couple hops later, whammo, I met P.  Things always work out as they're supposed to...I was a little worried lunch plus a long drive into the city and back would make me late for an afternoon meeting, but turns out it got rescheduled.  Phew.  So this was a nice excuse to get a little more cleaned up and polished, rather than that uber-casual I've been immersed in in my current job.

The universe smiled down on me in so many ways, for the bridge I planned to take over the lake into Seattle was to be closed all weekend, but not till later in the evening.  And the tolls have not started either (reminding myself to purchase a Pass soon!).  And did I mention the rockstar (free) street parking I found right near the Seattle Center?  Yep, I've still got mad parallel parking skillz.  Which I hardly get to use in the suburbs.  Nailed it.  

I walked a few blocks up 5th Avenue North to meet P at Crow up on Aloha Street.  A nice handshake and smile.  But whoops!  They're not open for lunch.  So the easy Plan B was a couple blocks back downhill...to Bahn Thai.  We're not sure this position he's trying to fill is the best fit for my experience, but he will follow up and keep an eye out for something else.  

And in the meantime, my current firm found a few leads as well.  Staffing and recruiting is SO incredibly fluid and fickle.  Things change all the time.  Job postings close for no clear reason.  I'm glad for a brief work engagement in that industry for it just underscores for me that how that's how it is and it's nothing personal.  My current firm does a wonderful gathering for all its consultants once a month.  Third Thursday.  Food, drinks and unwinding conversation and lots of laughs.  Always a fantastic event to look forward to!

Kinda funny or weird how I do all this 'work' to find work...and yet I also firmly believe that what's supposed to happen will happen. But I can't just sit idle and wait around meanwhile, however.  Fuck, what an emotional tangle this could be.  I remind myself to breathe, relax...they did me a favor wrapping up my engagement this month.  Nowhere I'd want to put down roots permanently anyway.  

Yes, it's the Solstice on Tuesday.  A deep rhythm in our seasons outside and internal ones too.  And it's Father's Day today.  I smile and know my Dad is my biggest career cheerleader out there.  

I've got tons of support...I know this and am beyond grateful.        


Transition Preparations

Last week I wrote about the wave that washed over me, forcing me to sit in my chair here and finish updating my resume.  I've learned to not question these super duper strong instincts when they hit - they mean it, dammit!  It meant canceling on my hockey game rather last minute, and I don't like doing that at ALL, but the wave won out.

Good thing too:  the resume got updated that night.  And distributed.

And just a day or two later, guess what happened? Not one but THREE great job leads appeared from the consulting firm who found my current job.  What a difference a year and a half makes!  The job market is improving, and my phone and email are rumbling even harder back to life.  I'm realizing how much more mentally prepared I will be going into my next job assignment, as it shouldn't be nearly as long between gigs as last time around...I hope.  Last year I went from mental 0 to 100 literally overnight - an abrupt shock back after feeling like my brain was turning to mush with nothing going on for months and months.  Now, while I feel a bit weary and ready for this current engagement to finish up, I feel more 'on'.  That's hard to put into words, but it's how it came out.

My friend D's husband also forwarded my resume to a few of his connections, and I'll be meeting up with a Director at a consulting firm later this week for lunch.  We had a great chat late on Friday afternoon!  I'd prefer to have the firm who I'm currently affiliated with get me reassigned, but I've gotta look out for Numero Uno here.  And who knows - new connections made now could sprout even further down the road for me or for another colleague.

In the meantime, I've got a job to do through the end of the month, and, well, I'm only human and it would be incredibly easy to flip the mental switch and stop caring.  Sure I take pride in my work and will do whatever it takes for a strong finish.  But for some stuff, frankly, I'll need to fake it.  Before I knew I would be wrapping up this month, I got assigned some brand new stuff to do - and the milestones were plotted all the way into January.  Why would I get assigned something new if I was going to be cut loose just a few weeks later?  Anyway, the reasons don't matter, and I'm just chalking it up to even more opportunity to gain more experience in a very short timeframe.  Plus, it's a small world out there and I might end up back with this team or something similar down the road.  

How you finish is just as important as how you start.  Don't burn bridges.  Go for the Graceful Exit.

I had lunch with S, a friend I've known for years who I met through hockey. She and I really bonded a couple of years ago when I was first getting used to being unemployed.  She has her own business as an aside from her full-time work, and I came with her to several events as a guest to learn more about it.  It was great to get out of the house, meet new people and clean up/dress up on those days I had no interviews when the temptation was to just be a slob and mope.  And I am dumbfounded that all started two years ago.

It was wonderful to reconnect over lunch again - how had it been a year or so since we last met up?

So, I'm just keeping busy and connected while preparing for whatever the next plunge might be.  I'm excited, relieved, nervous, curious...the list goes on.  Notice that 'angry' is not in that list of feelings.  'Cause I'm not in the slightest.  This gig was designed to be purely consultative, not permanent.  And while I don't like to call out specific details in here when it comes to jobs and companies, let me just say I'm perfectly happy with that arrangement.  Great experience, but not anywhere to hang my hat right now.

T and I met up for dinner at Palomino last night...she is such an amazing friend.  We've each gone through some bumps this year - my very brief relationship, and she and her boyfriend split up a couple of months ago...he had been living with her and so it was a rough ride with all of that and him moving out.  We're both happy and strong women and always land on our feet, but we also appreciate the friendships and support out there too.  So much to be grateful for.

We split a wonderful bottle of wine (the name escapes me now but trust me, a mighty fine white something), while T chose the Seafood Louie - a beautiful salad - and I the fusilli picatta, a delicious combo of marinated chicken, shallots, capers and a few chili flakes for kick in a white wine sauce.

And when you're steps away from fabulous shopping at Bellevue Square, of COURSE you gotta hop over there too.  T picked out a gorgeous pair of black Tod's loafers, and I, knowing I am soon to be on a budget again, merely drooled over shoes.

T and I are brainstorming ideas for a meetup group we're planning to launch later this summer.  We're super excited! 

And I think "excited" is the right way to describe things for me right now.  One door is slowly closing, and something new, unknown, magical is going to pop and set me on an entirely new journey this summer and beyond.

Let's just hope it's sooner than later!


A Working Sunday

And, frankly, some of the most important work I have to do - take care of myself...look out for Numero Uno.  Selfish?  Nope - essential.

I love, love, love to write.  And yet the writing I do at work, while I'm proud of it and I think I've got a good style, doesn't really feed my soul.  Hence, this blog and other outlets.

It's Sunday and the air is full of sunshine, warmth and delicious smells.  Cut grass.  Barbecues. Does sunshine have a smell?  If so, it smells great outside. I even heard the ice cream truck's clankety music earlier today.   

A long, soggy and cold spring it has been...maybe, just maybe we've gotten past most of that, but on the other hand most of us know that summer doesn't officially start until after the 4th of July around here.  We'll take these warm days meanwhile.

So what's the work today?  Polishing up my resume.  And networking.  How time flies.  Yes, it's time for me to get back out there and network again, as my current job assignment wraps up at the end of June.  Am I surprised?  Nope.  The writing was on the wall in tons of ways two months ago, plus the end of June is end of fiscal year at this particular client, so it's definitely nothing personal; I am one of many who will be finishing up here in the next few weeks.  This engagement - 13 months - has actually been my longest ever since I pulled the plug on longterm employment and began doing consulting gigs.

I'm definitely feeling a lot more confident this time around.  Hell, it's not 2009 anymore.  The job market is improving, and it seems overall there's a happier vibe out there - not sure how to pinpoint it.  Perhaps some of that is ME being happier too.  Choose your attitude, right??

And what a fun kickoff to the weekend...tiptoed out of the office a tad early to head over to my friend M's new law offices for a housewarming - and a jewelry show too!  We had a fabulous combo of a sunny late afternoon - her conference room has a deck right off of it, a wonderful wine and munchies spread from M, and time playing with jewelry!  I made about $200 in commission too - not too shabby getting paid to party, frankly!

I had a glorious sunny Saturday with my dear friend J, who treated me to a belated birthday lunch at Purple, a wonderful wine bar not far from our famous wineries in the deep Seattle suburbs.  And they have fantastic food too.  We then hit the Burke Gilman trail for a walk in the sunshine - yay that I remembered to plop on some sunscreen ahead of time.  She and I chat on IM quite a bit so it's always fun to reconnect in person!

I woke up today - Sunday - knowing it was time to get to work.  Time to get that resume up to date and circulated.  So I spent a few hours today here in the home office doing that plus getting on the phone and calling a bunch of colleagues/friends to let them know my status and availability.  

And then I got 'gripped' down in my office chair here.  STAY AND WORK.  Wha???  I had a hockey game tonight, but something deep within me said DON'T GO, you NEED to stay here and network.  Call me crazy, but I do realize these instincts deep in my core need my full attention.  So I opted not to skate tonight.  Why would my instincts tell me not to skate tonight when I'm feeling perfectly healthy and ready to work off some muscle soreness from walking by...well...playing hockey?  One of my favorite outlets ever?

I don't know.  And I have learned to not question these strong pulls, as crazy as they sound written in words here. Maybe in some dark, warped way I wasn't supposed to be driving to that rink tonight because there would have been some horrible accident.  I know, I know, that's a little 'out there.'  

I do know that everything happens as it's supposed to.  We don't always know it at the time, but it's so incredibly true.

And now I must get back to my contact spreadsheet updating - going on nearly 20 outreaches tonight and I'm just getting started!