Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dream Job... LANDED

At the airport leaving Boston after our Maine Blogger meetup in early June, I noticed I had an email from a friend in the "biz".

The "biz" is the business market I'm trying to break into with my job search. My friend is very well known in this biz locally and, coincidentally, I knew him from my days of cycling.

He knew that I'd been looking for a job and sent me a quick 2 line email:
"This company is hiring. Tell this guy I sent you."

The first thing I did when I got home was send a message to "that guy" with a quick introduction, a few notes as a cover letter, and attached my resume. I also dropped my friend's name.

Within an hour I had an appointment to come in a meet the president of the company.

THAT, my friends, is what networking is all about.

After a few days of recovering from the Maine trip, I peeled myself out of bed to make it to the meeting. My brain was still not 100% kicked in so I practiced a few minutes of meditation to calm myself. Mom came over to help get the kids off to a summer camp.

I made it to the meeting early enough to sit in the car and read before walking in. I felt calm but still a bit tired.

The meeting was with the president and one other executive but I relaxed more because they were relaxed. The environment was relaxed. The questions were relaxed. The banter was relaxed.

So when they put me on the spot for a moment, testing my experience, I was surprised at myself at the ease with which I answered. I felt comfortable.

By the end of the next day, I had another appointment to meet with the company owner.

When I met with him, his questions were even more relaxed and laid back. I was taken to lunch and then given a tour of the office... which included a few dogs sitting with their owners... and a refrigerator stocked with wine and beer. Everyone was in jeans and smiling. Everyone was working and SMILING.

I told Gentleman Jack, "I want to work THERE."

I'd also been interviewing at another, more corporate (read: uptight), company and they were on the brink of offering me a position. I was quite amazed at the position and pay they were offering. But my mind kept floating back to the happy, casual environment of the other job. I was actually considering taking less pay to work AND be comfortable. Imagine that.

On the day I was to be offered the corporate job at their office, my dream job contacted me to let me know:

It was unanimous. They loved me and wanted me to join their team.

My dream job. Seriously! I'd been visualizing a certain salary, a certain environment, certain learning opportunities, a certain management style, a certain autonomy... and it's all there. I'm STILL buzzing about it.

I've noticed in my life, when something seems effortless... especially after trying to force other things to fit, then it was meant to be. Don't get me wrong... I worked my ASS off to get into this field, get noticed and get respected for what little experience I do have. But compared with the other interviews and environments, this was a perfect fit.

My daughters are so excited for me, as I kept them abreast of every struggle, every interview, every rejection. Both of them hugged me tight and said how proud of me they were.

Gentleman Jack said,

"You so deserve to get what you want, angel! Please never forget that!

... but when you do forget, I will remind you."

How happy am I?!?



Tuesday, June 26, 2012

It isn't sexual harassment if you're cute...

It's been a really stressful day at the office. Now if only I had a wife to cook dinner and bring me a drink.

Who am I kidding?

I have been exhaustively networking online and in person, making great connections and spreading the news about my job search.Thankfully I have a few more interviews lined up and more opportunities to follow-up on from the people who know I'm actively searching.

One of the things I've realized is that, because the market I'm wanting to get into is still relatively new to me, I'm still not completely 100% focused on what it is that I want to do. I mean, I could do any of it, really. I've narrowed it down quite a bit just from the interviews I've been on and the people I've been talking to. I am trying to remember to emphasize my strengths and focus on one thing but that greatly narrows the opportunities available to me. Besides, one of my strengths is that I'm pretty darn trainable. Give me a great environment, learning opportunities, a good team of people and some autonomy and I could be happy doing most anything!

Oy. So much to consider. And perhaps this is the reason that I've not found just the right fit yet.

In the meanwhile, I caught up with an employed friend in the field I'm entering and gave him the whole story of what kicked off the "active" part of my job search.

With his usual humor (part of the reason we went beyond "networking" and into friendship), he flatly stated, "Well, it's not sexual harassment if your boss is cute, right?"

Then he showed me this video:




Let's just say that the video brought a smile to my face. Especially on a day when I've been basically given a deadline in which to leave my current position.

The search continues!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Born to Make a Difference... no matter how small

It's probably no secret that I enjoy watching inspirational programs and people. Therefore, it's probably no secret that I really enjoy the OWN channel's Super Soul Sunday, Master Class and Lifeclass. I love to hear ordinary and, sometimes extraordinary, people who notice inspiration and guidance in their lives.

Sometimes while watching, I find I'm inspired to tears. After all, I feel like an ordinary person who WANTS to offer extraordinary life guidance and assistance to those in need. When I see programs like Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation - helping to teach teens and young adults to accept themselves just the way they are - I feel so small. I want to contribute like that. I want to make a difference too.

On the phone with Gentleman Jack one evening, I cried while trying to tell him how inspiring the Lady Gaga foundation was. He listened and asked why I was crying.

"I want to make a difference like that! I wish it was me inspiring people to do more, to listen to each other, to care for, love and accept each other without judgment."

"My baby..." he began, "if you only saw how many lives you DO touch. You may not have Lady Gaga or Oprah's money but you are no different than they are. They're just doing it on a grander scale because they can."

I told him that what he said reminded me of this quote where the Course says that we have the chance to inspire and BE INSPIRED in every encounter (inspire = with Spirit) with every person:

"When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter. As you see him you will see yourself. As you treat him you will treat yourself. As you think of him you will think of yourself. Never forget this, for in him you will find yourself or lose yourself."
~ A Course in Miracles

He thought for a moment and then continued.

"You know what? I've heard you struggle with this before. I've heard you struggle because people need you so much and it exhausts you. Then I've heard you cry because you want to make a difference. I think you fight your true nature. You can't fight it, baby, you were born to help people."

I had to giggle because... I was born this way....and it took the love of an intuitive man to show me.


Whether life's disabilities
Left you outcast, bullied, or teased
Rejoice and love yourself today
'Cause baby you were born this way
~ Lady Gaga



Friday, June 22, 2012

An Open Letter to a Stranger who Saved Me (Part 2)

After reading this article, I was inspired to thank a few "strangers" who, in some way or another, helped restore my faith in humankind.

I was 8 months into my pregnancy with our 2nd daughter and fortunate enough to be a stay at home mom to our first child, aged 3.

Three year old was bored one weekday and I needed to get out of the house. She innocently asked, "Mommy, can we go to the mall and use one of those car strollers?"

I'm sure you've seen them.

Picture borrowed from here



So off we went to get us both out for some exercise.

We walked for a while, took an elevator to the first floor, hit the food court and all of the other stuff you do at malls.

I was beginning to tire from lugging around the belly and pushing my other daughter in a car stroller. As I thought of where I was parked, it occurred to me that I needed to go up a floor to get to my car. I looked for the elevator we'd taken about an hour before but the closest access to the next level was the escalator.

I've taken my regular baby stroller on an escalator numerous times so I thought nothing of it.


Picture borrowed from here

Picture this:

One exhausted nearly full term pregnant mom behind...
...one happily content 3 year old in a stroller on...
...moving escalator steps...

Everything was fine until we reached the top of the escalator. As the machinery steps descended under the lip of the step off area, the stroller stopped moving. Something on the stroller had latched itself to the metal step off point and it wouldn't go forward off the escalator.

Meanwhile, I was behind the stroller on steps that were still moving... still pushing me forward even though the stroller wasn't budging.

I panicked and tried to lift the handle of the stroller but it was too heavy with my daughter inside. She saw the frightened look on my face and began screaming. I backstepped down the escalator but it kept taking me forward until I fell on my back, my shins scraping up under the stroller and the eternally moving steps hitting my backside over and over again.

I was helpless.

Mind you, this was a weekday at the mall. It was nearly empty. There wasn't a soul on the escalator at all but somehow, out of nowhere, a man appeared to help me.

All that I recall is seeing him leap over me in a single bound, pull the stroller with my daughter off the escalator and me and lift me to my feet. I couldn't tell you what he looked like but I do remember the "deer in the headlights" look in his eyes. He was terrified.

And just like that, he was gone.

Mall security showed up within moments to see if we were okay. I was too shaken to file a report or relay the story to the security officer. I was also embarrassed.

"Ma'am, you can't take those strollers on an escalator," I was told, a little too late. Then I was shown the magnetic bar on the front of the stroller that is used to latch it to the "stroller depot" where they're rented. There were no bars like that on the stroller that I had at home.

I was 8 months into my pregnancy, uncomfortable already, and after that incident, I went home with bloody shins and a broken tailbone. To this day, I still have tailbone issues.

But it could have been worse. SO MUCH worse. Had it not been for the kindness of a complete stranger who acted out of pure energy, despite being frightened.

Whomever you are... thank you for saving me, my daughter and my healthy and happy baby girl, who is now a strong gymnast-in-training.

And um... we all still panic a little when we ride escalators...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

An Open Letter to a Stranger who Saved Me (Part 1)

After reading this article, I was inspired to thank a few "strangers" who, in some way or another, helped restore my faith in humankind.

It was a regular weekend grocery shopping trip with my (then) husband and 2 year old daughter.

Always interested in learning new things (like her mother), she was an ever curious child. Still, she wasn't a "bolter". She knew better than to run off unattended.

Or so we thought.

As we stood in the checkout line, our only child standing between us, I looked away from her for maybe 7 seconds to browse the covers of the entertainment newsrags. My husband was patiently waiting and eyeing over our soon-to-be-purchased goods. More than likely the chef in him was planning our next dinner in his mind... as he usually did starting just after breakfast.

I looked down to our daughter and she was gone.

I looked up at my husband and asked if he'd seen her.

"She was right there," we both said to ourselves and each other.

Each of us separated and began to look at the other check out lines. Then we began searching every aisle of the store calling out to her. The cashier picked up the phone to announce that a child was missing. Just as she was about to speak, a woman... more like an angel... walked in the automatic doors of the grocery store, holding our daughter's hand.

The entire incident was probably no more than 5 minutes but felt as if time stopped. Like hours had gone by.

"She was just wandering around the parking lot," the stranger told me as I rushed to envelop our daughter in my arms.

I'm not sure if I thanked her enough. My mind was fuzzy in that moment as the blood once again began to run through my body.

I don't even recall if we actually bought our groceries. My husband and I went through the next few minutes in a daze, loading our daughter into our vehicle and then buckling ourselves in.

Then we looked at each other and began to cry hysterically.

I hope that woman, whoever you are, knows how much you saved my life that day. I could never ever thank you enough.

And maybe it'll make you smile a little to know that 2 year old is now a healthy and happy pre-teen... who is still just as fascinated at the grocery store doors that open automatically.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Moment in My Single Mom Life...

After a day that started with making lunches and getting my children all sunscreened-up.... and my youngest child throwing a tantrum, we finally made it to their summer camp.

.....only to realize my oldest had forgotten her water shoes...

So I drove home to get them or else she'd be left behind. (Normally, I would make her be left behind but I didn't mind being a little late for work.)

Work... and getting the finishing details on the menus for our upcoming high school reunion.

.....all while driving to meet with my financial planner.

Then in that meeting, receiving a phone call from someone wanting to schedule a job interview.

Called to schedule the job interview for tomorrow.

Noticed I already have another interview scheduled an hour before.

Back to back interviews on tomorrow's calendar and I realize that I'd made plans to network with someone over breakfast tomorrow.... so that must be rescheduled.

Then I notice an email from an interview I did last week. They want to schedule a 2nd interview for Friday.

...during lunch time... which means my lunch plans with someone else I was trying to network with must be moved.

In the meanwhile, someone else I have been networking with is asking if I'd like to attend a conference over the weekend... this weekend... a weekend to myself without the kids and without Gentlemen Jack. Of course, he's offering lots of (free) great networking and exposure if I help him... so I can't say no.

Finish my current full time job and rush to pick up my daughters. They're hyper and hungry.

Rush home to cook only to find that the dog has pooped in the house. Thankfully, she was in her crate... but oy, she was in her crate.

I'm still in high heels and the day isn't even over yet. I have no complaints about the great stuff happening but... I'm soooo worn out. Aren't you glad I took a moment to share with you?

Calgon take me away.


Monday, June 18, 2012

You Wanna Know Why I'm Not a Victim?

Here's why...

Because playing a victim doesn't mean I deserve anything.

Just because I'm a single mom, it doesn't mean I deserve or get any special treatment or consideration.

Just because I was sexually harassed at work, it doesn't mean the next job opportunity is going to speed up from the universe and help me get out of my current job any faster.

.......

Ok, I'm venting. For some reason, I'm feeling especially sensitive and invisible right now. It started yesterday afternoon after a very productive morning of cleaning house with my daughters. Somehow I was sucked into the job boards and others who are extremely good at what I wish to do for a living and, of course, have been doing it much longer.

Yeah yeah... I was turning a bit green with envy.

I know it's important to be an expert at something - especially when looking for a new job. Really, if you're perceived as an expert in your field, whatever field that is, then you'll naturally attract followers and interest. The problem I have, or the challenge I have, is that I've only recently decided what I want to excel in. Even still, because I'm still relatively new at it, I feel that so many others have so much more experience and talent than I do. It becomes rather stifling and makes me want to give up.

I also KNOW ME... and when I feel like giving up, I get pissed off at myself. That's usually when I do something productive to help me through the pain of wanting to quit.

I am not into competing directly with others who are good at what THEY do. I want to do something that I am good at. I want to differentiate myself from them instead of comparing myself to them. The question is how? And the answer is still being researched and generated through each person in my network, each interview I do and every rejection letter I receive.

I'm also not being patient at all. I've been on what feels like 1000 interviews with companies that all seemed to love me. I would have thought that any of them would have offered me a position right on the spot... simply from the interview alone and how responsive they were to me. However I am in an apparently very competitive field with thousands of young people who are right out of college with degrees and a shitton of fresh internship experience. And here I am... a single mom hoping to revitalize a long dead career because of boredom, low pay and mistreatment at my current job.

Sometimes I do want to play the victim card...

"Won't you please give me a chance? I'm trying to raise two children on my own and I am so disrespected in my current job? Won't you feel sorry for me and hire me out of pure pity?"

Ahhh... that's such bullshit. I can't do it. I don't want to be looked down upon. I think that's how I started at the job I have now. They knew I was going through a divorce and my father was dying. They felt sorry for me and also took advantage of the fact that I would do anything and not complain. They know I can't just quit. I can't just pack up my shit and go. It is a really humbling and rather irritating experience. Sort of like the end of my marriage.

*sigh*

I am keeping my chin up (or at least trying to) and setting up even more interviews for this week. Something is working out. I am learning so much about this job market....


Always learning in this classroom of life. 

If anything at least I have THAT going for me.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day = Reminders

As an unmarried woman whose father has been gone for 5 years, Father's Day is a very strange day for me.

I only celebrated 4 Father's Days as a married woman with my (then) husband. Since we've been separated and divorced, of course Father's Day is acknowledged but from a distance and mostly through our children.

My own father passed away in 2007, coincidentally around the same time as my separating and divorcing my husband.

So, in a sense, the last 5 Father's Days have been nothing more than a day to remind me of what I don't have anymore. 

But I don't like to think like that. I don't want to spend a day being sad over loss. I already have mourned the loss of my father and my marriage. Instead I usually bypass Father's Day and view it as any other Sunday. I will give my grandfather a call... just to thank him for being the last remaining father in my family.

I think another reason why this day is difficult is because I mourn the relationship I COULD'VE had with my father.

We had such a strained relationship while I was growing up. Then we became even more distant during his divorce from my mother and subsequent quick re-marriage to someone I wasn't extremely fond of. Then my own marriage failings, always wondering if he was ever proud of me, getting annoyed at his seeming "victimhood" and how he spoiled my brother rotten....

Now, however, I know so much more. I've learned so much more since his passing. I would give so much to be able to sit with him now and tell him that I understand and I'm sorry and crawl up into his arms and tell him I love him.

I was always that girl who was jealous of "daddy's girls"... because I never felt like that. I felt like my mom's best friend and often times, as an adult, the matriarch of the family. Here I am now, as a 40-something single mother, still longing to be a daddy's girl.

I see so many who have difficult or challenging relationships with their fathers. I get it. But for a second, is it possible to look at your dad as human, imperfect and fearful and making decisions based on the idea of not feeling good enough? Can you stop and consider that he's doing the best he can do... even if that doesn't seem like enough for now?

On this day, I will look at my daughters' dad and give him that much. I feel like I do that a good percentage of the time but, as a dad, as an ex, he is really doing the best he can do. And who knows, maybe my girls will see themselves as "daddy's girls" one day.

How fortunate will they be?

Happy Father's Day to all of you dads... and to all of you moms who have to be a daddy too.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Maine Blogger Meetup Recap (in pics & quotes!)

I have been crazy busy since returning home from our blogger's weekend in Maine where Gentleman Jack and I met Canadian Bald Guy, Momma Sunshine, Jobo and her man M. Let's just say the weekend was "EPIC"... and yes, in all caps.

For a little preview, here are some (clean) pictures and random quotes from the weekend. More details and observations to come later.

Pictures:


Mmm... ceviche.

Crossing the state line

Still spring time!

Lobster. Roll. *drool*

Lake view

Gentleman Jack displaying his grill skillz.

Morning yoga

Cheers to good friends

Twister. Nuff said.

Quotes (dirty mind is optional):

"Does everyone around here have a booty?"

"You're not 240 lbs." *pause* "Thank God."

"Whiskey dick is the worst. What? This is just normal stuff."

"Take your drawers off."

"We have small balls in Canada. Ours don't drop to the floor when you hit 40."

"And this is only night one."

"We did not kiss. Our lips just happened to touch."

"Get you some." (pronounced, "Git you suuuuuummmmm!")

"At least she didn't ask you about anal beads..."

"Hey. You are the boss. I'm Tony and you're Angela."

"7 minute head"

"That little man is cracking me the hell up."

"I like the brown ones the best."

"His pecs were popping today. Pow pow!"

"Which end are y'all pulling from. This end?"

"Did I get fleeped last night?"

"Will you give me a scholzsky with your muffaletta?"

"I couldn't fit in that space."

"Peanut butter can be very lubricating."

"I like to suck your ice."

"Don't be dissin' Billy Ocean."

"Taint nothin but a thang."

"It might be a party if you take your socks off."

"I'mma need some duct tape, a banana & some vaseline."

"It hasn't even gotten interesting yet and they're already taking pictures."

"Yeah but you went with 2 males."

And the quote that took all three days to put together,

"RiDICuously SUCculent conCOCtion".

More to come later! 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Being okay with not being okay

I'm not sure my brain is in good clear writing mood from 5 days of not thinking anything except for surviving the moment.

Because really, that's what camping in the outdoors is, isn't it? Especially with 4 children around and only one other adult? Our thoughts centered around the following...

"Set up a place to sleep."

"Food."

"Ahhh, fresh air."

"Hot. Must get to water to cool down."

"Food."

"Ahhh, cool water."

"Keep bugs from biting."

"Keep sun from burning."

"Food."

"Keep kids from bugging us about food."

"Find a place to pee."

You get the picture?

The most amazing thing were the sounds of nature. For instance, I became quite familiar with the term "cacophony." As in, the cacophony of cicadas, frogs, toads and other nighttime creatures singing to each other from dark until a few hours before sunrise when it was completely silent. I was familiar with that time of night too, because that was when it occurred to me that I often have to go to the bathroom at that time. I hadn't seen that many stars in some time. The Milky Way was clear as anything. Just stunning.

You know what they say... "The stars at night are big and bright.... deep in the heart of Texas."

And when I wasn't thinking any of the above thoughts, I was thinking about nothing. My brain was on pause and boy, was it nice.

***

Meanwhile back at the ranch...

I'd had quite a bit fall into my lap job-search-wise before I left. I hadn't heard anything final from anyone so it was anybody's guess what I would come home to.

I started letting these thoughts back into my mind the last night of camping. A little bit of anxiety and fear and concern for what is next in my life. This afternoon, I received a rejection email from one job in particular of which I thought I was a perfect fit. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to get ANY type of feedback - as we know searching for a job is just like dating. But still...

Things are fine at work, currently. I think some time away has cleared much of the uncomfortable feelings of being around the CEO. The office has been unusually dead lately, which is concerning. And while I don't mind being around the CEO with my coworkers, I do not look forward to a day with him alone. *shudder*

I want to thank Jobo for her inspiring words today. I do absolutely need to hold on to faith that I'm going exactly where I'm supposed to. I may have one idea of what that should look like when something better is actually waiting for me.



Until then, I will let myself be sad for a day and then move on to more networking and contacts. Like tonight, for instance...

***

A therapist once said to me that a hermit crab outgrows a shell and leaves it to find another bigger one. During the time between shells, he feels very vulnerable.

I know that feeling of vulnerability. I also know a feeling of empowerment. I feel as if I'm vacillating between the two during this time. I know things are working out on my behalf. I have no doubt. I'm just unsure what I have to do in the meanwhile to help things along. Am I doing enough? Am I good enough?

It was nice to get away to some silence in my mind and be fully present with my children. Now I'm looking forward to being fully present with my man and friends this upcoming weekend in Maine.

In the meantime...

Where's that cacophony when I need it?


Monday, June 4, 2012

Summertime Camping Fun

My girls and I went camping last week with another single mom and her two children. What fun! I thought I'd share a few pictures...

Waffle cone s'mores (before)

Waffle cone s'mores (after wrapping in foil & adding to campfire)

Texas wildflowers

Campsite at night

River
Swimming hole

If you know me, you know I love my hammock time


More river pics

Camp doggie. She is worn out today.

The kids are with their dad for the week and it's a little sad. I know I need my time away - especially after 5 days of closeness that only tent camping can bring - but the quiet is a little odd at the moment. I bet I get used to it soon. ;-)

Gentleman Jack and I went 5 whole days without a text or phone call since I was out of range. It was very weird for both of us since that's never happened before. Then again, I felt like I carried him with me wherever I went. 

Hope everyone's off to a great start to their week!