Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Underemployed

I rarely missed a birthday or a school event. I took days off to be there for the big stuff, and went in late sometimes so I wouldn't miss the little stuff. I was working many hours, but I worked hard to be not working when it counted.

Underemployment doesn't schedule itself around birthdays and events, so these days, I may be there for the big stuff, but I am also there for the really little stuff--not so much the occasions, but the minutes and days in between. The hours of "what should we do today?" summer vacation, the mornings of "what's for breakfast?" and the late afternoons of too little coffee to keep up. The conversations not just about the earth-shattering, but about the mundane as well. Underemployment may not put you in the middle of every important event, but it most certainly puts you in the middle of the daily events of life, the events you missed, or left to the babysitter, while you worked toward the occasions. Underemployment allows--forces--you to get through those mornings and afternoons, which are not always easy. But it also puts you at the scene of the everyday triumphs and tribulations. I may not have been home for every first step or new word all those years ago, but I am present for today's new discoveries. And when I'm not busy bemoaning underemployment or working to change it, I can actually appreciate the older "first steps" that I am getting to see.

I don't wish underemployment on anyone. I may have missed things in my days of working continuously, but the security and stability of that situation--and my commitment to making it work--was something I really miss. But for now, I am trying to see the bit of good in underemployment--some quality moments spent, a money lesson taught, my attention given when it was needed. Underemployment doesn't schedule itself around your occasions or your needs, but it can create an opening for you to be there. And for what I hope will be just a few moments in time, I am holding on to that opening, and to the chances it is giving me.

Monday, August 3, 2015

I'm Listening

The alarm is ringing so that I can start my day on time, and I'm listening.

The birds are announcing the new day, and when the air conditioning doesn't drown them out, I'm listening.

The weather report is screaming both "go out" and "stay in," and I'm listening.

The brownies in my fridge are talking to me--I swear!--and I'm listening.

Twenty-something years of work are trying to remind me that I'm good, and I'm trying to listen.

Twenty-something years worth of former colleagues remind me that I can make a difference, and I sometimes remember to listen.

The voice of social media shouts that to be heard, you have to speak up, so I'm listening (and speaking).

Doors will open more often if you knock, so I'm knocking more often, and listening for that slowly turning doorknob.

Learning will happen more often if you keep your mind, eyes, and ears open, so I'm listening (and looking and learning).

I may be needed when I least expect it, so I'm listening for the call.

I may be called when I assume I'm no longer needed, so I'm listening for the unexpected.

Life may sound different than I thought that it would, so I'm listening...

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Short-Termers

Today, I found myself in a conversation about the increasing number of short-term jobs out there, and the stress of having to land a new job over and over. Funny thing is, we weren't talking about television production. It turns out that one of the biggest challenges of my work life is mirrored everywhere. No longer does getting a job mean being secure for any sort of long haul. No longer does getting a job mean getting a break from being the best self-marketing expert out there. As my conversation partner put it, in order to survive in this new work world, you need to be able to go out there over and over saying that you are the best and smartest person for the job and that it would be silly for an employer to hire anyone else.
 

Now, there's nothing wrong with being able to market yourself. It is, in fact, probably one of the most important skills a person in any field can have. But when an employment model favors that skill so strongly over the skills needed to accomplish the tasks of a particular field, it makes me wonder. When you have to spend far more time getting a job than you may actually spend having that job, it makes me question a system that values salesmanship over real quality of work.
 

Today's conversation made me feel lucky for the long-term jobs I've had. It made me feel both relieved that I am far from alone, and angry that so many other people are spending more days trying to sell themselves than being able to add value by working in their fields. I may not be able to change a system, but I just have to wonder--when does being good become good enough? When does it stop being about selling yourself, and start being about working at what you love or do well? I can't fix the system, but I can wonder, and write about it...

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Eyes Wide...

I am an early riser, eager to get things done before the day escapes. I figure that's just how you have to be if you are to see opportunities and be able to act on them. Eyes wide open, and you'll see what's out there, right?
 

Sometimes, however, it is hard to keep looking. Sometimes, it just feels better to shut your eyes to all of it, to put aside where you could be and just settle in where you are, to stop trying to look far ahead and simply focus on right here.
 

Eyes wide open allow you to see where you could be, but also force you to see how far away that is. Eyes wide open let in the light of a new path, but also reveal that you may not have the skills to navigate that path. Eyes wide open let you see what you want to see, but also force you to see the things you might not want to see.
 

So perhaps there are days when eyes are better used for just a glance here or there, rather than a wide open search. Perhaps there are days when the narrower view is enough to handle. There will be days when our eyes will need to be wide open. But sometimes, it's not so terrible to let our view be just a little bit smaller.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Throwback Thursday

One of my favorite parts of working at One Life to Live in the last bunch of years that I was there was my job's combination of production and editing. In a given week, I would spend several days in the studio, working on the show as it was shot, and on the remaining days, I would edit shows, create edited playbacks, and screen shows for air. While all the parts of my job dealt with the same show, my roles were as different as night and day. On a studio day, I would be surrounded by people, and I would talk almost constantly in the process of getting what we wanted. On an edit day, I might spend hours alone, tweaking and figuring, before finally showing my work to a producer. It was a lovely combination, in which I could escape from chaos, and then run right back to it, all in the name of doing my job. It satisfied both the people skills and the figure it out alone parts of me. And while it was a combination I may never have in a work environment again, I see glimpses of it as I navigate, once again, through the combination of parenthood and job search that I'm facing now.
 

Parenthood and employment, I suppose, can always be a challenging combination. The restraint that you may have to exercise at work faces the "get messy" attitude you may need at home. The focus on your own accomplishments at work gives way to a focus on your children's accomplishments at home. Today, however, as I immersed myself in the needs of kids, putting my own job search needs on hold till tomorrow, I felt that dichotomy I once felt at One Life to Live--a fairly complete studio focus on my studio days, and a complete edit focus on my edit ones. A realization that the two things might have to work together, but the pleasure of sometimes being able to focus on them separately.
 

It is unlikely that I will ever find a work situation like my One Life one again. But my current in-between situation reminds me how important it is to give the separate parts of my life the time and attention they each deserve. While one may inform another, as the studio days and the edit days once did, each deserves a singular focus, at least some of the time, and I am learning how to give them that.
 

Who knows how long it will be until my balance shifts again--we don't always know when things will change. In the meantime, I am trying to embrace this current dichotomy, and give both parts of my current daily job as much attention as I can.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Well-Healed

This is not auto-correct, or lack thereof. While the term usually refers to shoes, or to whatever makes a person look put together, I'm talking about a different kind of healing. For, you see, it used to be enough to have Bandaids, antibacterial wipes, and a little antibiotic ointment on hand. These days, healing takes a little more creativity...
 

1. Not just Bandaids, but Bandaids with faces. Why just cover a mishap when you can let it make you chuckle at the same time?
 

2. Time away--whether by genuine distance or simply by a small change in routine. Sometimes just a few steps away can have tremendous healing powers.
 

3. Choosing "yes." For reasons of money, time, calories, or all of the above, we say "no" to ourselves on a regular basis. What if, once in a while, we say "yes?"
 

4. Letting "feel good" sometimes be more important than "look good." It may not always be realistic to face the world in our pajamas, but allowing ourselves to dress how we feel can have enormous restorative powers.
 

5. Turning to the "doctors" in our lives. Our family members and friends may not have medical degrees, but on a good day, or even in just a tiny moment, they can often heal us better than the physician we visit, and without the need to make an appointment.
 

Sometimes, we all need a little healing, the kind that even the best-stocked first aid kit can't offer. As prepared as we may be to help others, it's not always easy to take care of ourselves. But if and when we do, we will likely find ourselves not just well-heeled, but well-healed. And far more ready to face the world that lies ahead.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

It's Really Okay

It's okay not to have all the answers...as long as you're still asking the questions.
 

It's okay not to say "yes" all the time...as long as you say "yes" when it matters.
 

It's okay to go to bed early...as long as you make the most of the hours before you do.
 

It's okay to reach high...as long as you support yourself in case you wobble.
 

It's okay to step back...as long as it's just to get a better view.
 

It's okay to speak up...as long as you have something worth saying.
 

It's okay to say nothing...as long as you listen to what's around you.
 

It's okay to wait...as long as you don't wait too long.
 

It's okay to jump in...as long as the waters seem safe.
 

It's okay to walk...as long as you don't forget how to run.
 

It's okay to say "please"...as long as you're not always waiting for permission.
 

It's okay to be cautious...as long as cautious doesn't mean paralyzed.
 

It's okay to fail...as long as you still aim to succeed.