Saturday, January 31, 2015

Telling My Story

I reworked my résumé today--again. It's amazing, actually, how you can look at the same document, that presumably describes the same person (I mean, I'm still me, right?), and overhaul it so completely so often. Yet, the same information, presented in a different way, does tell a different story, and sometimes, I'm not looking to tell someone my WHOLE story. Often, it's quite enough to stick with the high points, or the matching points, or just the points that go along with a job.

I guess that's one of the tricky things about a career that has gone in a number of directions. While I don't think of myself as having changed professions, even my soap work contained split jobs--half production, half post-production. And if a résumé is meant to tell a story, mine becomes a rather long story to tell.

So, today, I re-ordered my story. There's no denying that I've been in a lot of places, but instead of listing them all, I'm stopping a little in my storytelling to describe some of them. Because sometimes a list leaves a lot of gaps in the story. And sometimes it makes more sense to tell just part of the story in more detail.

Tomorrow, I may tell a different story. After all, as not every viewer relates to the same shows, not every reader relates to the same material, and it's important to know (or try to know) your audience. But if what I am (whether in print or in production or in post) is a storyteller, then telling my story differently each time should be a piece of cake.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Whose Side Are You On?

When I was a kid, I hated it every time we had to choose teams for a game. Aside from the fear of being "picked last," I couldn't bear the "taking sides." It was one thing if you were on a team and you won--I loved that when I was on the debate team. But when sides had to be chosen, it always seemed hard to know whose side to be on.

Flash forward to now, when it seems that the question of choosing sides comes up all too often. Am I on my child's side if I push him to work at something that doesn't come easily or doesn't feel good right away? Am I on the right side if I push supporting the team or support acting how my child feels? Am I on the right side if I look out for everyone else or if I look out for myself? Just as picking teams all those years ago made you try to balance having the best players against not hurting people's feelings, these days, there's a fine line between doing what feels better in the moment (like letting my kids plan their own time) and what I think will be right for the future (like fighting for learning life skills and time management and piano).

It's not easy to know which side to be on, and when to "switch sides." (As it is no longer volleyball in gym class, you can actually do that). What seems right in one moment can change quickly, so the key, I guess, is watching the sides. Is the side you're on really doing what's right--in general, or for you? Are you pushing loyalty at the expense of self-preservation?

As a parent, I imagine I will always be choosing sides, and defending my choices, to one child or another. And even for myself, the side I'm on can't always stay the same--circumstances change too fast. So perhaps it's nothing like that choosing teams in grade school at all--you can't really choose sides in life, because the rules change too often. The best you can do is look out for your "teammates." And be enough on their side, and your own, to make sure none of you is flattened by the stray volleyball of life.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

On Faith

Each day, we accept a great many things "on faith." Faith need not be a religious term. It is simply that belief we can have without backup evidence. Even the most cynical among us take things on faith all the time.

Earlier this week, I took it on faith that my children would travel to and from school safely despite the snow. By day's end, when they were all back in our apartment, I knew that my faith had been justified. Many days, I take it on faith that an email I have sent has arrived at its destination. Does "auto-reply" count as confirmation of faith? Some days, I simply take it on faith that tomorrow will be different, and I suppose that any way you look at it, tomorrow is ALWAYS different, even in the smallest of ways.

How, though, do we know when our faith is justified? We could take things on faith all the time, but at what point does that become not trusting, but foolish?

The way I see it, our faith needs to be paired with a dose of reality. There's nothing wrong with faith in people who deserve it, or faith in a system you would like to work, but when that faith gets in the way of making smart decisions, when it blinds you to other things around you, then taking it on faith becomes a roadblock, rather than a path. And both in freelancing and in parenting, you need as many paths open to you as possible, with as few roadblocks as possible. So, I will keep being the faithful person that I am--just faithful and smart. Because even when you're taking it on faith, a little "smart" helps to keep the path you need just a little bit clearer.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Just When... think you've got a good thing going, it goes off-track. think you've figured out this parenting thing, you're hit with a situation you've never seen before.'ve worked out a daily schedule, one piece changes, and you're back to figuring stuff out all over again.'ve finally scheduled a coffee meeting or a teacher conference or a dentist appointment, your schedule changes, making the appointment impossible.'ve found things that work, those things somehow get lost.'re finally balanced (well, as balanced as could be expected), someone shakes your tightrope. And steals your balancing pole.'re thinking that you will be nagging your kids about homework forever, you turn around one day and realize that they've done it on their own.'re wondering how you're going to handle the latest career curve ball, the phone rings, and gives you a temporary solution.'re not sure how you'll cover all the bases, your kid/husband/sitter jumps in and makes it a little easier. thought you knew about every tool in your skill set (after all, you've written about them in hundreds of letters and resumes), you realize you have something to add. think things can't or won't change, it turns out they can. And they do. Just when you least expect it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

When I Grow Up (With Thanks to Matilda the Musical)

When I grow up, I will be smart enough to know just the right thing to say to open the doors I want to open.

When I grow up, I will be comfortable enough to do what I enjoy without thought of time or distance or hourly rate.

When I grow up, I will be brave enough to believe I can do what I've never done, and strong enough to convince perfect strangers of that.

When I grow up, I will eat what I want without having to worry about fitting into the clothes that make a good impression.

When I grow up, I will be visionary enough to see how the skills from one world can make sense in another.

When I grow up, I will have time for lots of coffees with friends. And available funds and available calories for fancy coffees with friends.

When I grow up, I will be focused enough to make the most of my days, even if the most is enjoying a good nap.

When I grow up, I will be trusting enough to realize that things often work out, even when it seems that they can't.

When I grow up, I will keep loving the music that reminds me that lots of things really are possible.

Monday, January 26, 2015

By The Book

I recently came across an Edith Wharton novel in my building's book exchange, and with a little unscheduled time off this past week, I have found myself transported back to the 1870's while my children do homework, while I'm at drop off events, and even at bedtime.

I am not a person who normally lives in yesterday, much less the 1870's. I tend to read what pertains to what I need to get done--industry news, child-rearing articles, current events. If it's short, even better. In a life when sometimes it's hard even to keep up, there's just not time to sit still, transported to another time. Yet, this week, I was carried away to a bit of high society--a bit of not going out if not properly dressed, a world in which my daughters could not be traveling the city alone, a time in which I would certainly not be working or looking for work, much less checking for moment to moment email updates about work or anything else.

My little trip into the 19th century could make me long for the relative simplicity, the slower pace pre-technology. But while I am enjoying my visits into this different time, I am actually happy when I come back. The days of relative leisure might seem tempting, but I quickly return to checking my email and preparing to work. The elegant wardrobes may catch my imagination, but I am grateful that I can pull on a pair of jeans or fuzzy pants for my day.

Who knew that a trip into another time and some other places would make me grateful for just where I am? Sometimes, in life, it's hard to see past all the things right in front of us, all the things that HAVE to get done. Leave it to a book in our laps to allow us see just a little bit farther.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Interview

My son interviewed me on camera today for a school project. Once I got past how I looked and sounded (I am much more used to being BEHIND the camera), I was struck by the story I told. Based on his prompts, you see, I was essentially telling the story of my career--from what I grew up wanting to do to what I learned along the way, what I'd liked and disliked about certain jobs, and how I moved from one thing to another. He forced me to think on my feet about things, and to remember the good and the bad. He took me back to how I got to places, and with whose help. He asked me if I'd thanked the people who'd helped me. By the time we were done, he had a record of sorts of my career life, and I had an extra little bit of insight into a few things. Perhaps some of the good experiences had some down sides, and perhaps some of the "just getting by" jobs had a little more value than I'd thought.

Most days, we simply try to keep up with the present. Perhaps we hope for things in the future, and sometimes we long for things in the past, but rarely do we take the time to review what we wanted and how that has changed, what we got, and how that has changed us. Telling the story to my young (and brutally direct) interviewer forced me to think about some of these things, and will probably keep me thinking about them for a while.

I'm not exactly sure what he'll take away from this experience, aside from a fuller picture than he gets from my daily dinner table reports. Maybe he'll see that expectations can change. Maybe he'll realize that you can get knocked down and around and still get up. Maybe he'll discover that work is about some crazy, ever-changing balance of doing what you enjoy and making enough money to support your lifestyle. Any of these, I think, would make this a worthwhile assignment for him.

I know already that it was a worthwhile assignment for me.