Sunday, April 19, 2015

Inside Out

As I attempted to accomplish the assorted tasks of a weekend, I was struck by the volume of people outside all around me. People carrying flowers, people sitting in cafes, people toting bags of green market fruit, people with bikes and balls. It's not so surprising, really. It was a sunshine and fresh air kind of day, one of the first real spring days we've seen, after a winter we couldn't seem to see past.

I finished my errands and returned home. There were to be other walks to do other things, but at the center were things that needed to be accomplished. No particular focus on recreation, just too many things to be done with never really enough time to do them.

As I came inside, I wondered about all those people enjoying the weather. Was I one of them once? Did I used to have the time and money for brunch-ing in cafes? Did I once take the sunshiney morning to mean that an outdoor activity should be planned? Has my life become so full of to-do's that there's no room any more for let's-do's? Am I so busy covering the bases that I have forgotten to enjoy uncovering the seasons?

There was fresh air, but in the context of getting to and from home. There was time outside, but only alternated with time inside. I saw the nice day, but mostly from the window I looked out while doing laundry and helping with a school project. On a day like this, I wonder, are we sometimes living inside out?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Some Days

Some days, walking out the door is the hardest part.

Some days, you walk out the door just fine, but find that getting where you need to go is a struggle every step of the way.

Some days, once you get where you need to go, you realize you'd really rather be right back where you started.

Some days, you're fine where you are, but you feel as though you're supposed to be somewhere else.

Some days, when you think about being somewhere else, you have a hard time imagining not being where you are.

Some days, your imagining takes you to places you never even imagined.

Some days, there's not even a moment for imagining.

Some days, the minutes go so slowly, you figure you'll never be done.

Some days, the moments go so quickly, you can't possibly get done all you have to do.

Some days, the moments make you glad you walked out the door in the morning.

Some days, the hours make you wish you had never walked out the door in the morning.

Some days, you're just ready for today to be another day.

Most days, you figure tomorrow will be.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Stepping Forward

On days when I'm not working, I walk. A lot. Whether it's a choice to save bus money or the determination to come out of an unemployed day at least slightly more fit, I tend to cover multiple miles on foot--transporting children, running errands, or simply traveling from any Point A to any Point B.

Am I really any fitter for my lack-of-work walks? I'm not sure. But it occurs to me that the walking accomplishes something actually more important than keeping me in shape or saving a few dollars. When I walk, I am moving forward. I am taking steps ahead. On days when it feels as though it is hard to make any forward motion (and days not working can be that way), charging out into the world on foot makes me feel effective. It makes me feel powerful.

Today, I stepped back into a day of work. I walked only there and back--no miles upon miles under my belt. I am glad for the work, no doubt about that. But I kind of miss the walking. The charging out. The taking steps, and taking control. So, where will I be going from here? Hard to say. I'll have to take the steps to find out. Wherever it is, I figure I'll try it. As long as while I'm at it, I remember to keep stepping forward.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Publishing Party

Toasts, snacks, and bookmarks bearing the cover art of our title--the publishing of Dear Journal, You're Freaking Me Out is official.
 

Though I wrote a chapter, participated in numerous author meetings, and edited and helped shoot the trailer video for the book (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ET79JP7lpbE), the whole publishing part has been a bit unreal to me. While it is not a book in my hand, it is most certainly a book I bought from Amazon's e-book selection (http://www.amazon.com/Dear-Journal-Youre-Freaking-Out-ebook/dp/B00VS07YD2). It lives on my phone, and hopefully, soon, on many other people's phones and iPads and Kindles. It is real. And I was (and am) part of it.
 

As I mingled at the publishing party tonight, I found myself talking primarily to my co-authors, most of whom would happily go through such a process again. It was challenging--bringing together the needs and interests of twenty writers, creating a coherent entity from so many different viewpoints and styles, carving out time in already busy lives. Yet, in the end, we are staring at a book we wrote. We are toasting not some other author's publication, but our own. We are taking what we learned in the process, and moving on to the next steps in our lives. Perhaps with a little more confidence, a few new skills, and the perspectives of a room full of co-authors, who, in some ways, will become our collaborators for life.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Hard Questions

What do you do? What do you want? Why are you here?
 

These three questions probably cover the majority of what is asked on any job application or in any job interview. The questions may not always sound quite like this, but essentially, what someone wants to know is what skills you have to add, what you are looking to do with those skills, and why you and your skills would fit well with the place in question. When we prepare for an application or interview, we want to answer these just the right way, which seems simple, right? Aren't they pretty simple questions?

It turns out that these are not actually so simple, in job searching or in life...
 

What do you do? Well, are you talking about your specific job competencies, or are you talking about the myriad other skills you employ every day to make sure people get where they need to be, to keep self-esteem (yours and others') high, and to get the tasks of life accomplished? And are you talking about all the things you've ever done, or just the ones that you like, or those that are relevant now? Not so easy.
 

What do you want? On the one hand, we answer this question every day. We order lunch, we choose fruits and vegetables, we decide what to watch on television. But do we consider each day what we really want when the day is done? And when we are looking for a job, can what we want include not just what we're looking to do, but how that job should fit into our lives, how it affects our kids and our bank account, and how it should make us feel at the end of the day, the week, the year?
 

Why are you here? We are in a lot of places for a lot of reasons each day--how hard could it be to say why we are anywhere? We go to the laundry room to do laundry, we go to an out of the way grocery store to get a treat we like and can only get there. We choose to go places because they help us accomplish what we need to accomplish. So in a job situation, if we simply say that "here" fits what we need and what we can do, shouldn't that be enough?
 

It turns out that, as simple, yet not, as these questions may be in everyday life, they are even more complex when looking for a job. We must try to answer the hard questions for ourselves--after all, what we want is about more than just a title and a paycheck. We must also make our answers logical for someone else, and that can make the hard questions even harder.
 

There's not a lot of time in a day to ask--and answer--the hard questions all of the time. Sometimes it's challenging enough just to get through the easy ones. But when we can face the hard ones, we actually learn a little something about ourselves. And ultimately, this leaves us far more qualified to answer the hard questions on any application and in any interview.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

It's A Bargain

Perhaps I will accept less pay or late pay or no pay, if only I can spend my hours working instead of looking for work.
 

Maybe I will accept computer games and video viewing and staring aimlessly at the ceiling and less than tidy rooms, if only I can know that my kids are safe and healthy and happy.
 

Perhaps I will accept rejection of and ignoring of and general lack of response to resumes and letters and reels I send out into the world, if only I can be reminded once in a while of some of the pretty good things I've done and all of the pretty good things I can still do.
 

Maybe I will accept piles of laundry to do and dinner to make and organizing to attempt, if only someone will notice.
 

Perhaps I will make the requisite phone calls and sort through the piles of paperwork if, at least sometimes, I get worthwhile results.
 

Life is often a series of bargains--ongoing decisions about what is or isn't worth it to us. Sometimes, even the simplest things become choices to be made. And sometimes, what starts out looking not so great turns out to be the best bargain of all. So be careful what you say you won't do. Sometimes a little bargaining leads you to the most interesting choices you've ever made.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Something Will Be Different

There was no ski trip, no amusement park trip, no beach trip. There was nothing life-changing and nothing to remember forever. And yet, as the latest of our school breaks is about to end, I feel somehow changed. Perhaps it is that the week passed with no work for me, meaning that my kids' lack of structure simply mirrored my own. Perhaps it was the awareness of both times repeating, and times changing. Maybe it was the books read and the talks had in rare moments of stillness, or those read and had in the moments of chaos that only lack of normal routine can bring.
 

Come tomorrow, I will likely feel the emptiness mixed with relief that sending my kids back to their normal lives always brings me. But this time, something will be different. I know it won't be a sunburn or a windburn--it wasn't that kind of vacation. It will have the chill of times past and the hint of the warmth of what is to come. It will soon dissolve and re-form into a daily routine. But because of what it was, and what it wasn't--and because that's just how life is--something will be different.