Sunday, August 30, 2015

Both Sides Now

We stock up on new school supplies, fingering the fuzzy, but impractical, pencil cases and marveling at the colors of pens and markers. And we are excited, because with the new things come new beginnings. Yet, as we unpack our bags and take off the tags, we realize that the new beginnings come with new responsibilities and the end of endless free hours.

I open the mailbox to find a paycheck, excited to see such an envelope in the mail after what feels like a long time. Yet, as I open the envelope and prepare to take it to the bank and watch it disappear into the payment of bills, I realize that the paycheck comes with new commitments and the new scarcity of time that is my own and trips we meant to take.

I put my daughter on a train, and I am excited that she has things to do and people to do them with and the ability to function independently. Yet, as the train pulls away, I realize that I am alone, with a certain amount of independence myself, but in that moment, without anyone to talk to.

It appears that just about everything we do comes with two sides--we wouldn't be buying school supplies if school were not upon us, yet it's nearly impossible to have school without at least a little bit of trepidation about the schedules and emotions that will come with it. I wouldn't have a paycheck without work, yet it's nearly impossible to have work without giving up at least a little bit of family and personal time. And kids become independent--as we'd like them to--yet it can feel nearly impossible to adjust our view as we watch it happen. But if we don't embrace--or at least accept--both sides, it's hard to have one. So we fight fear, and we try to celebrate change, and we accept what we have to give up. Because in order to have one side, sometimes you just have to have both.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Something That Matters

Once upon a time, in a time that seems like a hundred years ago, I was pondering what to do with my education. I don't remember thinking about making a lot of money (until I saw what an apartment would cost each month). I wasn't looking to take more classes (though the familiarity of continuing on an academic track was tempting). I didn't want to go abroad and save the world--I wasn't equipped to save much of anyone. And yet, I wanted to do something that mattered.

Something that mattered--what exactly did that mean? Before I actually figured that out, I had landed--I couldn't, and still can't, believe it--a job at One Life to Live. I could interpret "something that mattered" as getting coffee for tired producers or giving scripts to actors or being part of a production telling stories that could, once in a while, educate viewers about an issue or disease. Mostly, I was just glad to have a job that was kind of a dream come true, and a workplace where people seemed to like me.

What I have learned since then is that "something that matters" can come into your life in many different ways. You don't have to be curing a disease (though I thank goodness for those who do) to be doing something that matters. Perhaps you are educating people, or entertaining them, or simply making their lives a little easier. Or maybe you are just giving enough of yourself to make a difference in the lives of people you work with. We can all do something that matters, whether our work is building, or healing, or editing television. All these years later, I'm still finding ways.

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Bridges of New York City

I have traveled across a lot of bridges in New York City. After all, you can't really go from Manhattan to other boroughs without crossing some water, so a bridge or a tunnel or a boat (or, of course, a subway over a bridge or through a tunnel) is kind of a given.

Yet, I am neither knowledgeable enough about or invested enough in New York's bridges to write a blog post about them. Rather, this post is about the other bridges we cross in our lives. For while we face each experience as an event unto itself, when we step back, it turns out that almost everything we do is actually a bridge between where we've been and where we're going. And sometimes, seeing the bridges as just that--ways to get from Point A to Point B--makes us much more comfortable with the movement and change that we face every day.

When we start a new experience, we go in thinking it will be a long-term one. Now, maybe that is the long-time soap employee in me speaking, but I do think we all want things that last, and the security that comes with those things. These days, jobs don't necessarily last. Circumstances change, responsibilities shift. Yet, if we look carefully, we can see that each job, whether short-term or long, comes with a set of tools for building a bridge. Each experience teaches us skills that help us travel to the next one, and provides the bridge we need to move forward. We don't always know exactly where these bridges we build will take us, but just like the bridges of New York, they allow us the kind of exploration that can even be worth the toll.

Change isn't easy, and unknown journeys can be frightening. But if we build and traverse our bridges wisely, we may end up in some destinations we never thought were possible.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

But I Want It Yesterday!

I want things done when I want them done. Which sometimes means I want them done yesterday. Which sometimes means I tell a child multiple times to take a shower or read a book, or sometimes means I toss and turn over all the things undone.

The funny thing is, often when I take a step back, I see that things do get done, just in their own time. Tooth brushing may not happen when I demand it, but it happens before bed. Reading may not happen on my schedule, but it happens before the deadline, or before the library due date, or in some other way, on time. Likewise, in my own life, change sometimes happens not when I am pushing for it, but when my back is turned for a second.

We want to be in control. We want to know that we can make things how we want them, that we can be the masters of our time, of our careers, and of our households. And while sometimes it takes jumping in and effecting change, sometimes it just takes being patient enough to let change happen on its own, and trusting that what we want or need will happen in time--before the due date, before the deadline, before our tipping point.

I will probably still want things when I want them, which will still often be yesterday. But I'd like to think that once in a while, I will step back and just let things fall as they may. Who knows? I might be pleasantly surprised with how it all turns out--maybe not yesterday, but in plenty of time.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Pictures and The Words

I've been editing a lot of short video packages--on news, on health, on entertainment, on business. I like the way that I can match the photos and videos to the words. It brings to life something that starts out as just a series of well-crafted sentences.

I've also been doing a lot of texting. It is an easy way for me to keep in touch with my kids and others when life is getting crazy. Often, it's just messages like "I'm on the bus" or "I'm home," which I appreciate. But every once in a while, there's a photo--of a happy face, or a place visited, or a baked good being created. Suddenly, in a tiny little thought bubble on my screen, I am transported to another place. I am where I am, but for just a moment, I am able to be somewhere else, sharing in the moment that I am missing. A picture is a powerful thing.

As an editor, I am grateful when the pictures, moving or still, match up with the story. As a person, and as a parent, I am immensely grateful when the pictures provide a window into events I have to miss, into the lives of people I don't see nearly enough, into the life that is happening outside my little edit room and beyond my narrow view. The pictures may make me sad not to be there, but they also make me happy that I can still be a part of something from a distance.

I may not be able to be everywhere every minute, but give me a picture or a video (or even an emoticon or two!), and at least in some way, I'm right there.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Perfect Match

I recently recommended someone for a job. It seemed like a perfect match, and I was thrilled to be able to do something for someone whose work I appreciated and respected. It turned out, however, that while my "recommendee" appreciated my efforts, she didn't feel up to what the job would require. I contacted the person to whom I'd made the recommendation, and we all moved on.

You might think that this is a cautionary tale about recommendations. Actually, it is a story about understanding. In the moment when my friend told me how she felt, I was faced both with sorrow that I wouldn't be able to help her get a job, and with an uncanny understanding of what she was thinking. Over the past few years, any number of people have suggested paths to me and recommended contacts for me, and even thrown my name in the ring for jobs. Yet, from time to time, as grateful as I have been, I have wondered "Could I do that work?" They have recommended me because they have faith in me as a person or as a co-worker. Yet, being a good person or doing a great job in certain circumstances doesn't always mean your talent will come through in every circumstance.

So, no, this is not a cautionary tale about recommending people. That kind of networking is invaluable, and has given me some of the best opportunities of my career. Rather, this is a reminder that we don't have to be great at everything to be great. We don't have to be ready to adapt to any job, just because we are good at many. And while we should be careful about underestimating our own abilities, we should also speak up about what we can do and what we want to do. And we should respect our friends and colleagues when they do the same.

I will keep playing job matchmaker--it's just a little way for me to make a difference, as people have made a difference for me. It may just be with a new understanding. Because a perfect match is a tricky thing for any of us to find.

Monday, August 24, 2015

A Glass Too Full, Or One Too Empty?

Once again, there are too many events in too many different places to fit into too few days, which has made us stressed, and overwhelmed, and guilt-ridden about all the things we can't do and all the things we choose to do. Yet, it has occurred to me that there's a different way to think about this---

We could live our lives doing not very much, attempting not very much, planning and scheduling not very much, and therefore, rarely having the stress of double-booking and over-extending, and trying to fit too much to do into too little time. Would we be happier doing not very much? Would we have a better life making no plans, trying no new things, seeing no hard-to-see people? Would we be better off pulling away from things, rather than running toward them, sticking with the known, rather than exploring the unknown, filling just parts of our days, so as not to end up with days that are over-full?

The difficulty and stress of having to juggle activities and events may make us want to pull back, but when I think about it this way, I tend to think, "bring it on"--the new experiences, the exciting things ventured, the people and places explored and enjoyed. Isn't it better to fill our days and figure out how to juggle a little than to meander through empty days because we were afraid of having to manage the juggling? Give me that glass too full--I'll enjoy drinking it in.