Tag Archives: career

advice from friends

Most of us could be a better friend to ourselves. By that I mean we allow our internal dialogue to run on, focused on our failures, our shortcomings, our fears and our doubts. If we actually confessed these same thoughts to a friend, he or she would say…well, probably something like the below:

From Max:

“Stop thinking about your marriage or life in terms of the failure. Instead, look at all that you’ve accomplished and gained in the past decade — you have a home and two beautiful children and more career and life experience. That’s a lot to be proud of.” He was right. Looking at my life in this way took some of the pressure off — it’s not as though I’m starting my life over from scratch, renting an apartment, my biological clock ticking as I desperately search for a mate.

Girlfriend Candy gave me this nugget:

“You are making all your dreams come true. You’re more than a writer; you’re a published author. Look at your blog and how it’s touched your readers — and you’ve made enough posts with enough content to fill a book!” That’s great perspective, too. Embarking on this blog has been cathartic emotionally, a great way to connect with some new people, and a way to discipline myself to regularly publish (which is difficult for my abstract-thinking, perfectionist side).

I am blessed to have surrounded myself with love as I go through so many challenges and changes! And, with all this support, I am learning to become a better friend to myself.


positive progress

It’s been almost a week since I “left the building.” Having found my former work environment somewhat stressful, I’ve noticed and actually started writing down some of the changes.

Since I quit my job, I’ve begun:

  • sleeping through the night (without waking at 4am with racing thoughts)
  • having more frequent bowel movements
  • desiring healthier foods (and not craving unhealthy foods)
  • drinking green tea (rather than lattes)
  • feeling more energetic

People around me have been asking if I’ve lost weight (does 3 lbs. count?), or done something different with my hair or fallen in love — apparently the twinkle is back in my eyes. And my chiropractor found me much easier to adjust than previously.

So even though I know it was crazy, and there’s still a part of me that feels tremendous fear about not knowing what’s next, I feel confident that I made the right choice for me!


I’ve become a cliche

I haven’t posted for a few days, partly because I’ve been making some major transitions (in real time), which I’ve alluded to in recent posts. So here it is:  I left my job. Wednesday was my last day. And I haven’t written since earlier in the week because I’ve struggled with what to say about that.

To briefly recap the past year of my life:  I got divorced, turned forty and quit my job. On the surface, this may appear to be a mid-life crisis. I am officially a cliche. Ewwww!

And another funny thing about this is that I’ve been jumping back in forth in time and, in telling the story of my failed marriage, I haven’t even gotten to the part about my fortieth birthday. Man, good luck following all this!

I’ve seen so many people do this:  they get divorced, and then they realize that everything else in their life rubs them wrong, as well. It’s like they need to shed their skin or other things in life become like a proverbial rash. They redecorate, job hop, screw around or whatever seemingly immature or crazy things they need to do to lash out.

And now I’m realizing that maybe, just maybe, all those fools I’ve seen behave in this cliched way simply decided that life is too short to be unhappy. Yes, this is also a cliche. I seem to be full of them today. So once they’ve made the step of deciding they don’t need to be unhappy in their primary relationship, they begin to look at the other aspects of their life that are causing them grief and make changes in those areas, too.

For me, my ex finally got a job. It’s a small step and a small job. But I’m hoping it leads to him regaining his confidence and becoming the force of talent, skill and creativity he once was. This man has a lot of gifts — unfortunately, he undercuts himself all the time. But the point is, he got a job and can, ostensibly, provide a small amount of child support to me and cover the children’s health insurance and that lifted just enough weight from my shoulders so that I no longer felt confined.

I’ve actually been working, on the creative level, at finding a new job for several weeks. I was noticing how many people seem to have more balance and more income, and I’ve decided that I can be one of those people. They are not inherently smarter or more educated than I am — it’s simply a matter of re-packaging my transferrable skills. And I wanted to give myself the time to really focus hard on the type of opportunity I’m seeking, rather than rashly jump into something thinking of it as a foot in the door.

So I jumped ship. I am blessed to be able to manage for a couple of months before I need to do something desperate. And I’m likely to be more open and available to spot broader opportunities by giving myself this space.

Send positive vibes! And send contacts if you know of mentors I should talk to or connections I should make. I’m both terrified and thrilled for this next chapter in my life.


the 20-year reunion

About 17 months ago…

During the time that my textual flirtation with Max was going strong, I attended my 20th class reunion. By this time, I was open with others that my marriage was in trouble.

Some context:  I had grown up in a classroom full of rowdies in a small town. In the class ahead of mine, it was very cool to be athletic and intelligent. In my class, it was cool to be an underachiever, rebel or class clown. Indeed, many of the guys in my class had become blue-collar workers, some with two-year or vocational degrees, and most had stayed close to home . . . and what a delight they all were! These trouble-makers had become kind, friendly, engaging, successful and responsible men. Most were married with children, committed husbands and fathers. They were generous both with drinks and laughter. It was an unexpected pleasure to see them all again, particularly in this light.

Many of the women from my class seemed content, too. Most had achieved a higher level of education than the guys. Most were happily married with children. And none of them seemed as stressed out as I was, in their personal lives nor in their professions.

Observing this made me wonder about the life I’d chosen — ambition, a private, liberal arts college, international travel, art museums and theatres, my urban lifestyle . . . I wouldn’t have been happy staying in my hometown, yet most of my classmates seemed to find more fulfillment in their more modest life choices than I was experiencing in mine.

In the midst of our mirthful reminiscing, my best friend from high school and I were sitting at the bar. I was filling her in on the events of my life, telling her about Max, the one thing besides my children that seemed to put a smile on my face. Another classmate had joined the conversation. After quietly listening for awhile, he said, “‘Work crush,’ is that what you call it these days? It used to be known as adultery!”

Wow. That seemed a bit harsh. It hit me like a slap in the face. And it gave me something more to think about:  Was my emotional attachment to Max — or our attachment to each other — crossing an inappropriate boundary? It tried to be very cognizant of his marriage, but on some level, I maintained fantasies of our being together. Was the mere act of continuing correspondence with him morally reprehensible? Did trying to be a decent human mean I had to sever ties with Max completely, and now? And what if this doomed flirtation was the only thing I had going for me at the moment? Did it matter if this was my lifeline?


another break-up coming

While strolling through the bookstore on my lunch break today, I picked up a random book on relationships. I’ve been a little stressed lately, and snappish with my children at times… so when I saw a chapter on verbal abuse, I was compelled to look more closely to see if I could recognize myself among some of the highlighted behaviors and find some alternative ways to deal.

Instead, I found myself recognizing my ex…in many more ways than I ever anticipated. On some level, I was consciously aware of his means to undermine me throughout our relationship. And my growing strength in myself was what ultimately tore our marriage apart. Yet this book opened my eyes to a level of subtle and insidious behaviors that pervaded our relationship from start to finish. I’m ashamed to confess there were times that I didn’t stand up for myself or draw immediate boundaries (I found many new tools for dealing with verbal abuse in this book) — largely because I was caught so completely off guard that someone I loved — and who allegedly loved me — could possibly behave in such a hurtful and inappropriate way.

But I think the bigger realization I had today was that there’s another abusive relationship I need to break:  my job. I’m not in a bad “situation” there; no one is verbally abusing me. Rather, the nature of going into a place every day that no longer nurtures my passion nor values the tremendous assets I bring is causing me more harm than good.

I recently told my ex I was going to look for a new job. His response, “What, for $XX grand a year, you can’t give them what they want?!”

I said, “No. What they want is not in my nature.”

It’s a big company. We are all bound, at times, to feel like cogs in a wheel. So I’m going to find a place where my experience and skills are respected and rewarded.

I guess, with more presence of mind, I might have responded to my ex: “What? To save your marriage, home and family, you couldn’t stop drinking, see a counsellor and get a decent job!?”

But those things probably weren’t in his nature, either.


visualizing change

My 2011 Vision Board

I have some pretty major transformations planned for the coming year, as I mentioned earlier. So I thought creating a vision board would be a smart way to begin my New Year, a visual reminder of all the goals and dreams and desires I’ve been jotting down for myself. So many of us, myself included, often respond more deeply to a combination of words and imagery. Also, for an impatient soul like myself, for whom changes cannot come quickly enough, I’m hoping it will help me manifest more quickly and effortlessly. I plan to hang this board in my room as a daily reminder of the new energy I’m welcoming.

I’ve included imagery to reflect changes I’d like to make in my career and income, relationships, health (more vegetables and more yoga!), home, experiences, friendships and romantic relationships. I’ve included words to describe the best of my qualities, those I’d like to emphasize — such as savvy, resilient, optimistic, authentic, soft, irreverent, confident and captivating. Yeah, I like that last one, too!

Creating this vision board was a time-consuming process and a labor of love. I spent literally hours cutting words and images from old magazines and catalogs, focusing on those that evoke feelings I want more than actual things. I would like to remodel my bathroom, but rather than spell it out, I simply included a photo of a sleek, modern bathroom. I used words like “warm” and “comfort” for my home. I allowed myself to include photos of two very specific wants:  and iPad and new car, in part because I feel certain and confident in wanting these. For some of my less tangible desires — socialization and community — it resonates more to use aspirational words, combined with my heartfelt intent, to ask for the universe’s help in welcoming what’s right into my life.

For relationships, I cut out a wide swath of material — even including diamonds and diamond rings, and the words “engagement” and “commitment.” When it came time to paste these to my poster, I realized that words like “romance,” “unforgettable moments” and “touch” resonated the most with what I feel comfortable welcoming into my life for the coming year, along with the words “trust, thoughtful, kindness and good humor” to describe the qualities in a man I’d love to invite into my life. I left off the diamonds for now.

Right in the middle of my collage, I placed two key themes:  “choose wisely” to keep myself focused and “receive more than you imagined possible” to remind myself to be open to the divine plan.

When I awoke that first morning and went to visually absorb my work, I had to take several deep breaths to process through some fear. Why? Well… I want a lot! Having suppressed so many of my desires for so long while in my dysfunctional marriage, it feels a little scary to let myself want again. I’ll have to erase a few scripts — e.g. “to want things is materialistic” — that came with the relationship and release my fears as I go.

I have enough left over verbiage clipped from magazines to craft several crude ransom notes — some of it stronger, bolder language than I felt comfortable using just now.  I think I’ll keep these for next year’s vision board. I might feel better about opening myself to even more abundance and possibility next year — maybe even those words and images that welcome and invite a partner into my life.


dumping distractions

Yesterday I dumped a guy. Damn! I had forgotten how good that feels!

I suspect this sounds a little harsh. The truth is, I cancelled a date with a reasonably nice guy because he doesn’t have what I want. Yes, I know I need to practice dating again. And I’ve decided that I can accomplish this within certain parameters. It felt good to recognize that this guy was not in line with the direction I’m going in life, and to say, “Sorry. I don’t want to do this.” Making an empowered choice, one that nurtured my highest self, was deeply satisfying.

In small ways like this, I am rediscovering the power of affirmative choice. I spent nearly a decade developing great clarity about what I don’t want — this part is usually pretty easy. I’ve heard many women say, “I don’t want to be alone.” I’ve probably said similar things myself in the past. Transitioning to a positive vision of what we want — e.g. “I want to share myself with someone truly special” — is a deeper, more profound, knowing.

So I’m going to adopt the philosophy I take into the fitting room while shopping for clothes. I don’t buy it unless I’m in love. True, I fall pretty easily. But I need more clothes than I need men or hobbies or other diversions and flirtations that get between me and my ultimate bliss.

This challenge goes beyond being able to vote “YES!” to myself without hesitation. It requires discipline. I’ve always considered myself a bit of an opportunist — dreamy and flowing and allowing myself to be blown in the direction of the wind. More recently, I’ve also become easily distracted, possibly even developed (or come to recognize in myself) adult Attention Deficit Disorder.* So I’m going to have to stay focused, work my plan and keep my eyes on the prize. Here’s what I intend to do:

  • Develop and refine a clear vision of what I want
  • Believe that it’s out there and that it’s available to me
  • Stay focused; don’t get caught up with distractions (no matter how pretty and shiny they may be)

What pretty, shiny distractions are standing in the way of you having what you want or being the person you want to be? Which of these are simply and easily eliminated — dumped — by stating your truth?

*I realize the legitimacy of this condition and, no, I have not been diagnosed.


bungling the big stuff

It’s taken me remarkably little self-reflection to grasp that I haven’t approached relationships with the habits or behaviors that will allow me (and the relationship) to be successful. After all, where on Earth would I have learned healthy and appropriate behaviors or seen such examples?!

Let’s digress for a moment to my childhood within the environs of my parents’ spectacularly unhappy situation:  I recall being a small girl, playing with a Little People toy set, moving the characters around on the living room floor. I was an avid Sunday school student, and I suddenly had the thought that God must maneuver humans (and all living creatures) in the same way I was manipulating these small toys in play. What a thought! It was a big job, but God was all-powerful and everywhere… Still, I remember with absolute clarity thinking that, when creating my family, God had put two wrong people in this house together. At age four or five, this was my first conscious thought about my parents’ relationship.

Fast forward about 35 years. My own marriage failed spectacularly — due in large part, I’m realizing, to my utter cluelessness about how to be a woman in a relationship. I expect a man to behave like a man — he should provide, have good manners, be handy about the house and with the car (or at least earn enough to pay others to take care of them), among other things. My husband did not do these things. But were his failings caused, in part, by my own inability to provide the feminine energy in our relationship?

What if all the behaviors that allow me to be effective in professional and / or general life situations are jeopardizing my domestic happiness? In the absence of having a truly masculine presence at home, I’d taken charge…and became “the man.” And then I resented my husband for not being the man.

Let’s look at another hypothetical example:

Let’s say I’ve been flirting around with a fellow I’ve known for some time, and I’ve come to rather like him. I mean, I like him such that I’d definitely like to explore the energy between us, as I think we may have potential.

Imagine this fellow has said to me things like, “I like you” and “I think I’m falling for you.”

What would I have done in this situation? I’d have let him know directly, in no uncertain terms, that I’m interested. And in so doing, I’d most likely have ceased to be even remotely intriguing. I’d have taken away the chase, the feminine mystery, and circumvented any avenue or opportunity that might have allowed him to feel masculine.

This is how I’m bungling the “big stuff,” failing at relationships that could well be a big part of my equation for long-term satisfaction and contentment. Stay tuned for what I’m learning about how to stop messing it up!


new year, new me

New Year, new me. I’m not only counting on 2011 to be better than last year (or, rather, the past three years), I’m planning on it. I’ve been meditating, visualizing, thinking, defining, feeling, creating, reading and contemplating. I’m creating vision boards and drafting goals and writing down the steps I’ll take to reach them.

My philosophy is this:  There are many people I don’t know. There are many companies I don’t know. In fact, in general, there’s a lot I don’t know. And it’s entirely possible that among the body of things I don’t know, so many things are way cooler, more positive, sexier, more abundant and better for me than what I have known. There is a man out there, who I may have never met, who is a perfect partner for me. There is a company and a position out there that wants, needs and rewards all the best of my knowledge and skills — and it has fantastic pay and benefits! I can only truly create these things if I can believe they are possible.

So I’m trying to dispel some old, worn-out beliefs, test my assumptions, expand my horizons and learn new ways to be open, invite, and welcome amazing new things into my life. I invite you, in all your fabulousness, to join me!


opportunity

As in the popular sitcom, Will & Grace, I spent much of my college years and twenties in social circles that included gay men, several of whom are still my friends. I love hanging with this group of friends because they’re fun, successful, love to do the kinds of things I like to do (go dancing, stroll through art museums, have an occasional cocktail, watch romantic movies), etc. I had my “Will,” and we could talk about anything. Nothing is taboo between a straight woman and a gay man.

I also learned a critical life skill from my gay male friends. Every time they greeted me or another female friend among the group, they did so with amazing energy:  “Gorgeous!,” my Will would call me, arms outstretched. And then he would add a comment about something I was wearing or my hair or choose something else positive to say.

There were times when I suspected a superficiality in this — it was a cultural norm, as is asking someone how they’re doing and not waiting for an answer — yet it never got old and it never failed to make me feel good about myself.

I came to see these behaviors as a powerful opportunity, a great way to make others feel good. I try to use these opportunities regularly — in business, in can be a great way to disarm someone otherwise intimidating or difficult and, especially in parenting, I’ve learned that it’s one of the great tools I can use to reinforce my children’s self-esteem, while noticing and encouraging positive behaviors. I also realized that it really wasn’t superficial at all. The positive things I find to say are very genuine, perhaps because I prefer to see the good in others.

It seems that few straight men have caught on to these behaviors. Perhaps it comes less naturally to heterosexual males. So guys, here’s a big opportunity for the new year:

  • Smile
  • Greet a woman by calling her a really nice name — e.g. Gorgeous, Beautiful, Pretty Girl…
  • Notice the positive and comment on it
  • Recognize the beauty in everyone

Trust me, it will work wonders!