Saturday, August 31, 2013

What a life!

Oh, dear readers, how much has changed since I last popped in here.

On my vacation I had a great deal of time to think about work, life, the meaning of all of it.

And I've made some very big changes.

My last day on the job was yesterday.  I have a month's severance - generous of my boss - and her blessing to go out in the world and do what I must do.  I have been hitting my network hard - it turns out that I know a lot of people in the non-profit world, and that they are welcoming me with open arms.  I'm looking for a position in development, and I am assured by those who know the field locally that I will meet with success sooner rather than later.

It is a leap of faith.  After a month, I will panic due to the realities of finance, but I am determined to do this.

I am committed to changing the world.  I am committed to doing work that lights my soul on fire, and I am certain as to this path.  My resume doesn't contain nonprofit development....but it's what I've done for years on the side, and I'm ready to make it my life's work.  (Or part of my life's work, for I have many sides!  Mothering, writing, etc. all hold dear places in my heart.)

I've picked up some consulting, I have lunch meetings scheduled (and completed), and I am filled with optimism.


I've been on a few new first dates that are worth mentioning here, too.  Date #1: a slooooooooow talker.  I talk a million miles a minute, and a slow talker is a comically bad fit for me.  Nice guy, very accomplished, very kind....and really, really, really not the guy for me.  He asked for another date and was very flattering, and I thought that really he must be clueless (sweet, but clueless) because wow was it a bad fit.  Date #2: stop touching me!  This guy invaded my space bubble more times than I can count: squeezing my hand, touching my knee, even once touching my face (as I leaned back in amused horror).  He was also shorter and more plump than his photos (which included him after completing an Ironman - and he had changed so much that I didn't recognize him when I walked in the room).  And Date #3: yesterday, and I haven't figured him out yet.  Attractive, good conversationalist....but no sparks.  He didn't give signs to me, either, and I have no idea if he will contact me again.  I think if he did I would go out with him again because of my own uncertainty - I mean, usually I think "NO!" and so thinking "Maybe?" is actually a vast improvement.  But if he doesn't contact me again I won't worry a bit, because it would be lovely to have some sparks.


I'm getting some enforced down time today - my girl has a stomach bug and so we're home instead of at a cabin for the weekend.  It's actually nice to catch my breath.

Happy Labor Day!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Time for vacation!

Tonight is the beginning of a week long vacation, well deserved and much earned.

Last night I grocery shopped and picked up a "spare" tent for the girls, and tonight I packed clothes, tents, food, dishes, stoves, chairs and the rest of the assorted randomness that is car camping, and we're just about ready to go.  Tomorrow morning the alarm will go off at 5am and I'll put the last bits in the car, and then we're headed south.  We're going to the Newberry Volcanic Monument (check it out - super cool!) and Crater Lake, and I am going to fill up my soul with fresh air, trees, lakes, caves, wildlife, quiet, friends, campfires, hiking, swimming.  I am ready for nature like never before, and I'm ready for time with my girl, and good bonding time with good friends.

Oil change: check.  Groceries: check.  Swimsuits: check.  Cocoa: check.  Flashlights: check.

Sanity: Not quite sure.

My work drama is unfolding faster than before, and I think I've handled it admirably, but I am at my wits' end.  I work for a tiny company, and my boss is clearly entering a phase of unmanaged depression.  My work quality is excellent, and the raves that every customer I encounter gives her, combined with our incredible revenue numbers, prove that I am worth every penny she pays me.  However, she's dissatisfied and grumpy, and nothing can make her smile, and lots makes her frown.  What's more, she's saying one thing and doing another, and I finally called her on it and owned my anger and frustration over the situation.  I said point blank that I did not accept this treatment any more, and that I needed her to own her behavior.

She's my friend even more than she's my boss, so this was difficult, to say the least.  But having been married to a man with unmanaged depression, I know all too well what it looks like.  First, I try to be a helper.  Then, I try everything that I can to help them to be happy.  I try to anticipate needs, and fill them.  I bend into pretzel shapes, contorting myself into more and more painful positions to show my allegiance and caring.  The result of this is...that nothing improves.  And the more painful my contortions, the more contortions are demanded.

I won't do that any more.  I felt myself going down that road, and I'm absolutely done with it, and I told her as much.  Talk about uncomfortable.

She's a good person.  I care about her.  But more than that, I care about managing my own life.  My job has become something it wasn't intended to be, and because she's disorganized I spent a lot of time managing dropped balls, and I don't feel empowered to make the changes that I know would improve the situation.  I wonder at her ability to implement change, and I think that my big personality and high energy actually makes her feel worse about herself: she's an introvert and likes to move more slowly than I do, and so my energy levels somehow make her feel bad.  I know what I could do, and it's so much more than I'm doing, and she knows it too, but rather than giving me the tools I need to be successful, she's asking for one thing but requiring another, and so I spin.

She's owning this now, but I think perhaps it is beyond repair.

This job has given me an amazing transition.  It has been relatively low stress, very flexible, and allowed me to reenter the workforce and get my feet under me.  I've been there a year and a half, and I've done good things, and regained some confidence about what I'm capable of, what I know how to do, and how to pick up new skills.  I'm proud of the work I've done....but I think I've outgrown it.  I don't particularly care about this industry, and it doesn't represent who I am as a person. 
So, on this eve of my vacation, I'm oh so ready to head out of town, to catch my breath, to breathe clean air.  I know that vacations are good times for gentle thinking, too, and as I sit staring at the sparks of the campfire or hiking on a ridge or swimming in a lake, ideas will come to me and I'll fully form the beginnings of the plan I'm making to transition to the next career.  I need to change the world - I feel it deep within myself - and I'm ready to work in non-profit.  I have a set of skills well aligned to that world, and there are many causes that I passionately believe in, and I'm prepared to make the giant shift.

Change is difficult, but I've done so many things that are so much harder.  I get to call the shots on this transition, and I'm not desperate: I can choose a job that fits me well, and I have time to face rejection (as is inevitable in a job search) but hang in until the right thing comes along.  I'll try to be honorable to my current job, and to transition in such a way that they are well taken care of.

I'm ready to set the world on fire.  It's time for the next steps.

But first, I'm going camping with my girl.  See you in a week!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The great debate: work

If anyone wants to chime in here, I could use some advice.

I am at a career crossroads. 

On the one hand is the known quality of my current job, which has pros and cons as all jobs do.  Pros: Great flexibility.  Proven success.  Good medical.  Decent salary.  Cons: An industry I am not passionate about.  Boredom.  Such a small business that there is little room for collaboration.  Everything is urgent, everything is important, so it's hard to move forward with making progress on bigger projects that interest me because it's all here and now.  (This is a result of my boss's personality, and she owns the place, so there isn't anything that can change about that.)

I get a month of vacation.  I stay home when my daughter is sick.

On the other hand is the great unknown.  I am really passionate about changing the world, and I have a lot of connections in the world of non-profit.  Tonight I had a woman from a local non-profit come over, and we discussed my upcoming speech (audience expected to be 1200) at a 5k event, as well as grant writing, as well as expanding the focus of the organization, as well as where their current marketing is succeeding and failing.  I know without hesitation that even in a couple of hours I helped her out a lot, and that the work I could do in that arena is valuable and useful. I would be passionate about doing that kind of development for a non-profit that did work I believe in.  This is a breast cancer organization, but I could be equally happy to work on child development, literacy, eradication of poverty, homelessness, health screening, women's rights, women's health, etc.

Pros of nonprofit: Passion about what I do.  More structure in a bigger organization (which I'm craving right now).  More growth opportunities in the field.  Decent salary (it might be hard to come in where I am now, but there would be growth potential from there if I can hit that much to begin), better benefits (potentially).  More intellectual stimulation.

Cons:  Less free time, less flexibility.  The fear of the unknown.

Do I choose ease and flexibility, or passion and changing the world? I am so fortunate to feel these choices....but can't I have it all?

I know what I want to do.  I know what I'm capable of.

Shoot, I don't need advice.  I need a plan.


Over two years ago, when I asked my (ex) husband for a divorce, I had no idea how I was going to keep a roof over my head.  A year ago at this time I was still completely overwhelmed by all that I needed to do, all that I had yet to accomplish.  But now, I feel my feet solidly under me.  I have a track record again professionally, and I can prove that what I've done adds value.  I manage my life well, and I'm proud of that.  It seems slightly insane to want to shake things up so soon, but on the other hand, this is the one life that I am given, and I want to live it thoroughly, completely.  I don't want to live my good enough life, I want to live fully and richly.

I believe that I can change the world, that I have that power.  I believe that I can make my dreams come true.  I have to be careful about career moves at this late stage of the game - I've missed so many years already - but I wonder if I stay put if I will regret that even more.


Signed up for a half marathon.
Signing up for a writing class (as much to keep me going as anything else).
Signed up to do lots of volunteer work for a great organization, primarily speaking, fundraising, and grant writing but they want my marketing input, too.
Leaving on a camping vacation this weekend.
School starts - a new school - for Katherine in early September.
Keeping the household running.

And you know what?  Somewhere in there some dates will sneak in. I  don't know about love, or when that will appear, but I still feel playful.  (I'm averting my eyes to avoid that flirtatious thing I've got going on but lately it seems like I just can't help myself!)

It's a bit busy.  Maybe that means it's time to shake it all up again.  A new job - do I have it in me to find it, to make it happen, to do it well?  I'd like a raise, too, while we're at it.

I've got some thinking to do.  Please wish me luck!

Monday, August 5, 2013

What kind of fire should I start?

I wasn't kidding about wanting to set the world aflame, and feeling like I'm a girl on fire.  It is very exciting, and I love every bit of it.

But this kind of fire is powerful, and I have to figure out how to use it effectively.  Like all fires, it will eventually burn out or transform into something else, and I want to harness the heat effectively so that I can turn it into something.  Do I temper steel?  Blow glass?  Roast marshmallows?  (Certainly I could do better than that.)  Create fireworks displays?  Heat up an entire city block, or maybe the whole city? 

I'm looking at a number of career options.

Stay where I am is one of those options.  It's easy.  It pays enough, with good medical.  And best of all?  Major flexibility, lots of vacation time.  Very little stress.

But boring.

I'm thinking about transitioning to the nonprofit world.  I don't make that much now, so I can "afford" the switch and still make enough.  But I would have to give my whole heart and soul, and give up some free time.  Can I do that?  Would the excitement of changing the world make up for it?

I'm taking on some volunteer work, half with an eye to change the world, half with an eye to develop my resume for that career shift "just in case."  Some grant writing for an organization I believe in, and I'm a guest speaker ("inspirational breast cancer survivor" guest speaker) at a 5k event they're holding (about 1000 runners - not my biggest audience but still a crowd!).  How much should I do?  How many extra volunteer hours can I handle?

And writing - how much should I give of myself to that?  Clearly, I must write (or I wither), but how much?

And running - I'm really into it, if I go a couple days without a run I feel antsy, and I'm excited about the changes it has brought to my body (oh la la!), but how crazy should I get?  Every day?  Should I start thinking about my goal for after the half marathon, maybe another half, or maybe a full marathon?  I think I could do it...

And how much do I take care of the house - my yard is miserable right now, and I know it, but the inside of the house is in remarkably good condition.  What is the balance?

And I want to get back into backpacking.  And I've been hiking every weekend and wish I could do even more.  And skiing in the winter, too.  Lessons for Katherine and I?

And the day to day of mothering.  Home made meals nightly - though simple, I care about fresh.  (Tonight: marinated chicken and veggies on the grill, served over fresh greens.)  Getting out with my girl and having fun, including her friends in that fun.  But also teaching her things like responsibility and well as practical things like cleaning and homework and such.

And girlfriend time.  I adore my ladies.

And dating time.  (Today a cute cop had to come to my office building for a minor disturbance, and he caught my eye, sought me out, and flirted with me.  I can't imagine myself with a policeman, but he was indeed very attractive.  LOL  He introduced himself to me, asked my name, used my name multiple times, and left with a "see you soon."  Hmmm!  Where are these men coming from?!  After Australia, there was a guy in the grocery store that asked for my number.  The grocery store - seriously?!  He was attractive so I took the bait, but in conversation we were a disaster - boy were we a bad fit!  He screamed "player" and it was comical.  I told him he was a nice guy but we weren't a good fit and he told me in response that I was weird, that he was a good guy, and that no wonder I was single if I wouldn't give him a chance.  That made me laugh and realize I'd made the right decision to move along!)  Does dating fit into this new energy? I  keep thinking no - I canceled my OkCupid account - but then stuff pops off and it seems like the universe thinks maybe yes.  (I'd like true love, please.  This dating insanity makes me....insane.)  Should I be dating?  Who and how much?  Does it add to or detract from my fire?

I don't have answers, but I have the questions, and I'm working it through.  Bit by bit I'm learning more, and I think I'm doing a better job.

If I'm on fire, I'm going to light up the world.  I just have to channel it a bit better, because I'm all over the place!  Can I do it all?  Time will tell.

Sunday, August 4, 2013


Right now, I feel like anything is possible, and that I am setting the world on fire.  It's hard to explain it exactly - I haven't cured cancer, I haven't created any truly amazing accomplishments, and I still have petty struggles - but I am just filled with an immense energy and I am enjoying it more than I can say.

I can feel my eyes sparkling.  I laugh twice as much as I did just a couple of months ago.  And I have lots of energy - glorious energy, once the bane of my existence because I was so tired that I couldn't find it.

I'm just a girl and I'm on fire...

I think that I understand the source of my flames - a number of things have come together to ignite them.
- Luke reminded me that I can draw attractive, successful, interesting men, and he also reminded me of physical passion.  Australia helped with that, too.  And it seems like random but attractive men are appearing left and right right now.
- Going on vacation (a week in a sunny climate with Katherine in June) gave me space to reflect on my life in a relaxed way, and I gained the perspective that I really have pulled off a miracle
- I've proven my success at work - I'm a valued (and valuable) employee
- I'm working on some writing projects that actually excite me, that I believe in, and that come from a place deep within me

...and the biggest of them, because it happens at a cellular level?  I'm taking care of my body.  My body has been to hell, and it lived there for years, and I'd grown accustomed to it hurting all the time, to it being something that held me back.  Well, I decided a while ago that I was SICK of it (no pun intended!) and I was ready to put that behind me.  That's when I started getting up at 4:30am to run, and I began eating healthier, and monitoring my sleep better.  All that work has paid off.  Not only have I "accidentally" dropped about 15 pounds (I did not consider this a diet by any means - I just wanted to feel good), but my more toned body really works so much better for me.  I have a ton of energy that I didn't before, and my body just doesn't hurt any more except from when I push my muscles.

If there are any breast cancer survivors who are going through or just out of treatment, I want you to read that again.  I had chemo, radiation, sixteen surgeries including double mastectomies, oophorectomy/hysterectomy, node dissection, and a whole heck of a lot of reconstruction, and all the meds including Herceptin, Femara, Aromasin, Zometa, tamoxifen.... I took six years in that version of hell, and I never thought I'd get out.  I know I'm not "safe" but to go from being unable to lift my arm over my head to being able to do plank for two minutes, to go from slogging through the day to being able to run five miles routinely, to go from just hoping I survived to having a bounce in my step, well, to say it's incredible isn't putting it lightly.

If I can do it, you can, too.

As usual, though, I digress.

I have reached a new phase of my post divorce life.  I am simply on fire, and there are sparks in my eyes, and people see them.  At work, clients note my energy.  My friends note it.  My brother posted on Facebook, "I saw my sister today, and she's back.  Welcome back, sis."  (No, I hadn't traveled anywhere!)  Men notice it - I'm being hit on for the first time in years, and the line that I have heard multiple times is "You have an energy that is really attractive, confident, and frankly very hot....I just want to get to know you."

This weekend I went to another National Park and did a hike with my daughter and our friends, and it was breathtaking.  This morning, having hiked with kids (super fun but not exactly pushing myself) I went for a five or six mile trail run near the cabin (guessing distance based on how long I ran for).

I am going to shake up my career.  Again.

I am going to be a better mom - new school next year, and I'm going to find new ways to engage.

I'm going to write and actually share that writing.

I'm volunteering.  Let's change the world, okay?

Next week I leave for a week long camping trip with Katherine and our friends.  Another national park, another set of nights under the stars, more hiking, more nature.  Singing around the campfire, swimming in freezing lakes, friendship.  That ALWAYS gives me energy, and always puts the light back in my eyes.  This will be amazing.

And I'm going to keep saying "no" to the men who aren't right for me, because either it makes space for the right guy, or it makes space for these other activities in my life.  I am going to continue saying "yes" to all things life affirming that fill my soul, that give me this beautiful energy, that make me feel like my life is interesting and with meaning.

I've got sparks in my eyes, and I couldn't be happier about it.  I feel like maybe I'm really getting it - like some of the lessons are sticking.

Now, if I had all of this with a side of sultry yet sweet sex, I might say that things were perfect.  ;-)  But this close to perfection is like nothing I've ever experienced in my life before.  I am feeling my blessings overflowing all around me, and I am grateful with every cell of my being.  Healthy and happy, with a girl in the next room who is "secretly" dancing as Taylor Swift blasts, a tired dog on his bed, all of our bellies full of healthy food, writing to you while the sun still streams in the windows.

Please help me to remember these moments when there are hard times, because these are the moments that keep us going.  But you know what?  I think I'm just getting started, and I can't wait to see what happens next.

I am aflame.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Dialing down the static

We've all got static in our lives.  Sometimes it looks like unloading the dishwasher, sometimes it looks like the office commute, sometimes it looks like social obligations.  In any case, we can get stuck in it: crackling noise that doesn't accomplish much except obscuring the more interesting and beautiful sounds around it.

I'm as guilty of this as anyone, but I'm working hard at making sure that whenever I notice the static getting louder, I immediately seek out ways to turn it off.

Right now, that means turning my attention away from men, sex, dating, partner-seeking, online dating, flirtations, and such.  Flirtations are a blast - they get my adrenaline going, and it is just so much fun to hear my phone make a little sound that informs me that a sassy text just came in - especially if those texts have the right amount of sweetness and the right amount of spice.  (Not cloyingly sweet, but not too hot, either.  Too sweet makes me choke, and too spicy makes me turn and run.)  

Australia (such a good name for him, better than Darren) became instantly smitten with me.  He let me know that I was hot, and interesting, and classy, and sexy, and attractive, and smart, and ladylike.  He was wowed by my strength, and by my independence (he said, "As soon as I saw you coming down the trail, I knew I wanted to know you.  I don't see many women traveling solo out here, so I knew instantly that you had something interesting about you."), buy the twinkle in my eyes.  He liked my confidence and my sass, and we talked about books and travel and love and romance and breakups, skipping from the deep stuff to the most shallow with ease.

Tell me you wouldn't be flattered, and I won't believe you.  I was flattered.  I was also in a power position: I know for an absolute fact that I'm not interested in dating a guy who leads an adventure lifestyle - it's fascinating, but let's face it, I'm not in a position to go to climbing season in Peru for five weeks every year, because even if money were no object I've got a house, a dog, a job, and, oh yes, a beautiful daughter who is my world.  I'm not into long distance relationships, either: I have about four nights off from Katherine per month, on average, and I need to have solo time, friend time, project time, AND dating time.  I have good self knowledge, and I am firm about what I do not want.

Flattered, interested, attracted - yes.  Great chemistry.  But it wasn't going to happen, and I knew that before he did.

Here's what I wanted to do: I wanted to sleep with him.  I wanted to curl up in his very sexy embrace and listen to his accent and see what his hiker's beard felt like against my....face.  I wanted to let him bring me coffee in bed in the morning.  I wanted to read each other poetry - probably Neruda, maybe Rumi.  I wanted him to play me songs on his guitar while I wrapped myself in a blanket and leaned back and listened and softly sang along.  Luke pried the lid off Pandora's box, and now I know what I am (once again) capable of, and let's face it, we could skip the guitar and go straight to the other and that would have been very, very interesting to me.

Sounds really, really good to me.  Just typing it here I get a little tug - if I texted him that I'd changed my mind, he'd come to me.

But I have, instead, told him that I'm no good for him, and that he needs to move on.  I've told him point blank that he is not partner material for me, and that we have a flirtation, nothing more, and that while he's a marvelous guy, it's never going anywhere.  I told him that I did not want to hurt him, so I wanted him to go live his life, and I ended things.  It was the kind thing to do: lopsided relationships hurt, and I think he confused my zest for being alive with a zest for him.  (Plus, what is it about guys?  I flirted but I never even kissed him, and somehow this has him salivating for me, as seems to be the way of it.  Forbidden fruit really IS more interesting, I see.  Maybe there is something about that story of Eve and the apple after all.)

I'm rambling.  I'm, ahem, a little caught up in my own tale, but let me get to the point:

Australia is static in my life.  Beautiful static, but a distraction from what I really need to do, and loud enough that his noise could easily drown out the other, more important stuff.

Like working on my career, which one way or the other is ready for another shift (more on that later).

Like the volunteer work I just picked up.

Like being the best mom in the world.

Like getting ready for another week long vacation - this time, camping.

Like writing (some very interesting projects going on the side).

I am aflame right now - filled with energy, focused on filling my life with the best of myself, of sucking the marrow from life.  It would be so easy to fall into the static, to find myself a filler relationship that was playful and fun, that made me feel cared for, that flattered me, that was with someone interesting and attractive.  But I won't fall for it.

I've got bigger ideas for myself.  I won't settle.

Goodbye, Australia.  You'll never know how close I came to making some fireworks with you - I knew I only had to say yes, and you'd show up at my door, and I was so tempted I can't even tell you.  But more than I want that, I want to have the life I'm creating.

Turning down the static, turning up the music of my life.  I'm ready to dance.