Mirrored Reality

Life is kinda funny.

Of course, you already know that. Where else could you start traveling north and eventually wind up in the south?

Your mind loves playing tricks on you. Now, most of us don’t mind being fooled now and then, especially if the outcome is not dramatic or traumatic.  I think it worsens as you get older, too.

Be that as it may….

When you are one way, you wonder what it would be like to be another way. Your mind gets used to what ‘is’, yet hopes to get you pumped about what ‘could be’. Most times that’s okay. It encourages us to look for new jobs, new places to walk, new books to read and such.

Sometimes change is important. Getting out of an abusive relationship, a dead end job, or a poisonous atmosphere are changes definitely worth making. The future has to be better than where you are.

But the mind loves messing around with you. Teases you that maybe what you initially thought as rough really isn’t that rough.

The thought of retirement is like that.

You’ve worked all your life. Answered to countless bosses, co-workers, and job descriptions. You spend a few extra days at home and think “this is the life. I could do this forever.”

And, indeed, cleaning house or changing kitty litter or grocery shopping are even trade offs for sleeping in an hour later or eating breakfast at 1 p.m. After all, you have to do those jobs anyway. But you don’t have to sell things or stand in an assembly line or input data or punch a time clock.

Then your mind starts to trick you. Oh, maybe work isn’t really that bad. After all, I still get to be with my kids in the evening, go to soccer and basketball games, go out to dinner on weekends. I can take vacation when I want and still get paid for it; I can hang with my work friends and maybe even work my way up the corporate ladder.

So you put off thoughts of leaving.

Then you get back to work Monday morning and it’s still the frustrating mess you left behind last week. There are no new jobs to apply for; your co-workers and you still complain and get up too early and are never understood. You once again realize that retirement looks like the way out.

Why does our mind only care about where we are at the time?

You can think through anything and come out with the opinion you were looking for. Logic kinda sidesteps and all these reasons to come or go pop up. Reasons you weren’t looking for in the first place. Reasons to stay. Reasons to go.

Retirement is my mental bag at the moment; yours may be a dream vacation, taking a class, or having dinner with your family. The point is — don’t be afraid of change.

Beware of the alternative universe. Don’t talk yourself out of doing what you really want to do. The opportunity may come again, but it will be different. YOU will be different. But your alternate reality won’t be.

And your mind will have fooled you again.

 

 

I’m Going For It

I’m going down in a blaze of glory
Take me now but know the truth

~ JON BON JOVI, Blaze of Glory Lyrics @ Universal Music Publishing Group, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

Have you ever gone for it…put all your eggs in one basket…taken a chance for something you want that you’ll probably not get but thought what the he]], why not?

That’s what I’m doing today.

Later this afternoon is my performance review at work. Don’t know how bad it will be, and, really trying to be a glass-half-fill kinda gal, hope it will be positive.

Positive enough that I can push my agenda One More Time.

I’ve worked my way up through the company, from order clerk to coordinator to Internet Data Conversion Analyst Specialist to Digital Writer to Writer. It’s been a long time coming, and I’m coming to the end of the road career wise. With a company that is in the middle of a growth flux (and every hire and fire that goes with it), there still is no social media person/director/expert.

Don’t know much about history
Don’t know much biology
Don’t know much about science book
Don’t know much about the French I took

~ SAM COOKE, HERB ALPERT, LOU ADLER

I don’t have a college degree, am not a young 30’s hipster on social media, but I do know sales. I do know social media and writing.

And I do know what I want.

So today, if the review goes well, I’m going to submit three pages of ideas and tell them why I’d make such a good social media coordinator.

I suppose I’m in a unique position. I don’t have 30 years of paid employment ahead of me. If I continue on the path I’m currently on, I’ll be retired by December. And that is just fine with me. I’ve put in my dues for over 50 years.

But if there’s a chance — just a chance — that I can finally do what I feel I was born to do — write — then I’m going to take that chance.

Best case scenario — I get the job and love it.

Second best case scenario — I get the job and hate it.

Worst case scenario — I am presumed presumptuous and fired.

Second worst case scenario — I am not fired but relegated to updating the website.

Either way, I’m going for it. I’m nervous, hesitant, full of doubt and insecurity. I also am optimistic, positive, and know what I know.

I’ll let you know either way. But either way, if there’s something within your grasp, don’t fear going for it either.  Grabbing and falling is much better than not grabbing and rotting from not moving.

Have you ever “gone for it”? How did it go?

 

 

The Path Not Taken

Today, like any other weekday, was a work day. Filling in spreadsheets with numbers and relationships and variants. I used to do a little writing for my company, but with personnel changes and new directions and new horizons  to be discovered, it’s mostly the data routine.

Yet I wonder.

How many of you work full time? (show of hands)

How many of you like your job? (fewer hands still up)

How many are doing what you want to do? (only one or two still up)

Why is it that so many people in the work force have issues with their jobs? Admit it. Most of us fall between the “I can barely stand this place” to “this is a pretty darn good job.” But do any of us really enjoy what we do day to day, week to week?

Tell the truth. The main purpose of any job is to make money in order to live. To pay our bills. To have a few extra dollars so we can order a pizza or go to the movies once in a while. A means to an end. Sometimes we are lucky and land our dream job in the world, in the field, we love. We get a job doing something we’re good at, something we’ve trained for.

But more often we get stuck in jobs that really don’t fit. We think it’s a side step to where we really want to go, but we get stuck in that sideways direction so long that we don’t recognize the road ahead. The job turns into a routine, our future prospects narrowed by our present occupation. The field we really want happens to be pretty saturated at the moment, so we stay where we are for just a little longer, and when we do apply for something we want they focus on our current experience, not our intent.

Suddenly we have been a secretary or a truck driver or a warehouse worker for most of our lives. Now we’re invested in three or four weeks paid vacation and 401K and co-workers we’ve gotten to know. We didn’t mean for our lives to take this fork in the road — it just happened. And we were so busy making money to feed our kids and pay for our house and to make car payments that there was no time to “take a chance” on that perfect job.

I am lucky to have had steady work in fields that were pretty decent. I’ve owned my own business, been a coordinator/proofreader, secretary, and salesperson. I am now at that point where my vacation and age leave no room for turning around, for the end game is in sight.

But as I sit and put numbers on a spreadsheet and copy and code catalog information and send and track emails and waste away hour after hour in silent calculations, I wonder if things would have been different if I’d gone to college. If I’d worked in an advertising agency instead of a savings and loan association. If I’d started writing professionally at 20 instead of 60.

I’m at the point in my career that I’m working hard to get to the finish line. To retire and really start my  new life. I’ve been preparing for it for over 47 years. And I am so ready.

But I still wonder…

 

 

 

When I’m 64

th-1I wonder if your working world can make a 90 degree turn when you’re 64?

I have been a working girl all my life. I didn’t go to college, so I had to learn as I went. Back in the late ’70s an executive secretary was a lot different than they are in ’16s. I mean — my first computer was a Wang! Anyone ever heard of that line?

I was one of those executive secretaries in a PR department, and one day my boss asked if I wanted to write press releases. It was for a trade group for savings and loans. A world I never understood. Above my head. Out of my comfort zone. So I had to pass.

Other jobs were in similar fields: public relations or advertising or running my own business. The latter one I had the most success with, as it was designing my own brochures and portfolios and advertising for my B&B. But it was limited. Once described, the description didn’t change.

My current employment journey began as an expediter, then an almost-proofreader that became a coordinator instead, then a slide on over to the Web side, then more data entry. It was an arduous journey, one fraught with monsters and stalkers. But I survived, and the Internet in general and the World Wide Web in particular started growing around me.

Then something strange happened.

I took over the writing of the company blog. I was in a position to throw some words into the space where no one looked. It was not immediately noticed except by a few. Time turned over again and again. Old wood was removed and fresh growing branches took their place. The window into the 21st century was finally thrown wide open and the fresh air was intoxicating.

And the blog was noticed.

Moreover, my writing was noticed.

Here I am, 64 years old, fulfilling my writing fantasies with my personal blog, creating new worlds with my art blog, and editing my novels that should have been submitted to a publisher years ago. Suddenly, 3-4 years away from retirement (technically speaking), I am offered again a job that I was born to do. This time for a company I understand. Whose vision I understand. Whose style and management and philosophy matches the way I write. It’s not writing manifests or research papers or company reports. It’s Facebook posts. It’s subject lines. It’s abbreviated e-mail copy.

But it’s writing.

So after all these years of trying and turning and giving up and starting something new, I have come full circle. Full circle one circle further than I was a few circles ago.

I am proof that windows do open and careers find their way around boulders and down hills and back up again. It’s probably not the career you dreamed of in your ’20s or ’30s. I mean, I imagine a lot of us are nowhere close to where we thought we’d be at this point of our career. Most of us are happy just to have a job.

But it is a job. And close is better than not-at-all.

So when they say don’t quit your day job, don’t. Put up with it, change it if you can, deal with it if you must. If you need to change your job, change your job. But never give up on your own creativity. Find a way to work it into your daily life. During your day job if you can, in your personal job — i.e., life — if you can’t.

You’re never too old to be an optimist…

 

 

Ohhh Oh…Working for a Living…

workingAh, the proverbial “working world.” It’s so much more than ten letters. It’s heaven, it’s hell. It’s boring, it’s busy. We love it, we hate it. But for better or worse, it’s a means to an end — our end being a place to live, food for our table, and dog cookies for our  pets.

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with most of my jobs through the years. I’m sure most of you have, too. Sometimes we make a difference — in our little way we help the company run smoother and more efficiently, and maybe help them make more money. But all that do-goodery often entails endless multi-tasking, long hours, and missed soccer games. Part of the American dream, I suppose. But we persevere and keep on working.

What today’s blog is about is, if you HAD to work and could do anything you’d like, what would you do? I suppose you could go whole hog and say be an astronaut and walk on the moon or swim with the dolphins, but it’s much more fun if you could be a little more — down-to-earth. More like the almost-dreams. The shoulda-turned-right dreams. Not actually regrets — more like — my next-life plans.

Like, for me. I’d love to be a full-time, money-making book writer. At home. With a housekeeper so I wouldn’t have to break my concentration folding laundry. My stories would be spicy, funny, adventurous, with wonderful twists. You’d love them.

Another great job I’ll never have would be a graphic artist, especially for a pop publication or upscale eatery. Great creativity, open minds, exacting details. Creativity out the gazoo.  If I were a graphic artist I’m sure I’d have the finesse to impress.

Of course, my favorite jobs aren’t always practical ones. I’m sure they, too, have down sides. But since I’m pretending, I’m stretching the parameters a little. Isn’t that what pretending’s all about?

So tell me, my friends — what would your ideal job be? If you have it, what is it?

And if it’s a great, fun job, do you need an assistant?

 

Check Your Stress At The Door

teacherWashing my hands in the company washroom the other day, I was listening to two women talk about the most over-used word/topic I’ve heard lately — stress. They were talking about being “stressed” at their job. Fortunately, they parted on a laugh and a “tomorrow’s another day.”

These days everyone is “stressed.”

It’s your job — you are expected to do everything while someone else does nothing. It’s your kids — once out of sight, you have no idea what trouble they’re getting into. It’s your family — your brother/mother/sister/grandmother is out of control again (probably the me-me-me thing). It’s your health — cholesterol is off the charts, need to lose at least 15 pounds.  It’s your age — I’m too old to do this, I’m not old enough to do that. It’s everything around us. Everything inside of us. It’s as common as salt on French fries.

Were human beings always this messed up?

I admit I am one of the first in line to succumb to this dreaded disease. I’m older, I’m heavier, I’m poorer than I was 20 years ago. I have a hard time sitting still staring at a computer screen all day. I have lost a couple of loved ones recently which broke my heart. I have had other close ones have surgery, lose their jobs, crash their SUV. I get tired of everyone else stirring up hornet’s nests and not doing a thing about it. It’s a mess out there.

How did we get this way?

Life has always been life. Kids have always been a handful, family members too. Jobs have been hard, paychecks small. People we know have been dying since we were little. People have never had enough free time, and appliances and cars have always fallen apart at the same time. But our lives have balanced out, too (at least most of the time). We love our family. We have a job. We can afford cable. We can walk through parks and snowbanks and feel the sun on our face and play in the rain. We have quit smoking or picked up a hobby or made new friends. Yet these positive things still don’t make a dent in our over-reacting to the world.

Were our parents this wound up all the time? Our grandparents?

I am not making light of stress…on the contrary, I’m worried about it. Talking to others, there is not enough time in the day (or night) to do what we need to do. No less what we want to do. Companies are downsizing, so a lot of us are doing the job of two or three people. The cost of gas and food is rising a whole lot faster than our yearly cost-of-living raise (if we get one). The cost of healthcare in one form or another is out of control, as one visit to the doctor’s office can cost us a week’s pay. We are paying for car repairs and mortgages and fixing aging appliances and paying doctor bills all from the same paycheck.

No wonder we are stressed.

I worry about this because, the older I get, the less roses I get to smell. I have at least another 20 years of spoiling my grandbaby and trying to grow a garden and I still want to go to Ireland and Italy. And every ounce of stress — I mean the really mean stress — takes me one step backwards from where I want to go.

We can’t get back yesterday, but we can work on getting to the future.  And to get there we have to get rid of this over-used condition. And the catch is, we can’t get “stressed” about it, either. How do we do such a monumental turnabout? Here are my simple ideas.

* Get a whiff of fresh air every day. No matter if it’s frigid, humid, scorching, or grey as flannel. Get out and inhale, deep and long, every day.

* Talk to someone you love every day. Not just like trains passing in the night — like real people. Ask them how they’re feeling. What made them laugh today. That you’re glad they’re in your life.

*Remember that, for most of us, a job is just a means to an end. Some of us enjoy our jobs, some of us don’t. Some of us will make a career out of our choices, some of will just make it a job. Don’t get involved in scenarios you can’t change. Some things are just above your pay grade. Do you best but don’t bring it home with you. It’s just not worth it.

* There will never be another you. Savor that fact. Learn to hone that self into one that rolls with the punches. You have to. You can’t stop the river flowing, you can’t walk to the moon, etc., etc., etc. Be true to yourself, and flourish within that light.

* Make time for the little things. Watch the sunset, play fetch with your dog. Watch an old movie. Know that the little pleasures are all that matter — that sometimes that’s all you’ll get. And mountains can be made out of those molehills.

We can’t really wash all the stress out of the world. But I truly believe that if we all make an effort we can make it less of a stain and more of a blush. Deal with what you can, let go of the rest.

Your heart, your blood pressure, will thank you.