Monday morning I take the hour long flight from Toronto to Sudbury, to spend the week holed up in a boardroom with a team, working on a proposal. These kinds of team-based efforts are usually good experiences for me; they're intense but more productive than they would be if we were operating out of multiple offices. It's great to see and talk with people with whom I interact often via email and telephone. And getting with a team is always useful networking opportunity for me; getting to know colleagues with whom I can consult on issues and tasks that come up every day. It's a big company, and frankly, once you get to know someone in a live setting, they tend to return your calls and emails.
Three weeks of rest, random walks, cooking, following whims and holiday celebrating are over. I pouted about it for two days, but all seemed right again when I donned my coat and walked out my door this morning. I just hope that tomorrow I don't wake up two hours before my alarm clock.
My job is trying sometimes. It’s one of the reasons I like it. I like the ups and downs; the ebbs and flows; the momentum and adrenaline and the “way to go me!” of the high periods, and the catching up and thinking about what I’ll cook and remembering I have to mail that thing part about the low periods.
I’m in a trying period now. Really trying. I’m so tired I’m afraid to go to bed because when I get there I can’t sleep because of the things that are causing that blackberry to flash its little red light. Don't say it – it IS put away in my purse, but I KNOW it is flashing red.
Tonight, again, I got nothing. I’m just tired. I'm a little dejected and a little blue and that is certainly because I'm tired.
I do have somebody else’s words. His words will be swooping about the atmosphere like a flock of birds in autumn in the next days, and I hate being a joiner-inner. But I’m struck by the idea that in his death, his words are stronger than mine are today. And I’m motivated by that! I'm encouraged in the thought of it. An original mind never dies, does it?
I know I will sleep thinking about that.
Good night world.
(And good night original mind.)
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” ~Steve Jobs
One can become complacent about things. Just going about the task of getting to work every day and doing all of the things otherwise required to take care of one’s life, including those labelled fun and enriching, is busy.
There are a few reasons why I stayed in what was, for the most part, the wrong job for three and a half years. Mostly, it was because I was appreciated. I work in business development, and I’m pretty good at creating a good “face” for the company I’m representing. I created a fresh “brand” for our proposals and other documentation, and I was considered an integral part of the proposal development teams.
A good part of the success of any proposal writer is the ability to persevere under pressure, and spiking hours. I must say, I dig the pace of proposal writing; the constant turnover of projects appeals to me. I work better under pressure, and I love the feeling of producing something of a high standard under difficult conditions.
But I had no true understanding of our product (software solutions), nor the desire to, really. I don’t have a brain wired to understand this kind of technology. I didn’t really need to – it was the specialists that had to write up the solutions – they were the ones inventing them and had to be the ones describing them. It was cool to watch the process of a team designing a custom solution for a client – a creative process working in a highly technical environment. But I always felt outside of that, and thus not satisfied with my role in it.
They appreciated me, and they paid me to stay. My financial situation was substantially improved in my tenure there, but in the end, I don’t live for money. Job satisfaction is more important to me.
There were a number of times over the past three and a half years that I started to look for a new job, but complacency took over and I just carried on. I was “comfortable;” doing work that, while not satisfying on a personal level, gained me the respect of the company. Recently though, as recruiters started calling, it seemed the time for change was right.
The long commute had started to wear me down. My loyal blogland friends will know that the commute was often a source of inspiration for this space, and that lately it has become less so. The crowds of rush hour, and the inherent (?) rudeness, anonymity, unseeing, cattle-like behaviour just plain depressed me. I found it harder and harder to live the rule, “be the change you want to see” and I don’t want to be cattle.
So I’ve been entertaining opportunities presented to me by these recruiters that seem to have come calling all at once. There was an almost-hiring at Christmas. I was excited because the office was near to my home. But really, the work sounded much like what I do now – lots of coordinating, not much challenge. There were lots of opportunities opening up in the area where I work now, but what’s the point? Fresh job/same commute is only addressing half my problem.
But then, another recruiter called with another address that caught my attention. And then an enjoyable (yes, enjoyable) initial phone interview with my would-be manager, who described a job that sounded challenging and exciting – more writing, less coordinating. There was another in-person interview over lunch, just as enjoyable as the first. I was being presented with the opportunity to develop my own job (not previously held by anyone), and to help another company grow in an area where they want to expand. There is opportunity for travel, to develop my skills, better benefits and yes, a little more money.
And I can walk to work. I live in the heart of the city because I love the vibrancy, the diversity, colour, sights, oddities, action and surprises. You can't know how gratified I am for the opportunity to move out of the underground tunnels and up to the sidewalks.
The best part of all: two hours a day, formerly spent travelling to and from work, mostly underground, will be mine again. Two hours a day. That's ten hours a week, forty hours a month…
All the riches in the world can’t replace that.
I had a hell of a week last week. It's one of those periods that just comes with my job – it's nothing new but it's starting to get old. As I consider how much longer I want to have weeks like last week, I'm gearing up for another one.
If I'm questioning how much longer I want to entertain stress and long days in those five middle days in a week, I'm not questioning my ability to counter those kinds of days with what I need. I told a friend this morning: "that drizzly day is calling me." I went out there and walked. I smelled the layers of leaves fallen in a park. I admired the mist hanging about the lake and the city. I bought food, and I cooked meals for the looming week. I listened to CBC radio. My home smells of roasted squash and cinnamon and tomatoes and sage. I did laundry and cleaned my kitchen.
Mostly I breathed today. I thought my neighbourhood, which is burgeoning with busyness all summer long, seemed a little lonely in late October. In a good way. Maybe a place is like a person – and a break from everyone and everything does it good once in awhile.
This morning I open my eyes and roll over to find I’m joined by a rainy day and the lull of its gentle conversation. As always I want to keep it to myself – I don’t want to have to share it with the mechanical goings on of the work day. I want to walk in it at my leisure and absorb its smell and energy into my body.
I want to watch it lazily from a window as it provides sustenance to the vegetation and washes the streets and sidewalks. I want to cook in the glow of the stove light while I enjoy the sound of it falling outside and the deepened, bluish/greenish atmosphere closing around like a protective hug.
I think of rainy day jobs and creative activities and the pleasure and satisfaction we find in those things because the rainy day has given us an excuse to stay in and do them. I think of certain past lovers and how we dreamt of rainy days together, lolling about, talking, sipping tea, reading the paper and those other things lovers do so well together.
There’s something in a rainy day that slows my wheels a notch – and as I head out the door this morning I’m wishing I could have this rainy day for my very own. Or better perhaps – to share with someone else.
I’ve had a number of dreams of the same theme lately. This dream has recurred in various forms all my life. If I were more perceptive, I’d have probably found that I dream this dream during periods like this one – when I’m not accomplishing what I want/need. In this dream, I’ve got somewhere to go or something to do, almost always somewhere or something important. But I never get going. Something is always holding me back. Usually me. Like I can’t find something I decide I need to take along. Or I can’t find a phone number because I decide I need to make a call before I go. There’s always a distraction and the thing that needs to get done never gets done.
Clearly that dream is reflecting my life. Work has robbed much of my free time over the past few weeks. It’s the nature of my job doing proposals. It ebbs and flows and sometimes the flows are more like floods. I’ve been missing my blogging world – it’s a project I feel I’ve left hanging in the wind. And I’ve missed reading my favourites and finding new favourites, and I miss seeing you show up at my space. I've got a lovely new blogspace and I've yet to fill it up with new writing. In fact I’ve yet to finish building it!
But I'm back. It's going to be a catching up Saturday. Starting with this. And then catching up with my current online class, the members of which are probably wondering about the instructor’s sudden lack of engagement. And my home is a tip. The Chinese food and Swiss Chalet containers indicate that maybe the stretch of fitful, dream-packed sleeping might also be related to a need for home cooked food. The laundry is piled high. The bathroom needs a scrub.
This day is mine and it feels really good.
And I bet you ten dollars there will be no dreams of getting-nowhere-frustration tonight.