Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Need to Believe

I've been profiled.  Many times.  As is the wont of many corporate organizations as they team-build, develop talent, and sometimes just want to peek into the brains of their middle managers, I've been through several of those psychological evaluation exercises.  One thing that has consistently emerged is my "need to believe".  Our MERGER has, at times, shaken that belief to its core.  But eventually I came out of the dark places and have been trying to emerge back into that sweet space of believing again. 

I seem to have one foot still stuck back in the dark places though.  Not by my own choice, but by the fact that gripped around my ankle are all the negative whispering (sometimes screaming) voices of my pre-MERGER colleagues.  Between this horrible economy creating a dearth of opportunities and the MERGER identifying and acting upon redundancies, we are slicing and dicing ourselves to a shadow of our former glory. 

I'm actually not averse to this.  Or more accurately, I understand the need for this.  But as always, the human side is heartbreaking, and the desire of our organization to treat these earth shattering changes (in a 100 year old company where nothing ever used to change!) as business as usual is undermining my shaky faith. 

A meeting was recently held here.  A meeting that used to be the LEADERS of the organization coming together to share info.  With the new regime, I quickly recognized this was going to be a meeting of the desperate, uninformed, and marginalized.  When all eyes turned to me with questions about how was the new organization thinking, I found myself on the hot seat.  Struggling to keep my new upbeat believing attitude in the face of such evident disdain for the current administration and such obvious dissatisfaction with the direction (or lack of) for our business. 

Is it no wonder I'm welcoming travel more than I thought I would?  Getting out of the FORMER headquarters and going to the CURRENT headquarters is like a breath of fresh air.  Going to meetings with divisions that are operating in the black and away from my former business line which is stuck in the red.  Meeting with people with hopeful attitudes, happy to work for a good solid company with a future and skipping meetings with people who are filled with the need to continually rail against the "machine". 

Where is the truth?  Is it in the promise of the future, or the lost of the past?  Is it in the hard nosed business culture or the warm and fuzzy family environment?  I'm still hoping for a spot in the middle - a balance between business, growth and prosperity, and an enjoyable, inspiring place to work.  But how to make it happen? 

Damned if I know. 

So right now, my focus is on my little corner of the world and releasing my foot from the death grip and out of the dark hole.  Then I'm trying to keep my team buoyant and upbeat and delivering success.  Once our boat is done rocking, hopefully we can reach to the drowning in the pool and hope they don't swamp our little life raft and pull us all under again.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Serenity Now!

Over the last 9 days a friend of mine has been pushed to the brink of a nervous breakdown. With legal implications still pending, I'll keep the details to a minimum, but suffice it to say that family can be your best ally or your worst enemy, and if the latter, they know how to deploy emotional terrorism better than any other human being on earth.  When I speak to her I never know if I'm going to get the calm, competent, intelligent woman I have known for 20 years, or a sobbing hysterical self-doubting unrecognizable person.  Yesterday, I sat with her and calmly talked for nearly an hour about updates to her situation.  Not 30 minutes after I left, she called me at home fraught with tension and gasping for breath between crying jags and just needing me to talk her down. 

Serenity Now!  My brain shouted thinking of the mad mad Costanza family.  In reality, I had to tell her she was not insane, unreasonable, or wrong.  I had to tell her to breathe....just breathe.  I suggested a cold cloth, a quiet dark room, and chocolate...dark rich chocolate, to get the right endorphins flowing.  And I volunteered to lead her to a day of distraction this weekend.

Later that night, unable to sleep, I found my mind beginning to construct a Serenity Now Mantra that might help her in moments when I can't jump on the phone and talk her down.


I am a good person.
To be a good person I do not need to subsume my own wants and needs.
To be a good person I do not need to accept toxic behavior and forgive all deeds.
To be a good person I do need to be kind, be honest and be real.

I am a strong person.
To be a strong person I do not need to do it all myself.
To be a strong person I do not need to know all the answers.
To be a strong person I do need to accept help and be true to my core.

I am a person of truth.
To be a person of truth I do not need to explain all of my actions.
To be a person of truth I do not need to give advance notice of my intentions.
To be a person of truth I do need to keep my motivations true to my values and when I speak, speak honestly.

I am worthy of being loved.
To be loved I do not need to change.
To be loved I do not need to beg.
To be loved, I simply need to be my true self and to offer love in return.

So, my lovely friend....I hope you find your serenity....if not now....soon.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It's really only Monday?

Well, actually at 12:03AM it's actually Tuesday....but it's been a very long day.  It actually began about 28 hours ago, when I plugged in my computer to prep for today's meetings.  I was feeling pretty unprepared to facilitate a six hour meeting on brand positioning for one of our divisions. As a matter of fact, I was trying to remember what EXACTLY this division even did!  So at about 5PM I plugged in and began reviewing files, websites, reports, meeting notes, brochures, and competitor materials.  At about 3AM, after doing this an several other procrastinated(procrastinating) tasks and absorbing way too much Sister Wives (where did that little reality tv gem come from...???) radiating from the hotel television, I finally fell into bed.  Of course the alarm showed no mercy with a piercing yelp at 6AM and I was up and on to my first meeting of the day at 6:45 am.  It is now 12:12am and I'm in PJs, in bed, surfing for more Sister Wives and disbelieving that I have four more days to this week. 

So I ask again, it's really only Monday?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Life Chronicle

I've noticed many bloggers I used to follow are posting more sporadically and as I've repeatedly too.  I will, however, give myself credit for sticking with this for as long as I have - over 3 years - which beats my former diary record by a good 2 years, 50 weeks and 4 days. 

But this weekend was a wake-up call for why I should try more diligently to continue.  I spent about 24 hours in the highly enjoyable company of a dear friend from long ago.  A truly wonderful woman with whom I was fortunate to spend those painful junior high and high school development years.  And as we talked (and talked and talked and talked) every time we tried to talk about the "good old days" I found tremendous holes in our memories. Likened to swiss cheese is my sad little brain.  

We spent an hour or so spying on old high school "friends" on facebook.  Hating on those who have aged better and more beautifully than us....enjoying far too much when the result appeared to be the opposite.  Essentially we were reverting to our immature 15 year old selves...trying to shun the cliques who were actually shunning us.  Yes RASCK you know who you were.  We talked about the teenagers in our lives and the different experience they are having growing up and I found myself wishing I had been granted the opportunity at their age to blog, tweet, and facebook every possible (non)newsworthy moment and thought of my life.  This of course with the caveat that I would also need to have operated with an intelligent adult level of judgment on appropriate information sharing. 

While it may be impossible to recreate those teen years, the early 20's when I was beginning an adult life, and those 30's when I was growing into a fully-cooked human...I could, with some stick-to-it-ive-ness chronicle my 40's! 

After all, I'm nearly halfway to 50.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Two City Living

As is my pattern right now, I alternate between my home office (White Plains NY) and the corporate headquarters (Denver CO) a few other location trips in between.   I've been traveling nearly every other week for the past several months.  In the process I've started to learn a few things about two city living.

  1. Always travel with your GPS.  Even though it is one more clunky electronic device to get through security, it is a must when you are in a strange city.  Of course, my family would say it is a must for me even it my home city since I challenged.  And I freely admit it is true.  My Tom-Tom is my friend.
  2. Get smart about packing.  This week I decided to go buy some low-budget but servicable work outfits here in Denver (Thank You Target) and also a portable wardrobe storage closet (Thank You IKEA) and leave them in the Denver office.  Using Hotel laundry and dry-cleaning services 24 hours before check-out means I can easily leave behind a week's worth of clean clothes and can travel with a little week-ender bag.
  3. Go electronic.  My laptop weighs a ton...but what really breaks my back is all the paperwork.  This week, I observed one of the executive assistants in our Denver office using an unusal pen.  Turns out it is a very special device indeed, which allows you to record everything you write and store it electronically. I immediately placed an order and envision I will be traveling with much less paper and file records in the future.  I'm sure I'll devote a future post to the "Live Scribe" system (
  4. Sleep when you can.  Although there is a two hour difference, I rarely suffer from jet lag and adjust pretty quickly.  However, I do find that I sleep less.  A lot less.  I go to bed late, I get up early, and I have wierd middle of the night wakefulness.  I've taken to ordering a pay per view movie - not to watch - but to put me to sleep....and I think I wake up when the movie stops. So, I'm trying to learn to really go down for sleep early to try and get the 6 hours a night I need to be upright (if not function at a high level).
  5. Re-entry can be bumpy.  I often fiind no matter how much I really really really can't wait to get home to my honey and my kitty and my own bed I often walk in the door in a crap-ass mood.  I think it may have something to do with that week-long wierd sleep thing, high-tension work, high altitude dehydration, and my natural beeyotch self.
So in a little more than 24 hours I'll be home (oops, that reminds me - gotta get my boarding pass!). 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Hydrangea Heaven

After my last post...I needed a breath of air, so wandered out into my garden.  One thing you can say about the wet spring and hot summer we had is the hydrangeas loved it.  And I mean LOVED it.  After 7 years of waiting for the hydrangea bushes to produce...anything...this year they burst with abundance.

And I've determined to make that abundance count.  I asked around (cuz why research on the internet when you know gardeners with opinions you trust) and learned that the key to keeping dried hydrangeas is to wait until they begin to dry on the bushes.  And so I've waited impatiently for this perfect moment.  And despaired that hurricanes and drenching rains would ruin my chances....but mother nature smiled upon my garden aspirations and my home now looks like Hydrangea Heaven.

Eat your heart out Martha Stewart.


It is September 10th, 2011.

Today I have written a post about 9-11.  Actually I've written about 18 posts and deleted every one of them.

I attempted to be smart and sentimental and eloquent.  I attempted to put to words the myriad of feelings from sorrow, to anxiety, to exhaustion, to pride, to shame, to irritation, to fear....but all I can really say is I remember.   I know where I was.  I remember the shock.  I remember praying with a group at work, even though I don't really believe.  But after all, I didn't really believe this could happen either and I was so wrong.

But most of all I remember one name and one face.  And while I can claim only a passing acquaintance, it is the single most important element of remembering this day. One soul among 3,000.  One person whose substance I could touch, and whose loss I could feel.

So tomorrow, Rick O'Connor, I remember you.

A View from My Seat

Today I met VP in our Manhattan office for a meeting.  Normally we are in a conference room that faces a brick wall.  Today, the conference room was double-booked, so they moved us to a free office on the opposite side of the building, where the view was.....

...just a little better.  Yes, that is THE iconic Chrysler building.  VP and I decided we would like to park ourselves in this office most any day.  Between that and the gorgeous early September day, it was hard to keep my mind and eye on work today.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Hooky Day....

What do you do on a day predicted to have potential for drenching downpours when you have a humongo pile of work on your desk with screaming deadlines?

Go to Yankee Stadium to get wet and watch them lose an extra inning squeaker?

Me too.

Note - day made possible by my (preMERGER) former CEO, who took Hubby and me to the game as a thank you for my hard work over past couple of years on his projects.   This obviously made the work deadline issue a little easier to manage. Great seats - 18 rows up just behind home plate...but NOT covered from rain.  We had an awesome time anyway.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Feeling powerless...

Despite the desire of IRENE to play havoc with our plans, we survived and actually thrived on our vacation.  The storm swung well west of us (sorry Vermont) and pounded the interior of New England much more so than the coastal region.  We certainly did experience the storm and in a very scientific way - feeling each "band" as it swung around the large circular range of activity.  In between each band (dark skies, gusting winds) there were short periods of soft breezes and sunshine.  It was a very manic-depressive type of event.

Power was lost early on...and I'm using Power in the broadest sense.  Our first power lost was feeling powerless when we arrived and found the property manager who was supposed to be the caretaker of the rental home, was in fact, stuck in North Carolina.  His wife kindly handed us the key and informed us she had no concept of how the property should be prepared for the storm, how the hurricane shutters worked, if the outdoor furniture would be dismantled and stored (or should be), and how to work the home generator system.


After some discussions by phone and email with the property owner, she asked us to please "TEXT" the property manager.  Here is our text series:

Me:  "We are renting the Txxxx house.  We were told you would handle house prep for storm but you are not here!"
Me:  "Your wife said we are on our own.  Have you made plans for furniture, grill, shutters, etc.?"

Him: "Yes"

[see smoke coming from my ears]

Me: "Ok.  Can you share what they are?"

Him: "Why.  If something needs to get done it will."

[see major flames now spouting from my mouth and sparks flying from my eyes]

Me: "That answer is not satisfactory."

....this exchange continued until he finally assured me he had a crew on standby and all would be handled....

Then, no one showed up.  So we packed up the outdoor furniture, overturned the picnic table, figured out how to use (although we didn't deploy them) the hurricane shutters, and inspected the paperwork in the closet on the generator.  We got out our games and lanterns and determined to enjoy our stormy seclusion.

Needless to say, when we became ACTUALLY powerless about one hour into the storm, and the generator kicked on with an unhealthy weaze that slowly and surely became the sound of a battery of machine guns locked inside a metal tank (at about 3AM), I was less than pleased with the property manager. 

When the cops showed up with a noise complaint, we happily provided the property manager's name.  And with the cops came a greater responsiveness.  If we had known that, we would have reported ourselves much earlier.

Our powerless situation continued on our arrival home when we found a pool full of leaves and debris, and a circuit breaker that had blown leaving our kitchen (of all rooms) without power for a week.  That's one way to clean out the fridge!

But, all complaints aside, I would still consider the vacation a rousing success.  The weather was spectacular as soon as IRENE cleared the area, the power was eventually returned, the food was great, the company was even better, and I actually turned off the blackberry by mid-week.

Only 11 months and 3 weeks until we can go back.
Check out hubby's spectacular Cape images here