Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Time to Slow Down


24 hours ago
Last night I made Amelia a dress.  No big deal, and actually not a particularly complicated or interesting dress.  As a kid, I imagined that one day I’d make clothes for my future children, like my mother did for me.  Other than a few Halloween costumes – which, full disclosure, my mother helped sew – this hasn’t happened.  I’ve just never had the time, or made the time, or perceived that I had the time.

Halloween 2010

Perception seems to be the key.  I’ve been "between jobs" for just over a week, and despite the high unemployment rate and statistically long average job searches, I’ve been running around like a crazy person doing everything I’ve ever said I’d do if I only had time, as though this time will end any minute and all opportunity to reorganize the pantry will be gone.  Yup, I reorganized the pantry. I also designed notecards, led a storytime, painted frames, made 12 aprons and 2 puppet theatres, wrote a proposal, applied for a job, went to an amusement park, got my car serviced, cooked, cleaned and caught up with the laundry.  All with equal urgency, and this is only a partial list.

So yesterday I received an invitation to interview TODAY for that job I applied for.  What?  Already?  In a panic, I had to make Amelia a dress.  You know, because I’d surely be employed again by this afternoon.

Are you wondering what happened?  Where to send the potted plant for my new office?  Or laughing because you know how this will end?  Right, you’re laughing.

Because with only six days between me and my last job, in the midst of a whirlwind of projects only a true overachiever could conjure, I’m in no shape to interview.  Not only because my interview suit doesn’t fit (it doesn’t).  Because I have no perspective.  I’m still too close to my last job to figure out what I’ve learned and how to describe it in a way that makes the experience valuable to a potential employer.   Until I have enough distance to look back with some objectivity, I sound like a rambling crazy person.  You know, the kind of crazy person who might spend every waking hour creating and completing a lifetime of to-do lists.

Needless to say, I do not expect a second interview.  So keep the potted plants for now.  There will be time for that later.  Really, there will.  And in the meantime, I’m going to slow down, drink a latte, gain some perspective, figure out what I want, and maybe make Amelia a more interesting dress. But this time I’ll enjoy it.  Quick, add that to the list!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Fit to Frame



A few nights ago, Amelia was playing with two princesses and their toy castle.  Were they having a playdate? Dreaming of princes? Battling evil queens? Nope, they were redecorating.  Snow White was lamenting to Cinderella that she had to find room in the castle for all her pictures, because her job would soon be done.

What?

It makes perfect sense.  And proves once more that everything I do is recorded, with telling translation, in that little red-haired head. You see, I finished my full time job today. So for the last few weeks, I’ve been stripping my office of the personal items that have adorned it.

A year ago, I moved this same office d├ęcor from my last job to this one, trying to recreate the comfort and familiarity I was leaving.  It didn’t work, the space never felt right. In hindsight, the office looked great and it was me that didn’t fit, but I made a valiant effort. I hung the pictures, did the work, smiled most of the time, but never really felt comfortable.  A friend recently described the office culture at her new job, and how easily and naturally she was finding her place in it.  She just knew, on her first day, that she was where she belonged. Listening to her, I had to accept that fit can’t be forced, and it was time for me to move on and move out.  With my office knick knacks.

This transition is a good thing, well timed and well planned. But change and uncertainty make me nervous.  Some people thrive on it, and I like to pretend I do too – until it’s here, and I catch myself frenetically organizing everything in my control, to compensate for all that isn't in my control.  This time Amelia caught me, urgently finding places for all those office items that will drive me crazy in an unsettled pile.  They must be where they fit, and so must I.

http://farm5.static.flickr.com
At least in the short term, I’m setting up shop at home – working on my Etsy store, doing some freelance writing, and enjoying the luxury of more family time.  And I’m turning my energy toward feeling at home while I’m there.  My home office needed a whiteboard, because if there’s one thing a newly unemployed person with a compulsion for control has, it’s a lot of lists!  I love turning something old into something new, and I remembered a pinterest project.  

Making the board was easy.  I chose an old frame, one of many ornate antiques I collected a lifetime ago for my first single gal apartment.  Instead of chalkboard paint, I used dry erase paper, which is similar to contact paper, and adhered it smoothly to the frame’s glass.  The glass is already a perfect fit, and makes a nice writing surface. Two quick drying coats of glossy spraypaint later, the frame shows no trace of its formerly gilded self.  I put the glass back in, attached some picture hanging wire, and left the room to get a hammer and nail to hang my new board.  

Voila!  And when I returned, this is what I found:

  

In a flash, my whiteboard wasn’t mine anymore. Without careful planning, I realized that my home office tools will quickly become Amelia’s office toys.  And unless she’s doing something unsafe, I’m not sure why I should stop this practice.  She was writing on the whiteboard, spelling her name, my name, notes to herself.  Exactly what it’s for, and what she sees me doing. I promised to make her one this weekend.  A bigger one, in any color she chooses. We have a huge frame from the closeted stash all picked out, and we’ll hang it in the playroom.  The more I think about it, the more I like this idea.  I may make a few extras, using masonite instead of glass, and put them on Etsy.  Why shouldn’t kids be able to draw on a whiteboard in an over-the-top fancy frame, giving their artwork the presence it deserves? 

I hung my new board, and it fits.  And the to-do list continues to grow, with projects like this one that exude possibility and opportunity, and engage me in work I’m proud to have Amelia emulate. 

Oh, and one more to-do item…the princesses will surely need a whiteboard too.