Such a year

I have never been a fan of “odd” years. Maybe it’s superstition, but I always have this nagging feeling that things will be better when it’s an even year, even age, even month. You get the picture.

As the answer blows in the wind on this blustery, December day, the great news is I’m on the right side of things. My successful career in broadcast journalism has now transitioned into my public relations consulting start-up. My bottom line looks respectable for a one-person operation and I am learning more and more every day through wonderful people I’ve known through the years as well as family and friends.

Driving in the car with my son the other night, I asked him what he thought about the changes our family has been through this year. First thing he said was,” You are doing an amazing, amazing job with your business.” He went on to say flattering, positive things about my transition into this business and I couldn’t have been more pleased. Our son has really blossomed in the past few months. He is now working at his first job as a bus boy at Mirabella Cafe near our home. I met the owner/chef, Joe Palombo, through Sustainable Cherry Hill. I am now the communications director, on the executive board and general board. You see, these are things I could never do for years and years because of my crazy schedule. Now, community involvement is a critical part of what is making me happy now.

I was watching a show last night and there was a line that really rang true to me: “When you figure out what kind of person you really want to be, then you’ll really be happy.” How true. How often do we glaze over each day, muddle through lists of tasks, grumble at our family, friends and associates and wonder, “Is that all there is?” That feeling gnawed at me for the longest time. Fear and comfort and a respectable paycheck kept me from making any moves. After management decided I didn’t fit in to their picture any longer, I was almost relieved. Beyond the lack of respect or appreciation by the top brass when I was let go, I knew the journey to find a better life, more happiness and fulfillment would get underway.

Here are some of the positive changes (in no particular order):

  • no more sleep deprivation
  • regular and constant visits to the gym
  • intense involvement in volunteer community groups that mean a lot to me
  • more quality family time without being sleep deprived
  • being “the boss of me.”
  • flexibility in how my day operates
  • meeting new and interesting people
  • more socialization

OK, the list is getting long. It’s a beautiful thing after living by a very tight schedule with absolutely no wiggle room for years, to be able to structure my days and nights so that they work for me. Of course, I still have to be certain places at certain times, but I don’t have deadlines every ten minutes. I am appreciated for the work I do (most of the time) and I have a sense of accomplishment almost every single day.

Advice from people in-the-know has been critical. There’s been fantastic advice and advice I knew instinctively was crap. The latest great piece of advice I received was from a firm I was talking with about their expansion. The CEO suggested that I narrow my focus in what I want to accomplish. Done…next!

One thing I will always be is a news junkie. I have instincts about people that are spot-on. I know crap when I hear it and I know a true-blue, honest to goodness, truthful person immediately. That has always been a key to success in my figuring out the news. Now, it translates into good instincts about how to help elevate a client’s profile in the audience they are appealing to or figuring out a great pitch to the media to bring a client greater exposure.

That even-numbered year is upon us: 2010. I’ll be turning an even-numbered age as well. It’ll be my second year in business with What’s Next Productions, LLC. It’s all good.

Happy holidays and a safe, prosperous New Year.

Deja vu all over again

When you become a grown up you always say, ” I’ll never be like my mom.” Guess what, we’re all just like our parents, but perhaps a little improved. My son got his first job today. It seems as though no time has passed since my dad came home one day telling me I could go down to Burger Chef; he’d paved the way for my first job after talking with the owner he knew at the time.

The other night, I attended Sustainable Cherry Hill’s (SCH)”Green Drinks” night at P.J. Whelihan’s. SCH (www.sustainablecherryhill.org) is a wonderful group of people working on many different fronts to make our community less dependent and abusive to the land, air and water. Among the board members is Chef Joe Palumbo, who owns Mirabella Cafe and also founded SJ Green Restaurants. In conversation with Joe, I mentioned my son looking for work, and Joe told me to have my son call. Two days later, Adam was hired by Joe to be a bus boy. So, just as my father did, I recycled the same support for my child. Adam now has to do the work and try not to spill water on anyone. Joe’s a great guy, and I have confidence he’ll train my son well and Adam will grow into himself through this first work experience.

Despite the Phillies coming in second to the Yankees this week, it’s been a good start to November. Business is good; the clients are happy (so far) and paying (very nice) and I feel very healthy having kicked my own butt at the gym this week and gotten my H1N1 shot at Rutgers. Now if only the Septa strike would settle. I keep thinking about all the moms, dads, students, and other Philadelphia-area citizens who are having to extend their already exhausting days to walk, bike, carpool (which they should anyway) and spend lots more money packing themselves into Septa trains. Has anyone heard anyone support the union right now? I’ve heard many people say, “They’re lucky they HAVE a job.” So true.

For now, the remaining leaves will pile up in the yard, Thanksgiving will be knocking and the cold will settle in. Since we bought the power boat, Doug is really looking toward the first warm weather we get in 2010 to launch “Mid Life Cri-seas” (still an unofficial name). We’ll see how Adam’s first job goes as he learns to juggle school, work and activities. Wasn’t he just spitting up on my shoulder a few days ago??

Going to lunch

I worked for more than 30 years in the radio news business. ‘Tis true I never had a lunch break working radio news. In fact, at my last job, with deadlines every ten minutes or so, I found a few minutes about four hours into my shift to down a little breakfast. When a boss gave me more tasks to do during that period, I mentioned that was when I ate some breakfast. Her reply was, “Are you asking for a break?” I suppose a potty break and five minutes to down some instant oatmeal WAS too much to ask.

Now, I set my own schedule. I can cram four hours work into two or work late at night. Today, I decided to go to lunch. I took a walk down my block dressed in my bathing suit, cover-up, visor and SPF30 liberally sprayed on my skin and took a chair at the neighborhood pool. Some ice water and a cereal bar was all I needed. The scenery consisted of kids from baby-carriage size to teens along with moms and dads. The swim team was wrapping up practice. Little paddlers were getting swim lessons in the shallow end. A refreshing summer breeze cooled us off. I took a mini-vacation with a magazine. The sounds of the pool scene were intoxicating. Care-free with only fun on their minds, in between pages of my magazine, I watched a group of kids in the deep end playing tag; a boy about 8 years old, was watching in delight as his swim teacher showed him how to make a racing dive off the race platform. What a belly-flop! I mentally gave him a “7” for his enthusiasm and the attempt. I admired the patience of the swim teachers as little ones tried, tried, and tried again to carry out the kicking and arm strokes and blowing bubbles. So many tasks to coordinate with one little body!

An hour passed effortlessly and I knew it was time to walk home. My head was clear; my mood upbeat and no one asked whether I was getting all my work done. Granted, tripping and falling over an offset slab of concrete on the sidewalk did annoy me. (Seriously??) I don’t think anyone saw me take my spill and I just have a slightly skinned knee as proof of the klutzy moment. I’d rather take that fall than hear someone ask my if I was requesting a break. Guess what: I’m getting a work break for the first time in more than 30 years. Happy day!

Is anybody out there?

What did we do before cell phones, text messages and emails? The answer is simple: we had actual face-to-face contact with people! I believe many of us are becoming socially deprived. While many people in the business world do have many opportunities to meet and greet and have face-to-face meetings, so many others hardly ever talk to a person. I looked in my email “deleted” folder today, I have more than 500 messages in there. Of course, lots of it is “junk” and I’ll purge the folder of those emails, but I think about all the people I haven’t actually spoken with in months. That has changed as I am in this new phase of my life. I am enjoying getting out in the city, meeting people for coffee, tea or lunch and talking about life. It is a wonderful feeling to sit down, if only for half an hour or so and make eye contact with a person you have known for years personally or professionally and just take a moment to enjoy their company.

I had lunch today with Jack, a dear friend from high school. We reconnected several years ago during the planning phase of a reunion through another dear friend, Marc. We talked of jobs and the jobless, his successful company and expertise, his family, mutual friends and went through the “whatever-happened-to” conversation. Yes, I handed him a business card he said he’d give to someone in his office building who we both know, who might be interested in getting in touch with me. Of course, I’ll follow up, but the point is: taking the time to reconnect with old friends when sometimes all you want to do is pull the covers over your head, can be just the lift you need. This has turned out to be one of the good days in this journey. I’m learning quickly to capitalize on these good days and be thankful. That, despite the fact that when I went out to my car after lunch, the Philadelphia Parking Authority guy was just printing out an expired meter ticket. At least THAT young man HAS a job! All we can do is laugh.