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.

Manic Monday

Whether you are employed putting in mega-hours a week or transitioning, Mondays still mean the same thing. This first spring Monday is no different. You keep to the morning routine and head out for appointments. Only difference; you’re not getting paid. You tell yourself, that’s OK, it’s all in the name of networking and gaining new and different experiences. Deep in your gut you wonder, is there anything in this for me? The answer is always a resounding: YES.
One fact in working a gazillion hours a week is you are always in hyper drive. You are balancing work, home and many other personal things. Now your focus is not only on finding new work in perhaps a new field, but finding the place you fit in the world-at-large. Even if you are employed, this is always a mission, you just don’t have the time to thing about the “big” picture and where you fit in the future. While I balance the job search and quest to fulfill my life, I am taking baby steps. Sure, I’d like to feed the poor, solve illiteracy, clean up the environment, run for office and in the process win the Nobel Peace Prize. Guess what, not happening. So channeling my thoughts and energy into ways that I can be of service to my community while networking professionally is the best use of my time for me right now.
I have found two places I’m trying where I am getting to use my professional know-how and serve at the same time. (Both of these things look great on a resume once I’ve put in some time.)
I started another manic Monday feeling as though I had little to offer. After a more than 90 minute meeting with two key stakeholders in a worthwhile community organization, not only do I know I can help them and the cause, but to quote Sally Field, “They like me.” Never underrate maintaining self-confidence during these shaky times. Grab on to those handle bars and realize YOU are steering. Finding the direction is the mission.

It’s all about ME

The most uncomfortable part of the next journey I’m embroiled in is talking about myself. “I think” this and “I want” that. I have spent my career mainly listening to people, asking them questions, interpreting their answers and writing stories about issues, people and situations. My whole approach to news has been, “How does this story affect YOU the listener/viewer?” Now, clearly moving away from broadcasting at the moment, I have to focus on what it is I want to be in this next phase of my life. All of the people I’ve been meeting with over the past weeks have asked me the same thing, “What do you want to do?” Finding the inspiration to dig deep within myself to answer that question is where I am at today. My answer so far is simple: I want to serve the community, somehow make a difference in lives within that community and be HAPPY doing it.
I’m fortunate to have a husband who is gainfully employed, so we are not on the brink of financial disaster. I have the luxury of time which can be a double-edged sword. The longer you are out of the game, the rustier you get. So I keep meeting with the many people with whom I’ve come to know over these many years in the professional world. I say “yes” to networking events. My church has a new group, “Jobseekers” with people in the same boat; I’ll network from them.
What about applying for jobs? Oh, the list is growing. If I’m lucky, I apply for a job online and at the same time, know someone within the organization so I don’t have my online application ending up in cyberspace. But it’s really a HOOT to get rejected by what I call the “IN-HUMANE Resources” departments of companies and organizations. It’s the 21st century version of the “reject letter.” In an email that is likely computer generated, they praise your resume, but say they are considering other applicants. I was rejected for a position I know I was very well qualified for. But the local company had a parent company located in one of those “square” states in the Midwest, and I was rejected within 24 hours by that “inhumane” resources computer program that scanned my resume and/or cover letter and rejected me on the basis of a few words here and there.
I am a great believer in destiny. Whatever I am destined to do next will be a challenge, hopefully a worthwhile position that will make a difference in other people’s lives as well as fulfilling my own. I continue to listen to other stories and hold on to the optimism within, knowing my next challenge is out there, I just have to seek, find and grab.