November 19, 2013

More waiting, but I'm fine with it (for once!)

Just got a call from Go Go Engine who'd just chatted with Chicago Woman. Go Go told me she'd been concerned that Chicago Woman might be looking for a mouse jockey vs a big idea/client facing person. She knows I fit the latter, but not the former (I'm not a 3D booth designer).

Chicago Woman needs a big idea person. Go Go told her she thinks I'd be perfect for the role then. She's going to do an email introduction today and then Chicago Woman and I will chat on the phone in the next couple weeks. If we hit it off, then the next time she comes to corporate headquarters, we'd meet in person (likely after the first of the year). IF all that goes smoothly, the challenge will be to find the funding for a position that doesn't yet exist. The job challenge after we manage all those hurdles would be that people think of this company as a general contractor vs an agency. In some ways, I'd be further down the creative mindshare food chain, but that just enhances the challenge!

Another irony in all of this is that Chicago Woman is now being supervised by my previous Creat1ve Director! She's having a hard time getting a read on him, so that should be interesting fuel for our chat.

I feel really peaceful about all this. Even before this possibility, I'd had a feeling that I should cool it on the job hunt through the end of the year. I feel like the interviews I've had have helped give me a sample of the options in Dallas. I'd like to explore further, but if this works out, it seems like a great opportunity. I'd be working from an office again, but answering to a Chicagoan, so hopefully wouldn't have to fuss too much with toning myself down.

I love the idea of having the client contact, helping to do the big picture thinking and then working with a team to make it happen. I'm also really happy that we get to stick with our vacation plans and escape to our cabin in Taos for Christmas!

November 16, 2013

Letting Brex set the pace

This morning, I took Brex to the zoo so that Appa could write in peace.

Jrex is working on a review paper. He's a week behind schedule with future deadlines for talks and papers looming ahead of him. I don't know how to help him choose to set aside time to relax. The only helpful thing I know to do is make room for him to get his work done and not add to his stress. The downside is that Brex doesn't expect Appa to be a part of his usual weekend experience. "Appa at work" is one of his most common phrases. As Brex would put it, "So sad... Sad face..."

At the zoo, we didn't have a set agenda, yet it was somehow hard for me to just relax and let Brex do what he wanted to do. For example, we only rode the $2 kiddie train one time. It went around a little asphalt track, there were no animals in sight and it was over in less than 4 minutes. If he'd had his way, we'd have been on it for at least 3 more rounds. I couldn't take the bang for the buck ratio—or lack thereof, so I was mean mommy and made him go look at the reptile house instead.

The other factor in feeling rushed was needing to hit the bathroom before and after each stop along the way. Brex is officially potty trained, but it's rare he makes it through the day in the same pants. By now, we've got the routine down in public restrooms: I put the seat up, stand him on the rim of the toilet, pull his pants and underwear down, let him do his thing, pull his clothes back on, put him down, put the seat down, take my turn and we're done. EXCEPT then we have to survive his hand washing drama--let's just say it's full of "Brex do it!" and involves countless variations on faucets, soap dispensers and paper towels contraptions. In other words, in a four hour excursion, probably one hour of that time was spent in a bathroom.

At the end of the trip, when we were finally heading home—only one hour past his usual nap time—he saw an elephant fountain. There were five smallish bronze elephants surrounded by a moat of water. The water surface was lined with floating bubbles and fallen leaves. Brex zoomed over to it with a huge grin. As I was about to hustle him along, I paused. Everyone keeps reminding me how fleeting this time is and to enjoy it.

So, instead of insisting, "Time to go home!", I sat down 10-feet away and just watched. He didn't seem to care where I was. Rather, he lay down on the ground with his arms over the water and popped
bubbles. After two dabs, he sat up, pulled his sleeves up over his elbows and lay back down. Next he started grabbing leaves out of the water and shaking them. Then he stood up and started doing full-body throws to fling the leaves into the water. He'd then kneel down and reach to grab the leaf back and then start the jack-knife throw again. Various groups gathered at the fountain to take family pictures in their journey into or out of the zoo. My son neither noticed nor cared as he stood, flung, knelt, grabbed and stood again in joy.

At one point a slightly older girl in an all-pink outfit sat down on the bench right next to him. He was excited to show off for her. In delight, he placed a BIG wet leaf right on her lap. She flung it off and looked at him in disgust as she moved further down the bench. He was crestfallen and started to look around. That's when he finally looked for me. When he spotted me, he called out, "Mommy, get up! Get up!"

I smiled and joined him at the pond. He wanted my full participation and directed it. He gave me a leaf, told me, "Throw it, Mommy, throw it!" I did. "Get it, Mommy, get it!" I'd interject, "Say please, buddy"

"Mommy, please get it!"

When I tried to sit facing away from the fountain, Mr. Imperious demanded, "Turn around, Mommy!" I had to enjoy it the exact same way he had. We finally wrapped it up with a few rounds of, "Say bye bye to the elephants. Bye bye leaves. Bye bye water."

He was a crabby mess by the time I finally got him down for his nap at 2:30 (2-hours late). Yet later that day, while chatting on speaker phone with Aunt OTRsis, when she asked what he did at the zoo, he answered, "Saw elephants! Throw leaves!"

I need to remember to allow for leaf throwing time. To let our days unfold without imposing an unnecessary agenda. To sink into a moment and let it become a world. To feel the joy that's available anytime I stop long enough to let it in. Why is something so simple so difficult for me to remember?

When is the last time you threw leaves?

May we all find room this week for something small that becomes a door to the infinite. Thanks, Buddy, for the reminder.

November 8, 2013

Staying open to what might come. Subtitle: never burn a bridge

When hired in 2007, I was the designer for Tech Client. The lead Tech Client account person in our office was an amazing exec producer we'll call Go Go Engine. She taught me how to craft a team, how to run a meeting, how to pitch to clients. Then Tech Client was bought by the Evil Emp1re and Go Go Engine just wasn't thrilled by our other options at the time. She's moved on to three other agencies in the last four years.

Over the years we've stayed in touch via LinkedIn and occasional email exchanges. She reached out to me a couple days ago and we  chatted on the phone this morning. A few weeks ago she started a new job for one of our competitors. In discussions about the new direction they've hired her to initiate, my name came up. They aren't hiring for a specific position, but wanted to check about my availability/willingness to jump ship. The immediate felt need is a woman in Chicago who needs a fellow exper1ence des1gner to help create big picture solutions for major corporate clients. It would involve coming up with ideas, working with 3D designers to flesh out the ideas, pitching the concepts, then ushering them through to completion. The bonus is that the company's national headquarters are down the road from Brex's daycare. I could work out of that office for a boss in Chicago with Go Go Engine as a 2-level up advocate.

I may not be what Chicago Woman needs, but Go Go Engine at least wants me to talk with her and see if I'm a good fit for a position that's still a bit TBD. How's that for completely vague, yet deeply gratifying?

After feeling like my current boss sees me as a mediocre designer who's good for PPT, it's really, really affirming to have someone who knows and values me as a thinker.

In other news, I've been buried alive in generating graphics for an event in 2-weeks. Jrex got all his grants submitted and now has two papers and a big talk to prep. I think we're both seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Brex continues to crack us up. He's now entered the "Brex do it" phase, which mostly means everything takes 3x as long. He feeds the dog every night, carefully balancing the cup of food and walking around the island to drop it in her dish without spilling any. He's learned to unzip his onesie pajamas "All la way to the foot". He's mostly potty trained, so that adds one more layer of logistics to every outing. Just pulling his pants and underwear down and back up is a production, never mind what goes into the potty. Sigh. Hand washing is agonizingly slow.

Yet, no matter what happens on the day to day with him, I have such a profound baseline of gratitude. Watching a dear friend struggle with infertility, another dear friend wrestle with singleness and childlessness, a third friend who had to have a hysterectomy in her early thirties, having a kid of our own was never guaranteed and I'm so, so grateful.

The challenge is to slow down enough to FEEL the gratitude and joy. It's too easy to slip into an agenda driven day and be focused on how LONG it all takes and how hard it is to not just be able to Walk. Out. The. Door. Already. Yet I know these will be wistful, fleeting, happy memories in a very short time.

So here I am, busily, gratefully, excitedly checking in.