Friday, July 22, 2011

Random Conversations

Ever notice the days you have truly random conversations about nothing important? I do. I think it's because they are absolutely priceless. They hold no real value other than to scratch your head and think did I really spend 5 minutes talking about that?!

Yesterday, I had 2 random conversations that made me laugh. I started my day in a text conversation with a friend about tiaras vs crowns. There were 2 text conversations going on and things began to overlap. I had a feeling she was scolding me for my lack of crown vs tiara comments and decided to clear matters up by calling her.

Turns out, I was being scolded for my lack of "bling" knowledge. I didn't know it was a huge deal, but apparently only a queen wears a crown and other royalty wear tiaras. I was also reminded how a tiara is not even in height and doesn't fully go around one's head. My response: "If 2 people are standing 50 feet away from me, one with a tiara the other wearing a crown, I won't be able to tell the difference. They'll both be wearing something on their head that sparkles."

The funniest part about my educational conversation is that I shared it with YogaGirl who also couldn't believe I didn't know the difference and the importance of the crown vs the tiara.

I'm chalking up this conversation to extreme temperatures in the Northeast.

So, that was my first conversation. I ended my day with this conversation with hubby (words from a man who has come up with such gems as the ending a great date in a movie theatre parking lot sharing a can of Colt 45) who decided to share his idea for the next great invention: The Fart Pillow. Yes. The Fart Pillow. Similar to the whoopie cushion, you'd put your head down on your pillow, it'd make the noise of a whoopie cushion, but release the odors of rotten eggs.

I tried to point out how this would backfire on the person playing the joke because he would suffer from the rotten egg smell. He wouldn't have that protective smell barrier (the one that lets you believe your farts don't stink) and would suffer to.

I wonder how today will go. My first real conversation with anyone is an interview. I just hope I don't slip and share my husband's brilliant invention of the fart pillow.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Small Things Can Create a Big Impact.....

Several weeks ago, I had lunch with a girlfriend of mine. I've known her for years, but openly admit, I'm not a sharer when it comes to incredibly crappy things going on in my life. When I asked my ex for a divorce, I had been unhappy in the marriage for 5 years prior and really didn't tell people I was miserable. So, when I saw my friend for lunch, I finally shared some stuff that I'm going through.

I've admitted in this blog how it's difficult for me to ask for help, but it's also very difficult for me to share things that make people feel uncomfortable (it really is the last thing I want to do to my friends). However, I'm at a stage where I can't hide things anymore. It would be like having a 1000 pound gorilla in a room and not acknowledging he's sitting right next to me.

She listened and I know she felt uncomfortable, but I wanted her to hear things from me and not other friends (she's that good a friend where I'd feel terrible if she heard things about me from anyone other than me). She was incredibly supportive while together and we hugged goodbye when we went our separate ways.

A week later I got this unexpected card in the mail from her letting me know she was there for me. I was so touched by the card that I cried. It really is such a great bright spot, that it has made my month.

I have the card and plan to save it in the same place I have my college letters from friends and love letters from boyfriends. It just has the same place in my heart as these items.

I consider myself very lucky to have this person in my life. Thank you Lauren for being my friend.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Books, Books and More Books.....

Reading is time I carve out for me and almost always enjoy. I don't read an entire book in one sitting or skim over an author's words, but admit books can leave me with a mixed bag of emotions when I've finished reading the book.

For instance, earlier this year, I mentioned how I found one book I was reading incredibly painful and wanted to break up with it but didn't because I was hopeful for an amazing ending. I've only wanted to break-up with 2 other books in my lifetime, so I'm thinking if I come across a book I want nothing to do with once-in-a-blue moon, I have a good track record.

Other books entertain me like a night out with friends where I laugh and just forget where I am. I relish these books, but admit, they're so light and playful that the book's plot doesn't really stay with me. I just remember how I enjoyed my time while reading the book.

Lately, I've been reading a lot of non-fiction and memoirs. I'm not sure why, but admit, I enjoy the feeling of walking around with someone and getting to learn something new through the eyes of someone else. I have a feeling I'll probably stay along this path for a very long time just for this reason. However, I recently snuck in a type of "self-help" book in my mix and it's left with the strangest impression -- a sort of book-after-glow if there's such a thing.

Several months ago, I read The Luck Factor by Dr. Richard Wiseman. I believe I read about it in an Oprah magazine, but after an email exchange with a man I admire (he got me hooked on the concept of a daily gratitude journal), I thought I'd read the book. The premise is that there are not lucky or unlucky people as most believe (all people have the same chances of winning lotto), it's our perception of lucky people vs unlucky people all comes down to the choices we make. How we put ourselves out there, or how we don't.

The book gives the reader various exercises to take and experiments to do (e.g., talk to a complete stranger -- put yourself out there to try a new experience) and I have to admit this book made me stop to reflect on moments in my life when I went against my intuition and the situation turned out badly for me, or when I forced myself to approach a person in a new situation and recognize what a great experience I had because I put myself out there.

Dr. Wiseman had presented something I had seen before, but it's how he presented it. These are the books I really LOVE. They make me look at things differently, make me try something new to prove if a book's theory is true and because of this I do experience something great. In the end, his book made me cognizant of how I can change and improve my life's experiences.

I'm not sure I'd want every book to leave me with the same experience as Dr. Wiseman's book. I'd miss the light-hearted reads, or being able to walk beside someone and enjoy another person's experience. Besides, if every book left me the way Dr. Wiseman's book left me, would I be able to recognize its impact? Probably not.

Would I recommend The Luck Factor to others? Yes. No. It really depends upon the person reading it. I kept an open mind and enjoyed reading the book, but others may not and miss the point.

I'm curious, what type of books move you and why? I'm also curious, do you see movies that are based upon books you've loved?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Letting Someone Take Care of Me......

I have to confess, I'm horrible at asking for help or admitting I need help to anyone about anything. Last week, due to the increased activity and the temperatures climbing, I let myself become dehydrated and came down with heat exhaustion AND got some sort of bug. Basically, I was a wreck.

Having some sort of bug was bad enough, but have you ever really suffered from heat exhaustion? It sucks. The combination of the two made me want to crawl out of my own skin and be anywhere else. At one point, I hallucinated and no amount of sucking down water was really helping because the other symptoms I was experiencing from my 'bug' were taking care of any nutrients left in my body. I was achy from both the 'bug' and heat exhaustion and left wondering how much Gatorade do I have to drink for at least one of my ailments to go away.

I kept recalling the one question I was asked over-and-over recouping in the hospital in 2004 and 2005: "On a scale of 1 to 10, what's your pain threshold?" God, did I learn to hate that question. However, I found myself thinking about that question Wednesday late night and thinking "if I just took off my head, I'd be a 4, otherwise I was a 9". It's rare when I feel this crappy. In fact, I know I'm really sick when I want to cry, but my head and eyeballs hurt too damn much for me to cry. I also believe the fear I'd never hydrate and have to go to the hospital also helped bring on some tears (I hate being a patient in the hospital like others fear flying). Needless to say, I didn't get much sleep Wednesday.

Hubby was out-of-town Wednesday evening and although I thought about calling him at 2 a.m. to take me to the hospital as I was seeing no change, I didn't. I had just switched from water to Gatorade and hoping for the best. As my heat exhaustion came under control, my other symptoms took over. Bad cold? Flu? Who knows, but I felt like crap.

When Hubby came home that evening he took one look at me and knew I was too sick to take care of me. In the 5 years we've been together, I've never been this sick. He took Friday off and spent the entire weekend taking care of me. It was something I never experienced with my ex-husband (he let me drive under Valium to my MRI which I was terrified of going for and told me the test was unnecessary and I was making up the need for a MRI - ummmm, I think not dirt bag) and have to admit was pleasantly shocked at how wonderful it felt to have someone take care of me.

I still have issues asking for help, but the past year has been challenging me to do so. I wish I didn't, but it's nice to know I have wonderful people in my life now willing to help any way they can.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My Meet-and-Greet with Keith Urban.....

This past Sunday my older sister and I went to the Keith Urban concert at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. Mohegan Sun is a great place to see a concert because the venue is large, but still intimate enough to have decent seats.

Keith Urban really knows how to interact with the crowd (not many artists really perfect this skill - Prince is also great at this). To me, it takes a real entertainer to get an entire crowd to feel as though they are on stage with him, but he did. Figuratively and literally. At one point during the concert, he brought 3 people on stage to sing some of the lyrics he was performing. It was priceless! One guy really got into it and worked both Keith and the crowd. It was very funny.

He played non-stop for 2 1/2 hours and moved to various locations in the stadium. At one point, he went up to the first tier audience, and when he finished a song, he signed the guitar he was playing and handed it to some random audience member.

Between his ability to get the crowd going, his guitar playing, his singing, the concert would have been enough. But, there is more.

Last summer, YogaGirl and I were talking about my sister's absolute love affair with Keith. YogaGirl knows someone, who knows someone with a connection to Keith. We thought it'd be great if our older sister could actually meet him. We looked up his concert schedule and it turned out he was playing at Mohegan Sun on her birthday weekend (actually, we ended up going on her birthday).

Keith hugs everyone that meets him and is very charming. He posed for pictures, answered questions from our group, and actually was a great sport and read a poem one fan's mom wrote for him while the fan used her phone to video tape him. He was hysterical. The poem was "an ode to Keith" type poem and it was obvious how embarrassed he was reading it. At several points during the reading, the author's poem mentions how she goes to his concerts, but he quickly mentioned in a joking fashion that she isn't that big a fan if she wasn't at this concert.

I think I made my sister's birthday because when he was hugging me, I mentioned it was my sister's birthday and he gave her another hug and kiss. I wonder if my sister will ever wash her cheek.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Has the Art of Conversation Been Lost Due to the Electronic Age?

I wonder if people have forgotten the true meaning of having a conversation because email, twitter, foursquare, You Tube or texting. To me, these forms of communication have taken the spotlight off the interaction between people and have made it about the clever stylings of one person.

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate a person who can be clever or convey a situation in 140 characters, but sometimes these individuals have forgotten how to put on their listening ears and fall flat with other human beings.

I know everyone is not a good listener, BUT, if you stop over talking others, OR, actually listen to another human being, I wouldn't have to constantly remind or re-educate you on topics we've discussed many times before. I'm not sure if the electronics' age has led to the downfall to the art of conversation, but I believe it may just exacerbate it. I wonder if people are more concerned having their voice heard instead of interacting with others because the new forms of communication force into us a role of stating something poignant.

I don't know.

What I do know is this: If you ask me a question, don't pretend to listen to me, actually listen.

I just hope the electronics' age hasn't replaced the two-way street of conversation with one-way alleys of the soliloquy (yes, I am aware of the irony in writing about this in a blog, but I do allow people to comment and often comment on people's remarks).

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Walking and Chewing Gum at the Same Time.....

For some, this comes naturally. I know I could do this, but there are so many other things I can't do at once that I recently have embraced being a natural klutz.

For years, I lulled myself into believing that I had grace -- okay, maybe not. I seriously have to look down when I walk for fear of tripping over my feet. I've only walked into branches a handful of times and was thankful that the squirrel who mysteriously plunged to its death from a high branch did so moments before I would have been directly under his path (yes, a squirrel did fall out of a tree right before my eyes and go splat on my walking path).

However, last week is when I finally woke up and faced the reality that I really have no coordination. I went to the gym to run on the treadmill and this young girl got on the treadmill next to me. She pressed go and was off running at a fast clip and TEXTING on her blackberry. WTH? How? Why can't I do either of those things?

Somewhat defeated, I later realized that texting and running wasn't as easy as she made it appear and I may still be a woman with a lot of grace and coordination.....then I went for a long walk with my girlfriend Saturday morning. I was thirsty and took a sip from my water bottle and began to choke on it.

All hopes of walking and doing anything else at the same time are thrown at the window. Although, I am still hopeful I can think and walk at the same time, but wonder if others would say differently about this.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

How the last 6 months of job searching has left me IN-FU-RI-ATED

Since May 2008, I've been actively seeking employment. Often I'd apply for positions and spend months interviewing for positions that would get pulled. Other blocks of times, companies didn't post new listings. I applied for hourly wage positions (I'm not knocking these positions), but was told I was overqualified or lacked retail experience, but became hopeful at the start of 2011.

I don't know why, and I'm not going to complain about the surge of new jobs I saw posted. However, in the midst of applying for positions, I came across a whole new wave of frustration that has left me FUMING. I've decided to break down my frustrations for easier reading.

1. Recruiters. I really haven't used recruiters up until 2011. Maybe it was because they never posted positions I was qualified for, or it could be I had and they never reached out to me.

Since January, I've had 5 interactions with recruiters. Only 1 has been upfront, direct, responsive and honest. One got me an interview, but I had to track him down for 3 months to find out I wasn't hired. I'm really angry because I wanted feedback from him. Constructive criticism is always welcome if it helps me land a job.

Another calls with positions I'm not really qualified for, low-balls me on hourly wage and when I ask for advice on how to answer a preliminary email from his client (meaning I don't even know what company the job is for) to position my inexperience at handling something (thinking he'd rather do this to gain the commission), he threw it back in my court. Hello? It's one thing for me to answer if this were a direct hire, but don't you want to ensure you present the best candidates you can for further business? I guess not.

One recruiter told me I'm not the type of candidate they like to represent because I'm unemployed (I posted about this in April, but guess what, the position is still unfilled). I met with another recruiter who was more interested in my references to gain new business and never talked about the position he called me in for. When asked about the position, he told me they required a candidate with a MBA (not posted on job listing), but he complemented me on my resume and wondered who wrote it for me. I think he was a little shocked it was me.

Another recruiter left me with an impression of being a tad shady. I'm a pretty trusting person, but when he ended our conversation with "I'm going to email you an application to complete and we can meet at a local Starbucks to discuss your career", I was intrigued about the application. I opened my email and the application didn't ask for references, but wanted my social security #, driver's license, more questions for additional information on my background than I'd seen on other applications. Needless to say, I never responded. Sometimes, it's always best to listen to your gut and a man who wanted to meet me in a Starbucks, not his office, requesting too much personal information on me didn't sound legit.

2. Corporations. I admit, I've had some positive experiences with some company HR reps, but last week I had 2 experiences that have pushed my frustration level over the top that I want to share.

Company 1: I applied for an open position and sent my resume to someone I knew within the company. I got a call from HR asking me questions about another position I didn't apply to. He tells me to apply and how the hiring manager was anxious to call me and should expect a call shortly. Five business days later I check their career's section and see the position has been filled. No offense, but I don't need a pity HR call, I need a job. If you convince me to apply for the position in which I'm willing to take a HUGE paycut and go back to a 1999 salary, assure me to expect a call from the hiring manager, but fill the position within days of our conversation, I have to wonder WTH? Needless to say, I sent him a very polite email following up on the status of our conversation and asking for clarity of the information I found online. I played it off that I was confused from what I read and maybe he could clear it up. I sent the email last week. I wonder if I'll hear back.

Company 2. Imagine huge company overwhelmed by number of applicants and recently hires outsourcer to handle some hr issues. Imagine applying for position on 5/10 and hearing back from large company's outsourcer on 5/16 asking for times to talk with you. Imagine getting hopes up because the position is pretty much tailor made for you (trust me, these positions far and few between). You respond with available times on 5/16, again on 5/18 and eventually on 5/31 you shoot off third email to recruiter letting them know you're willing to work around their schedule. Recruiter finally responds on 6/3 and praises your skill set, but wants to know your salary requirement. I am negotiator so I inform her of my last salary, but emphasize in email I am open. Nothing. I hear crickets. I send emails on 6/7, 6/13 and 6/21. On July 1, I go to large corporation's career center and find out the position has been filled. Based upon my experience, I am still waiting for an interview. I want to point out that when large corporation handled their own job submissions they did a far better job then this person.

I'm in the process of writing the VP of this large corporation because I wonder in the age of social media, they really want the world to know how the first impression potential qualified candidates are left with is shit. They may want to insist on training the recruiters to use their standards or hold them accountable. At some point, I believe the economy will turn around and they will need qualified candidates, but if there are others who have experienced what I have, they may have problems finding the right candidate.

Unfortunately, I've started the letter, but am too furious to constructively write it effectively.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Twitter and Opportunities.....

I know many people scoff at me for embracing Twitter, but let me tell you, I've had some amazing results from following people or organizations I'm interested in. Also, I'm in awe of people that can be both clever and informative in 140 characters.

At the end of May, a famous women's publication (they've asked me not to release their name) twitted about needing 25 women in the NYC area to participate in a 2 month pre-diabetes study. I was all over it and after several email exchanges I was selected to be one of the 25 people.

I went into the city, got weighed, measured and had blood work done to determine my sugar and cholesterol levels. Some results I was pleasantly surprised, some, surprised and happy I know about it so I can take care of the potential situation.

We also met with a nutritionist and trainer who went through the program, showed us the resistance exercises and set up a private facebook page for us to share concerns and helpful information with one another. She's amazing at answering our questions/concerns and has given me some helpful advice.

For me, this has been a very difficult and trying week (I'll probably write a separate post about it as its been a valuable life lesson for me) and commented on how I've been struggling with getting the right amount of fiber in, exercise, resistance training, calorie count, etc.. She suggested I go for long, slow walks to release my anxiety and frustration. So, that's what I'm going to do. For this week, I'm focusing on long walks and meditation. I need to clear my head.

One of the messages of the study I'm beginning to learn is that you should never give up if you don't have a perfect day, just get back on the horse at the next available opportunity. I'm a perfectionist and have a tendency to follow the all-or-nothing way of thinking. Letting go of the idea of perfection is EXTREMELY difficult, but am slowly learning that although I may not achieve 100% perfection, 10% is better than 0%.

I have my first weigh-in on July 11th; another on August 8th. I may be part of their article they plan to publish and become UBER famous (LOL).

I'll keep you updated along the way and let you know what my results are. Now, time to get my 10,000 steps (did I mention, I'm wearing a pedometer?)...