Friday, October 31, 2014

Let it go

Today was not an awesome day. I am struggling with feeling behind in most realms of my life, and stressed as a consequence. I have a cold that has migrated into my chest, so I had difficulty falling asleep last night and am overall feeling sluggish. I lost my temper with Lu this morning after asking her the same question 4 times with no answer, and then raised my voice and got frustrated, which I try to avoid. I just had this utter feeling of everyone needing me to do more for them. All giving, all the time, no getting. We misplaced her Elsa wig (Halloween costume), which I have been frantically searching for, and I spent the morning volunteering in her kindergarten class reading a book then stuffing folders. It was lovely to catch up with another parent and accomplish something for my daughter's school, but I will have to make up for the morning's lack of productivity tonight or over the weekend. While I feel very fortunate to have a job that allows me to get everything done on my own time, I am still battling the feeling that I am not enough in any part of my life. On the way out of school, Lu begged me to stay with her and eat lunch. "I can't, I have a conference call," I told her. "Next time." So despite investing a few hours this morning in her education, I left feeling inadequate and pulled in all directions. When I got to my home office and worked for a few hours, I got a phone call from my husband, and realized I was losing my voice. Now it's completely gone, which made for an interesting trick or treat experience. Lots of waving. On the plus side, I did locate some pink hair chalk, which in my opinion is way better than an Elsa wig.

I debated publically sharing my less-than-ideal day, but decided to because there is far more positivity and pretending on the internet than any true representation of what life is actually like. Let's embrace some honesty. This is my life. It is not perfect. This is the real side of trying to keep it all together. Because sometimes, it's not together. It's a fragile balancing act, and sometimes one little snafu -- a forgotten homework assignment, an illness, or a car that won't start -- brings it all crashing down.

So what can you do? Take a deep breath or 5, and regroup. Lower your expectations a little more. Admit that you're human, and fallible. Ask for help. And dwell on the positive, because even on my worst days I realize that I am so very lucky. So Lu was Aurora for trick or treat tonight, because I found a pink dress among her dress-up gear and that damn Elsa wig has still not turned up. Maybe the world needs a little less ice queen anyway. In the meantime, I'm going to focus on Elsa's motto. If that doesn't work for you as a motto, try one I picked up at work: suck less. My take away for today is that pink hair chalk can always improve your day.

Edited to add a photo of Lu as Aurora. And to mention that the Elsa wig appeared as if by magic on her toy shelf this morning.

Friday, October 24, 2014

8 tips to feel confident, articulate, and in control at your next interview

Today I am guest blogging over at The Works, the Northeastern University Career Development Blog. You can read all about my best advice for landing your dream job at The Works.

Growing my career in the male-dominated high tech industry has prepared me for one of the more stressful aspects of the job lifecycle: interviewing. Although I've certainly suffered from my own bouts of impostor syndrome, especially since I entered the technical field from a non-traditional background of English and publishing, I have been able to overcome this and hone my interviewing persona thanks to a lot of helpful advice. I've also gleaned tips about confidence, posture, and presentation from role models like Sheryl Sandberg, Grace Hopper, and Duy-Loan Le (who delivered the best keynote I've ever seen at the Grace Hopper 2010 conference). I enjoy sharing what works for me by coaching my friends and colleagues in the hopes that it can help them in their next interview or stressful job situation. Anecdotally, these tips seem to (... continue reading at The Works). 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Cast off the friction!

I recently went out for a walk in an area of Boston that I don't visit very often, the North End. I enjoyed an amazing Italian-inspired lunch, a nice glass of wine, read my book club book, and generally relaxed. The only bummer was that, on the way to the restaurant, I started to feel an unpleasant sensation on the inside of my heel. Despite wearing some casual, sneaker-like shoes that I thought would be comfortable, they were starting to really rub my feet the wrong way. Fortunately, I had driven my car to the area, and I had a spare pair of sneakers in the trunk. After lunch, I slowly made my way back to my car, opened the trunk, and changed into new socks and comfortable sneakers.

Instantly, I felt relieved. The pain was gone! Unfortunately, I had a nickel size blister on the inside of my left foot. My other foot in the same spot was worn pretty red, but did not blister.

Walking to my next destination, I felt as light as air. The friction had been removed! It made me feel as if this blister can be seen as a metaphor. Are there areas of your life where some unneeded friction is getting in your way and interfering with your life? Like the princess and the pea, is there a small obstacle you can remove to make things go more smoothly? Think about if there's a simple step that you can take to address this impediment. Although that may be a difficult, or unpleasant situation to resolve, keep the end game in your mind. Too, too, will feel as light as air, and walk as if you could run for miles, once this problem is out of the way.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Midnight musings on writing and technology

This week was the first curriculum night at Lu's school, where she is attending kindergarten. Her teacher talked a lot about how she is teaching the students to read through small group instruction. I am so excited for Lu to learn how to read, because I know what an exciting new world this will open up for her. I have dreams of our whole family lazing around the house on a Sunday afternoon, each engrossed in our respective books.

People are often surprised when I tell them about my background as an English major and first job as an editor. I moved my career to technology because I was interested in the subject matter. My career path has not surprised me, because I feel that strong writing and communication skills are a fundamental component of any employment. This is especially true when it comes to technology, with complex architectures and detailed project plans. Even though I'm rarely the most technical person in the room, my ability to translate complex technological ideas into laymen's terms makes me a valued asset to the businesspeople present.

Despite leaving my English major and editing roots, I have never lost my love of reading and communication. I am an avid reader and have written on this blog about how I love to read and adore my local library.

In my blog post today, I am blogging to raise money for the literacy charity Reading is Fundamental. Low literacy is more of a problem than you might think! It's correlated with poverty and incarceration, and affects 22% of the US population. For more facts on low literacy and what you can do about it, please visit Grammarly's blog post, which inspired tonight's ramblings.