Life’s Short. Some Clarity on Loss… and Achieving Fulfillment

I have written about loss in the past, but with the great losses of people from this world in the past week, I feel compelled to circle back.

Life is short. That’s pretty cliché, right? But it is. In the past two months a friend of a friend who I had recently met died after “routine” shoulder surgery at the age of 50. Last Thursday, a friend of mine died at the age of 28… And the cause is unknown. 28?! Insanity. And then yesterday one of the greatest innovators of our time, Steve Jobs, died much too young. Mark, Linda, and Steve still had so much to give this world and to experience themselves and now they are gone.

So I feel compelled to do something – to live a life so full that I will never look back and say “I shoulda,” “I coulda,”… or “If only…” I want to live my life in earnest and make every effort to only do those things that bring me fulfillment. People questioned my decision to leave a job recently before I had found another one. And it is exactly for these reasons that I had to. Like Steve Jobs has said, life is too short to have what you do for a living be anything less than what you want to do. You might think it’s a luxury to be able to take the steps to do that for yourself, but I think it is short-sighted and maybe even a bit lazy not to. Do what you need to do to make those connections, to get the education or training you need, and to make a move to work that will not only satisfy you, but may even fill your soul. Of course we can and absolutely SHOULD get contentment and satisfaction through all other parts of our lives, like volunteering and spending quality time with loved ones, but we spend so much time working that it should be something we enjoy.

It’s also the 2-year anniversary of the death of a dear childhood friend and almost one year since I lost my brother Terry… My heart truly aches, but these anniversaries, coupled with these other recent losses, are also fuel that drives me to continue to follow my heart and do what I want (and need) to do to achieve true fulfillment in my life. Loss is incredibly hard, as the families and friends of Mark, Linda, and Steve are experiencing right now. But we are so lucky to have known them and to have had them as part of our lives in any way.

The bottom line is that it’s time to follow your heart. As Steve Jobs also said: “There is no reason not to follow your heart.” Don’t let fear hold you back, especially with keeping in mind how truly short life can be. Let’s use these losses as fuel to live better lives – lives that aren’t just “better” on the surface, but deep down where it counts.

A New Era of “The Hunt”

I could be considered a professional job hunter. After a little more than seven months into my first job out of college I was laid-off. The company had staffed-up because they had two huge contracts they were guaranteed… Or so they thought. It was an early life lesson and one I would become intimately familiar with!  About eight weeks after the layoff a call came in from my previous employer–low and behold, there was still work to be done and they wanted to hire me back on contract. Me: “You want to pay me how much? That’s about twice what I was making before…” Him: “Yes, that’s right. We would like to hire you for a three month contract.” Me: “Um, let me thinkaboutitok!” (yes, that is one word). I did it and then ended up getting my contract renewed a couple of times and after eight months was offered another full-time position, but I was miserable in that department and they didn’t want to pay me enough, so I opted to head out on my own, knowing I would make more elsewhere and I was right. But, it took about three months, which seemed like an eternity. I would have one more stretch like that after another layoff, but it was “the big downturn” (or “dot-com bomb”) of 2001 that was extremely difficult… 2.5 years of some un-employment and a lot of under-employment. I made due by ramping up a Web design business and various other jobs, but it was extremely difficult and I interviewed and applied and interviewed and applied until one of my many part-time gigs turned out to be an extremely cool job that became full-time and is what led me into the events/hospitality/meetings industry. That job came about through someone I met at a networking event (this will come up again later). I do believe all of the difficulty is part of the journey, but it is quite difficult to see when you are going through it.

I realize that was a long intro to lead into the meat of this blog post, but I think some perspective of what got me here will help as I explain why I think it is such a phenomenal time to be job hunting, despite the current state of the economy. And on that note, by the way, the sky is not falling! If everyone would just relax and not feed into the media hype, all would be alright. I recently stumbled on my first resume from 1994… It was printed on my dot matrix printer and had been created on my Mac LC (which was state-of-the-art in 1990!). It is that resume that I paid to mail and fax to each potential employer after I found the potential positions in the Sunday newspaper “want ads.” It was a little more labor intensive without the Internet, but we also were not competing with 500+ other applicants… And you were pretty much guaranteed that your resume would at least be looked at. It is a different world now to be sure. You need to get a little creative.

What we have now is not just the Internet, but an amazing mix of traditional and social media that not only enables us to find available jobs more easily (and immediately), but we are now connected to just about anyone we have *ever* worked with! What a tremendous opportunity to leverage those relationships we have created over the years. It is well known that the “best” way to find a job is by referral. The challenge there can be that you might put too much stock in that particular person’s “clout” at their company and you also have NO idea who else is up for the job (remember, internal candidates come first). It is frustrating when you get referred by a friend and then you hear nothing, but keep in mind that it is very likely that it has nothing to do with you. I met recently with someone who thought I must be able to give her some advice because I have appeared to be having very good luck during my current job search (this one was “self-inflicted”, by the way!). What I learned was not that she wasn’t doing it right, but that there was just more she could be doing. The biggest missing piece was the networking within her industry—nothing beats that face-to-face communication and we have to remember that we should always be doing it (not just when we are in need of work).

Everyone’s journey is different and this one was easier for me for a few reasons: networking, social media, and good follow-up. I have been a serial networker for the past eight years or so. After being referred to a job by someone I met at a San Diego Chamber of Commerce networking event, I was sold. Each person I have met along the way could connect me to my next job and with the emergence of social media that becomes even more prevalent. I have said this a couple of times in the past week: “If you have ever had a job, you need to be on LinkedIn.” By my estimation, if you are not on there, it’s almost as though you don’t exist. I am now adding every person on LinkedIn from whom I have received a business card (as I meet them) and that allows me not only to connect with them personally, but to potentially connect to those they are connected to (and, almost as importantly, to *stay* connected when they move on to a new job). It’s this amazing Web with a reach totally unlike anything we could ever do for ourselves alone. This social media avenue also enabled me to post as my current job that I was looking for a new opportunity. People who know me saw that and asked for my resume so that they could pass it along to people they thought might want to hire me. Can you imagine – other people doing your thumping for you? Amazingly cool! I also posted it on Facebook and it enabled me to not only get help in my search, but to then “tease” the new position I ultimately accepted. Being in business development and having friends and connections on Facebook and LinkedIn enabled me to let everyone know once I took on a new position, which lets them know I where I am going and also opens up the opportunity for us to potentially do business together.
Today was my first day working for Swank Audio Visuals ( in their Event Services (staging) division as the Director of Business Development. I was able to pursue several opportunities during this search and take my time. I haven’t felt like I’ve had that luxury in the past and most people who are looking don’t, but do it if you can! Work your networks both in person and online by attending industry events and connect with people from every company you have worked for. LinkedIn is the hottest job board right now, and also provides an opportunity for you to join groups related to your industry and to begin networking online. Join in on the discussions and post questions related to your industry. By doing that, you will show that you provide value and you will open yourself up to opportunities you might not have known about otherwise.  And, finally, be sure to always follow-up with those people who have asked questions of you and those people who have reached out to help you.
Happy hunting and please feel free to reach out to me if you need any tips or help!

The Power of Moving You

Written 7/30/11

This weekend kicked off last night with what was to be a jam-packed schedule. I was sort of regretting planning so much, but at the same time knowing I wanted to do it all to see all the people I wanted to see. Going to Yoga in the park (for charity) this morning is how I started my day today and I’m so glad I did! I believe it is true that things in motion stay in motion… And this is especially true when in the mode of exercising. The longer you don’t do it, the easier it is to NOT exercise and to make excuses to keep away (trust me, I have plenty of experience in this). The thing about it, is that the benefits are so much greater than dropping a size.

I’m sure there were people who doubted whether I would actually work out for 20 days straight before my vacation, but I absolutely did. And the benefits of it far exceeded the weight loss I was hoping for. Those three weeks were also very stressful because of work and graduate school, so it seemed fitting it in would be even harder… But it really made it easier! And I found myself wishing I could work out for longer periods of time. It became my escape and it made dealing with everything else a bit easier – it helped me to focus on everything else. Even if I only had 30-minutes, it made a difference and I think I jump-started my metabolism in the process. And while on vacation I felt jealous when I saw people running! I never thought that would be me… I even got two runs in while in Croatia.

During yoga this morning I found myself reflecting a little bit on those things that I’m struggling with right now, but my thoughts quickly turned to gratitude. I have amazing friends and family and I do believe that everything will work itself out. I am also blessed with the ability to move, which is not only good for my body, but for my soul as well! The next time you are making excuses to not get moving — in any way, any where you are able — think about those who aren’t as fortunate… And about how much better you will feel after you do! Keep doing it and you will want to continue to keep in motion, I promise.

Long Time No Blog

Wow, the months have really gotten away from me! I have written a couple of times, but they either weren’t suited to post or I didn’t have a chance to post for a while and then what I wrote seemed too stale-the moment had passed. Interesting that my last posted blog talked about me getting into graduate school… Correlation, perhaps?! I have recently started a new job, finished my second 8 week course, and completed a 2 week European adventure! Two out of the three have not met expectations, which has led me to reflect quite a bit about expectations.

Funny how being on”holiday” – especially when traveling alone – can cause you to do some serious soul-searching. And as I approach my 40th birthday, I’m thinking a lot more about what is most important and what I want most out of life. I certainly have not figured it all out, but I do think I made some progress!

This I know: Some people are blessed with God-given talents to be professional athletes or singers/musicians/actors/teachers/nurses, etc. and are able to make a living doing what they feel they are meant to do – and they could not imagine doing anything else. They have not had to question it because it is part of the fabric of their being. Others I think are able to get there by trial and error, ultimately finding that sweet spot. And then there are those of us who feel we know what we want to do, but for one reason or another, life takes us in different directions. There are also those people who just do their job… They punch a clock (whether literally or figuratively) and though they might not be terribly happy, they keep on keeping on perhaps out of fear that they won’t be successful doing something else or because they have become comfortable or complacent. Life has taken me in different directions than I ever expected and I do believe it is all for a purpose, but what is that purpose exactly?

This I think: Hard work pays off. And when that hard work is also a labor of love, it is a true blessing. Some might think I will never be content in a job, but this is absolutely not so. I have had tremendous contentment in each job I have held (of course, not at all times!). I always work very hard and I thrive in an environment where expectations are clear, the work is rewarding, where I can make a difference, my work is appreciated, and where I am also able to take time off to disconnect and re-charge. Situations in which I am set up to fail are difficult and cause me to reflect about whether that environment is right for me. My quality of life is important to me, so if most of these conditions aren’t there, it is time to re-evaluate. Are these things too much to ask for? Am I expecting too much?

This I hope: That my life will ultimately be about so much more than work. The fact that it has appeared concentrated that way is because I *could* put as much time and energy into work as I have. I do want to have a family and I ultimately hope for a purpose greater than myself… As people who know me have noticed, I have also made it a priority to: volunteer, to challenge myself personally (grad school) and physically (1/2 marathons, etc.), to travel whenever possible… This is not a substitute for having a family or someone significant in my life, but the way I am choosing to fulfill my life as it is. I expected that my life would be different than it is as I approach a milestone birthday, but should we really expect our lives to be a certain way?  People have said that you get the life you make for yourself and I believe this to be true – in part. I believe some people are truly lucky… Some people make bad choices… And some are going the course, taking opportunities that come their way and figuring it out as they go.

Ultimately: I want to make the right choices for ME and I have to trust my gut… Even if my gut was wrong the last time I did. We have to live with ourselves every day and we owe it to ourselves to do what we feel is right and not what others think is right. I still don’t know what my “ultimate” path is in my personal or professional life. Perhaps there isn’t an “end prize” or an absolute destination… It truly could be ALL about the journey and I owe it to myself to enjoy it all every step of the way!! And I EXPECT that I will.

Post-note: It turns out the  Oprah magazine for August is about intuition and expectations. The article on pg. 112 entitled “The Voice Within,” completely reaffirmed what I wrote here!! Great quote from it: “Your intuition is the wisest adviser you’ll ever have.” So true — Listen to it!!

Be Grateful for What you Wish for

In light of my stress levels as of late, I was tempted to name this blog entry the proverbial “be careful what you wish for”, but in truth I am still grateful, despite the stress. I am 2.5 weeks in to my graduate program through Gonzaga and 1.5 weeks into being a Big Sis… And in the middle of an extremely stressful and busy time at work, but I am still grateful!

I have been distracted by March Madness and I’ve had more social time in the past 10 days than is normal for me, but I haven’t said no to anything. It is partially the “distractions” from schoolwork that are making me more stressed than I would like to be, but I actually think it has helped to reduce my stress levels overall! Time with friends and family is sooooo important for our mental well-being and I often complain that I don’t get enough time with them, so how could I say no? If you know anything about your “RealAge” (go to, you know that the more close relationships you have, the more enriched your life will be and, theoretically, you will live longer! I sure like that notion and I believe it to be true.

Interestingly, my time and communication with these people is also helping to define my viewpoints about communication (thus, contributing to my thoughts/ideas within my current Communications Theory class!). But I truly need to become a master at scheduling my days… This is all possible and wonderful with proper time management! This is what I told people who were wondering how I could do it all–that a busy person actually accomplishes more than a person with little to do!

I have just completed my second conference In four weeks and I’m headed home for three days before I head out again for two more events and as many destinations for another eight days. But while I am home? I’m gong to attend my nephew’s Bootcamp graduation in SD, get my hair done, have a visit with my “little”, head out for my nephew’s birthday (same nephew), and run a 5K before I head to Vegas for one of the most significant events my company has ever done (because of the technology and installation and not the price).

As I fly home to San Diego, thinking about the two papers I have to write by tomorrow and Sunday… I’m a little bit stressed, but I will get it done! I have faith. Please think the good thought for me!:-)


Becoming a Writer… Again

As I started this blog I didn’t give myself expectations of how often I would write. I decided at some point (after I felt bad about not writing for a while) that I should write only when truly inspired… And the days of feeling guilty about something like that should be over. After all, I want to keep the interest of those who might be reading (hoping some people would read it!) and in some small way I suppose I want to make a difference with what I write. That might sound a bit obvious, but it only recently occurred to me that this is part of my motivation for writing.

As I study for the entrance exam for the master’s program I’m applying for (the Miller Analogies Test, or MAT), I’m revisiting names of authors I read — or should have read! — as an English major, and I’m reminded that being able to write is a gift. I wonder if it’s a gift I neglected for far too long or if I returned to it just in time within my journey? This blog has been a professional and personal journey so far and I believe it re-stoked my desire to go back to school. It has done that, but it has also done so much more…

With hesitation, I let my Mom read the entry I wrote right after my brother Terry passed away in October. I knew it would make her cry. It did. But then she said “Well, maybe it will help someone”, which was something I hadn’t thought a lot about. I wrote it because it was cathartic for me and it was a way to let those people close to me know about something my family and I were going through. I got an email from a close friend this past week who told me that my story about Terry has helped her in her recovery as an alcoholic… Wow. Of course, that made me cry! She said she hoped in some small way that that would give me and my family some peace that his loss was not in vein. It absolutely does.

I’m so excited when I’m inspired to write. And if what I write and my experiences have a positive effect on just one person, then I am truly blessed. I am blessed to have become a writer… Again. I truly hope and pray that I am accepted into this Master of Arts in Communication & Leadership program because I do believe it will help me continue to learn and grow and to make a difference.

Big Shoes to Fill

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to become a Big Sister through the Big Brother/Big Sister program! I put it on my bucket list as something I’d like to do before I turn 40 and time is waning… I think that is really the theme of my bucket list – if not now, when? And WHY NOT now?!

So I headed to the SD BBBS orientation today thinking it is something I really want to do, but that I need to be realistic about whether I have the time and whether it would truly benefit myself and a “Little” given my schedule and the fact that I’m in the process of applying for graduate school. In fact, last night I literally wrote out a list of all the “non-work” and “non-sleep” hours each day to see how much time I would have to dedicate to a “Little” and grad school. Truth be told, there are a lot of hours in a week! If I manage my time well, there is absolutely no reason why I couldn’t do it. I learned today that you have to commit to a minimum of one year and each month we should plan on 2-4 visits that are 2-5 hours each–I really *can* do that!

Today at the orientation we were asked to reflect on what it means to be a mentor and who had been our mentors as we were growing up. I’ll be honest that I could not pluck a name out right away. And the more I think about it, I’ve had people who have influenced me in my life, but I still can’t point to one person who influenced my path in life in a way that a mentor does. I had great teachers in college who taught me how to think critically and helped me to become a better writer, but I can’t really say they were “mentors.” And I’ve had plenty of great bosses over the years who have taught me a TON and have served as guides along my professional path, but I feel I’m still trying to determine where I’m meant to be professionally.

As the youngest of nine children, I think I’ve always wanted to be the “big” of someone! And I’ve been fortunate that my volunteering for Delta Gamma over the years has afforded me the opportunity to give back and be an example to the collegians from my chapter and to other alumnae in San Diego and throughout our region. I’ve become a leader because of these Delta Gamma volunteer experiences and they can’t be matched, but I believe now is the time to mentor someone younger and try to be an example to them like I wish I had growing up. Like anything else in life, you get out of things what you put into them and I’m so excited to become a Big Sister through the San Diego Big Brother/Big Sister program! I’m certain that I’ll get as much, if not more, out of it as my “Little” does.

New Year… New Beginnings

16 days into the new year… How are you feeling about it so far?
A friend of mine posed that question as her status earlier today and I found all of the comments to be very interesting. While it is “just another day”, it’s nice to feel like you have that opportunity to start anew. To put whatever you need to behind you and take a totally different outlook on what is ahead.
Just about everyone starts a new year with resolutions or goals for the year and, typically, within a month or two the resolutions are in the rear view mirror not to be seen again until the next new year. This year I decided not to make resolutions I won’t keep, but to do the following:
     Publish my bucket list that I have only 9 more months to accomplish and ask for the help of my friends and family to accomplish all the items!
     Approach the year with a truly optimistic view. Things have not gone my way in the recent past, but that’s just it – it’s in the past!
     All of that… And I have the bug to go back to school and get my Masters… WOW, I thought I was busy already?!
Each new year quickly begins with the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. I attended last year because I was to be bidding on audio-visual services for part of the show. This year I attended again for that reason and many others… And this year my industry association (PCMA) annual meeting happened to begin right on the heels of CES, right in Vegas! That meant I was to spend 7 days and nights in Las Vegas (IN-A-ROW!). I was frightened going in, but it was truly an adventure and inspiring. Of course, I came home exhausted beyond words and felt like I needed to sleep for three days, but I was reminded once again that there is NO other way for me to meet new potential clients and do that relationship-building with potential clients and fellow suppliers. In fact, two supplier friends of mine introduced me to two of my best potential new clients during the conference. NOTHING can replace the face-to-face interactions that these meetings bring. Now, having these meetings in a city that “makes you go to sleep” (I do LOVE Vegas, New Orleans and NYC, but phew!) would help the exhaustion factor, but I wouldn’t replace the experience for the world.
In addition to meeting several new potential clients, I was able to close a deal I was already working on and learned that we’ve made it to the finals on two other big deals… The new year is off to a killer start!
It’s important to keep your eye on the prize and not get mired in the negative… I’m personally intending to approach each week with a positive spirit and that HAS to have a positive influence on my life—ALL aspects of my life! I suggest you do the same. Positive affirmations! It worked for Stuart Smally, right? :o)

Happy New Year to you all.

The Best Gifts Aren’t the Shiny Ones

Now, I love a good shiny gift, don’t get me wrong. Like the perfect silver chain with a heart charm that my friend Carol gave me… Or the beautiful silver pearl charm, with a little dangly diamond on it that my sister Maureen gave me!
But sometimes it’s the ones you just have to dust off a bit to remember how truly valuable they are. Family is SO important and treasured, but I believe it’s the friends in our lives that provide total enrichment. With *true* friends, you don’t have to put on a face… You don’t have to pretend that everything is ok! And, even if life is mostly great, it is your friends who will listen and try to help you with what is not. It’s a safe and fair place to vent because your friends—especially those you’ve had most of your life—know your history and what makes you tick. You don’t have to re-explain your past in order to help them understand your present. Perhaps they will provide you some insight that you didn’t have before? Or, at worst, they will have listened and maybe helped you give yourself the insight you needed. Being listened to is sometimes all you need.
I truly love my friends in San Diego and they help to enrich my life on a regular basis. But these aren’t the people who know it all! It is difficult to live so far away from my close childhood friends whom I’ve known for 26-35 years. But we always pick up right where we left off and I treasure the time I get with them. We all need to make an effort to reach out and to see each other more… Life gets in the way for all of us for different reasons and it’s my hope that we will make more time.
It’s the gift of friendship that I need to remind myself to collect on because it doesn’t cost a penny, but gives so much in return. Let’s all resolve to approach 2011 with the intention of dusting off those awesome friendships and keeping them as shiny as we can.

The Art of Doing Nothing

So many trips… So many events… “What a job” I have, most people say…

And yet, I’ve been in search of the ultimate “do nothing” time – I needed a true vacation! A year ago I went on a trip to Waikiki by myself and it was beyond wonderful. I purposefully didn’t schedule anything… No tours or anything. Each day I woke up when I wanted, went to the beach when I wanted, and ate WHEREVER I wanted! I did all of that and I met some very interesting people along the way. The only thing wrong with that trip was that it wasn’t long enough. It was last year while I was gone that my sister Maureen was inspired to book a trip to Maui his December. I was already looking forward to the trip!

My job is intense. My job requires all of me at most times. I’ve ALWAYS been a vacation person, but since I began this job, I’ve never needed vacations so badly. In May I took a 15 day trip to Europe… The least relaxing vacation ever! While it was fantastic, and I relaxed in bits and pieces, I was almost constantly on the go because I wanted to see as much as I could in the time that I had (the original plan, btw, was to lay on the beach in Greece for 2 weeks!).

Being on the go non-stop for work takes its toll, so I would typically be inclined to stay home on my “time off”, but the only way to do NOTHING, to completely disconnect from my life, is to get away… And tropical getaways are the best. On my way to Maui this trip, one of the movie choices was “Eat, Pray, Love”. It was like a sign from God. Recently my friend Michelle (when having dinner with her in Tampa while on a work trip) told me I should write a book and she sited that movie when she said it (likely a blog topic for another time!). I knew what the movie was about generally, but didn’t know the total of it until I was on my way this week.  The lead character speaks of the art of doing nothing and it sang to me. It truly is an art for people who are constantly going, going, going… Whether that “going” is for professional or personal reasons (both for me), it becomes difficult to stop and do “nothing.”

The past six months have been incredibly difficult. Though also full of wonderful times on my own and with great friends and family… It’s also been full of great loss. I’ve been a successful sales person over the past several years, which has been a huge blessing. Especially after becoming a sales person on accident and never truly feeling like a “sales” person… Having success felt like magic (despite knowing how hard I work). But over the past six months, I worked harder than ever and I could not win a deal. Combine that with the loss of my brother, and it has been HARD.

I finally won a deal about two weeks before my “do nothing” vacation… Truly small when you look at what I’ve sold in the past two years, but it felt like both a million dollar deal and like a HUGE weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Most people don’t believe in symbolism, but I do. I’ve had not one, but THREE butterflies fly in front of my face in the past three weeks… I thought “new beginnings!”, “that’s a sign!” after the first one… And now I’m convinced. The last one flew by me on the final day of my “do nothing” vacation.

I have to believe that good things also come in threes… And that I am closing in on all the good and new beginnings that are meant to come my way (both professional *and* personal). Cheers to the art of doing nothing and the fantastic things that will come after mastering that art (oh, and I did this week – cheers to me:-)