Unexpected endings

This is not the post I expected to be writing today. Really, this is not the post I expected to be writing anytime in the foreseeable future.

My full-time job is likely ending. The partners told me today they have agreed to terms to sell/merge with a big corporate firm. This has been under discussion since the first of the year and I have been peripherally involved in those discussions. However, as of the end of April it appeared to be filed away under not-going-to-happen. Apparently there were some other things going on behind the scenes as of today, the deal is done. I went to the office to notarize documents and agreements and have had opportunity to skim through the highlights. The firm as a separate entity ends on June 30, but there will be up to a 6-month transition term to ensure our existing clients receive the same level of service and we figure out office space and other matters.

What that means for me – I already knew I will be leaving, even if offered an opportunity to stay. Life is short, and I do not want to work in a corporate firm again. One of the things I enjoy most about my job is the small firm aspects of it. I am within 10 feet of the owners and decision makers; there is no layered bureaucracy to wade through and navigate. While we have a chain of command and a defined organizational structure, everyone in our firm is comfortable talking to the partners about anything and everything. It’s informal and comfortable, yet very professional with high integrity and sense of fairness. From working with people of rather flexible moral standards when it came to running a business, I have found this to be of immeasurable importance and priority for me.

The partners – they are good people; they put measures in place to protect the staff. Whether I stay or go, I will be collecting a paycheck through the end of 2017. Because of health insurance benefits and other severance package incentives, I will honor my commitments to them in whatever shape it takes me. However, I already know I am likely to be among the first to exit the firm. As a supervising manager in our office and an almost purely administrative overhead employee, my job functions of billing, accounting, payroll, and human resources will be absorbed almost immediately by existing staff in the Los Angeles office. A new leader has already been appointed and will be in the office the third week in June meeting the staff and outlining the way forward. The partners will continue to function as consultants to the new enterprise, guiding existing client cases as needed until they can be moved to another attorney.

Surprisingly, I am actually quite happy for the partners. From a business and financial standpoint, they made an excellent deal that sets them up for either early retirement or with an opportunity to pursue other types of work that may interest them. Reading through the outline of the agreement, they put protections in place for the staff with regard to severance pay and offers of continued employment. Who will end up staying or going I cannot predict, but at least the parachute the partners negotiated will soften our landings.

While I should be more upset about this turn of events, I am really not. I will miss my crew; I have made some great friends and helped create a very special work environment. In truth, of all my professional accomplishments within this firm, I am most proud of the team we have built and the work ethic we have instilled and built up around one another as individuals as well as the firm as a whole. To see it absorbed and become just another tiny cog in a big giant machine with bazillions of cogs is difficult to swallow. But that’s business.

Most people in my situation would understandably be freaking out, but I guess I am not most people. I still have a thriving little self-employment business and with more time and a little energy I can return to a level of billing that comfortably pays the bills and provides freedom to continue pursuing our interests. I recently cut ties with a couple of clients, and I still have zero regrets about it, despite this new news. With a steady paycheck and maybe a job to report to for the balance of the year, I have room to plan and create a strategy for moving forward on my own again.

Maybe the freak out happens next month, when this all becomes a lot more real. Or perhaps I will just become enthralled and excited about more time to pursue my better health objectives and develop a hobby. Or something like it. Heck, maybe I’ll even blog more frequently than I have been this year.

Whatever happens next, I have the luxury (and trust me, I recognize how fortunate we are in this) of looking at it as an adventure rather than a setback.

 

Pause, reset, trust

I had a meeting scheduled with my bosses yesterday to discuss our recruiting efforts. After what happened on Friday with two hand-picked candidates asked us to meet with (and turned out to be kind of awful people), I was bewildered and confused by the process. Their reaction when I tried to discuss it muddied the waters further as well as left me feeling completely disrespected and on the path to demoralized.

Sunday the scheduled meeting was moved into the afternoon and a management meeting scheduled instead – which is just me and the partners, versus the 5 of us, 2 supervisors, 3 seniors.

The situation was unfortunate, because it made me wonder who these men were and what had happened to the cooperative, creative bosses I had earlier in the week. While I am not a shareholder in this firm, I am typically included and consulted with regard to management of the firm. To be shut out and shut down so completely is awful; had they physically reached out and slapped me I would not have been more shocked and surprised.

And as if they had physically assaulted me, it gave me enough pause to stop and really consider my options and alternatives if this is the way things are going to be moving forward.

My ways of processing things is partly analysis of the situation, it’s possible reasonable (and unreasonable) explanations, and figure out what must happen to make restore peace in my fiefdom that is my day job. While I really love the staff and the role itself, if I wanted to work in a compartmentalized corporate conglomerate where I am a mere cog in the big giant wheel I would have chosen another type of firm. If it took 18 months for the partners’ Dr. Jeckyll to transform in Mr. Hyde, experience tells me the time span between future transformations will evolve into a briefer and briefer pattern.

After leaving my prior employee-based position, I swore not to put myself into another position where I am cleaning up the messes resulting from lack of communication and poor decision making. If I am in a role where I am supposed to be managing something to manage firm resources and personnel, I need to either be part of the solution or my job becomes a cancer that takes over my life.

This weekend, I decided we would resolve this issue or I would be turning in my notice. Sounds extreme, I know, but in truth I have a thriving part-time self-employment business and am routinely having to turn away referrals from existing clients because I don’t have time to take on a lot more new work. While making money is really nice – I am a capitalist at heart and do appreciate my opportunities to make lots of bucks – it is not worth sacrificing my self-respect or feeling undervalued and unappreciated. That said, I am not someone with an over-inflated ego; I so nor believe myself indispensable and beyond reproach for my skills and work habits. I am well aware that everyone is replaceable and there are literally dozens of equally to more qualified candidates out there. But whether those other candidates bring the same level of care and compassion to the work, I have no idea. I do think my empathy coupled with practicality, skill set, and willingness to be fair and balanced in dealing with people – maybe it’s less common.

M and I had discussed this extensively over the weekend, and I had a few in-depth conversations with other friends who are in similar lines of work. I needed a gut-check to ensure I was not massively overreacting. But at the end of the conversations, I would probably still be inclined to walk away if this was the new world order at my firm. Love the people, actually really like and respect the partners as well, but I cannot and will not work with my role and priorities being altered without any discussion or notice.

With this all settled for me, I went into the meeting with a clear head and an open mind. I had my hopes – an explanation at the very least – and was not completely disappointed by the outcome.

There was a genuine apology for their brush off. There was opportunity for me to vent my feelings – primarily anger, disappointment, and betrayal. I felt set-up, walking in blind with a couple of candidates they already knew or were at least familiar enough with to invite to meet with us. No debrief? No advance warning? Or was it the candidate set-up with extended hopes and expectations?

Uncomfortable silence around the table when I laid it out for them in black and white, and I was dimly reminded of reprimanding my kids in their youth. Unanimous agreement all around the process had been botched and that the candidates were unlikely to be a good fit with the type of firm they have created and the professional atmosphere they want to foster.

The why of it all still eludes me, other than the concern of adding more female professional staff looms large in their minds. I point out that yours truly is female and a manager, even if I am not an attorney and even if my male bosses dis me from time to time. However, I agree that another female hires would be beneficial. Alas, finding the most qualified female for the jobs we are seeking to fill has been a challenge as well. In addition to that, our willingness and ability to accommodate the time and schedule requests of the lady lawyers we have extended offers to have been rejected. Not our fault.

But before we dug too deeply into the actual recruiting part of our meeting, I wanted to wrap-up the communication aspect of our discussion.

Bosses agreed they botched this introduction and also agreed it might have been partly an unconscious and on purpose choice to test our mettle. Nope, I did not like that, at all, and we were very nearly back to square one.

Of the 4, all have been married and divorced at some point, although all are presently single right now. I am older by more than a decade and have been with M for more than a quarter century and know quite a bit about trust, betraying trust, and what it takes to rebuild once broken. Just in case you’re curious – it was not infidelity on either side, so much as my child victimization and M sharing it with our counselor without my permission or even telling me first. That lack of communication nearly ended our marriage, and it took a long time and therapy to recover and rebuild.

While their behavior is small-ball in comparison, it is serious enough that I did figure out my options and whether resignation was a viable one. I do not threaten ever, and I did not give them a “my way or the highway” ultimatum speech. What I did say – I am a professional in my own right and in my own field, and I am always straightforward and honest with them about my thoughts, ideas, opinions. This is their firm; they can run it however they see fit. However, if my role in it is as they have described and up to this incident acted like it was what they wanted, the game playing and mettle-testing must cease. Immediately. Tell me it is none of my business. Decide to alter my job description and explain to me that they are implementing changes to my duties and role. But do not treat me like an unknown quantity they cannot or will not trust enough to use her best judgement. Because despite what they thought they were doing or what they intended, this is the ultimate outcome of their misstep.

They are smart men; they got the message loud and clear. There is no double-secret probation, no hoops they must jump through to make it up to me. But my expectation of being treated like a professional was crystal clear.

After a rough day with all that yesterday, it was good to have some space from them and focus on my self-employment workload today.

Life is long and relationships of all stripes complicate everything. But we will sort it out, work it out. Our first big fight; time will tell how it shapes our future.

Communication and misplaced anger

I strive to be professional in my employment pursuits. I am close to many of my colleagues and very fond of my private clients, which sometimes makes it harder on me to just do the somehow negative tasks in front of me and explain or deal with the occasionally strong emotions of the other players in that slice of the business world.

A self-employment business client is caught up in a shitstorm and has been needing a lot of extra time and support from me this month. It has caused some friction and stress, because my schedule is pretty full during the first quarter of every year anyway, but unless I literally cannot carve out enough time to do the work I am reluctant to say no. Since he is a great client, typically a pleasure to work with, I have rearranged my evening and weekend work schedules and pushed through to get what he needed completed within deadlines.

Unfortunately a good outcome is not forthcoming. And that makes it harder for me to muster genuine positive energy and enthusiasm to continue to push through and do my job. I am a professional, though; I actually push harder and expend more effort in hopes of finding a better solution to resolve the problem.

This morning I gave up my sacred exercise block for a conference call (client is presently buried in snow on the other coast) and in a moment of stress and frustration his temper flared and he snapped at me about the quality of my recent efforts for him. Professionally and intellectually, I understand he is frustrated, unhappy, and under stress with the issues he is facing. The comment was an emotional outburst and not meant to be taken personally. However, words matter. Personally and emotionally – someone says in very plainly that I am doing a “shit-worthless job for them” in the matter at hand, it is nearly impossible for me not to take it personally. I was very much taken aback by his vitriol, particularly as it was not a one-on-one interaction, and while he has since apologized in text (after we hung up I had to run through the shower and get ready for my day job so did not answer the telephone when he called me back), my reply was neutral. I know further discussion is warranted – he lost his cool and said things that felt far more like a personal attack than disappointment or distress with my work product. Unfortunately now is not the time; he has far too much on his plate and it is not a conversation I wish to have by phone.

Sometimes I wonder if I am tough enough to be self-employed and to take the flak that occasionally flies from an executive’s mouth. My emotional response made me glad we were not sitting in the same room, because it is far easier to maintain my composure and rein in my own temper being alone in my office. Once the call ended, though, I had the angry cry and the raging inside my head of how dare he treat me so poorly.

Cooler heads do prevail. I know he knows his show of temper was inappropriate and directed at the wrong person. I also know I will overcome it. But I have learned (the hard way) that to allow this sort of disrespect toward me even once sets a bad precedent for future interactions, so we need to have a calm, grown-up discussion about what he said, how I received it, and why it should not happen again, particularly when it is a meeting with other people. If that conversation does not proceed as I hope, then our professional association will have to end. I know it is a luxury to not having to tolerate being disrespected or abused by someone paying for my services, and I know I am fortunate to be able to cut ties and not be stressed about income and paying bills.

But I hate when my days start like that. Possibly why I would rather be at the gym, presently my happier space. Something to look forward to tonight, even if the tradeoff is being in the club at an unusual, potentially busier time of day. I will make it work. Plus M is cooking tonight, so one less thing to think about.

My unlucky day

Today was not a terrible or even a bad day. However, it was a day with a series of events that distract and irritate me.

On the way to the gym, my pony tail stretchy band breaks. This is not an unusual occurrence, so I always have a spare in my gym bag. When I get to the gym and trying to install a replacement pony holder, it too breaks. What are the odds? I go forth and practice sans pony tail, hair flipping and flopping all over the place, and the world continued to spin on its axis.

Then about a third of the way through practice, my headset starts acting up. Usually just turning the phone off and on resets everything, so I tried that first. And then my headset (it’s bluetooth) would not pair. I need to continue with practice, though, so I toss it into the bag with my phone and get back to it sans tunes. The sun continues to shine and the sky is still anchored in place overhead.

I did delete and repair and had music for the sets in the final quadplex.

Today is my work-from-home day, for self-employment work. I had no appointments until 4 today, and even that was for a yoga class. Phone calls I can do in yoga pants or even sweaty and gross, so I was able to sleep an extra hour (unintentionally) and still get my full List of the day concluded.

I’m all set to rock and roll … and the power goes out at home.

No problem, I think; my laptops are fully charged. Except with no power, I have no internet. But I have a phone. I can hotspot. Or the power and internet will return.

The power comes back after about 10 minutes. The internet is still down as I am typing this post. I have hot spotted off and on all day long, but it’s not quite as peppy as my regular wireless.

So I did not get much work done. I had telephone calls scheduled, and I did those from my car. And while getting a pedicure. And while waiting at Starbucks to meet a friend for coffee.

Then …  THEN … I had a yoga class scheduled at 4 p.m. I left my house at 3:30 for a 12 to 15 minute drive, only today it was more like 29 minutes. By my watch I was at the LOCKED studio at 3:59. Yep, studio front door was locked and my yoga class was already in session. There was much swearing and foot stomping frustration going on at this development.

Now I have to wait another week to try this class.

This whole day has been one issue after another. I almost – ALMOST – feel like going back to the gym and working off my irritation. Stuff happens, I know. But must it freaking happen all on one day?

I’m finishing up today’s work-work and am feeling thankful I stayed up later last night doing some more critical things that got pushed back from the weekend, hence the late sleep today. Tonight I’m going to bed on time and will be up and at the gym early to tackle my List of the day.

I’m also feeling really, really frustrated about the yoga class.

It seems silly – M made the huge misstep of coming right out and saying it was silly – to be this upset. In M’s defense, because I am fair and balanced that way, he stated that it was somehow their fault for sticking to their policies of locking the door when class began. While my watch said 3:59, theirs obviously said 4 p.m.

My upset is not just disappointment at missing a class that felt like an important step somewhere new. I have placed some unknown amount of pressure upon myself to somehow do better. Yes, I really want to do more stretching, get more yoga. But this … implosion … is really off the scale.

September has been a great month, but the distractions continue. Yesterday it was the nausea/sickness thing. Today it’s power and internet disruptions, not being early enough for the yoga class. Taken alone these are inconveniences and irritations. Taking in the broader context of a September of distraction, they leave me feeling awful and terrible … about me. See you peeking and blowing smoke through the crack in your cell, negative girl.

We have done this dance throughout the last year, and I’m winning. Every time I feel her negative breath in my head, I remind myself I’m winning our ongoing battle.

Tomorrow is leg day again, running through Monday’s training List once more. I am trying to not be either intimidated or overconfident. I want to just be … be with the List. *smile*

September distraction continues, and it seems to be carting off my rational mind with it.

My own little business has been humming along, and I have several projects coming up for renewal this year. Except … I am really thinking that I need to cut loose of the majority of these small jobs. I have enjoyed the work and the clients involved. However, at the time we began my life and the way I anticipated work to evolve was very different. This work represents about 40 hours per month and a few grand in revenue. Except I have been subcontracting about 80% of it out to other friends and reviewing the end product. Part of me thinks this is the way I should be working – subbing the actual work – another part of me believes I do not want to continue this way.

I have been thinking about it. I suppose no decisions or decisive action needed to be implemented today. But soon.

Occasionally I have my own woo woo moments that make me crazy. Like today, I start questioning my overall karma relative to the many little frustrating events of today. Have I been ungrateful, disingenuous, not nice, lazy, slacking? Mean? Have I been too hard on friend J and this is the universe providing bitch-slapping payback?

Practical, rational me says I am being ridiculous. The part of me that feels stressed and disappointed – I recognize the heavy hand of negative girl is at work here.

Wedding, vacation, socializing, work craziness, friend J’s sudden, very serious illness – September has been distraction-palooza. I’m shaving sleep again. Except, not tonight. Tonight I get to bed on time. Tomorrow is a new day, a fresh start with Monday’s List and an opportunity to get through it in a manner that completely satisfies my Type A-/B+ personality.

The shock of friend J’s illness, initial steps of his recovery, and my supreme fear of the Very Bad Things potential – it hit me pretty hard. We are good, mostly back to normal. I’m still concerned, but gaining the upper hand on my emotions and unease.

This feels like a wasted day, because work was not as productive as typical and yoga didn’t happen. On the other hand, I went through 3 sets of my List of the day this morning in a 98% satisfactory manner – tricep dips are hard, and overhead flyes? What the Hell are overhead flyes? Brain was wracked and nothing came to mind. I substituted some kind of lateral raise. I got a pedicure. I had coffee with a friend I haven’t seen in a few months. Friend J is smirking in email.

The universe is a balanced place. Maybe there’s a lesson there for me.

 

Having a great day … on Saturday

This was actually supposed to be posted on Saturday around noon, but for whatever reason my blog was not allowing me to post until today (Sunday).

I took M’s car over to the smog shop today to get it smogged and ready for title change. For whatever reason, I tend to be the one taking all our vehicles in for repairs, oil changes, smog checks. M and I have both been operating on a sleep deficit this week, but I at least had opportunity to catch up by sleeping until 6 this morning. M still gets up at 2:45 a.m. to be out the door for his run at 3:30 a.m. to bypass the heat.

We have nothing planned today, other than choring. There is a week of laundry washed, dried, left in laundry baskets, because I have been insanely busy with work-work all week. I am meeting one of private clients at 1 p.m., but in the meantime, I’m eating lunch and writing this post, and will be getting started on the folding of said laundry. Because while M is fine with the washing and the drying of our clothes throughout the week, he is happy and content to take clean clothes directly from the laundry basket sitting in the middle of our family room. I am the one bothered by that practice, so I am the one who folds the clothes. He will put them away once folded, but there is a definite disconnect between getting clean clothes out of the dryer and the folding clothes process.

Enroute home from the smog shop (Highlander passed, no problems), I stopped at CVS for bandaids. I don’t know how or why this happens this way, but we go through periods where one or both of us has bleeding, bandaid-worthy wounds and are out of bandaids. This time, since M scraped his elbow on something yesterday and told me we were down to the last one of the large size, waterproof bandaids, I chose to be proactive and buy another box before the next bandaid-worthy injury occurs. This it the closest I come to being superstitious; if we are out of bandaids, one of us will be bleeding and needing it immediately. If we are well supplied, we are probably safe.

The clerk there always seems to be there when I stop in for something, and we had our usual pleasant interchange while I was paying for my purchases. He said to me, you’re always smiling and so cheerful; I wish all my customers were so pleasant. It was a nice compliment, and I smiled and told him that it’s because I have taken up regular exercise, that it boosts my mood and emotional frame of reference as much as it impacted my physical presence. And I wished him a very nice day as I was leaving.

His comment got me thinking. While I cannot imagine a universe where I’m in a crappy mood and wishing someone to have a horrible, awful, no-good kind of day, I can see wishing someone a good day and have it sound hollow and insincere. Because I know I have done it, mostly out of habit. Not so much anymore. There are these really nice kids at my gym’s front desk most days, and I am genuinely smiling as I am leaving and will wish them a great day in a cheerful, upbeat-sounding tone. And I truly mean it. I am mostly happy walking in (depends a lot on my awareness status at 5 a.m.) and I am definitely really feeling good and happy inside walking out.

So while this particular Saturday is nothing special with uplifting or super fun events scheduled, we are still having a great day. M will be putting forth his best OCD on cleaning his vehicle, and I will be folding laundry, working with a client I enjoy, and then finishing the laundry, cleaning house, and hopefully getting to wash and clean the interior of my car. We are eating out tonight, doing our grocery shopping for the week, and essentially just being ordinary people attending to typical, unexciting weekend chores.

And it is a great day.

Friday junk drawer post

It has been quite a busy, hectic, crazy week at work. And at home if I stop long enough to contemplate my whole days and whole life. All good things, just all good things happening at once this week.

Workload at my office job. Things are particularly busy right now with new clients and incoming work and other cases suddenly heating up and consuming a lot of time and attention. We have new staff that have had to hit the ground running from day 1, and I think everyone is happy to be immediately billable, even if they did not quite know how to report their time in and expenses in the billing system (that’s today’s training from me). For the most part it’s been working out pretty well – they are green enough to be happy to do the tedious reading and compiling of information and yet experienced enough to be mostly trusted under supervision. They also have bazillions of questions when I’m juggling a lot of tasks myself, and I finally just all the new hires for a how-to-succeed-administratively training course this morning. It actually went pretty well. I went over everything from how to input their time, guidelines for request time off, what to do when they are sick (stay home, call in ASAP to get coverage for anything needing immediate attention, and we will try hard not to bother you with phone calls and texts), payroll and payroll issues, expense reimbursements, when they can expect formal reviews, who to talk to about office supplies, the upcoming move, formal and informal chain of command, and how cubicles and office spaces are assigned. For the most part, it went very well, all their questions were answered, although there is always someone who is dissatisfied with the responses I provided and wanted to either discuss it in more detail, as if it were negotiable. She does have quite a lot to learn.

Office relocation for my office job. Our firm is moving to a larger office space in December. The actual build is starting in 2 weeks, but before that happens there have been reviews, changes, and approvals of plans, etc. I hate moving. I really hate moving in the office sense. While our new space will be a welcome relief of the cramped space we are presently utilizing, the logistics of finding, securing, and now building a new space are endless. Now that the majority of the actual physical space decisions have been made, the logistics of selecting a replacement/updated phone system, office equipment, office furnishings, updating stationery and updating our address in literally hundreds of places. It just seems like a lot of information and requests for quotes all arriving in my physical or email inboxes all at once, following by the phone calls and follow-up emails to ensure I received the information and have any questions.

My own small business – I feel like a rainmaker! Zero complaints about this, but I feel overwhelmed and over my capacity for work on my own little business right now. It is truly a temporary, transitory thing, with a couple of client referrals bringing in very specific and very time-consuming projects. I am adamant about never becoming so … ugly … as to have resentment toward clients for referring friends and business associates. That said, I am one person; I am my whole little firm. And for the most part I like it that way. I am already utilizing subcontractors I trust for a couple of larger jobs that really only require my review of final deliverables. My 2 most recent clients had interesting projects and for the first half of the month until they are wrapped up I have a lot of material to review and reports to prepare. But it’s okay; the projects are likely one and done situations and the follow-on maintenance work is just a few hours per month. I can grin and bear it and be grateful for the work.

New-to-us car for M. It has been a couple of months but M and I have been seeking a new-to-us 4WD/AWD SUV for him. He already drives a Honda CRV, which has proved to be a bit too small and light for where he likes to go, the running and camping type hobbies he likes to pursue. Last weekend we went to look at a 2008 Toyota Highlander, which was probably the most perfect vehicle of all our previous viewings. It was a private party sale, which tends to be complicated. Anyway, we looked it over, ran the VIN through Carfax, looked through his maintenance records … and walked away without committing. Since I buy all the cars in our household (I tend to be calm and reasonable during negotiations), this is our strategy. We knew we wanted this particular vehicle – it was well maintained, in good shape without being so perfect M would be reluctant to take it out for fear of scratching the paint. But it was FILTHY inside and out, and I felt it was overpriced. However, it had been listed for a few weeks and the people were moving soon, and I wanted to do some additional research and test my theory that they would call me back before I had a chance to contact them about it. Took a couple of days and some back-and-forth, but we finally came to terms on a price and picked it up yesterday. It’s still filthy dirty inside, but nothing that some soap, water, and elbow grease will not cure. The negotiating, the discussions with M, the picking it up and now doing the paperwork to get the title changed also gobbled up more of my time than I anticipated this week. And again, no complaints; M got a vehicle he really, really wanted at a price we are both happy about. And M will be the one with the bucket of soapy water supplying all the elbow grease to clean up that bad boy. I would be fine taking it somewhere and having it professionally detailed, but M’s perfectionism would surge forth and he would be nitpicking the results. Better he just do it himself and then tell me about all the work required to get it cleaned up to his satisfaction. Hearing about his cleaning efforts is far preferably to his complaints about a detailer we have hired.

August cardio challenge. I knew this would be a challenge for me and for others, because finding an extra 30 minutes per day is not super easy when in the midst of a very busy month. But I am managing, between lunch hours and ability to expand my time in the gym on Saturday and get a walk in after pilates on Sunday. While not so much for me personally, I am super excited about this for the level of participation and conversation going on in my realm right now. It’s nice to see those who exercise regularly trying to fit more into their schedules and encourage others who are trying or just getting started to get off the couch.

Better health quest and tests, test results. This week was great to be done with breast cancer screenings and investigation for at least another year. The doctors appointments, the conversations, the reassurances that all is will no matter what – it is just another line item on my to-do list. I am extraordinarily grateful that people care and the ways they express it, and why it surprises remains one of life’s enduring mysteries. But it does. I feel very fortunate that it was not cancer or anything worrisome. Hopefully the trend continues forever.

Better health quest in general. Making a note to myself to not do shoulders/abs and chest/triceps Lists back-to-back on consecutive days. Perhaps it means something that upper body felt sort of weak this morning after yesterday’s shoulders and abs go-round? Nothing terrible happened, just felt different and probably should have flip-flopped tomorrow’s legs List with today’s chest and triceps. Living and learning, I suppose. And the mysteries of weight loss continue to perplex me. I eat pretty much the same stuff, day after day after day, and suddenly the scale is on some sort of determined march downward. Possibly, probably it is the additional activity, with the walking with my associates, or maybe it’s just time for body to release a few extra ounces each day.

Balancing their crazy with my desire for mainstream normal in a public space. The nutty guy who has been coming into the gym and the room where I typically work was back again this morning. Anymore he tends to leave me alone, other than a random greeting, but he runs around the room, climbs all over the TRX frame, shadowboxes, and talks loudly to invisible friends. His workouts are distracting and disruptive to my practice, a problem I accept is likely more my issue than his, because the second I notice his presence I lose my focus and not in good ways. However, I do not want it to escalate, because what can really be done? I do not foresee management having a conversation with this guy, because in truth he is not doing anything wrong enough to warrant that type of intervention. J is aware of him, and how much he tends to bother me (because in truth this kind of crazy seems to bother J as well), but again, the guy may be crazy but is seemingly harmless otherwise. I have found myself with a plan B for dealing with him to get my stuff done … and kind of resenting having to have a plan B in the first place. This morning I was early enough to be finishing up my List of the day when he appeared, so I was already fast-tracking to somewhere else in the gym to work at a couple of nemesis stable exercises. Maybe he is on a 2-week trial and will decide against signing up as a paying member. I can hope, anyway.

Being a sounding board for family members and friends. K had a difficult meeting with the aunt who took her in and raised her when her biological parents were incapacitated with drugs and alcohol. She arranged it with her therapist, because K felt meeting privately with her aunt was unhealthy. My admiration for my future daughter-in-law grows as the days pass, as her self-awareness is maturing and she is working on building up and strengthening inherent weaknesses from her childhood and family of origin. Unfortunately the meeting did not go as well as she had hoped, and she was left with the realization that she truly dislikes her aunt as a person, that the negative toxicity is not something she wants to be around, particularly when the aunt seems to have no interest or desire to alter her behaviors. Listening to her, talking about about this situation with her through the last year, I have come to realize that while we are family now, the trust she extends toward me is genuine and personal, not merely a token of respect for my place as G’s mom, that she values my input and thoughts. It’s humbling. I have rarely thought much good would ever come from my own childhood of Very Bad Things. From there we cross over to friend J, who called me about something else and me, horrible friend, ended up laughing out loud at some of his descriptions of the situations and emotions he is working through and coping with right now. Repeating it to M and I was laughing just trying to spit the words out, all the while feeling kind of terrible and horrified with myself for seeming so unsympathetic. But I am sympathetic and did talk him through the range of stuff he wanted to discuss; I just wish he had used more serious-sounding terms to describe the issue. But he still loves me, still trusts my judgment (mostly), and will never let me forget laughing when trying to discuss this existential crisis. (And yes, I am laughing now just thinking about it; not the actual crisis so much as the terms he deliberately chose to frame and describe it.)

I often joke about me and my first world problems. Because I really do not have problems right now; the issues in my life are temporary situations that will resolve themselves in short order and are very small cakes in the big picture. There is always going to be something worth worrying about or obsessing over if I allow it, and suddenly my very small cakes issues are elevated to Very Big Deal problems inside my head. I remember times when it was hard to get out of the tarpits of worrying about financial or relationship or parenting problems facing, trying desperately to find solutions when only time, patience, some level of sacrifice, or simply accepting the problem was not mine to solve was the only long-term cure.

Occasionally it’s good to recognize, and appreciate, being me.

Boozey-schmoozey summertime

A couple of my private clients run very social organizations. Over the traditional holiday season and in the summer there are multiple parties for different tiers of their organizations with lots of really great food and booze. The raffle and door prizes are pretty stellar, too – everything from bottles of good booze and cases of wine to gift cards, weekend trips, expensive electronics. The food is always amazing even if not stuff I personally enjoy, and the people are mostly interesting and happy in a social environment.

So summer is also very busy season as well for celebrations, only without having to dress up and wear heels so much. Last couple of weeks there were bbq events with lots of beer and wine and amazing bbq chicken and even more amazing potato salad. (I love a good potato salad, but I admit to be hugely fussy about it.) It was fabulous! And I ate way too much, but worth every single calorie I have been sweating off in the gym the past weeks.

Being the owner of my own little firm, I have a certain level of obligation to attend such events when invited. M gets a pass for a lot of the summer invites because of his running schedule and his own social calendar, plus a lot of these things are after work and going solo is not looked upon with any sort of raised eyebrow. Thankfully I get a pass on most of the golfing, being a non-golfer, non-tennis player, but the happy hour and bbq events are kind of tough to dodge.

Last Christmas it felt as if I could open my own small liquor store with the amount of booze I won or was gifted by clients and vendors. There was also some really good cheese and Godiva chocolate and a basket of assorted cheesecake and baked goods, but the cheese M and I enjoyed with friends and the Godiva and goodie baskets were shared with my various offices. The booze – being non-drinkers – we gave to our friends who enjoy the occasional cocktail or spirits, the kids, my trainer, my hairdresser, my nail ladies, the associates, etc. The bounty was almost embarrassing.

Now we are into the summer social season and I have my first bottles of rum and scotch, and last weekend a couple of bottles of wine. Thankfully we have friends who are not so set in their booze ways they are willing to experiment and figure out if they enjoy different spirits.

I almost feel guilty asking others if they might enjoy this bottle of liquor, that 6 pack of beer, what about this wine, but I would probably feel worse pouring it down the sink.

On Saturday M and I attended a boating cruise adventure that had a riverboat gambling theme. We came home with a couple of bottles of wine and bunch of restaurant gift cards. M, big winner at cards without having much interest in cards, exchanged his chips for mystery gift card packages, including a few places we like on occasion. We are pretty far from restaurant snobs, but with me being a picky eater and M’s present dietary guidelines, we tend to stick with the same local haunts. So again, our kids, our friends are beneficiaries of my work-related social swag.

My clients, and my law firm bosses, are fantastic, social people. The lawyers annual golf/promotion day is coming up with dinner afterwards. While the booze is flowing during the event, I do not think they are giving bottles away. Thankfully. However, the partners do the gift and award choosing, and they are very secretive about the process. From what I hear from the associates the gifts are always a wearable of some sort and then something fun – gift card or some sort of desirable object. That’s not until August, though, so I will have to bide my time and manage my curiosity.

But my friends love me more summer and holiday time, with my boozey-schmoozey summer and holiday hauls of wine and spirits and such. It is kind of gratifying to I have come up with oddball things to share that actually taste good to them, unlike the frozen green beans in protein shakes that one of my friends tried this morning on my recommendation. Apparently she now think I may be trying to kill them off by hoping she and her husband could choke it down. Made me laugh, because it’s not THAT bad, especially since I cannot even taste them buried under the fruit I toss in with it. Makes me wonder if she cooked them first.

Ah well. Me and my first world problems, you know.