Thursday, June 16, 2011

What Took You So Long?

Things I've learned been reminded of this week:

!. You can go "home" again.
2. Just because friends don't call you doesn't mean you shouldn't call them. Maybe they're giving you space and maybe you hurt them just a tiny bit.
3. Three years is a long time and not very long at all.
4. You have to ask for the job.
5. There may be hope for me yet.
6. Lots of things don't change in your absence. Lots of things do.
7. One person's small action can set off a chain of events they don't even realize they triggered. There's a story there. I know, it's been done.
8. It is possible for someone to disappear without an Invisibility Cloak or faking their own death.
9. Old friends fall quickly into established patterns when they're reunited.
10. As much as I hate to admit it and even more, I hate to do it, it's very good for me to get out of my charming domestic box with its cat hair lining and ironed curtains.

New readers don't remember when I used to write about work, but some of you will remember the old job where I used to travel with a small, tightly-knit band of rowdies who liked to party late into the night. My role was noisemaker, singles stuffer into g-strings, cheerleader, herder of cats, director of traffic and den mother. Now doesn't that sound more fun than being the Executive Director of a small professional association of people who manage something?

Yesterday, I went as a guest to my old association's luncheon and saw a lot of old friends and acquaintances. I didn't know what to expect since the last time I saw these people, my life was coming apart. After I left that job, I stopped talking to those folks because I was a little hurt and I was embarrassed about my situation. So when I wrote one of the past presidents to ask him for a reference, he said of course and also invited me to the luncheon. I was afraid to go, but just like he used to when we worked together as partners, he insisted in his way. He often knew what was best when I couldn't see the forest for the trees.

It took me no time at all to get my networking legs back. There were handshakes and hugs and many questions about where I'd "disappeared" to. Most of these people thought I'd gone to New York. They didn't know I'd stayed for only one day.

I glossed over the details and collected business cards and suggestions for where to look for work. A recruiter asked me to call her. I even got hired by one of my old friends to do some freelance writing and editing.

I learned about the changes in some of my friends lives and oohed and aahed over photos of kids, lost weight and job promotions. The most familiar moment came when the featured speaker, a Georgia State Representative, was giving his speech. I was seated between two past presidents. The one who insisted I come and the other with whom I once drove from Atlanta to New Orleans. Mr. Insist leaned over and whispered "Your job is to ask during Q and A if he's ever tweeted photos of his privates."

I laughed, drawing the attention of my other president so, of course, I had to repeat the joke to her. They both leaned in and I shared with them that I'd learned to be more subtle than that. I would just raise my hand and ask for the State Rep's Twitter handle.

One said to the other, that's why she's the writer.  

As we chatted in the parking lot afterward, Mr. Insist talked about finding happiness and wondering if he would ever find it. He asked me what had taken me so long to get in touch. I could think of many reasons, but I didn't have an answer. I changed the subject. I told him how I'd been thinking that it was our meeting at a national training for the parent organization back in 2002 that led him to recruit me for the job in Georgia so that my family moved here and all the things that had happened as a result.

He wanted to know if I blamed him?

Blame him? No. How could I? But it made me think of how our actions, no matter how insignificant they seem at the time, have ripple effects we'll probably never be aware of.

Promises were made to not be a stranger and we said goodbye. I drove home and emailed gratitude and resumes to the people who requested one. I got in touch with the fellow who hired me to help him with writing and editing. I wouldn't let another three years go by.

19 comments:

  1. I'm glad for you, Lisa.
    I hope this leads to something good, but no matter what the outcome, I think it has helped you recover something that got lost for a little while.

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  2. Why do I feel the urge to pop open a bottle of champagne? Good for you for getting yourself out there! Realize this. The more you do it, the easier it will become. In fact, it will become so second nature that you'll kick yourself for having been so resistant. I'm looking into my crystal ball and I see a gorgeous landscape of awesomeness on the horizon. Good get 'em, tiger!

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  3. I desperately want to write something insightful and encouraging. DESPERATELY.

    I am too busy, however, yelling "Squee! YAY! YAY! YAY!" and jumping around my living room.

    Between bouts of extended coughing, that is.

    Congratulations, Lisa. You rock.

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  4. Great. Sounds like going to the luncheon was really good for you. You never know what will come of it, but just going sounds like it was enough.

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  5. What a terrific and uplifting day! Mahvelolus!

    And it is so easy to assume that others don't want to see us or know us anymore. I think it's an introversion curse. I know I have it. I'm almost always wrong when I fall into that emotional trap.

    I am SO delighted you had this day!

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  6. Has it really been three years? I'm so glad you called Mr. Insist and that he compelled you to go to the luncheon. You never know where things will lead but when people enjoy your company so much there's a good possibility even better things may come soon - like a job. I'm keeping my fingers crossed but I'll leave my toes out of it since crossing them makes my feet cramp.

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  7. I'm glad you went and had a good time. It was probably past time to get a way from cat hair.

    :)

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  8. That had to be so hard to do, to make the first step uncertain of where you would land.
    This post is so timely for me. Thank you for putting it out there, and congratulations on taking that leap that led to the first of many writing jobs.
    Bravo.

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  9. Hey, good for you!

    The prospect of "networking" tends to lock my brain.

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  10. Oh Lisa I have missed you. I've been too long away from the blog world and just caught up with your last ten or so posts! Glad you enjoyed your reunion with your old work pals and were able to network and catch up. I'm having lunch with some of mine next week, coincidentally - after about 4 or 5 months.

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  11. What MSB said. And this.

    The fact that you went was so brave. The fact that you could learn so much about life and yourself in going demonstrates your intelligence and sense. The fact that you can write about it with such insight and so well is your gift. Thanks for that and for the lessons.

    Dx

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  12. I *do* like your 360 degree look at life :)

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  13. Lisa, it was so brave of you to leave those perfectly ironed curtains at home and get out to see these people. I can't imagine how nervous you must have been, not knowing what to expect after so much time gone by. It's a funny thing, though, isn't it, the seeing of old acquaintances? It sounds like it gave you a few different and much needed boosts. I'm so proud of you for getting out there.

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  14. Didn't even tell us if the food was good. Some writer *you* are. Pshaw.

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  15. this all sounds weirdly lovely, just like it should....and just like everyone else here, i wish for you all you would want and expect things to be, go, do, ... you know.

    it's always nice to meet old friends, the kind that show up in life and you wonder how that happened. it's a nice surprise. xxxx

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  16. That's so cool Lisa!

    Networking matters.

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  17. What a great thing! It really just takes sticking one's toe in the water, and someone pulls us all the way in. I'm so excited for you. :)

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  18. Hey cool, you broke through one barrier & now new things are on the horizon.

    Good going!
    Let's hope this is some new trend.

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  19. sorry, as kim would say, i'm a little tardy to this party, but i'm glad i showed.

    you've got some good career energy starting to flow (and all you had to do was show up). allyour past worker peeps seem to know how talented you are; it's good you got reminded too.

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