Weathered Well Together

This is a special place to be…

You know your marriage has weathered well when love brings you to the place where you bear the other’s sharp word or dark mood, knowing as you do that these raw places cover a weary or wounded soul and require tenderness, not scorn or assault. Forgiveness is given, easily, before it’s ever asked, the scuffle brushed away, no more bother than a stray piece of lint.

via winncollier.com.

… and it takes time.

It takes understanding over the long haul.

It takes listening first, second and third more often than not.

I confess, it means I should mute the TV or turn it off to keep traveling towards this space in the journey together.

We went to Greenville, SC last Friday, just the two of us. We walked. We ate wonderful food. We saw Falls Park and all the upgrades around the Downtown area.

Mostly, I enjoyed that we were there together. The walking, the words, the silence – all coming through as part of the long haul kind of  life we’re living out together.

the payoff

When I left my job of nineteen-plus years last August, I knew what I was getting into – and at the same time I had no clue. I had spent those years in various forms programming for the financial/output side of the insurance industry. More recently, I had been able to do some technical writing in requirement gathering and project planning. I’d traveled to some really cool places – Philadelphia/Lititz, PA; Seattle/Enumclaw, WA; San Juan/Humacao, PR; Staunton, VA; Tampa/Treasure Island, FL; SFO/San Mateo, CA. Over the years, I met with good people also trying to do their jobs the best they could for their own customer bases. I liked that we were doing our best for them to then do their best for their constituents. I liked that I could work meetings into paragraphs, and I enjoyed the back and forth to “get it right” in putting to paper what the client wanted and how we were going to deliver.

Writing first, programming second – some C++ with a mostly text-based script system. We did some good things, and I liked my job. There wasn’t a reason to leave, except that I had had an itch to find something new. Nothing had really panned out, so I had re-settled into my groove and was ready to stay for the long haul. But then there was an opportunity to start something exciting and new… The Love Boat… soon will be making another run…

I stopped Job #1 of my adult life on Friday, and started Job #2 of my adult life on Monday. I was hired to work on social media initiatives, with a touch of graphic design and programming on the side. That was in August. We’ve been planning and working and replanning and reworking things since then, on multiple fronts, multiple platforms, multiple configurations. It was a huge change for my mindset – honestly, the stress level dropped more than anything. I didn’t know how stressed I must have been but today, I have actual fingernails. I don’t chew them off anymore – that’s been a pretty big realization on my part. I’m on a new team that’s once again fun, professional and trying to do good things for customers. That makes all the difference, doesn’t it?

So what happened last week? We opened the world to a new website design – I had one small part, helping with some of the “search” capabilities, while everyone else poured themselves into what was happening. It’s a major step forward, and folks worked with a real determination to do what’s right, make it easy for the customer, and to build something they could be proud of and management would be happy about. Internally the kudos were there – people from around the company loved it. When the rollout came there were some issues that became the week’s priorities and were quickly sifted out. It was good for me as a newcomer to see the team work as a team and celebrate as a team. It’s a good tech shop, with great people and big dreams.

So what happened to me last week? The new web design shows more prominently than before that we are involved in social media. For the first time in our process, we were getting major play on our Facebook page, on Twitter – even gained a YouTube subscriber or two. A few folks commented on their enjoyment of the new site. We gained visitors, we saw web analytics from the social media links, and we interacted with folks “in the wild” about real things that mattered to them. For me, it meant the things we were doing were going to pay off, that ideas we were having and challenges we were working out had come to a point beyond conjecture and were now really happening in our system.

There’s a scene at the end of The Incredibles where the neighbor kid sees the explosion of Syndrome and the family being saved inside Violet’s forcefield. His jaw drops, he stares at Mr. Incredible, and finally exclaims, “THAT WAS TOTALLY WICKED!” – that was me last week. I was so happy one evening, I tried to explain it all to my 12-year-old. I don’t think she was necessarily impressed, but I do hope some of that excitement from doing something you love rubs off on her so she won’t settle for a career path that’s anything less. I enjoy what I do, still putting in home/offsite time to make myself better, to find better ways to do things, to try to look at things differently and stay up with the growth in these areas. The past week or so has reinforced the decision to move on, to make a change, to move out and try new things in new ways.

I highly recommend…

what a difference…

What a difference a year makes. Or rather, what a strange new world in around twelve months. Last February I was on the road. I was in Lititz, PA, working on requirement documents for a customer. I’ve enjoyed business travel over the years. Meeting new folks, building relationships across the country, seeing how other people live and work and do their thing – that’s exciting to me. And honestly, I was ready to keep doing it for years to come.

Eight months ago, I was working in the group that was implementing those notes – making the ideas and thoughts of a couple of meetings and trips come through as a working productive business system. Seven months ago, the inkling of the idea of a change in my personal path was growing to the size of a man’s fist just above the horizon. Six months ago…

Well, six months ago from today I was on day four or so of a new job. My first new job in 19+ years. I left the group working on the systems we’d designed in our heads and in Word docs. I left the ID Card and car hanger tag and laptop on the desk of my supervisor, one of my friends. And I started working for a new boss with a new ID Card, driving to a new parking lot for the Mini Cooper, sitting in front of a new PC that eventually gained a second monitor, and thankfully still having the opportunity to work for a friend.

If there’s a moral to this story, it’s that wherever you are now, don’t bet it’ll be the exact same this time next year. Or, on the other hand, maybe it will. For better or for worse, where you are in February 2011 will depend hugely on what you want to do now, what you want to do in August 2010, what you want to change and live and work through. Or not change, not live through, not work out. I could still be happy in my former job – well, I’m not sure of that, but I had settled into it for the even longer haul. But through the decisions to change, to accept change, to embrace and take on the challenge of change – through all that, here I am right now.

It’s a different world – and I’m good with that.

new year’s change on facebook

There’s a block on the sidebar of my profile on Facebook that I’ve taken as a space for “my motto”. This past year 2009 has been one for change, and I have updated this space to reflect my desire for 2010:

“In 2010, I’m going to start filling in the gaps that come with age, with change, with experience & wisdom. I hope.”

Thanks for playing – happy new year.

the dinner party

To say that things had changed since the dinner plans had been made would be an understatement. A week ago, the world was a different place. The birds were singing. Autumn was taking over from summer. Network TV was kicking off the new fall line-ups of shows that would be cancelled in a month’s time anyway. Baseball was winding down as football was hitting its weekly stride. There were no warnings of alien invasion.

A week later, and the thing you noticed most was that the birds were gone. No singing, not flitting around, no Canadian geese crossing the road up by the subdivision’s pond, nothing. No birds. They had been the first planetwide casualties. We’re still not sure ecologically what that will mean for the future, or why they all succumbed so suddenly, so early in the week. Autumn was still happening – even freakish cataclysmic war can’t stop seasonal change; at least we didn’t think it had, not yet anyway. Network TV was a different beast today, mostly news from what was left, from who was left. Baseball would not end this season. Quite frankly football was not high on anyone’s agenda, though there was talk of re-grouping and reorganizing something with fewer professional teams later, but that was months if not a few years down the road.

Tonight’s dinner party had been synced on google calendars last week, just a night for our group of friends to get together at our house. There were six of us, two couples and one single who was bringing his new friend for everyone to meet. It had grown to three couples and five singles, eleven in all, and that was the way these things typically worked out. It’s one of the things I’ve grown to love about our little scheduled/spontaneous get-togethers over the years. But in a week’s time, the world can change. And our eleven friends and acquaintances getting together for nachos and dinner and a ballgame had morphed into five survivors wondering if the calendar event on their iphones would still be on or not.

Of course it was still on. It had to be, right? Coffee was on, even if the ballgame wouldn’t be. And everyone had something to talk about.

seasons change

I’ve been posting some song/videos on my Facebook wall– Song #1 was “Waiting on the World to Change” by John Mayer; Song #2, “New Divide” by Linkin Park from the new Transformers flick. I’m adding Song #3 this morning, “Seasons Change” by Expose’.

This time of year brings with it lots of change. I think it’s the activity around school kicking back into gear. Vicki’s been back since Wednesday, the kids start back this next Wednesday, and the whole city is filled with newcomers as the University welcomed students back to campus as well. Even though on the calendar “summer” still have a few weeks to go, we all know that summer is over, that football is nigh, and, well, things change.

We watched Frost/Nixon last night, and I give it five-out-of-five stars for just about everything being spot on and entertaining. The story, of two men really at a turning point in their professional, personal and emotional lives is that they both realized it, both did their best to push through it, and both had success and failure and the future wrapped up, for the most part, in that narrow slice of time. Both were undergoing change, and both were looking at the possibility with courage and with fear. I think we need to do that more than we do, that we need to look at the challenges and opportunities and challenges ahead in life with a mixed measure of confidence and trepidation, and with that balance, move forward for better or for worse.

Just a thought with the second cup of Sunday coffee kicking in. Time to change for church.