So today as I slowly rebuild my blogging muscle I’m going to muse a bit about some personal and big picture things. A little over a year ago I found myself in yet another unwanted career/life dilemma. I’d been working on the cloud part of the Microsoft fitness band as a contractor with a reasonable expectation of that turning into the much sought after “blue badge” permanent position at Microsoft. The sad truth turned out that the band barely made it to launch and a lot of excess had to be jettisoned.
No worries, I enjoyed my time on the team, met some great folks and am proud of my part in what became a pretty decent product. So that left me with the “opportunity” to find the next big thing. Right off I had some encouraging interviews. A PERFECT position for me at Microsoft on the DirectX team. I would have been the perfect candidate. But I left that team a decade back under a cloud. I let that history and some confusion about who I was interviewing with (they had me talk to a number of folks that had no idea about the role or the team) put off balance. I face planted the interview and got a “thanks so very much you are the most awesome person we won’t be hiring” response in the end. I also had a really interesting opportunity at Nintendo. That seemed to go much better but in the end it was a “thanks for playing, stay in touch” reply. Then the holidays set in, I interviewed for a few other contract positions that I actually accepted then had them fall apart for one reason or another. Finally I thought I’d landed a decent position early the next year. A company doing an interesting transponder product for trucks hired me on but just two days into that job I got an offer from Amazon. So I walked away from the transponder company (I may have dodged a bullet leaving there but it seemed like a nice place).
So began my Amazon journey. As a Microsofter I had heard endless horror stories about working for Amazon. What I found is Amazon has some very good ideas about creating a productive work space. I also learned that not all teams there are created equal and I have to say my year there was one of the worst years in my work life. I did face some unexpected health issues that compounded the misery but I did not fit in this team on many levels. So I am going to repeat what so many folks like myself that left Amazon repeat. I think it could be a wonderful place to work on the right team, but I have no idea what team that is or how to get hired on that team. The folks I met there that seemed the most satisfied mostly had their first job at Amazon and really don’t know much about the alternatives. In the end Amazon and I did part on good terms, they treated me much nicer than I expected when they threw me out the air lock. I will remain a loyal customer and would with some caution recommend them as an employer. If you get the opportunity give them a shot. Some variability of size and color may occur, your mileage may vary, no warranty expressed or implied, no guaranty of mercantilism of fitness of purpose.
Now we are mostly caught up. I’m back to contacting at MS for the Surface team. This job is light years better for me than Amazon turned out to be. And I’m back in the process of trying to recover from last year, the last years bad job and the last years constant series of seeming setbacks. Congratulations if you got this far into this ramble. Now to the point of this.
I found myself feeling quite lost and derailed in my journey. Amazon had crushed my confidence in my professional abilities. My health was not where it needed to be. My once very rich life in terms of my actives had shrunk much like an old party balloon. It was clear I needed to get it all back. Add to that the fact I am realizing age is no longer an abstract. It has become to a degree a burning fuse on a cartoon bomb. There is no longer a put it off till tomorrow button on my dashboard. I am living in tomorrow! So I started looking at what makes me happy and how to get back to those things. I also decided to try out something new. I found a free online course on the science of happiness. I took it and I was happy I did. It brought some things into focus. If you can find the time I’d recommend auditing this course. Science of Happiness
So I’m finding myself looking at my life as it exists today and how I might make it better. It seems I am that “boiled frog”. Over time I’ve let myself loose a lot of what kept me happy and connected. Happiness is really about connections with others. I’ve lost a lot of that. I had a pretty wonderful set of connections based on music. Particularly local music. I also made sure I was playing and performing regularly. Over time venues closed, bands faded away, my favorite karaoke place stopped karaoke and my regular open mic night shut down (curse you Paul Allen for killing the EMP open mic!) It didn’t happen over night, it all just faded slowly. Other things changed, I moved onto a floating home but that too became more of a negative than a positive. Parking became impossible to count on so I stopped going out regularly. My regular “out to the Waterfront Friday happy hour” was replaced by home sitting on the couch. In fact where I’d go out to hear a band some other distraction on a whim became something that had to be so special that I’d be willing to take a taxi. So where I used to get out and about a lot I mostly stayed home. I do have a sailboat at home but I don’t really have someone I enjoy sailing with anymore. Not to mention I paid a fair amount of money to have a bunch of work done on the two sailboats I own and the net was both now are no longer capable of being sailed. I have a bunch of weekends of work at a minimum on one and weeks of work for the other. I’ve also put other things on hold. At one time I was very active doing R/C airplanes. No longer. Seattle just doesn’t seem to have the types of flying fields I like. There was regular indoor flying as well, we lost the big hangar we used to use and then my parking situation was the final nail in that coffin.
So here I am, I’ve slowly traded a life of constant activities for a couch and cable TV. I realized that clock we all live under is ticking away and I need to take my life back. So if I seem a little “refocused” and maybe even distracted there is a reason for the rhyme. Stuff I’ve decided to fix it:
I’m trying to be more mindful. I am trying to make sure I’m in the moment more. I am making some progress on that. I’d really recommend learning more about that if you haven’t already. I think it be a key to a happy life.
I am trying to be more grateful. I had been trapped in this unproductive thought exercise. I would look at where I am an wonder when I was going to have that next big thing in my life to come my way. I’d think about some of the great job offers I’ve had, the opportunities to really make major changes in my life, moving to Houston, moving up here to Seattle, moving on a floating home. I’ve come to realize the changes came with their own set of wonderful and their own set of losses. It is too easy to assume the “grass is always greener”. I definitely know now I don’t need a new “awesome” job to be happy. I recently could have made a big career jump but that would have meant another relocation. I’m no longer looking to jump to somewhere else. I’ve also realized we all have a lot to be grateful for. Each new day. What community we have. Just “being” is really special of you take a moment to think about it. We have wonder and awe all around if we take a moment to take it all in. I mean I live on a lake. I mean ON a lake. Pretty special for a gal who grew up in the desert! It all comes back to the mindful thing I previously mentioned. I am trying to be open to what I am grateful for. Gratitude turns out to have a big affect on our happiness.
I am coming to grips with a lot of my life choices were the right ones. While I have accumulated some stuff, more often than not I’ve chosen experiences over things. It turns out that the long term happiness we get from experiences is far greater than the happiness we get from getting something. That said, I should have been more inclined to have some of those experiences instead of focusing on things that really aren’t the source of our happiness. For example you likely aren’t going to find real happiness in your career. If you do you are the exception, not the rule. Wealth won’t bring it. So going forward more experiences!! On that note:
I’ve become focused on getting my pilots license current again. I stopped flying because I never owned an airplane and a lot of the activities I wanted to be part of weren’t really possible if I rented. So here I am saying the stuff we own isn’t how we get happy and I’m complaining about not owning something. I don’ know why I never let myself get a plane. I certainly could have if I really focused on it. But now I see why I want (maybe even need) one. I am missing out on a lot of fun opportunities to have those experiences. Taking MY plane to a major fly-in. Regularly joining friends for that $100 hamburger/pancake or to visit a host of other pilot events. I realized back when I was in AZ while my friends all flew a lot I really could never join them on the adventures. I look back see I should have. So again, I love aviation about as much as anything in my life and it isn’t getting any easier for me to enjoy it. The clock is ticking. If I don’t do it now then when. So I’ve set my sights on an affordable airplane that will be fun to attend aviation events in.
Another key to happiness is community. I’ve let mine wander off. I am working on finding my “tribe”. I had a bit of that in an online form as part of a game I used to play a lot. Eve online. I at one time built a community online of several hundred folks. The game changed, I made some poor decisions about my focus and over time it all but fell apart. I’m not sure that is where I should be trying to build back those connections. I’m looking at other options. I’ve been more focused on trying to find local music again. I am also going to try to start playing and singing out with local open mics. Me trying to get that back has really taught me something, Don’t take thing for granted. I used to sing a lot and I’ve been told I sang very well. Now I’m finding that some of the health issues seemed to have really screwed up my singing. I don’t know if I’ll ever get it back. I really don’t have an excuse. I just always thought those band and open mic experiences were always going to be there.
I do hope I can find those regular social experiences. I was making some progress getting back involved with R/C by becoming a scale R/C judge. This year I don’t think I can count on that. Date conflicts and the change in the local scene means a my participation will be minimal this year. I used to regularly try and participate in local art shows for technology focused art but there seems to have been a shift in the scene as a result of the maker movement. Maybe I can find that activity again. Finally sailing. I need to sort out why I don’t sail more. I could be sailing every day. The first year I owned my sailboat Zoot she lost her mast. I think somehow that spooked me. Along with a constant fight with outboard motors left me in a funny state. I’m committed to working that out.
So there are other things I could go on about. But I think this is enough of a ramble for now. Summary, I’m trying to focus less on judging my own self worth by my career, looking at more rich experiences (why don’t I take vacations?) Finally either getting to things I’ve put off or letting them go. I didn’t talk much about letting go. I really do realize I carry around a lot of baggage. It’s time for me to put that all in the past. My life to date has been pretty amazing, I can look back and see I’ve done some amazing things and I know there is so much more for me in the future. I just need to let it in. To anyone that has been a part of that, thank you! And thank you in advance to anyone that’s going to be a part of that wondrous future. If sometime on the past I did something you feel wronged you I am sorry. I have done some pretty bone head things. I apologize. Know it wasn’t done out of malice. I am just not that smart when it comes to people sometime. Let me know what I did and I promise a better and more direct apology.
That’s it for today, Spacegrrrl out!