Linda O

Linda O
Glamorous Me

Monday, September 27, 2010

September thoughts






September is almost over. Some folks have a goal to blog once a day. I have a goal to blog once a month! And, with September fast disappearing, I'd better get busy. Don't think that I don't care about blogging just because I do it so seldom. In fact, I often experience things that make me think, "Wow, that's a great thing to blog about." But, then I don't. So, today I'm going to write about one of those blog-worthy things.

I was getting gas in my car before taking a short trip recently and a man came to my window and said he would pump the gas for me. Remember when we took that for granted? Instead, I was wary. What did he want? A tip? My credit card? Against my better judgment, I let him do it and yes, I even let him swipe my card for the total. He filled the tank, washed my windows, and checked the air in my tires. I was chastizing myself for being too wary and gave him a dollar tip. Then, I drove away without noticing my gas gauge.

A few miles later, I looked down and saw that the gauge was reading empty! How could that happen? I saw him pump the gas. It had to be some type of scam! I was sure that he managed to get the $35 for something other than my gasoline. So, I drove back to the station, turned off the car, and went in to speak to the cashier. The man in question was nowhere around, but she said that he often came by to "help out" and she didn't think he was doing anything but being nice. So, I went back to the car to show her (I even had the receipt) and turned the key. The gas needle popped all the way up to full. My only possible explanation is that he had probably over-filled it, creating some kind of vacuum that made the needle misbehave. I was pretty embarrassed. The man really was just doing a random act of kindness. And here I was, immediately jumping to the conclusion that the act of kindness was a scam. How different our world is these days than it was only a few decades ago! Remember when we let folks fill our gas tanks, wash our windows, and fill our tires as a matter of course? And, if we had a flat tire on the road, we hoped someone would pull over to help us, and were quite grateful when they did!

I remember taking a cross-country trip with my daughter (she was about 11) back around 1980. My little VW bug broke down often. People were helping us all along the way...in fact, once, somewhere deep in Iowa, I heard a nasty noise and knew we were going to break down if I didn't do something. I drove into a small mechanics shop in an even smaller town. The mechanic was friendly, but didn't have the part he needed to fix the bug. Instead, to get the part, he drove me about 100 miles to the last large town we had passed through. While we made the trip, I LEFT MY DAUGHTER WITH HIS FAMILY! Connie didn't want to come with us and I agreed to leave her behind. Naturally, it all worked out fine. When the mechanic and I returned, Connie and I joined the family for dinner and stayed the night in a motel. The next morning, we got the car and hit the road again.

I wonder if that type of trust and consideration still exists somewhere. I sure hope so. I miss it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

August, STC, and blessings




August. Summer is finally here in San Diego. Temperatures up to high 70s/low 80s near the coast…around 85-90 at my house, and approaching triple digits in the east-county valley communities. Not hot compared to the rest of the country, but keep in mind that most of us who live in older homes in San Diego have NO CENTRAL A/C! So, each morning I close all the windows and shades in my little 1100-square-foot house and leave the ceiling fans on low. I have a window-box mini-air-conditioner in my dining room, and I keep it set at 80 during the day on the energy-saver setting. That way, when I get home, all I have to do is open all the windows, and start all the fans (ceiling and floor). Within an hour or two, the house is cool, the outside temp is down into the 70s, and the breeze coming in through my bedroom windows at 10 pm feels cool enough for me to need a sheet as a cover. Ahhh, living in San Diego is truly a dream. I am blessed.


Since I’m talking about blessings, let me continue: In my previous post, I shared with you that STC volunteer work helped me land my current job as a Strategic Analyst. Well, the job is almost a month old and I love it. I’m still on a steep learning curve, but the climb isn’t too bumpy and I have a lot of new colleagues helping me climb. I think the stress of my former job helped me make excuses to back off from STC volunteering these last couple of years. But, the stress must be diminishing because over the past month or two, I’ve picked up the pace and have a begun a few things for me and the Society.

When I saw the news about submitting a proposal for the 2011 STC Summit, I did something different: I used Facebook and Twitter to ask for volunteers to serve on a panel I had thought up. Within less than a day, I had several responses and now I have a panel! It was so easy. In years past, I would send emails to folks I knew and ask for their help. That would engender a slurry of emails and phone calls and well, you get the idea. I much prefer the new way.

I also helped my local chapter the other day and sent a "Welcome to 2010/2011" email to everyone on the STC San Diego membership list. We have 84 members. I think we had about 300+ back in the days when I was the chapter president. Oh well. Everything ebbs and flows. I’m confident that the current members will keep the chapter running. The admin council is making some tough decisions to save money, but the members are supportive: they understand that changes are needed and they are ready to help get us through these tough times.

I have other STC projects in mind…as they develop, I’ll let you know about them. And, for those of you coming to San Diego for LavaCon, keep a lookout for me! I have no jobs to do, so I can actually attend sessions and learn things! What a concept.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A New Chapter for Linda

Well, that autobiography I keep threatening to write will have a new chapter...on Monday, I return to work at a military command! Today is my last day of employment with Hewlett Packard Software. It was a long 5.5 years, sometimes good, sometimes not. But, when we look back, aren't all jobs like that? So, rather than look at all the reasons I wanted to leave HP, I thought I'd focus on all the reasons I'm thrilled to be moving to this new adventure.

1. I am returning to science and engineering. Although my employer is OMNITEC Solutions, Inc., a Bethesda-based defense contractor, I will be supporting and working onsite at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR). This is their mission: The Navy's designated technical authority and acquisition command for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (C4ISR), business information technology and space systems. Although they include IT, they sure have a lot of other stuff going on! I began my career and even received my degree while working for a predecessor of SPAWAR, and going back to it now fits perfectly.

2. I am using experience I have gained in STC. For all those who suggest they get zip for their membership fees in the Society for Technical Communication, I say pshaw! My new title for OMNITEC is Senior Strategic Planner/Analyst. I would never have had the cojones to apply for this position if I hadn't had a dozen years working with STC contributing to their strategic planning. Yes, I did a little of it in other jobs, but the bulk of my experience was at STC board meetings. So, for all those naysayers, out there, I say STC ROCKS!

3. I got a nice raise. :-)

4. I will, for the most part, have a flexible work schedule that allows me to work 9-hour days and have alternate Fridays off! Naturally, sometimes, duty will call on those days, but considering my normal day at HP was 9 til 6 or 7, with NO regular day off for compensation, I will definitely be ahead of the game. (I had years on the 5/4/9 schedule before I left SPAWAR's predecessor lab--the Naval Ocean Systems Center--how sweet it is to get it back!)

5. It's closer to home. My new work site is 11 miles from home; HP was 23 miles from home. Nice!

6. The hangar I work in has walls! Well, I'm referring to inside walls, not outside ones. And, yes, I will still be working at a cubicle, but the cube is in a room that only holds about 6 cubes. Then, you walk through a real door attached to floor-to-ceiling walls into another room that has several cubes, etc. I guess you might call each room a "pod": the setup is to have everyone facing a wall with backs all toward the middle of the room, and I don't recall any divider between folks. The big bosses still have real offices with conference tables, etc. At HP, we have rows and rows and rows of cubes all in one humongous room--and it doesn't matter who you are, no one has an office. No walls except those around the bathrooms, the outside of the building and some conference rooms. We have HUNDREDS of folks all in one room. I won't miss the HP cube farm at all.

7. I get to write about cool stuff. Part of my duties is to write strategic documents, guidance documents, vision documents, etc. I will be working with program managers and military commanders (captains and admirals) and will ghost write for them. How cool is that?

8. It was time for a big change. Energetically, this was meant to be. It feels right. I visualized a place that was just like this and did a whole lot of "thinking and praying and hoping and wishing" and it manifested. Life is good.

9. Social networking works. Someone who knew someone who knew me sent me a note asking me to help network a job in San Diego. I read it, realized I wanted to apply myself, and although I didn't exactly work my network, the person who offered my name to OMNITEC sure did. I hope whoever that person is knows how grateful I am! Maybe someday, I'll find out just how Nick at OMNITEC reached out to me. Or, maybe it should remain one of those anonymous, wonderful gifts that we pass along to someone else someday.

10. It makes me happy. And, in the long run, what more is there?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Another miracle of friendship!


So, it's 1956 and my family and I have just returned from Morocco where Dad had been stationed at the French-American airbase for 2.5 years...where to next? Mysteriously, Dad's next duty station was a land-locked Ashland, Kentucky! No oceans anywhere in sight. (We did have a pond in the back of the house, but I don't think the Navy built anything that would fit on it.) Dad had just made Chief and he ran the little recruiting office in Ashland for about 2 years...we, however, lived in a small rental on Clark Street at the end of Center St in a small suburb called Flatwoods. (I'm not making this up, folks.) The population in 2008 was about 9000. You can imagine what it was in 1956!
I attended grammar school in Russell at the Advance School pictured above. And, during 4th grade at that school, I met Sharon George. We weren't really close friends at the time, and if I had stayed there, who knows if we would have been more than acquaintances. No, I moved in 1959 to California--the land of movie stars, riches, and palm trees. I was quite popular in Flatwoods (Sharon lived in Flatwoods, too) when word got out that I was moving to California. We all thought that meant you would see and meet celebrities every day! So, when I moved away I took the names and addresses of dozens of potential pen pals. My pen-pal plate was full.
Sharon was one of those pen pals...and she's the only one that stuck. We wrote letters to one another for 40 years. She and I commiserated about family and jobs and men. Mostly about men. We got each other through college and marriages. At some point we started to add phone calls to the letters, but the letters continued. Sharon had the most beautiful handwriting I had ever seen. She and I read the same books, saw the same movies, had the same taste in both. We shared so much and all with 2300 miles between us. In time, the letters tapered off and were replaced by phone calls, but every once in awhile, a letter would appear. Mostly from her to me...and I loved every single one of them.
I don't know for sure when I made my first visit back to ol' Kentuck, but I think it was the year my daughter, Connie, graduated from 6th grade. That would have been 1980. We took a cross-country drive and stopped a night with Sharon. For the next 20 years, our letters and calls were punctuated by occasional visits. She came to San Diego once and we drove up to San Francisco so we could share that great city and some enchanting hours in the City Lights Bookstore. One year, after the STC Conference in Cincinnati (1999), I drove down to visit her. She was living in Lexington, working on a horse farm named Buckram Oak Farm owned by Mahmud Fustok, a brother-in-law to Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah. Now, that was an experience! Anyway, soon after that, both of our lives got in our way. I changed jobs, got laid off, lost my mom, and did all the things I did to relocate to San Diego. She left Lexington when Fustok sold the farm and went to work for him in Florida where he owned another farm. Soon thereafter, Fustok was killed in a freak accident, Sharon's parents got ill, and she got thyroid cancer. She left Florida and returned to Kentucky. But the damage was done. Years had slipped by and we lost touch. I tried to find her by Googling, but never stuck with it. I even tried to convince my daughter to use the FBI tools to find her (no such luck--Connie is a stickler for the rules!).
But today I found her. I used Intelius and paid a little fee to get info about her. I called the number they provided, but it was disconnected. Then--you'll never believe this--I called directory assistance! I guessed that she might be in Lexington (Intellius said she was), and she was!
I called.
She answered.
Life is good.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Does it take courage to be happy?


I was listening to Rosie Radio (http://www.sirius.com/rosieradio) on Sirius the other night and she was interviewing Florence Henderson, otherwise known as Carol Brady, the mom from the Brady Bunch. Florence is in her mid to late 70s now and is still doing Broadway shows. You can find her somewhat annoying website here: http://www.flohome.com/main.htm

Anyway, she said something that resonated for me...She said, "It takes courage to be happy." She was discussing the death of her husband and her general joie de vivre spirit in spite of loss. Yes, our lovely Carol Brady actually spoke as though she had a good bit of spiritual wisdom. And, thus the statement that I am mulling over.

If I'm in the midst of confusion, frustration, guilt, and despair, can I still be happy? As soon as I push out of the troubling thinking (Tolle says it's the thinking that gets us in troble in the first place) and decide to be happy no matter what, the blackness of the other emotions fades. But where does the courage come in? Is it because it's easier to let the world happen to us than to realize that we have control of our own worlds?
When I'm frustrated and angry about things I can't change for the better (now I'm talking 12 steps!), does it take courage to step back and realize that I do have a belief system that allows me to be "in the moment"? When I recognize my own strengths, am grateful for the prosperity that's come my way, and see the beauty around me, I can put the blackness away and yes, feel happy. But, did it take courage to leave the pity party--especially when it's brought on by very real challenges and loss?


As I was speaking to friend about an entirely different topic, I mentioned that over the last 10 years, I had gained about 60 pounds. I was chastizing myself and beating myself up over the horror of that number. Then, my friend reminded me this: that's only 6 pounds a year, and in those 10 years, I've been laid off, led an international organization, lost my mom, sold a house, bought a house, moved back to San Diego, contracted for a while, began working for one company, became part of an acquisition to another, laid off an employee, had a total knee replacement, cared for my mentally ill sister, traveled to England, France, Scotland, Israel, and China, and had a dog and cat die.


Hmmm. The funny thing is that I bet your list is similar. It's called life. And, if you asked me how I felt over most of those 10 years, I'd say I was basically happy. Guess it does take some courage, at that.
(PS: Sunnyside is the name of the community I lived in from 6th through 12th grade.)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Finding Strength Themes

After reading a post by the lovely and talented Rednosed Bozoette ( http://bozoette.typepad.com/) several months ago, telling us about her "strengths," I bought the book she mentioned, StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath (http://www.strengthsfinder.com/). Like many other nonfiction, self-help books I buy, it sat unread and unused in a visible spot (hoping I'd notice it) for weeks. A few days ago, I finally opened the secret pouch at the back of the book to get my personal code so I could take their online exam to find my strength themes.

I'll share my results with you. I think they're pretty much on target. Now, what do I do with them?
  • Positivity: People who are especially talented in the Positivity theme have an enthusiasm that is
    contagious. They are upbeat and can get others excited about what they are going to do.
  • Empathy: People who are especially talented in the Empathy theme can sense the feelings of other
    people by imagining themselves in others’ lives or others’ situations.
  • Connectedness: People who are especially talented in the Connectedness theme have faith in the links
    between all things. They believe there are few coincidences and that almost every event has a
    reason.
  • Strategic: People who are especially talented in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed.
    Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.
  • Input: People who are especially talented in the Input theme have a craving to know more. Often
    they like to collect and archive all kinds of information.
Guess I might have to read the book.

Friday, January 1, 2010

TWENTY TEN? BRING IT ON!

The fireworks are going off in the neighborhood. The clock bonged twelve times, and it is officially 2010 in San Diego. My dog is a bit scared of the loud noises, but she'll be ok as soon as the banging stops...and I'm OK, too! Thanks for asking!

2009 didn't turn out like I expected...but then they never do...the year that was to have been all about me kinda got interrupted by work and my sister and my procrastination.

Nonetheless, the year did see some accomplishments...I had my home office redone (remember that?), and I finalized my directorship/presidency of STC. I took a lovely drive along the California coast and reveled in God's glorious tapestries along the way. My kid and I get closer every year--a gift that mere gratitude can never repay. I managed to slip away to Reno & Tahoe & the silver country for a few days with my BFF Cheryl, and a few wonderful friends made it to San Diego to visit me.

Work had its ups and downs and for the most part, I enjoyed it. It was pretty lousy around mid-year when I had to lay off one of my employees, and then it got rotten again near the end of the year when HP decided that we had to give performance ratings on a curve...I saw the results of that bit of dysfunction from both sides! Luckily, they then let everyone go home for 2 weeks for the Holiday shutdown hoping we'd forget about it. At least we're being paid--IF you have enough vacation days!

I continued therapy...mostly to help me deal with the devolving health (both mental and physical) of my sister. It's a continual no-win situation, and sometimes it hits me pretty hard. I have a good friend who is going through much the same thing with her mom. I guess I was blessed that my mom went quickly and never had to be in a nursing facility. I never saw my mom confused or bewildered by age or drugs or mental instability. Instead, I'm experiencing it through my 49-year old sister. Just doesn't seem right. Most of the time, I understand that the journey is hers, but every once in awhile, I let it get to me, and that's not good for either of us.

So, I'm making no New Year resolutions. I am setting some intentions that I hope will manifest, but I refuse to set myself up for failure. Each day is a new palette. Just think, we lose 364 opportunities if we only begin new things on January first!

My blogs have been few and far between because I've realized that blogging isn't really for me. Blogs have an audience that deserves something worth reading. Sometimes I have tales to tell that I don't want the world to know...so I refrain. I guess I need to do a little more thinking about the purpose of blogs. I think I prefer journaling.

In fact, although my old-fashioned paper journal doesn't fill up as fast as it once did, I do write entries in long hand from time to time...probably always will. Then I can say whatever I need to say and I don't have to worry about what I say or who I say it about or how strange it might be.

So, that's what's on my mind tonight. I have only 3 days until work resumes. I could use a couple of weeks more.