Does Your Subconscious Try to Sabotage You?

As you know, I started a new job a couple of weeks ago, consulting at Dell on the software I worked with at the previous job. The new job features a very smart team, some fun clients to work with, and a reasonable and kind boss. These are all good things! I’ve completed a couple of little projects and a sorta big one already, and everyone seems pleased with it. No problems there!

This angst-filled woman keeps making an appearance in my dreams. That’s me and Eudora in the early 1980s.

But, my dreams have just not left me alone! I keep dreaming that I am unable to finish things, that I have messed something up (including one where I completely forgot how to use the software I was demonstrating). I’ve dreamed repeatedly of people telling me I’m not fitting in, am a poor worker, and that I don’t know what I’m doing.

Gee whiz, subconscious, what are you trying to say here, that I am Imposter Syndrome Queen or something? I’ve been doing really well in my waking hours with not taking criticism to heart, realizing that whatever went wrong in the previous job was not all me and had to do with something I wasn’t even aware of. I’ve been doing GREAT at not expecting everyone in the world to like me or think highly of my work. I am not basing my self esteem on someone else’s opinion, while still trying to do good work and owning my mistakes. That all sounds fairly adult of me (about time).

To change the subject, my it was a dewy morning.

These things you develop as you are growing up really stick with you, don’t they? I was always so darned fixated on pleasing my dad and my teachers that when I made the slightest error I was horrible to myself. The hardest thing I ever did was give up on academia, because even though it was the best thing for me to do for ME, I was so concerned about disappointing my family and my professors. So outwardly focused.

No matter how much better I’m doing and how much I learn, little Suna keeps peeking out and waving around to remind me that I’m still a bit of a mess, just like everyone else is (thank goodness I realize THAT now).

I did have a weird work-related dream that made me laugh, though. I dreamed I wanted a Wendy’s walnut burger (??). I had not been to Wendy’s in a long time and it had changed since COVID into a weird antiseptic, white subway-tiled place, where you went in one at a time to order. When it was my turn, the server told me that before I could order, I had to set up my Wendy’s PIN.

Something else to make you laugh. Brown Chick riding on top of Star. Black Chick did it later!

Well, that was fine, I guessed. Then the server told me that my PIN had to be the number that corresponded to one of the things that was on a laminated sheet of paper. The paper had on it photos of various things. I can remember a glass of wine and some piece of clothing. I said, “I don’t have any numbers associated with those things.” The server insisted that I had to use MY number for one of the things.

It’s cozy up here.

I finally decided there was a number I could associate with one of them, and asked the guy, “So, where do I write it down?” He looked at me, all fuzz-faced and panicked, and said, “I don’t know! I just started!”

I was never so glad to hear an alarm go off.

Happy Monday.

Am I Too Old for This?

Whew. I got through the first day at the new job. Talk about information overload! At least I understand much of it!

Just relaxing by the pool and enjoying the giant balloon vine.

Everyone was nice, and I can sure see why they brought me in. I’m glad I’ll have some juicy challenges to deal with and that I can help, I hope. My team lead said they were referring to me as She Who Must Not Be Named, because they didn’t want to jinx it.

I’d say the only bad part is having to go to two-hour meetings starting at 7 am…every day. I guess I’ll be going to bed even earlier now!

I’ll enjoy the extra money, though, and the smart folks I get to work with. See, I can handle change. I just get tired easily, you know, because I’m old.

Actually, my stress level is a bit lower, now that the house is on the market and Anita’s tenant has moved out. Just a couple more dominoes to fall, and we can get back to just taking pandemic precautions. Maybe.

So Many Transitions

Whew. I got through my last day at this job pretty easily, because there was a workshop all morning that was sort of fun, other than a couple of people scowling at me for showing up. But, they couldn’t stop me!

Generic desk, devoid of Suna.

Two colleagues showed up at lunch, and we had a nice lunch in the courtyard, which is the part of the building I’ll miss the most. They then helped me load my car. My poor desk looked so empty.

It was good to see that Trevor is a real person.

At least I got to meet Trevor, the newest person on our team. He was nice in person, just like on Zoom.

t looks so fancy. I gave Anita those nice flowers for her birthday.

Then I went back to the Bobcat Lair, which doesn’t look at all like my house anymore. It should appeal to all bland people! I put a bunch of stuff in Lee’s car, so there is room in the garage for my son’s stuff to hide when they are taking pictures and showing the house.

The rug has been hiding since I got Carlton and he tried to tear it up. Nice rug.

I also did a lot of sitting and looking out the windows, because it’s so darn pretty.

This is our guest room, or would have been if it hadn’t been crammed with plants and boxes. It had a beautiful view.

Carol, our long-time friend and real estate agent, is working hard to get the house ready, and we sure do appreciate that. Things are just so crazy for me that I can’t stick around here to be of much help. But, I did a little, anyway.

Some of my wonderful book club neighbors.

Last night we had book club in the neighborhood, and they all seemed glad that Anita and I plan to continue to attend, even when we no longer live in Austin. I told Anita she could share my hotel room. I’d even give her a ride. (Sorry I didn’t get good photos of everyone; I love them all.)

Very sad friends.

My friends were SO sad about the house going on the market. But we had a great time. Friends make even hard transitions a little easier.

This Is Hard

Today I went in to Austin, because it’s book club day, and the day after Anita’s birthday. I must hand out post-birthday hugs! And, I must remove things from the Bobcat Lair house, because the garage is full and they can’t store anything else in it to get ready for staging and photographs. Leaving my sanctuary is hard, hard, hard for me. I love the house, the neighborhood, my roommate, and the fantastic neighbors there. But, it makes sense to sell now, while it’s worth a lot of money (no matter how hideous we apparently made it when we lived there), and Lee and I need retirement income.

While I’m not feeling terribly happy right now, I do have my stickers on inanimate objects that I’ve had for many years. Luckily this lamp goes home with me.

I’m also in Austin so I can get ready to vacate my office at the company where I’ve worked ten years. I can tell you one thing: a Suna can accumulate a LOT of stuff in ten years, especially when she was still saving “important” papers from all her jobs since 2006.

I’m guessing Polycom is not going to ask me to do any more e-learning videos with so many acronyms they’re incomprehensible ever again, so I threw that stuff away. I also have stuff from every other time I’ve worked at Dell, and I’m not sure why those things were so important, either. I didn’t throw away all my old work pictures and stuff from when I had walls. I must find a place for my framed Breathe and Exhale images. I’ve loved them for so long that they are faded.

My stuff. It’s really not that much. One box is mostly Christmas decor.
This smiling face gets left at the office, since it’s on my monitor support beam.

Anyway, I have been having some wonderful conversations with colleagues that have made me feel better about my image in the company (no, it’s not all negative after all, which I suspected). I just got on the wrong side of some political thing or another, and that’s all I need to know. I do want to make this known: there are some absolutely wonderful folks in the place I’ve been working, with life experiences and ideas I’m so glad to have had a chance to learn about. I’m hoping the company thrives and moves forward, because its people are making such an effort.

I left this on the whiteboard.

Still, I am all excited about my new role, and not just because I get to keep working with material I helped create many years ago. I always like meeting smart new people. My new boss even sends nice emails! And my new laptop comes tomorrow. I’m ready to roll with the changes, whatever they may be.

I’ll miss this three-monitor setup, the adjustable-height desk, and of course the free fruit and beverages. I won’t miss the concrete pillar in front of me or working in the least-pleasant area of the whole building. And yes, I had a rear-view mirror. No sneaking up on me!

Tired of Tiring Tire Repairs

So, I’ve had to get two new tires in the past few months, and now Lee had his own tire surprise. As he was turning onto the main road in Cameron, he heard a noise and lost ten pounds of air pressure.

What the heck?

He made it to the tire store before it lost all its air. We were all surprised by the photo above. How did a nut driver get into his tire? It’s so big. I don’t think I’ve ever seen something this big get it. Lee says it must have been sticking up at just the right angle. That poor man has sure had a lot of breakdowns and such lately.

The culprit.

At least it could be repaired. I hope it’s a good one, because I have to drive the Tahoe to Austin tomorrow so I can put stuff in it from the Bobcat house. There’s no more room in the garage for things the stager rejects.

That house has got to go on the market! I’m sorta scared to go in there in case I might muss something up.

I’d rather be with Penney running around in the empty pool.

Not really looking forward to the last two days at work. I’ll miss my desk, the courtyard, and the coffee machines.

Why I Didn’t Want to Leave My Job but Left Anyway

It came as a surprise to some folks that I took a new position after being at one place for such a long time. To others, it came as a relief, no doubt. But to be honest, I really wanted to stay at my current employer. I just wasn’t a great fit for what I was currently doing.

But I’m happy today. Me and Bogey the horse

I’d really been enjoying the work I was doing in diversity and inclusion there. I discovered I was really interested in the topic (thus all my book reports on unconscious bias and allyship) and wanted to help the company move forward with their focus on creating a diverse and inclusive workplace. I’d brought up the idea of creating an official position for D&I, and everyone I talked to thought it was a great idea and that I’d be a good choice. But, new CEOs, new initiatives, new reorganizations, and new priorities came up that made my urgent desire a not-so-urgent corporate nice-to-have. I totally get that, but I do want my colleagues to know I really cared about the people at the company and wanted to be able to help them with their concerns. Things just didn’t work out due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control.

He didn’t like the coffee.

In addition, I cared very much about the customers of this company and was darned proud of the work I’d done to help them succeed in using a complicated enterprise-level software “solution.” I would love to have stayed in my position where I contributed to that work, which is exactly why I took my new position: I get to do what I like and am good at again!

Mostly, though, I hate leaving people I care about and who rely on me. I know perfectly well that no one is irreplaceable. In fact, I repeated this endlessly the last time the organizational priorities and my skills and interest no longer meshed and I needed to go elsewhere. (I do feel I left those folks in a bad position, but they seem to have all found other good stuff to do.) Where I am now, I was onboarding new team members and serving as a mentor to a few other folks. I’ll miss this the most. I was actually doing my best to hang on as long as I could be helpful to my coworkers and do good work in whatever role I was asked to do.

This is Chevy, the other horse where I am. He is also gray!

Sometimes you have to change your jobs. I did have a choice here…to wait and see if I could find a better fit in the company or look at other options. It’s weird as heck that a recruiter called with the new position the exact same day I realized I had to leave. That sounds all pretty and like it’s a packaged tied up in a bow, but I just wanted to share that it was not an easy decision.

One of my character “features” is that I care. I care about my work and the people I work with. Things would be a lot easier if I didn’t. I was way too committed to the “servant leadership” thing for my own good, and really wanted to be there for people who need my encouragement or support.

Two pretty boys. Bogey is very, very tall. Both had their manes trimmed because of sand burs.

I wish all of you who work in large organizations the kind of leadership who provide encouragement, support, and mentorship. I’m not planning to seek opportunities to lead teams during my remaining few years in the workforce, though. I’ll do work I like, do my best, and give and seek support elsewhere.

A Surprise from Suna

Folks, it’s been a very long and very hard week for your resident blogger, but the good news is that Suna is here, has met her challenges and come out on the other side with her pride and self esteem intact. That’s really, really good news.

Like good ole Dusty here, I’ve been dealing with a load of poop, and it’s left me a bit disheveled.

I can generically shared that I got some quite unexpected and upsetting feedback at my job last week. You know me and my lifelong battle with self esteem…I was a bit of a mess there for a day or two. But, all this growth stuff I keep talking about kicked in MUCH quicker than it would have in the past. And life and the Universe already had an option ready for me when I needed it most!

A mere fifteen minutes after the unpleasantness, I had an interview for a job that I’d decided I just HAD to do, because it looked so interesting. After talking to the recruiter it became clear that there literally was no one else on the face of the earth more qualified for the job than me. It was like, “Here is the description of the part of your job you’ve enjoyed the most, but that no longer is a priority, so you’re not doing it now.”

I had a perfectly reasonable week at work this week, because I actually DO like my current coworkers and the project I’m working on. But, after interviewing with the cool and interesting people at the other job, it clearly was a better fit for my skills and my current stage of life. Oh yes, don’t forget that much better pay rate. So, I said yes and gave my two weeks’ notice where I am now.

Oh yeah, the pool is ready for the next stage. It even got inspected.

I assure you, this was not how I’d wanted to wind down my career, but I think I’ll learn a lot, have fun, get to know some new people, and not lose the real friends I made at the current place. I think everyone will be happy with this. I’m really proud to have managed this transition as smoothly as I have. Things sure can work out, at least sometimes!

My readers, family, and friends: your support and kindness has really helped, even if you didn’t know it. It’s nice to know there are folks who appreciate you!

A Fruitful Visit to the County Courthouse and Horse Lesson

Hello, and happy Tuesday, I think. It’s been a full day for me already and it’s not even 4 pm. I’m losing track of days and times right now, but that’s okay, I’m going with the flow.

The day started off right, when six members of the local Master Naturalist chapter and Master Gardener chapter came together at the Milam County Courthouse to meet with the County Judge. We wanted to talk to Judge Young about whether there could be any meeting space for us in the new county office building complex that’s being created out of our old hospital.

Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists preparing for the meeting.

Judge Young showed us a map of how the buildings will be organized, and it was obvious the planners had put a lot of thought into it, like how to keep the people doing parole meetings separate from citizens coming to pay their taxes or seniors getting their meals. There was also a good security plan and a good parking plan.

Wish you could see his cool boots.

Then he showed us where there will be meeting rooms we could use. There are a couple of large ones around Bea’s Kitchen that will be free after 3 pm on weekdays, plus another couple of shared ones with other agencies. When someone asked if we could use any of them, Judge Young said:

“Not only can you use it; I want you to use it.”

We talked about helping out with landscaping the inner courtyards as a way to pay back, and that went over well. He even offered us storage space in the old nuns’ quarters they are renovating for a storage building.

No one could read the map, but we got the general idea.

This will all be available sometime after March 1. It’s so great that the county got a large grant to fix the buildings up nicely for all the citizens of the county. I couldn’t stay to go on a tour of the progress on the buildings (I’d been in them before, when the space was for sale), but I hope everyone else had fun. It’s good to see positive things happening in the community.

Next Activity

I had to run home and get ready to go to my second horse and rider training with Apache. I got my timing off and ended up slamming him in the trailer with no warning, but he eventually got settled down when we got there and we started working on things. I’m learning leadership skills up the wazoo and Apache is figuring things out really well. I even got great advice for walking appropriately and that turned into how I can control his urges to wander off and trot.

He enjoyed getting braided, but they didn’t hold up well. I’ll try something else next time.

I even managed to trot him in circles while remaining centered and in charge. A first for me! We also started figure 8 circles. All of it was very educational in subtle ways, though it looked like I was just going around and around to anyone watching me. This trainer is a very, very good teacher. But whoa, is noon a hot time to try to learn anything outdoors in August.

And Then…

I was taking today off, because I had these obviously non-work things to do, but I ended up working anyway, and was very good at projecting a positive attitude in one of those meetings where that kind of thing matters. I just pretended everyone was my friend and tried to be helpful. I even passed on the Mary Poppins tactic, if you can believe that.

Now that I’m feeling all empowered for the moment, I can go call my insurance company and ask them why the same medication I’ve been on for years that usually costs around $5 was over $90 today. Don’t get me started on health care in the US!

What’s the Most Embarrassing Thing YOU Did Today?

Sometimes, when there’s a perceived need, you do something spontaneously that you later look back on and say to yourself, “Well, THAT was an embarrassing moment!” And that happened to me today.

Image from  @agus_et_al via Twenty20

It was one of those intense days at work. I’d gotten tired of waiting for help on a couple of diversity and equity volunteer things and just dove in to do them myself, which included direct-messaging a C-suite member to get a project going and having a minor hissy fit at accounts payable to get a payment made. I’m glad I got the fit of energy, and truly understood that people are extra busy and have stuff going on in their own lives that may make MY priorities not theirs! But my adrenaline was up.

Then some other work stuff went on that entailed me getting news about more changes coming up (hey, we’re Agile!) and then having to pass said news on to my team in a good change-management fashion, looking at the positive (always a challenge for someone with a personality quirk of immediately seeing the worst in something and uttering the F-word). And of course, the coworker for whom this news would be most unwelcome had to be the first one I ended up talking to.

Here’s my news, coworker! Take notes! Image by @mcirillo1961 via Twenty20

I was telling the news to my colleague, who I’d been on-ramping for a little over a month and been working really closely with, and she was expressing her doubts as to whether she’d be great at her new thing or whether she’d enjoy it. Out of the blue, I went into Mary Poppins mode and, yes, I, who’ve lost my voice, launched vigorously into one of the first songs I ever learned in my whole life:

In every job that must be done there is an element of fun.
You find the fun and -snap- the job’s a game.
Then every task you undertake becomes a piece of cake
A lark, a spree, it’s very clear to see…
That a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down!

Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman.

Yes. In a Zoom meeting, I sang a Julie Andrews song to someone whose parents weren’t even born when I toddled into a darkened theater and saw my very first movie, Disney’s Mary Poppins. With hand gestures. Oy. Potential career-limiting moment! (Here’s a link to the original; a version that I can share is below.)

To my coworker’s credit, she lit up, agreed, and said I should blog that. So, I did. I probably actually made a good point, because one of the things I’ve been telling new hires and people new to being members of an Agile team is that, in the planning meetings for each quarter, you need to find something that not only fits in with what your team’s been asked to do, but that you and the team can have fun doing. Make it educational, where you learn a new skill! Make it fun, because you’re collaborating with interesting people! Make it fulfilling, because you’re creating something that will be useful!

We just hold each other up like a big ole umbrella – good tactic for coworkers, friends, family, and community members at large! Image by @holypunkface via Twenty20

Yeah, just call me the team’s personal Mary Poppins. And by the way, I am grateful that while I work to keep my team’s spirits up, they do such a great job at keeping mine up as well. Everyone should be so lucky!

Mentoring Is Scary

I’ve had more than one conversation on the topic of mentoring in the past couple of weeks, starting with the Lisa Eggerton talk they had at work. The general consensus is that “mentor” is rather off-putting for lots of people. When someone asks to be your mentor, you start to imagine having to have regular meetings on top of your already busy day, think of ways to build up this other person, and scariest of all, be wise at all costs! After all, you’re a mentor!

Penney is my mentor in reminding me I need to rest a LOT.

No one’s ever asked me to be a mentor, which makes sense, because I’m not a high-powered executive and haven’t been for a long time. In fact, my career path is headed in a pretty downward direction right now. But, does that mean I don’t mentor people? Nope, not at all.

The consensus among the women I’ve been talking to about mentoring is that it actually works better on an informal basis. When someone comes to you and tells you they’ve got a thorny problem to deal with and asks your advice, you’re mentoring them. And when a colleague gives you an insight into how you can do something better, that was being mentored. Not so scary. No one was under any (imagined) pressure to be wise and pithy, just to be helpful.

I guess the older chickens finally mentored the young ones about roosting, because they finally all sleep together.

Thinking back, most of my mentors didn’t set out to mentor me at all; they just lived their lives ethically, kindly, and insightfully. I just watched, listened, learned, and asked a few questions. I didn’t formally ask, “Will you be my mentor?” like we were going to go steady (or however they put it now). (Thanks to Doc, Georgia, Steve, Roberta, Hedy, Mike, and Craig, to name a few who may have no idea they were mentors.)

And now, I do find colleagues asking me questions, often in my managerial role, where I give them pointers and ideas for doing their jobs better. I think that’s the most important role of a people manager: to help people grow in their jobs, find work they enjoy, and be productive. So, yay, I’m a mentor, too.

Nothing to do with mentoring; I just liked this beetle’s antennae and how big an Alfred hair looks next to it. It’s a Southern Masked Chafer, a type of scarab beetle.

Sure, formal mentorship programs have their place, and there are some good ones where I work and in other workplaces. But, don’t think that you can’t serve as a mentor if you’re not a manager or if you’re “just” a friend. When we talk to each other, ask good questions, and really listen, we’ll find mentors everywhere we look!

Take advantage of your opportunities to both learn and teach others. It’s a good plan. Thanks to the coworkers who helped me think about this!