Periodic musings of a former corporate executive who is between gigs.

Monday, March 14, 2011


Losing your job is tough. But consider all the people in Japan who are now dealing with the Superbowl of calamities--- a major earthquake, a tsunami and potential nuclear fallout all in the span of 3 days.

Or the people in Christchurch, New Zealand who also had a large earthquake in recent weeks. Or the folks in Australia who suffered through two massive floods (one larger than the size of Texas) in a matter of weeks.

These are REAL problems.

All of these affected individuals would be thrilled to only have to worry about finding another job. Instead, they are wondering how to find shelter, where they can find clean water and whether their family members are alive.

Similarly, there are many people here at home who have problems much worse than finding another job. They are sick. Perhaps even dying. They are losing their house in foreclosure. They are getting divorced. A family member has an addiction problem. And many, many other things.

Let's be thankful that all we have to do is find another job. Really. Our lives could be so much worse.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Dog Walking Thoughts

It's amazing what you can learn while walking your dog.

What used to be a 10 minute mad-dash at 10 PM can now be a leisurely stroll at 11 in the morning. Believe it or not, my neighborhood looks completely different at 11 AM than it does at 10 PM. There are green trees, lots of grass and the occasional flower. And real live people who are out and about. Imagine that!

Yesterday while walking the dog, I actually met some of my neighbors. It's been EONS since I've interacted with the neighborhood. Mostly because I never was home before 8 PM on weeknights. And on weekends I was too busy running errands.

(Well, actually to be honest, it might also have been that I was inside asleep because sleeping is my #1 hobby. Ask my husband.... he will vouch for this).

But back to the story....

Now that I have the luxury of time, I'm getting to know some of my neighbors and I must say that it's been quite enjoyable. For example, we have lived next-door to a certain man for 2 years. Prior to this week, the only conversation I'd ever had with him was about our cat wandering into his house one day and making herself comfortable by sleeping on his bed. (Note: this is NOT recommended as a way to get to know your neighbors! Even I will admit that finding a strange animal sleeping on your bed when you retire at night must be a wee bit disconcerting).

This week, I had a chance to chat with him as I was walking the dog (fortunately, he likes dogs more than he likes cats). It turns out that he is a very nice person, as is his wife. Sadly, I was "too busy" to even stop and say hello in the past. In actuality, perhaps I just had my priorities wrong.

And here's the kicker..... while talking to him this week, I learned that this guy I ignored for 2 years just so happens to be a senior executive with a company at the top of my list of prospective employers. How amazing is that?

But even if he wasn't, I am just glad that I got to know my neighbor. After all, if my cat has slept with him, I really should have gotten to know him before now!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

What do you do?

Not working can be tough. It's difficult not to feel sorry for yourself even if you received a nice severance package or your exit was your idea. There's just something ingrained in the American psyche about our work lives. When you're between jobs, you can feel as if you don't have anything to add to a conversation among friends.

I'm sure you've heard this old saying --- "Europeans work to live and Americans live to work". Sadly, it tends to be true. Having traveled extensively throughout Europe and other parts of the world, I have noticed that when you meet a non-American and ask "What do you do?", he or she usually replies with something along the lines of "I love to ski" or "I spend my weekends watching football matches." They will rarely divulge their job title or employers until much later in a conversation, if at all.

Americans, on the other hand, always seem to answer the "What do you do?" question with a work-related response. They say "I'm a nurse" or "I manage the XYZ department of Company 123". We don't get into discussing personal matters until after the work/career discussion occurs. My experience has been that this continues to be the case long past an initial meeting. Here in America, we always want to talk about work.

Why do we care so much about what we do from 9-5? Why is it ingrained in us to always talk about that one particular topic? Isn't there more to life than one's job? If not, shouldn't there be? And would talking about our dreams and passions make us more well-rounded?

Being between jobs is an excellent time to think about adopting a more healthy outlook on life. If you were one of those individuals who always talked about work in the past, you now have the perfect excuse to set a good example and talk about other things. Tell your friends about the guitar lessons you are taking. Or that you've recently started a garden. Or that you love to dance. These are the really enriching parts of our lives, not what we do from 9-5.

Try it. I'll bet that you both learn something new about the other person!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Himalayan Bath Salts

I'm sure you're already wondering from the title of this post whether I've gone mad and am perhaps posting on the wrong blog. You'll see where I'm headed in a minute.

About two weeks into this new state of being, I realized that I don't have suitable attire for unemployment. Like many people, the proportions of my closet seemed to be as follows:

75% Work Attire
15% Stuff that dates back to college and should have been trashed long ago
10% Suitable for daily casual wear

Since I won't be needing the work attire for awhile, I had a great idea to move all those clothes to the closet in our guest bedroom so they wouldn't be a daily reminder that I'm not going to work every day.

So, the good news is that I cleaned out my closet.

The bad news is that it then occurred to me that I really needed to buy "just a few" new things that would be suitable for trips to Starbucks, errand-running and general casual activities. Well, as you might have predicted, the end result was a big online shopping binge. Not exactly the best thing to be doing if you're unemployed.

What I've learned is that when you have unlimited time the internet is NOT your friend. Online shopping is perfect for a working mother of 3 small kids who needs to buy new socks at midnight. It is not recommended for a former executive with severance package money in the bank and all day to spend online.

Hence the Himalayan bath salts. After buying more than a few pairs of jeans and cute casual shirts that also seem reasonably professional (in case I run into anyone who might be a potential employer), I started exploring other websites. One that I landed on specialized in those fancy spa things like paraffin wax for your hands and aromatherapy oils that claim to relieve all the stress in your body.

Well, I thought, what is more stressful than unemployment? And don't I deserve to de-stress my life? Maybe I should spend some time on this site.

Hence, I am now the proud owner of 7 lbs of Himalayan bath salts. Apparently they have incredible stress relieving properties. And buying 7 lbs was only a little bit more than buying 2 pounds so it was really a bargain.

If only I wasn't so stressed out about where to store them. Clearly they don't belong in the closet, but I have yet to find the time to clean out the cabinets in the bathroom.