Feb 1, 2018

Words with Friends

No, not the game.  These are words I'd like to say to my friends if I thought any of them would be interested and it wasn't so much effort to plan a damn lunch or coffee date!  (More on that further down.)

"For an enterprising mom..."

A potential client used this phrase during our meeting a couple weeks ago.  At the time I was focused on answering his question and not on his phrasing, but every once in a while my brain dredges this up to get irritated at it.  (Day going too smoothly?  No worries - we can find something to get annoyed about!)

It's really, really not a big deal but... I'm not an enterprising mom.  I'm not a stay-at-home mom who thought, "Childcare is so super, duper easy! I better find some extra work to do to fill in the extra gaps in my day and wallet."  (Note: if you know me at all, you know this is laden with sarcasm because I found staying home with a kid to be much more challenging than running a business.)

I'm an entrepreneur.  I have been since well before my child was born.  An entrepreneur who is also a mom, sure, but in our business meetings the entrepreneur always comes first.  The mom part comes first when I'm with my baby, but I didn't see him at that meeting, Mr. "Enterprising Mom"!

"My car got a nose job."

This is what I tell people when they ask me why my car's bumper is conspicuously absent and its innards visible.

Yes, I got in a fender bender.  It was my slowest, most low-key accident yet and also the first one I've had since I was 21 or so.  I'm a little sad to break that streak of not destroying my vehicles.

More importantly, I'm ok and the baby is ok.  (Baby's first car accident, yayyyy...)  But I'm still a little distressed by how this went down.

A car was at a stop sign on a road perpendicular to mine.  I had no stop sign.  Right as I entered the intersection, the other car decided it was their moment and darted out in front of me.  I don't remember any crunch from the initial impact, just a grinding noise and then a small jolt as the resistance in front of us disappeared.  I slowed in the intersection, trying to decide what to do, felt the drag from the front end of my car, and watched incredulously as the other car slowed, and then seemed to change their mind and speed off.

Get-hit-and-run.  Is that a thing?  Well it is now.

Since my car was obviously in no shape to chase down the other car, I pulled off, confirmed that my bumper was dragging on the ground, and then proceeded to have 2 awkward conversations with the 911 operator about what one is supposed to do in this situation.  Do I need to report it if I don't want a damage report?  What do I do with my bumper?  Is there some kind of procedure for cleaning up road debris?

She was not amused and not helpful.  I ripped my bumper the rest of the way off and took my baby home.

"I read a great business book on the plane..."

Sometimes I think I'm not really becoming more proactive at all.  It's just that instead of jumping to react to whatever's happening that day, I'm jumping to react to my latest self help book.

I don't feel like worrying about that so I'm going to use vague phrases like "synchronicity" and "we hear what we need to hear" and leave it at that.  This particular book was very exciting because it gave me options for achieving business success in a way that feels better to me.

Everyone I've talked to who has employees has said to offer more money and to only hire people if they're the perfect fit and they have skills I don't.  This book said that if you systematize down to the literal step-by-step tasks needed to get something done, you can hire the base level of skill needed to do the tasks without needing a great amount of skill.

You'd think design couldn't be systematized that deeply, but in an effort to communicate better with my current employee that's exactly what I've been doing.  The book made me realize I need to break it down even further, and it also told me my job is to organize the business first and to do the work second.

To a lot of people that would sound awful because they got into their business because they like the work.  I like the work I do, too, and it's important to me, but I also like organizing, so I can handle this.

Here's what a systematized design process looks like.

The best part is, it's still totally creative!  But it gives you a framework to work within.  My design teachers always said we needed a box because without some kind of limitations, the options are completely overwhelming.  And you can go outside the box, but only with good reasons not just for the sake of being unique.

Anyway, long tangent, but self help books + organization = happy Jenn.

"I didn't realize I had to talk to you in order to stay friends..."

This is heavily paraphrased but that's basically what one friend said to me when I checked in with her recently.  I had checked in only because our mutual friend said she'd been feeling down and maybe that's why she wasn't really reaching out.  Nope!  It just never occurred to her that friendship goes both ways and each person needs to extend some effort in order to continue to keep the relationship alive.

Yes, we're 30 years old.  My other friend is younger, but she's doing something equally frustrating.

"My super important job keeps me busier than everyone else."

Arghghgh!  Yes, when I was in my early 20's, I too thought being busy was an exceptional situation that only afflicted me.  And maybe she'll figure it out eventually.  But right now... I'm too old for this shit.

I'm also aware that my definition of friend is a little different than everyone else's.  I don't call every single acquaintance a friend.  I have a "brunch group" who isn't really friends because we don't hang out individually (though more and more of them are jumping the gap).  I see my book club more often than many of my friends but we never text each other just to chat, so they're not friends.

It doesn't mean I don't like you!  And if you seem interested in becoming friends, I'll totally invite you to stuff and plan events.  But I don't want to waste time organizing and planning events for people who are going to flake and never reciprocate.  Or people whom I don't enjoy - "friends of convenience" isn't something I want to do anymore.

Here's my standards for friendships.  You're not my friend if...

  • You haven't met my baby. (It's not like he was just born - you've had a whole year to stop by.)
  • You cancel an outing and don't plan the next one.
  • You only see or talk to me in group scenarios and never one-on-one.

"On a scale of one to ten, how open-minded are you about..."

In the last few months, we've lost a few family members.  My aunt, and then my grandmother (Dad's stepmom), and most recently another grandmother (Dad's mom).

It's been hard but there's not really much point in continuing to write posts about the circle of life and processing grief and all that.  I'm sad, I'm not performing at 100%, and I'm doing my best to not scream at Ryan when he tells me deep breathing will make me feel better.  (If it doesn't bring my grandparents back to life or retroactively make their last years less miserable, it's not going to make feel better.  Thank you but stop, please.)

But the thing I want to talk about here is the bizarre coincidence of timing.  You might have noticed that the grandmothers who died were my dad's mom and stepmom.

From all accounts, these two ladies made the best of things when the kids were small.  They were tied together by a man and his children, and it wasn't the kid's fault, so they made do.  This ceased once the children were grown and only got worse with time.

After my grandfather died, you'd think the source of contention would be removed, but it seemed like the opposite.  They grew increasingly isolated and bitter and I heard more and more negativity from each of them over the years, often directed at each other.  They probably hadn't seen each other in 20 years!  But still...

"She stole my husband."  "She says such nasty things to Jack [my dad]."  Etc, etc.

Both died very abruptly, the first from cancer after being given 30 days to live, and the second quietly in her sleep about 3 months later.  The first had been declining for some time, and the second had actually been improving.

At one time I might have called it superstition, but my brain keeps saying it wasn't random coincidence.  They were tied together through years of pain, years of emotion, and years of focused energy.  It might not have been a positive, but they certainly thought of each other a lot.

There's a theory called Quantum Entanglement that talks about particles that relate to each other even when distanced physically.  (I'm not going to link to anything because I couldn't find an article that breaks it down in non-science-y language but it's on Wikipedia.)  I know it could be coincidence but my brain keeps whispering that's it more than that.  That they were connected, even though neither would have wanted to be.

My mind has been slowly creaking open lately, due to the prevalence of manifesting type talk in the online entrepreneurial world.  If 0 is total skepticism and 10 is total belief, I probably would have been a 1.  Now I think I'm at 4 or 5.

I like to think about energy connecting us through the boundaries of space and time.  It feels less lonely that way.

What's been on your mind lately?  What do your friends do that drives you up the wall?  Where do you fall on the open-mindedness scale?

Jenn signature graphic | Optimization, Actually

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