Monthly Archives: March, 2012

Murphy’s Law or a Myrna Day?

I think Murphy’s Law states that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Yesterday, I just had one of those days. Nothing serious, just an off day. What an old friend, Myrna and I used to call a “Myrna Day.” The day started out less than perfect – I woke in a bit of a funk because I do not have any new networking opportunities planned for this week and last week was non-productive because of my bout with the flu. So, low energy, feelings of frustration and maybe of utter failure – a typical day for self-pity. I tried to snap out of it – by playing just the right song, thinking positive thoughts, deep breathing – my routine. After running an unexpected errand that had to be taken care of and hoping to get started on my writing for the day, a neighbor called needing me to pick up her child from school – unexpected emergency; rearranging my afternoon plans a bit I picked her up and headed to get my own. Managed the first two and headed for the last pick up of the afternoon, just a block from school and he calls, “Can you pick me up later? I have to meet such and such teacher and work on such and another project….” Quickly calculated how I could complete the evening calendars of the other two and agreed to pick him up in two hours. Half hour drive home, left me an hour to get something done. I had, by this time, checked the day off as ‘wasted’ so that I didn’t allow my frustration to boil over into anger. When I promptly fell asleep – missing the pick up by half hour. Scrambled to get him and get back forty-five minutes later – just in time to pick up the other son and get him to basketball. And finally, half an hour to do my own thing until his game started. So, I sat in my car to work when a sudden noise – a small, almost inaudible ‘click’ – left me with the realization that my battery had just died. Thankfully I have roadside assistance – but that meant a 45 minute wait. Since all the power windows were down, I had to stay with the car. Grateful for the moments to get my work done and found myself chuckling with a thought: What a Myrna Day!

Thanks Myrna for all of the memories of our Myrna Day’s over the years and for providing a chuckle at the end of a long, frustrating day!

Potholes and smiles

Potholes abound on the roads of Chicago. Some get repaired immediately; others go for months with astute drivers navigating around the tire damaging sinkholes. With each heavy rain or a few days of snow, a new hole appears. Then, with a few days of sunshine and warm air, tar patches appear, and tires roll down bumpy roads with rocks dinging  the bottom side of the car.

I’m not complaining – I am simply stating a fact. As I was driving down one of these incredibly bumpy roads yesterday morning I began to ponder potholes. Potholes are a reality of life in Chicago. Everyone knows it and we drive accordingly: slow down, swerve around, avoid the worst roads.

And this is what we do with life isn’t it? With the recession, people slow down, avoid extra bills, save when they can – just in case. But just as with potholes, trouble comes from the unexpected. You can be rolling along, paying attention and being careful – when all of the sudden a new pothole appears. Job loss, medical expense, an unexpected car repair bill. Life happens.

So, what can we do?

For me, I try to remember my blessings. My son’s high school classmate just lost her mother to cancer after losing her father to the same disease last year. My brother has just lost his second wife to illness; twice widowed. Hundreds, if not thousands, lost their homes last week to tornadoes. Of course, the list can go on and everyone has a story….

As I was walking down Michigan Avenue in Chicago yesterday heading to an interview, a transient man stood on the corner and with a sense of calm respect, simply asked the passers-by to give him A SMILE.

Somehow amid life’s potholes were you able to count your blessings and smile?

Education

Education. Schooling. Learning.

What does it all mean? If someone is well schooled are they necessarily well educated? Some of the most influential people in history have struggled with traditional school. Others breezed right through.

Proposed solutions abound: education reform, differentiated instruction, closing the achievement gap, extended school days, longer school years, alternative assessment, educating the whole child, project based learning, inquiry based learning — the list could go on.

New positions and titles have been created to address the issues and create solutions. But drop out rates, illiteracy and incompetence is still pervasive.

I think I have the solution – but so do many others. We all know that something is wrong with the picture but we seem desperately afraid to change the picture.

If you had an opportunity to create the perfect school – no holds barred, no price limit, no restrictions – what would it be?

I’m interested to hear other people’s thoughts.

I Think I Get Donna Reed

After years of making snide remarks about how ridiculous it was that Donna Reed wore high heels and pearls to vacuum, I think I finally understand.

Donna Reed was the first person to ever completely practice the “Dress for Success” challenge that we hear so much about when talking to young people about navigating the job market. Dress for Success is one of the mottoes behind school uniforms  that incorporate dress shirt and tie for young men. I am still not certain how a plaid skirt helps young women dress for success – but that is a completely different discussion. I do know that in her day, Donna Reed certainly knew how to dress for success.

In this world of networking and job acquisition being as much about who you know and timing, as what you know, dressing for success is crucial.  As tempting as it may be to don jeans and a sweatershirt, dressing at least to the Casual Friday standard could be to your advantage. Donna Reed, regardless of who knocked on the door, was prepared for the task at hand. Donna was never going to be caught off guard.

So whether you meet a recruiter, a hiring manager, or the CEO of the company you have been trying to connect with – at the local Trader Joe’s, Starbucks, or Panera – you will be ready. Dressed for success and business card in hand, rather than excusing your appearance…

Of course, at the local sports event or the beach – maybe just the business card needs to be handy. Did Donna Reed ever go to a Bears game or the lake?