Seventy posts??  How in the hell did I churn out that many these past nine or ten months?  I’m having a blast in here and if any of you out there take a little time to read or skim my ramblings my heartfelt and humble thanks!  If you found me here by accident, take a moment to check out some other posts as it’s a big, fun ball of random in here.

It’s a beautiful mid-July weekend and somehow I came down with a stupid cold just in time for it.  I woke up yesterday with a slightly tickly, sore throat but I thought it was from perhaps accidentally sleeping with my mouth open for awhile (meaning, my throat was all dry and irritated).  But hmmm…is it allergies or a cold?  Sadly, I don’t have time for either.  I’m running a 5K a week from this Sunday and am woefully behind in my training plans.  And my energy level is going up and down in waves even as I sit here typing.  Methinks it’s a cold.

So, since I need to get the neon white legs moving and prep for this 5K but felt a little rundown this morning I got a jumpstart:  I made a pot of coffee.  Forza Coffee in the Italiano blend.  Fabulous stuff.  I love it so much I even picked up an extra pound bag for a good friend of mine who loves her coffee and has been out of town for a week.  I swung by her house last night to water her plants and take care of a few things and put her coffee on the kitchen counter in lavender gift wrap.  A nice welcome back gift I hope!

What a difference a couple of months make!  Remember all my bitching and moaning about the job search and how once I got my current offer my start date was delayed over three weeks (causing me to re-resume connections with other opportunities I’d declined thinking I’d be at this new gig fairly quickly)?  I can’t believe how fast the time has flown.  And how much I’ve soaked in and learned. And how while I won’t soon forget the stress and anger from all those delays the layers are slowly sloughing away.

Getting comfortable in a new job takes time.  I haven’t even begun to begin to understand all the nuances of my current work assignment and this company’s business unit in general.  And it’s refreshing to discover that a lot of what we’re doing is actually new in general so even those who’ve been around since things got underway a couple of years ago (which is eternity in the world of technology) are also marching ahead into new, uncharted territory.  Yep, we’re all in this together!

I can’t quite put my finger on exactly when it happened, but in the past few weeks a bunch of things started clicking.  I suddenly understood more about different people’s roles and what exactly that means, not just their titles.  I learned how to not get lost in the crazy, labyrinthian hallways – good grief these buildings are butt kickers.  And I started slowly carving out a few things to take ownership of, document and speak to in meetings.  How wonderful a feeling after all these months with no job and feeling like a ship without a rudder to start to feeling a little more stable.

And with that comes a more relaxed Me in general – and my humor and more layers of my personality come out.  I love friendly banter and having a good laugh as people get better acquainted with me and me with them.  I LOVE being around people in general – a strong team environment is absolutely crucial for me to feel productive at work, so while it’s nice to have technology to telecommute (and a work culture that supports this wholeheartedly) I choose to come to the office and be fully present.  Plus I’m still developing rapport and relationships with the various groups, and the best way to do that is face to face.  After being at home and out of work for so long it’s nice to get out of the house on a daily basis for a change of scenery (along with getting stuff done and real paychecks, woo hoo!)

Some of you may know I worked onsite at this same company for about 7 1/2 years, but in a completely different part of the business.  Those were transforming years personally and professionally.  I made the switch from having direct reports, managing technical teams of 15-20 or so, into Project Management and had about 4 or 5 job changes to get there.  I first set foot on the campus in 1999 a month shy of turning 32 and left in the fall of 2006 at age 39.  Lots can happen in those years and sure as hell did.  Y2K. An opportunity to move out of state (which I turned down).  A few relationships – some serious, some not.  September 11th.  The loss of two grandparents, my cousin’s 2 1/2 year old son (a horrific drowning accident), and the welcoming of my 2 nephews and niece for starters.

So returning back to this company after a 4 year hiatus has been an interesting journey.  The culture is pretty much the same as I remember but maybe has a slightly softer edge to it.  Is this really true or is it just me with a softer filter – both physically and perhaps mentally too, ha ha.  Ah, the joys of early middle age.

One thing that I remember well is the “no news is good news” culture, especially for someone in a contingent role (my work assignment is slated to run a year).  That hasn’t changed at all.  If you’re doing as expected you likely won’t hear anything.  But if there’s a concern or problem you will and in extreme cases you will be excused from your assignment and asked to leave.  It’s just that simple. There is a high-energy, silent vibe of restlessness deep in this company’s core.  It’s rare to hear kudos and praise – maybe a nice thanks or two – but expectations are high and when they’re met that just simply isn’t good enough.  Everyone is expected to constantly stretch, innovate and DO MORE.

So you can imagine my surprise when out of the blue a peer of my manager – I’m working with his team getting a new project framed up and underway – suddenly asked me, “How long were you at this company your last time here again?”  And when I told him he asked if I had been contingent or full-time permanent.  [I’d been contingent].  He asked if I’d ever considered pursuing a full-time opportunity here past or present and I about fell on the floor.  I did NOT expect to hear this and certainly wasn’t fishing.  “…you’re doing a GREAT job, fivenineteen, and you’re definitely this company’s type of material.” Um…WOW. Now THAT was unexpected. 

He also mentioned he’s noticed my tactic of just going in head first and going for it, whatever “it” might be with our work.  Yes, that’s the life of a consultant/contractor…dive into the deep end of the pool and figure it out already! I joke that zooming in and out of different work assignments (this is my 5th in the 4 years since leaving this company in 2006) feels like being an Army Brat or an exchange student.  You get some thick skin and learn how to learn quickly. I may have floated through the rest of the day in a state of glorious shock receiving those compliments.

A few minutes later I got an email in response to some documentation I’d prepared following a kickoff session.  “My God, you are amazing.”  This came from one of our technical gurus.  He admired how well I was able to focus and capture what we’d covered and how quickly the documents were put together and distributed.  OK, I’ll take it!  Damn that felt good.

After months and months of No or Non-Responsiveness during these past jobless months I shamelessly eat up kudos with a spoon.  Because around here, they’re few and far between.  By design.

And if that wasn’t enough strumming of my strings I also received some good strokes from one of the journalists I met last weekend at a friend’s dinner party.  Talk about uber incredible listening skills – she remembered many of the things we’d talked about and acknowledged them in an email to me after skimming through a couple of my posts in here.  Food for a part of my soul that didn’t even know it was starving:

“Maybe you should think about doing more writing for public outlets as well.”