The World Turned Upside Down

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confident businessman using smartphone on street

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First, this is not another reference to Lynn-Manuel Miranda’s amazing musical. It’s a reference to something he referenced which I knew about before he referenced it. The World Turned Upside Down was the song the British sang as they marched out after their loss in the Revolutionary War. I used it in 2001 in recognition to the way the world was different after September 11th. The thought fits now as much as it did then.

Now, I’m not looking to talk about the state of the world, the craziness of the pandemic, or what is passing for political discussion in my country at the moment. I want to talk about the little individual worlds we all live and work in, and more specifically, how they’re all going to change once we’re allowed out of the house.

I have spent many years working as a government contractor, er I mean consultant, er that is…what ever you want to call it, it is all the same thing. People who work for a company that does work for the government. For the most part dress code is dark suit, maybe a flashy tie or socks if you’re a real rebel. We are conservative, respectable, and frankly boring.

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Now that the world has turned upside down, how many people who have gone from wearing a suit five days a week to wearing business casual (heavy on the casual), and in a lot of cases no pants (I’m a pants person, but this is a judgement free zone). How many of us really want to go back to wearing a suit every day. Or going into work everyday for that matter.

Working from home is nice. How many of us are prepared to go back to our open-work-space with maybe a window that overlooks the alley? Personally, I like a more hybrid approach where there are periodic days in the office, if for no other reason than for people to meet face-to-face and remember that there really are people on the other side of the screen.

Are you ready to go back to the office? No, it’s not going to happen today, or tomorrow. Depending on who you talk to it could be a while. But will you be ready to just go back to that world that you came from? Can you look me in the keyboard and tell me that after the newness of being back rubs off that you’re really going to want to be in an office wearing a suit and high heels?

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

The business as usual world has been turned upside down. We’re home. We’ve got both human and animal support in the background when the video calls that could have been an email (because face it, that’s never going to change) are over. We’re not traveling around the country to meet people because we are finding new ways to interact. We’ve found new ways to get the job done. Ways that may be more efficient, less stressful and more fulfilling.

So, let’s start the discussion now about what work is going to look like when we go back. What do you want it to look like, to feel like. I mean, I think pants will still be mandatory, but do you want to go back to your ties or heels (or both, again no judgement here)? Business owners and HR folks, are you going to be willing to bend to the new, and potentially better, normal that your employees found?

I think we’re on the brink of new work place “normal,” but what do you think? Please share your thoughts below!

And So It Goes…

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I promised my kids, and myself, that I wasn’t going to go back into government contracting because it is way too unpredictable. Contracts come and go and change and the person sitting at the desk doing the work has no control over who stays, who goes, who tells the story (all respect due to Lin-Manuel Miranda, but I couldn’t resist). But, after being out of a full-time job for over three and-a-half years, I folded.

I took a job as a contractor for the United States Department of Agriculture on a contract that was up for renewal, but everything looked good for long-term renewal. I started the 2nd of January full-time in DC, staying at hotels and going home as often as I could. The plan was to move down after school was out for the summer. I was looking for places to live and everything seemed good. I was wrong.

Just under two weeks from the end of the contract major changes were made. It wasn’t just me. About 66% of the people on the contract were scoped out of the next phase of work. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t them. It just was.

If any of my former team members find their way across this, please know that it was an honor and a pleasure to work with each of you. I have rarely worked with a team that gelled so quickly and performed to such a high standard straight out of the gate. I am impressed with you, I am awed by you and I am inspired by you. I will miss the Breakfast Club like nobody’s business.

Now I find myself looking for the next new chapter just a few months after I thought I started the next book in the series. Frankly my friends, this story sucks. But it is what it is. This isn’t a great time to be looking for work. So many people are out of work that the market is flooded with people applying for anything that they are remotely qualified for (and yes, I fall into that category too). 

It isn’t easy. It isn’t fair. And, it’s scary as hell. It is the life of contractor.

And so it goes

Respect One Another

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I’ve stepped away on purpose the last few weeks. There is so much heartbreaking news out there, and I didn’t feel I had anything to offer the conversation. But, ignoring it somehow seemed wrong. Today I intended to post something fun as a get our minds off all of sadness. But I can’t do it. hands-683950_960_720

Instead I’ll say the one thing that keeps running through my mind. Can’t we just respect one another.

I’m not saying we should put aside all of our differences, hold hands and sing Kumbaya. I’m not even saying we should like one another. It would be nice, but let’s be honest…that’s never going to happen in my lifetime. Some of the differences are a really important to who we are and deserve to be focused on and discussed. It’s the differences that will help us as a society learn and, one day, move forward.

But today is not that day.

Asking people to love one another is impossible until people learn to respect one another. So that’s what my message is today. You don’t have to love thy neighbor. Hell, you don’t even have to like them. But try a little respect. They are a human being. They have hopes and dreams. They love someone, and someone loves them. They are someone’s child. They may be someone’s sibling or parent. They have friends. There are things that make them laugh and things that make them cry. They will bleed. They will die.

They are a living, breathing human being. The color of their skin, the person that they love, the higher power they believe in – or don’t believe in, their sex and sexual identity is all secondary to the fact that they are a living, breathing human being. Just like you. Just like me, and the person down the street. Just like every person of color. Just like every cop. Just like every gay man and woman. We are all living, breathing human beings.

Maybe I’m just stupid or naive, but shouldn’t that be the most important part? If you can’t find a way to respect someone for any other reason, can’t you at least respect the fact that they are a human being? They are here trying to live the best they can, and when they’re gone someone will cry for them.

I know that even asking us to be nice to one another at this point is probably a lost cause. So, can we start with respect? For one day, don’t just automatically go on the attack or on the defensive. Respect the people around you. You don’t have to get carried away, just…I don’t know…say excuse me when you walk in front of someone. Hold a door open. Say thank you and your welcome. Acknowledge that the people around you, even the people who say you hate, are PEOPLE. Human beings. Living, breathing, feeling beings just like you.

For one day try to respect them. And then tomorrow, try doing it for another day. And the day after that…and the day after that…and the day after that…And maybe one day we’ll find that we really do respect the people we’re different from. May that day we can move on and find a way get along.rainbow-436171_960_720

My Summer So Far

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First rule of blogging, don’t stop blogging. Well I broke that one in spades. In my defense, since I last published a post (there are several sad half posts laying around behind the scenes) I have: completed a couple of freelance projects, packed kit and kaboodal and moved it all to another state, managed to get Shingles (twice-I am just that lucky), and get the kids to and from summers camp in one piece! Bonus points for getting them registered in the new school district before we got to the DMV (well alright who rushes out to the DMV, but still we got them registered the first week we were here). We’ve got a long way to go, but it’s starting to feel like home.

For now I offer the following photographic proof…don’t worry I’ve skipped the ones that might leave you feeling itchy…

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Before they broke our TV, 3/4 of legs of a desk, a piece of heirloom furniture and scratched the end table.

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We stopped to take a picture as we came back home.

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Two weeks after we moved the girls went to camp.

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They had fun at camp but were glad to come home and unpack.

Once again I’ve learned life tends to do what it pleases while you’re out making other plans. You know what, since there’s not much you can do to stop it, sometimes it’s better to just try to enjoy the ride.

What Story Are They Telling About You?

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Take just a moment to think about the story other people tell about you. I know, we’re not supposed to be overly concerned with what other people think about us, but it can be important. How would your competition tell your story? How would your peers? Your family? Be honest.

Are you happy with the story they’re telling? Is it accurate (more accurate than you’d like to admit)? If this story is the story that is forever linked to you, would you be ok with that?

Yes? Excellent! Rock on my friend!

No? It’s never too late to change your story. Decide what kind of ending you want to have and decide what you need to do to get there. Then do it.

One of the great things about stories is that they can be rewritten. As long as you’re willing and able you can change your story. Focus on the areas that need improved, get the word out that you’ve made changes. Commit yourself to making changes and stick with it. It’s never too late to get a better ending.