One Fabulous Thing

…because each day has at least one.

04.05.2010 First! April 13, 2010

Filed under: Work — onefabulousthing @ 9:08 pm

I have been dragging my feet about posting this, because it feels a little…petty? Small-minded? I have been trying to come up with some other way to say this, some different spin I could put on it, to no avail. So here it is, in all of its lowly glory: Today, I got to the office before my boss on her first day back from a 4 -month maternity leave.

This is so trivial for many reasons, not the least of which is that she is the last person to keep mental tallies of the comings and goings of her senior management team. There are objective measures by which she can easily see that the program that I have been directing in her absence has been stable and profitable. I’ve hired some quality staff, and hopefully helped retain some others.I’ve worked hard to maintain our good relationships in the community and to uphold the high standard of work that we do.

Maybe I was a little concerned about where I would stand when my boss came back and things got a little reshuffled, maybe I didn’t want her to think that I’d been slacking off in her absence.

But there’s just something about sitting at your desk, as though you could have potentially been there for hours already, when your boss walks in. Judge away.

So, Fabulous Thing #95: Making a good first impression, all over again.


03.22.2010 MiniMe March 25, 2010

Filed under: Work — onefabulousthing @ 9:52 pm

In the past few positions I have held, one of my responsibilities has been recruiting, interviewing, and hiring therapists for various programs. The realities of community mental health centers and their operating budgets mean that the majority of these candidates are recent graduates from their Masters programs. Over the past seven years, I have met many men and women this way, and have selected some of them for positions.

Through this process I have learned that I should trust my instincts. The skill set needed to succeed and thrive in a job where you work to help people who sometimes don’t really want help (but yet somehow make them think it was all their idea to begin with), and where you have to go to their homes to do it (where often they are not present for your scheduled appointment), and where sometimes at the end of the day you are left feeling more like you are living the life of a mythological character rather than a professional therapist is varied. Being a little nuts helps. Being really flexible and open to new experiences is important. Being OK with using a lot of public bathrooms on the road is a necessity. These are hard things to assess in an interview, though if someone is really nuts quite a bit of that peeks through early on. (I am a therapist myself after all – I am trained to spot this).

What my instincts have told me is that people who are like me do well in jobs like these. “Like me” is a pretty varied skill set as well. Quirky sense of humor helps. Relentless optimism about the amount of impossible things one can do in a day is important. Being OK with a lot of domesticated animals crawling all over you is a necessity.

It is also essential that someone come into a job like this willing to learn new things. As a supervisor, it is a challenge to try to help people learn things who aren’t open to learning them, while they are trying to help people who don’t really want help…you see how it goes.

Today I was able to offer a position to a woman who meets all of the above criteria. She is a lovely, intelligent, passionate young professional who will be a great addition to the team. In addition to that, she has shown herself to be conscientious, professional, and unfazed by the things she has heard about our experiences in the field. Her enthusiasm about accepting the job to work with us was a little catching, and through it I was able to connect myself back to the time in my life when I was in her shoes. It’s nice to have those sparks once in a while that reignite your interest in the pursuits you have chosen.

In addition to that, it made me think about the wonderful clinician I had as my first field supervisor, and how much I absorbed from her about clinical skills, effective management style, and how to find the best public restrooms. We are still friends today even though our career paths have led us in separate geographical directions, and my experiences today made me think that I should acknowledge her positive influence on my life in some way. I am happy to be a part of the process for the clinicians I have supervised, and I hope that I can be a positive influence for them.

So, Fabulous Thing #81: Reconnecting to my chosen field by remembering where and who I was when I started out.


03.17.2010 Sense of Place March 21, 2010

Filed under: Food,Work — onefabulousthing @ 5:51 pm

I have lived in Rhode Island for ten years now. I came here as a graduate student, stayed as a young professional, and now live here for the stage in my life where I care about school systems and might not move again for a while. My current home is the 7th place I have lived in Rhode Island, so the “not moving again for a while” is pretty significant for me.

I had an experience today that made me feel like I have finally acculturated myself fully as a Rhode Islander. No, I didn’t drink coffee milk and eat a stuffie. Nor did I give directions to someone comprised entirely of references to places that used to be there. I had a day where I needed to get a business associate from out of town from his hotel to a meeting with a stop for breakfast, then get him lunch, then back to the airport at the end of the day. All of these things needed to occur around my regular daycare drop off and pick up routine.

I was unsure of timing due to traffic, so I didn’t have a specific game plan in mind. But it all worked out. I got to the hotel, took a back way into the city due to a truck rollover I heard about on the radio, dropped off the baby, found a lovely breakfast spot that I had read about in Rhode Island Magazine some months back, got us to our meeting, then managed to nab a  parking spot and an outside table at a perfect lunch place. All without the aid of MapQuest or any local sources of information.

This shouldn’t be that remarkable. I mean, I do manage to get to work every day, find new places to live when needed, get my car fixed, keep myself fed, and even go out for fun once in a while. However, there is a specific depth of familiarity that one needs with a place to successfully entertain and chauffer a person from out of town. It is an even more specific skill set if you want to avoid large chain restaurants and/or places that really only look appealing after dark and usually require some sort of admission bracelet, which is the category of entertaining I did in this state in my younger years.

It’s a nice feeling, having a sense of being settled here. I like that I can think of five great things to do off the top of my head when a gorgeous spring weekend is being forecast. I like that I have a library card for my town, and that I know where to get a good coffee besides the ubiquitous Dunkin’ Donuts. I also like that I know what makes a hot weiner such a unique phenomenon, and that the Big Blue Bug is an important traffic landmark. However, I do pray to Roger Williams every night that my son won’t have a Rhode Island accent, (may my native husband forgive me).

So, Fabulous Thing #76: Realizing I am home.


03.13.2010 Honesty March 15, 2010

Filed under: Family,Happiness,Work — onefabulousthing @ 9:52 pm

This is a day in which I did not get my hair cut. I did not do the work I had brought home, I did not read for pleasure, I did not get any work done on my garden. I got the time wrong for my hair cut and found myself without childcare and at music class during that time. There were too many puttering things that got in the way of work and reading. The rain put the kibosh on gardening activities.

I felt at loose ends all day, with too many things to do and not enough time to do any of them well. The baby is (as always) teething, and his palpable discomfort was like a low mosquito buzz in the back of my brain. When he was in bed and our dinner was on the table, I clinked beer bottles with my husband and said: “I think I’m all done. I’ve done the ‘working mother’ thing for about a year now, and it was really cool at first. Challenging. I liked stretching myself to cook all of our food from scratch, and bring our lunches, and keep a clean house. I’ve done a pretty good job of it, I think. But I think it’s time I earned my badge and bowed out.”

In response, my husband looked at me and said, “OK.” Of course, he didn’t mean it, any more than I meant what I said. There is a certain part of me that would love to drop out, tend my garden and my child (children?), and tidy my house. Or not. Sometimes it’s nice to let that part of me have a voice, and to have it be listened to.

So, Fabulous Thing #72: Speaking the truth…or at least the truth of the moment.


02.20.2010 Decadent Dreaming February 21, 2010

Filed under: Food,Happiness,Work — onefabulousthing @ 9:33 pm

Today, my wonderful husband brought our son to Music Together, and insisted that I stay home and rest. It is true for me that when I get a little tickle in my throat, when I’m feeling a little congested and a little “off,” if I can get some solid sleep and have a restful day I can usually stave off a bout of full-blown illness. This is how I was feeling yesterday, so my husband did what he could to give me enough downtime to try to head off whatever seemed to be coming my way. You would think that would be fabulous enough, but it’s not the One Fabulous Thing for the day.

I was able to sleep in a bit, but I was awake when my husband got the baby ready for class and I was able to blow them kisses out the door as they left. I got dinner going in the crockpot, then retreated back to my bedroom with a copy of a local magazine and my Kindle. I cannot tell you the last time I read in bed during daylight hours, and it was heaven. I read through the local magazine, making note of stores I’d like to check out, local events coming up that would be fun to go to, and local restaurants that might be worth trying.

I say this, but please realize that it’s all mostly talk. I rarely get any time to myself to poke around little shops, and as I’ve mentioned it’s sort of an uncomfortable thing for me. Our weekends are precious, and the mercurial weather means that the planned art gallery walks might be fun and enlightening or bitter icy cold and not happening. We go out to dinner so few times a year that a restaurant would have to be pretty spectacular to make the cut. But that’s not the point. The point is thinking about the possibilities, the depth and breadth of the opportunities that abound in the few square miles around where we live.

The most amazing of these opportunities became apparent to me when I read a short blurb about the contest that a local bakery is running to choose the person who will take ownership of the bakery later this year. For a nominal entry fee and a 280-word essay, the winner will get the keys to the kingdom. My mind was immediately off and running. I would enlist my mother to move down here and manage the day-to-day operation. My kid would grow up with the smell of sugar and vanilla surrounding him, doing his homework at the small tables in the bakery. I could picture myself, tired but fulfilled, carefully piping intricate designs on cupcakes in the early morning hours. It could happen. I could do this.

Will I? I’m not sure. But the essay is composing itself in my mind, the possibilities too attractive to ignore. It’s a little more tangible than the normal “what if I won the lottery” daydreams, and a whole lot more delicious.

So, Fabulous Thing #51: Sweet dreams.


02.18.2010 Small Faces February 20, 2010

Filed under: Family,Work — onefabulousthing @ 9:52 pm

Today was a rough one. Started with a meeting that involved a committee approach to planning a presentation, then on to a supervision squeezed into too short of a time, then to a meeting with an insurance company that isn’t the biggest fan of our documentation right now. Yikes.

I had my laptop with me all day, and what I am about to admit here is something that will hopefully never get back to any of the people in those meetings. When the chatter got to be too much, and I needed something to remind me that I wouldn’t be stuck in a conference room for the rest of my life, I risked a peek at the thumbnails of the photos I have saved on my computer.

Illicitly scrolling through the tiny images of vacations, Red Sox games, weddings, and the baby’s well-documented life was exactly what I needed to keep going.

So, Fabulous Thing #49: Having my own tiny, portable cheering squad helping me get through the day.


02.17.2010 Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Filed under: Food,Friends,Work — onefabulousthing @ 12:02 pm

I first went to the café near my office a few years back, with the woman who was soon to become my officemate and sanity-saver. It is appropriate that I also have her to thank for introducing me to this fabulous place. The café is near the water, in a small neighborhood that has a completely different feel from the busier section of town where we spend most of our workday.

The café itself has a good amount of seating in the form of mismatched tables and chairs in styles that range from 50’s Modern Diner to Victorian Tea Room. The walls are covered with paintings and photographs from local artists, all for sale. Because of this, the décor varies from time to time as pieces are sold and replaced with new ones. There are piles of the local free papers, a bulletin board for community notices and ads, plants, a menu written on chalkboards behind the counter, and a rack with selections of artisan breads from a local famous bakery for taking home.

Over the last few years, the café has become the place where the two other women who make up our management team and I have our weekly supervisory meetings. It is away from the office so we are less likely to be interrupted, there is ample space for spreading out paperwork, and in the warmer months there is outdoor seating that makes our meeting feel like a mini-vacation from work. The people at the café never rush us out, and over the years have come to expect us on Tuesday afternoons, with some surprise visits in between when we are able to sneak away. They’ve seen us strategize about ways to avoid layoffs, and through the process of selecting new hires when we have been able to expand. They saw me through my pregnancy, and met my son when I brought him there for lunch with my workmates during my maternity leave. They saw my workmates through their pregnancies, and today met their new daughters when we had lunch together.

Lest you think that the food is secondary to the atmosphere, it is not. Think interesting combinations of high quality meats and other sandwich fillings on artisan breads, decadent paninis, satisfying homemade soups, some light middle eastern fare, and amazing macaroons and other sweet treats. The regular order for our group right now is a grilled cheese panini with tomato and bacon with a side of soup (clam chowder if it happens to be a Friday) and iced teas with lemon. The people at the café know our orders before we even step up to the counter.

This café is my third place. Not in the manipulative, intentional way of a Starbucks or a Panera, but in the organic way that a place with a comfortable atmosphere and good food pulls you back over and over again. I often see the same customers there when I go, so the appeal seems to be pretty universal. I know the people that work there by name, and they know our names as well.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m on my own at work these days while my two regular lunch companions are on maternity leave. Today, they brought their new baby girls to meet me at the café. I haven’t had much (any) time to go to the café since they have been out, so walking in the door and smelling the coffee and the panini press while seeing my two closest work friends, relaxed and happy with their warm little bundles on their laps, just about brought tears to my eyes.

Work talk was brief but restorative, mama talk was plentiful, the paninis were delicious as always, and I even got a newborn fix in while I held babies so their mothers could eat more easily. The people at the café were appropriately admiring of the new additions to our group, and as always didn’t rush us out. It was exactly what I needed in the middle of the week.

So, Fabulous Thing #48: Reconnecting.