Monday, December 28, 2015

The ever so talented Mallory MacDonald took a fun shoot of my family over Thanksgiving holiday.  We recently received the files and I'm in love with nearly every one of them. I'm also pretty in love with my ridiculous family that make it impossible to get a "frame-worthy" shot. 

In love my friends. 

I now run my company's recruiting efforts and I find myself regularly looking through the modern day wanted adds - known as LinkedIn and the Careers pages of different firms.  As I'm drafting role descriptions, I cringe at the overused catch phrases I essentially must use.  I see a lot of "highly motivated, creative and collaborative people" sought after, all to join a "fast-paced, friendly environment."  

I think if I were to write my own job posting, without concern for CEOs, Principals or... legal concerns, I'd throw in a few more signifiers, words like thoughtful, kind, patient, dedicated, honest and committed to the conversation, interested, big-picture thinker, little-details checker, tinkerer.

A tinkerer is so much more valuable than a problem-solver.  Problem solvers throw solutions at problems without first understanding why there's a problem, what caused the problem, and perhaps offering a couple solutions to the problem.  I want problem-thinkers before problem-solvers. Problem solvers use the equivalent of zip locks and duct tape and you get to fix a bigger problem right after. 

I'd tell the potential hire the truth, because they already know "fast-paced" is a paid synonym for "stressful" and "always behind a deadline." And friendly?  Friendly doesn't mean a thing in a job listing. Just start hiring kind, patient, thoughtful people and you'll end up with a friendly environment.  If what you mean to tell them is you drink beer together on Thursdays or go to movies together on Monday nights, tell them. But if you're just filling up words on a page that someone is going to skip over to read the responsibilities and minimal qualifications - stop. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

If you're coming to my house for dinner, it's not going to be perfect.  This is something I have come to grips with - and I wish I could put it as a disclaimer on the bottom of every dinner invite I hand out.  You know, how some people tack on a little note to please forgive the spelling of all messages sent from this iPhone? Well, "Please understand this invitation is not to a perfect 'event' - it's to sit in my home. And you might have to sit on the bed, or floor, because we only have 4 bar stools and 2 folder chairs. Hope to see you there."

When our wedding was over, I crumbled under the idea of inviting anyone over.  I hadn't expected everyone else's expectations for my wedding ceremony - the day I'd make vows with my husband - the day I'd be his bride. I had no idea it required me be a perfect party planner, event coordinator, etc, etc.  I was prepared for things to go wrong.  I was prepared to not do it perfect.  But I wasn't prepared for everyone else to be disappointed in me when it didn't.  So dinner invites weren't extended.  Because if I couldn't host a wedding, how could I host a dinner that didn't somehow fail my guests' expectations?

I still feel this pressure - we have meltdowns before dinners - neither John or I expected that.  I've always loved creating a place for people to be together.  I want to introduce new friends.  I want to show them commonality.  I want to offer comfort and a safe place.  And I love cooking.

But I live in 450 square feet.  We have minimal cabinets and storage.  And our first year of marriage has seen us toss away items week after week - what we once would have fought to keep, we pile into bags and boxes in the kitchen and drive to our local goodwill.

I don't miss those things - until we decide to host.  I have one pretty big plate.  It's a platter, I think.  One. It fits on top of our fridge, and it is just so pretty, so I keep it. And one tiny little wooden bowl that looks cool out on a party table.  We have some really awesome little forks and knives for serving up little scoops of melty cheese or olives too. And a gorgeous marble cheese cutting board. You'll see all of these things out at any given party we host.

Someday it will be nice to have the appropriate party-hosting dishware, but for now, I don't have the room.  And I kind of like that.  I'm okay being the newly-wed gal who doesn't have the matching set just yet... of whatever the thing is. I'm okay with having friends sit on the floor, or lay on my bed.

But I'm not okay with feeling other's disappointment - with having people arrive and silently say, 'oh.'

As my first little tiny, teeny 'party' since our wedding is coming closer - I keep fighting this huge anxiety.  I left the invite as a draft for nearly a week before hitting 'send.' I need to figure out how to auto-add that note.  "Proper serving ware not included" might do.  Or, "Don't expect too much please." Really, I just want to say, "Please don't be disappointed in me.  I just wanted to have you over for a glass of wine."

One of my best friends built me up last week, reminding me the handful of qualities I have to give - hopefully others can see the value.  So, you're invited to my home - please come be my friend - and enjoy the creative, strange use of what I had around to turn into ornaments.  I'll be sincere.  I'll be loyal.  I'll see things a bit differently - and I'll probably serve dinner a little late. I believe in value.  And I'll always try to show you how much I value you, whenever you're in my home.

I can't promise the rest.

When it really comes to the heart of the issue, I suppose really I could.  I just don't want to. I spend every day managing, coordinating, meeting deadlines, triple checking, impressing, proving my value - and I don't want to do that with the people I love. Let's just drink wine and eat good food and not stress about time lines, table charts and proper cutlery. I'm not here to impress you. I've already changed out of my business dress...Here, have a glass of wine.

I just want to feel a little closer friends by the time you leave.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

While it hurts to not be there with them celebrating right now, I couldn't be prouder of my recent firm for winning the 2016 AIA National Firm of the Year Award.  I've been convinced all along this was the year!