wacky reflections from a nutcracker wannabe

Month: February, 2012

Why “Murphy”*?

“The chance of the bread falling with the buttered side down is directly proportional to the cost of the carpet.” – unknown


Funny things just happen to all of us. For me, it has become a normalcy. While the previous blog posts re. the cancer diagnosis are most certainly not “Murphy moments”, the “gooooiter” growth might well be.

And while it’s very hard to top being given honors from my friend, Mark, as a combo Jackie O and Dick Butkis, my ‘Melissa Murphy Moment’s’ are just part of what make me who I am. ūüôā Thus, this blog- “Murphy or Mel” – was born.

So, you ask, what is/has been a “Melissa Murphy Moment”……(and many of you will recall and giggle and/or want to share …it’s ok, my parent’s are fully aware of what they created.)

– Just out of grad school and teaching my first college class at 28, I wore a student provided adaptive hearing device into the ladies room accidentally still turned to “on”.

– Being new in my career and first real job (probably first or second year) and wearing red panties under white linen pants.

– Using the phrase “that’s a great money shot” when reviewing final production for our new television commercial with the (national food company) CEO sitting directly next to me (without knowing what the phrase meant until later AND being the only woman in the room). (btw- there really was a photo of a dollar bill in the actual TV spot.)

– Being awarded the very prestigious “40 under 40” award by the St. Louis Business Journal in 2010 after 400+ submissions, only to have a big apology and the award rescinded, because I turned 40 just three months prior. The graduate school Dean who submitted my entry entered my birthday incorrectly. (I keep it in my LinkedIn profile and resume because I earned that damn award.) My former CEO, Bill Shaner, called me to congratulate and shared great advice…”when did we go from being the rock star to the mentor?”. His wisdom and ability to laugh at the issue dulled the hurt. Until now.

– Trading in my dying but wonderfully fun Audi for a new Saab automatic, only to drive it thru the garage door in the first 24 hours. I wasn’t used to the difference after 20+ years with a manual transmission. Mol said “Mommy, why are we driving thru the garage door?” $1000 later, I owned a new garage door too. ūüôā

– Having a great idea in the shower only to not have a notepad handy. So, I found a pantyliner, wrote my thought, carried to work and planted on my desk, got distracted by another project just as the (male) Division President came in and sat down to talk. Yes, panty liner in full view.

-Locking my keys in the car two times in the same day. Once at the gas tank. Once while the car was still running at 9:30 at night at the bank drop box.

– writing 100+ thank you notes before my daughter was born signed from “Melissa and Hannah” to instead name her “Mollyanna”

– crying when I got a tattoo the size of a quarter but being told to wake up when giving birth to my sweet girl. (ok, drugs and an episode of Oprah were involved there ūüôā

– Scared of horses but dating a boy who I didn’t know was a national rodeo champion until three weeks later. He said Purina-Nestle.

– Asking to borrow the brand new shuttle bus for a two mile parade to have it not start in what would have been its first day in use- Just after the parade.

– Finishing a motorcycle riding class after dropping the bike, only to send and receive a letter from the IL Dept of Transportation thanking me for NOT getting my motorcycle license.

– Marrying a man with a Golden Retriever who has been beautifully house trained and won’t even get sick on the carpet. My yoga mat however? Not part of the training and more than once a select spot for Barkley’s sickness.

– Hiring a local lawn company to ‘pretty up’ my lawn to sell my house, only to have them do one spray and completely kill the yard in 24 hours, setting me back three months of sales opps and $$$ of watering…in the worst year ever to sell a house (2011).

– Asking for a fake name at the hospital for a recent procedure and getting a name with a misspelling and then best yet, a bill to her not me.

-And travel misadventure (a future blog for sure)…likely having an FBI record for an airport bomb threat scare (misunderstanding, really) in Cleveland; Watching news crews in Chicago surround our plane after some dude dropped a bag of large white powder as he entered first class (probably beignets mix- lol); Working a motorcycle rally in Laughlin, Nevada both before and after a gang motorcycle shooting hit national news; Being on a plane to Portland where the toilet blew up; Working truck stop focus groups in New Jersey with folks who lack teeth; accidentally carrying produce across the Chilean border; Booking a flight to Vancouver and realizing they meant WA not BC; Being stuck in countless airports all over the world- both with and without luggage; and one of my personal fav’s….being placed in an unmarked car in Buenos Aires and pretend texting (that wasn’t working) while hoping I was actually headed to a hotel in the right Argentine city and not being abducted.

We all have stuff, but how can you not giggle that things just happen? This is life.

No, this is my life. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything. ūüôā


Never will I be a shrinking violet. Results..the day after the scan.

‘She believed. She could. So, she did.’ – unknown (but purchased at Hallmark ūüôā

I had a dream last night. In it, I am walking alone though a set of unknown streets that don’t exactly feel safe, but I don’t see anything that is wrong either. I am alone and don’t feel directly afraid of any one thing in a way that makes me want to run, just a quicker walk to where I need to be. I keep moving, and as I get close to a door, a few people I call my “outsiders” in this dream walk me through to a safe auditorium. I don’t know them, but they feel familiar and most of all, safe.

I woke up.

Now, with a mom who is a psychotherapist and asks me if I’m stressed when I answer the phone with “hello”, I tend to overanalyze, and as such, it made me wonder. Who were these “Outsiders” in this dream, and why was I instantly safe in their company when alone I wasn’t so confident? I didn’t even need my dream book.

They are you. All of you.

See, the dream came last night just after I learned the best news I could possibly hear in this cancer nightmare…I learned my thyroid cancer is contained to the thyroid region only. It had not spread anywhere else in the body. I sobbed – as did my girlfriends who held my hands next to me- both before and after.

Do I get to ring the bell that says cancer-free yet? No, I have blood tests and more blood tests, another body scan and perhaps more treatment, but for today, I am contained and the radioactive iodine will work on the “bad” cells for months. (no worries, I will no longer be a threat to glow when sitting next to you ūüôā But that bell will ring, my friends. And I will eSend each of you a violet on that day and hand them out to the room of staff and friends and family as a thanks for your love, grace, prayers and peace. In fact, you are all invited to the event.

There has been so much said to me in the last few weeks, I can’t even begin to share the amazing sentiments and stories presented my way. We all have “stuff”. We just do. Some ask for help and are rewarded, others suffer privately and work from within. That’s ok. But don’t hide or cocoon for too long.

Even my Bath and Body Works “stress free” body wash says, “Breathe deeply for best results.” That is yoga in a nutshell. No wonder I crave the mat. And that packaging designer likely didn’t know the translation would end up here. What’s great is that my favorite packaging designer, Jodi (who works for a food company that freaks out over a picture of pork chops), said “I have every confidence you will bitch-slap this.”. Love that too! Both are real and raw and say something that kicks us into reality. Life just happens, and we sit in a corner, or we “Fight on” like my friend, Dan said. Or Laurie from SEB who quoted Oprah for me, “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you really want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”

A lovely old friend from grade school reminded me “we are girl scouts and the one thing we learned is how to survive. Never forget to stay fierce” That rocks, Ms. Leigh Ann Broyles-Roberts.

That’s what my “Outsiders” did. 100’s of you. My circle of loving friends who are always there for me, and in this instance yesterday, Lisa Lindley Durzo, Teresa Helms Ellison, Kim Kastel Hackney and Kirsten Waal Newquist, Michelle Foley (via phone, text, and FB ‘on the spot’ addict). They loved me and held me up in what- thus far- has been my darkest hour. They will stand at my side in one year when we ring the bell together with my daughter and family next to me. They got up at 6am and drove my arse over to STL not knowing what would happen, or what we might face- but the “girl power” as Lisa says would get us all through. And she was right on.

Was this a nightmare or a gift? Is cancer a wakeup call to make change? Was it meant to show me that “outsiders” are not out side at all? Certainly, I am facing some additional challenges separate from this health issue, but I will not shrink in that area either. I will move forward regardless of what happens outside of my hoola hoop. Never have I nor will I be a shrinking violet.

A new and wonderfully loving nurse friend, Sue Beeler, shared an original comment that should be a prayer in its own right (and I will find a way to market its use in some way at HSHS), but her words inspire, “Think from a place of peace, act from intention, do with grace, and you will be ok no matter the situation.” (copyright, Beeler, 2012.)

As with any scary health illness, cancer is a personal story -so personal and experiential, a person is never again the same…..And I suspect for anyone who crosses its path as friend, partner or family.

At least for me, the gift of the outsiders- YOU- have changed my path forever. ūüôā

Namaste’ (the divine in me blesses the divine in you.)


P.s. Matt Damon, Emelio Estevez, Scott Baio, Patrick Swaze, Tom Cruise…they have nothing on any of you. The swirl of a gift that came with the friends at my side so I would not be alone, prayers, love, wishes, notes, incredible shares, electronic posts, emails, cards, flowers, gifts (yeah, folks give gifts when you get cancer….I had no idea. Next time, I will hint sooner for a car.) Love to you all.

Fierce Loyalty. It is our choice to give.

When I started this blog, my goal was fun and upbeat, but this past weekend of seclusion, due to the now complete radioiodine treatment, forced me to think more pensively. ¬†This is life and what makes us real. I’m done hiding behind a pretend “everything is fine”. Sometimes, things just hurt. ¬†And well, these last few months have indeed hurt. ¬†A lot.

On my FB and Twitter pages last week, I wrote “Fierce loyalty is a rare, rare gift.” Several people “liked” but one friend privately disagreed. ¬†He said no, fierce loyalty is simply, “Faith”. ¬†He may be right, Faith is likely one of the fiercest of loyalties, but not everyone experiences in such a deep, thoughtful way, nor do they look at a higher power from his perspective.

When my former mother-in-law passed away after 25+ years living with Multiple Sclerosis, I felt something-perhaps Faith- sitting in Blessed Sacrament’s beautiful chapel. I was sitting alone and just felt something. ¬†In retrospect, it was likely “faith” or some awareness, yet unknown to me of fierce loyalty. ¬†Mollyanna’s grandma had been in nursing home for 10+ years, never known her granddaughter except with a teardrop or eye movement -but not in the sense to hold her or cuddle as a grandma should. But the loyalty wasn’t about her, it was about family. ¬†Molly’s great grandma, Nell, her ¬†grandpa Jim, her uncle ,Tim and her dad were at a Lebanon nursing home 25 minutes from their home EVERY day for those 10+ years so she would NEVER eat a lunch or dinner alone. ¬†And she couldn’t speak back, likely didn’t have much in the way of cable and never shared a meal. ¬†That’s real love, that’s fierce loyalty.

Loving your child with your whole heart and knowing that you would do anything in the world to protect them. ¬†That’s love, that’s fierce loyalty. I would give my life for my girl, never move away from her for a job, and I would work any job possible to keep her healthy and thriving. I am the parent and will do what I think is best. ¬†Will she likely need a psychotherapist some day to work through all this madness I have swirled about us? Yes, but you know what, I will pay for that too- as it was me – not her- that caused the swirl. ¬†She is the best gift I was ever given, and I tell her every day.

I firmly believe if my Grandma Sterling had passed before my grandfather, he wouldn’t have lived for very long without her. ¬†He couldn’t tell you what he had for breakfast, but he could tell you about the one room school-house where they met. ¬†That’s real love, that’s fierce loyalty.

A friend and minister recently shared some private stories about experiences that happened while in seminary that made her question God and why difficult things happen to us when we ask only for love and try our darndest to do our best for a higher power. ¬†After much discernment, she stayed true to the ministry and is today one of my favorite ministers of all I’ve seen preach. ¬†That’s real love, that’s fierce loyalty.

My best girlfriend from the second grade will take me tomorrow to hear the results on the total body scan knowing full well it may be wonderful or devastating. ¬†She is a single, professional mama working two jobs and going to school and still put me ahead of everything because she knew I needed her. ¬†That’s real love, that’s fierce loyalty.

We all make our own beds in the morning (or not), and we all wake having the day to make our own.  What we do with it is ours.

Loyalty is our choice to give…or not.

I am not in a good place right now.  I am sad and very, very scared. And I fully admit to needing help.  But I continue to breathe, pray, love my little girl and wish for fierce loyalty from the people who cross our paths.


It’s radioactive Friday. Iodine tastes better than a pre-colonoscopy beverage.

FB, Twitter and the email world have shown me love and healing I never dreamed. ¬†I wish I could hug Steve Jobs and that Zuckerberg dude directly. ¬†Wow- thank you to the now hundreds of notes and stories, prayers and eHugs that have come my way. ¬†And check out the jpgs at the end of this post..priceless….

I am officially radioactive but no superpowers yet.  Go to your window and look for the glow.  It might be an early Mardi Gras bead being thrown high in the air of STL parties, but it could just be me. (They said superpowers take a few weeks to kick in. At that point, look for a pink sparkle cape and a big smile.)

Today was the (first) treatment. ¬†It’s called radioiodine¬†therapy*, and it is specifically used to treat Thyroid Cancer. ¬†The anxiety is much worse than the actual beverage. ¬†It’s small and doesn’t taste much more than a little aluminum foil mixed with warm tap water that has been sitting on the kitchen sink too long. ¬†So, really, in the big picture, not a big deal and oh sooooo much better than that which you drink before a colonoscopy.

I love however that the nurse in the room puts on all these clothing protectors and big rubber gloves, but they put a small white paper cloth over my chest (with tape in the back no less) and I sit in my skinny jeans and pink sweater waiting to start.  Not even glasses. Seriously?  Oh well, I guess drinking it is much worse than losing a pair of my favorite Dansko shoes.

Course, we are talking about radiation in a contained lead package that has to be ordered from another facility and isn’t housed in the hospital for safety reasons. Literally. They have to order it once the patient has the consultation to ensure they will go through with it because it is so expensive and well, you know…radioactive.

They also actually measure my radioactivity before I leave AND after I set off an actual Geiger counter. For real! She takes out a human size ruler, stands far away, students are watching, a loud buzzer is going off, and they are watching a Geiger counter score the success of the treatment in my body. Freak’n science, incredible! (Mr. Gattung at OTHS would be so proud of me. And I only remembered his “vette” (meaning chevet). I should really get that A now.) (Thank goodness my brother, HJ, is a PhD radiochemist to explain what I ingested to my parents in a way that doesn’t scare more than necessary.)

Regardless, we go back Tuesday for a total body scan to determine if the tumors have spread beyond the right (and to my surprise, also left) thyroid lobe. ¬†All were in fact papillary so if “you are going to have thyroid cancer, this is the best you can have”. ¬†Comforting.

I will know partial results after that scan and on that day. ¬†There will be blood work in six weeks and six months, plus any additional treatments pending next Tuesday’s total body scan, meaning more scans every one to five years for the rest of my life depending on what we find.

This on top of my every three-year colonoscopy.  Bazinga!

MU alum is kicking cancer's ass!



** MU Live Strong logo…

The only time being called a large Mack truck is a compliment…

In the last few days, I have been reminded of who I am to the outside. ¬†That in itself is an immense gift. ¬†Being called a “Warrior” and “Mack truck” are my personal favorites. ¬†No other time except when facing cancer is being called a large Mack truck appropriate. ¬†Never. ¬†But today, I know my friend sees me as tenacious, driven, strong and capable of moving anything that gets in my way. ¬†He is right.

ok, so I actually haven’t kicked thyroid cancer’s ass yet, but I will. ¬†Just around the corner. Doc assures me that “if you are going to have cancer, this is the best kind to have.” ¬†LOL! ¬†Those are words I never expected to hear, much less typing them in a blog I didn’t plan to write until 20 minutes ago. ¬†I also must acknowledge that once I kick this, cancer can always come back. ¬†No worries. I’ve had my share of ups and downs and always land on my feet.

Know that song by Blue October, “Jump Rope”? ¬†If not, get it.

That being said, if you read, “Get a goiter, grow a goiter”- this would be part 2. ¬†You see, that goiter that Ms. Crazy Aunt Delilah designed for the work costume contest and actually became one two years ago, was checked and found benign. ¬†But over time and with repeated ultrasounds that never showed cancer, it was time for surgery to remove. ¬†Mostly it was cosmetic and sometimes I would feel pressure on my vocal cord (perhaps a gift to my friends, as I do possess the gift to gab). ¬†Me? ¬†I was just happy to get rid of that word in my vocabulary. Seriously, who named that thing a Goiter anyway…… “gooooooiter”? ¬†It just says, “make fun of me”. ¬†(And Seinfeld did nothing to help those of us with the curse of the “goooooiter”.)

Regardless, I conceded and took on the surgery when it fit my schedule. ¬†When the doc came back in after discharge to tell me they found malignancies, even he didn’t expect to give me this news. ¬†It wasn’t seen on the previous ultrasounds, and no one seems to know for how long I had been growing the cells. Again, no worries, I get some radioiodine¬†and a total body scan and soon enough I’m back to being a bad¬†ass marketing professional.

But here’s what I’ve learned along this ridiculously insane journey:

–¬†Many folks have thyroid issues, but unless they “get the goiter”, they may not be aware of the cancerous cells. ¬†Ask your doc how you can be sure you are safe.

РLaughter heals.  So too does investing in a good therapist.

– ¬†My 11-year-old¬† daughter has a capacity for amazing resilience and understanding. ¬†We haven’t yet used the “c” word (not that word, you goof), but I am transparent about needing much rest and meds that will make me radioactive and need to keep me alone for a few days while she stays with her dad.

– “Ask for the order”. ¬†Social networking has a completely new meaning for me this week- beyond a buttload of professional experience. ¬†(oh dear, I may have to rate this blog differently). ¬†An insane amount of emails, notes, personal stories, public thoughts, encouragement and kindness continue to come my way from people I haven’t seen in years. ¬†And it took me weeks to admit to folks even outside my closest six¬†girlfriends what was happening in my life. ¬†Suddenly, I am flooded with white lights, love and healing from around the globe. ¬†Just with a touch of a button and a polite request to have my back.

– Never allow anyone-¬† a sibling, parent, spouse (!!!!), friend, family member, colleague to hear the diagnosis alone. ¬†Partially, b/c they are likely loopy on ¬†Vicadin or Morphine, as I was and only heard one word, and partially b/c we need to be holding a hand or taking notes or something….and for me, I was still in the hospital gown, arse hanging out, connected to tubes and hair looking rocking hot. ¬†I was in shock and there was no one to hold my hand.

РSome folks you think will come to your side will not. And that is ok.  Not everyone is comfortable and knows what and how to be there for you.  Accept that this is not easy for anyone and move forward with folks who will not pull from the positive energies you need in reserve.

– Toxic people are bad news. Move on.

– I have always been good with “asking for the order”. (Daughter of a psychotherapist and attorney.) ¬†But, I’m not great at asking for help. ¬†Too damn type A and like to believe I can do it all. ¬†This time, I couldn’t. And you know what, asking wasn’t hard and the return has been the best investment of all time. ūüôā

– Next time you enter a hospital, consider that every patient¬†– you, your friend, your parent, etc…this is their story. ¬†It is not just a visit from you. ¬†It has a beginning – when they first call the doctor knowing something is “amiss”- to the end diagnosis or worse. ¬†Everything else in between is the plot. ¬†You are part of that plot and can make it even the smallest bit easier- even offering an ice chip or calling the nurse or a trip to the bathroom with someone other than a stranger means something. ¬†Be there and be present. And know it’s their story, not yours. ¬†Even if dinner needs to be made, or the kids have homework, or the laundry isn’t done. ¬†They are scared and need you to be with them.

Р Touch.  People need human contact.  We need to be loved.  Ask to hold a hand or give a hug, or frankly, just let me cry without solving my problems or telling the story of iodine radiation that your uncle bob had.  I am not Bob.

– ¬†I don’t need you to tell me you are sorry. ¬†Of course you are, you are my friend. ¬†Instead, just be there and remind me of all the things you know me to be. ¬†Because in that vulnerable moment, I don’t recall who I was before the diagnosis.

– ¬†Nurses run a hospital. ¬†I can be the lead for the marketing department, but I am nothing but support to the men/women who have ¬†(as my smart, loving, nurse based CEO says) “the privilege to touch the patient”. ¬†She is right. ¬†It is a privilege, and nurses deserve incredible respect.

And finally, Crazy Aunt Delilah may not have been just karma, she may have just saved my life.

Just imagine this next Halloween when she reappears with a new look, a fancy scarf to cover what appears a neckline intruder incident and a rockin’ story about being a cancer survivor. ¬†Probably wearing the survivor card on a tiara……(note to self).

Shoot a camera out of your ass and call it a diet?

All the tests, oh the tests. ¬†Colonoscopy in my 30s and every 3 yrs for life, upper GI, lower GI’s, scans, more scans, blood work ++++++, even swallowing a camera to shoot out my behind….and one final blood test to reveal……..

Being Celiac isn’t a diet. ¬†Who in their right mind would name it a diet? ¬†It’s a life sentence of the way we should all eat, meaning healthy. ¬†But damn, it’s not ideal. ¬†Folks like to use the phrase “Gluten Free Diet” as if it’s a fad. ¬†LOL! ¬†Take it from a four+ year vet, it is no diet or fad. ¬†In fact, many celiacs actually gain weight in the beginning b/c all the foods that were taken away are suddenly available. Their bodies need the nutrients that have been lacking and when you can’t have, you want more, right? ¬†These foods are suddenly at your fingertips in the frozen section with high caloric opportunity …and best yet, crazy high expensive and STILL no taste*. ¬†You don’t care. ¬†You just want the donut.

It is a limited range of tasteless, bland offerings never organized in any way that makes sense at the local grocery store (except Dierbergs in my area- they rock).

Imagine your life without bread, cookies, beer, anthing with flour/white, wheat, rye or barley. ¬†Yes, that means no more Mich Ultra or Oreo’s- even licorice is off limits. And silly stuff like lip balms, spices, soaps, toothpaste, etc. ¬†And I know there is G-F beer b/c someone at AB felt pity for us celiacs, but did anyone taste test that stuff? ¬†Ick.

Gluten is glue and as a filler, you yourself experience its effects every day. ¬†Even today’s Vodka’s which used to be safe are no longer safe- the majority too are grain based. ¬†Just ask the bartender who isn’t a player, they will be straight with you.

The Gwyneth Paltrows and Uma Thurmans of the world who say it’s a diet that keeps them fit are not giving the full picture. ¬†They are just cooking and eating well. ¬†Or, their hire-in cooks are preparing healthy menus for the family.

I’m no scientist, but it doesn’t take a genius to guess that preservatives initiated the celiac bug in the first place. ¬†If not, why the numbers skyrocketing on diagnosing Celiac Disease? ¬†We don’t choose this. It’s embarrassing and feels high maintenance anywhere in public, and damn, I want that big juicy burger on a bun with a cold one just like my cool girlfriends. ¬†Plus, it’s hard on the family. ¬†My poor girl had to take peanut butter on hamburger buns to school for the first two years so I wouldn’t cheat and eat her bread slices. ¬†Even today, I have to freeze them to keep my grubby little hands away.

And can someone tell me how my German grandparents ate lard on bread, rolls and dough of every kind, fried everything and still bowled and line danced into their 90s?  Living from the earth rather than the freezer section sure does make a difference.

Too bad I can’t cook. ¬†Lard v. Glue. ¬†Hmmmmm….

Sure do miss those banquet pot pies though.  They rocked.

TRIVIA FACT: We are not allergic to gluten.  We are intolerant.  An allergy is when your body fights back.  An intolerance is when your body fights itself.

*Udi’s bread is the only thing I can imagine has brought back some taste. ¬†Thank you. ¬†The price tag for healthy eating at $6.00+ per loaf is sad but worth it when desperate. ¬†If I wasn’t a marketer myself, I would really be ticked at that strategy.

dating is a lot like picking a new company to call home.

Seriously, what happens with DNA? How is it I am the marketer/advertising geek, and both of my brothers are math/science wizz-like? Maybe I should take credit for leaving part of my own DNA so theirs could double. Wait, that wouldn’t double…see, exactly my point.

well, when one brother has recently finished his PhD in chemistry and asks his older but worldly sister for advice on how to pick the right company when multiple offers present themselves, how can I resist but compare my professional and personal dating drama…..

Imagine moving in with someone you JUST met after one or two dates, maybe a meal, no sleepover, and if lucky, more than a few hours spent together talking about real issues, not just surface stuff. A new company is not much different. It’s a second home.

Ask yourself what it will be like to get irritated and find resolution with new people you’ve not spent years together getting to know (and a quick Meyers Briggs doesn’t change us overnight)?

Will you have room to assert your opinion even BEFORE asked?

Meeting the kids and parents (meaning, those you manage or those who manage your own supervisor) – My experience is the more you meet the staff in advance, the smarter and stronger your second home will be. You are “on” with the big wigs, but you are in the trenches with peers and the on the ground supervisors. If you haven’t met them, ask. What does it say if the company doesn’t allow? The goal being to learn how open the company treats employees- do the colleagues really “get” the company vision, are they empowered to make change, do they know their own succession plan, are they threatened, etc? The best matches- at least for me- are open and ready to offer growth in the public eye.

Imagine brushing your teeth next to the folks you met (b/c traveling, late nights and long days means getting to know someone very very well).

Imagine a peer steals an idea and markets as their own. How will you address or will you chose long relationship over the short term moment? In essence, you are signing up for a second home, and without the dating or really getting to know culture. Consider which company you know you can call a peer out and still end as comfortable colleagues who work as a team.

Ask yourself what it felt like to walk in and out? Is the vibe a match for you? Not b/c you want the role and they want you- remember this is like a date, and you are both courting today. In a few short weeks, that part is gone, and you are part of a team. The vibe must be win-win.

What did they wear, how did they speak to you, was it conversational, all biz, comfortable and open, etc? And what works for you- 8+ hours a day?
This is your second home, and it won’t feel like a home for a while. You will feel displaced, so finding a confidante early and letting them do the talking (while you observe without offering big change immediately) is critical. Regardless of what you choose, don’t jump in and start making changes in the first 90 days. Observe, make note, think at 30k’. Time will allow for the opportunities you see for change in time.

Money is just money. Don’t make a call because of a higher salary. It will come if the fit is right. And if not, own your own path and move forward.

The fit MUST be right, and only you can trust your inner guide to make that decision for you. Just listen.

Grow a goiter, get a goiter.

Four years ago in an effort to win a work halloween costume contest, I created a character. ¬†I don’t have a Crazy Aunt Delilah, but I thought something bigger than life and more creative than the standard Target purchase was a must. ¬†I was, afterall, the quirky (or I liked to imagine) head of the Marcomm team for a medical equipment company.

I visited the local thrift shop and selected a lovely floral housecoat but jazzed up my look with hot pink lipstick (over the teeth of course), many pearls, a flowing black Hannah Montana wig and a fantastically designed goiter with those awful nude colored pantyhose no woman ever chooses unless she is over 80.  (forgive me grandma, your knee highs were darling, and we loved you for being fearless to wear them as kneehighs.  You, HS, rocked a pair!). Crazy aunt Delilah, not so much.

The New York accent was a hit and the boa got me many hugs and several bizarre looks from the uptight stiffs in the office.  Nonetheless, $100 at stake, and I wanted that prize.

I only took second.

HOWEVER, the goiter crafted by pantyhose actually became a real goiter two years later. ¬†Karma or Murphy’s law?

I should definitely get my $100 now.

the nutcracker wannabe

So, like many little girls, I wanted to be a prima ballerina. ¬†Come on, who else wouldn’t want torn up toes, knots in their feet, hair pulled and sprayed so far back your face hurts…. in exchange for those beautiful long pink tutu’s? ¬†They look flawless under the spotlight, and beautiful men throw you in the air and never drop you (unlike your larger but angry younger brother does when he is mad at you for putting nerd candy in his bed and telling him they are mouse droppings).

Every year mom took us to see The Nutcracker at the Fox in STL.  I loved getting dressed up and waiting for the curtains and the beautiful music. It was an annual start to holiday heaven.

There was some curiosity about why the male leads worse such tight (tights) (and without the unitard they give to male wrestlers), but perhaps that is why the tickets cost so much, and the majority of the audience are women.

Regardless, I loved the ballet and wanted to name my daughter, Clara. My husband at the time was not in love with the name, but I kept in my heart for down the road. ¬†(for the record, my daughter doesn’t like the name we chose in addition to Clara, so I was screwed unless she was baby X and could name herself once a tween).

It’s 11 years later, and my sweet daughter and I have decided it’s time for a new pup. ¬†She picks the litter of tiny lhasapoos from this cool Posh Puppy rescue in downtown- everything is pink, and I’m thinking I need to be a good mom and let her name the pup, but how can I politely encourage “Clara”?

Well, needless to say the pup my girl chooses is a boy, and while I explained that neutering makes him gender neutral, she was not buying the sale for “Clara”.

We came home with ‘Kenny Rogers’.

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