Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

Thank you, and goodnight!

Hello, blog readers!

If you’ve been following our blog regularly, you’ve probably noticed a lack of new posts lately, and for that, we sincerely apologize. As seems to be the case so often, we’ve found that life is getting away from us and we cannot devote the time needed to maintain an interesting and entertaining blog, so this will be our last post. We’ve enjoyed sharing our insights with you and appreciate your comments and for following us on this journey.

Very best,

The “Our View From Here” team

1 Comment »

Fashion BACKWARD

I am not a fashionable person. I am not in the know when it comes to designers and trends. I think I dress nicely, but I’m certainly not on the cutting edge of fashion. Accordingly, I tend not to notice to a great extent what other people are wearing. However, there are times when something so bizarre, or so hideous crosses my path that I can’t help but notice. At that point, my natural snarky tendencies come out and I have to share my findings. Here’s what I’ve been subjected to of late.

Leggings. I fully believe that only pre-pubescent girls or fit people engaged in physical activity at the time of wearing leggings can pull them off. For most people, it is just not attractive. I’m a firm believer in dressing your body type, not dressing to fit fashion. Wear what’s going to look good on you and don’t wear things just because they’re fashionable at the moment.

I would also like to point out that leggings are not pants, unless you’re a young girl. Accordingly, one should not wear leggings as pants. If you insist on wearing leggings, you need to have skirt, dress or long sweater that goes at least to your mid-thigh. Keep your parts covered, ladies, because most people aren’t going to want to see what you’re showing.

Jean shorts and black pantyhose. I was subjected to this ensemble twice on my 5 minute walk to work from the train this morning. What is this, 1987? I swear Debbie Gibson had that exact outfit on in one of her videos. Really, people? Fashion from the 80s wasn’t good the first time around. Why are we trying to revive it?!

Skirts? Long shirts? I don’t know what to call these….things….but I’ve seen people wear them (usually with leggings, please see above). It’s like they’re trying to be skirts but they got caught in the dryer to long and shrunk and now barely cover one’s nether regions. I’m not a prude. I’ve certainly worn, and still wear, my share of short skirts. But I make sure everything is covered at least! Please see above for my thoughts on proper skirt length to pair with leggings. Yuck people. Just yuck.

And on a side note, please remember proper leg placement when sitting while wearing a skirt or dress. Knees and ankles together please! I cannot tell you how many women I’ve seen completely oblivious (I assume) to the fact that they’re giving everyone in front of them a show because they sit down as if they are wearing pants. Close ‘em up, ladies!

I feel much better for getting all of that off my chest. Though I’m sure it will be short-lived once I begin my commute tomorrow morning. Thank you for reading my fashion public service announcement.

Leave a comment »

Does anybody know what they want to be when they grow up?

Some recent conversations with friends have prompted me to wonder how many people truly love what they do. Not like, not manage, not deal with, but are truly passionate about the work they do and look forward to going to work most days. I like my job just fine and I learn a lot, but I can’t truthfully say it’s my life’s passion.

Life wasn’t supposed to be like this. Growing up, our parents, teachers and Sesame Street told us we could be whatever we wanted when we grew up. How many of you knew exactly what you wanted to be when you grew up? If you were like me, you always had a clear idea. It might have changed as often the weather, but if someone asked you, you knew you wanted to be a chef, or a dancer, or a nurse or whatever.  Where did that confidence go? Is it lost in the responsibility of needing to pay bills and keep a roof over our heads? Is our imagination and passion slowly being whittled down by the pressures of being an adult? It’s sad to me. I was always sure that I would never be one of those people who just tolerated their job because it paid the bills. I would be one of the ones leaping out of bed in the morning, eager to get to work and make a contribution to my chosen field. I don’t mind my work; it’s fine and given this economic climate, I’m grateful I have a job.  But I have to wonder on when I comprised on finding true happiness in my job. Maybe it’s just part of growing up.

Fortunately, I’m young yet and we live in an era where it’s expected that people make multiple career jumps. I have a great education and I’m gaining good skills that could be useful in almost any field. I have no plans on leaving my current job; like I said, I like it just fine. But I’m still hopeful that one day I’ll find a job that I’m truly passionate about, whatever that might be. In the meantime, I think I’ll go back to daydreaming and imagining my ideal job. That way, when it comes along, I’ll be ready for it.

I’m interested, kind readers, if any of you love your job. Are you doing what you thought you’d be doing when you were younger? If not, what’s your dream job?

1 Comment »

Thank you and Goodbye, 2011. Welcome, 2012!

Happy New Year!

Overall, 2011 was a pretty good year for me. My biggest accomplishment was getting a new job. I’ve been in my new position for just over three months and it’s been a huge learning process. I suppose that’s to be expected with any new job though. I don’t know yet that this work will be my life’s passion, but I’m pretty sure I’ll get a lot out of it, which suits me just fine right now.

In retrospect, 2011 was filled with a lot of fun events. It was a great year for diving. I improved significantly and am much more confident in my abilities now. I had a phenomenal trip to NC where I was able to explore WWII ship wrecks and swim with sharks. It was an amazing experience and I’m eagerly anticipating this year’s NC trip. A month later, I had a wonderfully relaxing vacation in SC with my husband, the first since our honeymoon in 2009. I also got to visit friends in Boston, Philly, DC and NH, had a camping trip with friends in June and attended a multi-location wedding celebration in NC and OH for a very good friend. It’s these experiences and the associated memories that come to mind when reflecting on 2011, not all the muck and difficulties that would come up and stress me out throughout the year. I’m pretty pleased with that realization.

I have big hopes for 2012. As per my usual practice, I’m not really focused on making resolutions. But I am trying to be aware of what I can change in my life to make it even better than last year.

I wish all of you a wonderful 2012. May it be filled with happiness, health, love and ice cream.

Leave a comment »

Settling In

I apologize, faithful blog readers, this post will be short. I started my new job last week and it’s gone fairly well so far. I have an office with 4 walls of my very own! I am a bit embarrassed by how excited this makes me. And I’m a bit ashamed to think of how much time I’ve spent thinking about how to decorate said office. Upon my arrival on my first day, a lovely bouquet of flowers and a sign welcoming me to the office was on my desk. My coworkers took me out to lunch. At my last job, I usually ate at my desk and didn’t venture out much. It was such a novelty to go out for a full hour…with co-workers even!

Over the past week and a half, I’ve been settling in, trying to absorb as much as I can. I started at a very busy time so the first few days no one was able to devote too much time to training me. I spent a lot of time reading everything I could on the common network. Getting my benefits and ID card proved to be a giant hassle but I think (and hope!) all that is finally resolved.

I’m a bit out of sorts this week. We are running a program, which has meant I’ve taken either the 5:10 or 6:30 am train every morning this week, which means I’m usually up an hour or so before that. I’m also getting home a bit later. It’s dark when I leave in the morning and dark when I get back home. I’m getting run down and cranky and frustrated that I still don’t know enough to really do much yet. I’m sure in a few weeks time, I’ll be looking back enviously at all the downtime I have right now, but I’m ready to get going and I’m getting frustrated that all I seem able to do is boring admin work. I know that will all change soon. I think I’m just going to chalk up this crankiness to needing a nap.

Leave a comment »

Where do I sign up for this society?

As I thought about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society one word came to mind that more or less summed up my impression of the book. It’s a word I hesitate to use because it’s somewhat dated. Contemporarily, my experience has been that it’s generally used sarcastically. But it’s a good word. A word that accurately and succinctly depicts the book. That word is charming.

The book is constructed entirely of letters (or telegrams) during the immediate post-World War II period. It’s reminiscent of Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn, another book composed of letters. While Ella Minnow Pea is also (dare I use the same word twice in one blog?) charming, the characters and plot is much simpler than Potato Peel Pie, as I affectionately call it. With Potato Peel Pie, over a dozen characters are fleshed out through the course of the book, each with their own back story and experiences. When you stop and think about it, it’s a pretty impressive feat to make these characters seem real, without a bit of narrative exposition, at least in the traditional sense. In fact, the characters seem so real that I found myself grieving when I read that one of the characters passed away.

Potato Peel Pie is a story about the war, without being a War Story, if you can distinguish between the two. What I mean is that the war is a part of the story, and brought some of the characters together, but the purpose of the story isn’t to talk about the war, or how the characters survived before, during and after. I’ve read many of these War Stories and I’m not trying to disparage them in any way, but Potato Peel Pie is different in that the war has become part of the fabric of the characters’ lives. It’s ever-present, because how could such a terrible long-running event not be? But at the same time, most often, the characters don’t actively discuss or think about the war. When they do, they almost discuss it with detachment, as if they’ve grieved all they can, or care to, and that they are just trying to go on with as normal a life as possible. Makes sense to me.

I don’t have much to say about this book, besides the fact that I loved it. I started becoming more and more despondent as each page turned brought me closer to the end of the book. It’s not often that I don’t want a book to end. I read a lot and enjoy many books, but I’m usually ready for the conclusion. In Potato Peel Pie, I could have read for quite some time more, without getting tired of the story or the characters. Anyway, I’m getting dangerously close to blubbering, so I will end by highly recommending you read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Right now. Go. Shoo!

1 Comment »

It’s beginning to feel a lot like….autumn.

Over the last week in the lovely Garden State, a cooler breeze started pushing through, and I couldn’t help but get a bit excited. Fall is in the air, and with it, the haze and smog and humidity of summer seem to be blowing away. We’re not quite out of the warm weather yet, but the first hints of the fall crispness are here.

I love the fall. I love being able to put on jeans and a sweater for the first time of the season. I like digging out my light jackets and hitting the trail to enjoy the fall foliage. I enjoy turning on the TV and watching a Penn State football and drinking a beer. I’m not usually one to light a lot of candles, but during the fall, I love filling my house with autumn scents, like apples and cinnamon. And though it might be a bit juvenile, I still like to tromp through the fallen leaves on my walk to and from the train station.

I am also obsessed with “fall flavors.” Nearly every year a group of friends and I go apple picking. The orchard also maintains a country store with excellent produce and fresh-baked goods. One of my favorite things to get there are apple cider donuts. While these are available year round, in the fall, they make them in front of you and serve them hot. They are to die for. They also sell apple cider by the glass, either warm or cold, which is a lovely way to wash down a donut. I always buy at least a gallon of cider to take home with me, and I spent many a night during grad school writing a term paper with a glass of hot apple cider by my side. I was excited to see that Dunkin Donuts is selling apple cider now. I’m definitely going to have to wander over there and check it out. I’ll also have to make a trip to Starbucks to get a pumpkin spice latte.

For me, fall always brings a sense of excitement and possibility. Perhaps it because I’ve still spent a majority of my life where the year starts in September, or maybe it’s just that the temperatures cool and I finally have a bit of energy after languishing in the hot summer sun. Whatever it is, I always find myself making plans and experiencing a sense of rejuvenation once fall comes around. I know that spring is considered a time of rebirth, but I experience the same feeling in the fall. Two seasons are down and there are two more to go for the year. Halloween and Thanksgiving will be here before I know it and Christmas isn’t too far away either. Fall gets me excited for all of these events. I’m ready to gear up for the end of the year, just as long as I have a delicious hot fall beverage in hand.

It’s time for another Our View From Here book club. This time, we’ll be reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Check it out next week when we discuss what we thought of the book and feel free to comment on our posts about what you thought about it!
1 Comment »

Finding my Calling

Similar to Isabel, growing up I had a long list of things I wanted to be when I got older. One of the first professions I can remember selecting was a chef. This is somewhat ironic when you review the number of posts I’ve had discussing how I don’t cook. But when I was little, cooking was fun. “Cooking,” mind you, usually consisted of stirring ingredients that my mom or grandmother put together. I specifically remember when I decided I wanted to be a chef. I was pretty little – probably not more than 5. I was “helping” my mom make scrambled eggs. She must have set up a stool for me to stand on because I have a vivid memory of looking at the stove top (which would have been above my head at that point) and stirring the eggs in the pan. I must have had an excellent stirring experience because I remember that was the experience that convinced me I would be an exceptional chef. I maintained this interest for a year or two, but then got distracted by other interests.

Once I got a bit older, I had a sustained interest in a science-related profession. In elementary school, science typically consisted of the physical sciences. I remember learning about forces and electricity and other things that did not hold my interest. While I was a good student, I always struggled with these lessons. I was devastated once when my teacher chastised me for not paying attention in class because I couldn’t answer a question related to the lesson. It’s not that I wasn’t paying attention – I just didn’t get it. Things finally changed in middle school when I had a life sciences class. Now this was interesting! Plants and animals and cell biology just clicked with me. I could totally get on board with this.  I think what really inspired me to pursue a career in science was a television show I saw about a zoo that had a polar bear that gave birth to two cubs. I believe the mother rejected the cubs so the zoo’s staff hand-raised the cubs. THIS is what I wanted to do. I would be a zoologist so I could play with baby animals all day long. Of course, once I realized that zoology would require many, many years of schooling and I would have to pay my dues doing un-fun things like cleaning out cages, as opposed to cuddling cute baby animals, I lost my interest. Still, throughout high school I explored being a biologist, a geneticist and finally a physical therapist.  I briefly talked about my stint as a physical therapist wannabe here

The stumbling block to all of these science-related careers was that I couldn’t just take biology in college. When exploring majors, I discovered I would have to take high level chemistry, physics and math classes, which were never my strong points. I realized that it would be incredibly difficult for me to succeed in any of these classes, and that I didn’t have a strong enough passion for these fields that would see me through these classes.

What I’ve always been good at, and what I’ve always enjoyed, is helping people and creating programs or organizing events to solve their problems. Once I realized that, transitioning to the nonprofit field was easy. I majored in business because the supervisor of my internship majored in business, and it seemed as good a field as any to prepare me for the nonprofit world. So, for nearly the last 7 years I’ve been working in the nonprofit sector. As I mentioned in a recent post, I just accepted a new position at NYU. While I will still technically be working for a nonprofit, my new clients will be businesses and universities and I will be helping them with business challenges they face. It will be a different industry with new challenges, but at the end of the day, I’m still going to be helping people with problems. I’m becoming pretty confident that’s my life’s calling, and I’m pretty ok with that.

Even at two, I was ready to enter the high-powered corporate world!

Leave a comment »

Turning Over a New Leaf…

Today (or yesterday, as you’re reading this) was a momentous today. I turned in my resignation letter. For those of you who have been reading this blog for a while, you’ll recall that I haven’t been thrilled with my current job. I suppose I’ve been looking for a new job on and off for the past 5 years or so. I was a very bad job-seeker. As I got frustrated with my job from time to time, I would throw a few resumes out into the world and hope something would come of it. I didn’t often follow-up and I didn’t do much to actively expand my network. All in all, if it was a good job-seeker practice, it’s likely I didn’t do it.

So imagine my surprise a few weeks ago when the HR department for the School of Business at New York University called me. They had a few Assistant Director positions open and my resume came to their attention. I’m still not entirely sure how this happened. I attended grad school at NYU and also applied for another job there in recent months. I guess somehow my resume floated in front of the right person. My first interview was 4 hours long and I spoke to 9 different people about 4 separate jobs. It was a bit intense. Fortunately, one of the jobs I liked the best of the 4 was interested in speaking with me again. I had a second interview, this time with 6 people over the course of 3 hours. I thought it had gone well but that feeling was confirmed when HR called me around 6:30 that same night to ask if they could start calling my references. I received the offer letter the next day and after taking the weekend to think about it, I signed the offer letter this afternoon and turned in my resignation letter. I will soon be the new Assistant Director of Custom Programs at NYU Stern, and I’m pretty excited about it.

Just the same, it’s a bit surreal. I’ve thought about leaving for so long, but now that it’s here, I’m a bit overwhelmed. My next two and a half weeks will be spent giving our Staff Assistant a crash course on my job. It’s a bit tricky because I’m the only one working on my program. It’s not like I can just hand the reigns over to someone else in the department, because the department is me. I just hope I don’t do my current clients a disservice. Despite my frustrations with my job, I’ve always wanted them to succeed in creating their own independent, vibrant nonprofit organizations. My fear is that I’ll forget something and leave one of them in a huge lurch. Or that I’ll not train my replacement on some critical, but easily forgettable, component of my job and my clients will be the ones to feel the impact. I’m making my lists and I’ll leave my contact information with my co-workers so if things get really bad they can get a hold of me, but I’m still a bit anxious. Guess I’m going to have to let go and trust that I’ve done all I can to put my clients in a good position to succeed….and get excited for my new job!

3 Comments »

Fears

(I apologize for the terribly unoriginal and boring title. I couldn’t think of anything else.)

My fears don’t have a lot of rhyme or reason to them and although I know they’re present, I have a hard time identifying what specifically my fears are. I have the semi-but-not-totally-irrational fears of being raped or abducted, which I think most women probably experience at one time or another. Other fears from time to time flit across my brain: getting into a car accident, being in a plane crash, having a loved one die unexpectedly. I attribute these fears to an overactive imagination, with my need to always plan for the worst. I seldom seriously consider these fears, and am hesitant to even categorize them as “fears” but they do pop in from time to time. Most of my fears are more mundane.

Many seem to stem from my pseudo-perfectionism. I hate the idea of being wrong, or saying something completely ridiculous. I was always a quiet kid in school, seldom raising my hand, even though I often knew the answer to a question. Despite being reasonably confident that I had the right answer, my fear of being wrong usually held me back from answering. It really started sucking when participation became part of my grade. I was usually able to overcome this shortcoming enough so my grade wasn’t sacrificed, or at least by too much.

Somewhat related, I have a fear of failing, particularly as my career is concerned. For a long time, I felt stuck in my job. It wasn’t what I had imagined doing and worse, I didn’t seem to be making progress. It’s only in the last year or so that I finally felt like I was moving forward. I’m still not exactly where I want to be, but I feel like I’m getting closer. The problem is I have so many plans for my life and expectations that it’s important to me to make sure I have a challenging, satisfying career that commands a good salary. I think there is a bit of pride at play too. A part of me wants people to be impressed when I tell them about my job. I don’t know why I feel the need to have such validation, but I do.  Must work on that.

I also have a fear of getting lost. I often joke that I could get lost in my house, but I’ve proven to myself time and again that I can follow directions or plan an alternate route on the fly when a road I was planning to take is blocked or traffic is heavy. Driving to a new place can often be a stressful experience for me, but I think more than anything, I psych myself out and actually create the problem. If I could learn to trust myself, I’d probably find I get turned around a lot less.

The final fear I can think of happens from time to time with scuba. I’ve had great training and fortunately, I’m usually in situations where I’m diving with much more experienced divers, who are very aware and would be able to help me if I encountered a problem. Once I’m actually diving, I usually enjoy myself and don’t have a problem, but getting into the water makes me a bit apprehensive sometimes. There’s just something about taking a giant step off a boat and into the wide open ocean that makes me a bit nervous at times. Once I’m in the water and 15 feet down where I can collect myself again, I’m usually fine. The only other time I get a bit nervous is coming back out of the water. I’ve had some problems with currents and navigating the ladder. I’m sure a bit more experience will allow this process to go much more smoothly, but until then, I always have to remind myself to relax and fall back on my training.

I’m fortunate in that I recognize most of my fears, and none seem to be debilitating. What’s more is that being able to identify these fears allows me to consciously work on them so they lessen over time. It’s a slow process, but I’m reasonably sure I’ll be able to conquer at least some of these over time.

1 Comment »