Friday, January 29, 2010

Low Key Celebration

I’m sitting here in my work cubicle at 6:45 on a Friday evening here at the end of the month, pulling on a Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, listening to the Plasiticenes, perusing photo blogs and occasionally laughing at my boss’s conversation a few feet behind me.  Yeah, he had to work late, too - and he’s enjoying the beer, too.  I’m not even sad that I’ve missed the Floating Glass Balls at the Laurelthirst this evening, even though I was looking forward to hanging out with Andrew and the guys.  No, I’m actually quite pleased with everything right here and right now.  I’m enjoying the really fine feeling of knowing that at 375% of my monthly quota, I have already hit and surpassed my quarterly quota, and it’s only January.  I’m in bonus territory and everything I sell from here until the end of the quarter is worth twice as much to me as it would be worth if I were not over the quarterly number.  I’ve never been here before in any quarter, much less January.  It’s a superb way to start out the year, I tell ya.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lunch Surprises

Today I went home for lunch, so I could eat cheaply and surprise my dog with a mid-day walk down to the little park near our house.  I got a few surprises of my own when I when I walked into my kitchen to make a burrito.  I found one of the stove burners on underneath a pot which had obviously been used to make poached eggs. 

Now, not only did I not leave any burners on, I did not even make eggs this morning.  I distinctly remember enjoying a toasted bagel and some yogurt with my kids.  So it looks like my ex decided to come in and have breakfast on the house before attempting to burn it down. 

I turned the burner off and cleaned up the mess before getting out the ingredients for a quick bean burrito.  I’m talking microwave-quick, so I could hurry up and get out with Molly and maybe have time to play with my camera, too, during my one hour lunch break. 

Well, that was the plan, anyway.  When I opened the microwave to put my burrito in, I found a bowl of…well, a bowl of something.  I recognized penne noodles,  along with chicken and some other unidentifiable things in it – I’m not sure what you call it.  Just another lunch break surprise left for me by my ex, sitting there looking congealed and smelling disgusting.  It was there for me to clean up, obviously, so I did - gagging and cursing a bit under my breath. 

Finally I made, heated and ate my burrito, then took off out the door with Molly and my camera.  I knew I didn’t have as much time at this point, but I went for it anyway, since it was a warm and dry day and I often stay late and come in early to get things done at work.  Molly and I had a fairly nice time, which in this beautiful Spring-like weather, was no surprise.

Here are a few pictures:


Monday, January 25, 2010

Shooting and Learning

Scott and I went out to the East side of Willapa Bay, near South Bend, Washington this weekend to shoot and learn.  Well, I was the one doing most of the learning!  Scott was teaching.  Anyway, I shot a lot of pictures, and I learned a whole lot more.  Much of the learning happened as I reviewed what I shot after we got back home.  It was good to be able see what settings I used for each shot. It really drove home exposure and focusing concepts to be able to review that way after some trial and error out in the field.  Nothing like learning by doing! 

I'm looking forward to the next time I can get out and play.  In the meantime, here are some of my shots from the trip, including some on the way back in the Columbia sloughs at sunset, and on the Columbia after sunset.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Riding the wave, but watching the horizon. Pictures by Scott Saulsbury

Ever since  watching surfers chase and ride waves at Seaside Cove a  couple of  weeks ago,  I've been playing around with the idea that surfing paralles life in terms of what level of perserverence you need to ultimately be succesful and really enjoy it.  Just as surfers need to set their sights on that best location and head boldly into the crashing waves in order to catch those good waves, we need sometimes in life, to dive in with gusto, tackling each of our challenges with fresh vigor, and renewed zeal, in order have those good moments in life that keep us moving forward, and ultimately feeling contented in the long run.

The surfers are amazing to watch.  I admire their heartiness and their zest for adventure.  That water is cold, and it looks like quite an effort to get out and make it to just the right wave. Heck, for me it would be an effort just to get the wet suit on!  And it's so exciting when someone catches a good one and then rides it for awhile,  some of them kicked back on their long board like Mr. Aloha, the "Keep on Truckin" guy, riding in on the energy of the swell.  It has to be a great feeling, well worth the effort spent, even if the ride is short.   That good feeling keeps 'em going back for more.

Life is so very like that.  I feel like I'm riding a sweet wave right now, and I had to push through some rough patches and some challenges in 2009.  But now, for the moment, things are really clicking along and I feel great.  Work is as busy as ever, but I'm energetic and focused and ready for challenges as they come up.  Everything just seems easier, for some reason.  Things are going well personally, too.  I'm  catching up financially and making myself more secure in the future.  Also, I'm back in a relationship with someone I trust and really fit with.  This relationship works well for both of us and we're happy, even if it might seem a little odd to others and even us at times.   I wished for a new camera while I was out there watching surfers. I wanted to be able to capture some fun shots along with my sweetheart.  Well, I have that camera now, and it's a joy to play with.  And of course my family is thriving.  My kids are growing, and and we're finding new ways to work together and grow as a family.  The challenges are still there, but we're working through them and making it work.

I'm already setting new goals and preparing for new challenges in the coming months, because this, like every other wave, is going to dissipate.  I'll need to keep striving to catch the next one, then the next one and the next.  I want to keep on enjoying this journey called life.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Local Sky Drama

I didn't get very far after leaving work yesterday, before I was compelled to stop and fully appreciate this moment in time:

Sunday, January 17, 2010

My New Camera

I had narrowed my choices down to the Canon T1i (500D) or the Canon 50D, and decided finally that I wanted to invest in a camera I would want to stick with for longer.   There were other reasons as well.  I like the balance of this camera in my hands, and I like the dials and buttons better than having to use a menu so much.  AF was better, too.  There were a few other things that helped me decide, but I think I mostly went with my "gut." 

In any case, Scott took a nice photo of my new toy, and I thought I'd share it!  (Click on this and any other pictures I post, to see them larger.)

Another blog post about the same night...

My sweetheart also had his camera with him at O'Connor's last night.  Go here  to read what he had to say about our evening - and see his beautiful pictures, too!


Yesterday, I rewarded myself for hitting my sales goals last year by purchasing my first DSLR camera. It was so exciting to go into Pro Photo Supply and talk to the knowledgeable folks behind the counter about my two researched choices - and really good to get the cameras in my hands. I settled on the Canon 50D over the Canon Rebel T1i. I won't bore you all with the reasons why. The main thing is I have a camera that will allow me to take the pictures I want to take and I also have a lot to learn about that!

The learning started last night in the most surprising way! Scott was in town from Astoria to see Stella's game yesterday, and was about to head home, when my daycare provider offered to watch my kids for us to go out and have and have some time together. We headed out to O'Connor's right here in my Multnomah Village neighborhood and I brought my camera in and took no-flash pictures, trying to see what would happen in such low light. There were some surprisingly good results, but the real excitement started when a wedding party came in and activity swirled around us. This was a unique wedding party, as the bride was from Japan, and married a American of clearly Western descent. Scott and I were lucky enough to see and photograph some Japanese wedding traditions, which were quite a visual treat.

The bride, whose name was Chika, wore three different kimonos, all symbolizing different things, apparently. I didn't hear the whole story, but she did share a few pieces of the tradition with us. She was charming and warm, and I still can't believe our luck to get to see this on a night we figured we'd just have a drink, visit a little and go each to our own homes.

We also heard a wonderful band I've not heard in many years, Gypsy Jazz. They play standards in the style of Jango Reinhardt. I love this music! And to add a cherry to the top of all this, there was a couple dancing in a 40's style - and they were wonderful.

I have a few shots to share, which I was able to get before my camera battery died.

Lessons learned: Always bring your camera along. You never know what will happen. OH, and take a fully charged battery, and a spare along wherever you go, too!

No Flash, 3200 ISO, wide-open aperture

My Sweetheart!
No Flash, 3200 ISO, wide-open aperture

No flash, 3200 ISO, wide-open aperture

No flash, 3200 ISO, wide-open aperture

No flash, 3200 ISO, wide-open aperture

No flash, 3200 ISO, wide-open aperture

Auto (with flash)

zoomed in, no flash, 3200 ISO, wide-open aperture, fill light added

Night Portrait setting with some adjustments (Scott helped me.)

Thursday, January 14, 2010


The earthquake in poverty-stricken Haiti is overwhelmingly horrible to contemplate.  It's a tragedy of gigantic proportions, and it boggles my mind and shakes my spirit to think of the loss and pain these people are experiencing en masse.  It hurts. 

I'm pleased that our State Department has made it so easy to make a contribution while we are feeling most compassionate about the plight of the people of Haiti.  I'm deeply impressed, and I hope that we do indeed make a difference - and soon!  Still, I am struck by the perspective this has given me.  Once again, when something like this happens, it forces me, like a smack in the head, to pause and be grateful for my life and the goodness in it. 

This quote resonates with me today:

"All the gold in the world cannot buy a dying man one more breath---so what does that make today worth?"
~Og Mandino

I think the first official goal I have for myself this new year, though it is late in coming, is to avoid complaining about petty problems or pains.   There is just too much happening to people all over the world, every single day, that I've never even had to think about.  My problems are not problems when I think about that. 

Nothing like a little perspective.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I like today.

Good things happened today.  I am too excited to put a lot of thought into how I express what was good, so I will just blurt it all out as it comes.

I've been frustrated about the disingenous way the principal of a firm I've been working with has been communicating and dealing with me in terms of the actions he has taken to stall out our "deal.".  I've been approaching the sales process with him with a very "win/win" attitude, like I typically do, and have been thwarted by his unmet promises and "win/lose" tactics.  It's been very frustrating.  It bothers me to take someone at their word and move forward with what I believe is their best interest and our own at heart, only to find they have been holding out on me and manipulating the situation.  He has cost me a significant amount of money by stalling this deal past the end of year deadline we agreed upon,  and almost more importantly to me,  he cost me a slight loss of face with people whose opinions matter to me, when he didn't do what he said he would.  Based on his answers to my questions about whether I had met their needs and they were ready to move forward, I led my boss and the owner of my company to believe we had a deal they could count on.  Luckily the people I work with understand my integrity and follow through, and they trust that I met my end of the bargain and asked all the right questions.  Still, it bothers me to be so disrespected in a business transaction when I've shown such good faith and gone beyond the normal effort to get them what they need to feel comfortable moving forward with us.

So what is so good about all of this?!  Well, I had the opportunity today to say "NO".  "NO" we do not feel comfortable moving forward with a firm whose leadership does not trust us.  "No" I do not want to compromise our integrity by giving into unfair demands that we change our license agreement to meet their lack of faith in us.  "NO." 

But I softened it by saying also that I'm sorry I've let them down.  Surely I wasn't doing my job if they feel they can't move forward in a deal because they don't trust us.  I've dropped the ball somehow if they don't have a much confidence as I do that we can meet their needs and will treat them fairly.  I wish I could have better earned their confidence, I told him. 

Well, I tried to tell him anyway.  He stopped me in mid apology to say, (and I parphrase) "No, no - please don't take this personally - I don't doubt your integrity, or the good faith your CEO has shown.  We simply have had too many bad experiences with businesses who don't do business this way, and have adopted overzealous practices in analyzing deals.  I would like to take time with my staff to see if we can move forward with what you offer and will call you tomorrow.  Please don't take our methods personally.  You have shown good faith.

I expect to have this deal tomorrow, but even if I don't, I feel we have won. 

It was indeed a good day.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

odds and ends: a couple of unrelated mini rants

Note to self:  This year, figure out how to be more assertive in articulating expectations for deals on the verge of closing.  You need to let people know that, even though you are nice,  your time is valuable and business is business!  Make them keep their word.

Note to the media at large:  Quit giving torture-endorsing, power-hungry, near sociopathic has-beens like Dick Cheney any attention!  If you quit giving them the spotlight, they might go away!

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Sitting here at the start of 2010, desirous to reach out toward new goals and fresh milestones, I feel a bit thwarted by unfinished business which belongs, really, with the passing year.  I'm very happy to say I reached my yearly sales quota and qualified for the big kicker which will mean a much more financially secure 2010 for me.  Still there is a large promised check still out there from one of the firms who has promised to move forward with our product.  Our accountant has agreed to hold the sale in 2009 if - and only if - they actually fax or email the check on Monday, January 4th like they promised.  She also expects to receive the real check within the week.  It would mean quite a bit more money to me if it were counted in 2009 - and so I am eager to see if they will be good to their word, and that's what has me feeling like I have unfinished business.  It's a strange and anti-climactic feeling to be waiting on this final bit of business, and I'm truly ready to be done with the stress of the last couple of months.  It has exhausted me and my energy for things I'd also like to focus on, like my family, writing and planning for the new year.  Of course I am relieved to have hit the number I needed to hit, but I find it a tad irksome to still be without final closure in that regard.  I'm looking forward to tomorrow to find out just exactly what kind of closure I will have.  It's nice to know it will be either very, very good, or it will be phenomenal!

It's funny how my job so parallels life.  Here at the start of a new year I, like most people, think about new goals and fresh starts.  About what I want to achieve, how I want to be different or better, and what I will continue to nurture.  Sales is so like that.  I sit down at the beginning of each month, each quarter and especially each new year and I think about what I achieved in the past.  I think about how I have managed accounts, about what worked well, and what I could do better.  I take stock of how much I've learned about our software and what I want to be able to better show my customers.  I start planning for the next month, quarter or year, and how I want to become more competent.  Some of it is out of my hands, as I don't set my quotas and can't control what my territory will be.  I do know what I've done well, and what I could be better at personally, and I have grown more confident about my unique abilities and what I can actually achieve and contribute as a senior person on our little sales team.   I'm ready to really own my position at work, just as I am ready to jump into 2010 with gusto and confidence about what I have to offer in my personal life.

I continue to be thankful for the opportunity afforded me by this company I work for.  As I strive to improve what I do for them, I am also improving what I can do for myself and my family.  I am now in a much better financial position to be even more independent than I've been since I started working nearly four years ago, several months after I left my unhealthy marriage.  I'm also better set up to take care of some important business of closure with regards to that time.  Personal milestones will be met and new, more exciting ones set.  Like in my job, I won't be able to control everything that happens, but I know what tools I have at my disposal to use when I need them. 

I like where I am today.  I've got all I need to continue to pursue a very satisfying life.  I'm fortunate to have my precious loved ones, my good health and a good paying job that I enjoy.  I don't want to squander the opportunity that comes with this current balance and good fortune.  I want to apply the strategy we use in sales of setting goals and milestones, both short term and long, to this upcoming year and decade.  I haven't done it fully yet, because I'm still hung up a little on 2009, but I plan to sit down very soon and really priortize my personal goals and figure out how I can meet them.  I never want to quit striving to live in and appreciate the current moment, because I'm convinced the journey truly is far more important than the destination.  But I wish for this moment to flow easily in the next one, and then the next  moment and then the one after that.  I wish for that flow, which I know will ebb from time to time, to continue forward and become more full - so that I can share more joy and ease more pain in this good life.