Thursday, March 17, 2011

Serendipity Happens

I'm a bit frustrated. It feels like I've just been spinning my wheels in slow motion this past week with little or nothing to show for it. In last week's post, I mentioned that I was going to the doctor for a case of painful tennis elbow. She put me on an anti-inflammatory called Meloxicam. I lasted four days on it before the side effects became too much. It made me tired and grumpy, upset everything from the stomach on down, and made me feel like I had a case of the flu. Yuck. As soon as I quit taking it, though, my body perked back up. The elbow is better - not completely well, but now it's just a minor annoyance. I'll take that and run with it.

The doctor also said to give my arm a rest, meaning no painting. So I spent several days on the computer instead, doing my job search. To me, this is a very frustrating experience.

To start with, there is the Great Silence. This is the standard response to a well-written submission that is carefully tailored to the opening. It's what I hear most of the time, particularly from federal agencies, even when I could clearly do the job in my sleep. Drives me nuts. The next most common response is No. At least it's a decision and I can accept that.

All is not bleak. A couple of companies have been vocally interested and had me provide more information. And as I go through the process, I'm learning more about what to say, how to say it, when to say it, how to write it up, and so on. It's iterative, and I'm getting better at it with each interation.

Last week I participated in a virtual career fair. It was essentially a military-focused career fair that was conducted online. Very interesting. There were almost 60 companies and agencies participating. I researched almost all of them, and of that total, there were 2 1/2 that I was interested in. As it turned out, none of them really had anything I wanted to do, but another company popped up out of nowhere and the more I looked, the better it looked. The recruiter was very helpful, interested in me, and wanted more information. Lesson learned: prepare yourself beforehand for these events, research all the companies, and when something unexpected comes up (as it will), go with it.

Actually, this happened to me before. Back in 2007, I attended a career fair in Washington, with the specific intention of talking with the State Department about going to work for them in Iraq. As it turned out, the people at the booth were completely ignorant of the program I was interested in. But while heading back to my car, I stopped in a drug store and spotted a freebie newspaper focused on federal and contractor jobs. It had a section that pointed me directly to the program that I went to the fair to learn about. Which led to me working in Iraq for a year and a half. So the fair itself, for which I'd prepared, was a bust, but the trip was a success due to the unexpected.

And it goes back to something else I learned back in art school: Serendipity Happens.

Yesterday, with my body back to normal, I returned to the studio and picked up a brush again for the first time in a week. Man, did it feel good to be painting again! I worked on the large portrait, putting in a completely revised background. Serendipity happened here, too: everything came together and a beautiful sky appeared behind the young lady with a rose. Now the bottom section needs to be put together. It'll come.

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