Soul Stories: Alexis B.
A few years ago when I still worked in the field of international education, I attended a conference in the spicy city of New Orleans, but traveling for work with your boss in a place like New Orleans isn’t exactly a guarantee of a great time. So I set the intention to make a “conference buddy” with whom I could go out and enjoy my first visit to the city.
Well, the universe responded with Alexis.
I don’t even quite remember how we met, but every time I review our Facebook and Twitter messages from that weekend I am reminded of what a freaking blast that we had.
Not only did we make good dining and touristing buddies, but we discovered that we had a lot in common, especially in regards to our histories with anxiety and body confidence issues. They are things that almost all women battle with, but we don’t often talk about. Maybe it’s because we want to give the impression that we have it all together or maybe we consider those things to be weaknesses or to make us different… but in fact I like to think that those things are what made Alexis and I’s friendship last longer than just a weekend on Bourbon Street.
When I asked Alexis if she would like to share a piece for Soul Stories, I knew it was going to be good. She is just one of those hard-working, intelligence-oozing babes that smiles and you feel like you are looking at the sun.
But I didn’t know how much Alexis’ twofold message would hit home for me at this time in my life.
Her first message: It is always a good thing to be authentically you. Even when you worry that it isn’t appropriate. Even when you would much rather just try to fit in. People are watching and inauthenticity is the most transparent thing on Earth.
Her second message: Sometimes the best things come out of bad situations. We may think that we have a plan and we know what’s best for our lives, but if we stay open to the unexpected—even when it seems like something bad—we are often rewarded with something better than we could have imagined or hoped for.
I hope that Alexis’ story reminds you to stay true to who you are, and when it seems like life is storming all over your party, that you will keep your heart open to the miracle on the other side.
I Lost My Job In Pleather Leggings
In early February last year, I got dressed for work the same way I did every day. I picked something comfortable and fun that reflected my style, because I worked in an exceptionally casual work environment. When I say casual, I mean that if I wore a blouse or heels to work it was regularly commented on. The expectations were low, but the opportunities for stretching the limits of business casual were extraordinary. So, on a crisp February morning I thought very little of opting for my favorite black pleather-front leggings and a bulky grey knit sweater (both from Momni, of course). Top it off with some funky jewelry and ankle boots and I’m out the door.
I arrived at work at the normal flex time of 8:30 am and started to plow through emails and applications waiting for me on the desktop. Just before lunch, my phone rang. In a normal person’s job, the phone ringing wouldn’t be something of note. In my position, I worked with international clients and vendors, and 8 - 12 hour time-zone differences resulted in very few work-day calls. The caller-id screen indicated the big boss’ assistant.
I had nothing but good juju with the big boss so I picked up the phone without reservation. I was asked if I was available for a meeting less than an hour from that time, to which I responded “of course, whenever you like.” When I followed up with a question regarding the topic of the meeting, little to no detail was provided. That is when the EKG would have indicated irregular palpitations. There was no reason I should be getting a vague call with menacing undertones.
I prepared myself, tried to calm down and applied 3-5 layers of shine-control powder to hide a nervous glisten.
Just as I was leaving my office, the phone rang again. I answered. Meeting postponed to end of day.
Oh sweet baby Jesus they don’t even want to tell me mid day. This is bad. Really. Bad.
I didn’t even get a chance to sit down before they told me, door open (probably in case I made a scene), that my job was being dissolved effective immediately, due to budget constraints. But great news! They had a new job all lined up for me, with a cute little pay cut to go with it. Oh and now, they would take me to meet my new boss. In pleather leggings.
I felt like a failure. Like somehow I had become expendable and an after-thought to people I thought valued and respected me. I was pissed off that I had no warning, and that I wasn’t even dressed appropriately to meet my new boss and coworkers. Luckily, the new boss was fully prepared to welcome a stranger into the fold, and to do so with class.
Fast forward 8 months, and that job I fell into is the only reason I was interviewed for a fantastic new job, 5 minutes from my home and almost double my salary.
At my farewell one-on-one meeting at the launch-pad, accidental, wonderful position I briefly held - the supervisor I came to adore simply said, “We will miss you very much, it won’t be the same without you. We knew we would like you from the moment you came in here in those leather pants.”
Unexpected moments, in all the wrong clothes, on what feels like the worst day yet, can end up being the catalyst for spectacular change.