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  • Writer's pictureCourtney Kirschaum

Not That "Kind" of Family

When you learn something as a kid but don't really get it until years later.

Have you noticed how you get to a certain age and start acknowledging what "kind" of family you grew up in?

For example. Our family never did puzzles. We weren't "that kind" of family.

Get a puzzle from Secret Santa? Instant regift.

Many years, and one pandemic later. I'm living in vacation homes, and you know what they all have, besides coffee makers and fast Internet? Puzzles! I decided to give 'em a try, and here's how that's going. I'm on my third failed attempt at completing a puzzle. So, not well.

Weirdly, it brought back this memory.

When I was 12, I played on an all-girl softball team. We played in a field with a fence made out of plywood panels painted with advertisements for local businesses. And at least one mother was in the stands with a spiral notebook recording every strike, ball, and foul. Our uniforms were blue on white and 100% Polyester and all the players got a free Coke after every game, win or lose.

One season something happened, I'll never forget.

One girl, Tracy was a year or two younger than me but just as tall. She was good and played first base, but she struck out every time she stood over the plate. Every. Time. One day, Tracy was slumping back to the dugout after her usual strikeout and I overheard one of the umpires say, "She sets up better than any player I've ever seen." And my 12-year-old brain thought, "You know what the problem is. You could solve it." This was before travel ball teams, sports camps, and private coaching. You got what you got and no one went to softball camp to sharpen their skills. Then something happened. Tracy started hitting a home run every time she stood over home plate. It was insane. Instead of parents yelling "Shake it off!" or "You'll get it next time!" People were standing and clapping as she took a celebratory jog around the bases. Someone - her dad, the umpire, a stranger she overheard - gave her the tip she needed and boom💥 Tracy would come out of the dugout with a bat and the opposing team's outfielders would back up to those painted plywood panels.

I've already struck out on two puzzles. I'm working on my third. It's a picture of 30 wine bottles on a shelf called "A Collection of Wines." The first bottle of wine I got was Lancers. Do they even make that anymore? Next, I finished the bottle of Sutter Home. You can find their varietals at Walgreens!

If you're a puzzle person who knows how to approach a puzzle, I'll trade you.

Comment below with some tips on how to bat it out of the park with a 1000-piece puzzle and I'll tell you the three strike zones of your career.

I'll go first.

Zone 1: "ghosted" leads to gutted.

You're going to get ghosted. Don't take this personally. Civility in the job hunt is dead and cremated. I see so many people rant about being ghosted and it's a waste of energy. These days, you may as well rant about gravity.

One woman described being "stalked" enthusiastically and courted for a job only to have them flip and ghost her.

Change your expectations, so if it doesn't happen, you're elated.

Zone 2: You’re going to wonder... “Have I lost my mojo?” No. I see the most talented people's confidence crater in the shadow of rejection. Rejection, and there's a lot of it, is also the norm. The best people get hundreds (HUNDREDS!) of rejections.

Zone 3: frustration with the process will make you want to kick a dent in a new car. Don’t. (For sure, someone’s Ring camera will pick it up.) And by frustration, I mean this. After job hunting for almost a year, a client accepted a great job offer with an impressive company. He went out to celebratory drinks with his new bosses. Everyone thought it was a done deal. A few days later, he was waiting for the paperwork when the headhunter called and said, "They changed their minds and withdrew the offer." They didn't even have the guts to face him after quaffing champagne with him.

A “gut punch” is how he described it. For the record, he sent them a “Sorry it didn’t work out” note even though I know he wanted to kick the car. This is the most important thing to remember: unemployment is an interlude. If you need a hand. I'm here. Keep swinging for the fences.


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