Today gave me an opportunity to reaffirm my comfort and discomfort zones while pushing my limits of trying to integrate the technological and the human. My comfort zone is what one would call "high touch." I like meeting with people face to face, talking real-time, and building relationships through common experience--be it in my therapy practice or with friends and colleagues. My discomfort zone is what one would call "high tech." I use enough technical tools to survive, but am far struggle when I hit the eventual snaffus that come with constantly changing software updates, browser updates, product updates and the like.
Most of my days allow me to operate within my comfort zones on both the high touch and high tech arenas. Seeing clients, teaching classes at UMass, mentoring apprentices, writing e-mails, writing articles, being my son's mom....all of those avenues are familiar, warm and fuzzy--even on challenging days.
What I find much harder, is figuring out how to meet new colleagues in this internet age and become more visible in circles I have not yet discovered (and who have not yet discovered my work). In the old days, where professional conferences were the highlight of the year, and opportunities for workshops and talks were clearly defined and abundant, it was very clear how to meet new people: present at the conferences, teaching centers and professional associations that people attended to discover work like mine.
Over the years, my favorite conferences have gone away, only some of the teaching centers remain, and people rely on the internet for information far more than on face to face gatherings.
And so, I enter my discomfort zone.
Today, I started out the morning meeting with a new colleague who might enjoy mutual referrals. In order to meet more new colleagues, I bravely chose some categories (such as attorneys who work with divorcing couples, since I can help with the deeper emotional work that might make the divorce process smoother and ultimately, more successful), did some internet research on people who might be fun to meet and might be interested in my skills, and took the risk of reaching out and inviting them to tea.
Of the 20 attorneys I wrote to who work with divorcing couples, only two wrote back. I gladly met with both of these attorneys and discovered delightful human beings who I would be glad to call my colleagues. They each appreciated my reaching out and saw my skill set as complementary to theirs. Today's meeting was with the second of the two attorneys. Two points for the comfort zone.
Then I drove out to Acton to reconnect with a colleague I had not seen since 2008. Comfort zone once again. We each learned of one another's new developments, and I invited her to present to the Boston Area Mind-Body Therapies meetup group that I run, and she clued me in that firefighters are looking for ways to reduce line of duty deaths, a primary cause being cardiovascular disease. Right up my alley! This is why I love face to face meetings!
Basking in the warmth of my comfort zone, I was thrown into the black hole of technological snaffus. I had completed my March 1 e-newsletter on my beloved Constant Contact software that I have used for more than 3 years. But the silly software would not allow me to schedule the publication of my newsletter. And I had tried over and over again for 3 days.
Stepping into my discomfort zone, and recognizing I was totally clueless how to complete the scheduling task, I called the technical support line and presented my dilemma. The technical support staff member was my special angel, immediately diagnosing a problem I would have never figured out in a million years. Within the last few days, Constant Contact updated their software and Mac owners who used Firefox now had to upgrade to Firefox 3.6 for Constant Contact features to fully work.
The technical staff member gently walked me through the process of upgrading my Firefox, disposing of the old Firefox, and then seeing if my stuck places now worked. Voila! Magic! I scheduled my e-newsletter in moments. I finished the homepage on my newsletter archive portion of the account. I posted the archive link on Facebook. I was good to go! One big sigh of relief, and about 90 minutes of time invested.
But, alas, I was quickly pulled back into my discomfort zone, as I discovered my logo was not on this laptop, having been lost when my old computer died just over 2 years ago. I needed my logo in .gif or .jpeg format. And all I had was old-fashioned hard copy! As I tried to upload a photo of my logo onto Vistaprint, I was told the resolution of the image was inadequate for printing. Technosnaffu! Stress!
So, venturing further into my discomfort zone, I found myself dialing the number for the Vistaprint support person, explaining that I had hard copies of my logo, but not electronic copy, and hitting the wall. In today's world, hard copies of images are as useful as the old floppy disks that existed prior to CD's and DVD's. The support person explained that Vistaprint does NOT work with hard copies at all. So, my mission was to find a way to get my logo onto my computer in electronic form of a high enough resolution to meet their standards.
Thank goodness my housemate, Fofana, is technically savvy and was able to help me extract a copy of my logo in .gif format from my Constant Contact image library! He downloaded it onto my computer, and I was in business! Phew! Another 90 minutes of clueless effort, solved with a 5 minute intervention by one in the technoknow!
So, here I am at 11:15 pm on a Friday night, finally getting to make my daily blog entry....something I had planned to do about 5 hours earlier. But had I not had my journey into the world of software updates, the gap between what used to be and what is, what I can figure out and what I'd never ever figure out in a million years....I wouldn't have had the opportunity to experience such a potpourri of moments in both my comfort and discomfort zones!
I trust I will sleep well tonight!