Hair Peace


Yesterday, we drove up to Seattle so I could take notes at the fall Microsoft PACs. My hair, always an independent entity, didn’t want to behave. I plotted a blowout. We found a place on the way at a mall, just inexpensive and quick. It was part of a chain.

We stepped to the counter and found we were at least a half hour early for my appointment. But they took us a few minutes later.

The stylist, a small Asian man by the name of Abraham, smiled at me.

“Do you mind if I cut your husband’s hair first?”

“Not at all,” I said.

I sat in a spare chair and watched the other customers and stylists. To the right of me, a mom got her hair highlighted while her little girl, a beauty with long dark curly hair, entertained herself. She sang songs and imagined and ate snacks. Her mom talked to her, and I could feel the love between them.

Abraham cut Jonathon’s hair, mowing it with a razor. He pointed out cowlicks to Jonathon, who nodded. His head is full of them and one of the major reasons he keeps his hair clipped so short. I watched as Abraham thinned out the sides and evened up the back. Jonathon looked sharp when he finished. I sat next to the pot of coffee, enjoying the peace.

My turn. I sat in the chair and got draped with cape and towel. Abraham washed my hair.

“Your hair is curly. Do you want to make it curlier, or…?”

I told him I wanted it straight.

He nodded and said, “It looks really good natural. People are starting to pay $80 for perms again.”

He round brushed my hair, pulling and drying.

“Your hair has so much body. You have a ton of hair.”

Yes. I do.

I wasn’t sure I liked what he was doing. He pointed out how he was putting movement into it, how my hair fell a certain way. I mentioned the flat iron and put down the dryer and reached for it.

“You know what, Abraham? You do what you want to. You’re the boss, applesauce.”

“Oh, thank you, Susan!” Abraham half-hugged me, grinning.

And that’s how I ended up with a swingy 70s sort of bob. I like it. Don’t know if I’ll ever be able to duplicate it, but it’s fun.

Somehow, Jonathon and I found a little island of peace in the midst of all the political melee. I want to point out that not once did anyone bring up the presidential election, or riots, or Trump, or anything. There are still great folks in the world, serving with excellence, if we get out and take a look.


Eager Beaver

Last week, I covered another Microsoft PAC. I think it was my sixth. I’ve been with the same group, the Resellers, every time. This group is onto it’s third lead since I started working with them. The last guy, who reminded me of my brother in that he got along with everyone, left for greener pastures. The new lead, a woman I’ll call Wilma, had been on the job for 2 weeks when the Partner Advisory Council cropped up.

As I typed along, I noticed something. She took every action item.

“I’ll post that in the portal.”

“I’ll get that answer and email it to the group.”

“I can get the spreadsheet right now, and you can play with it while Fred is talking.”

She wanted to get all the action items at the end of each day. I tried to highlight things in red as I went along, but it got pretty tough to keep up. All I could do was shake my head. She reminded me of this.

eager beaver.jpg

I thought, Girl you’ve got to slow down. Let other people do their jobs. Oh wait. You’re still trying to prove yourself. And I thought about my old job at IDC. It was constant going, deadlines, adrenaline. I’d wake up at 2:00 a.m. in a cold sweat, trying to remember if I’d FedExed that package to Ireland. Did I? I was so tired I could not remember.

The new lead had an assistant. Let’s call her Betty. We hit it off right away.

“How long have you worked for Microsoft?” I asked her.

“Oh, I don’t. I’m a vendor.”

Imagine my surprise. Betty and Wilma had a good working relationship already. I thought they’d worked together for months, if not years.

“No, I do different events. The rest of the time I live in my small town.” She smiled.

I could appreciate that. We went on to discuss how Microsoft people are all in, all the time. They’re on 24/7. They’re completely committed. Betty went on to say the culture is like this. It’s the standard.

“You know, Susan, if you’re so tired you can’t form complete sentences, that’s bad.”

We both noticed Wilma struggling with this. Don’t get me wrong. Wilma is fabulous. Her adorable Canadian accent shone through, especially as she got more tired. She’s quick and on top of her game. I admired her drive. But working to the point of exhaustion…yes, it is bad.

I thought about the treasure verse from the book of Matthew. That verse always confused me. I have no treasure box laden with gold coins. I have money, of course. I spend a lot of it on a mortgage each month, which depletes the old bank account considerably. Does that mean my treasure lies there? I don’t think so. I think time is even more of a treasure than money. We receive a finite amount – an amount we don’t know the measure of – over the course of our lives.  I do know I don’t want to spend all my time at work. We’re so much more than our accomplishments, our rank. The time that I do have I want to give to family and friends and serving God wherever and whenever I can. I aim to be an Eager Beaver in those areas. I want to create a lasting investment.

Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. – Matthew 6:21


Conference Post Mortem

Swag alert!

Swag alert!

Just thought I would check in.  The spring PAC (Partner Advisory Council) is over.  I’m under an NDA so I can’t say much more than that.  But perhaps you would know what lessons I gleaned this time?  Well, boys and girls, sit back, relax, and let me tell you.

You might feel invisible to your crowd, but you aren’t.  Let’s say your group schedules breaks but doesn’t ever take them.  You find yourself typing and typing and typing.  Your bladder stages a protest.  It reaches critical mass.  Reluctant to disturb the flow of the presenter and the questions, you sneak out the service entrance to find a restroom.  Unbeknownst to you, your absence causes a stir.  “Where did she go?”  They send out a posse to look for you.  They scour the bathroom.  They call your cell phone.  As if by magic, you’ve made it back to your post in 3 minutes.  Nobody thinks to look for you back at your station.  You don’t answer your cell phone because you’re taking notes again. Not my true story, but one of them.

Smaller groups rock.  Especially if you get the same group you’ve had since 2012.  Which I have been blessed to do.  I missed one PAC – the spring one last year – due to some failed electronic communication.  Other than that, I’ve covered them all with the same people.  It’s gotten so I know who pipes up the most.  I know their voices and accents.  They guy from Germany wants to discuss licensing issues.  The Dutch counterpart is all about improving the customer experience.  The Brazilian guy, well, he’s just very nice.  The very best part?  The guys like me.  They know me.  They believe in my ability and they like my work.

My PAC leader, someone who could be a brother from another mother, is a genial guy. He likes people.  His welcoming attitude sets the tone of the gathering.

He passed me in the hall during one of our infinitesimal breaks the first day.

“I left something on your desk.  A present, ” he said.

“Oh, thanks,” I said.

A present?  What?  That doesn’t happen.  I thought maybe it was a card or something.  Nothing major.

It was a box containing a brand new 7″ tablet.

The PAC leader appreciates my work.  So much so that when he passed out 7″ tablets to all the participants – 10 of them –  he gave me one, too. He didn’t have to do it.

One of the guys from the U.K. looked over at me and said, “How do you do it?”

I said around my smile, “Well, you guys are great.  You make it fun.”

He smiled back.

Doing this kind of work makes me realize the impact of an encouraging word or gesture. Even if we come from different nations, we’re rather similar on the inside.  We all want to feel like our contribution matters, like we’re important.  A couple of the regulars came and shook my hand at the end of the day yesterday.  One brought chocolate from his native country and made sure I got some, too.  I’m overwhelmed at the favor God bestowed through this experience. Now, if only someone would edit the notes for me…

Shine of Satisfaction

It’s over.  The great Microsoft PAC of fall 2014 has ended.  Let’s all observe a moment of silence.

That’s enough.

I took the notes, I edited the notes, I emailed the notes to my boss.  All 107 pages of partner goodness.  Yessir.

I feel like this.

Minus the eating garbage and bleating, of course.

I could have more editing to do.  The notes might get returned in the event I missed some particular formatting.  It’s possible.  But for now, I’m basking in knowing I did the best I could do.  I made a concerted effort to type cleanly the first time in order to save on editing later.

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time doing this.  The “take a moment and reflect on your achievement/milestone” part of life often eludes me.  I tend to gloss over things as if completing a big task didn’t really matter.  I never want to toot my own horn.  Because I’ve gathered over the years that this is what we think of as pride.  But I don’t think it is.  Attaining a worthwhile goal boosts your belief in yourself.  It’s a confidence-builder.  And boy howdy, have I needed one.  I’ve been itching for a new challenge for a while now.

I went into this conference with a certain amount of trepidation, fully aware of how grueling it would be and wondering if I still had “the right stuff” to pull it off. I prayed before and during the sessions.  And something strange and wonderful happened:  I relaxed.  I felt that peace that passes understanding soothe my spirit.  No matter what, it was gonna be okay.

I don’t think I’m better than anyone else.   I’m sure I could – and will – continue to improve at dynamic transcription.  My abilities do have limits.  For example, my shoulder still throbs despite the massage I got earlier today. However, I’m happy with what I was able to do and that I got to contribute, in a small way, to the success of the meetings.  It’s enough.

Praise the Lord; praise God our savior! For each day he carries us in his arms. – Psalm 68:19





Finish Line

snoopy dancing

The notes are done!  I just want to


or even

Yes, I am *that* happy.  No matching outfits or mullets necessary.  This dancing, of course, on the proviso that the notes don’t come back to me for more edits.  So far, so good.  Ten hours of editing this time.  Whew!

I sure hope heaven is one big party.  I think some of us are going to need it after this life is over.

And…Zac’s D.C. trip is paid for, courtesy of the IRS.  And I never really had to get dressed.  Not that I’m telling you that.



The spring PAC, held in winter, is over.  I am officially done taking notes.  Ninety-seven pages of the partners’ real thoughts and Microsoft’s best attempts at directing them are held within those pages.

So very tired.  I managed to make it to kettlebells this morning to get the juices flowing again but it was brutal.  My shoulders are a bit tight and my neck feels like it’s molded of one muscle.

I am starting to know the guys on sight and by name.  They tend to sit together, the Netherlands, German and U.K. on one side, Brazil and everyone else scattered around the room.  Makes it feel a little like a mini United Nations.  Had two new women this time who were very nice.  Generally, the women at these things look down on me.  Or maybe they’re just not happy people.  Not this time. One of the new gals introduced herself to me and commented on how fast I typed.  Very kind.

In fact, the whole group was a lot of fun.  Some hilarious things happened.  During one of the breaks, the guy from Germany said to me, “You never talk.  We never hear your voice.”

Uh…yeah.  that’s the point.  “I’m supposed to be invisible,” I replied.  Like I have *any* real feedback to add.  I’m still trying to figure out if CRM is the same as Serum.  It’s all in the mouth of the speaker.  It sounds different when the Brazilian guy says it from when the gal from China says it.

My PAC host is a great guy. He’s funny and is able to keep the group from imploding on the hot topics.  He speaks well of me and treats me like I’m part of the group, within reason.  This time we scored a huge room.  I told him it was like Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  He laughed.  Last time our room was like a shoe box.  This time, you could have a breakdancing party in it.    He had the Hyatt folks remove two tables.

We had a new member from Australia this time.  In fact, about half the participants were different.  Same companies, new faces.  The Australian guy talked a lot and had several axes to grind, legitimate beefs, actually, with Microsoft.  He got a reputation as a rabble-rouser within the group.

When called on his garrulous nature, he said to his critic, also a big talker:  “Well, we have an expression in English about a pot and a kettle.”  Oh snap!

The food, as usual, was phenomenal.  Two types of main dishes each day for lunch, plus a couple of kinds of vegetables and a casserole, luscious desserts and all the coffee, tea and soda you can suck down.  And this time, I didn’t mistake a partner for a notetaker.  Whew!

Lastly, after the group was dismissed, the Dutch partner came over to my table.  Keep in mind I don’t talk to any of them unless I have a question about what they said.  This time, during a break I tried to get the soft-spoken guy from the U.K. to speak up a bit.  So much for that.

“For the person who has been working very hard, and I can’t take it on the plane”, he said and handed me a bottle of Columbia Riesling.

I was stunned.  I shook his hand and thanked him.  I didn’t expect anything.  It was nice to be remembered.  Never mind that I don’t drink.  It’s the thought that counts.

Now the real work begins.

P.S.  Forgot to mention that my computer locked up. Twice. Figured out, with the help of my boss, that it was overheating due to the tablecloth. Sigh.

Math As Life

Ruby’s sitting next to me doing her math homework.  Homework!  In first grade!  She gets a packet every Tuesday afternoon she needs to complete and return by the following Monday.  Anyway, now that *that’s* behind us, she’s doing math.

“Mom, can you help me with this?” she asked.

I”m pretty sure it’s still within my skill set, so I say sure.

It’s adding numbers.  You remember those worksheets.  You have blocks of tens in one orderly stack and a set of random blocks, representing the ones, in another line.  She does the first problem and then shows me.  Six groups of ten plus 8 ones = 68.  Right!

I congratulated her.

“But what if there are tricky ones?” she wonders, with a little trepidation.  Fear of the unknown exists even in arithmetic – or perhaps especially in that universe.

Good question.  I glance over the page.  There are no tricky ones.  If you follow the formula of counting the blocks – eventually moving into multiplication – you will be fine.  I reassure her that she’s got this.  She plows on through the pages.

If only life could be so simple!  Maybe it can be. We certainly don’t know what waits for us down the road or around the next bend. If we continue to trust in the Lord and lean on His understanding instead of ours, asking for wisdom and guidance, we will make it.  It probably won’t be as straightforward as adding blocks together; I do know that.  But it can be done.  We can finish and finish well.

Tomorrow I will once again be at the Microsoft PAC, taking notes for two days.  I most likely will not blog Monday and Tuesday because my hands will be one with this laptop jotting down the participants’ relevant thoughts.  You know you’ll miss me.  See you on the other side!