(While crying at bedtime)
I had a rough day. School was long, my balloon flew away, and I have too many things in my purse so it won’t shut!
(In case anyone was wondering, the four year old struggle is real)
I went to San Francisco last week for the first time since we left four years ago. I have so much to share, including some great photos taken by my friend Erica. But in the meantime, I wanted to share two photos snapped on the same front porch a little more than five years apart. The first was in the spring of 2009 when I took photos with Julie Sparenberg (and heavy photo filters were all the rage).
The second was shot by Erica last Sunday as we walked around my old neighborhood. I called the house the “Watermelon house” and it was always one of my favorites.
A lot happens in five years, but some things never change.
Upon viewing the freezer waffles her father heated up for her:
"Oh! These waffles look absolutely divine!"
(I’ll admit she has been watching Food Network with me lately.)
Sometime last week I stumbled upon this tumblr full of dudes with their beards packed with fresh flowers. I started digging and discover this is a thing! Why has it taken society this long to discover such hilarious perfection?
The older I get the less willing I seem to be about hopping on bandwagons. ( I still am giving the comeback of birkenstocks the side eye) But flower beards…. make room ya’ll, we’re coming in.
My only challenge was that I had to convince my own bearded man to play along. Brent is not a huge fan of having his picture taken and I wish I could have captured the look on his face when I told him that I wanted to shove a bunch of flowers in his beard and then photograph him.
But bless him - he told me he’d give me five minutes, so off I went, scavenging our yard and my generous neighbor’s for some bright blooms. I had a irrational amount of fun doing this! I seriously giggled the entire time while he mouthed “hurry up” through clenched teeth.
Beards and flowers! Flowers and beards!
When I was 24, I walked into an interview for my first corporate job. I had a sprinkling of various marketing related part-time jobs on my resume from my college years, but I actual knew very little about marketing.
They asked me if I knew what the company did, and my response was, “I know Red Hat has something to do with Open Source.” I cringe now, thinking back to my lack of preparation for the interview. But somehow - in spite of myself- I was able to convey to them just how hungry I was for a chance.
I was hired under the umbrella of marketing to do a very unglamorous job. I managed a database of software applications that were compatible with our product. I spent my days reviewing software partner requests to be added to the database and digging through massive, product matrices from large technology companies. It was about as boring and mind numbing as it sounds, but I was so excited to be working in the corporate world that I didn’t care.
Slowly, I was given one off opportunities to learn “real” marketing. I started creating marketing documents for our software partners. I wrote and distributed a newsletter. I started planning small events.
The role grew and so did I. I got promoted and received raises. Over the years my role changed from managing an online database to managing strategic relationships with some of our largest partners and then eventually I landed in a field marketing position where I supported our sales organization and got to be involved with all kinds of events and creative marketing campaigns. I fell in love with marketing and I knew it would forever be a part of my life in the working world.
But something happened when I moved to San Francisco. I became the sole remote member of an east coast based marketing team. I was 3 hours behind and had to work twice as hard to be heard, to be seen, to feel like a contributor. It was at this same time that some major life events were also happening - I’d just gotten married, was exploring an intoxicating new city and then learned I was pregnant. There were distractions everywhere, and being so far away made it hard to feel connected.
I enjoyed the work I was doing, but my confidence started to lack. Sometimes, being so far away and constantly feeling disconnected to the hub of the rest of my team, I felt invisible. I remember laying in bed many nights convinced that I was going to be fired. It was the heaviest feeling to know my family was depending on me to succeed and that I was certain I was failing them. I doubted that I was capable enough to be impactful. I began to think that perhaps everyone I’d worked with up until that point had overestimated me.
We moved back to Raleigh after Everly was born and I felt re-energized as I was given the opportunity to manage our field marketing efforts in the North East and Canada. I loved working with the sales organization and once again felt that passion for marketing. But things were changing- over the course of the next year, the entire marketing leadership in my department changed.
I felt like I was treading water as our goals and objectives shifted and refocused under a new structure. Nearly half of my immediate team was let go in an unanticipated layoff. There was so much work to do and not enough hands to do it. I also had new managers that I hadn’t yet built up enough rapport with to ask the hard questions and express my true concerns. All my old doubts on my abilities crept in again… I hesitated to contribute in meetings. I questioned if the work I was doing was significant and meaningful. I wanted to live and breath marketing the way I once had but saw no clear path to getting there again.
So I took a leap. I interviewed for a new role at a new organization. I landed the job. I left the comfort of what I knew and walked into a role that I knew was more visible and carried high expectations and would require me to do things outside the scope of my job experience. It was a chance at a clean slate. Early on, those old whispering thoughts crept in as I tried to soak up all of the new information being shared with me.
I was trained on 7 different systems in the first month. I jumped head first into the middle of marketing a large executive event and worked to get up to speed on supporting a customer retention organization. In the beginning, I was on information overload. I remember feeling like my new team believed in me more than I believed in myself.
I had been there two weeks when I was surprised to see that a bullet point on a big meeting agenda had my name next to it. I felt unprepared but quickly jotted down a couple things I felt might be relevant and tried to quiet the beating of my heart in my ears as I waited for my chance to speak among a large group of new colleagues.
That evening, there was a call on my voicemail from my new manager. I sat on the floor outside Everly’s room at bedtime and pressed play. “Several people stopped me to say how impressed they were with your knowledge in the meeting today. Keep it up.”
I sat there thinking about how long it had been since I had heard words like that from a manager and I just felt so flooded with the desire to make it happen more often. Week after week, my confidence grew. I found myself leading projects, heading discussions in meetings, speaking up often. Late last year, I was even given the opportunity to drive the marketing on a major new corporate project.
My passion for marketing exploded. That voice that had allowed me to undervalue myself for so long was silenced.
This past year has give me a new voice, a renewed love, and a stronger point of view. Never again will I allow myself to believe that I’m not capable of being a leader and a change maker. Never again will I shrink.
The move from Red Hat to SAS represented a clean slate - a chance to grow and start over, but this next move represents so much more. Now, I know I’m capable of making impact. Instead of starting from zero, I’m excited to push forward with my current momentum. I am hungry to make gains, to drive business, to take on projects that scare the hell out of me.
I don’t lay in bed at night, paralyzed by the fear of losing my job anymore. Instead, I swim in a thousand thoughts of how much potential lies ahead.
And it feels amazing.
When we first laid eyes on our current home, it was nearly winter and there were few leaves left on the trees. Almost immediately, we noticed two huge signs secured to the ground in the backyard of the yard next door.
It was one of the first things we asked about when we met our neighbor, Marshall, for the first time. Marshall is a walking encyclopedia of Raleigh knowledge. Born and raised here, he’s also an avid collector of things and stories from the past. He’s told me more interesting tidbits about our home’s original owners and our neighborhood than I ever could have hoped to find through a google search- but the story of how he came to own these two signs remains among one of my very favorite.
There used to be a Piggly Wiggly right between Glenwood Avenue and Fairview right in the heart of Five points. It has since become NOFO at the Pig, a beloved local restaurant that has kept a lot of the historical charm and some of the artifacts of the previous grocery store as part of its decor.
As Marshall tells it, many years ago he was driving by one day as they were dismantling the iconic signage on top of the shuttered grocery store to see workers loading the huge Piggly Wiggly signs into the back of a dump truck. He pulled over and asked what they were going to do with the signs. The workers told him they planned to take them to the local scrap metal facility.
"How much do you think they will give you for those signs?" asked Marshall.
The workers estimated a few hundred bucks.
Marshall offered to give them the same amount of money if they would haul the signs to his home on our street instead. There they have sat ever since, except for the occasions that they are put on display at the downtown Raleigh City Museum. Every time I look out my dining room window, it makes me smile to think that he saved a piece of Raleigh history from the dump so that they can be enjoyed by others for years to come.
Fifty years ago, Piggly Wiggly grocery stores could be found all over Raleigh and hundreds of locations around the state. Today, there are only 63 stores left in NC, nearly all of them located in small, rural towns and not a single one in Raleigh.
I’m a bit of a closet local history buff and recently stumbled upon the State Archive of NC’s flickr account. With our next door connection to this chain, I thought it would be fun to share some of the amazing photos of past Piggly Wiggly’s around downtown Raleigh. There is one labeled as the location in five points, but the size of the building doesn’t match up with what is there now and the Piggly Wiggly signage typography in the photo is different than Marshall’s signs. It’s possible there was a later remodel or update that made the building smaller and changed the signage but I couldn’t find any details online.
Corner of Person and Franklin streets. Governors square condos reside at this spot today.
This is said to be the Five Points location I mentioned above. Today NOFO at the Pig, Lily’s Pizza and Third Place Coffee shop reside at the five points location.
St. Mary’s at Peace street. Fallons flowers resides at this remodeled location today.
I recognized this location immediately! This is at the corner of Wilmington and Martin Streets. This location is now a hub of Raleigh dining and night life - It is currently home to the very popular Beasley’s Chicken and Honey, Chuck’s burgers and Fox Liquor bar downstairs.
Wouldn’t it be so much fun to shop in one of these stores? I read an account from a long time resident of the Five Points neighborhood who said before there were credit cards, he remembered when every local family had a card in an index box at the check out where they kept a tally of items purchased on credit. He also said Piggly Wiggly offered home delivery and would bring your groceries right in your home and put them away in the cabinets and fridge for you. (source)
I could spend hours digging through old photos looking for anything that feels familiar to me today. Often as we experience a city, we think only of how we know it in the present, but so many of our buildings hold rich and interesting histories. Thanks for indulging me as I explored a little of Raleigh’s past.
(All black and white photos and details are credited to the State Archive of NC flickr page and are available for viewing here).