I went to a meeting on Thursday for work. I’m on a “Leadership Team” for my job. Once a month we have a meeting where we attempt to solve problems, innovate new ideas and try to come up with “the better mousetrap” by “thinking outside of the box.”  You know, all of the usual stuff you do when you show up to a meeting and all it’s really about is trying to fit in. I know I occasionally irritate them because they begin to look irritated. But I do it because it gets them thinking. Even if they’re not comfortable with my breezy approach, I like to incite small riots at meetings. I find it comforting.

So while I look forward to the meetings so that I can make some attempts to represent my work group and watch out for their best interests, I sometimes get frustrated.So imagine my surprise when one of the people who attended yesterday came to the meeting sporting these:

Halellujah! Made me all giggly inside that the Corporate World occasionally goes for blue toenails! And Trish was so cool. When I asked her what she would do if she wasn’t doing what she was doing now, she told me she’d want to run a tiki bar on a beach some where. That’s my girl! It saddened me when I asked another person at the meeting the same question and he didn’t have an answer. I don’t think he did anything other than work. I know this sounds odd coming from me because when I’m not at my job, I’m at home at my other job, writing. My everyday life isn’t boring to me because I have all of this cool stuff whipping around inside my head. But if you were to just look at me sitting there, you’d never know I was doing anything at all but tapping on my laptop. I work like a dog when I’m writing, but I’m happy to report that it’s one of those jobs where you have to do it sitting down. Well, most of the time:

Shooting video of “Snowball the Dancing Cockatoo”

If you know me, (and some of you do) you realize that I’m all for innovation and new ideas, but I’m kind of short in the “fitting in” department. Yes, I have a dog, but I also have three parrots. While this doesn’t necessarily place me into the “Want to meet my pet tarantula?” category, it is a bit off of the road to “Normalville.”

I’m afraid my ability to blend in is next to nothing.

When it comes to ideas, I try to allow myself myself to be as creative and edgy as I can because I’m always looking for a better way to do stuff. That’s why I haunt websites like TED and thinkgeek.com and go hunting for information in some of the most bizarre places on the Internet.   http://www.uglyhousephotos.com/

I have found that at these meetings, I have an advantage: I’m not management so my perspective is not all about, as I heard one Manager say on one teleconferenced meeting, “Oh, my Group is really excited about merchandising this!” Trust me, we weren’t.

I also have this peculiar idea that we all work for the same company but we all have different jobs. I take people at face value and I don’t particularly cotton to the idea that just because somebody runs a department or a station or manages some nook or cranny of the company that they should be treated any differently than anyone else. I’m a little short on the “Hero Worship” concept, okay? Well, other than Dorothy Parker, but that’s another story.

So when I attend these meetings I tend to ask strange questions and bring up bizarre ideas. I want other people to take this “think outside the box” concept and turn it on its ear. I don’t want to “think outside the box.”

I don’t think there should be a box at all. Boxes are useful for containing many things, but not ideas. Ideas are elastic and changing. They don’t follow a set pattern. And sometimes you have to go in a different direction to get where you want to ultimately go. And it might not be in the direction you think. When it comes to ideas I don’t think playing it safe is necessarily the way to go.

I’ve come up with ideas for my company time after time. And rarely do they even get entertained. I’m not sure, but I think part of the reason is because I don’t have an office job. (I don’t work in a box.) Or perhaps they think I’m just nuts, I don’t know. But just because I work at my job most of the time doesn’t mean that that is who I am. I’m afraid that when they see “Me,” they aren’t looking at me at all. This is me:

This is also “Me.” I’m performing for charity at a lip-sync. That is an honest-to-God vintage “Stewardess Uniform. But that’s not where my head is most of the time.

They don’t know what I do in my “other” career. Or what is starting to become my “Real Job,” which is writing and speaking. I think my department knows I’m a little off-center, but I do my job with as much flair as possible and with as much dignity as I can muster when you consider that my “office chair” is approximately 10 inches away from a bathroom.

It’s kind of a buttoned-down company with little wiggle room for outrageous ideas and think-tank approaches to the work. I’d probably be quite happy galavanting around Apple, or Google, or someplace where they have a slide or a swing set in the middle of the lobby instead of a floral arrangement.

But instead, I work for a straight-laced, behemoth corporation that moves at a glacial pace. Love the company. Hate the pace. And they’re a little short in the positive reinforcement department.

The company is probably unaware that I have managed to get to do some amazing things and have some amazing adventures that I am so grateful for I want to jump up and down. They probably don’t realize that there are a bunch of us capable of doing really cool stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with what we do professionally. Sure wish they would tap into that.

There will be more things coming up that will probably end up blowing my hair back and hopefully yours. I know not everyone can take the time to do some of the weird stuff I’ve managed to finagle. So I try and share all the weird and wonderful things with you here at the blog.

Getting to know a Manatee while working at the Cincinnati Zoo

I do get good ideas on occasion. This was one of them:

For those of you who don’t know what it is, it’s a parrot toy. And it’s one of the hottest selling parrot toys going right now. I have a bunch of good ideas, and get more everyday. Problem is, I can’t remember half of them.

So I’ve turned to the strange, the bizarre and the brilliant to see if what they say can help me filter out all of the crap from all of the good stuff. People like Seth Godin rock my brain. They inspire me and help me think clearer with better approaches to problems.

I have ideas for my company and I have a whomping idea for “Parrot Nation.”  But it’s trying to find the time to set all of this stuff up that makes me crazy. As it is, I’m not making my writing deadlines as early as I’d like. The last deadline I had, I submitted my article three weeks early as opposed to the usual month or more I’m comfortable with. My office happens to be anywhere I’m currently seated with my laptop.

So with all of thee huge ideas and bizarre adventures I have, I try to make some sense of them. I have two careers, three parrots and a dog. I write for two magazines, a website and I have this blog. And in my spare time I make stuff like this to auction off for Parrot Rescue and adoption non-profits:

I have to cram getting my laundry done in there somewhere. Occasionally the housework wins out and I end up paying a friend of mine to come in and clean because I simply can’t get it all done.

Writing isn’t just about writing. It’s about getting the idea. It’s about figuring out what people want to read. It’s emailing people for information, for quotes, for clarifications. It’s about figuring out what in God’s name you want to say, and then figuring out how you want to say it. It’s choosing your words carefully because, well, they are indeed your words. And then of course, after you choose your words there is that little matter of getting them all in the right order.

I think everyone has really good ideas. And I wish more people worked on those ideas and brought them out to the world and shared them. What’s your good idea? What do you want to change? To modify? What thought process do you want to affect?

Ideas are fleeting and can go up in smoke if you don’t guard them carefully and tend to them. But ideas are what make the world move. And Trish’s blue toes give me hope.