Friday, January 25, 2013

7 Quick Takes--#9

Number 9: I swear, I'll write a REAL post someday instead of 'just' Quick Takes...

1. I GOT MY SIX!!!!!! (Ahem, as many of you already know who follow me on Twitter. Sorry if you've already heard the news.)

Anyway, yes, I have a six in the middle of my weight. Eh, this is the internet, most of you are nice people. I'll just say my weight instead of alluding to it, lest you all think I'm some 800 pound woman. I weighed in at 269 this week. Since August, when I first started at this gym, I've lost almost 20 pounds. Slow and steady is supposed to be the best way to achieve long term weight loss, but it's tough when *I* am the Rabbit, while my usually-the-Turtle husband has dropped 50 pounds since the summer. MEN!!!! Chris had the health scare, not me, so while I'd like his success, I don't want a serious liver condition. And yes...sigh...we all know that men close their eyes to beer and dessert and drop ten pounds in a week...

2. Yes, I'm still running. Earlier in the week, I ran for six minutes without stopping, and yesterday, I was able to run for eight minutes continuously. I'm gaining endurance! I tried listening to a book yesterday while running, instead of music or TV. It helped. And strength--I can also now do these crazy pull ups whereas before, I'd just hang from the bar and have a nervous laugh. Getting stronger, thank God!

Speaking of God, this morning, when I was on the crazy pull up machine (no, really), I was having a hard time at the very end, which is common. I started saying a Hail Mary in my head, and was able to finish my set. Was our Blessed Mother interceding? Did I just have my mind focused elsewhere instead of the pain? Who knows, who cares. It worked!

3. Chris has his follow up appointment this coming Tuesday morning. Please pray! Thank you :)

4. Tomorrow is the 2 month anniversary of my "separation" from work. This week, I've applied for four jobs. It's weird, how I'm finding more recently, than I did when I was first out of work. That brings the grand total to five, ha.

5. Have you ever tried to make a Wikipedia page? It's hard. My former coworker did it at my old job, and said it was challenging, but I didn't realize HOW challenging it would be! I foolishly told one of my freelancing clients that I could make him one, no problem. Well, it was easy to WRITE the article. Now I have to format it in their weird language. I can code in HTML with very few problems; I wish the wiki-language was more like HTML. I really should be working on that now.

6. I mentioned a book that I was listening to in #2. It's Yes, Chef, by Marcus Samuelsson. I might write a review of it in a future (real) post, but I'm really enjoying it. I'll be a little bummed when I finish it today or tomorrow. You might know Marcus from Food Network or Top Chef. I'd seen him on TV and "knew of" him, but not very much. His story is amazing, from orphaned in Ethiopia, to cooking for the infamous White House State Dinner that was crashed by "that couple." And he narrates! Author-read books can be tricky, but in this case, it's a good thing. Plus, he's funny.

7. Many of my blogging friends have gone silent today in honor of Roe vs. Wade's 40th anniversary. Others have dedicated entire posts to the topic. While I am pro-life, it is still difficult for me to wrap my mind around outlawing abortion, mostly for reasons like "how dare I tell someone else what to do?" You might remember abortion might have prevented my husband from being born (not him, directly, but his mother). Also, as a woman who might bear the cross of infertility, adoption is a wonderful way to build a family. Over the past few days, I've read some posts about what needs to happen regarding the law. I don't want to debate people, but I will say a few things.

If you want to stop abortion AND, at the SAME time, encourage women to have babies, we need to be more supportive of said women and their reproductive systems. A woman's pregnancy, regardless of the situation--married, single, planned, unplanned, working or staying at home--should always be met with support and love from the community, including the family, the church, AND the workplace. THAT is the only way women will feel that they have a choice in the matter. By support, I don't just mean throwing diapers at an overworked, underpaid couple, their hands full with three little children already. Support is broaching the subject of adoption with a single mom, even if it is culturally unheard of. Support is teaching women and couples about their cycles and how to manage their fertility so they have more control...and what's that? Maybe a CHOICE in when they conceive? (In a loving, respectful relationship. I'm not talking any sort of coercion in a relationship or rape scenarios.) Support is crisis pregnancy centers helping women who already want to keep their babies, who might be having a miscarriage or other health issues. Support is writing your legislators, asking them to fight for fairness in the workplace--in leave policies, wages, and the like. This doesn't go for people with young children; employees have parents who get sick or need surgery, or siblings, or spouses, too. When society begins to call attention to the things that are needed to be good parents and good adult children, perhaps then society will truly value life in all stages.

Don't forget to visit Jen over at Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes! Have a great weekend!

Friday, January 18, 2013

7 Quick Takes--#8

Number 8: Randomness

1. Time is flying by. It's Friday again, but besides that, this day has flown by too fast already. I was up at 6:30 and out the door a little after 7. Chris dropped me off at the gym for my nutritionist appointment, and went to get bloodwork for his gastroenterologist follow up at the end of the month, returning to the gym for our concurrent training appointments at 8. Afterwards, we went out for breakfast for the first time in ages (probably before his diagnosis in October). Got home, he showered and got ready for work while I put together his lunch, then he was out the door at 10:30. Now it's almost 11:30 and I've had three phone calls already (all reminder calls for things next week). I need to clean out the wood stove and fill up our wood box with firewood, which first means I need to empty the ash bin from the last cleaning and dig out the wood pile since it snowed the other day. Fortunately we have our wood piles covered with tarps, so the wood is dry and the snow should be easy to remove. I am typing this as the heat kicks on and the pennies are burning. By the time I get all of these heating-related chores done, it'll be after noon. Thankfully Chris works til 7 on Fridays, and won't be home til 7:30, so I'll have the entire afternoon to do other tasks, work on the freelance gigs, and make dinner. But still, time flies...even if it's NOT all fun :-P

2. I'm down another pound this week, which should be good news, but I'd like to break into the 60s. My weight currently has a seven in the middle (today I weighed in at X70.2, for a loss of 1.4 pounds), and I am SO.CLOSE to getting that six in the middle, but not this week. That will be the lowest weight I've been in a long time, maybe even before I got married? All the reason to do more cardio this week, which is something I have a lot of trouble doing. Everyone is telling me I need to ramp up the exercise to burn more fat, eating well is not enough even though it has been pretty tight and on plan. It's just...there are other things I'd rather do than go walk or run on the treadmill. Even with music, listening to books, reading, or watching TV.

3. Oh I mentioned running. Yes, I've started running. I stupidly told one of the trainers that my new goals are 1) lose 20 pounds by my birthday in March--two months to go! and 2) I'd like to run a 5K by the end of the summer. IDIOT. So now I'm running. Nothing crazy, no miles yet. I'm going for minutes in a row, first. I've been able to run three minutes in a row so far and then I walk the rest of my cardio time, just pretty fast. I know it'll help the weight come off faster, but ugh. It feels like I'm torturing myself. It'll come, I know.

4. Here's some fun real life stuff: my NFP instructor up and quit on me. She's no longer teaching it, and the way she ended things was pretty sketchy. After not hearing from her from a month (after repeated emails and phone calls), I get a MASS email from her to all of her clients about how she can't balance instructing with her day job and "look at this link to find another instructor." Wow, thanks. I was concerned about her well-being and whereabouts, so I had called the group organizer for the FertilityCare practice the week prior, just to see if my instructor was OK. It wasn't like her not to respond to emails. I talked to the organizer again yesterday; the potential new instructor is about an hour away, whereas the old one lived in the next town over. Sigh. The organizer also answered some charting questions for me, and was able to figure out a lot of things without seeing my chart; she doesn't like how things are going and thinks I should be seen by a NaPro doctor. My choices are Massachusetts, up near the NH/VT border or NYC. NYC please!At least I don't have to drive, I'll be taking the train. Now to call the doctor in NYC and my new instructor. I hope this doctor takes my insurance; we have out of network benefits, but they are pretty pricey. Oy.

5. I mentioned this in #1, but Chris sees his gastroenterologist for a follow up on the 29th. He's very worried, especially now that he has had blood drawn for the tests that the doctor wanted to run prior to the appointment. Everyone assures him that he'll be in a good place, but that's doing very little to ease his mind. He has lost 50 pounds, he works out nearly every day, he has dramatically changed his eating habits. He's doing everything the doctor has told him. His primary doctor is optimistic, so is our nutritionist and our families. It's hard to convince yourself, though. So if you could please pray for him (and for my sanity in dealing with him repeatedly asking for reassurance!) that would be awesome. If you missed the post about his diagnosis, read here.

6. I keep replaying a lot of what happened on that last day of work in my mind. I get angry at myself, sometimes I cry about how I didn't try harder or stick up for myself more. Or I think about how I was duped, and it makes me mad that over six years of employment was no match for someone like my former boss, in convincing the owners to get rid of me. I know I can't change it, but it's been hard to move on, and I haven't said much to anyone about that. Also on my mind is how I've been ignored by former coworkers. I'm Facebook "friends" with so many of them, yet only a handful have acknowledged what happened. I don't know why; one day I was there and the next, not, so you'd think people would be curious. Maybe they don't want to bother me, or bring it up? Maybe they feel like if they are connected to me in some way, they'll be next? I feel like I've written about this before (maybe it was on Twitter?), but it really sucks. At least two of my former bosses have kept in touch with me, checking in to see how my job search is going, if I need anything. That has been a nice surprise. As for my coworkers, I guess working with people for this long doesn't really mean anything. I mean, I spent four years with college friends and half of them disappeared a few years after graduation. I guess people can only maintain relationships for so long... 

7. An update from last week's 7QTs: my 401K money showed up, finally! I even got to go into see my financial planner guy and tell him how to invest it. We're probably way behind when it comes to saving for retirement or whatever, but this is better than letting it languish in an account that has any connection to my former employer. Next up is to figure out if we're on the right track for retirement, which makes me a little squeamish, because the pressure of returning to work might build.

It's 12 noon ON THE DOT! Gotta get those chores done! Don't forget to visit Jen over at Conversion Diary! Have a great weekend!

Friday, January 11, 2013

7 Quick Takes--#7

Lucky Number Seven!

--- 1 ---

It really has hit me now that I'm not just on vacation, that I really don't have a job. When it first happened, I had lots of nonsense to do with filing for unemployment compensation, figuring out how to get my 401K transferred, lots of unemployment housekeeping things. Then I went away for a long weekend with my mom to see my aunt on the Cape, and other aunts joined us. [The girl cousins were all too busy with school and weekend jobs. I'm officially old now!] Then it was Christmas, and after we had family visiting so I spent time with them. Now, it's the post-holiday doldrums and...*crickets*

I do think that a lot of people feel a sense of let down after the holidays, so I know I'm probably not alone. I have things to do, I just need to STEP AWAY FROM THE IPAD/COMPUTER and DO THEM.

--- 2 ---

Speaking of my 401K, the money went missing. Yes, missing. I had arranged for it to be transferred out of W*llsF**go early to mid December. I received an email in mid December stating that the money was being delivered (VIA CHECK--no, I'm not kidding) to our financial planner's office. Fine, great. Our financial planner, Ed, called me just before Christmas to say he hadn't received the money, but we agreed to wait until the next week to pursue things, since the mail system gets busy around this time of year. Nothing. Ed called me on New Years Eve day to say he still hadn't received anything. Neither had I. Finally I called WF on Monday to find out what was going on (yeah, hi, I'm a procrastinator).

WF should rename themselves WTF, because that's all I was thinking while talking to the customer service rep. He had no idea what happened, and decided to stop payment on the check, but would be happy to reissue me one for $25. I got a little upset about that, and in the end, didn't have to pay anything. Damn right--I didn't lose my money, YOU did. Why should I be penalized!?!?! And I'm still waiting for the check to show up.

--- 3 ---

Some good news: I have two clients, and possibly two more lined up. When I was first let go, I was very excited and doing a lot of outreach to potential clients, but then there was a lull, between the holidays and people's schedules. Things quieted down for me, even though I had one client almost from the start of my unemployed tenure; her things had to wait on her production schedule. I don't want to procrastinate too much...

I have one @udi0b**k n@rr@t0r and one author as clients, and one of each as potential clients. My former job was at an @udi0b**k publisher, and I got to know a lot of the n@rr@t0rs very well. I reached out to them after I left, just to let them know, especially since I was working closely with a few of them on projects and didn't want them to wonder why I wasn't replying to their emails. That turned into people saying "Have you ever considered doing what you did for Company X on your own?" and here I am now, with a tiny little potential business developing. The author I met on Twitter, if you can believe it, and we'd been "Twitter friends" for awhile. After he heard what happened to me, he asked me if I was interested in helping him.

Why the secret coding for those words? I'm a little paranoid about anyone finding my blog and figuring out who I am. Well, besides those of you who know me already :)

--- 4 ---

Life is funny sometimes. For the longest time, I'd thought about starting my own business, so that I'd have a certain amount of flexibility, especially when we have kids, but I was stuck about WHAT to do as my business. Other people had suggested it to me, too. "I have no skills," I'd say. "How do I network???" I panicked.

Sometimes things just work out when you least expect it. [Or, start to work out. This could all be a huge fail. Not being pessimistic, just realistic.] I had skills! I had a network to tap into! Duh Jen!!!

I know it won't be easy; it will take a lot of work. My grandfather started a business when my dad was little. He worked lots of long hours to provide for his family and to grow his business, which later employed my dad and one of my uncles. Grandpa has been gone for two years now, but the business is still in operation. My dad has worked hard, too; there were many late nights, heading to the yard after Mass on Sundays, meaning he pulled 6.5 day weeks. People think it's easier than it is, but I know better.

--- 5 ---

There are still a lot of nuts and bolts type things that I need to do regarding my business. Talk to our accountant to see how I should go about setting things up. Make a PayPal account. Create a website. Order business cards. Finish setting up my office area. Perhaps buy a laptop....

Oh yeah, and most importantly, I'll need a name! I think that will be the hardest part. I'm actually considering a play on my Twitter handle, but we'll see.

--- 6 ---

To completely change topics, here is our new mantel, which was installed right before Christmas. Our house didn't come with one, and I can't figure out why the previous owners (who had the house built for them) didn't put one in. It still needs to be primed and painted...oh, and some caulk needs to be added between the mantel and the wall. I should have done the caulking sooner, because I was drilling holes where those picture frames are, and put the bit down on the mantel, and it rolled into the crack. We can't get it out, but good thing bits can be purchased separately and are cheap!

We now have candle sconces on either side and the pictures have been relocated. I've only had the sconces for about a year, but I'm on a roll to get things done. I'll also need to figure out what to put on top of the mantel. It's so empty! As for paint color, I'm going with white--the same paint as the trim. Chris thinks white is a bad idea, especially with the wood stove, and that we should stain it. There is a lot of wood furniture and darker colors in the room already. We need some brightness! White will look elegant, although I'm sure I'll be wiping down the mantel frequently. I'm always sweeping or vacuuming this area; it gets so dirty so fast! The savings on heating oil is well worth it.

--- 7 ---
So happy to hear that Jen (not me) is doing well and is back at home! Blood clots are very scary and hospitals aren't much fun. Why not pop over to Conversion Diary and see what she's been up to? I hear she's a little bored since she can't do much right now...share with her your blog or a favorite of yours. She needs reading materials!

PS. Yes, I changed the blog name again. Bear with me. I'm trying to find something a little more...expressive and encompassing.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wrap Up of 2012 Goals

Happy New Year...even if it's a week or so into 2013. Looking back at my goals from 2012, I realized that I hadn't updated my progress on them since MARCH. Oh well. Here's what happened...

1. Healthy weight. Off certain meds.
My weight is the lowest it's been in a LONG time, but there's more to go. I've lost around 20 pounds? And lots of inches. In the meds department, the big one that I was always alluding to but hadn't mentioned until I discontinued it was the pill. I will write a post about that soon about why I was on it exactly and my thoughts about if I had been mislead by doctors. I'm also going to be writing a post for my friends over at IUseNFP!
2. Relax! Slow down!
It was up and down thorughout the year. Some days I'd be completely lazy, other days back to my Type A ways. It's hard to find a balance. Although these days, due to my job loss, I have plenty of time to do whatever and not rush. Which can also backfire...

3. Have fun
Not too much. We don't do well with stress around here...which leads to not doing much of anything.
4. Read more
I'd posted that I bought these books before Christmas 2011:
  • Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon
  • The False Friend, by Myla Goldberg
  • In Country, by Bobbie Ann Mason
  • In Search of the Rose Notes, by Emily Arsenault
  • What to Expect Before You're Expecting (hey, forewarned is forearmed!)
As I said in March, I finished Outlander and LOOOOOVED it. I've read the second and third books in the series, and am in the midst of the fourth (I think?). There are a lot of books in this series and they are THICK. I did read The False Friend, but the others remained untouched. Well, I have skimmed the Expecting book and it's sort of...not the book for my type of personality. Oh well. On a positive note, I have read other books and listened to more on audio than I have in awhile.
5. Pray more. 
I find myself praying spontaneously throughout the day. Nothing formal or structured.
6. Have more of a focus, or point, on this blog.
Yeah no.

1. Dial it down a notch.

In March, I wrote this: "Probably not, since my boss is a jackass and can be condescending. He infuriates me." Apparently I didn't dial it down enough, since I lost my job in November. 
2. Get in EARLY instead of on time or barely on time.
Yes and no. Some weeks I'm on the ball, some weeks, not so much. (This was the same for the rest of the year)
3. Keep my inbox (email), desk, and folders clean.
I did...not that it matters anymore.
4. Get away from my desk more, including my half hour lunch.
Some days I did, some days I didn't. Towards the end of my employment, I was making a lot of personal calls on my breaks and during lunch, so I was getting outside more, but not for good reasons.

1. Mantel for our "library."
We did this! In December, as a Christmas gift from my parents! 
2. Kitchen floors redone.
Not yet, still need to call for estimate, although I don't know when we'll actually get around to it, with me not working.
3. Rest of the upstairs painted.
4. All carpet ripped out and replaced with wood.
Still not done.
5. New doors for the two bedrooms upstairs.
Don't need to, thankfully. The painting lady fixed the holes that the previous owners' sons had punched, and she repainted them. They look 99% better.
6. Buy some more furniture.
Not yet.
7. Power wash house, back deck, and front porch. 
Parts were power washed, but more to come this spring.
8. Hang some more things on the walls.
YES! Finally!

1. Get back on track with saving at least one of C's checks.
We did it sometimes, but that's gone out the window now that I'm not working. Although it would be funny to try and save my unemployment...
2. Split up our savings account into different accounts.

Same as in March: Chris doesn't think this is necessary, so we're holding for now.
3. Change some accounts to have both of our names on them (leftovers from before we were married).

Haha, nope, not yet.
4. Buy life insurance

We started the process, and then Chris got his diagnosis right when the life insurance company was supposed to come do their little exam. Postponed until we know what's going on with his health, and can hopefully pass.
5. Stick to a budget!

Ha. We're not in debt, but I'd like tighter control on spending. It's hard, with unplanned expenses that pop up. That's life though. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Changes on the blog

Yes, I changed the title. Adventures sounded a bit hokey, to me, whereas Chronicles sounds a bit more mature. Also...Adventures sounded like we were having tons of fun....and we're really not, at least not ever all of the time.

I've also updated the To Do List page (if anyone ever read it, ha) and the left sidebar on the main page.

Oh, I started using my real name too. :)

Clarification from yesterday

After re-reading yesterday's post, I realized that I might have left out a few things. So just for my own edification (and maybe yours too!), here are some other details.

Yes, I was written up in April, along with my coworker. We were both "charged" with insubordination and lack of professionalism, with the guarantee that if we didn't improve, we would be terminated. Isn't it a little odd to write up your entire staff on the same day, for the same things? Shouldn't that reflect badly on the manager, perhaps as a sign he couldn't keep his staff in check? Apparently not. During the write up meeting, I actually said as much, and also gave my boss a piece of my mind about his lack of consideration and respect, treating us as if we were stupid, not listening or believing us, among other things...

It should also be noted that not once in my entire work history had I been written up. Not even in my high school jobs! I'm not perfect, I've had things about my personality or work style brought to my attention (ahem, lateness, ahem), but nothing on this level. My coworker had a spotless employment record as well.

I will freely admit that with this guy, we were not angels. As those of you who know me in real life or via other channels know, he was really difficult to work with, and we were snippy with him. We tried to work around his quirks, but we were often met with resistance or laughter, directed at us and our ideas. Nice, huh? We stopped giving him information, waiting for him to ask for it, since if we didn't do it in his rigid method, it made matters worse. It's funny, now that I'm removed from the situation, it's hard to recall all the things that occurred.

Between April and November, I made a conscious effort to be nicer to him (or at least more professional), not show any attitude, and so on. It seemed as if when Chris received his diagnosis, this guy started dialing up the pressure on me. Did it really? I don't know. I don't want to be paranoid, but maybe he saw it as a great opportunity to begin getting rid of me. He seemed to be more nit-picky about things not looking perfect, wanting me to respond to issues on the weekends (including things that I could not resolve, like fixing errors on the web site, when he knew that IT needed to be involved), and having me do projects that were not fully explained, then changing his mind during them, leaving me with pieces of unfinished work.

During the fall of 2012, I was not fully present at work and I wasn't doing everything that I should have been. I think it was visible that my head was elsewhere. I believe employers have the responsibility to make their employees better workers. This was a sentiment shared with me by my aunt, who works in employee training for a national cable provider. Now, if I was a boss, I would have met with my employee, asking if she was really OK, did she need to take some time off, that sort of thing. I believe that when employees are supported, they will do their best work. Not in the hand-holding way, but just "we know you're going through a tough time, and we know you'll get back to your former productivity levels, but please take a month (or whatever needed) to get yourself back to full speed." It is expensive and time consuming to get rid of, and then replace, an employee. To me, it makes more sense to lose an employee for a month or three, versus documenting a case for their dismissal, then working on hiring and training a new employee. But that's me. The idealist.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Why I am scared to return to work

In my last post, I alluded to this fact. I am, indeed, scared to return to work. There are a few reasons...

I think I need to start out with why exactly I am no longer working. I also alluded to that in a recent post, but never came out and said exactly what happened. I wasn't laid off. Yup, the F word. (I'm so hesitant to type that word here, or even discuss the situation,'s who I am and I can't really hide from it.)

Did I know it was coming?
No. I had been written up in April 2012, but so had my coworker. There were only two of us in the department under this boss, and there was tension from my boss's first day of work in February 2011. Yet, I'd been promoted in January 2012. From the write-up meeting through the final meeting, I thought things were fine. I was completely blindsided.

Why did this happen?
According to the letter I received in the "final meeting," I was being dismissed for insubordination, lack of professionalism, and my recent work performance had suffered.

How much of that was true?
I'm not sure. While I know my recent work performance was suffering, I also know that I was making this clear to my boss; I wasn't hiding anything from him. I had been behind on some things, but I had planned on using the rest of 2012 to make up all assignments and any time that I needed to make up. In fact, I arrived at work around 7 AM on my very last day. The irony. Too little, too late, I guess.

They (boss and company owners) knew about Chris' illness; I made them aware of what was going on when we got the diagnosis. They said I had their support, to do what I needed to do. Chris' illness did affect my work performance. I was worried about him. His mental health was affected: he was panicked and worried about his health, his future, the lack of information the doctor was giving him, and so forth. He was calling me all of the time at work because he was scared; I had to leave early a few times. In addition, the worry was taking its toll on me; I have battled depression in the past, and the black dog was coming back to hang out with me. I had trouble getting to work on time.

[I know now that I should have been offered intermittent FMLA or even complete FMLA. To take some time off from work to care for Chris and to get my head together. That was never offered to me.]

Regarding the other claims in their letter, I believe that what transpired over Thanksgiving weekend was what really nailed the coffin. My boss called me and texted me repeatedly on Black Friday--3 times each in a 30 minute period. I was not on call that weekend, nor have I ever been on call in my tenure with the company. There was an incident a week or two prior to Thanksgiving where there was an error on the company web site that he wanted me to handle. I guess he didn't like my response to any of these issues. I guess I was too nonchalant or didn't take enough action. With the Black Friday episode, I did compose an email that I believed to have been professional, yet it did go to several people, so that might have been where I went wrong. I was trying to stick up for myself and not get taken advantage of.

In the final meeting, when I asked exactly what happened, my boss actually asked the owner of the company if he had to answer me. I was told by the owner that there had been "several issues, and mistakes, and they needed someone who could take ownership of these things." Additionally, my boss said that he needed someone he could depend on, who he didn't need to tell things to. That's fine, but it had never been addressed with me, and I said that it never had been discussed with me, not in any meetings I had with my boss regarding the holiday campaigns, any one on one's we regularly had, or even in my promotion meeting. How was I to know what needed to be done when I wasn't being told so? I also said (very calmly) that it was absurd to expect employees to know what to do.

Maybe I was set up? Maybe they wanted to get rid of me for awhile? Who knows. Several people think he had an agenda from day one and part of that might have been to get rid of me. This guy was not well liked by many people at the company, and yet, I'm the one who is without a job. Loyalty means nothing, and that upsets for someone who tends to be an idealist.

Now, as to why I'm afraid to return to work...

1. I'm afraid to juggle work and home again. Chris is doing a bit better, yes, but there might be other doctor's appointments that he'd like me to attend. It's hard to start a new job and get time off. And let's face it, home runs a bit smoother now that someone is home, taking care of things. Flexibility is nice.

2. I wouldn't have seniority, including more vacation time. I'd be starting over again as the "new girl," having to prove myself. This would have been an issue even if I'd left a job on my own terms, especially if I was going right into a new position.

3. I'll be 33 in March, and I would like to be on our way to starting a family sometime in 2013. You need to be working at a job for 12 months before you can qualify for FMLA, if the employer has 50 employees or more. Yes, I could theoretically start a job, work there for a few months, then get pregnant, and be in the clear for FMLA. This brings up a few other concerns, that I never had to think about until now:
  • What if I need to go on leave before the 12 months have elapsed? For any reason, really, not just pregnancy.
  • I wouldn't be just proving myself as the new girl, I'd also be proving myself as the PREGNANT new girl. It's hard enough to learn how a new place operates, and get up to speed. Now, imagine that with pregnant brain and being tired? I've heard stories from friends about how hard it is to work the easiest of jobs. I don't want to be discriminated against.
4. Can I even land another job? Who would want to hire me? What am I good at? Would I just lose my job again? What if I find myself in another bad situation that isn't family-friendly or flexible? I think these are questions and fears that a lot of people have, and I know most of them are silly, but I still have them. 

Thoughts on what to do next...

Some people have said to me that if Chris and I can live on just his salary, then maybe we should see how things go for a bit. I am collecting unemployment, and we're missing about $775 from my old salary. We're also missing the money I was socking away for retirement, which was deducted pre-tax and NOT matched, but that's money we never saw.

If I stopped getting unemployment and didn't work at all, we'd be out about 40% of our former income, so whatever I end up doing, I will need to work at some sort of job. I've seen some interesting part time jobs, but when I did the math, I am making more via unemployment, which is sad. I don't know the laws for my state or how they view part time work, but I think that I would lose some (not all) of the unemployment benefits. Part of me feels entitled to this money, that I should allow it to supplement our living, and part of me feels guilty, that I'm just mooching and being lazy, and that I should just go back to work. I am doing some freelancing work, but I don't know if the people hiring me are going to claim my work as a business expense, or if I need to fill out W9 forms. I don't want anything to come back to haunt me since our social security numbers track everything; I need to talk with our accountant. I can't just give up the unemployment money and focus on my business--I need an income to support me while I'm trying to get clients!

Chris is concerned with being the sole earner and has many of the same fears that I did when he was out of work, yet he likes how things are going much smoother at home. It's a conundrum. He also wanted someone to be at home with our kids, and that usually is the mother. A few months ago, I had done some math about our salaries, day care, and family health insurance. Even though I made more than he did, in these scenarios, it was advantageous for me to stay home. Why? If he stayed home, a family health insurance plan through my then-company would have been horribly expensive. If I stayed home, a family health insurance plan through Chris' employer would haven't been much more than it is now. Half of my income would have gone to day care. For what, me to be stressed out more than I already am--about work, my house, my family, myself, money? Ugh.

My feminist side says it's not good for anyone to depend on another person, that we need to be independent. But then I laugh, because Chris depends on me, as much as I depend on him right now! I make sure his clothes are clean, that we have food to eat, and all of those nice things. He can focus on work, getting himself healthier, and his usual house chores/duties. There aren't any fights over who's cooking tonight, and who didn't pull out the meat from the freezer. It's more clear cut. And even when I was working, we lived as though we "depended on" both incomes. Everything went into one pot, from which we paid bills, saved, and lived. It wasn't my money and his money, and it still is. In our house, any sort of independence is really an illusion. We're a team, a unit. What affects my husband affects me and vice versa. Yet, this "dependence" is making me feel like I need to stay home, at least in the near future.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Am I a failure?

It's been over a month since I last blogged. Ironic, when I'd said before that I'd have more time to blog.

It's not like I have a job that keeps me away from home or blocks/tracks my internet usage. I don't have a job at all.

I've applied for ONE job. Just one. It wasn't even a full time position. It was at the university I worked at when I first got out of college, at their publishing house. I haven't heard back yet. I've seen other jobs that might be OK, but they aren't what I want to do. That's right, I don't really know what I want to do. I'm afraid to work again, at full time job, for a lot of reasons.

The house is not picked up, nor is it spotless. There are still piles of laundry to be put away, dishes to be done, floors to mop. I have lists of projects and things to do that are going un-done. I never got on any schedule.

We didn't decorate our Christmas tree. I set it up, and put the lights on, but we never got around to the ornaments. Chris was sick in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and on Christmas Day. It wasn't the same this year. We didn't even attend Divine Liturgy or Mass at Christmas, since Chris was sick and I didn't want to go to church by myself.

I worked at my company for over six years, and became quite friendly with almost everyone. Yet so many people never reached out to say they were sorry to hear about what happened. It's like I never existed. I don't know if they are scared to talk to me, or feel awkward about bringing the subject up, but it's lonely. As much as I might have been unhappy with my position, I enjoyed almost all of the people I saw every day. I guess we weren't as good of friends as I had thought.

Many people suggested that I try to do what I was doing at my job, on my own, as a little business. I've had some interest (and made some money) but then it feels like they might want more from me than I'm capable of, or we aren't connecting...or just something isn't right. I don't know if I'm lacking confidence, or I'm scared of success (and failure), or if it's not a good fit. I'd love to work from my house, doing what I love, on my OWN terms, but then I think "do I have enough years behind me to look credible enough?"

I've been out of work for 40 days. (I just counted, I didn't realize this before I started this post.) The irony. Noah's flood was 40 days. Lent is 40 days. Yet, I don't think any miracles will await me tomorrow.

I guess I could turn things around and ask myself what I have done over the past 40 days.

I have:
  • hung up pictures and other objects that have been waiting for a long time
  • finally visited both libraries in my town (only took 3 years of living here!)
  • listened to 3 audiobooks (and almost done with number 4)
  • filed for unemployment, dealt with being on hold with them many times, got through a hearing, and am now collecting
  • reached out to former bosses and other colleagues to let them know about what happened
  • traveled with my mom to my aunt's house on Cape Cod for a long weekend with "just the girls" (two other aunts joined us, and my three girl cousins were supposed to, but they were busy with school and part time jobs)
  • updated my resume, just in case
  • continued to keep expenses low by not wasting food or buying more than we need, keeping our wood stove going so that we don't burn oil (we can get free firewood, oil not so much), planning out my errands to coincide with gym appointments, among other things...I type this as I have a stack of bills that need to be paid, but that's life, working or not
  • gone to the gym three times a week...and am trying to start running
  • lost weight and inches
  • considered going to see a NaPro doctor regarding my obvious fertility issues (not that we've tried to conceive, far from it) but things are supposed to happen...and they haven't, so I'm pretty sure something is wrong
  • paid more attention to my cats than I have in a long time
  • contacted potential clients for my business, and as I mentioned before, I have actually been paid for some of my efforts...not much, but it's something
  • cleaned out and reorganized two closets
  • started to reorganize our kitchen cabinets, including purging the extra knives, bowls, etc, in order to reduce clutter and streamline things
  • cooked healthier food, and experimented with healthier versions of our favorite things
  • accompanied Chris to doctor's appointments
  • spent more time with my mom than I have in awhile
  • slept better than I have in a LONG TIME and am not stressed nor distracted
Yet, why do I focus on what hasn't been accomplished? Why do most of us tend to do this?  Are we truly failures if we accomplish something, even if it wasn't on our original "to do list?"