Category Archives: work

Getting sleep where I can get it, lungs, and yoga

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4.5 hours sleep. I rolled out of bed, grogged some clothes on, swallowed some English Breakfast tea and some uninspired toast, and dropped the kids off at school. Less than 45 long minutes later I was home. Fed the animals so they wouldn’t harass me. Then slept for 3.5 hours.

Last night I had to use my inhaler for the first time this winter. My throat and lungs feel hashed. The rest of the family is starting to feel it too. But tonight my oldest step-daughter and I went to yoga anyway, while the twins swam. It kicked my ass, in a very good way. Tomorrow may need to be a complete day of rest, though. Which kinds of sucks, because I have two job applications to work on—one of which has Friday for a deadline, and for which I’m probably going to have to retool my resume and provide a portfolio of sorts. Plus I have show notes to do, work for the next show to start on, some WordPress research to do for next week’s user group presentation, and prep for some potential consulting work. The list goes on.

I’m unemployed—and {thankfully} I’m a busy girl.

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Big bad unemployment

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I guess it’s OK to talk about this now: Some weeks ago, I lost my consulting job of 5.5 years, when I was laid off due to “lack of work.” I worked for my brother: He gave me one week of notice. The company had been struggling for some time.

I haven’t said anything about it outright on this blog, because for a while we didn’t want the kids to know. We didn’t want them to worry that they had just moved here and that we wouldn’t be able to take care of them. It was a difficult secret to keep. Even now, I’m worried that I’ll freak somebody out by saying the wrong thing.

It was very upsetting, as the timing could hardly have been worse, with my hubby having been unemployed for a couple of years now, and three children moving in. Let’s just say these past couple of months have been the most stressful in probably the last 7 or 8 years. I have so much riding on my shoulders.

In a lot of ways, it’s a good thing. It will probably be a great thing. I was in a job situation that was not right for me, and had not been for quite some time. I had tried to find other work, especially last year. But several promising opportunities came very close to coming through, only to  fall through at the last minute. One in particular crashed horribly to the ground only hours after I was promised the job. That, and some negative experiences with work, really took a toll on my confidence in 2011.

And now I’m in a situation, where, like so many other people, I’m looking, under duress. Our house is under water, we’re stuck at a relatively high interest rate. We have no savings, except for some quickly dwindling vacation pay. We have lots of extra expenses. We are able to get unemployment, which works out to be about $1000 less per month than we were previously bringing in. Before tax. And we were already struggling. We also lost our insurance, but were able to get some short-term major medical, and prescriptions aren’t too much more than they were with insurance. Fortunately, the kids have insurance through Oregon Health Plan. And we are able see the doctor if we need to – there’s a medical clinic in town that has a sliding scale. I’m able to see the vegan Nurse Practitioner I wanted to see for $11 less than the copay I paid when I was insured!

Of course, this is a great time to reassess, to figure out what type of work I can really be happy doing. To see which skills I want to ramp up, and maybe which ones to toss. To try new things. So many directions to go! Should I concentrate on our design and IT consulting business? Should I spend all my free time networking, emailing resumes, trolling the IT job boards? Or should I be concentrating on new skill-sets like WordPress dev and Ruby on Rails? How will I keep my SharePoint skills sharp with little access to dev servers or software? How can I leverage my nonprofit skills? Could I start a vegan-based business or nonprofit? Will I get desperate and take a job that doesn’t seem like a good fit experience-wise or financially? What happens when we can’t pay the mortgage?

A lot of my time these past few weeks has been wrapped up in contingency planning. Swallowing pride, asking for help. The schools and the community have really stepped up, and for that we are very grateful. There are a lot of caring people here, and some good social programs. Relatives on the kids’ side have also helped where they can. Just today, we finally got into a mortgage assistance program that was a huge pain in the ass to apply for. At least we are in enough that we’ll be able to submit the paperwork. I’m sure it will take a few months to come through, if it does at all, and hopefully I’ll have a job by then. But we have to think ahead. What if?

Luckily, a lot of the shock of losing my job and of suddenly becoming a full-time parent has worn off by now. Most days I’m able to think clearly. To appreciate what I have. To plan ahead as much as is possible. I’m so grateful that we were able to get a deal at the community center. Yoga is saving my sanity right now. It’s my major stress relief  and what is keeping my lungs strong and healthy. I’m going to go check the schedule for tomorrow.

Sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows… and the hills you choose

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I’m often discouraged, envious, and bitter. And I’m not afraid to say that out loud. It’s not all rainbows and lollipops, and it’s not healthy to pretend or project that it is. You know that in your gut, right?

But I can’t help having a glimmer of hope sometimes that things might be better. That all of these bits and pieces of life and work experience will coalesce in just the right way, for one moment, into something… meaningful. For me, for my family, for the animals, for my community, for my country, for my world.

I’m taking the time this week to think about what I can do next to encourage this to happen. 

Erik of vegan.com is adept at pointing out things on his blog that encourage reflection by animal advocates. Today he linked to this post on Seth Godin’s blog: An endless series of difficult but achievable hills. Seth says that:

“achievement is often the result of stepwise progress, of doing something increasingly difficult until you get the result you seek. … Repeating easy tasks again and again gets you not very far. Attacking only steep cliffs where no progress is made isn’t particularly effective either. No, the best path is an endless series of difficult (but achievable) hills. … The craft of your career comes in picking the right hills. Hills just challenging enough that you can barely make it over. A series of hills becomes a mountain, and a series of mountains is a career.”

In spite of the business-speaky, positive-thinking  sound of Seth’s words, maybe there is something useful here. Maybe, instead of starting over, everything so far is a series of steps taking me where I need to be—to be the most effective—to be of use.

What hills are you climbing?

Routines and habits to the rescue

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The weeks ahead may be rough. They must be endured; there is nothing to be done about it. Routines and habits will save me. Think I’ll check out zenhabits again—it’s been a long while.

But if I can set worry aside now and then, this will also be a time for introspection, dreaming, and scheming. And that {should be} a good thing.

Crisitunity!

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Well my gut feeling was right. But I’m trying to look at it as a crisitunity, a la Homer Simpson.

The twins made it through their first week at the magnet school. Also, the WordPress app is now available for the Fire, which is cool {no spell check, though. What’s up with that?}. Gotta celebrate the good things.

Check ✔

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  • Huge work project 99% done that just sucked a week out of my life ✔ 
  • Showered  {hey, I’ve hardly left the home office for a week, give me a break}
  • NaNoWriMo started ✔ 
  • Keeping up with my fitness goals ✔ {I don’t know what I’m going to do when it’s too cold/slippery for Pilot Butte}
  • Most of Fantasy & Science Fiction mag Nov/Dec issue already read ✔ 
  • Survived letting my 15-year-old step-daughter drive me home from the store this weekend  {It was surprisingly non-scary}
  • Peanut butter-banana-cocoa-avocado-spinach smoothie consumed  {OK, maybe not the best smoothie combo ever} 
  • Crockpot soup started for tomorrow ✔ 
  • Fireplace turned on for the winter ✔ 
  • Going to bed at a reasonable hour … uh

My Weekneverend

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Well, there’s a weekend of my life I’m never getting back. We finally got the SharePoint/.NET apps up and stabilized after 5 very long days. Hopefully all goes well with the live site tomorrow.

Super super bummed that I didn’t get to take the kids anywhere in their costumes. They’ll be going back home tomorrow and will get to celebrate their first Halloween ever handing out candy at their house, and will wear their costumes for that, but I really wanted to take them somewhere here in Bend. Sigh.