Category Archives: Work

Thankful Heart: Days 4 & 5

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You guys, this week has been amazing. 70 degrees and sunny almost everyday. That is crazy weather for up here this time of year. Snow is much more likely than this Indian Summer weather, so I’m ridiculously thankful for this heatwave. But I’m also thankful for other things..

Day 4: Work Life

It’s been a little over 2 years now since I was laid off from my job of 13 years. That was one of the most tenuous, scariest times time as we tried to figure out how we were going to live without my salary. But we did it. I was blessed with a few great part time gigs (which I still miss!) to tide me over until I found this job at the University. About half my coworkers at the University work remotely, but this week my whole team was in the office and it was wonderful. It’s a special kind of joy to work with people you like and respect; people you would have picked to be friends with even outside of the office.  This week was full of lots of meetings and more work to add to the to-do pile, but it was also full of lunches outside in this gorgeous weather and lots of laughs.

I really wouldn’t recommend getting laid off to anyone, but losing my job has instilled in me the confidence that somehow things will work out. Maybe not on your timeline and maybe not in the way you think it will, but it’ll happen. Trust me.

PinkSkiesDay 5: Deodorant

Scorch is 9. Bless his sweet heart, he’s not anywhere near starting puberty. But some of his friends are, which means some of them are wearing deodorant.  This is the year that the kids in Scorch’s school start changing for PE, so he’s seen just how many boys are putting it on and he wants to be one of those kids so badly. So, so badly. To him deodorant means growing up and getting closer to becoming a teenager and that is what he wants. Never mind that my sweet boy still sleeps with the same lovies that he has since he was 1 or that his bed is littered with stuffed animals. Never mind that he’ll still hold my hand in public and doesn’t like going to bed without being tucked in. Never mind that at heart, he’s still a little boy – there is still a part of him that is starting to pull away from his childhood. And it’s kind of breaking my heart.

This morning, unbeknownst to us, he stole the Hubs deodorant and put some on while I was making lunches. He slid up to me in the kitchen, eyes aglow, with a huge grin cracking open his face, vibrating with excitement and glee.

Mom, I put on deodorant. Can you tell? Can you smell it? Smell me, Mom- smell me.

Today I’m thankful that I get to witness these very small milestones- the stuff they don’t tell you about in the baby books- that bring my kids so much freaking joy that they can’t stand still. I’m in no hurry for my kids to grow up, but it’s hard not to laugh right along side them when they do.

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There’s No Place Like Home

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Last weekend  I flew to San Francisco for 5 days to attend a conference. The day before I left, we were at a party with quite a few friends and the running joke was whether or not the house would be still be standing when I got home. The Hubs had never spent this much time parenting solo before. Ever.

Because of the flexible work-at-home nature of my job and the inflexible nature of his, a lot of the domestic stuff like shuttling kids back and forth, making dinner, grocery shopping and doing laundry falls to me. I’m the homework task master, the CEO of permission slips and lunch making and the czar of family logistics. It’s a system that works for us and keeps everyone happy. That’s not the say the Hubs doesn’t help out because he does quite a lot, but this is the first time he’d have to wear both hats at the same time for so long.

On our way home from that party, the Hubs remarked that those jokes weren’t funny, they were going to do just fine without me.  So with that ringing in my ears, I hopped on a plane and flew across the country to have a fabulous week in one of my favorite cities.

Sausalito

I learned a lot, saw some amazing speakers, got to hear Bruno Mars live and ate so much good food that it makes me sick to think about it.

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And when I got home, the house was still standing, the kids and all the pets were still alive and the Hubs had it all under control. I missed them all like mad, but good lord it was so much easier going away now that the kids are older! Taking care of them isn’t a guessing game, we can catch up on the phone every night without someone crying and they can tell us exactly what they are thinking.

Coming home was awesome- and crazy- as we left the next day for a weekend away to see Disney on Ice Present Frozen (more on that later)! Scorch and the Hubs were thrilled to have me back, as was the Bean, although she’s made me pay for leaving at least once a day since I got back. At least my little spitfire is predictable in her unpredictableness.

 

A Year Later

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The kids and I listen to audiobooks in the car now because it’s the only way I can get them to stop squabbling. We recently started the Ramona series and began Ramona and Her Father today on the way home from school. Within a few minutes of the start of the book, Ramona’s father loses his job. The kids are worried, the mom is a stressed out mess and the dad? Well, he just doesn’t know what to do with himself.

It’s been almost a year to the day since I lost my job. I never saw it coming and it hit me like a blow to the gut. My VP IM’d me, asking me if I could talk and I happily agreed, thinking he wanted to discuss a project we were working on. Nope- he didn’t ease into it at all, the minute I said hello and asked how he was, he told me that there were layoffs happening around the company that day and unfortunately half my team, including myself, were being let go.  We’d be on the books for another month to wrap things up, there would be a severance package coming, goodbye and good luck.

And, that was that.

I remember calling the Hubs and sobbing and apologizing and wanting to throw up. I called my old boss, who went through something similar, and did more sobbing. Between the both of them they convinced me that everything would be OK. And while I knew that I would eventually land on my feet, the guilt was overwhelming. As I was listening to Ramona and Beezus, her sister, on the audiobook today brainstorm ways to make money for their parents I thanked my lucky stars that my kids were too young last year to get it. The cut backs we did were behind the scene and most didn’t touch them in any way they knew about.

It was hard and stressful and so damn scary trying to think about how we were going to make that severance package stretch as long as possible because we had no idea how long I’d be unemployed for. Date nights morphed into sitting at Tim Horton’s with a spreadsheet, pouring over bills and bank accounts, trying to figure what could be slashed. The Hubs got used to leftovers and the kids discovered that extras were no more.

But, a year later, we’re still standing. As crazy as it was, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I have a current job that I enjoy the hell out of with some coworkers I adore. I’ve discovered the joys of working in an office again and found a job that allows me to balance that need to be in the office with the needs of my family. We’re much more budget conscience and shop more frugally and with greater intent. But the greatest blessing has been the people I’ve met this year. People who gave me a chance and valued the talent and skills I brought to the table at a time when I didn’t have much confidence in myself. People who encouraged me and believed in me and who pushed me to a new path I never saw coming. Would I want to go through all that again? Nope. Am I glad I did? Absolutely.

To all those people, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Making It Work

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Tonight ended in tears.

Scorch was crying because he couldn’t sit where he wanted to when we played Uno and the Bean was crying because the Hubs and I scrapped the idea of playing Uno all together because everyone is exhausted. Today was Day 2 of our new schedule that includes me going into the office 45 minutes away on a daily basis* and the kids going to after-school.  To top it off, we’ve have something going on every night this week. All of this is manageable- barely- but tonight the order in which we were sitting playing Uno was the last straw for poor Scorch.

The very excellent news is I love my new gig. I’m still absorbing an insane amount of information, but the people have been fantastic and I’m really excited to dive into the job itself! Right now it just feels like the right fit and I’m so, so very glad this opportunity presented itself!

As for our new schedule- we’ll make it work, of that I have no doubt. It’s just new and new things are always a struggle at the onset. It’s making lunches at night and packing lunches for 4 people instead of 2 or 3. It’s figuring out office-appropriate outfits 5 days a week (something I haven’t done since 2002!). It’s taking our finely tuned morning schedule and making it even tighter and praying for no traffic on the way to work. It’s texting during the day with the Hubs to figure out who can get the kids and who will handle homework and what we’re having for dinner.  It’s being a passionate team member who has to leave earlier then most to get my kids (something my manager, bless him, is totally fine with).  It’s trying not to drop too many balls and ignoring the 4 foot mound of laundry in the corner because the pipes are frozen again and I don’t have 2 hours to spend at the laundromat this week.

So basically it’s all the stuff everyone else who works out of the home deals with on a daily basis and, just like everyone else, we’ll find that balance sooner or later. There may be a few bumps in the road, but this life is more than worth it!

 

To New Routines

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Well, it looks like the folks I interviewed with who saw my blog didn’t think talking to a psychic was too odd because they offered me the job and I accepted! Starting the first week in March I’ll be back to working full time for 1 employer and I couldn’t be more thrilled! Things fell very quickly into place with this job and it just feels right- let’s hope my gut is leading me on the right path.

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The kids went back to school yesterday after a week long February break. Why do we have a February break when we also have a week long April break, you ask? To make parents crazy. That is the only answer I could come up with that made any sense.  While honestly we had a great break, the stress of trying to work, juggle playdates and keep my household somewhat functioning almost broke me.  I was beyond thankful for 1) our babysitter that give me 9 hours out of the house, 2) friends who graciously took my kids for playdates and let me take their kids in return to occupy my kids and 3) kids that get along very, very well 90% of the time.

The other 10% of the time gave the Bean a really good excuse to try to spell out a new sign for her bedroom door:

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Translation: Scorch is not allowed in my bedroom

I give her mad props for the freaky smiley face, but the fact that she thought “Barm” = bedroom makes me wonder why we’re spending money on a private school education.

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Next week starts a new normal as I’m back in an office full time. After a few weeks, I’ll be spending the majority of my time working from home, but these next 3 weeks will be the first time ever that both the Hubs and I will be working outside the house 40 hours a week. I foresee lots of scrambling, breakfasts for dinner and a messy house. But I also see two kids thrilled they can go to after school again (after school = play time), a wife (me!) feeling like she’s pulling her weight again and a job I can’t wait to sink my teeth into.

So here’s to new routines, new normals and a fresh start!

Great First Impressions

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So you know what’s fun? When you go to a job interview for a position that you’re very, very interested in and you talk at length at how much you love to write and how you wrote a professional blog for the Big Company and how you have your own personal blog as well.  And then the people interviewing you ask to see your blogs. So you say sure because, after all, both blogs are public and you haven’t written anything that you’re embarrassed about on either one. Except for that on your personal blog, the last entry is about how you saw a psychic and tried to communicate with your dead childhood friend. While you’re not really embarrassed about this, it’s still just a little odd to reveal that at your interview with the company you’re hoping to work for, no?

And that’s my life.

*Hoping to have 2 full-time job offers this week. Say a little prayer for me, will you?

I Shall Call Him Toothless

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After an agonizing 3 days, Scorch finally lost his top tooth. This sucker has been hanging on by a thread for days & was disgusting. Now he has a lisp and can’t eat an apple to save his life. It’s oddly adorable.

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And that, my friends, is the most exciting thing going on in our lives right now. And it’s wonderful.  After the craziness that was 2013, it’s so very nice to have nothing exciting happening. Life is just humming along. The kids got amazingly wonderful report cards on Friday, I’m juggling 4 part time jobs that I enjoy and the Hubs is keeping the streets safe.

I did have a job interview last week that went really well. It’s a challenging position for a national company doing something that I love. But it’s also an hour away. So I went into the interview enthusiastically and I spent an amazing 2.5 hours talking to like-minded people about a topic I feel passionately about- I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. And when all was said and done, I met with the HR rep I was working with and explained to him the flexible work arrangement I’d need in order to take the job, knowing full well that what I was asking for may cost me the job. And that was totally OK.

If this job had fallen in my lap right after I lost my old job, I would have taken it and been absolutely thrilled to have it regardless of the commute and the impact on my family’s life. Back in Sept / Oct, I was in such a panic about cutting my family’s income in half that I couldn’t see past the dollar signs.  Yet, here we are 3 months later and you know what? We’re fine. The corners we had to cut back in the fall were really, really painful then and, sometimes, they still are. But they are also part of life now. I’m cooking a lot more- sometimes that’s good and sometimes (like tonight) not so good. We play a lot of Uno (a lot of Uno) and watch movies on Netflix- going out now is a huge event that takes on an all new meaning. I work when I work and all my employers know that if I promise them a set number of hours or deliverables a week, they will get them but my hours may be a tad unorthodox as I now have the luxury to truly work around the kid’s schedules.

I’d love a full time job, but it’s amazingly liberating to know that I can wait until I find the right one.

Over & Done With

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Today was the day- my 13 year career at the Big Company has come to an end.

And you know what? Today I feel relieved.

For the past month, this is all I could think and talk about. At work, at home, with friends and with family- it was The Topic of Conversation. And I was dreading today. I was dreading handing over a project I care very much about to people I didn’t know. I was dreading saying goodbye to coworkers who’ve become friends. I was (and still am, to be honest) dreading life without my reliable paycheck.  I was dreading a huge stretch of down time, wondering what I was going to do with myself. But by today, I was just ready to end this chapter and move on.

My manager drove 7 hours up from VA to take me to lunch today- which is about as classy as you can get and I’m touched by her kindness. I was worried it was going to be awkward, but it wasn’t. We had a good meal, some good laughs and a few tears.  I don’t hold her responsible for this- I know how things work as I’ve had to be that manager in the past.  When our meal was over, I handed her my computer and my ID and that was that.  Done. Finished. Over.

To mark the occasion, I took the kids out to a fundraiser at a local Frozen Yogurt place, grabbed a pizza and watched Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkabain with my family.  I got an email this afternoon offering me a part time job doing something I think I’m going to enjoy very, very much.  Between that and a few freelance gigs I’m hoping to get, I’m going to be just fine.  I’m starting to see this as the kick out of my comfort zone that I may have needed for a long time.

So here’s to the adventure in store, the financial uncertainty that will keep me up at night and the endless applications that’ll cause me to pull my hair out- all of which, I’m sure, will take me exactly where I’m supposed to be.

This, That & Seamus

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So hi. Been what- 6 days now? Amazing how fast time goes by, isn’t it? Wishing I had something super exciting to share, but I don’t, really. So…here are some snippets of what’s shaking.

The interviews last week went well. The first one lasted all of 3 minutes when the recruiter informed me that they were looking for someone who lived in Boston. That’s clearly not me. The second interview was with the HR recruiter for a job I very much want and that went amazing! We clicked, the mutual interest was there and I was on Cloud Nine when she immediately scheduled a follow up for me for the next day with the hiring manager. That interview was much harder to read although I was very pleased with how I did.  So I’m waiting to hear if I’m still in the running there.  The third interview was for a local job that went so well that I left there very disappointed that it was only part time and not terribly high paying. I’m really hoping I get that job- if nothing else, I’ll love it and it’ll get me out of the house once I roll off my job at the end of the week!

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Yup, I roll off my job this week. Still trying to figure out how I feel about that besides panicked for the poor guys taking over for me. Which I know is crazy to feel given the circumstances, but I do.

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Meet Seamus!

Seamus

Scorch decided a while back he wanted his very own pet – because evidently the 2 cats and the dog weren’t enough for him. First he wanted a snake. That got a big Hell No from us. Then he wanted a lizard- also a no go.  Hamster? Also not happening thanks to a 4th grade birthday party that scared me for life. Then he suggested a gold fish. Hmmm…maybe. But with the short life span and the cleaning of the bowl, that sounded like a giant PITA too. So the Hubs suggested a hermit crab- with the stipulation Scorch had to pay for it himself.  Since we don’t give him an allowance and it was months from any holiday or his birthday, we figured we were safe.

Yeah- that little kid had $26 in change saved up in under 2 months from scrounging around everywhere. I kid you not when I tell you Scorch walked around any time we were in public with his eyes glued to the ground hoping to find lost change.  And he did it- he kept at it and saved enough.  So two weeks ago, we went to the pet shop and Scorch bought his very own pet with his very own money!  While a hermit crab isn’t my first (or even 10th) choice of a pet, Seamus is quiet, clean and low maintenance. I guess we could have done worse!

And, sadly, that’s the most exciting news I’ve had to share all week!

 

Head Space

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The weird thing about being told that I’m getting laid off, but then having 30 days left to work is that nothing’s changed. Except everything has. My routine is still the same- I get up, I work out, I get my kids ready for school, I work for 8+ hours, tend to the kids/homework/dinner/bedtime, have a few hours to kill (now spent searching for a new job) and go to bed. There is no huge yawning expanse of free time yet- if anything, the to-do list is a thousand times longer than it was a month ago as I update my resume, post it, search for jobs, reach out to contacts, finish up all the documentation to hand off to the people taking over bits and pieces of my job, make sure our finances are in order, figure out where we can cut out expenses and on and on and on… all with the low level vibration in my head, this sense of never-ending urgency pounding in my chest.

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It feels odd to talk about my job loss. But it’s all I think about. Not so much the loss of the job I have (had?), although there is some mourning there. More in terms of what it means for the future, how it will affect us all and when I’ll find another job. It’s scary because I’ve worked since I was 15- I’ve never not had a job in the past 20 years. I worked at a golf course, at Victoria’s Secret, at a warehouse on my college campus, at IBM and this horrible start up right out of college. Then I got my current (former?) job when I was 22 and here I still am (was?).  I did a lot of fun, fun projects at this job and I met some of the most incredible, inspiring, giving people. Even when I didn’t much enjoy what I did, I still enjoyed going to work because of my coworkers.  Them, I’ll miss.

But I don’t feel like I’m losing my identity (one of the things the online brochure said I may feel after my lay off) because I’m so much more than my job.  My job allowed me to live the life I wanted to live- one with a stable home and vacations and a wonderful, loving school for my kids. We don’t live extravagantly, but we live(d) well. I’ll miss that sense of security.

But I feel dumb talking about this like it’s some big tragedy. I’m not battling a disease, no one’s safety is at stake, my kids are still happy. my husband is supportive and we’re not about to lose our home or car or even cable TV over this.  But some days it’s all I can talk about. It bleeds into every conversation whether it’s due to concerned friends asking how I’m doing or me having to explain to the kids why going to the indoor waterpark at $35/person on our day off isn’t in the budget anymore.  It’s this weird head space of wanting to think/pretend everything’s normal while knowing it’s not and that you’re fooling yourself because you can’t even think about going out to dinner without have an internal panic attack thinking about the cost. It’s an odd, odd way to live.

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I have 3 interviews over the next 3 days.  I’ll take any good wishes & prayers I can get!