Winter

Status

Brace Yourself •Photo credit: Eric Lanning•

“Brace Yourself”
Photo credit: Eric Lanning

While it might sound like I am complaining about the weather, I’m not. It is what it is – and what it is, is hard. Those are just the facts.

I haven’t mentioned the house problems that I’ve had because of it: giant ice dams (my roofer said they were the largest dams he had seen in 23 years in the business), water leaking into my house, gutters ripping down because of the ice, (and slamming into the house all night long during a windstorm,) my front door being frozen shut, and of course, frozen pipes. The good side is that the roof didn’t collapse (I have a friend whose did), the gutter ripped itself off like an old band-aid, and the water damage is quite minimal. It is a pain in the butt and a filthy mess, but nothing serious. The pipes have (so far) all thawed with the generous use of a space heater and I don’t use the front door anyway. Annoying? Sure, but not all that terrible. A lot of people have had to deal with a lot worse.

There is even a silver lining to having to hire a roofer to work on the ice dams. He gave me some great advice. Adding more insulation and cold air vents will prevent some of this in the future and make my house energy-efficient. (Things you don’t want to hear from your roofer: “Is your house over a 100 years old?” Yes... “Thought so. It has 100 year old insulation.”) But then again, it’s an easy problem to solve – all it takes is money. Problems are not always so easy.

On the money side, I am still thinking deeply about my next career move. I’ve seen a few things that have caught my eye and that gives me hope. The job market was so bad for so long, I was just grateful to even have a job. Now I am starting to see signs that positions in my field are starting to open up. I’ve been working a lot on building an online portfolio of my work as well as brushing up the old resume.

All of this is part of my confusion. I’m just not sure what to focus on. My house needs repairs, I’d love to find new work, and at the same time I have loved ones and friends I haven’t spent enough time with lately. I also need to focus on myself. I was in a deep funk for a while, and I want to get back to feeling like a badass. If I do go looking for a job, having a little badassery on my side would not be a bad a thing at all!

I’ve also let this blog go and I miss it. I know that there are only so many hours in the day and blah, blah, blah, but still, when I write here I feel good. It helps me pick out the important things and I when I make commitments here, I trend to keep them. That’s good for my overall mojo. The trick is trying to put it all together. What does get dropped? How to I make it all happen?

I don’t know. Still working on that one.

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Planning My Life – Planning My Career

signs of the futureTwo nights ago I got out a notebook and began jotting down what I want in a future career. I thought about all the things I really like about my present job… and all the things I wish were different. It was a pure brainstorming exercise – I dreamed big and didn’t try to censor myself at all.

I think people (especially us women) tend to narrow goals down to what seems “reasonable.” We don’t allow for “crazy ideas” like, oh, having something within walking distance that also pays a good salary – we expect to have to make sacrifices; one good thing or the other. We don’t allow that we really can have everything. Normally, I’m a master at this – I call it being practical or being realistic, but really, I’m scared to go for broke. Not this time! I am determined to just throw it all out there into the Universe and see what comes back. My final list was a full notebook page long!

After that, I started filling in the following pages. I’m meditating on each of the items I listed. Okay, I want “opportunities for growth” but what does that really mean? I’m putting thought into it and trying to define it for myself. If I start interviewing, I’m going to be evaluating the companies just as much as they are evaluating me. In order to be able to do that, I need to know exactly what I want in a clear and concrete way. Does that make sense?

I’ve also started fleshing out my resume. It’s a lot of work when you haven’t looked for a job for 15 years! In order not to get overwhelmed, I’m tackling it from two directions: first, in the same notebook, I started writing down my biggest accomplishments at work. I’m making a list of all the things I am most proud of – and those will become points on the resume. Secondly, I’m allotting just one half hour a day to work on the actual resume document. If I can work on it for 30 minutes and then walk away, I won’t feel frustrated. Last night I worked on it for awhile, then closed and saved the document. A couple hours later when I was laying in bed, some new thoughts came to me on what I want to include. I think that system is going to make it a lot easier than trying to dive in an knock the thing off all at once.

So, that’s where I am at! My focus on losing weight does seem to be paying off, I have dropped a couple of pounds. Now I just need to keep moving ahead!

Winter Goals

This dog loves the snow! See how much is on his muzzle?

This dog loves the snow! See how much is on his muzzle? That’s by choice.

I mentioned awhile ago that I might be going through some career changes soon. In fact, I am still happily working at the same company I’ve been at for years, but I’m getting the feeling it is time to start thinking about other things. Currently, I am making a list of priorities and deciding what it is that I really want – and what will further my career goals. I’m going to dream big and figure out what it will take to make that happen.

I’ve decided that one of the first things I will be working on is my weight. I’m still up a little higher than I want to be, and I haven’t been working out like I should. Why concentrate on my weight when I am thinking about my career? Well, when I am working out regularly, lifting weights and eating right, I feel great. I feel strong, confident, resilient, open to new challenges and taking risks. That is exactly the attitude I need to take the world by storm. Instead, I’ve been feeling complacent, lazy and unmotivated – the exact opposite of what I need!

I am not quite as enthusiastic as he is.

I am not quite as enthusiastic as he is, although I was actually smiling in this photo… not that you can tell.

Since I’ve decided to move my one year anniversary to Valentine’s Day, I also decided that for the next couple of weeks I am really going to throw myself into working out. On Sunday I walked Hermes 45 minutes in the morning and another 55 at night – through heavily snow packed sidewalks. I was going to lift Monday morning, but ended up shoveling snow for a half hour instead – which really was some serious weight lifting. (We have so much snow right now that there is nowhere to go with it – each shovelful requires an overhand throw!)

My other goal is to write as much as I can. I’m trying to figure out how much I want to divulge here on the internet, but I also know that this blog is one of the things that helps me focus. So, you’ll probably be hearing a lot about what I am thinking and going through.

For right now my goals are:

  • Get back to 135 – 133 lb. range. That’s where I feel the best.
  • Put together a list of the skills I have – and the ones I wish I had.
  • Do some brainstorming about future careers. What do I really want to be when I grow up?
  • Write regularly, if not every day, then as close to it as I can.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

 

This is Your Brain on Stress

Brain overload

Basically, this is my brain.

It’s been a strange week here in Long View Hill land.

I mentioned that there are changes happening at our office. We have a new executive here who will eventually, if all goes well, be our boss. For now, he’s been brought in at roughly my level. This has caused all my fellow upper managers (who are all men) to start acting like silverback gorillas. There’s been all sorts of posturing, roaring and beating of chests as they try to prove who’s the cleverest. For one of my coworkers, his roaring consists of walking in circles, humming tonelessly and singing “do do DEE dooo…” over and over. It’s not a very effective roar, but it’s what he’s got. As you can guess, it’s messing with the energy in the office and everyone is jumpy and on edge.

Normally, I would be drawn into this sandbox too, (and I fight dirty,) but I have other fish to fry. One of my employees is leaving – she’s up and moving out-of-state – and I have a very short time to fill her rather fabulous shoes. I posted the position online and had over 80 responses in 24 hours.* So, I’ve been phone interviewing, setting up face-to-face interviews, writing rejection emails and just generally trying to keep all the balls in the air. All day long I am listening to what candidates say, trying to figure out what they aren’t saying, asking lots of questions, and making decisions. My brain is in overdrive and at the end of every day this week it’s turned to complete mush. In fact, when New Executive came over and asked if he could meet with me, I said “Nope. Not today, not tomorrow, and probably not next week either.” Maybe not my most politic move, but an honest one. Besides, if he wants to pick my brain, he needs to do it when there is a brain there to pick.

On top of all this, I took a seminar on Thursday on one of the big web-based software packages we use. Overall, it was a pretty good class. I think that it will really help me in my day-to-day job, and if I need to move on, it’s a skill I will be able to use elsewhere. I’m really glad I took it, but of course, it came during this week and it was a lot of thinking, remembering and learning new skills. More brain mush. Now, it’s like oatmeal.

And I hate oatmeal.

Oh, and did I mention that in two weeks I have to go out of town for a trade show? And this is normally the week we prep for it?

Yeah…

One good thing so far is that the weather is now a balmy 20 degrees, so I’ve been able to do full, long walks with the pooch. The ice and sub zero temps were forcing us indoors, but the last couple of days we’ve done real walks and it’s really helped. Funny, exercise is what I want to do the least when I am stressed, but it is also the one thing that really makes a difference. Long walks help in particular because I can work through thoughts, sort stuff out and categorize the day. I like that.

I started this blog because I wanted to figure out a life’s journey for myself. I thought I would have plenty of time to think about it and work towards it, but I am getting the feeling that 2014 is going to be a even bigger year of change than 2013 was!

 

 

* Favorite names of applicants: Precious, Precious, (yes, there were two of them), Diamond, Lacy, Charee and Charlsie. I’ve decided to hire them all and start a girl band instead! We will be awesome.

 

Photo credit: State Farm on flickr

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

This is not my photo, but it shows exactly what it is like here.

This is not my photo, but it shows exactly what it is like here.

Like much of the Midwest, my fair city has been hammered with ice and snow. Last week Friday we had an ice storm that was so bad I couldn’t go to work – the police closed the street that my office is on. On top of the ice has come snow. We certainly had a true “White Christmas.” Lots of folks have been spending a whole lot of time complaining about it, and certainly, the driving has been pretty rotten at times, but I’ve been enjoying it. It reminds me of the winters we had when I was a kid. Plus, each time Hermes and I go for a walk, I’m struck with just how gorgeous it all is. It really is breathtakingly beautiful, especially the rare times when the sun is shining.

I have an odd situation at work. It looks like there is going to be some fairly large changes in management in the next two to three years – possibly as far out as five years. It has the potential to be fantastic. I think we need a fresh perspective, and this might be exactly what the company needs to go to the next level. Of course, there is always a danger with change. It doesn’t always work out the way you want.

I’ve felt a bit stagnant at work for awhile now. I’ve written about it here and there on the blog. I love a lot of things about my job, but one of the things that has kept me here as long as I have been is movement. It seems every few years things get totally changed around, rearranged, and though it’s a crap shoot as to how it will turn out, it’s always been interesting. Sometimes it has gone well for me, other times not so much. It’s not about me personally as an employee, it’s about the economy and our market and so on. Starting fresh in new areas of the company has kept me on my toes, and I like that. So, for the most part I look forward to whatever is coming down the road.

However, I’ve been at this same company for nearly 15 years. It doesn’t escape me that if things go sour, I am stuck with some very specialized skills. It’s time to change that. I have decided to pick up some new skills at work which will help the company, but also help me develop my own abilities. I have signed up for a bootcamp class for one of the big marketing tools we use – information that will assist me in my job now, and will increase my own worth as an employee. It’s a bit of a juggling act, but I have been gifted with an incredible opportunity. For once I know about the change ahead of time, so I can anticipate it, all the while building my own value and skills. I can use everything I learn for the betterment of my present company, but if push comes to shove, I can take the knowledge with me to the next one.

At least, that’s the plan. We’ll see how it goes. It’s going to be a bit tricky writing here about what I am doing, because I want to be very careful not to “out” myself. I love having the freedom and space to write here and share my journey with you, dear reader. I don’t want to compromise that, but I will share whatever I can. Long View Hill was  always meant to be a place where I contemplate the future, and I am certainly in the heart of that now!

What about you? What are your plans for the New Year? Any big changes on the horizon?

Photo credit: Kris Hirst on flickr

 

Thinking About Success and Happiness

Video

I just stumbled on this TED talk by Richard St. John. He talks specifically about success in a business sense, but I think it is apt for any type of success.

It’s got me thinking a lot about identifying what makes you happy – and by doing it well – reaching success. It’s a short talk (under 5 minutes) check it out and see what you think:

Green Eyed Monster

Grown men fighting in 1938 by Smabs Sputzer

I want to punch my coworker in the face.

Smug bastard, he is walking around here all happy and unaware that I want to give him a black eye… maybe two.

What has he done to become so happy and become the target of my wrath?

He quit.

Now let’s be clear. His quitting will have very little to do with me. Oh, it might make things a little more complicated around the office, but nothing terrible. It isn’t like I will have to pick up his work or anything. No, the reason I am seething has very little to do with him – and whole lot to do with myself.

A Little Background

I work for a small company of roughly 13 people, (…make that 12,) and here’s the thing – we are like Hotel California, no one ever leaves. Roger, my coworker, started just a couple of months before I did – 14 years ago. That’s right, I have been working at the same company for 14 years.

That isn’t to say that people aren’t asked to leave. Over the years many people have been laid off or fired, but there just haven’t been that many that have chosen to leave on their own. There was a gal three years ago who left to be a stay at home mom and a gentleman a few years before that who decided to go back to school to a university across the country. Of course, he continued to work for us on a freelance basis. The only other person I remember leaving was someone who left to start his own business, and again, he’s continued to work for us now and again.

Why do people stay? They stay for all the reasons you might imagine. The pay and the benefits are good. The work is stable and secure (we haven’t laid anyone off in years.) It is a challenging environment, but in a good way – rarely stressful. The work changes enough to keep it interesting. I have solid coworkers who aren’t into office politics or being pains in the ass. While it is not exactly the kind of job you jump out of bed for in the morning, it is one you feel good about going to. In all, it is a very good place to work.

Roger and I have been carpooling for about three years. While I won’t call us close friends, (we don’t associate outside of the office much,) we have certainly shared a lot in those daily car rides, and in truth, I am happy for him. He seems to be starting a new phase of his life.

…but that is also why I want to punch him. I admit it, I’m jealous. It isn’t that I want another job, I am happy where I am. I am jealous because he is taking that leap of faith – starting something new. I want to start something new!!

The only slight problem here is that I have no idea what it is that I want to do. I really need to figure that out before I go jumping off ledges. Here’s what I do know:

I have a huge project that ends in June, but another that starts in May and runs through September. That is going to keep me hopping through the spring and summer. For my own sense of sanity, I am trying to keep the rest of my life fairly stable. I’m going to keep working on my weight, and keep managing the finances so I can add more to the jump fund, but I am not looking to add anything else. Change, as wonderful as it can be, can also be really stressful.

I am also going to keep reading, keep writing and keep thinking about what “happiness” means to me… What am I going to do to make coworkers want to punch me?

 

Awesome illustration from Smabs Sputzer

 

Life Choices

Quote

“It is very important that you only do what you love to do. You may be poor, you may go hungry, you may lose your car, you may have to move into a shabby place to live, but you will totally live. And at the end of your days you will bless your life because you have done what you came here to do. Otherwise, you will live your life as a prostitute, you will do things only for a reason, to please other people, and you will never have lived. And you will not have a pleasant death.”
― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Ouch.

And then there is this from Forbes: New Survey: Majority of Employees Dissatisfied