Category Archives: Employment

The Year That Was

Pardon me for using the most frequently uttered word of 2020 here: but what an unprecedented year this has been. For me, for you, for all of us. All because of a virus, whose name shall not be mentioned because I know we are all sick of hearing it.

I am ready to usher in the new year, as I know we all are.

Beyond (or in some cases because of) this pandemic, plenty of unprecedented things happened in my world the last 12 (or should I say 9?) months:

I unexpectedly lost one job and gained another. Now I’m back to running a food pantry again, a job I never knew I could love so much.

We bought a camper! It was as much as “seizing the moment because we’ve always wanted one and who knows how many moments we have left” as it was “now we have the security of a home on wheels if we need to flee the country”.

I broke my first bone! On account of falling onto the pavement due to a rare combination of poor judgement and general clumsiness. I was fortunate in that the bone healed up pretty darn well after wearing a walking boot for 6 weeks. Who knew that in 2020 I’d gain such an appreciation for wearing two matching shoes?

I learned that sometimes gifts I give to someone can wind up being a gift for myself and both sides of my family as well as my spouses side. Yep, I got Rabbie, that kid of mine who studied history for almost three years at a state university, a subscription to Ancestry.com for Christmas. Now on the daily we are hearing fascinating stories about how my great great great great great great great great Grandmother Mary Chilton came over on the Mayflower. And other stories like how brothers Ira and Samuel Dickenson (Ira being my great great great great Grandfather, on my Dad’s side like Mary), came upon a bear in the woods in 1832 and proceeded to beat it with a cane. Word is their beating of this bear led him to become so docile that he became an exhibit at the zoo.

Don’t be surprised to read more stories of my ancestors adventures as 2021 unfolds.

Then there was the death and resurrection of Karl the cat. Back in November, he came down with a double ear infection. Poor little dude. Shortly thereafter, despite having started antibiotics, he developed pneumonia. Apparently it may be true that cats have 9 lives, because this one actually died on the couch one morning when I was at work. Hubs came to the rescue however and performed mouth to mouth resuscitation on him, inflating his little kitty lungs with enough air to revive him. He was rushed to the pet ER where he spent the night on oxygen. He came back home sassier than before, ready to climb on everything and taunt Radar.

All in all, it wasn’t for me the worst of years I suppose. It surely was an interesting one though. Let’s hope 2021 is interesting too. But in different, better ways, right?

Happy New Year!!

***Header image courtesy of https://cdacmohali.in/goodbye-2020-welcome-2021-images-quotes-wishes-status-whatsapp-dp/

Recuperating from The Christmas Crunch

I realized between Thanksgiving and the first week of December that something had to give. Often after my workdays I was too exhausted to do much of anything. Yet, with Christmas on it’s merry way, I still had things that needed to be done. Like purchasing all the presents. Making the cookies. Sending out the Christmas cards. Sending out the cookies and presents. Coming up with gifts and clues for “Secret Santa” week at work. Decorating the house. Wrapping the gifts. Planning the menu for our holiday feasting.

The “something” that had to give was writing and publishing blog posts. It was time to chill out about blogging. Put it on the back burner for a bit.

I wrote one post where I put a happy spin on it all…because I do sincerely enjoy every part of doing all this. And I wanted to share the merriment. But now it’s over and I’m (I am wincing as I write this) glad. Part of me feels that makes me sound like a horrible person. A bona-fide Grinch. But most of me chocks it up to being human. Putting it all together on top of working full time (yep, I’m up to 32 hours per week now) was exhausting!

The only non-exhausting part was watching all my favorite holiday movies. “Love Actually” continues to be my favorite (not just for Christmas but Of. All. Time.).

Yesterday morning, I did something I haven’t done in godonlyknows how long: I slept in until after 8 a.m. and then thoroughly stretched out all my limbs and laid in bed, my mind going gently from one thought to the next. I marinated in the fact that at least for this one day, time was of no consequence. There was simply nothing that needed to be done beyond a bit of grocery shopping, though certainly no one here was going to starve if I chose to skip that chore.

How delightful this was. Pure, unadulterated lounging. I think this was the Christmas present I needed the most.

So, I’m back, folks. I don’t know that my streak of publishing two posts per week will continue; however, you can expect a weekly post for certain.

For the rest of this weekend and into next week, I shall be thinking about the future. What changes 2021 may hold for me and mine. But it’s also the time to ponder what 2020 meant to me, what it taught me (in spite of the general suckiness of it all thanks to Covid-19). The words I want to focus on in the new year.

Right now, there’s just one in my mind:

Image courtesy of https://www.pixtastock.com/illustration/14556836 It was the best of the few I could find that were not attached to that Disney movie.

Alphabet Soup Challenge: H is For Honesty

I’ve been accused of being honest “to a fault” by various people throughout my life.

Anyone else out there that has experienced this accusation?

Not the “I’m just being honest” type of honest, mind you. You know, that passive aggressive way in which a person tells you that your new haircut makes you look like Joe Dirt.

For me, it’s more of a not-always-thinking-before-I-speak or my facial expression after a comment you just made gave me away. Because I’m just a terrible liar. Lying doesn’t suit me. I can’t do it to save my life.

What’s nice for me, within this little blog, is that it is a space for me to honestly express what I’m thinking and how I’m feeling. In a controlled sort of way, because after all, I am editor-in-chief and in charge of pressing the “publish” button in these parts.

So let me be honest with you all.

I’m honestly happy with my life right now. And I honestly believe that could change at any second. Because, well, life.

So I’m soaking up the goodness.

I started a new job over two weeks ago now. The reason I was hired is because I have experience running a food pantry and the lovely lady who hired me wants to get one up and running in her non-profit.

I honestly love working there. I love that I have autonomy. I love knowing that I am listened to and supported. I love working with people who work hard. I love that there’s a variety of tasks to do each day and that not every day is a carbon copy of the day before.

I also honestly do not want to jinx it. I want to continue working hard and be honest with myself and my boss and co-workers when I’m struggling. I want to be honest in all my communications with everyone involved. I honestly want to succeed.

That’s honestly all I want to say about my current employment right now. And it’s all I honestly needed to say.

The other subject I want to be honest about is my creative writing via this blog. I sincerely love doing this. I have no illusions (perhaps hope though) that I’m going to hit the “big time” some day as a writer.

Honestly, I’m in this blogging thing for fun. To make friends. To brighten someone’s day at least once in a while. To get things off my chest. To connect. To socialize. To learn. To grow. To improve.

Let me use my favorite “Macronym” right now: KISS. The “Keep it specific, sister” version.

An appetizer in list form of what I honestly want to do and/or write about once I’ve finished my “Alphabet Soup Challenge” follows.

  1. Write a letter to someone I admire. Embrace the fandom. Writing about it later may or may not happen. That’s not the point.
  2. Capture in writing a conversation about the state of the world in this moment with the Millenials in my life. That would be my previously-known-as-spawn aka Kid #2 and Kid#1. Now outed as Rabbie and (just for now) the Eldest.
  3. Interview my 6 year old grandson about life as he knows it.
  4. Continue writing posts about all the “Gems”.

So fellow bloggers-what are the specific topics you honestly want to write about in the near future?

52nd Street was one of the first albums I ever bought. This song has always spoken to me.

***Header image courtesy of http://www.flourishtherapy.co.uk/9-reasons-why-honesty-works/

Gems In The Workplace

You might recall in this post that my definition of a “Gem” is a highly prized and well beloved female human who has, in no particular order, inspired me, loved me, liked me, taught me, cried with me, laughed with me, challenged me, accepted me, shared with me, and cared with me.

In my adult work life, which spans from around 1987 to the current, I’ve been fortunate to know several “Gems”.

I concur, Victoria

Sam was the first great friend I made in a work setting: I didn’t know her name at the time; I only knew that she had been there longer than me and carried herself with confidence. She waltzed over to me as I was sitting at my desk and asked if I had any lipstick on me. She was heading to a meeting and wanted to look her best. I was able to provide the requested lipstick and she thanked me.

She remains one of my very best friends.

Sam and two other “Gems” shared an over-sized office with me for about 5 years. All of these gals were younger than me by 8-10 years. Looking back, I think their youthful ambition and passion for the work we were doing (case managers serving intellectually and physically disabled adults) was great motivation for me. We were a fabulous team, the four of us, ready to cover for each other when needed and brainstorming for solutions to challenges we faced with our participants or fellow co-workers.

We still connect via Facebook and once in a while in person (despite living in three different states).

Another “Gem” at work was a nurse whose cubicle was near enough to mine that she could overhear my phone conversations with my members. One time I had a particularly challenging phone call where the client was yelling and using all kinds of cuss words to express his displeasure at whatever I said “no” to funding for him. Later that day, this nurse slipped me a note with a smiley face on it and wrote “You are a Saint” on it.

That same nurse, months later, called me out when she overheard me with yet another challenging client. She asked me to come over to her cube where she directly and gently told me that she could hear the frustration in my voice during that call. She suggested going forward I ought to be mindful of how I was coming across on the phone. While embarrassed, I took that suggestion to heart. From then on, I paid more attention to my tone when on phone calls with people who were jumping on my last nerve.

So in the end, I appreciated her constructive criticism. Sometimes you have to hear hard things about yourself and let that fuel you to be better.

A more recent “Gem” at work for me was the gal who drove me to pick up food for the food bank I was running. On those trips, we talked about our life ambitions and sometimes shared our favorite songs. One time, we returned to my food bank to find the large sheet cake we had placed on the tippy-top of the food pyramid had flipped over, landing frosting side first onto the floor of the truck. We couldn’t bear to let the entire cake go to waste, so we laughed our heads off while scarfing down the unsoiled part of the cake with our bare hands.

My hope is that you all have enjoyed the blessings of some “Gems” at work during the course of your life. I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Let’s lift each other up!!

Alphabet Soup Challenge: T is for The Top 10 Things I’m Sure of Right Now

A few weeks ago I was sure that I was at the beginning of a really meaningful career path. But it turns out I was wrong. I am now unemployed.

So here I am, trying to make lemonade out of lemons.

It’s going to be a process, people. I guess you can consider this my first step. Gotta start somewhere, right?

So here’s what I am sure of in this moment:

  1. I have more time for writing and improving my blogging skills.
  2. There are a lot of small home improvement/decor/organizational tasks that I can do around this joint to keep myself occupied.
  3. I don’t want to wallow in the sadness I’m feeling.
  4. Vodka pairs well with lemonade.
  5. My sense of humor is still intact.
  6. Music is therapeutic in times like these. Like this song that my blogger friend Mona at https://www.waywardsparkles.com/ recently shared with me.
  7. My family loves me unconditionally.
  8. So does Radar. Karl too, I’m told.
Karl the cockeyed kitty

9. I’m not the only smart, hard-working, talented employee to ever been given the ol’ heave ho in the history of the universe.

10. I will survive and find new ways to thrive. I am not stopping now.

Right Now And Write Now: How I’m Rolling

Things have changed in oh so many ways. And I suspect the changes in my life, both at work and at home, are going to continue, in wild and unexpected ways. For better and for worse. As all of ours will due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

I was banished from my workplace yesterday. It came to light via email yesterday morning that I may have had contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19 last week. Not anyone at work, but an unknown individual (HIPPA prevents the employer of this person from publicly naming them) at a location where I was picking up items for our food bank.

While I donned a face mask during this pick up and am fairly certain did not get any closer than 6 feet from anyone else there, my employer gave me the rest of the week off (with pay, thankfully) as a precaution.

Me in my office last week. Gawd, I need a haircut.

So here I am now, at home, overthinking everything and anything. Unsure what to do next. Determined to maintain continuous virtual contact with my co-workers, at the ready to answer questions or complete other tasks assigned to me that can be done from home (what those tasks might be remains to be seen, but I am determined to roll with it). In other words, I finally broke down and decided it is in my as well as my employers best interest to sync my personal cell phone to my work email account. I suppose I’ll be setting up a Zoom account on this phone shortly too.

All that said, I am, alas, at home today until next Monday (with maybe one trip to the store in the mix). So clearly I ought to take care of our little sanctuary. Do some cleaning. Organizing. It’ll make me feel better and it will increase our collective level of comfort.

But not until I engage in some serious venting lamenting writing. I can’t tell you how long I’ve been fantasizing about just one day during which I inhabit the role of a full-on, at home, creative writer. One who furiously taps away on her Chromebook drinking an array of beverages all the while-starting with coffee and ending with a glass of fine Pinto Grigio. Wearing the comfiest of clothes , making sure to get up and stretch and/or dance to keep those muscles loose and the mental energy high.

So that’s my plan for today. I think anyway. Because I also know this….

Don't You Know I Have Plans for You? - First Churches of ...

My last blog post for 2019: What are you ISO?

Man, I love myself a good acronym. Almost as much as a finely crafted mantronym (for those of you new to this blog, that’s a mantra that presents as an acronym).

The first time I saw “ISO” it was on a work email. One of the other social workers was “ISO” something or other. Probably a way to get rid of bed bugs, because that is the type of shit we had to help our clients with on a disturbingly regular basis. I had to read the body of the email before I understood that “ISO” was “in search of”.

My personal theory is that we are all “ISO” pretty much all the time. It might be a lost sock or cell phone. It might be recommendations for a dog walker. It might be for the best cheesecake recipe. Or it might be something deeper; like meaning, purpose, or peace. Or maybe a little bit of all of the above and more.

This song comes to mind as I’m writing this. I happened to hear a truly awesome version of it recently as I was tooling around in my CRV. Here it is:

I have gratitude for the fact that in this life I have found what I was looking for: a happy marriage, a place to call home, two awesome adult children, a grandson, a dog, and a career that have all brought me a lot of happiness.

But there’s still more I’m ISO.

What might that be? Well, a whole bunch of things honestly. But what it boils down to more than anything is balance.

Balance between writing/doing/connecting is what I’m searching for in 2020. Maybe I should christen 2020 as my year of Clarity. I need to avoid the “overwhelm” and remain rooted in the present, in my writing life, professional life, and personal life.

One of the major take-aways for me from 2019 is that working is highly important to me. Working at my part time job running the food bank. Working on my writing; improving my blogging skills. Working on strengthening the connections I have with the people I love and making new connections with those people I have yet to meet. I like staying busy, moving forward, accomplishing things.

What I know for sure about 2020 is that it’s incumbent upon me to work even harder that I did in 2019. Up my game at work. Find ways to improve myself professionally. So that I can contribute more to the team, to our clients, to our mission.

Another thing I know for sure about 2020 is that I will need to hyper-focus on my writing via this blog (and otherwise, but that is currently a batch of baby WIPS that will need some careful coaxing to show themselves to the world).

Suffice it to say: I have much to say about a variety of things-from my personal history, my current reality and the (hopefully) fabulous future. I have stories to tell. I have more to say about some of the topics I brought up on this blog in 2019. I have more to do and say in and about the present. And I have a freaking ton to say about the future.

While all of the above is true and right and good for me personally, I recognize that I can’t blow off taking care of myself. Because in real day to day life of the year 2020, there’s gonna be obstacles. Some I am fully cognizant of and others will be new and uninvited. So while I don’t anticipate becoming a self-care guru (because really, we have so many of them we can refer to on the internets and in real life if we are so fortunate), behind the scenes of this here blog, I will be aiming to practice a healthy amount of it.

I sincerely hope you stay tuned.

But first, please indulge me and answer this question in the comments:

What are you ISO in 2020? This particularly curious mind would love to know.

On Birthdays

For whatever reason, I’ve got a mind that remembers numbers, which is exemplified by my ability to recall almost everyone I’ve ever known’s birthdays each year. The only one that always tripped me up was my two best girlfriends from college. Both have (had-one sadly has passed away) birthdays in September, just three days apart. I often got them mixed up. I always remember that May 1st is my nephew’s birthday as well as my best friend from childhood’s birthday. I always remember my sister’s birthday coincides with the anniversary of the Edmund Fitzgerald (the shipwreck that occurred on Lake Superior on my sister’s sweet 16). I always remember my former housemate and college friend’s birthday, which is on 12/22. And I always remember my high school boyfriend’s birthday is on 12/31. Unlike many people, I don’t need to rely on Facebook to remind me of upcoming birthdays. I guess it’s kind of a weird talent.

I will be turning 51 later this month. I’ve been hemming and hawing about how to mark the occasion. Growing up, my dad’s approach to his birthday every year was a shrug and him saying “Ah, it’s just another day”. Hubs has a similar approach. Neither want to be fussed over. They are humble men.

While I believe it’s admirable to be humble, I feel a weird sense of possibly displaced disappointment when people I care about don’t wish to garner attention on the anniversary of their births. Because I want to lavish them with attention and I want others to lavish attention on them, because dammit, they deserve it!  Your birthday only comes around once a year, right? I think no matter who you are, it’s worth celebrating making it through another year on this planet.

I’ve always had conflicting feelings as my birthday approaches each year. Without a doubt, I always want to celebrate the occasion, as I am a “good time Charlie” who is always up for a party.  Yet, calling attention to myself by reminding others of my impending birthday feels kind of yucky to me (hence the reason I’m not divulging the actual date of my birthday here).  I worry that people will think I am self-absorbed, attention-seeking, and conceited. That maybe they won’t give a rat’s ass but will feel nonetheless obligated to send me a card or wish me a Happy Birthday because I made sure that they were aware it was coming up.

I am not going to throw myself a birthday party. That would be obnoxious. On the other hand, I would also never in a million years discourage a loved one from throwing me a party on my birthday.

I appreciated the strategy some of my former social work colleagues employed on their birthdays: they baked treats and put them in the break room, making sure to send an email to invite everyone in the office to come and enjoy a treat to celebrate their birthdays. I’ve only been in my job for two months now, meaning I’m still under that 90 day ‘probationary period’ so perhaps I should tread carefully and focus on doing the best job I can instead of calling attention to myself just because it’s my birthday and I just so happen to be at work that day. Plus, my boss recently had her 31st birthday (yes, it feels weird that my boss is actually young enough to be my kid), and no fuss whatsoever was made by her or our co-workers that day because she’s humble like my Dad and Hubs. Yes, I work for a humble millennial. They do exist, people!

However, I very much enjoy baking and I am striving to be as kind as humanly possibly every day (see my last post about my new fangled Kindness Jar ), so maybe I should bake something and bring it in to work. It’s not like I’m going to waltz into the office that morning wearing a tiara and a “birthday girl” sash, right?

Image result for funny female images for birthdays

 

Perks of work

I’ve been at my new job for almost three weeks now. It feels so good to be able to type that sentence. I am so very grateful.

I’d like to take a moment to share the perks, some unexpected and some not, of being gainfully employed after a year and four months of being unemployed.

My job is part time, at 25 hours per week. I was always secretly envious of those girlfriends I had back in Wisconsin that worked part time. They seemed to be more relaxed as they had more free time in their lives to pursue other interests, like travel, hosting parties, and book clubs. Meanwhile, for the better part of 20 years, I was working full-time. And still hosting parties and partaking in some travel. I never was able to make time to belong to a book club. But now, thanks to my sweet part time hours, I probably could if I wanted to. “Doing it all” was, well, exhausting. With my new part time gig,  it’s much easier , not to mention more enjoyable because I am not exhausted,  to plan and participate in these extra-curriculars.

I have absolutely no intention of ever working full time again in my life. 

Hubs and I share our one vehicle. I very much appreciate the odd day when he’s chosen to work from home and I have the car all to myself. However, riding the bus or taking Uber to/from work has turned out to not be such a big deal. These modes of transportation involve a little bit of planning, hence,  a bit of extra time; but it sure beats having two car payments, two cars to insure, and two cars to maintain. No need whatsoever to purchase a second vehicle, in my mind.

I am using my knowledge and experience from my former career as a social worker in my day to day work now. I really dig not feeling being responsible for almost every aspect of my clients’ lives-from finding them a new place to live because they (and in one case their dog as well) were evicted, to trying to convince a chronic alcoholic that sobriety was the way to go. In my new position, I help them through the food pantry, respond to calls for handyman referrals, and loan out medical equipment. It’s uncomplicated, straightforward, helping senior citizens and sending them on their way.

I’ve always enjoyed fashion. I have a pretty decent collection of pieces, many of which are mix and match, to wear for work. Only I wasn’t wearing any of them for one year and four months. I didn’t realize how much I missed this simple thing until I started working again. I’m having some real “girly girl” moments these days as I peruse my wardrobe, picking out new combinations of outfits to sport at the office. And I’m so grateful that I didn’t gain a bunch of weight during my “Gap Year” so everything still fits!

During my “Gap Year” (and four months), I found myself often recalling the enjoyable conversations I had with my co-workers at my social work job in Wisconsin. I found myself often missing the little things, like my next door cube mate singing along with her Ipod while she was doing paperwork. And the co-worker who occasionally would bring in delicious homemade cupcakes to share. And just chatting with my nearby cube mates about our caseloads or even what we did last weekend. Now I have that camaraderie back, just with different people. And lucky me, they are a very kind, sociable, and for the most part, cheery bunch of folks.

Lastly, and perhaps oddly, I love the feeling when I get home at the end of my no more than six hour work day and I can get on my favorite comfy clothes, grab a glass of wine or a bottle of beer and sink into the couch with Hubs. I feel relaxed, good about myself, and deserving of the coziness of home.

 

Gratitudes

It seems fitting to me, with it being November, the month of giving thanks and all, that I share what I’m grateful for, aka my gratitudes.

At this particular moment in time, I thankfully have an abundance of things for which I am sincerely grateful. 

Without any further ado, here we go:

#1: I am grateful for employment.  I started my new job last Wednesday, working part time as a program assistant in a non-profit serving senior citizens. And all signs indicate this is going to be a very good fit for me.

#2:  I am grateful for our early Thanksgiving celebration with our two lovable spawn. We had a wonderful time with them last weekend, when they came out to visit us here in Colorado. We had our traditional Thanksgiving dinner, spent time cracking each other up playing board games, and saw a few local sites. It was all so very good for this mom’s heart.

#3: I am grateful for my friends, both old and new. Like my friend Kevin, who is like a brother to me, who appreciated the Google playlist I made for him when he came for a visit last month. Like my newest girlfriend here in Colorado, who has such a good heart and a fun loving personality. I’m looking forward to spending more time with her.

#4: The mild climate here in Colorado. Let’s just say I don’t recall being overheated in a long sleeved shirt outside in mid-November when I lived in Wisconsin or Minnesota. It’s actually supposed to be 70 degrees here on Thanksgiving!

#5: I am grateful for Hubs’ support of me working again, which he demonstrates by doing things like staying on top of the laundry and the dishes, and cleaning the house.

#6: I am grateful for our church family. They are a kind, welcoming, supportive and faithful bunch.

#7:  I am grateful for nature shows on t.v. Hubs and I have allowed ourselves to consume an unhealthy amount of MSNBC the last couple of months. Nature shows, like the one we watched about sea otters the other night, are such a welcome and delightful respite from all of that bad news.

#8: I am grateful for blogging. Not just the process of writing and publishing, but the community. Lately, when it comes to blogging, I’ve been reading more than writing due to time constraints from having the job I am so grateful for. It is a bit of a Catch-22, so my future posts will not be as frequent as a result. Here’s a few posts from other blogger’s that I particularly enjoyed that I think you should check out:

This one inspired me to sprinkle cinnamon on my hot cocoa and it was fabulous!

Perfect mug of cocoa

This one introduced me to the concept of Hygge, which I really appreciate!

Hygge

What are you grateful for? Please comment and share your gratitudes!