At what point do you stop fighting fate?

After losing my job a few weeks ago, I did what every newly unemployed person does. I called all my friends, acquaintances, and anyone I hoped had remembered my name, to drum up leads for new opportunities. If nothing else, I needed people to get out and talk to so I wouldn’t have to sit at home stuck behind a computer all day. As it turns out, you cannot predict who is going to help you on your job search or which leads will pan out. What you think in your mind is good for you, may not be what fate has in the cards for you.

Most people who know me well, know that I am a person of science (actually engineering) and I put little faith in ‘The Powers That Be’ or ‘The Universe’. I had to admit the events of the last few weeks left me befuddled. I had two companies that I was pursuing, but for some reason on one (in which I felt like I put very little effort) turned out to be the right opportunity for me. The second lead, for which I had numerous contacts into the company and attempted several paths of introductions, I could not seem to get anything to happen. I wondered what was going wrong. Was I pushing to hard? Was it just not the ‘right’ opportunity for me and the universe was telling me so? In the end, my hard work did not seem to make a difference or pay off.

After receiving my job offer last week, I realized, it isn’t always how hard you work that determines what happens to you. Sure, you actually have to do some work (like show up for the interview). Sometimes things will inexplicably fall into your lap, and you need to accept that this. You have to stop questioning what you might call ‘good luck’.

Every day you will come across people who may or may not be giving and willing to help you. Those are the people who for some reason turn out to be the most beneficial and fruitful for you. Think about your daily life and all the people you meet or interact with. Doesn’t it feel nice to volunteer your help or assistance with things that you are passionate about? I think the job hunt process works the same way. Those who volunteered assistance seemed to be better at making things happen with little intervention from me. It was if it was predetermined. I know this sounds like a lot of mumbo jumbo, however, if you think positively about what you want, it may just fall in your lap. Don’t fight it, embrace it. The universe really is a lot bigger than you are.

Fear of the future? Think positive!

Over the last several days I have had some uncomfortable feelings which I have to call fear. Fear of the future. I don’t know why I suddenly have this fear, but it seems to be of the unknown. Any time you are making big changes in your life, you have fear. Fear of that new job, new relationship, or new school. Somehow it doesn’t seem like it is just me. I think I could deal with it if it was just me – because I am the master of ‘managing change’. Then again that is with projects and not with ‘me’.

My house is filled with fear at the moment, so maybe it is just rubbing off or actually just sticking to me more than it normally would. My 4-year-old is heading to Kindergarten in a matter of days and it has become obvious that she is afraid to leave my side. She hangs on to my leg every morning when I drop her off at daycare. Is this her way of ‘hang-on’ to the familiar (my leg) when she knows that soon she will no longer have the familiarity of her daycare? To make matters worse, her ‘best buddy’ is going to a different school. I am sure to her it feels like her life is falling down around her and she is hanging on – tightly.

My husband is working (thank goodness) but only temporarily and he is in the process of finding a work ‘home’ after October. He is challenged with working full-time and completing his Master’s Degree at the same time. For the first time in our marriage he is the primary breadwinner and I am the ‘stay-at-home’ parent. In just 2 months we have been hurled into complete role reversal. Talk about change and fear!

Lastly is my ‘career transition’. I am not sure where I am going to land, but I believe I will safely. It is just a matter of time. The fear is really about newness. What will the new job be like? What will the people I work with be like? What will my management expect out of me? Will I be happy? Will I be challenged? I just realized in saying all that – I know the answer. I will be happy and I will be a great employee. Just like every other change in my life has worked out for the best, so shall this. I see a big “+” hanging over my head as I carry around (or try) a positive attitude that I can share with others. (I don’t want to give them fear, that would just be mean!). Although we may fear a lot of things in life, we need to think positive and be positive. Being positive will get us everywhere, at least that is what I am telling myself to fend off the fear.

Where is our sense of Community?

Yesterday as part of my job hunt I attended a local nonprofit group event called Southwest Job Network that was held at Temple Chai (yes there are Jewish people in Arizona). There were a number of people there for the new member orientation (those who were newly unemployed or just new to events with this organization.) Right away I felt negative vibes. I was sensing anger and frustration from many of the people. Maybe I am weird because I am so upbeat about everything so it was hard for me to see myself in that place, that place called “negativity-land”. I wondered if this is where I would end up if it took me 9 months or a year to find a new job despite additional education, training, resume rewrites, and interview coaching. I was trying to stay positive in place that at that particular moment seemed overwhelmingly negative, which to be honest is expected when people lose their livelihood and often their identity.

The feeling changed as soon as the guest speaker came in. The speaker at the event, Bill True discussed “Shame-less Self-Promotion”. I really loved his presentation. Anyone who gets the opportunity to see him speak should take the opportunity. I walked away with the idea that people like to ‘volunteer’ versus being told what to do and hiring managers like to hire people who are also selfless. It made complete sense and really goes against so many things being taught to job seekers. Managers are people and they want to hire people. Real people not robots!

From a personal perspective I recognize that I would want to hire the person who would do whatever it takes to make a project successful and not just a person who met all the qualifications. I want the person who would volunteer to clean the bathroom or take out the trash (if those were actual job duties) because the team has to work toward the needs of the greater good . No, not just the company greater good, the team! Team is the family you call co-workers, or something called community. (Hey, as the leader I will also take out the trash!)

I found it strange that I had to lose my job to see the loss in community all around me. I like to believe that every one of us has something to give or something to share. A kind word, assistance with a resume, a job lead, or even helping a person cross the street. Where has chivalry gone? (This isn’t just directed at men, it applies to women too.) The random acts of kindness are rare but cherished. What are you going to do to help someone today?

These Shoes are for Working

Now that I am unemployed from my ‘work from home job’, I had reason to leave the house to meet a friend for coffee. I erroneously chose to wear shoes instead of ‘work from home’ flip flops. My feet were not prepared for real shoes since my delicate feet are accustomed to open and airy flip-flips. I am a bit worried should I need to take a job in an office where wearing real shoes is required. I am confident my feet can adjust, but I feel bad that I will need to put them through such torture.

Today I felt like the kid on the monkey bars for the first time who hasn’t had time to build up callous on his hands.
For me my pain (and blisters) were on the bottom of me feet. It isn’t that I don’t like shoes. I have many pairs. It is just that they haven’t seen daylight for years. Many shoes have never seen Arizona daylight, and have calmly waited for escape from the closet since the move from Oregon three years ago. As soon as I moved to Arizona, I started wearing sandals and flip-flops and I haven’t looked back (at the shoes) since. Are flip-flops a habit or a necessity? My feet sweat too much in regular shoes here, it is embarrassing. Especially if your nose gets too close to my feet. For me flip-flops are a necessity.

I know, I know, in the name of fashion I need to wear too tight, too high, shoes that make my feet uncomfortable and sweaty. The thing is that on most days I never leave the sofa (I mean office), so who cares what shoes I am wearing? If I do venture out to Starbuck’s, the grocery store or the daily drop-off/pick-up of the kids – my foot attire doesn’t really matter. Does it? Should I be worried about what people are saying about my shoes? What do my shoes say about me anyway? Will people not like me because of my shoes?

For today anyway, my black backless leather mules who got to stroll down Arizona Avenue said, “Wow, it is nice to be outside the closet!”. However, the shoes seemed to be ungrateful and punished me with blisters. The mules are back in the closet recovering from their outing, as my feet recover from the pain they inflicted. This afternoon I am back in my flip-flops who are always grateful and never give me blisters. For now anyway, my feet are getting a reprieve from the torture of working in an office every day. Funny how I am more worried about my feet getting through a day in the office than I am about myself. I definitely think my soul and my mind are stronger than my feet, at least until they can build up enough callous for real shoes.

Why LIFE is not just a game…

Too bad we can’t just play the game of LIFE instead of actually living it. With a game, you can start and end whenever you want. If things don’t turn out the way you want, you can quit or start a new game. Unfortunately, real life includes baggage and feelings that can’t just be dropped so we can start over. Can we please clear the board?

A friend posted on their Facebook today,” Life has many different chapters for us. One bad chapter doesn’t mean the end of the book.” This sounds great, but how easy it is for people to move on from their past? Our scars are embedded in our skin and ego and we must carry them around for our whole lives. Exactly how much therapy and healing does this require? It is one thing to heal a cut or a broken bone, but our psyche is not as easy.

Every day we have the stress of going to work to feed your family, taking care of loved ones, and if we are lucky, there is time for hobbies and self-improvement. Where does my ‘have-to’ list turn into my ‘want-to’ list? Can I get rid of my ‘have-to’ list and only have a ‘want-to’ list. Maybe with the right attitude, or the right job.

As I find myself unemployed for the first time in my life, I feel like I am finally ‘away’ from everything, only to find a new stress of finding work. How long will it be before I want to escape being ‘away’ to ‘get back to work’? I want to make sure that wherever I land that it is the right place for me. No one wants to take a job only to find out that 9 months later they don’t like it. My door of opportunity has opened so I plan to make the most of it. Besides, how often in your career do you get dedicated time to actually think about what you want or need?

First Day Unemployed

Get up at reasonable time then decide yoga (gentle) is excellent course of action for first day unemployed.

Look in mirror – face already breaking out with rash due to stress. Take 50 mg zinc plus regular vitamin. Realize family might have to live on 300 tablet bottle of vitamins if things get tough.

Eat waffle with syrup. Realize no more maple syrup and back to $1.89 bottle of generic Albertson’s brand from now on.

Push reluctant kids into car after arguing about how 7-year-old cannot take DS to school/camp.

Start car….hmmm…making funny sound. Car is vibrating and rumbling. Can’t be good. Brilliant idea…check oil. Check it…a little low. Add quart of oil. Looks good. Start car. Now “Check Engine” light is on. Bugger. Check manual for indicator light ‘meanings’. Irritated it is 8 AM and it is already 100 degrees. Wish manual had Google search! Find needed info in manual…light not blinking = ok to drive, just go slow.

We are off to school. Drop off kids uneventfully. Arrive at health club for yoga. Have wait time! Call car dealer – opening tomorrow 8:30 AM. Yeah, car will be fixed.

Yoga, very nice. Relaxing. Still thinking of list of things to do. Not dwelling on ‘why me’! Way to busy!

Stop at store to buy external drive for computer – $79 for 320 GB. Wow! Actually feeling high-tech now!

Start car…hmmm…”Check Engine” light is off. Car fixed self. Realized no time for car doctor visit.

Doorbell rings…..release papers to sign. Delay reading for a few minutes. Already know what it says.

Phone rings. Coworker (sorry, ex-coworker). Yes, e-mail still works. No one knows why e-mail still working. Forward needed info to ex-coworker. Why sending when no longer working? Want to be good friend. If was non-friend would not have answered phone! Glad had good friends at work!

Check Linked In. More good friends! Recommendations are rolling in. Amazed! Can’t believe overwhelming support!

Time for haircut! Darn, no time for lunch. Not hungry, plus way too busy. Beautiful color and professional coiffed hair! Who wouldn’t want to hire me now?

Rush off to pick up kids. Four-year-old wearing different dress than when dropped off in morning. “Got dress dirty” she says. Borrowed dress from friend because she didn’t have any extra clothes at school. Bad mommy. She has to leave in only skirt, no shirt. Glad she has skirt at least!

Get to parking lot. Phone ringing! Another ex-coworker. Yes, yes, can’t believe they let me go. What? You will write recommendation! Great!

Pick up 7-year-old. Where is he? No one seems to know. Suddenly see him. He is holding DS!! Hmmm…must have snuck it to school. Punishment: 1 week – no DS!

Arrive home. Add note to DS with date of when available. Place on refrigerator for safe keeping.

Paige takes cold macaroni from refrigerator. Eats directly from container then puts self to bed. Meanwhile make pasta with brocolli and salad – all leftovers! Amazing feat…also healthy meal! Husband says, “Great dinner. You must have gone shopping today.” If he only knew how busy I was – no time for shopping!

Can you believe it? I survived day 1 of unemployment. What will happen tomorrow?

I’m unemployed too…

Today I joined the ranks of the unemployed. My intelligence, creativity and diligence were just not enough in this economy to keep me employed at this particular startup. The company is struggling like every other company out there. These are times when good people are losing their jobs because there is no one else to ‘weed out’. Also, layoff decisions are not always made by rank, or seniority, but instead by skill set or the revenue the person can generate. So no stock options and IPO millions for me, but the days of .com millionaires has long passed anyway. I figure I should get signed up for unemployment before the government runs out of money to give out.

I have no complaints about my company as I was treated well up to,”We have to let you go”. If you are going to be let go, it is nice to have someone with a conscience or a friend do it. For some reason I felt like I needed to do something to make the process easier on my boss and co-workers. Had I lost my mind? No, not really. Jobs are about relationships with the people and not so much about the work. Do you want to leave your buddy behind, lost and confused because you didn’t tell them some critical information because you were ‘let go’. Besides, someday that guy might be in a position to hire you in a different job. You never know what twists and turns can happen in careers these days.

By the way, what happened to the term layoff? or RIF? Now the new term is ‘letting you go’. It all means the same thing, but the ‘letting you go’ makes it sound like you are a bird or animal being freed from a cage at the zoo into the wild. Am I getting a rare opportunity to be freed from the confines of my cubicle and computer screen? Sure, but I would rather stay and keep getting my paycheck. Or would I? Maybe there really is a better opportunity out there for me and I just don’t know what it is yet.

Either the reality of my unemployment hasn’t sunk in yet, or I was a lot better prepared for this eventuality than I thought. Some things you can’t do anything about, and employment loss is one of them. It was totally beyond my control. Now what I have in my control are ‘next steps’. I can sit around and be sad about it or get out there and check out what the ‘wild’ world offers in adventure and challenge. Yesterday software company, maybe tomorrow publishing my first book. You just never know where it will lead but I have a feeling it will be good.

The ‘Entitlement’ Generation

As I stopped at a stop sign on my home from the morning drop-off today, I was appalled to notice that a boy riding his bike along side of me rode from the sidewalk to the crosswalk and rode directly in front of me. He didn’t even give me a sideways glance. During school session there is a crossing guard at the intersection making it safe for the children to pass. Today it was summer break – no crossing guard. Have we made our kids lives so easy that they believe everything in their life will be taken care of? Do they no longer need to look right and left before crossing the street?

Do we have a generation (or generations) of kids with this sort of entitlement attitude? I am reminded of the .COM bubble when all these new college grads were being handed stock options like it was candy at Halloween. The problem was, they didn’t hear the ‘option’ part. They thought, “Hey, I graduated and am getting a big salary. In 5 years I can be a millionaire with these options like that Bill Gates guy.” Two years later they were in the unemployment line.

Instead of a bubble-bust, now we have the housing-bust. Some of these same people who didn’t get their stock options, can’t pay their ARM mortgage or refinance. No biggie, just stop paying and walk away, right? Do they have no qualms about walking away from debt they accrued? Do they even know what qualms are?

Certainly some bad things have happened over many years to cause our current economic problems. I don’t want people to think I am not empathetic. We live in the land of opportunity where anyone can be successful and live in the house of their dreams, but do they ‘have’ to? Is it owed to them? I thought we were supposed to work hard for what we have. Those people who came over on the Mayflower sure did.

Being a border-line Baby Boomer, I worry about the future because after I am gone, who is going to continue to provide this entitlement to the next generation. The well is drying up quickly with Social Security unable to sustain itself. Will everyone be on ‘the dole’? And if they are, who is going to pay for that? China?