New Paths

You may or may not have noticed by now that I schedule most posts for 11AM Eastern Daylight Savings Time. That being said, I’m not here right now — I’m in the middle of orientation for my new job. Today’s my first day. I may not be on the floor, doing the tasks in my job description, but I’m getting paid for my time today — so, it’s my first day. If I don’t want to, I don’t have to hunt for a new job. However, even my personnel manager recognized that this is a temporary fix for me. She also said that even overqualified applicants need to pay their bills. I couldn’t be more relieved. I may be overqualified for this job, and my part-time status certainly won’t bring me to the middle class, but a job’s a job. I need to get back into the workforce in order to make ends meet between now and when I can find a full time, first shift job that will afford me a more comfortable living. This will also afford me the ability to be more selective with my job search.

I’m in for a new adventure, indeed. I imagine I’ll have a work schedule at the end of the day, and my son starts third grade in public school on Thursday morning. By virtue of preparation, the new school year will actually start tomorrow night. I’ll be sure he’s got lunch packed and clothes picked out (he’s got a new back to school outfit on the way from family), and we’ll make sure everyone’s tucked in early for an early start. I think he’s most looking forward to recess, and I don’t blame him — my elementary school playgrounds were glorified parking lots, whereas he’ll have all sorts of cool playground equipment to amuse himself while making new friends. Our routines will be changing dramatically during the next couple of weeks, but I know these changes will benefit all of us. Change doesn’t have to be evil. We should embrace change because we’re constantly growing and changing. Our needs change from one phase of life to the next. I’m sure most of us are glad we’ve changed into able-bodied adults who don’t need to cry to express our needs or distress. So don’t be afraid of change. Change is good.


Mindful Monday: A Month of Processing

As January 2011 comes to a close, I’m pausing to reflect on the first month of this new year. I’ve spent most of this month internally processing all of life’s changes since the close of 2010. The Reverb 10 series gave me a lot of fodder to ruminate over 2010’s events and manifestations for 2011. I aspire to become an English consultant, a tutor, a freelance writer, an independent editormy own boss. My writing on this blog should reflect that goal clearly, in fact. I’ve been blogging professionally for over three years now, and in that time I’ve made friends, attempted to monetize, written sponsored posts, and devised a posting schedule. Mindful Mondays focus on my endeavors to be more mindful of my words, actions, psyche, and body. Wordless Wednesdays provide an outlet for my photography hobby. Thankful Thursdays became the new gratitude series, so that I could share my appreciation for all things big and small in life. Foodie Friday caters to my love of food. I’ve had to move due to a fire, as well as job loss. Over the past seven months, I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on my desire to earn a living as my own employer. Money affords us the ability to provide for ourselves and our dependents — and I’m sure we all know by now that I really need an income to feel like my kids are going to live comfortably. I’ve been seriously considering finding a job — full time or part time — in order to feel like I’m doing my part, and yet I find that being home for them also has it’s perks. I mean, I wanted to spend more time with my family after all.

During this month, I’ve had the opportunity to discover what feeds my soul and what poisons it. I’ve had the time to seriously consider purging clutter that I really don’t want, need, or use anymore. The emotional attachments we form to seemingly silly objects is rather fascinating, and at the same time I understand how some people can horde a plethora of items. We project our memories onto inanimate objects in an attempt to remember our memories at a later date. Sure, the memory’s been made, but we don’t always remember to relish in those good memories — as a matter of fact, I doubt I’m alone in that I some times dwell on the not-so-nice memories more readily than the good. However, packing and unpacking has made me realize that I need to ask myself what I really want, need, and use in my life. Additionally, I’ve begun asking myself a lot of questions about the present and the future. I’ve brainstormed ideas for my blog, my business website, and a professional website (more details to come next month). I’m excited about the possibilities and cautious about the obstacles ahead. While 2010’s business hasn’t quite given up just yet, this year seems to have a glimmer of hope beginning to shine through.


Reverb 10: Achieve

Prompt: Achieve. What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today.

Now that I’m settled enough to get back to meditating and writing on these prompts, I’m choosing to respond in the order of which suits me best. Today I’m choosing the December 28th prompt by Tara Sophia Mohr. I spend so much time pondering the year ahead and all the opportunities it holds. Sure, the road ahead appears difficult, littered with obstacles and challenges that threaten to derail my efforts, yet I feel hopeful that I can harness the power to transfer misery into happiness.

What do I want most of all? What would I like to achieve? I want to become my own boss. No more clocking in, clocking out. No more worrying about waiting on payday. No more worrying about work-life balancing acts that always seem to lean more heavily into the work portion. Right now, I’m still feeling like this is a very scary endeavor I’m partaking, however I imagine I’m going to feel extremely accomplished and satisfied with myself and the lifestyle I make for myself by the end of this year. I imagine I will feel liberated and fulfilled. I imagine myself working with students and clients who enrich my soul and brighten my days. I imagine sitting here leisurely sipping the simple mocha — a packet of hot chocolate mix, a serving of instant coffee, and a mug full of hot water — or tea, feeling at peace with my life, knowing my bank account’s in the black thanks to my efforts. I imagine enjoying the sun shining through the windows, reminding me that I once felt despair and anguish that passed as seasons tend to do. I imagine feeling relieved that I can finally go forward with plans of home ownership once again.

So what 10 things can I do to feel that feeling today? What 10 things will further my cause, making this dream a reality?

  1. I can relish the mug of mocha I just finished sipping.
  2. I can look out the window at the late afternoon sun shining down on a chilly north-west Georgia landscape.
  3. I can continue unpacking boxes, moving items to their proper locations, and laying out furniture in a homey setup.
  4. I can advertise my tutoring services.
  5. I can work on my business websites to move them closer to unveiling.
  6. I can take a hot bath to relax my muscles and my mind.
  7. I can calendar deadlines and create tasks in my Thunderbird.
  8. I can drink my water to ensure I’m well hydrated.
  9. I can curl up on the couch to do nothing for a little while.
  10. I can meditate.

These are all relatively simple tasks that can make a humongous difference in my life at this point in time. I need to also remember that success doesn’t happen over night. It takes baby steps and perseverance. Here’s hoping that 2011 will bring me all I wish for and more!


Reverb 10: Beyond Avoidance

Prompt: Beyond avoidance. What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)

Is it any surprise that I avoided writing a response to this prompt yesterday? If you couldn’t guess, I really should have been focused on my writing — more importantly, I should have been focused on my career as a writer. I should have been writing on an almost daily basis, regaling my readers with clever, thoughtful discourse. I should have been planning my next moves and plotting my course. I should have been focused on making the transition from employed to self-employed. I should have been true to myself.

Oh, there were distractions around every corner this year. It seemed like every time I stopped to look up, I was surrounded by other, more urgent tasks. Instead of spending more time in “quadrant two,” I was constantly in quadrant one. Other times, I felt so ridiculously burnt out that I’d flounder into quadrant four just because I didn’t feel like doing anything other than sudoku, crosswords, or checking up on friends. And who could blame me? I was feeling jaded. I felt embittered by years of grooming — almost like those words in high school about college making you poverty-proof was little more than brainwashing. (Disclaimer: Kids, don’t take the wrong message out of this — get your butts to college, study what you love, and get that expensive piece of paper anyway! It’s too damn important to pass up.)

I was terrified of leaving a day job to pursue my dreams. I worried about bills and keeping my family in a stable, secure environment. I also questioned if there really was a need for people like me. I’d find myself swamped with projects, typically of the OPD variety. Honestly? I’m an ISFJ, which basically means I suffer from “doormat syndrome.” It took that unpleasant life change back in July for me to be free from my duties to others (except for my immediate family, who I’m more than happy to support as they are part of the dream for me).

Over the past six months, I’ve had plenty of time to mull over the possibilities, and I’ve come to realize it’s not just about putting a roof over our heads or making ends meet. It’s about feeling productive, feeling creative, and feeling fulfilled. Walking around day in and day out feeling like you’re on autopilot might earn paychecks, but it sucks your soul right out of your body. My last two months of employment had next to nothing to offer my career, and it completely blew. I sat there some mornings trying to work up motivation to complete my six months there in order to have the opportunity to once again job search within the university. I didn’t want to be the little assistant who maintains calendars and processes expense reports — I wanted to be the writer, the editor, the person relishing in all the creative little tasks. Next year, I’m not going to settle for anything. Unless it contributes to my dreams, it’s not worth my time. Next year, it’s about becoming the writer, editor, consultant, and tutor I aspire to be. Next year, I’m taking control of my life and leaving out the middlemen who are mere go-betweens for me and the IRS. Hey, the IRS publishes all their forms online — why shouldn’t I go into business for myself? And have you seen what texting has done to our youth? People need me to undo the damage caused by texting. Literacy needs me to mend our broken lines of communication. Now is not the time to feel insignificant. Now is the time to seize opportunity while it’s still slapping me in the face, shaking my collar, and screaming at me, “why don’t you just accept me for what I am?!”


Reverb 10: Try

Prompt: Try. What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn’t go for it?

I’m currently planning to begin conducting my own business. I had begun making plans earlier this year, but I had always been too busy worrying about other things. I worried about needing a day job that came with benefits. I worried about doing my work at that job. Then I worried about finding another job — any job, really. I spent a lot more time focusing on the coveted job that millions are fighting for. People with jobs claim there’s a job out there for everyone. Employers claim there’s hundreds applying for the same position. Then other people tell you to switch professions. When you apply for a job in a new profession, you’re told you don’t have enough experience or need to go back to school to earn more credentials. At the end of the day, it’s a nightmare trying to fight just for the opportunity to interview. At the end of the day, I’m waiting around for someone else to make my finances come together. Sure, I’m working my butt off trying to write cover letters and tailor my resume, all for no payoff. Instead of waiting around next year, I’m going to do it myself. I’m going to advertise my services to people who’ll want me to do the work I love. I’m not going through a middle man who’ll determine when pay day occurs. I’ve researched self-employment taxes and competitors’ rates. I’m feeling very confident that I’ll be prepared for details that come along with running your own business. This year might not have been the year to officially “open my doors,” but next year I’ll not only try — I’ll do my very best to make my business work. I owe it to myself and my family to do my very best.

As for a little lightheartedness, I wanted to try red bean ice cream and green tea ice cream. I absolutely fell in love with red bean ice cream. Green tea ice cream has a nice flavor, but it wasn’t one of my favorites. A single scoop of red bean ice cream drizzled in honey and sprinkled with sesame seeds — delicious! Sure, it might sound odd to eat ice cream made with beans, but I promise you it’s delicious.


Reverb 10: Action

Prompt: Action. When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step?

Thank you, Scott Belsky! Finally, a prompt that allows me to manifest what’s next, rather than simply venturing back to bad memories. So, what exactly IS my next step? I harbor grandiose ideas to become a successful consultant, freelancer, and all around independent contractor. Right now, I’m still sitting here in phase one — get the heck out of dodge, aka unemployment. Part of the reason I’m not currently making it happen is because I need to relocate and resettle before I can even begin to let my creativity unfurl. The chaos currently surrounding me makes for a rather frazzled, stressed out state of mind. However, I do believe I know the next step…

I have already purchased the domains. I did so back in July or August. I knew what I wanted to do, I just didn’t have the luxury to devote my time to it. Next month, I will. Step one: get those websites designed and ready to promote my services. Step two: marketing, marketing, marketing. It’s all about marketing. You can’t possibly get business if you don’t promote them, can you? Even word-of-mouth is a form of marketing. Step three:  do business. Okay, that’s a fairly simple plan, isn’t it? Three steps to success — or at least acting upon my dreams in order to go and make them a success. I certainly don’t expect to get rich quick, but I do predict I’ll hit 5 figures. I predict I’ll have a bit of reading to do before I file my 2011 tax return. I predict I’ll achieve enough success to continue on with this venture. Eventually, it will grow, and I will make my dreams come true.


Reverb 10: Body Integration

Prompt: Body integration. This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?

At first glance, I both knew the answer and denied knowing a possible answer. A very specific moment came to mind, and upon further reflection I know it’s the exact moment this year in which I felt as though my mind and body were quite cohesive. It was July 1st when I got fired. I refuse to describe the thoughts and emotions, the words and people present — it’s far too emotional and intimate. I don’t think I’ve even described exactly how I felt to my husband because the gravity of the situation is so incredible. However, I do realize that moment of cohesion has set the tone for the second half of my 2010. This prompt has given me the opportunity to explore my feelings and my current state of being.

You’ll recall I was anxious about accepting that job offer in the first place. Something nagged at me. Don’t take it. Don’t accept it. You can do better. Of course, somehow the general negativity that pervades our society can drag you down right along with everyone else. You listen to what other people say about how this other person did this and that. You determine your self-worth based on others. You compare yourself to others every day. And that’s just the problem. Okay, so some other person has x amount of years more experience than I do. Should that matter as far as I’m worth? Not a chance. What she’s done is what she’s done. What I’ve done is separate from her. Therefore, I should worry less about what everyone else thinks and more about what I think. I apparently have a good intuition.

I also realized that I had strayed from my path. Call it divine intervention. Call it coincidence. Call it chance. Regardless, I’ve noticed a pattern in my life in which I experience setbacks if I’ve strayed from my calling. For years and years I struggled to fulfill a destiny that wasn’t mine to be had. There were signs along the way that I didn’t understand. I remember as far back as 9th grade, when I devoted my Saturdays to volunteering at an animal hospital. I did this for experience and volunteer credit. I wanted to get my foot in the door, to shadow those in the position I thought I would someday hold. Due to age concerns, I wasn’t hired on. I watched as some people who really just needed a job — any job — got the job I coveted. I thought it was unfair. Really though, they needed the money whereas I just wanted the official title on my resume. Still, I couldn’t get the job. I noticed my inability to comprehend the equations in Chemistry. Foolishly, I figured it wasn’t that important if I was still about to make a B in the class. I think I would have realized the severity of my situation if the teacher placed more emphasis on the equations. I would have realized Chemistry isn’t necessarily all about knowing how many protons and neurons are in each atom. I would have realized it had nothing to do with making a food model of an atom, either. Unfortunately, another sign went unheeded.

Fast forward to college graduation. Jobs that didn’t further my personal agenda didn’t seem to work out. I was too far away (I applied out of state with the grandiose idea that I became much more valuable with that expensive piece of paper). I was entry level. I wasn’t experienced. I took a job because I needed the money. I lead to a career path in finance. That wasn’t what I wanted. My next job provided me opportunities to expand my knowledge and socialize with students of all sorts of backgrounds. It wasn’t a permanent place to be, but it was a great place to gain perspective. While the nearly two month foray into full-blown secretarial work — because, let’s face it, I gained nothing in terms of my editorial pursuits while there — seemed promising financially, it was ultimately not meant to be. It’s not what I want to do. It’s not my path. Of course it wasn’t going to work out. Remember that pattern?

I feel so much more rewarded when I’m working with words. I feel rewarded when I help students. I feel rewarded when I help others publish the best works they can. In turn, I feel much more rewarded when I have the leisure to spend time with my family. Nothing beats watching them learn and grow. I wouldn’t trade my family for any amount of recognition. Keep your six figure salaries and fancy titles — I don’t need the headache and responsibility that comes with it. I work to live, not the other way around. I absolutely refuse to let the people who live to work convince me that my way is wrong. Unless you’re walking my path, you couldn’t possibly compare your way to  my way. Besides, I have items on my life list that won’t get done if I’m tethered to someone else working on their agenda.

Incidentally, I had another sign today assure me that I’m heading on the right path. I’m a little more mindful of these things nowadays…


Reverb 10: 11 Things

Prompt: 11 Things. What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?

Life has been all about decluttering these days. What’s coming with us? What don’t we need anymore?  What superfluous items have become hidden among the useful items? So far, we’ve purged quite a lot of junk — an old, broken TV, broken electronics accessories, piles of extra phone wires that no long provide use, a broken recliner, and plenty more objects. At the end of the year, more than 11 things will be left behind in 2010. I don’t know that I can discuss 11 things in full detail, but I will share the more important things as best I can.

I’m leaving behind the shackles of non-benefited, insecure employment. I don’t need to allow some arbitrary person in an arbitrary company tell me that my services are no longer required. I don’t need someone telling me that my family is some how lessen than another because they can’t afford me, have no further need for people in my field, or that they simply don’t like me. I will unapologetically go forward into the new year as the person I am. I’m not going to apologize for putting my family first. I’m not going to apologize for being a writer. I’m not apologizing to someone who doesn’t deserve my apologies. I’m not parading myself around for free, only to be told someone else had better qualifications or that I’m a liability because I’m over-qualified. Really? I’m either not as qualified as some other candidate or over-qualified? Is that really what I want to do with my life? Evaluating my self-worth based on other job candidates? That seems like a deplorable way to live. And you know what? I have the tools. I know people. I’m going to make this work, and there’s not a thing “The Man” can do about it. I’m going to live a life worth living. Just watch.

I’m leaving behind rental living (for now). Every year, I watched my rent go up. Service remained the same. Then the housing bubble burst — and people moved into the same floor plan for much less than I had to pay. I still pay more than a person off the street would be paying. But no longer. I am now paid up, awaiting moving day, and ready to embrace a rent-free lifestyle in 2011.

I could delve more into all the things I’ll be purging from my life when I cross the state borderline, but the emotions invoked are far too overwhelming to allow for meaningful discourse. The thoughts become garbled by the time they reach my finger tips.


Reverb 10: Wisdom

Prompt: Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?

Yesterday I sat with this prompt — up until my head felt like it was 50 pounds and the room seemingly spun around. By the time I remembered I had a post to write, it was 12:15AM. Before falling asleep last night, I sat with the prompt again, cynically pondering the decisions I’ve made over the course of 2010. Finally, I realized I did have one wise decision among the myriad bad choices. I decided to take my finances into my own hands and go into business for myself. Some people might think this is irresponsible and risky — I, however, see it for being the only way to stay afloat in an over-saturated job market. I can’t keep competing with those more experienced, nor can I keep competing for jobs I’m over-qualified to take. Sure, I might feel willing to accept something lower, but that doesn’t mean a potential employer is willing to hire an over-qualified candidate. And the longer I sit here, frustratingly unemployed, the more eyebrows will raise at this gap in employment. No, I don’t believe this is the way for me. This is not the path I’d choose. I’m choosing to venture out on my own, to cultivate my craft, to market myself, to become my own employer and leave the rat race where it belongs — in my past. I don’t have much choice right now. It’s either sit around, blasting my resume to anyone and everyone who’ll accept it, or taking initiative and making my dreams come true.

So while I’ve stewed over the poor decision to leave a job — albeit a threatened job — to accept a job to which I felt lukewarm, I realize that I did make at least one wise decision this year. May 2011 prove my point.


Reverb 10: Let Go

Prompt: Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

Wow. So many emotions washed over my last night as I read this prompt. Aside from disappointment, this year seemed to be about letting go. I let go of quite a few things. I let go of a grudge in February. I let go of an entire department of people who I’d come to be so comfortable and familiar with. I let go of my attachments to an entire town — more specifically, I will be letting go of my eight year stint of autonomy. Letting go is hard to do sometimes, especially when it’s something you’ve become so attached to…

I’d say letting go of a past grudge was the easiest of the three majors things this year. I had hints that it would happen this year, and I realized that sometimes forgiving and moving on is the right course of actions. Things have turned out just fine in that regard, and I’m happy I made that decision. I feel a better person for moving on and making that change in my life.

Letting go of MSE was a lot harder. I was complacent with my situation there. Sure, I didn’t receive benefits or a pay that would’ve covered my student loans — though now I realize that it would’ve worked out just fine because of the income contingent repayment plan the federal government offers. But it was something more than just a job. It was a place where I knew everyone by face and name. I looked forward to the colorful delivery drivers who’d pepper my day with relatively different stories. One was a man who seemed suited for a career in used car sales, a bit of a blue-collar comedian if you will. Another was a family man who’d strive to make it home in time to watch his son play sports. The other had a very interesting sense of humor. And then there were the students, who I began to memorize by face and name. Some were notorious for receiving several packages at once. I could see different cliques, usually dependent on which advising group they belonged to. Some habitually arrived late to seminar — and depending on my rapport with said student, I might be a little lenient. Then there were the professors. For the most part, they were very congenial. The younger professors attempted to get me to refer to them by first name. I came around for two of them — one because he consistently responded to my emails with his first name, the other because she was so close in age to me that it felt more natural to do so. Otherwise, I maintained the salutations of Dr. Last-Name. Spend several years earning a degree that gives you that title, and you most definitely deserve to referred to as a doctor. My coworkers got along for the most part. My bosses were pretty much hands off. People complain about micromanagers — these two were definitely not micromanagers. How lucky was I to have two bosses who gave me the freedom to go about my daily tasks without checking in every five minutes? Nothing says “I’ve got a great job” like being able to gather all your work together, walk over to your boss, and say, “here, this is what I’ve got. What do you think?” quite like the job I’d held for two and a half years. I was given the opportunity to expand my knowledge and gain experience. I doubt another job would have given me the opportunity to dabble in Adobe InDesign. It hurt to leave. It felt like the wrong time to leave. And it probably was the wrong time to leave. But then again…

All of the events occurring from that point onward culminated in my imminent departure from Gainesville. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with this town for most of my time living here. It’s a bittersweet move because I wanted it to be more on my terms. I wanted it to be to a place I had chosen. I wanted it to be after I’d been a little more established in my work. And yet I realize that I’m going to need to think much more positively if I intend to move forward. I’m going to have to find the silver lining. For starters, I’ll have the opportunity to make a living off of my craft. I’ll have the opportunity to grow my own food. We’ll be away from the partying students and the increasing crime rates. Heck, we’ll be half an hour away from White Castle — which was my favorite fast food restaurant as a little girl in New York. Mmm, sliders and onion rings.

I’m trying to make the most of it. I’m trying to reflect on these changes, why the needed to happen, and how they will manifest in the next year.