What I Do In My “Free” Time

March 22, 2013 at 12:17 pm (A Little Fun, A New Career, Employment, Job Satisfaction, Working from home) (, , , , , , , , , , )

You have seen from previous posts that I have a new Thirty-One business.  I didn’t want to take over this blog with my business (not that I have done much updating in the past couple of years!) so I started a new blog dedicated to growing my business.  Please jog on over there and follow if you like.  Among other things I will have fun with videos demonstrating products so customers who can touch and feel the products will have a better idea of what will work best for their needs.

Also, stop by my Facebook group.  I am required to make it a closed group so just request to join.


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Who Would Like to Be a (Thirty-One) Hostess of the Month?

March 7, 2013 at 1:41 am (A Little Fun, A New Career, Employment) (, , , )

All it takes is a commitment to placing a $35 order each month from April 2013 to September 2013 and YOU will receive the benefits of hosting YOUR OWN party one of those months!  That is, at least $35 in FREE products (YOUR CHOICE!), one half-priced item (YOUR CHOICE!) and one hostess exclusive (amazing products offered ONLY to hostesses!).  I will choose names randomly when I have the commitment from 6 people, so you will know ahead of time which is your month.  You can choose to host a party that month, either in home or online to boost sales for your party and in turn earning even MORE free products!

This $35 amount will also qualify you for the monthly customer special.  When everyone takes advantage of the specials, EVERYONE BENEFITS!  What a great way to start stashing away Christmas gifts or planning ahead for birthdays!  Win, Win!!

If you are interested and want more information, please join my facebook group What’s In Your Tote Today? or send me an email at 31 partyatzohodotcom.


cindy tote

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Take this survey for me?

March 4, 2013 at 3:55 pm (A New Career, Employment, Working from home) (, , , , , , )

I created a survey for my Thirty-One business.  Those who complete it will be entered for a chance to win a $50 gift certificate.  Winners must be located in the US.



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Yes, I Own My Own Business!

January 11, 2013 at 12:27 am (A New Career, Employment, Job Satisfaction, Working from home) (, , , , , , , , , )

And here is where I do my shameless plug for my NEW BUSINESS!

Way back in June I saw something on Facebook about Thirty-One.  I was like, “What is that?”.  So I looked it up and it was love at first sight.  I new right away that I wanted to not just have a party, but be a CONSULTANT!  That was around the same time that my husband had been out of a job for a few months.  My work hours were pretty minimal since I am a student so I wanted some way to contribute a little more.  I also wanted a way to save up for vacations when we were back on our feet because we love to travel but haven’t had the expendable income to do so in several years.

So I had a Thirty-One party to see how things worked and I signed up the very next week to be a consultant!  I have been love, love, loving it!  Even as a full-time Master’s student (of statistics no less!) I can schedule parties when I have the time and make a little extra money.  It has also been a way for me to have forced breaks from my studies.  It was a great release during a very stressful semester.

What I love about being a consultant is I feel like I am a personal shopper for my customers.  They call and tell me what they want to order or ask for ideas and I help them with that.  I figure out ways to get them the best bargain using Thirty-One’s monthly specials (which are always amazing!).  I have everything shipped to me and it feels like Christmas every time a box comes in!  I get to take a look at the products I haven’t seen before and then when I present them to my customers they are so excited.

One other fun byproduct of being a Thirty-One consultant is that I have so many products at my disposal for my own use!  I obviously don’t use the products I show at parties on a daily basis, but I at least try them out so I can truthfully tell my customers how great this or that tote or purse is and give them more ideas on how to use them.  Before I became a consultant I carried the same purse for a year.  I loved it but it was getting holes in it.  Now I change my purse nearly every week it seems like!  I do have my favorites and the ones I will not go back to, but I have fun trying different things out.

If you are interested in becoming a consultant please go to my website and click on “Join My Team”.  Please feel free to ask me any questions.  You do not have to be local for me to sponsor you.

If you are interested in having a party please contact me and I can get you set up right away.  I do in-home parties in the NW Indiana region, but you do not have to be local to have a party!  I can get you set up with a catalog party and your guests can place their orders in the comfort of their own homes…all over the country!  You will have the same benefits as a hostess who parties in-home.  🙂

In January only hostesses get DOUBLE hostess credit when their party is $500 or more.  This means you can get $180 in free products at this level and it goes up from there!  Contact me immediately before this special expires!


This month’s special: For every $31 you spend you can get an item from our new “Your Way” collection for half price!


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December 29, 2012 at 6:30 pm (A New Career, back to school, Employment, Finances, Job Satisfaction, Memories, Social Services, Studies) (, , , , )

Last year I said that I was glad to say good-bye to 2011.  Many people agreed with me.  It was a tough year.  As was the year before that…and the year before that…and the year before that…and half of the year before that.  It felt like we were in a game of Whack-A-Mole.  When we were finally able to peek our head above ground  WHACK!  We were bopped back down.

2012 offered a lot of promise.  It started out rough, got a little…well…a LOT rougher, and I think it has ended better than many of the years before.

A few days ago Josh and I took a (very chilly!) walk along Lake Michigan reflecting on the highlights of 2012.


  • Despite being the slow months of winter, Josh saw a lot of success with his program.
  • I started my first semester as a graduate student.
  • Finally out of debt, after 4 years!
  • We picked up our first ever BRAND NEW vehicle (ordered on Black Friday, we had the sales guy so flustered he inverted a couple of numbers giving us a $2,000 savings)!  After 11 years Josh now only has one more broken down vehicle to work on!



  • More success in Josh’s program during the slow months of winter.  I think they saw some of the highest number of hours served in the history of the program during these months.  The program is expanding so much Josh is having a hard time hiring staff to keep up!


  • Day trip to South Bend.  We still don’t have money, but we wanted to get OUT!
  • Josh’s brother calls on a Wednesday to invite us to his wedding…Friday.  This was supposed to be the day Josh got terminated, but because of this call he had to push the appointment back.  Yes, they made an appointment with him to terminate him, but he was told they would be working out some issues with his boss.
  • We enjoy Chris and Katie’s wedding on the steps of the courthouse in Crown Point.
  • On March 9 I post this on FB: For the first time since shortly after our move back from Scotland we have money in the bank! After 4 years of working to get out of debt we did not ask for it feels SO good to have a few bucks that are not already claimed for bills.
  • On March 19 Josh was terminated (Josh’s comment at the beach: I didn’t have to work for my creepy boss anymore!).
  • I have no choice but to continue working at the same agency that chewed Josh up and spit him out.
  • Josh’s amazing staff came together and gave him a great going away party on their own time.  We are humbled by the love and support they show.



  • Classes end.
  • Josh is trying to get out of social services so not applying for those jobs, but he is not being considered for anything else because he does not have specific experience. I want to go up to those haughty HR people and tell them my husband is so ingenuitive he can make a Popsicle stand in the arctic successful and they are missing out!


  • Josh finally starts getting unemployment.  We watch our finances slip back to their previous state of debt.
  • Josh continues the job search, trying to get out of social services.  After countless emails saying he will not be considered for a labor or manufacturing position because he does not have the experience he goes back to applying for social services positions.
  • Camping!
  • I enjoy meeting with high school friends Tiph, Jil, and Steph at Steph’s production of Listen To Your Mother.


  • We celebrated my grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary in Michigan.


  • We enjoy our cousin Kristina’s wedding.
  • Josh is offered a job to start mid-June.  Neither of us feel good about it, but it is a job.  Josh tries to negotiate for more time off because of his experience, since they will not budge on the low pay, but they say no.
  • We take a road trip to visit a dear friend in North Carolina.  We love to travel but had not had the money to for the last 5 years.  We love nature and mountains and this was just what we needed.
  • Josh has an interview for another job the day we get back from NC.
  • I take my client on her vacation to Amish Acres where we see “State Fair”, eat out LOTS (I have the best ever root beer float, and I don’t like root beer!), shop at Shipshewana, and go on a horse a buggy ride.
  • I put in my two weeks!
  • Josh starts his new job, but is offered the other and quits after 4 days (He has yet to be paid for that one!).


  • Josh starts his NEW new job.
  • I become advocate for Verda, who was previously my client.
  • Blueberry picking!
  • I enjoy occasionally meeting with Verda and her staff for coffee/lunch/ice cream.
  • We enjoy the LaPorte County Fair.
  • Josh, Stacey, and I organize  help set up for Chris and Katie’s wedding (and party hard afterwards!).


  • We enjoy our summerly get together at our place for our lunch club.
  • We fly (for the first time since we moved back stateside!) to SF to visit Stacey.  We had a wonderful apartment in San Rafael, enjoyed many restaurants (YAY restaurant.com!), and got in lots of nature with hikes along the coast and a visit to Yosemite.
  • Classes begin.
  • Josh is working lots of hours.


  • Camping!
  • We join a great new small group.
  • I start my Thirty-One business!


  • We say good-bye to our Brazilian friends Eduardo and Natalia.  😦
  • I have my first Thirty-One party.
  • Josh is working lots of hours, but he gets his first raise.


  • We celebrate Josh’s birthday at his favorite place because he can get whatever seafood he wants (Red Lobster).
  • Camping!
  • I have several Thirty-One parties, but everything starts to become a blur because of classes.
  • Josh is working lots of hours.


  • We celebrate my birthday, but we had to squeeze it in quick because I didn’t really have time to celebrate.  We didn’t go out anywhere.  Josh surprised me with a beautiful lemon and raspberry cake he made and decorated.
  • Stevie had some of his artwork in ArtAbility.
  • Thanksgiving!
  • Josh is working lots of hours, but is caseload is changed to be more local.  He is allowed $300/mo for his expense report.  This was not even covering his mileage.


  • I feel like I am about to die as classes wind down.  I pulled 2 all-nighters in a row to complete a project.
  • Classes finally end!  I didn’t think I would make it!
  • Josh’s work finally starts to slow down and he is offered another raise.
  • Christmas!

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When You Think You’ve Seen It All

June 10, 2011 at 3:10 pm (Employment, Social Services) (, , )

We had some pretty strange conditions that we worked in.  I remember going with Josh to a site before I even started working with the agency.  I arranged to do my PCM (Practical Christian Ministry, required every semester at Moody) at one of their sites on the west side.  I don’t remember how we arranged this, but I visited once at a site on the southside, Englewood, the roughest place in the city.

It was a store front church.  Services were provided by our agency in the basement while the church was passing out bags of groceries upstairs.  I don’t remember much of that visit except the damp, dank, dark.  It was a basement that felt very much like a basement.  I could hear scufflings around in the corners.  There were stains on the underside of the floor above us.  Later when I was employed by the agency, I came to know the place well.  But we were moved upstairs in the ‘sanctuary’ with everyone else.  In a room next to us was where they kept the food before it was sorted and distributed.  I laugh now (and cringe and feel a little sick) as I remember one scene as clear as day like it was yesterday.  We had just set up shop at the tables they provided us in front of the stage, waiting for clients to sign up to talk to us.  My coworker next to me slammed her hand down, lowered her head to the table facing me, and said urgently, yet quietly, “I just saw a RAT shuffle across that floor!  It was THIS big!  It was just moseying along!”  And this was not a skiddish woman.

Summers at that site were brutal.  No air.  No circulation.  Sometimes the stench was more than one could bare.  That was when the cockroaches were worst.  We already knew better than to leave our bags on the floor.  One of our collegues had already taken a roach home with him.  This was a year-round problem.  Casually brushing roaches off paperwork without squealing was an art.  But in the summer?  That was when we had the FLYING roaches.  They were smaller, but they were pesky!  And the regular roaches were so bad they would just start dropping from the ceiling.  Once during the summer while we were used to roaches dropping from the ceiling, my collegue thought they were being particularly annoying dropping from one certain spot in the ceiling, only to look up and find that there was a dark stain from which liquid was dropping.

There was another site on the southside at a parachurch organization where we saw clients while lunch was being served.  After all the years we had been going, the workers never quite got a grasp on what we were there to do.  As we came in they announced (EVERY.SINGLE.TIME!) “Doctas is heya!”  This caused us incredible frustration because medical services was indeed something that was greatly needed on the southside, so everyone would quickly sign up thinking they were going to be seen by a nurse.

This site also seemed to be forever under construction.  It was just myself and my female collegue at this site.  The workers would usually forget that we were coming (yep, it’s Tuesday.  yep, we come every week.) and have to empty out a room that was completely filled with clothing and other donation.  This room was right next to the men’s restroom.  This room, as well as the men’s restroom also…did not have a ceiling.  And there were LOTS of homeless men eating lunch right down the hall.  Needless to say, it was a challenge creating a professional atmosphere for our clients.  Another scene I remember like it was yesterday:  my collegue on the cell phone trying to arrange services for her client, probably trying to find a bed in a shelter or treatment center.  She looked bored with her head in her hand, elbow resting on the table.  Probably having a hard time getting the right person on the line.  LOUD grunting begins in the room next to us.  My collegue instantly looks up at me, her eyes bulging, and she covers the mouthpiece on her phone.  We stare at eachother wide-eyed, not sure if we should laugh or be furious.  That must have been our first time there because it became old hat after that.

Our favorite site was at a fransiscan church in a gentrifying part of the west side.  We didn’t have to deal with these issues, we were supported by the church members, and we were able to see the most progress in our clients here.

Updated to say: As Josh and I were talking, I remember that it was not ROACHES that were dropping from the ceiling.  FHEW!  Thank goodness!  It was maggots.

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The Work I Did

May 23, 2011 at 9:55 pm (Employment) (, , , , , )

I rarely think about the work that I did in Chicago.  But when I do it stirs up a flood of emotions.  I feel amazed at the things that I saw, the things I did, the remarcable composure I had in difficult situations, the effect some clients had on me.  I feel pride that I was able to work in such a challenging field and do it well.  I also feel frustration that jobs that require less skill and cause less stress can pay so much more.  And sometimes I wish I could put employers and people who put me down in front of a screen and show them clips about what I did and what it was like. 

Josh and I worked together.  Sort of.  He did ‘street outreach’ twice a week with a partner.  That was truly front line work.  They want to scrap yards, parks, under bridges to find the hardest to reach homeless.  They gave them a lunch and in the winter some gloves, thermal underwear, etc. and told them about our services.  They would get a list of our sites and encourage them to see us.  On a rare occasion, someone did show up and the entire team celebrated that one more was reached by Outreach.  I went out with them once and saw the homes people had made for themselves under bridges under highways.  Mattresses, tables, clothes, you name it.  I stayed in the van as they approached prostitutes.  This was bad for business, so the women didn’t typically want to talk long, if at all.  Guys pushing carts full of metal, on their way to the scrap yard were offered a lunch for a few minutes of their time.

On the days Josh wasn’t doing outreach, he, his partner, I, and 2 others went to various scheduled sites in Englewood and on the west side.  Food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, clothing closets.  They were all affiliated with churches, though our organisation was just humanitarian.  We could talk about faith if we were asked for an opinion.  One store front church in Englewood used their worship area to pass out bags of groceries to the community members.  They could sign up to see us to do an assessment of their situation and figure out what services they needed.  Typically, the assessment of our clients was that they just needed a bus card, but our assessment usually included mental health, substance abuse, medical issues, etc.  Sometimes we could use the bus card as bait to start working on the other issues 

Our team was a hodge podge.  Josh and I were just out of college.   Young ,white, rural.  Our team members grew up in Chicago.  Some lived on the south side.  Some were formerly homeless.  Some where recovering addicts.  We were black and white, young and old, rural and urban.  Some huffed and puffed about Josh and I joining the team as fresh-faced kids who think they are going to change the world, only to burn out within a year.  But they grew to respect us and even turned to us with difficult cases.

Later I will share some of our stories.

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When Things Don’t Happen As Planned…

April 2, 2011 at 3:01 pm (back to school, Employment, Finances) (, , )

It was such a difficult decision.  So. Difficult.  I had so many emotions running through me and it was a dark weekend for me.

I had been doing poorly in my class.  My one and only class.  The one I had been working towards and had been so excited for for over a year.  At first it wasn’t so poor that I couldn’t bring it back up.  I was confident I would bring it up to a B on my mid-term.  I was confident about the mid-term.  I knew the material.

But the weekend after the mid-term I cried and was depressed and was angry.  My dream was falling apart.  I had one more week to decide if I should risk it.  Out of 250 points for the rest of the class I could only miss 20 to get a B for the semester.

That weekend I decided I needed to drop the class.  This was my ONLY class.  I couldn’t count on any others to bring up my GPA.  I HAD to have a B in order to be considered for grad school.  I was PLANNING to start grad school in the fall.  I would complete it in 3 semesters.  Then things would be better.  My life would change.  Our years of challenges and hard, hard work would come to an end.

I felt like a failure.

I felt stupid.

I felt like I should quit.  Everything.  EVERYTHING.

I didn’t understand what was going on.  I understood the material, despite the crummy textbook and despite the confusing teaching style of my professor.  I worked hard to find answers in other books and online.  I watched youtube videos of Berkeley lectures.

The next Tuesday I went to class, then I went to the peer tutoring I had been attending.  Rahm said he could tell I was understanding the material and doing well at it.  This made me sad and frustrated.  I DID know the material!  It was this horrid anxiety I felt during exams!  I blanked out.  I couldn’t remember things, despite having a formula sheet in front of me.  I even missed a WHOLE PAGE on the mid-term.

I talked to someone from the Department of Students with Disabilities.  They said if you have a diagnosis (what?!  I didn’t even know!) they will allow you to test in a private room and give you time-and-a-half for the exam.  I read up on test anxiety.   I thought about how I talked to my professor and she said there was plenty of time to get the exam done and that the formula sheet was meant to take the anxiety off.  Most students ironically don’t even need the extra time because the pressure it taken off.  One study said students with test anxiety score in the 12th percentile lower than their peers.  One article said test anxiety can start later in a student’s career.  It can start with one bad grade and spiral from there.

I thought about my surprise when I received my first homework assignment.  7.5/10; a C.  I panicked.  I needed the homework grade as a cushion.  She marked off for small computational errors and other minor issues, but I got the concepts correct.

Because of this, I couldn’t even make a case for myself that I was acing the homework, but panicing on the exams.

I realised I would not have time to figure out what is going on and to remedy it before the next quiz.  Nor did we have the money it would take to go through hours of therapy to come to some conclusion.

I HAD to drop the class.  And I waited until the day before the deadline.

So much money lost on the tuition, books, transportation, wages lost for not working.

I decided I would first work on the certificate at Purdue North Central.  I was never very impressed with their program, and now I am even less impressed.  I have been sending emails for 3 weeks to the math department and have heard nothing back.  I looked over the list of classes for the certificate and the list of classes offered last year and the coming semester.  Three out of five of those classes have not been and will not soon be offered.

If I am working on a certificate I do not qualify for FAFSA.

I have been looking at other colleges and universities nearby.  No one offers the program I need.

More frustration.


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July 20, 2010 at 2:37 pm (back to school, Employment)

I am very near the point of exhaustion.  I have been running, running, running.  Sometimes I feel guilty for saying that because I am not actually moving all of the time.  Most of it is spent sitting at the computer doing homework.  But that is pretty much what I do all of the time I am not at work.  And I keep getting calls from people at work that want to meet with me outside of my working hours for various reasons they wont divulge to me.  This could not have come at a more terrible time and I am really tired of working a job that I cannot leave at work!

Yesterday I went against my better judgement and went blueberry picking.  I knew I would stress out about not studying and preparing for the time I would be tutoring with a friend, but I also felt like I needed something to relax.  I also NEEDED blueberries!  I have been SOOO looking forward to blueberry picking season and I usually go 3 or 4 times before the season ends.

Josh is super busy, too.  We have really been looking forward to the LaPorte County Fair, which is this week.  We usually have Thursdays off, so I was keeping that day open so we could go.  Last night Josh told me he has to work all day.  😦  He has worked every day for the last 2 weeks AT LEAST.  He is putting at least 60 hours in and can’t even recover any of that time because there are so many demands on him right now.

We are also finishing the kitchen.  It is going on 2 months and I had really hoped to be completely done by now.  We are having our small group to our house for a barbecue this Sunday, which we have been planning for a couple of months now.  Right now everything except our appliances (just delivered Sunday!!!) is in our living room and everything in our house is covered in dust.  We are going to be cutting it really close! 

In the mean time I am finishing Calculus.  We have one more lecture this Wednesday, then an exam Monday and our final next Wednesday.  I had high standards for myself and was hoping for an A, then just a couple of weeks into the class I was just hoping to pass.  I have recovered a small bit of confidence after the B- I got on my last exam (after he returned all of the exams and gave us 15 minutes to make corrections.  Only 3 others had marks higher than mine) and now I am hoping to squeak by with a B.  A friend who is a math professor and has been tutoring me this summer said that I am actually doing quite well for an 8 week calculus class.  Most in my class flunked the last exam.

So here I am spending time I shouldn’t be on keeping this blog alive when I should be studying.  I’m at a coffee shop and plan to spend the entire day here doing homework.

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Popping In

July 1, 2010 at 6:20 pm (Employment, Finances, Job Satisfaction, Studies) (, , )

Just thought I’d pop in to say, “I’m still here! (barely)”  Really, my life is not exciting enough to have a blog and I don’t know why I hang on to this thing, but I guess I use it as a ranting tool every so often.  Even when I do something fun like go to Chicago or camping or something I don’t have the motivation to upload my photos.  I do intend to get round to that.  Someday.  Maybe.

My life exploded into crazy craziness a few weeks ago.  I had already been working 45-50 hours a week and then…and then I started Calculus.  That right there says it all.  It is a summer class, so only 8 weeks.  I am in class 6 hours a week and spending around 15 hour a week on homework.  If you add it up, that can be around 70 of my waking hours taken up with work and class. 

And then at the same time my class started, we decided we could start with the construction on the kitchen.  That means everything that was in the kitchen  (all counters, cabinets, appliances, island, food, dishes, pots, pans…you get the idea) is in the living room.  Our entire living area consists of a half bath, living/dining room (about 350 sq ft), soon-to-be kitchen (about 150 sq ft), small corner of a utility room shared with my parents, and one bedroom (about 190 sq ft).  To get from the living area to the bedroom you have to walk through the kitchen.  Everything is covered in dust, despite putting up plastic.  The kitchen floor is covered in dust, so that is tracked throughout the entire house.  There is often power drills, nails, pipes, cords, etc. on the washing machine that have to be removed to wash a load.  There is insulation piled in front of the dryer and wires hanging from the ceiling.  Our dining table is wedged between our fireplace and coffee table.  I have to wipe down the dust every time I need to sit at it to do homework.  Food and dishes are sitting in open boxes so they are accessible, but good luck finding what you need at the time you need it.  The electric is off today so Josh can put in a new circuit box so I am doing my homework at a coffee shop.

And my class.  Well, my class meets Monday and Wednesday nights.  I have lots of homework due at each class and there were times when I was so stressed out because I wasn’t sure how I was going to get Wednesday nights’ assignment done while working all day Tuesday and Wednesday.  I found out at the very end of my Trig class that it was not the right class to have me ready for calc, even though I said when I registered I need the right class to be ready for calc.  So I went into class not even knowing what everyone else already knows.  I got a C on my first exam which shot any hopes of keeping an A and shooting for scholarships in the future.  Throughout Trig I taught myself a lot of what I couldn’t understand in class.  I thought I would be able to do this again, but I have just not had the time.

Work is stressing me out because I do not feel appreciated or compensated for my experience and hard work.  I just found out yesterday that today Chicago’s minimum wage goes up to a rate higher than what I started out with in this agency.  I hate being 33 years old, in an entry-level position with no appreciation for my experience or education and an inability to move around to a more appropriate position.  While I really enjoy working with some of my clients (some not so much), it is depressing and moral shattering.  If we were not in such great need for my income I would just quit and concentrate on my studies.

So since I can’t quit, I went down to part-time.  I have been talking about it for a long time and hoping we would be in a position to do so when I started my class, but we needed to do the kitchen.  It’s been over 1 1/2 years in the waiting.  Finances will definately be very tight again and we have to go back into debt to get this kitchen done and it will be longer getting out this time, but I am happy in my studies (and would LOVE to do this full-time!) and this week has proved that it was a much needed move for me to go part-time.  I spent a couple of hours Monday, all day Tuesday and Wednesday, and again today on homework and studying.  I am still working 32 hours, but it is all in 3 days over the weekend.  So much for any hope of a weekend with Josh!  But at least I have 4 whole days to concentrate on things-not-work-related and regain strength to get through a power work weekend.

I’m still looking for work in Chicago (or anything that will pay more and compensate for the time I am taking off).  I interviewed last week but have not heard anything yet.  I take that as bad news.  I am looking for almost ANYTHING that I can get to by train.  If anyone has any more ideas I will look into it!  I just found a place that does research and data analysis.  RIGHT UP MY ALLEY! though I don’t have the experience or education for it yet.  😦  I am going to try to spend some time on a cover letter and researching the agency and see if they might be willing to let me get my feet wet as an assistant or something.  It would be really awesome to get some on the job training but I know these days employers can be really picky and don’t want to have to train.  But I have my fingers crossed anyways.

I meant for this to be a quick post while I took a quick break from my homework.  Ah, well.  Back to derivatives of logarithmic functions…

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And the Job Search Goes On…

May 25, 2010 at 7:37 pm (A New Career, Employment, Finances, Job Satisfaction, Time Off Together, working midnights) (, , )

It has been a roller coaster ride.  When I talk about a job search I am asked, “What are you looking for?”  Well…almost anything right now.  Its sort of complicated.  I really want more responsibility.  I REALLY want to have normal hours.  I want to have a weekend again.  I want evenings off.  Time with my husband.  I want something that pays a livable wage.

It started last August when one of our group homes was in dire need of staff.  I went over there for three weeks to help out.  It was the most difficult as almost all of the clients require total care.  I was dreading it.  My first day was long and, just long.  At that point I was told I would only be there for one week.  On the first day I was told I would be there another week.  I cried the whole way home.

 Managers at the other group homes tease that they will send staff there as punishment.  That is how difficult it is.

But then I had a revelation.  This group home was in need.  They guys were great, despite having to feed them, change their undergarments, etc.  I COULD BE THE MANAGER!!!  I was so ready to take on the job and turn that house around.  There was a revolving door when it came to staff so there was absolutely no consistancy.  I was sure no one else within the agency would apply for that position.  It wasn’t even posted yet so I thought I had an advantage.  I typed up a VERY GOOD cover letter and turned in my letter of interest to HR.  Everyone that heard I was applying said I would be good in that position.  One week, Two weeks, Three weeks passed and I didn’t hear a word.  I sent out an email to the director.  He said, “Oh, thanks for your interest, but we are going to let another one of our managers run this house.”

Later I applied for a med assistant position.  Running appointments.  Not exactly what I had my heart set on, but it had different responsibilities and the hours were regular.  (After I applied for the manager position I was suddenly switched to midnights and it was making me physically and emotionally ill.)  I came in a close second.  It went to someone who knew a few more of the clients in the department than me.  But I was encouraged to apply for QMRP or staff supervisor if it became available.  The person who got the med assistant position?  She lasted one month and wanted to be transfered back to her old position.

Then a QMRP position because available.  Yay!  I interviewed.  Close second, AGAIN.   It went to someone the interviewee already worked with.  She was a staff supervisor.

I interviewed for the staff supervisor position.  Sounded like I was going to get it since she said, “I am looking for such-and-such qualities and you sound like that person.”  It went to someone who had worked at our agency previously.

THEN, Program Specialist became available.  This was the position I had been hopeing would become available for the last 6 months!  It was day hours, no on call, decent increase in pay.  Advocating for clients, setting and working on goals, training staff to work with clients.  Just what I wanted.  Again I was told I had great credentials and was encouraged to keep applying for positions.  This time I actually requested feedback on the interview.  I was absolutely gobsmacked by what she said.  She didn’t think I could be assertive when needed.  She didn’t think I could work with a diverse population.  She didn’t think I could handle difficult situations.  These are the things I had to do and deal with EVERY SINGLE DAY as a case manager for homeless clients.  I had the clients trying to come on to me.  I had clients trying to bully me for things they wanted.  I had to beg landlords not to kick my client whom I JUST got housed out.  I had to remain calm while I client was opening up to me as maggots were dropping onto the table from the ceiling and rats waddled by.  I worked with drug addicts, mentally ill, abused, young, old, black, white, former attorneys, you name it! 

I was rather upset that the things she mentioned were not things she asked about, but it was good feedback nonetheless.  I somehow have been coming across and timid and weak I guess.  That will have to change.

I am so tired of the interviewing though.  I am tired of getting paid little above minimum wage.  I am tired of  having to work overtime every week to get bills paid.  I am tired of working in an entry-level position and no one can see that I can do a darned good job with so much more responsibility.  I am tired of searching for jobs only to see ‘2 years experience required’ for things like front desk jobs and such (I can get paid 50% more as a clerk/secretary at Purdue and it would work out well for me as I am taking classes there now).

I came across an entry level position for a company in Chicago that does consulting for non-profits.  They preferred someone with experience in direct services.  I thought this would be an awesome job and it could possibly grow into something else as I get math and statistics classes under my belt.  I have not heard from them.  I am sure they are swamped with newly graduated applicants.  *sigh*

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Just one of those days…take it with a grain of salt.

April 12, 2010 at 5:55 pm (Employment, Job Satisfaction) (, , )

Feeling a bit down today…

I had an interview last week.  Fourth in six weeks.  Didn’t get that one either.  I was pretty sure there was someone else they already had in mind for the position, but Josh got me psyched up to blow them away in my interview.  I was reminded of all the difficult work I did in Chicago as a case manager for homeless individuals.  It was TOUGH WORK!  And I did a great job at it.  I was respected.  Workers from outside agencies referred to me.

It reminded me yet again that my potential is not reached in this position.

I applied for this same position in another agency.  She sounded like she was going to hire me until at the end of the 2 hour interview she asked me about my future plans.  She didn’t want to spend the time training me if I wasn’t planning to be a lifer.

I don’t plan to be in this type of work forever.  I AM going for a degree in a completely different field (unless I want to try to work with a think tank making policy, which is one of my considerations).  But while I am here, I don’t want to feel stuck, but I do.  The pay is low.  The job is entry level.  The schedule is getting to me.  I cannot have weekends off.  I have only one day off at a time. 

I am just stinkin’ tired of putting all of that effort into interviewing.  I am tired of hearing about how difficult of a decision it was and how qualified I am for this or that position.

I was just encouraged to interview for the position that is now open since the other person got the job.  The schedule is more crazy.  On call all the time.  But I am pretty sure the person hiring is going to hire another favourite. 

I spend so much of my free time looking for jobs.  I feel like I have run out of places to look.

I think I could stick with the position I am in, despite the low pay, if I could have a normal 9-5, weekends off schedule.

Summer is coming.  Will it be another year that goes by and we say, “I hope we will be able to enjoy NEXT summer.”

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A Two and a Half Year Journey

March 28, 2010 at 2:21 pm (Employment, Finances, Job Satisfaction) (, , , , )

After two years in Scotland we abruptly cut our stay short.  Josh was planning to work another year, then get started on his PhD.  He wasn’t originally planning to do PhD work, but his advisor talked him into it.  He was accepted to continue at U of E.  During our years of marriage this was the happiest I had seen him.  Though he was incredibly intimidated by the bright young minds he would be studying with and wasn’t sure if he could do it after being out of school for 5 years, he did very well and graduated with distinction.  He was also excited to continue his studies and began informal research for his thesis (dissertation is done for masters and thesis is done for doctorate in the UK).

But a couple of strange phone calls from Josh’s mom had us worried.  She sounded confused.  She thought we had secretly moved back to Chicago and didn’t tell her, even though she had made the international phone call to us.  She would call and hang up.  She was mad and we didn’t know why and wouldn’t talk to us for a while.  We talked with Josh’s siblings.  Their stories collaborated with ours, but they told us to continue on in Scotland, not to come home.  But she asked us if we would come home.

In just a matter of one or two weeks we decided that we would pick up and leave.  Josh’s sister would be home for part of the summer and we wanted to be there shortly after she left, thinking this would bring her comfort.  We decided that we would not look for jobs, but help care for my FIL who was invalid and could not communicate.

Things did not go as planned.  I purposely did not share what was going on on my blog out of respect.  I hid everything except small illusions to those close.  I will not share details, but I will tell you it was like living a Dicken’s novel for 3 months.  Even longer, after we moved out.

We were treated bad.  We were not even welcomed when we arrived.  After 3 months we decided we could not handle it any more.  I began having mini panic attacks whenever we were on the road to get back home.  I still do.  By that time we were kicked out.  We had to find a car (we were dependent on hers) and a place to live without any income.  We had to set up house again.  Since we had been in Scotland we had no cleaning supplies, no condiments, we had given many things away so we didn’t have to store them.

It took 2 months for us both to find work and it was only seasonal and part-time.  I worked a horrible 6 weeks at Target and Josh was at UPS.  That ran out and it took another month to find work.  I was part-time at Chase in Hobart, a 45 minute drive from where we were living, and Josh found work through a temp agency.  He worked cleaning carpets and sucking up flood water, being on-call 24/7 for $9/hr.  We had no life and gas was reaching toward $5/gal that year. 

The vehicle we purchased needed a new gas tank right away.  We didn’t realise it was leaking.  A few months later it needed a new transmission.  We were incredibly grateful to friends who had given us their old car.  And one that got 35 miles to the gallon!  Otherwise there is no way we both could have worked.

At the worst point of it all we were $13,000 in credit card debt.  It is not that we lived frivolously.  That is what it took for us to have a subsistence living.  We had to put everything, EVERYTHING on the cards.  We had three cards, which we had gotten intermittently.  When the 0% APR ran out on one, we got another.  When I started work at Chase I applied for another.  Being an employee, this gave me 18mos no APR.

With Josh doing so much overtime we were able to start paying down some of the debt.  Little by little.  Something would always happen and push us back a bit.  It was such a sickening feeling that our wages were hardly livable and even though we put everything we had on those credit cards, they only went down hundreds a month.  I quit reading articles on saving money and cutting spending because they were absolutely ridiculous to me.  They talked about getting rid of certain cell phone packages.  We were only paying $10 each on my dad’s account!  They talked about going out to eat only once a week.  Are you kidding?  Going out to eat?  What was that?!  They said to get rid of certain cable or satellite TV packages.  We have never even had a TV.  The articles were useless to me.

We were so very thankful for my mom’s friend who had given us a temporary place to stay for VERY cheap!  There is no way we could have gotten an apartment with no jobs.  But that was just it.  It was temporary.  She had it on the market and every time they showed it we were nervous.   We ended up staying there 8 months and she decided to take it off the market, but they were going to let their son and his family live there.

So we had to move…again.  And we had to by furniture, because we had nowhere to sit.

At least we were both closer to work.  Just a 15 minute drive for me now and Josh walked.  I would sometimes walk with him.  It was a very good situation for us and we wished we had done it sooner.

But before we moved we had mentioned the idea to my parents about maybe buying a house together.  One with related living or something where we could live in a separate part of the house and we all could maintain our privacy.  We found a house and 3 months after our move to the apartment we moved..again.

Though we did not have our cards paid down, we still had excellent credit (mine was 810!).  We needed money to put down and for closing costs, so for a few months we only paid a little more than the minimum on the cards so we could have cash in the bank.  So that set us back a bit again.

When we moved in we thought the area that would be our bedroom would be ok for the time being.  But it was like being in a cave.  It was a dark hole and cold air gushed in from the tiny 3 foot closet.  It was November and SAD would be kicking in.  Josh was now a one hour drive from a job he absolutely hated and we were both depressed about him having to work it.  He was promised a promotion and it was given to a family member.  This being the last straw he asked me if he could quit, despite not having something else lined up.  I was happy for him to quit, but now we were just living on my part-time income.  We purchased our first house, but things were still depressing.

Josh put out resume after resume.  The only place that responded was a sandwich shop that had just opened.  He would be a delivery driver.  Problem was, there were 20 positions and they hired 55 people, thinking most would not show up.  All of them did.  Did they remember what kind of economy this was?  So he worked 10 hours a week.

In December I got a new job.  A full-time one.  Josh applied as well, but they didn’t want to hire him because he was over qualified.  He applied for another position that opened up during my orientation and got it.  The pay was still incredibly low, especially for someone who was going to be starting up a whole new program.  He was promised 2 raises within the first year.  He got one after a year. 

So back to the bedroom.  It was too dark and depressing for us and we didn’t even have room for our clothes.  There was no way to tidy because we had piles of clothes that had nowhere to go.  We already had plans for a new bedroom, a new kitchen (we don’t have one in our living area), and to make the half bath a full bath.  Josh’s brother does construction work and work was very slow for him.  So rather than saving up to begin the work, we wanted to give him some work.  We just did the bedroom and we are so glad we did.  We shifted it so now it had two windows rather than one.  We made the walls completely white and with a light tile.  It made a world of different as far as sunlight.  We also make a larger closet.  Still not huge, but we got rid of bags of clothes and can now fit ALL of our seasonal clothes in the closet.

So that was another thing that set us back.  And there are always car problems.  We have never had a car younger than 12 years until recently when my parents gave us their 2000 Impala.  (Yes, if you were counting we now have 3 cars.  But one is parked in the garage and is used for hauling and camping trips)  And now that we are home-owners there are problems that come up.  And of course, now that we have an acre of land I could no longer put off my dreams of having a garden.  As much as Josh practically begged me to wait a year, I could not and it brought me so much joy last year.

So that has been our journey and I shared all of this to say, we are now no longer slaves to the credit cards.  This last pay we were finally able to make the full payment on our last card.  It will still be a month before we can actually put money in the bank because I think our employer was not taking out what they were supposed to in taxes and we now owe $1000.  And I had to pay nearly $1000 for my heart issues but the bills keep coming.  I am hoping they have stopped.

It is such a relief to no longer be under that cloud.  We have denied so much to ourselves (though at times we have given in, too) so that we could get that paid off.  And we have not been able to make certain decisions about work because we have been so reliant on that income.  I have been wanting a Kitchen Aid or Cuisinart 11 cup  food processor since our early days of marriage and once we have a kitchen I may be able to get one!  🙂

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February 17, 2010 at 7:16 pm (Employment, Job Satisfaction, working midnights) ()

I had every intention of talking about our Chicago mini-vacation today (it was a good time!) as this is the only day I have the afternoon off, but I just got word that this is my last week (Friday) at the group home and there are no other positions at other group homes open.  I will be transfered to a department which would not be my first choice as a DSP.  Good news is I will not be working midnights, though they are always in need of midnight people and I might get asked to do them. 

So now instead of uploading pictures and such, I will be looking intently through job listings and trying to remember agencies I can look up.  If anyone has any suggestions for NW Indiana and Chicago, I will take them!

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