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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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!

https://www.mythirtyone.com/Deliverance/

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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Twenty-Twelve

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.

January:

  • 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!

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February:

  • 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!

March:

  • 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.

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April:

  • 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!

May:

  • 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.

June:

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

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  • 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!).

July:

  • 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.
  • FIREWORKS!!!
  • Josh, Stacey, and I organize  help set up for Chris and Katie’s wedding (and party hard afterwards!).

August:

  • 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.

September:

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

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  • 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.

October:

  • 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.

November

  • 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.

December

  • 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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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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Respite House Article

April 18, 2010 at 2:59 pm (Job Satisfaction, News) (, , )

The local paper did an article on the Respite House Josh supervises (more began and manages, but he is a supervisor in title).  It is really great to be able to offer a break for caregivers.

http://www.post-trib.com/news/porter/2163884,new-vrespite0416.article

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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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Looking

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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CRASH!

February 8, 2010 at 9:12 pm (Healthcare, Job Satisfaction, working midnights) (, , , , )

After such an amazingly normal time off I went back to HR with my release note and the recommendation from the doctor that I not work midnights.  I was hopeful after the communication I had with HR last week that I could just be transfered to a position that only worked days.

Well, it didn’t work out that way.  I was told they did not have to accommodate the restriction and if I didn’t want to work midnights they MIGHT be able to transfer me to another group home or I would have to find another position available and apply for it.

I have spent the last week looking for other positions.  Right now I feel like I would take almost anything.  I am looking in Chicago because it seems like my chances would be better there, but to make the commute worth it I would have to require a higher wage than I am making now (which is pretty low, so it wouldn’t be too hard).  Anyone know of anything???

It would be a dream if I could find someone working in statistics that would be willing to hire someone aspiring to work in statistics, but doesn’t yet have the education or experience and let me shadow and train.  I would be willing to take a low pay for the experience and to just be able to get right into the field I am dying to get into.  But like I said, that would just be a dream.  People don’t do that anymore.

I’m looking at hospitals and universities.  But even secretary or clerk positions require experience and certifications.

I found a perfect fit as a resource specialist at a hospital, right in line with something I did in Chicago!  But I couldn’t even advance to the application because I don’t speak Spanish.  😦  I had hoped they would let me learn.

So I am technically released to work, but since I wasn’t on the schedule I am forced to use vacation time for today and probably tomorrow.  Wednesday we start our mini vacation!  The idea of our holiday is a little less thrilling to me now that I don’t know what kind of a job, IF I will have a job when I come back.

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To Feel Normal Again

February 7, 2010 at 3:10 am (Healthcare, Job Satisfaction, working midnights) (, , , )

Tuesday I saw the doctor about my blood pressure.  I had gotten off my midnight at 9am and had to stay up for the appointment at 10:45.  My BP was high, but not dangerous.  Still, the doctor was concerned enough to put me on medical leave until I had some tests and she re-evaluated the situation in a week.  I had an EKG in the office and had to schedule and echocardiogram and some lab work.  I will also have to wear a heart monitor for a month, but that has not come yet.  The hospital waited 2 days to phone my insurance about it and they have still not heard from my insurance company.  Sure would be easier if everything were centralized, but anyways…

After my appointment I went to HR to turn in my doctor’s note and phone my boss.  Then I spent an hour on the phone talking to 3 different departments at the hospital to set the appointment, pre-register for my heart monitor, and pre-register for the echo and lab work, each one separately, each one requiring my name, address, insurance info, work info, and Josh’s work info.  *sigh*

Then I had to run over to the hospital to turn in the order for my heart monitor (did I mention that has not arrived yet?).  As I was driving away from the hospital I was making a tight turn and ran into broken, jagged curb which I found out a day later had punctured the tire wall and we now need new tires.  *argh!*  Just one hour before I found the flat I recieved a call from the hospital stating that my portion of the echo would be $600 and would I be able to pay it tomorrow?  There go our hopes of paying off our debt this month.

I didn’t finally get to sleep until about 3pm.  I was up for longer than 24 hours on just a few hours of sleep after the previous midnight.

On the day I found the flat tire I was actually on my way to a mandatory staff meeting.  It was one hour and it wasn’t actual work.  It was mandatory so I thought I should still go.  At the meeting no one looked at me.  No one talked to me.  I felt like a peon.  After I got home I got a call from HR saying “You can’t do that!”  My boss had called HR (after the meeting) and said she just didn’t know what to do when I arrived, that she didn’t want to just send me home.  I think I would have preferred that she send me home.  Or she could have said, “I’m not sure you can be here on medical leave.  Let me phone someone.”  I didn’t care to be there anyways.  And I felt like an idiot.

So it was a rough week, but it has also been a wonderful week.  I feel like I have my life back.  I feel like a normal human being again.  I feel happiness and contentment and I have a desire to do the things I enjoy and I have energy to do household duties.  I hadn’t realised the extent of what these last 6 months had done to me.  In retrospect I was the frog in the pot of water as it got hotter and hotter, not fully realising it had been at boiling point for some time.  It was like I was in a cave with a candle, watching the flame grow dimmer and dimmer, not fully realising that my oxygen had been running out.  I now feel like a thick, heavy, dark cloud has been lifted from me.  I can see.  I can breathe.

and i DON’T WANT to go BACK!

I have spent hours scouring adds.  I filled in applications.  I feel desparate.

On Monday I will see the doctor again and she will be able to tell me if my BP problem is acute or if it has been going on longer than I thought.  I have be monitoring my BP and it has dropped way back down to normal since Tuesday.  I notified HR that my doctor may conclude that this is a work related issue and she may not clear me to work midnights (please, oh please!).  Later I recieved a call from HR saying that while the agency is required to accomodate the restriction, my boss is not willing to.  Though I was told when I was hired that I would not be working midnights and I worked my first 6 months only doing about 3 midnights, it would not be possible now.  But may be day positions available in our workshop.  I have also applied for a group home manager position and may interview for that next week.  We will see what happens.  But right now I feel like the stress and awfullness of the last 6 months has come fully to it’s head and I feel emotionally like I want to just lay flat on my back and stare at the ceiling, exhausted.  I don’t WANT to return to work.

We do start a mini vacation on Wednesday.  So I may be back to work 2 days (if they can fit me into the schedule) and then be off for another 5.  We really need it.

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One Side Effect of the Graveyard Shift

January 31, 2010 at 3:26 am (Healthcare, Job Satisfaction) (, )

Those of you who are my friends on Facebook have seen many status updates about my high blood pressure and have expressed your concern.  I have been concerned as well!  Let me say first that I do have an appointment to see a doctor this coming Tuesday. 

I feel that my high bp is related to my working midnights.  My normal bp is usually something like 112/74.  I began to be concerned a few weeks ago when I couldn’t sleep because my heart was racing while I was trying to sleep after a midnight.  After laying in bed for 2 hours I reached over for my phone and took my pulse.  It was 128 and my heart felt like it was going to jump out of my chest!  I started recording my bp before and after a midnight.  It was always around 130/85 after the midnight and I’ve noticed more recently that it has been a little more elevated than usual even on my non-midnight days.

A couple of weeks ago I went to get a refill on my contraceptives.  The appointment happened to be just after getting off a midnight.  The nurse took my bp 3 times.  It was something crazy like 180/88.  I just happened to have my log with me and showed her that it is always elevated after I work a midnight (though not that high).  She was going to withhold my prescription but because of the log she consulted the Dr. and she gave me a one month prescription for the medication I had one month previous with the understanding I would see a GP.  I had to switch my medication earlier to something I could get cheaper at Wal-Mart since my insurance doesn’t cover it (dang you health insurance!).

Since that insanely high bp I have been much more concerned, even afraid to get my heart rate up.  I have been concerned for years about my heart fluttering and now I have no idea what my heart is going to do.  To top it off I went to the Mayo website to look at possible issues with high bp and found things like heart attack, stroke, blood clots, and problems with memory and understanding.  And once a bp reaches 180/120 for your brain to swell, tearing in heart’s main artery, and fluid in lungs.

The last time I took my bp after a midnight it was 168/99.

I have a crazy schedule again this week, for the third week in a row.  I start a midnight Sunday, 10p-9am.  I can sleep for a few hours before I have to get up, shower, and study for my exam for class at 6pm.  I go straight to work, 9pm-9am.  I have a Dr appointment at 10:45am.  I’ll be able to sleep a little longer if I don’t want to see Josh for the second day in a row before I go to work 9pm-9am.  I get to sleep a little over 2 hrs before I have to go back to work for a mandatory meeting at 1pm.  Needless to say, my bp will be high for the appointment.

Some people can handle working midnights better than me, but most people who have done it for years say they have never gotten used to it.  It stinks!  And if you are an employer I strongly advise you to offer your midnight workers a shift differential because of the inconvenience and added health risks associated to working midnights.  I am gobsmacked that an agency such as ours does not offer a differential.

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Positive, Contentment, Wisdom

January 15, 2010 at 8:44 pm (Job Satisfaction) (, )

I’m feeling it again.  Trapped.  Despare.  Frustration.  Longing.

How do all you happy people do it?  I try to psych myself up and think of the wonderful things in life.  I try to let go of the things dragging me down.  I put my life into perspective.  There are SO many people truely suffering.  Who am I to be discontent?!  I find myself chanting on the way to work “Positive, contentment, wisdom.  Positive, contentment, wisdom.”  These are things I try to work towards.  And after several rounds I cry out, “Help me, God!  I can’t do it!”  And then silence…

As I shared earlier, I had an appointment for a position in another department.  I am feeling trapped in an entry level, low paying job and really want the challenge of something different.  I would love a management position, but those are hard to come by.  The one I applied for was a medical assistant.  Run appointments, keeping up with meds, serving as a liason between our nurses and their doctors.  I didn’t get it because someone else was already familiar with the workings of this department.  It feels so frustrating that it was such a close call.  It just slipped right through my fingers.  Something so minor and something I could have learned.

But I remind myself of the compliment given me when I was not accepted for the position.  She said it was so hard to decide that she went to HR to get attendance records thinking that might help, but it didn’t.  And she said that if a position for QMRP came up she recommended that I apply for it and that she hoped to work with me in the future.  The med assistant position would pretty much be a lateral move.  The QMRP position would definately be a promotion.  Quite a jump, in fact, for a DSP like me.  I feel honored that she would consider me a suitable applicant for that position.  I always KNEW I could handle a more challenging position and someone else now recognises that, too!  And yet…I want to scream.  Because here I am, still STUCK.  Positions like that open up only rarely.

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crumbling

January 12, 2010 at 11:25 pm (Job Satisfaction) (, , )

For some strange reason things seem to be falling apart at work.  It’s just one thing after another.  And of course doing midnights doesn’t exactly make me emotionally stable.

I have an interview tomorrow for something different within the agency.  Not really an advancement which is what I would really like, but something different.  And more responsibility, which is something I would like as well.  I will be interviewing my interviewer as well to make sure it is something I really want.

*No particular reason for the picture.  I guess it gave me a feeling of serenity and escape.

** Update:  Didn’t get it.  It was a good interview.  She said that it was a really hard decision and she actually went to HR to get attendence records hoping that would help, but it didn’t.  She said she went with another applicant because this one already had experience in that department.

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Coffee Makes Everything All Better

December 31, 2009 at 4:18 pm (A New Career, Job Satisfaction) (, , , , )

I try not to drink too much coffee.  I work late and early shifts a lot so it is easy to want to grab a cup and it is easy for me to get addicted again.  I have an addictive personality and so many times I become dependent on coffee even after I get to a point where the thought of drinking it makes me feel sick.

But it really does make everything better!  I have a couple of sips and I think that life really isn’t so bad!  If only I could convince Josh that this kind of self-medicating isn’t so bad.  🙂

Yesterday I went to Starbucks.  These are special trips reserved for something special, like a day I am going to work a really, really long overnight shift or it’s my day off and I’m running errands or it’s cold outside or I just need a pick-me-up.  No, really.  Coffee shop coffee really is reserved to once-in-a-great-while.  And I usually go to Starbucks because (aside from I know how the coffee is SUPPOSED to taste and can have it done right if it isn’t) last Christmas got me a $100 gift certificate (for $80 from Costco).  He knows I don’t like to spend that much for our gifts, but how could I refuse?!  And yes, I AM still using that same gift card.  I have enough on it for one more drink.

Anyways, yesterday I went to Starbucks.  Everytime I am there, it doesn’t matter which one, every time I am there I want to jump behind the counter and make my own drink.  They are so darned slow!  There are usually 4 or 5 or more behind the counter and they can’t keep up with 5 drinks!  Once I was the only person in the store and there was one car in the drive through and it took me 10 minutes to get my frapp.  And then it didn’t even taste right.

It makes me think back to my days behind the bar.  Aside from weekends and holidays there were only ever 2 of us behind the bar.  AND there were points in the day where there was only one.  And I got so good at my job that I could handle 5 customers all by myself.  I mean the whole transaction, from ordering to paying to making the drink.  When I was training green beans and the poor bloke at the machine had a line of cups that would no longer fit on top I would jump in and steam milk and start drinks while handling customers at the till.  And when I was behind the bar and I saw a regular in the queue I would start there drink and have it ready before they even ordered and without backing up the drinks that were already ordered. 

And it wasn’t just that I was fast.  I was GOOD!  Customers liked it when I was behind the bar because my drinks were reliable.  When I told one of my customers that I was leaving she exclaimed in her Scottish brogue, “Oh, no!  Where am I going to go?  You make the best cappuccino!”  And even though I was only a supervisor, I felt more like a manager because I ran a lot of the workings of the store.  I was respected by those I supervised.  They enjoyed working for me.  They even told me that I should open up a deep-dish pizza shop and they would all come work for me.  I really enjoyed knowing my job inside and out and having the capability to be excellent in what I do.  I knew how to be diplomatic with the customers, too.  Even with blood boiling I could handle a problem with a smile on my face.  This is probably where I learned how to insult someone without them even realising it.  I never satisfied a customer at the expense of one of my teammates, though.

Since then I have not felt that way and I think it really affects my job satisfaction.  I know I have done good work in my recent jobs, but because there is so much regulation, too many to really learn, especially when the state really isn’t that clear on regs, and because we have so many people to answer to, each one of them having their own ideas about how things should be done, I don’t feel like I will ever know my job inside and out and be the best in my field.  I just hope that the new line of work I go into will be different and that I can excel, not just get the job done, but be really good at what I do.

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