Monthly Archives: April 2018

A Lesson in Drying Clothes

I’ve been doing laundry nonstop the past two weeks. My daughter brought home a nice case of head bugs (I’ll write about what I’ve learned from that another time – I’m just not ready yet – still recovering), so I’ve been keeping the washer and dryer going during most of the daylight hours.

Last night I was so proud that I managed to switch another load and would be ready to keep the process going the next morning. I went in the basement this morning to get the dried clothes out of the dryer. They were not dry. I did not turn it on. I was so tired I did not turn on the dryer.

Lesson learned: You have to turn on the dryer for the clothes to dry. Duh.

The Whoas of Job Searching

I have been laid off a total of 3 times in my career. Looking for a new job can be tricky. It’s all about who you know. In all of my years in the corporate world, I’ve never gotten a job by applying to a position without already knowing someone at the company. For each job I’ve had over the years, I got in by knowing someone ahead of the interview. I think the exception would be the first job I had out of college. I found that one by attending a job fair at school and chatting with my soon-to-be first employer prior to getting an interview.

It’s been almost two months since I exited the doors of my last employer. I was there for a year. After about 6 months I decided that I did not like it there. When you start a new job, it’s disheartening to realize that you may have made the wrong choice. I liked the work and my team, but the company did not align with my values. I tried to do what I could to advance the team, but the senior leaders were not what I would call leaders at all. They appeared to be more concerned with unhealthy political competition among one other than building up each other and their teams. One day, my manager, the COO of the company, resigned. The next week I was being called me down to visit HR. I had a sigh of relief as I shut the trunk on my boxed up office junk and drove out of the parking lot. I was upset, yes, but not because I loved it there. I was going to miss the paycheck and a few friends that I had made and that was it. It was now clear that I had working for the “wrong team” and that the office politics weren’t in my favor from the start. I probably could have tried harder by compromising my values, but I wasn’t willing to take that route and so it may appeared that my heart wasn’t in it. Another career chapter done. Lesson learned: Do a better job of scoping out the company culture before being hired.

The first time I was laid off I was 23 years old and so very naïve. I didn’t even see it coming. I was a technical writer at a software company that was apparently doing badly. I was too self-absorbed and unaware of the need to pay attention to office politics. My biggest dilemma each day was what to choose for lunch and what should I plan to do with my friends for the upcoming weekend. I did my work, and in between, I discovered this thing called “blogs” online and would catch up on my favorite ones in between my work and emailing with my friend. Needless to say, I was shocked and heartbroken when I showed up in a conference room full of long faces to hear the news that it was my last day. When I had entered the room, I was the young cheery chic that was noisily chatting until the HR Director shut the door and started handing out packets. Soon enough I found out the contents of those packets and was being escorted to my car with my first ever “box”. Lesson learned: Don’t get comfortable, change can unexpectedly arise at any time.

The second time I was laid off was part of a bigger layoff experience. I was working at a regional bank in the home equity department. It was made up of about 400+ employees. I had been there for a little less than 5 years. I was an instructional designer in the training department. I was engaged to be married and my biggest concern each day was probably what my fiancé and I were going to have for dinner each night and whether or not we should take the dog for a walk. We had just bought a house earlier that year. I was 28 and the future was bright. Unlike the last time I was laid off, this time I started noticing some clues a few weeks ahead of time. When the time came, I was the first one to enter the office of the HR contractor that was hired to relay the news. A nice lady pushed a box of tissue my way as she delivered the news. I did not flinch and said okay with a smile. I just got 6 months of severance and had a green light to not work as I planned my wedding and honeymoon in the fall. This was a golden ticket to free time and a new start. Since it was a bigger layoff, there was no “layoff box” but a folder and the whole department got to work cleaning out their cubes and we all had time to mentally process the change. Lesson learned: A seemingly negative experience can be very positive.

My first two layoff experiences led to bigger and better opportunities. I’m hoping that this 3rd time is a charm that guides me toward something great, but things have changed a bit.

  • The rules for selling yourself on a resume and in an interview have changed. The Millennials are in charge, which isn’t necessarily a negative thing. LinkedIn and other online sites are job searching staples along with staying connected to your network. Recruiters can do quite a bit of research on you before they contact you. Sometimes you can get picked off before you can even land a phone interview. Other times you can snag an interview before a job description hits the job boards.
  • My attitude and outlook have changed. I am older (and, eh um, wiser) and not as eager to please this time. I used to dread the end of an interview where they ask if you have any questions. Now I can’t wait until that part – I feel that I am also interviewing them. If I have skills that can add value to a company, I must also interview them to see if they are a fit for me – it’s a two-way street.

I know I will find the best place for me to dedicate my time and energy 40+ hours a week. I don’t give up easily. I’d like for my next job to be my home away from home. Is that too cheesy and optimistic? Until then, I’m trying to re energize, spend time with my family, and soak in the sunshine of the spring.

Stifle Me Not

Welcome to Stifle Me Not

It’s been a challenging year so far to say the least. It’s not what’s happening, but how you react to it, right? We all have feelings, and there’s a fine line between feeling your feelings and not hurting others as you allow yourself to feel and react. I have been walking that fine line for months now. For 6 months to be exact. I know it’s not going away anytime soon, so I’m starting this blog as an outlet. Writing is therapeutic for me, so I’ll chronicle life stories, challenges and joys, as they come and live life the best way I know how.

My current state of reality can be summed up into 3 main events:  I’m separated from my husband, got laid off from my job, and one of my kids got lice (and then she gave it to me). “Things can always be worse” I like to tell myself. But right now the feelings feel like “This is rock bottom.”

I believe the main thing you need to do with each situation is learn and grow from it. If you don’t do anything with what you’ve learned, then the whole experience, good or bad, is a waste. Easier said than done, right? Right.

I’m trying to take my own advice, so what am I learning these days from these Big 3 Events in my life?

Separation – It sucks. Quite simply, we have agreed to disagree and are working to be the best parents possible. I am navigating the waters by focusing on the positive and handling the negative situations as they come instead of dwelling on the doom and gloom of what could be. The first few months were not pretty. In fact, they were hard and heart-numbing. I’m learning to feel the feelings each day but communicate the facts without letting them collide into a whirlwind of chaos.

Unemployment – Well, this sucks too. I’ve been here before, although I was laid off earlier in my career when I was eager to accept any job that came my way. I now have quite a bit of experience under my belt and actual skills that I’ve worked hard to develop. This time is a little different and more challenging since I have children to support and am about to become a single income household. I cannot accept just any job – I need a secure salary and the next company I work for has to have some distinct values that align with mine. I cannot leave my kids each day going to a place that I dread. I’m learning not to compromise my values for a job and be confident and proud about what I have to offer in my professional life.

Hair Bug Epidemic 2.0 – This one has me hysterical, but I survived this once before so I’m sure I can do it again. I call this “2.0” because Hair Bug Epidemic 1.0 invaded our house early in 2017. I caught it early this time because of what i learned that time. Last time I researched and learned quite a bit about different treatments and prevention methods. What I did not do is continue the prevention methods. My daughter is in third grade with a head of thick hair that is just waiting to welcome the next bug that is in her general vicinity. This time I’ve learned about newer and more effective treatment methods that aren’t so toxic and that I have to continue prevention methods for the rest of my children’s lives – at least through middle school or I’ll have 3.0 in my house in no time. I’ve also learned that it feels gross but is not the end of the world.

I’m calling this blog “Stifle Me Not” because I often feel restricted by different life experiences, but figuring out how to learn from them and grow has been an ongoing theme for me.

I hope you enjoyed this first blog post. I’ve been getting the itch (lol, no pun intended, although that’s pretty funny, go me) to write more often. Stay tuned…

Stifle Me Not