Tuesday, December 31, 2019

2019: The Very Good Year

2019 has been very good to me. But you can't truly appreciate the magnitude of this year unless you hold it up against the light of the entire decade shining behind it. Let's take a real good look.

The Decade in Review...

2010:
The Year My Mom Died (cancer)
The Year All of My Friends Got Divorced But Didn't Tell Me Because They Didn't Want to Make Me Sad

2011:
The Year My Sister Lily Died (cancer)

2012:
The Year I Walked Away from a 25-Year-Long Career in Radio and Accepted a Pretty Cool Job as a Video News Anchor and Social Media Specialist

2013:
The Year the Video News Company Went Bankrupt and Closed
The Year I Accidentally Began a New Career in Digital Marketing

2014:
The Year I Went Back to College

2015:
The Year My Dad Died (cancer)

2016:
The Year My Siblings Fought Over the Will and Broke Apart What Little Family I Had Left
The Year I Turned 50 and Became Older Than Lily

2017:

The Year I Began Applying for New Jobs
The Year I Began Receiving Soul Crushing Rejections
The Year Everyone Else In My Department Left for Better Jobs

2018:
The Year I Was So Proud When Younger Son Got an Apartment and Moved Out
The Year I Was So Sad When Younger Son Got an Apartment and Moved Out

Tattered around the edges,
but held together through it all
2019:
The Year I Earned a Bachelor's Degree
The Year I Got a New Job
The Year I Visited My Siblings and It Was Pleasant
The Year That Was Very Good

So, my friend, I present to you 2019:
The Year That Made It Possible to Gently Close the Door on This Decade and Move On.

All my best to you and yours in 2020, my friend.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Awesome Things About My Job (Part 2)

Windows

The building designers put quite a bit of effort into ensuring every room has access to natural sunlight. Exterior rooms are open concept so all cubicles have a view of a window. One wall of the employee break room is made entirely of glass. Interior rooms have second story skylights visible from the first floor.

Lack of windows would have been a deal breaker when the job offer was made. I asked the recruiter how close my workspace would be to a window.

Windows, and a walking path.
I kinda like my new job.
Skylight!

Monday, December 02, 2019

Three Days Without a Phone

The Husband and I had been running and gunning for two straight weeks cleaning the house and getting food ready to host Thanksgiving dinner at our house. Shortly after collapsing into bed Wednesday night content that everything was taken care of, I heard my phone issue its dead battery warning. I'd been hearing this warning for months. The phone had been intermittently denying that it was plugged in, and it often failed to charge the battery leading to unexpected "oh dear god my battery is dead I'm powering off oh the humanity" warnings at all times of day or night. But this warning on the eve of every-business-closed-for-Thanksgiving-followed-by-everyone-in-the-world-shopping-on-Black-Friday-good-luck-getting-personal-help-buying-technology-any-time-soon, my phone played out its death scene for the last time.

Thus began my three day journey of enlightenment.

I am here to tell you, friends, living without a phone was not the experience I had expected.
I spent all of Thanksgiving Day... visiting with family.
I spent two long evenings... reading books.
Entire days passed without Facebook drama.

I didn't miss my phone.

Much.

I will be the first to admit that I had developed an unhealthy relationship with my mobile device. I'd been spending so much time with my head bent over it and hands cupped around it that my neck, shoulders and thumbs were in almost constant pain. So I am both amazed and relieved that I did not miss my phone as much as I believed I should.
And I was delighted to learn that the things I did miss were not the things I'd grown addicted to.

Things I didn't miss:

  • Texting - Oh sure, multiple times a day I wanted to share a funny thought with the Husband and I felt the absence of this quick, private connection. But almost always the text was more of an entertaining distraction from work more than a communication necessity. If I'd had something urgent the Husband needed to know, I could have called him from my desk. While it was sad not to have the ability to text, living without it was not the obstacle I thought it would be.
  • Games - I had granted myself one game app to use whenever I had long waits to endure like at the DMV or during TV shows the Husband liked that I didn't care for. It was supposed to be a backup plan, a simple time filler for special occasions, but I'd fallen into the habit of choosing to play the game over doing any other activities that I used to enjoy. I wasted hours every day on it. I wanted to delete it from my phone, but I'd already spent so much time climbing to high levels that I couldn't bring myself to throw it all away. All that time invested for nothing? I couldn't do it. So, I'd been afraid that being without this game would cause painful withdrawal, but it didn't. Am I sad all my progress is lost? Sure, but I didn't miss the game at all once it was removed from my life. I don't need it. I have other things to do that I enjoy. And frankly, what's wrong with just waiting? What's wrong with passing the time with nothing but your own thoughts? Who says we need to be entertained all the time?
  • Facebook - the only time I even thought about checking Facebook was when I was waiting for something else... like a program to load on my computer, or for the Husband to return to the room I was sitting in. Almost always my intentions to "just check it quick" would turn into a 10-15 minute diversion from what I was supposed to be doing. Facebook was also a time filler that I didn't need and didn't really miss when it wasn't available. And again, what's so wrong with just waiting?
 Things I did miss:
  • The camera - Because really, what else does anyone use to take pictures anymore? No one but professional photographers carry an actual camera. Yeah, I missed the camera.
  • The clock - Guess what? I use my phone as an alarm clock. If it hadn't been for the Husband's collection of backup alarm clocks, I wouldn't have had a clock in the house that had an alarm I could use in the interim.
  • A weather app - I know the TV and radio stations all have a ten minute weather guarantee, but I never pay attention long enough to hear what the temperature is now and whether or how many layers I'll need to wear. I can live without this app, but it's funny how I didn't even realize how much I used it until I didn't have it.
  • Sticky Note app - This is a note pad app where I had gotten into the habit of jotting notes to myself. I kept a shopping list on there, ideas for blog posts I hoped to write someday, timed reminders that pinged when it was time to take a break from work or to pay monthly bills. This nifty thing held a lot of information so I didn't have to remember it. This is one app I'm putting back on the new phone, but I'm also going back to writing the more important notes on paper.
What I learned is that my phone is a useful tool that I should be grateful to have and that I should use happily without any guilt. But I should be careful not have to let it have me.

***
By Saturday night, I had a new phone.
I spent all of Sunday complaining about how I couldn't figure out the settings on it.
I dislike getting used to new phones.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Awesome Things About My Job (part 1)


During orientation I learned that the site of my new employment has a half mile outdoor walking path. I played it cool on the outside when I heard this, but inside I exploded with confetti and violent fist pumps. I'd been trying for more than a decade to develop an exercise routine that I could maintain through all seasons. Work and school schedules were obstacles I eagerly allowed to stand in my way.

Item #2 on my list of things I planned to do after graduation was to develop that long-delayed health activity. A half mile paved and maintained path inside a secure facility is the answer to my prayers. I go out every day on my breaks and take a lap, sometimes two. I get exercise, fresh air, and natural daylight.

I go out in all weather. There was that one day it rained, and I decided to stay inside. Longest day ever. I felt exhausted and miserable by the time I went home. It was reminiscent of plowing through long days at my desk to make up for time I took off to attend classes. Since then, I've forced myself to go out at least once a day to break up the day and to prove to myself that I'm worth the effort.

Providing the walking path is just one thing my employer does to encourage healthy living. There's a member of the HR department whose entire job is devoted to coordinating events and rewards to promote wellness. I've never worked for a company that put this kind of effort into employee care.

Life is good.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

That looks familiar

He: What kind of bug is that? (points at dot crawling across the ceiling)
Me: A dead one.
He: (crushes bug) Huh. You were right.
Me: Yeah, it looked a lot like the other dead bugs I've seen in the past.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The New Job

When I first introduced myself here at Ack!Thbbbt!, I was a music radio DJ trapped in a newsradio job. I took you along with me as I escaped radio and sought sanctuary at video news company where I was hired as a social media manager, and it was there that I learned about a thing called SEO (Search Engine Optimization). I found it very interesting, and it reminded me that I had once been extremely fascinated with how websites worked. So fascinated had I been that around the turn of the millennium I had pursued a website development certificate at a local tech college. I finished about three courses before life and children proved too difficult to continue. But, this SEO job made me remember that something existed in the world that was as intriguing to me as radio once had been.

When the video news company went bankrupt, a series of fortunate events landed me a job as an SEO Specialist at a small website development company. There, I nurtured and grew my website knowledge while attending a big girl university. In six years' time, I turned my 30-year-old associate's degree in Marketing into a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication with an emphasis in Public Relations.
I took my six years of website development experience and my brand new shiny degree, and I got a new job.

My New Job
I am an SEO Specialist for a company that owns a chain of retail establishments located throughout the midwest. To be more precise, I am their first ever SEO Specialist. They didn't have one before me. They hired a 53 year old woman to take the reins of a job that is only as old as one of today's college graduates.

To be truthful, this is not where I expected to end up when I decided to leave radio seven years ago. I thought I'd fall into a non-profit gig easily, thought I was a shoe-in for a library public relations position. I declared to The Husband many times that I wanted to make a difference more than I wanted to make money. But you know what? After making lousy money at small companies for most of my life, I'm kinda digging working for a large established corporation that pays well and offers benefits.
Does that make me a sell out? Maybe.
Does that bother me? Nope.
What I am... is surprised and delighted to find how comfortable this feels. When I was much younger working to earn my associates degree in business, this is the kind of business job I imagined I'd get. But I think it's good that I worked at all the other jobs first so I could fully appreciate how nice it is to work for a well-run company.

After watching and worrying as I spent decades in radio moving "town to town, up and down the dial", Mom and Dad would be very happy to know that I've finally gotten the stable, grown up job they had always hoped I'd get. :-)

***

My friends and family can't understand how I could walk away from a 30 year career in radio and turn into a computer nerd. But, you can see in just two paragraphs how short and sensible that journey was, right?
See, you guys get me.

Monday, September 30, 2019

The Job Interview

"So, Roses, what do we need to know about you that we haven't already discussed?"

The entire interview so far had gone extremely well. Compared to all the interviews I'd had over the past two years, this one was by far the best. I had solid answers to all of the questions. It was less of an interview than it was a conversation about website design and search engine optimization.
I felt more comfortable with every step of the application and interview process for this position than I'd felt with any of the other positions I'd applied for, even the ones I thought I really, really wanted.


"So, Roses, what do we need to know about you that we haven't already discussed?"
This was going to be the last question of the 45 minute long job interview. The three man panel waited for my answer. 

"I can't think of anything" was what I was going say. It was a poor answer, but it was a safe one. We had already covered all the strong points I had carefully prepared to share, and I figured I could only do myself harm by trying to make up something completely new on the fly. I paused for just a moment to assess that this short lame answer was the way I wanted to go, and then I committed.

"I...."

In the moment between that first syllable and the completion of my less than stellar answer, a picture of a cat on the desk caught my eye. I'd been looking at that cat picture intermittently over the past 45 minute long interview, but only now did it occur to me that we were sitting in my potential boss' office and that picture most certainly had to be a picture of his cat.
This man had a picture of his cat on his desk. Not his wife's picture. Not his kids' pictures.
His cat.

"... have a cat."

There was silence for the briefest moment as my potential boss blinked, then one (possibly both) of the other men muttered, "Here we go."

My potential boss scrambled for his cell phone, "Let me show you pictures of my cat!"

Boom. I had stuck the landing.

For the first time after an interview, I drove home feeling confident. Normally I'd replay every answer and too late think of better replies I could have given. But this time I knew every answer had been a good one. It was an amazing feeling.
I texted The Husband as soon as I got home and let him know that it had gone very well.
One hour later, I received a call with the job offer.
I had never had someone want to hire me so enthusiastically.

My cat got extra treats that day.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Post Graduation Naptime Is Over

When friends and family had asked me what I was going to do after graduation, I knew they were looking for a vocational answer, but I had joked that the first thing I was going to do is nap for three solid months.

Honest, I meant it as a joke.
But I've kinda really done nothing for the past three months.

Remember that list I made earlier this year?
Yeah, I've done none of it.

In fact, I've done the opposite of item #9 on the list.
I had intended to immerse myself into my job, but instead I ended up getting a new job within a month of graduation. No one seemed surprised by this except for me.

Today is my one month anniversary on the new job, and it's everything I had hoped it would be and more. I will tell you more about it once I wipe the sleep out of my eyes and get out of these pajamas.

Life is good, my friends.
Life is good.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Things I Learned in College

I learned:

  1. How to write a decent media release.
    Before I took the college course, I thought knew how to write a press release. I even believed I knew how to write a very interesting one. I learned that I was wrong. Media releases aren't supposed to be fluffy and flowery; they are supposed to be factual and informative. They're not supposed to cleverly tease out the information, either; they're supposed to deliver the basic facts right up front. Now, when I read a fluffy, flowery release that doesn't include who, what, where, and when in the first paragraph, I get annoyed by the ignorance.
  2. That youth is not an age as much as it is a culture.
    Does the younger generation speak a different language and have a different mindset from my generation? Sure they do. Is it wrong? No, it's just different. Different isn't bad; it's just different.
    While many of my peers were complaining about how "kids today" are whiny and entitled, I was learning how to work with them and understand their culture. I learned there are just as many young jerks as there are old jerks, just as many young lazy slackers as there are old lazy slackers, and there are just many quality young people as there are quality old people. In many ways, our two cultures are similar.
  3. Time management.
    I had always considered myself a procrastinator because in most cases I would put things off if no one cared when they got done. However, I learned this isn't always an accurate label. Yes, I am better at completing a task when there's a deadline, but I learned that I'm also that annoying student who hands in assignments two weeks early when possible. I like to get tasks off my plate as soon as possible if there's any chance something might go wrong that might make me miss a deadline such as a computer malfunction or traffic congestion... or a last minute assignment that I missed on the syllabus.
    Furthermore, I learned that I can get a lot done if I can just get myself to start somewhere. Ten page term paper sounds huge and impossible while pick a topic sounds quick and easy; so I start with that. I learned to transfer this tactic to my home chores; do five loads of laundry sounds daunting but sort the colors sounds quick and easy. Lather, rinse, repeat.
  4. More employers want to talk to you if you have a Bachelor's degree.
    The closer I got to graduation, the more invitations I received for job interviews. With a completed degree on the horizon, I turned into a finalist for several awesome positions. I'd gotten very few interviews based on experience alone. I had suspected a degree would improve my chances, but I really hadn't expected this much of an impact.
  5. How to be nicer to myself.
    I didn't learn this in a classroom. I didn't even learn this from the campus counselor I'd been seeing regularly. It came to me one cold, winter night after class. My car was the last one left in the campus parking lot. It looked so alone and cold. As I settled into the driver's seat and caressed the cold steering wheel, I talked outloud to my car.
    "Let's get you home to a nice, warm garage," I told it. "Treat you nice after a long, cold day."
    At that moment, it occurred to me that *I* had had a long, cold day, too, but I hadn't attempted to comfort myself at all. I realized that I speak nicer to inanimate objects than I speak to myself. I hadn't realized until then just how severe my negative self-talk had gotten. The next morning when my alarm went off, my inner voice yelled it's usual, "Get up! Quit whining, you lazy baby. Go! Go! Go!" But I consciously shushed the yelling, and I thought about how sweetly I had spoken to my car the night before. From that morning on, I've made efforts to be nicer to myself, and it has been a game changer.

Monday, April 08, 2019

The Mother-In-Law: 1923 - 2019

She wanted to be a nurse, but she earned a teaching degree to please her mother.
Her gift was helping students with special needs. She didn't choose this gift, it chose her. One student at a time, her classroom became filled with the "problem" children. When there wasn't enough time during school hours to help them all, she began tutoring out of her own home evenings and weekends.

But she never lost her desire to heal the physical body.
When her husband's debilitating disease made itself known, she read everything about it and learned dietary tricks that held it at bay. She identified nutrition deficits in her students that, once addressed, changed their lives in ways no one would have expected.

She would have been a spectacular nurse.
If she had had the time and means to publish the things she learned, she'd have also been famous.

She was generous with her time.
She was generous with her knowledge.
She was smart with her money, and she was generous with that, too.

A few years ago, when she couldn't find an assisted living facility that met her needs, she bought a house and hired a 24/7 nurse.That's right; she made her own personal assisted living facility built for one.

She was far better than my writings ever gave her credit for.


She was The Husband's mother, and she passed away quietly this morning just shy of her 96th birthday.