So it’s been awhile….

It seems like forever since I’ve written but looking at the time line, it hasn’t been that long.  Much has gone on in the last month though which makes it seem like a lot of time.  My department at the bank was disbanded and before my layoff was official, they took my job description and posted it as a SharePoint Architect.  I notified the SharePoint users group that such a position was available and received a round of laughter.

Needless to say I spent most of April talking to people, doing informational interviews, prepping my resume and updating my portfolio.  In addition, I had some family drama going on (when don’t I?) and I felt that I wasn’t putting in the proper time for my job search.

Since I learned last time around that the key to my successful job search is to get in front of as many people as possible, I decided to practice informational interviews.  (The best prep for informational interviews I’ve seen is at Careerealism.)  I wanted to do some practice interviews before I went after my favorite target companies and it was one of the practice ones that led to my job.  Basically the more I learned about the company, the more I wanted to work there and the more people I met, the more they wanted me too.

I’m really glad that they had me wait a week between signing the offer and starting work.  It gave me time to decompress and clean some stuff around the house.  Although there is still much cleaning to be done.

So here is where the part of my unnecessary guilt comes into play – I have a good friend, a co-worker and a neighbor who are all still looking for work.  Frankly, I feel in some ways they are are more trained and more qualified than I am in the IT field.  So why is it that I’ve found something and they’re still looking?

It’s been awhile since I talked of economics…

but I’ve been seeing something I haven’t seen in a long time… Burger King, Wendy’s, McDonalds and the nursing home by my house all have Help Wanted signs posted on the street.  Three or four restaurants around work also have signs in their windows.  On top of that, there was a radio blurb I heard recently about how Utah no longer qualified for extended Federal unemployment help.  My employer has a policy that no hire is placed until it’s approved by the CEO, yet we have positions posted every week and they aren’t entry level (although there are always several of those too).  If you know a JAVA programmer in UT, AZ or TX we’re offering a hiring bonus (team is in SLC but they’re willing to take hub location hires at this point) and I would be happy to forward the resume.

In addition, home prices are rising and the buyer that DH has been shepherding around was told by her lender that she should plan on offering more than the asking price if she expected to land a HUD or HomePath home.  It’s become a sellers market because there are people moving into the state and not enough houses to go around.

Yet, after the election in France and the movement against balanced budgets in Europe (and the inability of the US Congress and President to balance our budget).  I can’t help but wonder if this is just a short lived bump and we’re going to double dip.  Then the jobs report came out and the numbers for the last 2 months were revised downward.  They keep saying that there are no construction jobs hiring since building hasn’t recovered and isn’t expected to recover for some time.  The next story is one about how the average unemployed person in Utah claims benefits for less than 14 weeks so the state is going to lower the rate that employers pay for the premium toward unemployment insurance.

I cannot live on fear, I need to take things one day at a time and be happy with what I have now without worrying about what the future will bring.  Live as if today is your last day but spend as if you will be broke tomorrow.

Giving up a hobby – a story of politics and guilds

In 2010, there was confusion in the Utah Quilting guild. The regional rep could no longer hold the monthly meeting and complete her other duties. She was told she could not turn the meeting over to someone else, a new chapter had to be formed in order to continue the meeting. I volunteered to be on the rules committee and a month later found myself President of the new chapter at the same time I started a new job. Being president started out fun and turned into a nightmare!!

I had a great committee who put together some wonderful programs but about 2 months into things I had someone claiming to be president from another chapter telling me to let the meeting die, letting me know they would be actively fighting against having members join us, and they wanted the meeting space when we failed. Frankly, I didn’t care if anyone joined as long as we had people coming to hear the speakers. I seriously doubt if the woman who called me was really the chapter president since it seems out of character from what I’ve heard about her from her chapter members. Some people who called me complained that dues were too steep. So at every meeting I explained that the dues were in the bylaws but we weren’t collecting any and then people complained that all I ever did was talk about the money we weren’t getting.

We did have really good speakers scheduled who wanted to be paid so we cancelled them. I must have been a miserable president because at the time I stepped down, we had gone from 50 people to 15 attending the meetings and the voice messages I got accused me of being a horrible person and even worse – a sloppy quilter. The only person who said thank you for my work on keeping the meetings going was the person taking over running the meetings.

Just so you know, during all this, I quit quilting. I mean it made me sick to my stomach to look at my fabric stash and I could not bring myself to touch a sewing machine. Then this year, after getting the opportunity to spend the summer with my kids, I got an invitation to a baby shower so I pulled out fabric and made a quick baby quilt – only to have the MIL of the mommy-to-be say “Oh, but I made you a better one, See!” Just what I wanted to hear, got to love family. So I put the sewing machine away and thought about selling my fabric on eBay.

Then last week I decided I needed to get out of the house more and do something other than job hunt and my boy decided that he really missed volunteering at the local heritage park so we contacted the volunteer coordinator and headed up there last weekend. Well, dressing the part of living in 1856 includes carrying my basket (where fabric is used to hide things like car keys, wallet, cell phone and Diet Coke which are out of time period). My basket still had the tin templates for a scrap quilt which I started last season. For a weekend when the park expected lots of people, my house was pretty dead. My son had a great time since the shop he apprenticed to was busy. So with hours to go and the house cleaned and the yard cared for, I dug into my basket to see what I had with me. It’s a Wandering Foot hand-pieced block I started last season using clothes I was giving to charity for the fabric (so a free quilt).

There was something peaceful about taking a rocker outside and hand piecing a block. Maybe it was being dressed as a pioneer but I didn’t think of all the pain and hurt associated with quilting over the last year and a half. I didn’t think about my failure as a leader or all the mistakes I made and the people I thought were friends who aren’t speaking to me anymore. I just thought about making sure the piece cut on the bias stayed the shape it should. I didn’t worry about not having a job. I was concerned about how small my stitches were. I’m still concerned about whether I should cut out and redo some of the stitches since the center of the block doesn’t look right to me. I’ve avoided quilting because of the pain the memories caused – there was something Saturday which didn’t hurt and provided the solace I needed to recharge my soul. Maybe, after the Carousel horses are done, I could work on hand piecing scrap quilts, after all, I have a room full of fabric to be used.

Otherwise, I’ll be giving up quilting with 25 projects started and 20 kitted and enough fabric to last a lifetime.

>Bliss at work is like the Cake


When I first started looking for a different career path, I kept running into the phrase, find your bliss and turn it into a job. I’ve watched people try to turn a hobby they love into a cash cow and burn out. I’ve also seen people go broke trying to make money on a product they love and no one else does. But back to me…

I read many books on finding your bliss and marketing it – Four hour work week, 48 days to the job you love, What color is your parachute?, Strengths finder 2.0, You, Inc. They all had wonderful points and I learned a lot both about business and myself but still never had anything pop out and say – Bingo! People will pay you to do this thing that you love!

It may be that part of the problem is my AD..”Oh look at that thing over there!” or as one of the guys in my MBA program described me “she’s passionate about everything.” I’ll admit I reached the point where I was beating myself up and thinking I was in denial or having issues with the fear of success or failure. I was looking for that perfect job, when I got laid off from the job I hated in the fall of 2009. I was lucky in that I found a replacement temporary position quickly enough that I didn’t have to worry about losing the house and actually started saving a little. But a part of me knew it was temporary and I enjoyed it mainly because I knew it wouldn’t last.

Then I got another job and thought it would provide a career path. It took me a few months to realize there was no designated place to go from here and I saw people punished for wanting to do more than what they were hired to do. So I go to work and do what I do and come home and use the leftover energy to work on my hobbies or take care of my family. I do feel bored although there are many places where I could reach and do more, but what would be the point?

So with that background, I’m still out networking and connecting and learning what people do and why they enjoy it. Recently, I had a networking lunch with someone who intrigued me and whom I admire. During our conversation, work satisfaction came up along with the bliss topic. I’m still processing what she told me which is why this blog is still disjointed, but the basic gist was bliss at work is a lie. Sometimes people will find it and if I look at those who absolutely love their jobs all the time, they’re more likely to be men than women. I can only think of one or two women I know who love their jobs (excluding stay at home moms).

As I’ve processed this, I realized there is some truth to what she says. Bliss at work, like The Cake promised throughout Portal, is a lie. As my acquaintance put it, “Any job that you don’t go home at the end of the day wanting to slit your wrists is a good job. If you have moments of great joy in your week, then it’s a great job.” I realize too that women’s bliss tends to be things people will not value with cash. Most women find their bliss in things such as home, family, hobbies and charitable work. I’ve enjoyed stitching for cash in the past but it’s not as fun as stitching for my own enjoyment or for friends. How about cashing in on your family? Even typing that just sounds wrong and when it happens we talk about Munchausen’s syndrome or defrauding communities.

Now there have been some people that have turned things they did for their families into cash – Think “Signing Time” and “Baby Einstein” videos or hobby improvements like the Grace Quilting Frame and the Cricut. As one of my friends said, “I work because my family likes to eat and sleep indoors not because I want to save the world or create world peace.” The people I know who do work with their bliss do not like leaving work. As one businessman put it in his training video, “If it doesn’t make me money, I’m not doing it.” He then gave a story of paying a daughter’s boyfriend to build the costume case his daughter wanted. I couldn’t help thinking of a different businessman’s training program where he turned down a meeting with a prospective client’s board of directors in order to keep a promised day out with his daughter. I realize that there are intrinsic payments that cannot be measured in cash which have to be considered in the long run.

So in this age of high unemployment and instant layoffs, it doesn’t really matter that I’m bored at work yet busy with brain-dead tasks that someone has to do. They’re willing to pay me a higher wage than my last job did even if the work is more clerical. Just typing that gave me an epiphany. For many years, I was told that I was being overpaid for what I did. Now I’m being paid a greater wage and doing less thinking – maybe I should be grateful instead of wanting cake.