Thinking about direction

So lately the subject of school has been back on my mind. In a tight job market, I need to find a way to stand out from the crowd of Associates' Degree bearing administrative assistants who fell in the same trap I did.

I've also been reading Luci Swindoll's Notes to a Working Woman. She spends time discussing years of wandering down the career path rather aimlessly, following whatever happens to be in front of you at the time. That really summarizes my career to this point - I've taken the jobs that have fallen into my lap, and made the mistake of thinking "well, this isn't fulfilling/enjoyable/meeting whatever esoteric need I've perceived at the time" and just moving on to the next thing.

In a bustling job market, it's easier to move on to the next administrative role with little to no fuss. The worst I'd ever experienced was six months of unemployment after 9/11/2001 and the unfortunate ending of a temporary assignment just about two weeks before that day. Until now, of course.

So, my resume is full of six months here, six months there, and what is definitely job hopping. I chalk it up to a lot of things - uncertainty about where I'd be geographically, general undiagnosed depression, and a feeling that something just wasn't quite right and maybe changing jobs would fix it. For the last six months I've been working a minimum wage job in a pharmacy, studying on my own for the certified technician exam and trying to figure out how to make the best of this thing I've found myself doing.

I've come to the realization it's time to start putting out feelers for something in the administrative field again. I'm not saying I think I'm too good to work in the grocery store, or that I think I'm better than the people who've chosen to make their career there. It's just not for me. It's okay for right now, but in the long term I can see the benefits of getting back into something that's more appropriate for my skill set and personality. Quite frankly working 40+ hours a week in a "part-time" position with no benefits, no vacation, and no idea of what is coming down the pipe is discouraging. Couple that with the people I deal with on a daily basis, and sometimes I wonder about my personal sanity.

The question remains - how do I turn my resume around? How do I get someone to look past the negative that I'm certain they see and get the opportunity to meet them?I know I come across better in person than on paper right now, and the struggle is finding faces. It's made even more difficult by my schedule and current geographic location - the part-time job has me working five or six days a week, and I'm at least 45 minutes from anything resembling a larger town, so how do I get my networking (face to face, of course) in?

Do I try to go back to school in the midst of all this? And if I did, what do I study? Do I simply finish my Bachelor's in whatever I'm nearest degree completion? Do I try for a certification without a B.A./B.S. as a quicker route in the short term? Do I even worry about those things, and just focus on creating a network in Houston?

There are so many questions, and so many different answers out there. It's a matter of figuring out what works best for me and my family; not as easy as it may sound. But at this point I think I'd rather try and fail than continue to stay in the rut I've found myself.


Rainy Days and Exploration

It's been a bit rainy around here, which I am most definitely not complaining about, as it's made the temperatures a bit cooler. Things feel more fall-like with a bit of overcast sky and a temperature below eighty degrees. We're on this weather rollercoaster right now; Sunday I wore a light cardigan sweater and my boots, and tomorrow we may hit ninety.

Saturday morning, John found a gift card for Crate & Barrel left over from our wedding presents nearly three years ago. I had a nice little balance left on it, so I found the one (one, really?) Houston location of C&B and went exploring a bit on my own. I'd been to the Galleria area with John, but had not been off the interstate very much.

It was a fun day. I went to the Galleria and poked around a bit, stopping in Tiffany and Cartier to ogle jewelry, digging through clearance bins at Borders, and generally window-shopping to my heart's content. Lunch was the salad sampler at La Madeleine, and they even had the creamy potato soup I like so much.

The Crate & Barrel is in Highland Village, a few blocks from the Galleria, and I got some great deals on serving pieces and a neat colander that either stands on its own or fits over the sink. There are quite a few shops in Highland Village too, and I looked in a few of those, but they're a bit out of my spending range, especially my minimum-wage pharmacy range. They'd be out of my office-worker range too, but it's that much more evident right now.

I think there is more exploration to be done, and I was glad to see something different and learn about it myself. John has always been the traveler, the explorer, and it's sort of nice to get to experience something new that I can tell him about, even if he's not the least bit interested in the shopping parts.


The Family That Loses Together, Stays Together

In light of our recent doctors' appointments it's become very clear that John and I both need to lose weight. This will, of course, come as a huge surprise to those who know us, seeing as how we're clearly Health Nuts and enjoy lots of outdoor activities... I can't even type that sentence with a straight face.

So the question becomes, how do we do it? How do we incorporate healthy activities into our lives? How do we find better food choices, and where do we find motivation? I ask those questions of myself more than of us as a couple, but I hope that hearing the words from the doctor will make it clearer this is a group effort that affects both of us, not just me and my desire to wear a smaller dress size.

Much of the responsibility falls on my shoulders, or at least it feels like it. I'm the one who so often says "I have been on my feet all day and I just want to sit down, eat whatever is quickest and most convenient, and play a video game and zone out until bedtime." I know we're in this together, and it takes both of us to make it work, but I'm aware of how my attitude and choices affect us both.

I was thinking of a web site someone shared with me years ago. It's called Dottie's Weight Loss Zone, and although I loathe the ad-and clip art-heavy page to the point I can't really deal with the site itself, there is a mantra on there that came into my head out of nowhere today. "If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got." I keep thinking that something will change, and it hit me today that I have to consciously make the choices that lead to change.

It goes for everything - weight loss, finding a good job, studying for this technician exam in the meantime. I've gotten in such a rut lately, and it's not a healthy, positive rut. It's the rut of just existing, dealing with each day and not really thinking too much about the one that passed or the one ahead. No creativity, no real thought put into anything, no planning, just going through my days in a mindless sort of zombie-like daze.

That's not who I am. I'm not the late-arrival. I'm not the one just doing the minimum to get by. I don't stand by and watch while things I know in my heart are wrong keep happening. I'm not a passive person. I don't like conflict, but I don't like injustice more. I don't simply do what is easiest, I do what is most mindful. I've lost that mindfulness in my days and have been settling for what is in front of me.

To get us as a family to a healthier place, I have to get me as an individual to a healthier place. Mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually. It's not about selfishness or self-centeredness, it's about doing what is best in the long term, dealing with the short term, and being aware of what happens each day.

It's a fervent hope that as we lose weight together, we get closer. We find things we both love, we explore different things for both of us, and discover a shared mindfulness of our days and our life.


October already?

It's October 1st. The high temperature today in beautiful Livingston, Texas will be in the upper 80's. My Christmas planning is in full swing, and I hope to have most of my shopping done by Thanksgiving.

My Emmaus Walk is off. I had to make a decision at the last possible minute and chose to put it off for another time. Things are just hectic and crazy; taking a long weekend to navel-gaze, even if that navel-gazing is in pursuit of a closer relationship with my Creator, is just not responsible.

I'm studying for the CPhT exam with more enthusiasm, and am trying to not worry myself to death about whether or not I pass or fail on the first try. I've only been studying a few months, and I'm doing it completely on my own, and I have plenty of time. I would like to go ahead and just get it done, which really motivates me more than anything else. I can finish this and move on to the next thing.

The next thing is the real question. I've been working "part-time" in theory for over six months now, doing the Minimum Wage Shuffle and wondering how on earth I got to this point. I think that's got something to do with my lack of blog posting - I feel like a broken, boring record and no one really wants to deal with my inner dialogue, least of all me.

I feel myself gearing up for more of this season of change in my life. A friend told me not too long ago about the difficult season she's been going through, how long it's lasted, and how she's managed to persevere through it all. I keep telling myself to simply be faithful and look for the things I can learn from all this, or be open to the people I may meet while waiting for something better to come along. That's hard, as patience has never been my strongest suit.

This morning in my Twitter feed, I found this gem from John C. Maxwell "Major barriers to successful planning: fear of change, ignorance, uncertainty about the future, & lack of imagination." Do I fear change? Sometimes, yes. Am I ignorant? Well, not necessarily in general but when it comes to what lies ahead, ignorance could be the right word. Uncertainty about the future? Most definitely. Lack of imagination? See... there is the rub. I think I've drifted into a very non-creative space and I need to change that.

Successful planning sounds divine to me. It's time to break out of this rut and force myself to try new things, do old things in a different way, and make the dreams I used to hold dear to my heart come alive again.