This is how I’m feeling today – I need coffee and lots of it. Yeah, I could have tea but it doesn’t pack the same punch, let’s face it. Today I need caffeine strong enough to put some hair on my chest.
The 5th anniversary of my 29th birthday is in a little over 3 weeks and I’ve been thinking about things that I’ve learned about myself over the years. I’m nosy. I have an extraordinary memory, which passes for intelligence about 95% of the time. I will probably never be a morning person no matter how hard I try. I can be very envious and insecure…and I have an absolutely incredible tolerance for pain.
That last part is going to sound like bragging when I explain it, but it’s really not. When I know something is SUPPOSED to hurt, I let it hurt. Case in point: I had horrible dry socket after my wisdom teeth were extracted because no one remembered to give me a syringe and the instructions to prevent dry socket. So when I was in pain 2 and then 3 weeks later, I just thought, “Well I just had surgery. It’s supposed to hurt.” The oral surgeon was appalled at my final visit. I’ve had the same thing happen to me in the ER on Christmas Eve with strep throat*, from the neurosurgeon who diagnosed those ruptured discs in my neck, and from a different neurosurgeon after the operation to remove those ruptured discs. “How are you sitting here without writhing and crying? Why aren’t you asking for more pain meds? Why aren’t you taking the ones we gave you?” or something along those lines. My answer is always the same: “I’m sick, I’m injured, I just had surgery. It’s SUPPOSED to hurt, right?! Complaining doesn’t help.” I just always assume that the amount of pain I’m in is the amount I’m supposed to be in and deal with it. Evidently some of you are whiny little drug-seeking bitches, though.
That being said, while I do have an incredible tolerance for pain, I have ZERO tolerance for discomfort. I hosted a bridal shower for my friend Lea many years ago, the weekend Pope John Paul II died (great memory, right?). I was outside planting flowers in pots for several hours the day before the shower. It was early April in Baton Rouge, sunny but not hot, and there was a lovely breeze. It was a beautiful day. For a week after, my lips feel like they were constantly covered in cellophane and it was all I could do to get out of bed. I don’t think I talked about anything else for a week except which lip balms I liked and which I didn’t. In the case of discomfort, complaining does help because it makes others around me miserable too and, seriously, why should I suffer alone?
If the thermostat is too hot or cold, I’m dying. Bug bites and paper cuts make me want to check myself into a mental ward for a sedative. People have found me in my office before, rubbing myself on a door jamb trying to scratch my back like a cartoon bear. I really would rather be stabbed in the gut than sleep in a room that doesn’t have a fan. I’m the whiny little bitch in this scenario and I’m ok with that.
What does all this nonsense have to do with my plan? Well…summer 2013 is going to be The Summer of Dominique’s Discomfort. For starters, I’ve signed myself up for a 7:30 am Zumba class on campus. This isn’t a fun class that I can drop anytime. This is for credit and I will be assigned a grade. I don’t need this class to graduate, but it only cost $60 more and for 2 months of Zumba, I might as well. Did I mention the part about not being a morning person or liking to sweat? What have I done? Did I mention also that I’m a former smoker and since my knee surgery 14 years ago I have become about as limber as a rusty lawn chair?
Also, I signed up for one of those Color Runs at the end of June and roped 2 friends into joining me. It’s a 5K. I haven’t started training AT ALL yet, and I haven’t run in…EVER. My whole life I have been able to swim a mile before I could run one, so that’s gonna suck — and I paid money to do this. Holy shit.
Once I lose some weight, I want to start biking again. For now balancing all this heft on my hoo-ha on a bike hurts my hiney more than is worth it. That will be later in the summer.
I’m going off sugar. I’ve done an Atkins-esque plan before. No, it’s not high protein. No, it’s not all bacon. You basically eat your body weight in veggies. Look it up. I feel a lot better when I do that and I have a lot more energy but that first week is a bear. None of you are going to want to give me even the slightest criticism on Facebook, Twitter, over the phone or in person or we might both end up on the news. What is the opposite of the Twinkie defense?
I’m going to be in school (the Zumba plus another easy class) and working this summer. At the same time I have plans to do a lot of HR and finance education to make myself more valuable at work. That won’t be uncomfortable but will be a bit time-consuming. My summer reading list is already at about 8 books and that doesn’t include anything for school yet. I’m very lucky to have a cool boss who is grooming me for bigger things. ”Learn More Stuff” is actually my number one summer assignment.
There is still the elephant in the room with Dad, and considering my birthday and Father’s Day always go hand-in-hand, at some point some awkwardness will have to be addressed there…I hope. I’ve reached out. We’ll see.
What has inspired all of this apart from this blog and all of you? Two friends that I HATE. Remember when I said I could be envious? I really can. And I don’t hate them in the way I hate Al-Qaeda or Gwyneth Paltrow. I’m not angry at them. I hate them in a way that you can only hate someone you really love. The truth is that I adore them both but they have achieved so much while I have been stagnating that it just makes me sick with happiness, admiration and seething, undying jealousy. They are AWESOME and I am NOT (yet). They’ve been through the pain already and I have yet to begin.
Julia** lives in Portland and is raising 2 wonderful boys with her husband. I lived with her for a while in college and she was never ever fat, but she was not the lean machine she is today! She’s taken up fitness as her life’s purpose pretty much and she looks amazing. Even more than the changes to her appearance, though, she has achieved so much. She has run a couple full marathons, I think. I know at least one was for Team In Training, so she did a good deed there. She did an Olympic-distance Ironman, I think. She routinely does half-marathons and smaller triathlons. Some of that may be wrong, I have no idea. All I know is she has a shitload of medals and I have an assload of cellulite. She is in incredible shape and really enjoys what she’s doing. I’m jealous.
My friend John** lives in Houston and he has recently lost something crazy like…200 pounds. I don’t know the exact number but it’s a lot. He was depressed and fat (I’m familiar) and something just clicked for him one day. He went to a medically-supervised weight loss program, began working out, and now he’s lost all this weight, toned up, and has also been bitten with the running and triathlon bug. His confidence has gone through the roof. He’s a fitness evangelist now that makes Jimmy Swaggart look like some stuttering wallflower in comparison. He is so much healthier, so much more vibrant and a real inspiration. Again, I’m jealous.
And I know I could do something about it and change my life but it’s just so much easier to sleep in, to watch Netflix instead of studying, to order pizza instead of cooking for myself, and make “easy” choices instead of difficult ones. BUT…since hopping out of my comfort zone accidentally worked so well earlier this year, that’s what I’ve got to do now. I’m slowly learning that lesson. The fact is, this summer is probably going to suck. Maybe even more than the summer of mental illness or neck brace. It’s going to be sweaty and uncomfortable and painful but hopefully I’ll be better for it at the end…waist a little smaller and brain a little bigger, or more wrinkly or something.
Will keep you posted! Any words of encouragement would be wonderful, but I’m warning you guys…June 1 and all the carbs are gone. At that point, any criticism will be viewed as an act of war.
Hope everyone had a great long weekend! – HRGF
*Don’t ever go to the ER on Xmas eve. The morgue will feel sorry for the ER staff and send up a ham. Apart from the gross irony of getting meat from the morgue, the ER staff will be overjoyed at ham and will forget about you for 2 hours.
**Names and locations changed to protect friends I hate. With love. But then I put up their pics so whatever.
My life has been through some great changes recently and I think it’s got me hooked on the whole concept of change now. I’m jonesing for more change.
In May 2012, I was in a different kind of pain. I was severely depressed and having panic attacks and afraid to tell anyone about it. My family, friends and coworkers knew I’d suffered depression for years but it had gotten markedly worse in April/May and I didn’t want anyone to know that part. I thought they’d be worried that I’d do something awful and irreparable, even though nothing like that EVER crossed my mind. I was in pain though and suffered largely in silence. Last summer definitely could’ve been better.
Now it’s May 2013 and life is AMAZING. I’ve made great progress in school and I can see the finish line, somewhere. I have a new-ish and fantastic job that is a PERFECT fit for me. I love the people I work with, I get to wear sweatpants/no pants about 80% of the time, and still be bossy and a perfectionist. My family and friends are doing well. My $$$ is doing well. My depression is under control. I have quit smoking for a while now. Life is good. Change is good.
Did it take a year for all this change to happen? No, it’s taken 4 months and 13 days. How do I know that? Because I started this blog on January 4th. Unemployed at the time, I wanted something to occupy my time and learning more about HR seemed a good start since that was my field and I was basically faking it…or that’s how I felt. Since then, this blog has been received warmly among people who clearly AREN’T faking it. I’ve been invited to do guest posts for other blogs (will change link to my post once it’s published) and awesome people have assisted with mine. I’ve met lots of new people, become more involved in my local HR and business scene, and “met” thousands more on Facebook and Twitter. HR Rock Stars. I have met some in real life, others I know I will one day, and some have become great confidantes, advisers and friends. Remember when I said HR was a big ol’ clique? Still true. But when I said they were friendly and welcoming, I had no idea what an understatement that was.
How did I accomplish this? Did it happen naturally and without any effort from me? Absolutely not. I butted in. I interjected in Twitter conversations I found interesting, I commented on blogs, I asked total strangers for advice and opinions, and totally crashed that party. Was it always comfy for me? No. I am still intimidated by these rock stars since I have no degree (yet) and I’m only informally studying HR. Why should the talent acquisition chief from Expedia ever talk to me? Guess what? He did. He does. You’re not reading this, but just in case…hi Jer! (Honestly, when I reached out to him on LinkedIn, I thought he was someone else, but whatever. He’s cool. There’s a pic of him wearing a cape on my FB timeline, so he’s clearly odd, which is EXACTLY the type of people I like to be on my FB.) There were a few moments of awkwardness with some people but for the most part, it wasn’t too bad. Stepping out of my comfort zone, not into a neutral gray area of I-don’t-give-a-damn-ness, but into active discomfort has achieved great results.
Is my life perfect right now? No. I am still woefully overweight and out of shape…not beating myself up over this, though, cause I did quit smoking, so yea. I want to add more value to my company, so I’m trying to learn accounting and more HR this summer. I’m not quite done with school yet so there’s still some work to be done there. My dad and I are talking, but there’s an elephant in the room we haven’t addressed. I’m not going to link to it, but regular readers will know what that is. I haven’t spent enough time with my local friends or talking to my distant ones (my real, non-HR people). My apartment is a disaster. I need to floss more. You know, the usual. It’s time for some more change.
People say change takes time. No, it doesn’t. It takes change. Real, actionable, quantifiable CHANGE. I look at my life right now and where I was 4 months and 13 days ago and it could not be more different. So that’s my new project — the next three and a half-ish months.
I have a few weeks now before summer school starts. Then 2 months of school and another few weeks of freedom. On Labor Day, I want to look back and say, “I remember that day…sitting on my boss’s sofa at the ass crack of dawn because she accidentally scheduled herself a flight so early not even Superman would put up with that BS, blogging while her daughter slept, about to get her ready for school — and look how much my life has improved since then.” Rolling over and watching Buffy till I fall asleep right now, though tempting and guaranteed to be awesome, is not going to bring about the change I’m seeking. That’s the old path; I already know where that leads. I’m on a new path now.
I didn’t have a plan 4 months and 13 days ago and I still accomplished a lot…with some luck, some great friends/family, and some innovative interrupting, if you will, on my part. This time I do have a plan and I am looking forward to BIG RESULTS and BIG ACCOUNTABILITY from you guys! So what’s the plan? What are my goals between now and Labor Day – and how do I intend to achieve them? Ahh. Check back on Tuesday and all will be revealed.
Have a great weekend everyone!! I’m starting my plan immediately!! – HRGF
HR Gal Friday’s brain can only hold so much info at once without risking that her Social Security Number or mom’s birthday will leak out of her ears and be lost forever. So, I’m closing up shop till after finals. Catch you guys on Wednesday! In the meantime, here’s a photo essay of what I think/hope my upcoming week will be like.
This is about to get real people. Buckle up. I always tell my friends that one of these days I’m going to write a book called “Uninvited to Christmas: How Email Forwards are Killing Society’s Families” because 1) I have a LOT of experience in this arena and 2) so does everyone else. Really. Email forwards need to stop.
My liberal friends and family forward me liberal jokes and articles that they know I’ll agree with, but chances are I’ve already seen it online myself. My conservative friends and family forward me jokes and articles they know I will hate on the off chance that this one email forward will make me rethink my whole life philosophy and my positions on Obama, Jesus and Bill O’Reilly, in that order. I really think the conservatives want me to hate Obama more than they want me to love Jesus. It’s disturbing.
Even the seemingly benign email forwards are stupid and pointless. Bill Gates has never sent anyone money to track anything. I have NEVER gotten flip-flops in the mail, which is the dumbest thing ever, and the recipe chain letter…well that started one of the biggest fights in Rodgers family history.
A friend sent me that recipe thing and I was the evil forwarder this time. The year was 2005. I passed it along to my mom and grandma, both excellent cooks, and thought it would be something fun they could do on the interwebz as they were both still not wholly comfortable on there at the time. My grandma Bonnie, the most awesome spit-fire-est redhead to ever live in the state of LA, promptly emailed me back and told me in no uncertain terms that I didn’t call her enough on the phone and talk to her enough to get any of her recipes and this was all a bunch of bullshit in which she would NOT participate.
Having been born a blonde but with a little bit of spit-fire myself, I replied. That was my first mistake. I should have just called her and had a fun conversation and realized that this was her butthole way of asking for attention, quite literally, because she needed it. Instead, I told her that listening to a list of all her ailments and how badly she wanted to “crawl in the grave” all the time was not fun and that’s why I didn’t call her very frequently. I told her I thought it was especially inappropriate since she knew very well that in August of 2005, my grandfather on the other side of the family had died and I was still upset about that. That was my second mistake.
This must have been post-Thanksgiving and before Xmas, because I’m pretty sure I’d have been uninvited to Thanksgiving also if that were near. As it was, I was uninvited to Christmas. We made up and everything was fine before Christmas actually rolled around, but for a couple weeks there, things were really tense…
WHICH BRINGS ME TO -
I’m going through something like that now. The reason my family did not visit last week was because my father and I got into an argument. I had asked him for some financial advice (not money, advice on what to do with MY money) and I believe he was genuinely trying to help me, but he went way above and beyond what I asked and did it behind my back. I felt left out of the process like a child. Then he WAY overshared with the financial advisor who was supposed to come to lunch with us and accidentally forwarded it to me in an email. Email forwards are ALWAYS a bad idea. Much like car alarms, the FWD option on email needs to die. The advisor, looking to keep my dad happy and make a nice commission, ate it up. ”Thank you for telling me all this. I need to know this to make decisions when you’re gone.”
Ummm, no you don’t. How exactly does the way in which my grandpa died affect your financial advice, jackass? Do mutual funds only accept money from people whose grandpas died of cancer but not strokes? No. And now I don’t trust this man AT ALL because he helped hide these plans for my money with my parents and then flat out lied to them about needing all these horrible details of our lives that my dad laid out for him with such great clarity. Bottom line: if someone will help YOU lie to someone else, they will also help someone lie to YOU. They cannot be trusted.
This is but a snippet of dad’s email that I’m sure he meant to delete before I saw it: Dominique is my oldest daughter and she is the one in Baton Rouge. She spent her junior and senior years of high school at Natchitoches in the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts. She got a $20,000 scholarship to LSU in 1997. She still hasn’t gotten a degree. She changed majors several times and then went to work and took classes part time. She is back in school and says she will finally get a degree.
There was a LOT more to it that led to the argument, but I was also very angry at the tone of this passage. And then I thought…why? It’s true. I don’t think it was this financial advisor’s business but nothing he said in there is a lie. Some of it is out of context, perhaps, but it’s all true. Maybe I’m mad at him because I’m really just ashamed of myself. I’m certainly not bragging to anyone that I wasted a 20k scholarship and racked up 244 hours of college credit without a degree. I’m not happy that I suffered severe depression in college for many years without telling anyone or getting treatment. I wish that mental illness hadn’t stolen about 5 of the most important years of my life, but it did and there’s nothing I can do about it now except try and do the best I can in this moment, right now. That’s all any of us can do. Call me crazy, call me a late-bloomer or immature. That’s fine. I’ve been (rightly) called much worse at times. I’m almost 34 years old, single, childless, and still ask my dad for financial advice and run to him first any time something is wrong with my car. I’ve made many terrible HUGE mistakes in my life, and I don’t think those mistakes are anyone else’s to share. Basically, I’m mad at dad for bringing out my skeletons before I had the balls to do it myself. So, I’ve decided to take a page from his book and get it all out there so no one can surprise me by revealing my secrets ever again. So here goes – my skeletons. I did fine for about the first 2 years of college and then something changed. It was gradual, but something definitely changed. I went out less, saw my friends less, and cared less about school and work. I know now that I was in the first stages of my major depression and at an age at which it typically strikes. I put on a show for everyone and never let anyone know how exhausted I was all the time or how much effort it took to give a shit about even the littlest things. I went to the Health Center once at LSU and they assigned a student to talk to me. She was blonde, thin, gorgeous, a sorority girl, and wore a huge diamond on her finger because she had just gotten engaged. She was 2 years older than me. She didn’t help me and instead I ended up really annoyed with her and wanted to kick her in the taco, to steal a phrase from a dear friend.
I kept up the mask for a few more years, running out of scholarship money. Then for a few semesters I’d put tuition on a credit card, go to school for a few weeks, get overwhelmed, and withdraw. Sometimes officially and sometimes not, so I have a few F’s on my transcripts. This lowered my GPA and raised my debt quite a bit, but I was working and was able to keep up with that, so it was manageable. Then I was laid off, or more accurately, streamlined myself out of a job. Then all the bills went on the credit card, including medications for the depression I was now being treated for. They were not cheap, esp now that I was without health insurance.
The meds worked though, enough to make me think with every new semester that I could do well this time and the cycle repeated itself. (This is part of how it takes a LONG time to get over depression when you wait so long to get treatment.) I got another job, kept up with the payments and with school, made some progress, then I’d get exhausted/overwhelmed and drop out again. I did this a few times without telling anyone. I never wanted to hurt myself. I knew I deserved better. I knew a girl who went to a boarding school for gifted students ought to be doing way better in life than all this bullshit, I just couldn’t seem to come out of this fog and make it happen.
Eventually, through another job change or two, I had to declare bankruptcy. All this was going on from about 99-05, and then I just quit school altogether, worked, tread water and tried to stay afloat till everything collapsed in 2008. Thinking back on it, I should have reached out for mental and financial help MUCH SOONER, but I was ashamed. I was still operating under the illusion that mental illness was a character flaw and not a disease, that I was just lazy. Later, it would become very clear to me that wasn’t the case and that my family had a history of depression that I didn’t know about.
Anyway, I declared Ch. 13 bankruptcy in January of 2009. I’m not proud of it, but it happened. I wanted to pay something rather than pay nothing. I felt horribly guilty and that was the least I could do, and a Ch. 13 worked out better for me than a Ch. 7. It wasn’t fun. They make you stand up in court and announce, basically, that you are worthless…and that’s how they treat you. It’s a very humbling and shitty experience. But…that will be all paid off and over in about a year. I am actually doing okay in school now. The progress is slow but steady. I have a lot of hours in several degree programs, so I wasn’t too far off from a general studies degree. I only have about 4 more classes left, I think. Maybe 5. I’m not sure. But things are looking up. 2013 is already off to the best start that I can remember in a very long time.
My argument with dad won’t last too much longer. My hurt will dissipate and eventually he’ll apologize and explain why he felt the need to keep me in the dark about all this. We still love each other, I know that. And maybe it’s a good thing. Maybe it’s forcing me to admit to myself all that is and WAS, wrong in my life. Nobody’s perfect. You can’t take a look at someone’s social media and infer anything about their life. Most of the time people only put their absolute best moments up there. For every cute “selfie” photo your friends have posted, there are a dozen they threw out because of a zit or a double chin. Well I’m out here, world. Here are my zits and double chins. Some of them, anyway. Now no one will ever be able to use them against me again.
A lot of my friends and family will be shocked to read this because I hid it all really well. I got very good at essentially lying to myself and others about how I was doing, so I wouldn’t worry anyone or have to face myself just how bad it was. Others will be shocked because they already knew and knew the incredible shame I’ve felt about this up to and including last weekend when this argument with dad started. I can’t explain it. I didn’t plan to write about this when I woke up this morning. But the argument with dad, then this article: mrkt.ms/ZsLtZN , and it being Good Friday just got me thinking.
I also didn’t write this for sympathy so please don’t feel a need to reach out and tell me how awesome I am despite all this. I know that. Not being snide, I just really do know that. My mental health is doing better now and I know that these prior events and setbacks do not define me. I just felt like taking it back from others and sharing it myself, on my own terms. This is where I’m living now and it feels pretty good: Instead of reaching out to me, reach out to someone around you. Statistically 1 out of 4 people is suffering from some type of mental illness, the effects of which can reach WAY beyond their brain, as you can see. If you suspect it’s you, then it’s you. Get help. The longer you wait, the harder it is to treat. If you suspect it’s someone else, talk to them. Do not go behind their back and not involve them in their own treatment. Do not let them feel tricked in any way, just reach out to them and offer your love and support. Encourage them to get help on their terms and check in with them. That really can make all the difference.
Everyone enjoy a great Easter weekend! Even us non-religious folk can celebrate. It’s all about fresh starts…and chocolate! – HRGF
It’s time for spring cleaning, ladies and gents. My crap is out of hand.
Since I got my fantastic new job, I think I’ve been juggling work and school pretty well. Some great opportunities have opened up at the office. I’ve met all my official coworkers (all 3 of them) and they are awesome ladies. Very smart and talented. I’m doing very well in my Pharmacology class. History, well…yea, new job and Pharmacology!
I’ve been balancing all this pretty well, but some other stuff has fallen through the cracks. I’ve never been the best housekeeper to begin with, and a yearly spring cleaning is always something I want to do but never actually do. I’m okay when I live with others, but when I live alone and no one else has to see my filth, it gets ugly sometimes.
My family was supposed to come visit this weekend. For reasons that aren’t important, that got cancelled at the last minute and left me pretty aggravated. Their visit had me consuming caffeine and scrubbing like a mad woman and now the aggravation is continuing it. I do my best cleaning when I’m nervous or pissed. A yearly blast o’ spring cleaning ensures the health department doesn’t have to come visit me and that when I am eventually committed to the nut hatch, it will be for serious reasons, not my Everest size mountain of laundry. The aggravation will be gone by the time I’m done cleaning AND I’ll have sparkly like-new bathroom fixtures. Yea for everyone.
Next weekend, I plan to do some spring cleaning for my social media. I have emailed myself several articles I haven’t had a chance to read yet. I need to polish up the blog a bit. My computer needs a tuneup, etc. I need to find a new RSS reader now that Google is ending theirs. But this weekend…oof. Lots of cleaning to do.
I feel like there’s this perfect version of Dominique out there somewhere. She’s a morning person. She gets up early and does her Couch to 5k training when it’s still cool outside. She comes home and does her writing, studies, keeps the house clean, runs errands, eats lots of veggies, saves up her money, hangs out with friends, attends the theateh — you have to say it really douchey like that…theateh — and is generally awesome. She might even have a dog someday now that she’s home enough to take him for walks. A rescued Boston named Edgar, maybe.
This Dominique will not be achieved with the Fuji size mountain of dishes. My physical clutter is creating mental clutter. So, this ↓↓↓ will be me today! If you see me on FB or Twitter, make me stop and go resume the Spring Cleaning Frenzy!
In the spirit of that, here are some articles that have been helping me get motivated for my Spring Cleaning Sprint. Enjoy!
What You Should Take Off Your Desk Right Now by @EntMagazine ”Replace the objects you remove with what is the opposite. Instead of things that make you feel heavy, guilty or overwhelmed, bring in things that uplift, nourish and encourage you. For example, replace that pencil cup with a vase of flowers or a budding branch. Your desk should bear reflection on the best things in your life.” — This isn’t so much about spring cleaning as inspiration to finally set up my office once the spring cleaning is over!
9 Steps To Organize Your Social Media For Success by @heidicohen “Establish a social media calendar for engagement and content sharing. If you’ve already got one, ensure that it’s aligned with your current social media objectives.”
How To Transform Your Spring Cleaning Into A Paycheck by @BrokeGirlsGuide ”[W]hile we’re more than happy to help out…the world, and contribute to…humanity, we’d be lying if we said it wouldn’t bum us out to see all those hard-earned dollars end up at Goodwill. But if we don’t start cleaning up our act soon, we’re pretty sure that recruiters from the show Hoarders will be hounding us any day now.”
Skinny Up Your Kitchen by @goodhealth “With a quick cabinet [reorganization], simple food swaps, and even a workout move to do during boiling-water downtime, you can transform a fat-belly kitchen into a flat-belly one.” — I need spring cleaning for my diet also. For sure!
Ampersands and a Sheepskin Chair: The Mid-Century Modern Workspace by @lifehacker “With accents like an authentic mid-century modern Danish desk, Herman Miller Eames chair, and sheepskin chair cover, this workspace definitely earns that title. It’s a refined office that showcases Cristina’s sharp eye and love of design.” For the record, I hate that sheepskin chair cover, but I would cut out one of my kidneys myself for that desk!!!
The smoke was white this afternoon (evening in Rome) and Twitter was all aflutter with the news. I scrambled to find the TV remote in the nightstand cause I was sitting on the bed at the time, reading articles online or writing or something. I have no idea. I couldn’t find the remote for a long time and was worried I’d miss the big reveal. I forgot how long these things take, so I really had no reason to worry. When I found the remote, it wouldn’t work. Dead batteries. I switched them out and then I watched a new Pontiff emerge on the balcony. History was made.
This whole scenario made me realize exactly how long it’s been since I turned on the TV in my bedroom. When I tell people that I don’t watch TV, I mean that I don’t watch it ON the TV. I am pretty much all about Netflix streaming these days, but occasionally some Hulu or iTunes. I still haven’t seen the last 5 episodes of “30 Rock” and I am way behind on my absolute FAVE current TV show, “Community”.
I say all of this because I have officially been a remote worker for about 2 weeks, but unofficially for a bit longer. I always thought remote workers, or more accurately, people who work from home (not Starbucks or a restaurant), would be able to multi-task and do their laundry and clean and watch TV and have it so easy compared to the office workers. There are elements that are awesome, definitely, but all this multitasking hasn’t been one of them as yet. I have to focus on my work. I haven’t done any more laundry since I became a remote worker. I haven’t watched TV during “working hours”, I haven’t been cleaning my house even during NON-working hours, and I have yet to get a single mani/pedi on company time. I also haven’t put on pants today at all, which has been lovely, I won’t lie.
I think this will feel more like a job-job when I get my office set up but that’s still a couple months away. In the meantime, it feels like a lot of “playing” on the internet. In my head I know that all the Twitter stuff is reading and compiling professional articles and it’s FOR work, but it doesn’t feel like WORK. I think that’s the sign of a good fit at my job, ladies and gents. The new has not worn off.
That being said, I’m very aware of the fact that this remoteness could be TOO perfect for me. Especially during times when I’m not in school, I could easily not interact much with the world. I am not trying to have this blog turn into Diary of a Shut-in. As someone diagnosed with anxiety and major depressive disorder, I have to work harder than others to be social. Not to have fun; I always have fun once I get there. The work is in leaving the house in the first place. That’s only during episodes, which are few and far between, thankfully. The latest one (which was more severe and longer-lasting than ever before) is winding down big time now that my job stress (and then joblessness stress) is gone. Life is getting really good again. I’ve been out with friends lately, old and new. I’m very much looking forward to the upcoming SHRM Conference here in Baton Rouge, and I bought a Groupon for some Zumba classes! I will NOT become a cave dweller 24/7.
I know that with some people, the challenge to working remotely is in being productive and not screwing around. For me the challenge will be not letting this take over my life and mental health. So far it’s going really well, but if this starts to read like Diary of a Shut-in, someone holler at me!
I’ve been having good luck with the monster theme, so we’re going to continue with that.
I’ve recently become part of the fast-growing field of content marketing, if only tangentially. I’m not a marketing person. I’ve never studied marketing, I’m not a salesman (unless I’m selling someone on giving me something that I want), and had no idea what I was getting myself into. I’ve since learned that content marketing isn’t about “sales” per se. We turn you into an expert with blogs, white papers, websites, webinars, etc. so that people search you out. You don’t blast in their face “Hey, we have a product! Come buy it! Apply directly to the forehead. Apply directly to the forehead.” etc. Instead, you have such amazing content on your website related to your field that people will seek you out as an expert and you can turn that lead into sales. Pretty genius.
Since I’m not a marketing person, I’m the Office Manager. My boss, and owner of this small but quickly-growing startup, jokes that she hired me to boss her around, and she’s kind of right. She has a million things in her head at any one time, so she needs to be diverted back to a certain path occasionally. Plus I’m just really good at being bossy.
In the very short time that has elapsed since I took this job, I have engaged in some writing, accounting, construction, HR, copy-editing, research and major shopping. This job is a lot like Frankenstein in that way: a little of this, a little of that, all stitched together to make something great. ( Yes, I know Frankenstein was the doctor. I’m minoring in English and gothic lit in particular is my favorite. I’ve written many a paper on Frankenstein as a feminist treatise, but let’s just go with popular convention this once, ok? I can’t just call him “The Monster” cause that would sound stupid.)
We all know I hate routine, so this works out great for me. Plus, we don’t have an office! I get to work from home, from coffee shops, from seafood restaurants and everything is done in “The Cloud.” The boss is here in Baton Rouge with me but the rest of my coworkers, some official and some not, are in DC, Little Rock, Tucson, and all over. I can still fit in school which has been a huge benefit. I’m learning a TON. Best of all, if I don’t develop carpal tunnel from this blog, school and this job, I expect my writing to improve a great deal. Don’t worry. I’ll stay snarky. Look for a post later this weekend about customer service to prove that point.
So far this experience has been amazing and I expect it to continue. I’m really excited about this new chapter in my life. Also, I’m rearranging my apartment. Moving bed into tiny bedroom with nothing but a nightstand and a few bookshelves to create a relaxing, sleep-only space. My current bedroom will be set up with work and fitness equipment. I’m hoping to get a treadmill desk from my dad. He has an old treadmill he doesn’t use and likes to build things so I put him on that project. The Wii will be set up here, along with a little armchair and ottoman so I can sit and work when I want to instead of walking. But I feel like this will get me fitter, healthier and much more productive. Look out world! (Or…THIS will happen.) Either way, good times.
It turns out the book I wanted to read/study/review is VERY popular…on hold at the library and sold out in a lot of bookstores. My Amazon copy will be here Tuesday.
In the meantime, because it’s a new year, because I’m female, and because it’s obligatory and cliche’, I’ve been thinking about weight loss. I really do need to lose weight. I am overweight. No, I’m obese. There, I said it, and it’s beyond time I did something about it. In addition to the physical health benefits like warding off heart disease and diabetes, the mental health aspects will also be significant. Exercise is well known as a drug free depression aid (though it does not replace quality care from a physician).
Also, speaking solely for myself, my weight affects my confidence. It does not affect my intelligence, my creativity, or my ambition but it does affect how I present those qualities to the world and to employers. If I know deep down that I deserve a promotion, a raise, a thrilling new assignment – but I am too meek to ask for it or present myself in the most positive light – then it really is holding me back.
The HR part of me wants to rage against weight discrimination in the workplace (and everywhere) and the feminist in me wants to decry unrealistic body image expectations and double standards for men and women, but that seems a bit idealistic and frankly, exhausting. I’d love for the world to be fair but it isn’t, and meanwhile, I have to live in it and do the best I can to thrive in it. For me, this means losing weight and becoming healthier.
The matter is also economic. A quick Google search of “thin people higher salaries” yielded so many results that you’d think within 5 years there will be no more fat ladies because they’ll all be too poor to survive. The situation for very thin men is the same as overweight women: both appear weak and earn less. How much less? From this article on CBS News by Kimberly Weisul: An American woman who is average weight earns $389,000 less across a 25-year career than a woman who is 25 pounds below average weight. Ugh. Assuming these hypothetical women are doing identical jobs at the same company, if you changed the thinner woman to a man, this would be a Lilly Ledbetter situation. Not pretty, not fair, but there it is.
Also, fat clothes cost more money. Professional clothing can cost a bundle regardless of your size. My assistant and student friends out there are often expected to dress to the same standard as the boss (sometimes better if your duties are very reception-based and the boss is behind closed doors) but on a much tighter budget. When those websites tack on an extra few bucks for the XXL version of an outfit, it can add up.
I’m not even going to touch the issue of healthcare costs, insurance and lost productivity. That’s a much bigger issue for another day. Today though, I’m thinking the figure of $389,000 is enough to make me get my butt off the sofa and put down the ice cream.
A friend is doing this “cleanse” this week. He’s having good results so far, so I will be purchasing fresh veggies shortly to begin it myself…am a total copycat that way. (Cleanse is in quotes because I typically think of a cleanse as drinking nothing but peppered lemonade or doing something unpleasant to one’s bum.)
Also, because this isn’t a typical HR blog, here’s a recipe idea that my friends are all going nuts over today. From a page I discovered this morning and really like:
Breakfast muffins. Pour egg into a greased cupcake pan, then add toppings like mushrooms, veggies, meat or cheese. Bake them in the oven at 375-degrees for 30 minutes and let them cool. Pop them into plastic bags so that you can grab them easily in the morning.
So there you have it. My heart and my pocketbook both need me to lose weight. In addition to walking and biking, I’m going to try this cleanse for a week and absolutely try these muffins (with cupcake liners sprayed with Pam because cleanup sounds like a nightmare no matter what she says). I’m going to document my progress and report back here. Accountability will be key, plus I like numbers and hard data. And, I think when I get my book on Tuesday that it will help also.
2013 will be about breaking some habits and putting my best foot forward: professionally, personally and physically!
More articles/blogs if you’d like to read further: