Category Archives: Remote Working

Embracing the Discomfort – The Plan

Expand-yourself-Get-out-of-comfort-zone

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.

imagesThat 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?

Me in a room that's too stuffy.

Me in a room that’s too stuffy.

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?

ive-made-a-huge-mistakeAlso, 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.i-exercised-once

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?

Or you'll do what I do which is to watch all the good food go bad and order pizza.  And ice cream.

Or you’ll do what I do which is to watch all the good food go bad and order pizza. And ice cream.

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.

Here they are together.  At once the banes of my existence and my reason for getting up in the morning.

Here they are together — at once the banes of my existence and my reason for getting up in the morning.

Look at the guns on this b...est friend of mine!

Look at the guns on this b…est friend of mine!

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.

This one used to shun photos like the plague and now he's taking them all the time.  And always smiling!  It's like he knows something that I should be learning.  Hmmm.

This one used to shun photos like the plague and now he’s taking them all the time. And always smiling! It’s like he knows something that I should be learning. Hmmm.

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.

Growth does not happen in the comfort zone.  I have to remember that.

Growth does not happen in the comfort zone. I have to remember that.

My official motto:  Embrace the Discomfort.  It’s Definitely Going to Suck, But It Probably Won’t Kill Me.

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.

Change Doesn’t Take Time – It Takes Change

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.

A Brief Recap

joanIn May 2011, I was in pain.  I had 2 ruptured discs in my neck and ended up having major surgery.  That summer kinda sucked.

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.

slothNow 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.

What Happened?

welcomeDid 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.

The Change Process

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.

Now What?

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.

project

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.

tuesday

 

Have a great weekend everyone!!  I’m starting my plan immediately!! – HRGF

HR Blogs and Articles That I’m Reading

I’ve read a few articles lately that could easily each merit their own blog post but I’m a busy gal, so I’ll just share a couple and give my quick 2 cents.  Perhaps you guys can take up the mantle and discuss in the comments!

Can My Credit History Impact My Job Search?

This article, from the ResumeBear blog, really pissed me off.  So much so that I ended up doing a blog post about my own financial troubles the other day.  ResumeBear didn’t piss me off, but the idea that employers would penalize someone for being behind on their bills during this economy is maddening.  Credit can be destroyed by a divorce, a failed business venture, bad investments, etc.  None of those make you a bad person and in fact may make you a better one with more knowledge.  It doesn’t mean the employee would steal, that they’re a crack whore, that they have a chronic medical condition or that they’re lazy and don’t want to pay their bills.  I wanted to pay my bills and it killed me when I couldn’t.  That doesn’t make me a bad employee.  And the thing is, even with legislation preventing this type of discrimination, it’s so insidious that you could almost never prove it.  So it will continue.  I stayed in the zombie job much longer than I should have because I was afraid of applying to other places and having my credit score ruin my chances.  It’s crippling and it’s awful.  Employers need to stop this discrimination.

March Madness – HR Blogger Style!

I can’t remember…did I tell you guys I was involved in this #hrmadness tournament from Sparcin.com?  I lost in the first round, which I knew would happen, but I was incredibly honored to have been included here with 15 people that I read regularly and consider my HR idols, pretty much.  Plus there was some fun smack talking.  If you don’t have them yet, you should add all these blogs to your RSS feed.  The tourney is over now.  A winner has been crowned.  And that winner is:

The Tim Sackett Project – HR Madness Champion!

sackett

The above link takes you to Sparcin which has several of his posts up there.  There is a whole post about dongles which is my new fave “sex scandal” since pubes on Coke cans.  I’ve included a link for the wee little ones who don’t remember 1991.

But here’s why I love Tim Sackett, in particular:

THIS IS WHY YOU’RE AFRAID TO MAKE HR SIMPLE

This is so true that I may now start The Cult of Sackett.  People who work 60+ hours a week are not to be commended.  They need an assistant or to be replaced with someone more capable.  Now obviously, brand new employees, doctors and maybe lawyers and such are different.  Fine.  I understand not everyone has a job where they can get their work done and then go home, regardless of how long it takes.  If CVS says it’s open 24 hours then someone has to be there 24 hours a day. I get that.  But if you ARE in a position where you can come in, get your job done, and then go home…do it.  Do your work well, do it accurately, do it without screwing around in the middle, and finish it.  If you’re done early, ask others if you can be of help to them.  If they say yes, help.  Congrats, you’ve added value today.  If they say no, believe them — and leave.  Go!  Turn off the lights in your office, turn off the computer, fix the thermostat appropriately if you can — save your company some electricity and get the heck out of there.  Escape your office prison.  Enjoy the outside world.  Run your errands.  See your children, see your parents, see your bookie…whatever.  Come back tomorrow and repeat.

jumping-man-in-suit-250x250

This is true for people who work remotely as well.  Do your work when you need to do it.  Meet your deadlines, check for accuracy, and — if you have extra time, offer to help others as much as you can.  Then get on with your life.  There will be days that are 12-14 hours long that you didn’t plan for…websites crash, payroll won’t post or other fires need putting out.  If you’re willing to stay late when the universe hands you that crap, you should be willing to go when the universe hands you an hour or two of free time.  Now go away!

Have you guys read anything noteworthy lately?

Pope Francis I and Learning to be a Remote Worker

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.

pope-new-jorge-mario-bergoglio-argentina-conclave-chosen-cardinal__oPt

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.

pooh_landingpage

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.

pr2

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.

In my family, we talk on the phone and email to stay close.  We have visits and reunions and the occasional road trip.  We go out to eat.  We do not do this.

In my family, we talk on the phone and email to stay close. We have visits and reunions and the occasional road trip. We go out to eat. We do not do this.

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!