Saturday, April 30, 2011


I Still don't believe it.

My weather forecast says cloudy and does not mention snow, however, this may be April saying, yo, hey, it can totally still snow in April, even sometimes, in May...

We'll see.

But that means I can't put my beanstalk out, the one I'm growing so I can climb into the clouds and steal a Golden Egg. This one:


It is totally exactly the same as the one I have in my windowsill waiting to be planted.

I'd take a picture of that one, but I lost my camera card. 

This is why gardeners in Colorado don't plant anything that says 'wait til last frost' until Mother's Day, just to be safe.

Climbing the beanstalk is partly why I'm doing the Couch to 5K. Once I get to the top, I'll have to run away from the big mean giant, and I can't really do that if I can't run a block.

So it's the end of Week 2 of the Couch to 5K, and I've faithfully run/walked three miles, for 30 minutes: 15 running and 15 walking, alternately every 2 minutes. I had to jump ahead because I'm using my iPhone clock as a timer since Turbo stole my running watch and neither he, Bear nor myself can find it, and that timer doesn't have a 90 second option, just minutes. 

In other news, there is no other news. I blew off yesterday's networking meeting because I just wasn't up to it, because the secret of networking is based on building relationships, not just attending events, and while this group does help build relationships, I haven't really found the right mix for me, and trying to build relationships while you're trying to redefine just about everything you've ever believed about work and career and home life, is a bit exhausting. So I'll pop in next week, hopefully with a better definition.

Also, yesterday was gorgeous, so Husbear and I popped out to Home Depot and lunch. This, I have to admit, is a nice thing. I'm beginning to see my husband again. Anyone who's ever been married to someone who was solely defined by work will understand what I mean, because being married to a job is really crappy, because jobs as personality goes aren't exactly nurturing, loving, or fun. And people who are their job tend to not be happy. Do I need to quote more happiness data?  So everyone should endeavor to be anything but their job. Of course, we all need jobs, because doing something every day is good for us, just as long as you remember that hey, it's just a job.

I think kids are the best barometer for this. Watch how kids play. I'm looking at my kids now, and yesterday's school day is a distant memory. They are engaged in the moment right now. We should all play like children!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

April showers bring May flowers, the theory

I like to think that all the job seeds I've planted and have been nurturing will explode in May, sort of like those turnip seeds I planted. I went out to check my garden and they are just everywhere. I've thinned most of them out, and learned to trust that seeds, when planted, want to grow, and will overcome most normal garden challenges to grow, and despite all concern and worry on my part, most will sprout and burst through the ground suddenly, creating a layer of green buds across the soil. It makes me giddy.

I think of my job search like that, and it sets me off on the right mood to go on with the day.

I have a new policy for my search, because two months in I'm seeing how easy it is to let the search become stagnant, which makes me feel stagnant, which drags me back to the days when I stayed home and watched the kids and hung out at the parks and reservoirs and such, which sounds nice, and then I think, oh I should do that... and then I realize I'm only saying that because the job search is stagnant, and then I drink some coffee and analyze the situation.

I came up with a new idea that isn't new or original, but hey, what idea is new or original?

Every week, I do something new. This week, it was go check out every good job-guide book from the library, re-do every cover letter to make it more impactful, change my resume to highlight skills over titles, and my most favorite, to start seeking out jobs in the industry and career I actually want to be in. I took the husband to the library... BOOKS! all the books!! -- I can assure you the career section is now mostly empty, except perhaps for the career books from 1983. They really aren't going to be helping anyone anytime soon.

This one is a big one. I'll go into it some other day, but one of my minor regrets (I don't believe in regrets, because the things you regret are the things that often teach you the most) is not pursuing the industry and job titles I really want in exchange for the easy-to-get job.  It's probably the biggest change I made, and I'm hoping it will pay off.

April, now that we're at the end of it, has also brought some serious spring fever to the children in the house. Bear, in particular, can barely make it through a day at school without some sort of attack of spring fever affecting his mood and behavior. They are all up earlier, more energetic and filled with a longing for summer. Kids are a great reminder that life is more than just work. Kids excel at balancing work and play. The moment that school bell rings, they've forgotten they've just spent a full day working, and with full abandon, run off and play. More adults should be like that.

It's the sun and weather, though, that are making them so well, springy. They only have 4 weeks left of school and they know it. Homework is lagging, kids are staring out the window and when the bell rings they are gone. I remember these last days of school during the school year -- that happy place of daydreaming in math and running across green fields and feeling giddy at the first warm, not rainy-wet day -- nothing beats it. **Unless you live in a place where it's really hot, then I imagine every day is like this, except maybe January**

Ah as April ends, May should be a blooming month full of goody jobs, or turnips. For certain, radishes.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Two months in and still going

During the past two months of my job search/not-working/alligator-wrestling/fairy hunting, I discovered a few things I think would be worth sharing:

I love being outside. I'm giddy about my garden, the Couch-to-5K program I started on, and my new love of my rollerblades, which I'd be on today if it weren't for the rain thing going on outside my house right now.

The best job hunting and career advice can be found from this blogger, who has the added benefit of not being a professional career advisor/job hunter. Reading this blog has helped me create the most effective CVs and Resumes, and her blurbs on people finally making it are really inspirational. So much of job advice and career advice is a series of All The Things you Must Do that you're Not Doing and Your Life  Must Be About this Search. Which is untrue, unwise, and soul-crushing. Especially if you do not want to be your job.

I love Pocky, but not the creepy, weird cheesecake flavored Pocky.

I stole this directly from the Asian Food Grocer's website:

Pocky Sticks and Pretz

Pocky is a delicious, fun biscuit dessert from Japan. The name "Pocky" is derived from the sound that this crispy snack makes when eaten. At Asian Food Grocer, shop the many varieties of delectable Pocky treats from traditional favorites like Strawberry and Chocolate to more unusual flavors such as Chocolate coverd Coconut. Not only are Pocky sticks covered in a diverse assortment of frostings, but they also come in a broad array of styles and shapes. Give Glico's Pocky bits a try for a fun twist on an original favorite. For a more grown up taste, try Pretz - the same mouthwatering Pocky without the sweet outer frosting.
Satisfy your sweet tooth, check out more of our Japanese Snacks & Candies.

Penelope Trunk says you should never be your job, too. I agree with her. The best keep-it-real advice comes from this woman. She's funny, and does a great job reminding people that hey, your life is your life and you shouldn't stress because you try new things with your career and you don't care about moving constantly upward. I don't care about moving constantly upward. I care about being in a job where I love what I'm doing, can advance should I choose to do so without bumping into a ridiculously low advancement ceiling, and working with a good team.  I need to take care of my career path, not follow an archaic set-path.

The best way to get what you want in life is to be who you are, do what you must do as yourself, to get what it is you want, to have the things you need to have to be happy. This from Gawain's popular book on Creative Visualization. Even if you don't buy the theory, you can't argue with the truth of the statement. Most people do this backwards, they try to make a lot of money, or do a bunch of things that go contrary to their nature/who they are in order to get the things they want, so they can be happy. So what you have is a lot of people working very hard at things they don't enjoy, because they aren't looking at who they are, doing things that fit with who they are, to get the things that will really make them happy.

This is why, despite my complete lack of employment, I spend so much time writing about my garden. I love gardening. It started when I was really young, trying to grow a rubber plant in my dorm room when I was in the military, to my attempts at container gardening in my apartment in Virginia, to the awesome garden I left behind in Washington, to today, in my community garden plot conveniently located right across the street, the view from my side-windows. It's also why I write about Pocky, Children, Writing, and my constant attempts to become an Avid Runner. It's also why I spend so much time reading the Pioneer Woman. For the longest time, I thought I was the only one who entertained the fantasy of living a life on a cattle ranch blogging about gardens, photography and children. Then I checked her comments page.

If I were an Avid Runner, I would have been able to apply to a job at a company where that was one of the qualifications. However, everyone I spoke with agreed I was not an avid runner, but given some time and effort, I could become one.

There are entire studies on "happy" and they all point to the same thing: stuff, money and jobs do not for happy make. The How of Happiness pretty much tells you how to be happy, but if you're not pre-disposed to being happy, it'll require work. People mix up jobs and happy all the time. It's what helps people be unhappy, this belief that the right job will make them happy. A good job you enjoy will help your happiness, but won't make or break it. That's why instead of being unhappy while looking for work, I'm only mildly stressed and panicky.

Pocky doesn't just come in chocolate, it comes in a bajillion other flavors! This makes me happy, because you can only eat so many chocolate-covered biscuits.

And those are the few things I've learned so far.

Happy Easter!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Where'd this come from!

Here I was minding my own business dealing with my least favorite thing of all time, job hunting/alligator wrestling/lion taming, when I stepped on the scale, and saw the number had increased.

By five!

Now, this isn't a huge deal, except maybe that I was well on my way toward losing (thinking about losing) ten!

So that was not fun, and led me to decide that yogurt breakfasts and salad lunches are pretty much going to be the standard until I get down ten pounds.

With some slight deviations to account for Pocky. Be sure to spell it Pocky, if you're googling it, and not pokie or pockie. Two completely different sets of results, trust me.

Pocky is this Japanese biscuit-treat dipped in chocolate, and now that I've found it, I just can't let it go. Look, you can buy some here. Or you can just go to Sunflower Markets. Or Safeway, really. But with only 90 calories, I'm justifying it.

Except the salad flavor ones. Not really sure how those are appetizing.

And really, I don't know if I wanted to share my new weight loss plan, or just talk about pocky, because I ate all the almond chocolate pocky and am resisting the chocolate ones.

Or maybe I'm just procrastinating life, and pocky is the means by which to do it.
Because if you're going to procrastinate, you might as well enjoy some pocky, while you're at it.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Gardening and hunting

It’s early spring, and I’ve got my plants started indoors. Zone 5 means you really should start seeds indoors, or risk losing them to the mid-April, end-April and early May snows that rarely fail.
See, here are my happy seedlings.

They only took up one windowsill, yes, they, there are more trays than just the one above. But I had to put some of the seedlings in bigger pots. So now this other kitchen windowsill is taken up to.

These are ready for the garden.

Of course, I’m not really gardening. What I’m doing is looking for a job. Only, I love gardening, and my seedlings needed to be put in bigger pots, which reminded me, I need to sort the flowers for my sons planter. And anyhow, the past two days haven’t been really great job hunting days for me. So I pulled out his planter and set it up for him.

Turbo built this ALL by HIMSELF. Hammer, nails, yep, all of it. Painted it too, each color represnets a crop! Turns out Home Depot has a kid workshop on the first Saturday of every month. Everyone knows this, of course, except me. I only sorta knew it, in the way that there were signs out occasionally and on some Saturdays, I noticed kids in little Home Depot aprons with pins stuck to their chests like medals wandering around. But I mostly ignored it, until a friend of my son’s ran up to him and showed him the planter he made.

So now my son has a Home Depot apron with his very first pin: the planter pin, and I have instructions to make sure I take him to Home Depot every first Saturday of every first month.
The liner in the planter is coconut liner cut to fit. I never knew planters were often lined with coconut hair.

So of course, I’m looking for a job, but first I had to garden. Then I had to take pictures so I could share them.  Then I had to make sure everything was ready for my boy to plant his flower seeds tonight.
He already has some flower seedlings and eggplant seedlings. But for his planter he wants flowers. 

Also, he and I are  the only ones who’ll eat the eggplant he’s growing. No one else will touch the stuff.

And now I’ll commence job hunting. I’m not sure if you can accurately call it ‘hunting’ however. It resembles more of a casino visit. If you hang around long enough, and wander around enough of the games, and play enough of them, then eventually, you’ll win something.

But no one ever admits that. Everyone talks about targeting your search or networking (yes, I realize that's an e-how article, that's the thing, the only people who know how to network don't actually need to network... ah, cruel irony) or guerilla hunting (It has a certain appeal, the same kind of appeal that say, alligator wrestling has...). But really, it’s doing a bit of everything, tossing some salt over your shoulder and considering that maybe a career in retail isn't all that bad... until you land somewhere.

And since, my friends tell me, I am SO MUCH MORE than just a job, I am doing my best to maintain all the other parts of my life that while I enjoy, don’t actually provide income. Vegetables and herbs, perhaps, but not actual income.

Speaking of vegetables, here’s my garden bed:

And look, radishes!  And a pea!

And daisies (I think)!

And my friend’s garlic. Really, that seems to me an excessive amount of garlic. Makes me wish I’d thought to put garlic in the ground last year.  

And so that's how my job hunt is going. 

Some peas and radishes sprouting, a bit of luck, some fertilizer, a targeted cover letter and resume, and hopefully, in May, I can have a yummy salad with a side of salary.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Early Spring

Is it still early spring?

It feels like it. I see tree buds ready to blossom and my seedlings are just beginning to emerge. I've got some late spring transplants happily growing indoors waiting for the end of the month when I place them in the garden.

I was going to take pictures of the start of my garden. I love taking pictures of the garden throughout the growing season to see how it starts, all neat, tidy and almost empty, through the end of the season when everything has grown in full and takes up all the space in the garden, however, I forgot to charge my camera battery.


So there's no pictures.
But I assure you, the spring garden is sown, the seedlings developing lovely, and I'm hoping there's no sneaky frost coming before May, because some of these babies need to get into the ground soon!

Friday, April 08, 2011

Garden time -- but first a digression

This weekend I'll posts some pics of my newly planted garden.

I only planted early spring crops, because we're not past the frost date. I did have some success with seedlings I planted inside, and yep, I'll have pics of those too!

But today I had the weirdest morning ever.
I've been kinda in a reflectory mood lately (reflectory may not be a word, but it should be) and have been thinking about how to structure my days, how to create a plan moving forward, and how to hunker down and prepare for the ups and downs I'm going to end up going through, it's just how it is.

My biggest thing is my weekly networking group meeting which I have a love-hate relationship with.

I love this group, I really do, but I'm not quite sure how to actually truly be a part of it. They are a pay-it-forward group, which is great, and they do help, all you have to do is ask. The trick is, being specific about what you're asking for, and I'm not good at this. It's so... forward.... and direct... but it's key to the success and the entire point of the group. You ask, you receive, someone else asks, and one day, you can help. I'm a forward and direct person, I am even a pay-it-forward person -- but not when it comes to just me... I figure I should do things on my own, without help. I'll go do it, fix it, solve it... but that's not the point anymore.

So while I love the group, I alternately dread it, (see, me as an introvert) because it requires me to step out and do all the things I hate doing. Mainly, putting myself forward, being very specific and asking total strangers to help me out on all those tricky things... contacts, resume reading, how to handle situations, mock interviews... etc etc.

Igads. So this morning's meeting is done, and I have a couple of things to do, that bring me waaay out of my comfort zone, but must be done. And for some people, these things are ridiculously easy, and they think, what is your problem? I wish I was one of those people! Igads!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Keep Calm and Carry On

Today's little affirmation.

I don't handle things that exist outside of my control well, and when life gets a little out of control, some people batten down the hatches, grab their stash of library books, comfort foods and a blanket and hide out until some friendly soul practically beats down their door to let them know it's all right, it's over.

Not me.

No. I grab large rations of coffee, put on my beat something up gear (metaphorical, I don't really own beat up people gear) a rain poncho (because if my life is out of control, the weather's probably crappy, too) and whatever weaponry I feel I might need (metaphorical again, the closest thing I own to a weapon is my tween daughter's attitude).

Then I go looking for the thing in my life that is not being controlled by me, the person who SHOULD be controlling it and I don't care if there are things that exist out of my control, if there are, I will find a way to contain it, explain it, put it in a place where I can you know, control it somehow, even if by avoiding it... forever.

And all I have found currently, is that it is raining (literally, now), I haven't gotten things under control, and my plan isn't going as well-orchestrated as I had hoped.

So all I can do, to borrow a phrase I saw at Target, cuz it's AWESOME.


Keep Calm and Carry On.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

This little boy, eternally 13

There was this little boy, who was only 13, who decided, for whatever reason, for whatever pain, that enough was enough and he couldn't take whatever it was, anymore.

He killed himself the last day of school before Spring vacation. 13. He would have been 14 in May, but now, he is eternally 13.

Now, there are only 200 kids or so in Drama Girl's 8th grade class, so she knows him but she wasn't a close friend, just an acquaintance. She said Monday, at school, will be really hard. There will be an assembly. There will be counselors. There will be tears. There will be kids who are confused, kids who are devastated and kids who don't know what they should feel because they didn't know him, but for some reason, are still feeling like they did.

Suicide is such a harsh word. Killed himself. Took his own life. Whatever or however you phrase it, I wish there was a less harsh way to convey that there was something in him he couldn't reconcile with. At 13. And the people around him couldn't reach him, couldn't reach through this barrier... whether it was grief, depression, anger... it all reads as a barrier of pain and for some reason that barrier was too much.

And now a little boy is lost.

I can tell you he has a baby face.
I can tell you he looks happy in the picture they chose.
I can tell you he had friends.
I can tell you a bunch about him that is the stuff of typical 13 year old boys.

I can tell you I look at my girl, who's 14, with a baby face, and her 14 year old girlfriends, with their baby faces, and the 14 year old boys she hangs out with, and I can't imagine that any one of them would be lost that way.

The truth is, we cannot imagine that someone so young would be in so much emotional pain that it would drive them to act in such a final way.

And then I look at the picture of that smiling boy, eternally 13, and I mourn for him.