Friday, October 29, 2010

Turning Off the Dollar Signs

In preparation for a possible change, I've uploaded a version of my resume explaining why I'm currently living in one part of the country, but searching for a job in a different industry in another geographic location.  I haven't really done anything with it yet.  It's just hanging out there, either waiting to be deleted if I get a stop sign or used if I get a green light.  A potential green light that can't happen until my last recommendation gets sent by a very busy lady and GRE test round #2 gets taken to improve my math score.  Of course I realize this action is really fruitless since an MFA program could care less about this section and it's only for one school.  But when I think I want something, I get competitive and it's for the one with the pretty, romantic looking scenery.  Hey, I admit, I can get a little "Cher Horowitz" sometimes.

So anyway, sometimes I get these recruiters who e-mail or call me with their b.s. speals about how they think I'm the "perfect candidate" for their open position.  The ones from third-party job recruiting companies are the most annoying since the only way they get paid is if the company who's secured their services ends up hiring the candidate they found.  Yes, I realize I'm a newly minted MBA and have worked for five years with the number one sales organization in the USA.  I know, on paper I look like the "perfect candidate" for a lucrative outside sales position with a "leading" advertising organization in Ft. Collins, CO.

But the fact that you're contacting me for this type of position Mr. Job Recruiter tells me that you didn't bother to read anything on my resume profile.  You know the part that says I'm not really interested in a sales position, that I'm in the process of applying to writing programs in a different area of the country, that I'm actually seeking a career change and these are the current skills that I have that would be useful in that industry.  The problem I have with these people is that I feel like I have to at least oblige them a little.  You know, play along, check the opportunity out, see where it might go.  They are, after all, just doing their job while trying to make a name for themselves.  I can understand that.  Any type of sales job is competitive, demanding, and all about "look at me in my 15 minutes of fame."

I've had this e-mail sitting in one my accounts for a few days and a voicemail message on my cell phone for about 24 hours.  I've been wrestling with the thought of actually pursuing this opportunity.  I mean, what if my sketched out plans don't work out?  This would be slightly better money for the first year, probably six figures by the second or third year, it would get me out of my current situation faster, and it's a way to break into the advertising industry.  Problem is I had to turn my dollar sign blinders off for a moment (the ones that are still lingering from my twenty something self).  I had to really ask myself, without that lucrative salary, is this something you want to do?  What do you really want?

Our lives manifest from our thoughts, our choices, and then our actions.  Just because you go down one path that looks appealing doesn't mean that you stop wishing for what you originally wanted.  I know.  I made that mistake at 19, in some ways when I was 23, and again when I was 28.  Last night I decided I wasn't going to entertain the thought of possibly making it again.  Last night I decided I wasn't going to feel guilty or obligated.  I chose to say "no" so that I can continue to open up the possibility of saying "yes" to what I think I should be doing.

All day I felt free.  Happy.  Not the slightest bit of regret or second guessing.  Today I witnessed several of the Universe's "random coincidences" that confirmed I did what I was supposed to do.

The twenty-eight year old would've made a pros and cons list and then chosen what made the most logical, sound financial sense.  The thirty-four year old, on the other hand, just simply followed her heart. 


Monday, October 25, 2010

Choices, "Destiny," and Resurrecting My 23 Year Old Self

This week I've been thinking about choices.  The choices I made in my twenties.  The choices I continue to make.  The choices I often think of making.  During all this "thinking," I realized something.  Or should I say re-realized something.  There really isn't any such thing as "destiny," per se.  Despite all the synchronized set of numbers I've been seeing lately, I still don't believe that it's one hundred percent pre-determined.  That's why there's free will.      

I believe "destiny," as some would call it, is self-created.  You make choices in life to put yourself in certain places and situations.  If you end up not liking it or run into difficulties along the way, you choose to either leave, continue fighting until you find a workable solution, or find another way to accomplish the same objective. 

For too long, I've been sitting here pondering about where I would like to take my life and what I would rather be doing.  Somehow during the past five years, I've lost my sense of self-esteem and self-value.  I've lost what my twenty-three year old self knew how to do so well.  She had a way of saying "this is what I would like to do," and she found a way to do it-regardless of the potential consequences.

Despite all the challenges that she ran into, and the things she let her future decisions be influenced by, she still has no regrets about those leaps of faith she took.  If she hadn't she wouldn't have learned anything.  She certainly wouldn't have gotten to live out a life in "paradise"-if only for a short while.

So, sick or not, I'm going to find a way to resurrect her.  She's set a deadline for jumping off drudgery island-boat or no boat.  She'll find a way to make her vision become more than a sketched out painting, because she's certainly done it before.  Life isn't about waiting for the "right" moment, the "right" opportunity, or the "right" set of circumstances. 

It's about believing that you have the ability to give yourself exactly what you deserve-the momentary happiness of becoming whatever makes you feel free.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

I'm Sorry Honey, You've Got Really Thick Walls

"I'm sorry honey, but you've got really thick walls," said one of the lab nurses yesterday.  She kept having to poke the needle further into my vein in order to get enough blood to flow out and fill up the vial.  The vial that will be sent off to be tested, along with the cup of my "afternoon pee" to find out why I'm so fatigued, losing my hair, and having chest pains.  This after the hour and a half's worth of questions and brief examination from the doctors about my history of cold sensitivity, easy bruising, early stray gray hairs at 24 that have mysteriously not progressed, recent numbness/tingling, chin hair, brain fog, irritability, and so on. 

In a week, hopefully we'll have an answer and a possible solution.  Because I don't want to be dying or continue to go on living feeling as though I'm about to.  I've done the research, so I know from the "questions" that this could be a number of things-HIV, polycystic ovary syndrome, hypothyroidism, excessive stress, diabetes, excessive androgens due to female hormonal imbalance, chronic fatigue syndrome, or perimenopause.  I don't really care what it is (well, except maybe the HIV thing-but even that's not an automatic death sentence these days), I just want to be able to "fix" it.

Yeah, I've got "thick walls," alright.  So thick that I keep fighting against something that I can't change, instead of changing what I should or what I can.  Stubbornness-perhaps I got it from my "former self," one of my parents, from enduring early lifetime suffering, or because it's a trait that I either need to conquer my series of life lessons or to overcome in order to realize my main purpose.  I've got "thick walls" when it comes to people too, including knowing my own self.  Ironic, because high sensitivity sees through all that and works to get rid of them.

I was going to write yesterday, but I was too fatigued from the blood draw and developed a headache that lasted into the morning.  I almost couldn't get up for work, but I made it.  6 am instead of 5:30, but I still made it.  Besides the crying, the worrying, the fear, the deep breaths, and the massive amounts of multivitamins, B12, and natural "anti-stress" remedies I'm pumping into my body, all I can do is wait.  All I can do is try to breathe through the intermittent chest pains, fight the fatigue, and listen to a few wiser voices than my own.

Like my mother's that says no more school for at least a year.  The voice that's been there since I was small.  The voice that's made some mistakes, but whose heart has always been in the right place.  The voice that made the same mistake and ended up in the hospital last year, suffering from a mini-stroke, because she kept trying to fight against a wall that she just needed to walk away from.  The voice that doesn't want to see the same thing (or worse) happen to her oldest daughter.

Like that calm voice that often comes out of nowhere, when I'm busy ruminating in silence.  No one can hear it but me, but it's always very loud and clear.  Today it came over me while I was listening to one of my Amy Grant Christmas cd's on the drive home.  I was crying and worried again. Christmas makes me think of happier times.  It makes me think of childhood, freedom, magic, and togetherness.  Amy's music somehow always lifts my spirits-even if only for a moment or two.

The voice said I was going to be ok-there's a solution and I'm not dying.  It said, what is this getting you to pay attention to?  What have you learned?  What do you have to change?

I think I know.  I think I've known for awhile now, but I keep failing to take complete action.  Until I do, the lesson will keep repeating.  The number four rules my life path, according to numerology.  I don't know if I fully buy into the spiritual practice, but I can see how I need to let go of the idea of stability. 

Thick walls may give you the illusion that you're safe and protected, but they certainly don't allow you to breathe in the life that exists beyond their confinement.  A confinement that can be torn down, washed away, or broken through at any given moment.  Even the strongest steel can be melted and withered away by a hot enough fire.  Thick walls don't protect anything, because nothing is truly static.

The one thing thick walls will do is prevent you from becoming a part of what's changing outside of their imaginary existence.  And that is certainly not a life that one could call a "worthwhile dance."      



Saturday, October 16, 2010


When I was eighteen, I burned my left foot while working the closing shift at a fast food restaurant called Good Times.  For those of you who haven't graced the wonderful landscape of Colorado, it's a burger joint that tries to differentiate itself from the McD's of the world with "better tasting," "fresher," "faster" food.  That night I was lifting the meat warmer full of hot water off the preparation table in order to dump it into the drain on the floor.  My upper body has never been the strongest.  No matter how much weight I may gain or toning exercises I may do at the gym, I'll always have "chicken arms."  But, I'd somehow done this little procedure before and didn't expect that night to be any different. 

I guess I was a little weaker than usual that night, or perhaps worn out from the combination of my college courses, my work study position at the library, and my 30-40 hour a week job.  As I was lifting the warmer off the table, it somehow slipped, spilling the scalding water onto the floor and my left foot.  I didn't scream, even though the pain was unbearable.  I think maybe I was just in too much shock to have any kind of aggressive reaction.  But then again, my reactions have always been strongly internalized. 

My boss didn't know what to do.  She didn't know how bad it was because I didn't really either.  I tried to put on burn ointment from the first aid kit in the bathroom, but wasn't too successful.  I just tried to fight back the tears, ignore the sense of being on fire, and finish my shift.  I don't remember if I was still walking on that foot, but I don't think I was.  I was fighting my way through an obligation.  I was being stubborn.  I was attempting to ignore something that I didn't want to fully acknowledge.

Luckily, I was still living at home that year and my mom heard me crying in the basement bathroom, trying to somehow fix my own wound.  At least one of us had some sense that late evening.  She took me to NCMC's ER-second degree burn with some scarring likely was the diagnosis.  My foot was bandaged, I couldn't walk on it, I was given crutches and a prescription for pain medication.  I also couldn't work, couldn't go to class, and had to endure painful follow-up procedures with my doctor for a few weeks.  Believe me, that pain medication didn't work too well.  Especially that first night-my foot literally felt as though it was stuck in a pit of fire and all I could do was cry.  It didn't help that we were still living in that house-the one with the haunted basement.  The spirit or spirits that inhabited it weren't "Casper" by any means. 

I still have that scar-a somewhat raised keloid across the front portion of my left ankle.  It's not as purple or red as it used to be.  It's kind of a light pink now-sometimes almost white.  My left leg and ankle are still not as strong as they were before the accident.  At least it seems that way.  Maybe my right leg learned to be stronger while I was on crutches for those two and half weeks, and it's never forgotten.  Kind of a battle wound I suppose.  A reminder of an event that got you to pay attention. 

No one really sees that scar because it's easily covered by a pair of socks and shoes.  No one except me and those close to me, when the socks and shoes come off.  Of course, most don't even stop to look or notice.  You'd have to be a sort of pedicurist to do so.  A lot of times I even forget that it's there.  Life goes on as if that night didn't really happen.  Recovery happened-in its own way, in its own time.

I used to worry about that scar-what people would think, how I was damaged, how it made me feel less of myself, what I could have done to prevent it.  But it's silly to think that recovery means being able to take a magic wand and somehow erase the bad and rewind the pain.  We all have our imperfections-some of them are visible and some of them remain hidden inside our own souls.  Not even nature is one hundred percent symmetrical, but that's what makes it beautiful. 

Years later, when my mom was still engaged to "J" and we used to make the drive over Berthoud Pass to join him in his "mountain town" for a weekend of hiking and cross country skiing, I didn't think about that scar either.  I didn't let the remaining slight weakness in my left leg and ankle stop me from trying something new and dangerous. 

Dangerous in the sense that you could get hurt if you tried, but also in the sense that you could get hurt if you didn't allow yourself to be free.       


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fighting Negativity

Yesterday the weather was in a perfectly overcast, rainy state to match my really crappy mood.  I know it's common for sensitive people to be affected more strongly by their environment, especially stormy weather.  I started to feel a little better on my drive back to Ft. Collins as the sun started to break through and the clouds started to dissipate.  My Joss Stone music helped a little bit too.  There's something about Tell Me 'Bout It that just makes you want to sing and dance no matter what.  I mean, you absolutely have to do the hand wave whenever you hear "let's have a show of hands who's addicted to their man."  It's "Chick Code," even if a part of you would rather scream at all the bad drivers on I-25.

I know that I'm exhausted too.  The MBA is almost completed and since this last class is a team project, I get some lulls in my workload from week to week that I wouldn't otherwise.  Sometimes you don't realize how hard you've been pushing yourself until you get the chance to rest a little.  Needless to say, when you come home on a Tuesday, lay down for a nap, end up sleeping twelve hours, and wake up feeling like you've been run over by a truck, you know something's wrong.

Last night wasn't fun.  Crying isn't fun.  Doubting and berating yourself isn't productive.  Of course, this all could just be early perimenopause.  I have, I'm sure, prematurely aged my body since I was seventeen.  I've resolved to make a doctor's appointment even though I hate them.  Besides, I need to rule out anything serious and I can't go about my day being so irritable for no reason.

So, how do you fight through this?  Negativity.  Depression.  Irritability.  Exhaustion.  You can focus on something that makes you feel better-some source of inspiration.  You can reach out to friends or family and talk about it.  You can remove yourself from the world for awhile and hash it out privately until the feelings lessen.  You can acknowledge what's happening and try to self-medicate by talking yourself out of it.  There really isn't a single answer, except for the fact that you have to resolve to find some way to take care of yourself.

"M" told me last week that I was "one tough little girl," "I don't know how you've made it this long with school and work," and "you need to take a couple months off."  I think he's right.  Being highly sensitive means your energy gets depleted faster than others, especially by strenuous activity such as completing a Masters degree and working 50-60 hours per week for the past two and a half years.

I'm not sure I want to put myself through another round of this.  I'm not sure it is right.  I've set myself up for a seventy-five percent probability of having to make a major change.  A change I don't have to make if I don't want to.  Eventually I would like to be eighty-percent freelancer/self-employed, twenty percent employed by someone else at no more than 30 hours per week.  I'm tired, worn out, and I'm not even 35 yet.  Highly Sensitive Person or not, I don't recommend working yourself to death.     

I know I could jump now, with no promise of outside income for a year, and be ok.  Perhaps I should listen to "M."  Perhaps I really should reevaluate the ball I just pitched out to that sketched horizon.  Perhaps there is another way.  Today's tag of the day did say "Jumpn," after all.

And at the core of fighting negativity is paying attention to the warning signs that both your body and your inner essence are trying to tell you.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Resolving to Take Care of YOU First

My co-workers were in a sort of "behind the scenes" uproar this week.  There's a mandatory annual benefits meeting next Tuesday and the rumor is that we're not only going to see an increase in our health insurance premiums, but that we're going to lose our yearly stock options as well.  They're worried that the next thing to go is the pension plan, which is really upsetting for those who have begrudgedly endured year after year of service just so they could eventually "cash in."

I've heard a few mumblings of "now I'm going to have to do the same amount of work or even more for less," and "they better not take away that plan-that's the only reason why I've been here 15 years and I want it.  What's 15 more?"  I say welcome to corporate reality.  It's like that almost everywhere.  Companies are having to do more with less and stretch themselves as far as they can to make a somewhat acceptable bottom line.  Not to mention, we're still lucky.  Those stock options aren't worth much anyway with the market's current volatility and what company still gives their front-line employees that benefit?  It's certainly been my first time getting them.

And really, our out of pocket health insurance premiums are currently some of the lowest out there-about $15 bucks a week if you're single with no dependents, including medical, dental, and vision.  While I was lucky at one time to have an employer who covered 100% of those costs, I'm certainly used to paying a lot more on a lower salary.  A pension plan still being there when Generation X and Y reaches retirement age?  C'mon guys, how realistic is that?  Don't let the illusion of that safety cushion be the reason you stick with a job (and a company) that you don't enjoy anymore.  I know when I came on board five years ago, I never considered the possibility that it would still be there when I reached 65 or 67.  That is, if I was even still with the company.  Most of us switch jobs or even careers every two to five years anyhow.

Personally, I don't count on someone else or some outside "entity" to take care of me, financially or otherwise.  That's why I have a separate IRA from the company's 401(k), an emergency savings account, and a few other personal investment accounts.  Why?  Because when it comes down to it, you're the only one you can be sure you can count on.  This doesn't mean interdependence doesn't matter and isn't valid.  However, before you go rushing out to meet everyone else's needs or lean back in your lazy recliner because someone else is dangling the promise of "I'll take care of that for you," you should stop and consider if your needs are really taken care of.

My father used to always say that material things in life didn't matter because you weren't taking any of it with you.  He was right, I think.  Learning simplicity and taking on the perspective that you have "more than enough" will release you from the worries that accompany materialism.  A little idealistic, sure, but not impossible to do.  My mother on the other hand, still has her "I like the finer things in life" perspective most of the time.  As you can probably guess, I fall somewhere in-between.  There are certain things that I go a little "la de dah" on, but there are a lot of things that I'm economical with.

Whether it's financial, emotional, spiritual, or otherwise, what's most important is that you ask yourself what you want and what you need.  Then you find a way to give it to yourself.  No one is going to give you a handout, nor do you deserve one either.  After all, the only way we're able to give back to others is if we create our own abundance-an abundance that is somehow more than what we need to depend on. 


Monday, October 4, 2010

Tolerance, Understanding, and Inclusion

"In the end, it is important to remember that we cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are."-Max DePree

I grew up in a conservative home.  My adoptive father was a part of the World War I generation.  My mother's family was originally from California, but they were entrepreneurs.  Well, at least my grandfather was.  And we all know that business people-especially self-made ones-tend to lean a little towards the right.  I was mostly raised in the politically conservative State of Colorado and brought up under religiously conservative doctrine.  Somehow my mother turned into a self-proclaimed Democrat following the divorce, after years of backing up whatever my father said.  Go figure.  Maybe if you're born in California you never really lose your liberal streak.  There's got to be some reason why my grandparents, along with my uncle, returned there.  Some underlying reason besides the warmer weather, palm trees, the ocean, and the fact that an M.D. can probably charge more for his services in San Francisco than Chicago.  Perhaps I should ask.

Anyway, I've always considered myself to fall somewhere in the middle.  Sometimes I agree with the "left," other times I agree with the "right."  I'm a Libra-we can't really make up our minds so we choose the middle fence.  We're kind of like the Switzerland of life.  We're certainly not the ones you ask when you need a clear, concise, and quick decision made. 

But, like most people, I can get pretty adamant about a few topics.  One of them is intolerance of differences.  Maybe it's my sensitivity, but I just can't fathom why someone would think that it is ok to bully someone else because they have a different belief system or lifestyle.  Well, being an empath, I can understand it in a sort of vicarious sense.  You do it out of fear, ignorance, or because you're unable to wrap your mind around the fact that the world really isn't black and white.  You haven't considered the possibility that perception isn't in fact reality.

There have been many "minority" groups throughout history that have fought to have their voices heard, their perspectives validated, and their rights as fellow human beings recognized and accepted.  None of those "groups" are one hundred percent there yet.  Violence against women still exits, we hardly have "equal opportunity" and "equitable pay" when it comes to pursuing a career, misperceptions about what the role of women in society should be still exists, and we're still made to feel guilty and inadequate when we make certain choices.  Racism, whether we'd like to admit it or not, still exists.  This includes reverse discrimination as well.  Believe me, all one has to do is live below the "Bible Belt" for awhile to witness and experience it firsthand.  There are many other intolerances and misperceptions that I could elaborate on.  Too many, I think.

As evolved as our American society thinks it has become, we still have a long way to go.  I think that it's sad that in 2010 (almost 2011), we still have an unwillingness to not judge others.  Some of us still have some sort of inner drive to punish those who don't fit into the lines of the "majority's" molding.  I don't get it.  It angers me.  Everyone has a right to their own beliefs, their own choices, their own self-identity, their own path.  They have a right to be who they are and they shouldn't be afraid to do so.

There is a thin line between expressing your opinion about someone else's existence and attempting to impose your own set of beliefs onto them-by force or exclusion.  In my opinion, that act of imposition is what should not be tolerated.  No one has the right to tell someone else how to think, how to feel, and what and whom they should be.

I don't know what the answer is or if there even is one.  Sometimes even when you attempt to educate someone about differences and the fact that they're as natural or innate as the color of one's hair and eyes, they still don't get it.  They continue to believe what they always have.  They continue to uphold their perception as reality because to do otherwise would mean that they themselves might have to question who they really are.