The wait is over

Not writing for so long means there are many, many things to catch up on. I wasn’t idle over the summer, just not inclined to write. And since this is my hobby blog, I don’t have to write if I don’t want to. ūüėČ

The first big news is that I accepted a really good job offer and start December 3. Yay! I’ll be working in the same industry and same field, but the new company is smaller than the place I used to work.¬†The people are welcoming and friendly, the culture just felt like a good fit right away.

All of this activity started after the Labor Day holiday, just as the transition coach said it would. I had been feeling really low just before that point since I wasn’t getting any affirmative responses to the jobs I had been applying for.

One of the positive things I did to kick-start the action was to start a new group of professionals in my field in the greater Bay Area. I had been looking for opportunities to network but not finding any. I had one local contact in my field that I met with face-to-face to discuss the situation and he suggested I start a group. So I did. There were several people interested, and we were able to pull together a meeting in a very short time. We’ll be holding our third meeting next week.

The transition coach encouraged me that this was a good step, and indeed it was. Things started happening after that. I started getting screening calls for some of the jobs I’d applied for, which turned into phone interviews. At one point I was looking at the possibility of having to decide between three different jobs in very different industries. One of the companies decided to put the position on hold, and the other two asked me to schedule in person interviews. Those were long, intense days, but I felt very comfortable being myself and in my knowledge of my field. In the end, I declined to pursue one of the jobs and accepted the offer of the other.

An important personal lesson I learned from this experience is to keep my network active. I’m glad to now have a group of local colleagues with whom I can talk about challenges and successes, and keeping this group going is something I look forward to doing.

Several months ago, I talked with a friend who is a natural coach about my career. She suggested I write down what I was looking for, and to focus on that description so I could make it happen. Everything I wrote down was manifested in this new job: the salary, the commute, the benefits, and the work atmosphere. I’ve been a skeptic about this manifesting stuff, but it worked for me this time.

 

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Learning

It’s been just a big ‘ol voyage of discovery for me lately. I’m still unemployed, and one of my biggest challenges is how much I like it.

There is so much to do with my time! In the past few weeks I’ve taken online training and earned a certification that may help me land a job (or at least get my foot in the door someplace). I’ve also started learning some code. I’ve taken a few free online training courses in Javascript and Python, and will be moving on to a SQL refresher. And then there is all the self-care I’ve doing.

Last week I had my last (hopefully) physical therapy appointment for my neck. I still get occasional, mild tingling/numbness in my right hand and arm, but it’s bearable. I’m accepting that my body has accumulated wear and tear, and that I likely will just have to get used to things like this happening now and then. I’m still going to PT for my ankle, but I’m hoping to wrap that up in the next few weeks, too.

My next physical milestone will be eye surgery #4 that is scheduled for September 17. The previous three surgeries and copious steroid drops I’ve had to use in my bad eye have accelerated cataract development. The eye docs both agree that the cataract is advanced enough to merit removal, although I could put it off for a bit longer. The uncertainty about my medical insurance makes me reluctant to wait, however. I know that I have this particular insurance plan through the end of the year and that I’m within $200 of my out-of-pocket maximum for the year. When I get a new job, my medical benefits may be different, and I may be forced to find new doctors. I’d much rather have one of the doctors I’ve been working with for the past three years do my surgery, so it makes financial and medical sense to do it now. I won’t need to go to San Francisco for this eye surgery, though. The local ophthalmologist is able to do this procedure, which makes the arrangements for transport much easier.

I’ve been counseled that removing the cataract may not make a big difference in my vision, though. What I perceive as cloudiness in my vision may or may not be due to the cataract. The local eye doc noted that I’ve lost quite a bit of vision due to the glaucoma, and the “cloudiness” could simply be my brain trying to fill in the gaps. I won’t know without the surgery, though, so it’s worth a try. The doctor also told me that there is a risk that my drainage device may stop working after the surgery. If that happens then I’ll have to have yet another surgery to add a new device. Despite these uncertainties, I still think it is worth the risks. After all, my only other choice is to just give up on trying to improve my vision, right?

Not working has also given me much more time to follow my thoughts and reflect on my emotions and reactions to situations and people. I feel like I’m making huge advances in understanding myself and trying to create new, positive neural pathways. Self-reflection was something I struggled with in the past; setting aside time for it just seemed like a luxury and a privilege I couldn’t afford. I’m practicing gratitude, making time for physical rest, and simply enjoying being in this time and place.

Summer is nearly over and I need to step up the job hunt, though. I think I’m ready for the challenge of keeping these good habits for my mental and physical well-being in balance while I’m working full-time. The voyage continues!

Laying low

Last week I learned that I had some significant challenges ahead of me at work. I’m apparently not on the “favorites” list of the new head of our unit, and it was hinted¬†that I was lucky not to have been let go already.

Wow.

I spent the weekend in my den (house) licking my wounds and trying to recover. This is a big blow to me at a time when I’m already feeling very vulnerable.

In the past year, I’ve had major health challenges: multiple bouts of diverticulitis, hormonally induced fatigue and brain fog, incurable eye disease that impacts¬†vision in one eye, and a cancer scare that resulted in major surgery. And I’m not done on the health front yet because I’ll be having another abdominal surgery in one month. (Which will hopefully eliminate the diverticulitis for good.)

My work/career hasn’t been getting enough attention from me in the past year. I know that and have had every intention of addressing the lack once I’m through the upcoming surgery. Apparently it’s not so much my¬†actual performance that is the issue, though, as it is my lack of political savvy in the new¬†business unit to which I was transferred last year as part of an internal reorganization.

I’m motivated to fix the situation, since I really like my company overall and it has been good to me. Not to mention¬†I just bought a house and need a certain income level to make the payments. (Gulp!)

This state of affairs really blows away my financial reckoning in other ways, though. With this information in hand, I highly doubt I’ll see much of a raise or bonus. I’ll find out for sure at the end of next week.

Considering all the extra things I’ve had to pay for since moving into the house, not getting a decent bonus will be a blow to my budget. I was hoping that the bonus would cover most of my property tax bill this year.

Well, it’s a good thing I’m interviewing a potential housemate tonight. *sigh*

Updating my work space

Updating my work space

Since I’ve moved to California, I’ve been almost exclusively telecommuting for work. I do seem to have reasons to get into the office in San Francisco at least once or twice a month, but most days I’m working out of my rental home in Napa.

Even before I left Chicago I was telecommuting most days of the week.¬†I had an assigned workspace in our company’s office in the Loop (Chicago’s business district) for a long time, but the trend towards “hoteling” did away with that about a year before I moved. Being a “hoteled employee” means you reserve your workspace either in advance, or you sign into one when you arrive at the office. My company had rules about what type of workspace you could request, and your level in the company had some impact on whether you could request certain types of workspaces. As a person who is fairly senior, I was able to request offices while I was in Chicago, and I usually could get one if I reserved far enough in advance.

That’s not the case in San Francisco office, but I really don’t mind not having an office. Most people are quiet, and if a person needs to have a phone meeting, it’s usually easy enough to use one of the “telephone booths” set up for just that purpose. These are small rooms with a chair, a worktop, and a phone and they work well for their purposes.

Offices are very different nowadays. The newest trend seems to be to set up long counters or tables with either no partitions or very short ones.¬†Many people in the “open concept” offices are using headphones to listen to music or just keep¬†out any background noise. For much of my career it seemed that it was a big deal to get your own private office. Now it just doesn’t seem to matter very much.

As a telecommuter, my workspace is my entire house. Thanks to wifi, I can work in any room I want to work in, and I often do move my work laptop around with me throughout the day. When I’m making coffee in the early morning, I usually have the laptop in the kitchen with me so I can boot up and get logged in to my email while waiting for the water to get hot. When I eat meals, I’ll often have¬†the laptop on my little dining table with me and work at the same time.

But the place I have most often worked in the house is on the couch in the living room. I started doing that back in Chicago because then I could put my feet up, which was necessary when I had a broken ankle. I also found that if I sat that way I wouldn’t slump and hunch over my laptop.

With all the issues I’ve been having with my right eye, though, my visual acuity has been inconsistent and has made working on my small laptop screen a bit of a problem for me. I started thinking about getting a big monitor that I could plug into, but then a conversation with a friend led me to start looking into getting a TV instead. So I’ve added a 28-inch Vizio smart TV to my work area and am enjoying having a nice big screen on which I can do my work. Now I have no problems reading my Outlook inbox, and I have the bonus of a larger screen on which to stream Netflix and Amazon Prime in my bedroom, too, since my work area is there. I haven’t had a TV in my bedroom in well over 20 years, so I’m not sure if this is ultimately good or not. I suppose it will come in handy if I’m confined to bed while sick, at least.

Smart TV as monitor

A 28-inch Vizio smart TV used as a monitor.