Wednesday, May 19, 2010

4 a.m. musings

I didn't realize that approximately a year ago that things in my life would begin to change.

I didn't know that I would have one of the last normal conversations with a close friend...talking about little things of no importance.

I didn't know that I would never get to eat at our favorite Mexican restaurant again...together.

I didn't know that there would be no point in making any future plans to get together...something that due to our busy schedules kept getting delayed.

I didn't know yet what I was about to lose.

I didn't know I would miss my friend so much....

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Unemployed Life...

“For many people a job is more than an income - it’s an important part of who we are.  So a career transition of any sort is one of the most unsettling experiences you can face in your life.”  ~Paul Clithero

This quote pretty much summarizes how I've felt for the past several months.  With all the talk of the rising unemployment rate, budget shortfalls and lack of jobs, for some reason, I believed that it would not impact me.  I felt pretty secure in my job and didn't give much thought to the possibility of joining the ranks of the unemployed.

So imagine my surprise in late October, when my shoulder was tapped and I was led into an meeting room with HR and my supervisors.  I expected to hear that I could be impacted by the layoffs that were happening at my agency.  I never expected to be handed a letter stating effective 1/2/2010 I would no longer have a job.  My services were no longer needed.

The feelings that existed for me were shock, anger, sadness, denial and frustration.  As the quote stated job was more than was a huge part of who I am.  I loved my work...maybe not where I worked...but I loved the work itself.

The worst part was that for the next two months I had to continue to show up for work...knowing that I was not considered essential to the agency.  I could be discarded.  My work could be put into little parcels for other people to do...people that had no idea about the work I did.  I was asked for my opinion on who could pick up my assignments.  Of course, I knew that my opinion didn't really count.  They had already made these decisions before they eliminated my position.  Pure torture.

The most difficult part to handle was knowing that certain people within my agency were able to keep their jobs, even though they are not the most competent to do so.  It appeared that relationships played a bigger role in your job security than quality of work.  Disappointing to say the least.

I really thought these last two months of working would be the most difficult part of the process.  I wanted those two months to go by so quickly so I didn't have to show up, sit in my cubicle and pretend that I was going to be fine.  Really, how many times can people ask you "how are you doing?"  How do you think I was doing?  I've lost my job.  But I kept trying to focus on how great things would be once I didn't have to go to work anymore at a place that didn't value or appreciate me.  I would have time to myself...I couldn't wait.

I think I was wrong.  I think it has been harder to actually be unemployed.  It didn't sink in right away.  The first week or so felt like I was still on vacation from the holidays.  And then I had school to focus on for a few days.  The second week wasn't too rough either.  I made plans for a trip to visit good friends out of town...I can't do that when you have a job.  It felt a bit free to do whatever I wanted to do.  No restrictions.  No rush to find work right away.

Then I came home from my trip.  And all of a got harder.  For some reason, I didn't want to go home from my trip.  I think I was avoiding my new reality....the one where I didn't have a job.  But you can only avoid it for so long.   

As each day blends into the next...and nothing really can't ignore the reality anymore.

I feel like I have lost my purpose.  I have no reason to get up in the morning.  Now we need to not confuse this feeling with not wanting to live.  That is not what I am feeling.  I am just missing my purpose.  My job/career has been the main way I defined myself as a person.  And without that in my life...I've been a bit lost.  Who am I?

Being unemployed...I have no sense of time.  I sometimes can't fall asleep until 6 a.m. and then I sleep until 3 p.m.  So my internal clock is a mess.  I don't know what day of the week it is most days.  Even countless hours online or watching TV doesn't seem to help.  There doesn't seem to be a point in getting dressed out of pj's or showering every day.  It has been hard to establish structure in my days.

I also have been isolating a bit, especially from my work friends.  I miss seeing them everyday.  I miss venting at lunch about work, walking to get coffee or just laughing over the day's Dilbert cartoon.  So I have been keeping a bit of distance because it reminds me of what I have lost.  And the truth is...everyone else's life didn't change when mine did.  For some reason, I haven't wanted to listen to people talk about their lives.  Reminds me what I miss in mine.

Surprisingly during this whole process, I have not been worried about money at all.  Unemployment covers my mortgage and a few other essentials.  And I have enough set aside to cover the rest.  Anyone else that wants money from me...can wait.  So not stressed about money.  For some reason I trust that it will be taken care of.

Although it may seem I'm all down in the dumps...I do trust that this whole situation will work out. I know  I will find another job.  The question is what kind of work do I really want to do.  How do I want to make my mark on the world?  What would bring me joy?  So this time alone has made me start to reflect on this question.  More on this another day.

So for now...I have to work through the grief, loss, anger and frustration of losing my job and focus on the opportunities to come.  I am trusting what is coming next will be amazing.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Failure is not an option

I received this post from another blog today.  I think it is important to remember to focus on the what is coming next and move past what is done.


 A man I heard about once failed completely at two different businesses and had his girlfriend die before the age of thirty. He went on in the next decade to get into politics, where he was defeated not once, but twice, in both the Congressional and Senatorial races. He became depressed, moody, and his friends began to worry about him. Yet at the age of 51, that man was elected as President of the United States. His name was Abraham Lincoln.
This is but one of many examples of individuals who manage to go through a crushing series of defeats in life and come out on top with ongoing persistence. You can do the same, with only a few tips to keep in mind. Staying busy and helping others is a great way to start the healing process to empower yourself, with these 50 ways to overcome failure, whether it be great or small.

50 Ways to Get Over Failure

1. Get away from it all and take a vacation, if only to the next town.
A change of scene works wonders, taking you away from the scene of your alleged failure and giving you the time to recharge your batteries, so to speak.
2. Write down and update lists of your short and long-term goals alike.
I always try to have a few different lists going at the same time, be they literal or solely in my head. Staying organized and keeping your eyes on the prize is the best way to keep moving forward at a constant rate.
3. Face the truth.
If a situation is not working, have the strength to move on. It’s all too easy to make excuses for a situation that simply isn’t right.
4. Get a haircut or new style to represent the overall changes in your life.
A small makeover can make you feel like a completely new person and give a much-needed confidence boost.
5. Go through your wardrobe and throw out anything that is outdated or shabby.
Remove those old clothes that are doing you no favors. Get something that match your new hairstyle.
6. Make daily to-do lists and stick to them, even with the smallest of tasks.
7. Clean and organize your house and workspace.
It doesn’t need to be springtime to give the house a thorough going-over. You may be surprised to discover how much clutter you have in there that is unnecessary. This helps give the feeling of a fresh start, as well.
8. Always expect success in your future endeavors.
The power of positive thinking cannot be emphasized enough. As Willie Nelson once stated, “Once you replace your negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.”
9. Get involved in community groups.
Getting out there and getting to know the neighbors as well as giving back to the community can help spark a new way to move on from the defeats of the past and move forward into the success of the future.
10. Start exercising regularly with an activity you enjoy.
For me, this is soccer and golf. For my girlfriend, it’s yoga. A friend of mine prefers log rolling. Whatever floats your boat, as long as it’s active, will help not only your physical but mental states.
11. Undergo a detoxification or cleansing program to give your body a rest.
A poor diet can literally be weighing you down, so giving your body a break will boost your energy and clear your head for the tasks ahead.
12. Work dancing into your weekly routine.
Music is what ties us all together and this can work wonders on your mood, as well as serving as an exercise to keep you in the present and away from the past.
13. Focus solely on the present and realize that the past is over.
See the above. Aside from music, other ways people manage to do this is try focused meditations that keep you squarely in the here and now.
14. Reestablish contact with relatives you haven’t seen in a while.
By focusing on others that you may have lost touch with, you will be reconnected to your roots. And maybe Grandpa has some stories about his youth that will remind you of your own situation.
15. Chat up strangers and listen to new stories for inspiration.
Be open to small talk. Sometimes you can be surprised where it leads. Everyone has his or her own interesting story, so being receptive to hearing it can be fuel for your own fire.
16. Go out and experience live music.
More than just a diversion, this can help you see life in a whole new way. It doesn’t have to be the symphony. Even a punk band can give you an outlet to burn off excess negative energy.
17. Take a career test for inspiration on how to move forward with new possibilities.
If you feel at a loss, take one of those tests that are given to high school students, to maybe learn about new skills you forgot that you had.
18. Call friends who live at a distance and catch up on old times.
With my own friends scattered across the world from Melbourne to Berlin, sometimes having a good catch-up day can give you some inspiration and help relieve stress. Modern technology such as Skype makes it easier than ever before to stay in touch. Plus, this might get you an invitation to take a vacation down the road.
19. Learn a new language or technical skill.
This helps sharpen the mind and improve concentration, plus makes you more marketable in the future when searching for new opportunities.
20. Throw a dinner party for a mixed group of friends with varied interests.
Put together a well-crafted guest list of people who don’t necessarily know each other that well but have interests that could be complimentary to each other, for stimulating conversation.
21. Drink champagne in the park with a friend.
Sometimes taking a day out and just enjoying someone’s company with a celebration just for the heck of it is necessary.
22. Always speak with honesty, so that you can stand confidently behind your words.
Say what you mean and mean what you say. This will help build your credibility and reputation that are critical in achieving success.
23. Try a new cuisine.
Life is all about experience. Give Ethiopian or Vietnamese food, and maybe you’ll be uncovering the next hot trend in world cuisine.
24. Work at least 15 minutes in every day for breathing exercise, meditation, or yoga to reduce stress.
Stress is one of the modern killers that keep us wrapped up in failure. After my business plans all fell through, I found myself forgetting to simply breathe sometimes. Taking the conscious time out of your day to simply breathe can be a huge boost to energy levels and competency.
25. Adopt a pet or volunteer at an animal rescue shelter.
Pets have been shown to also reduce stress levels.
26. Stay properly hydrated with 6-8 glasses of water per day, for an instant energy boost.
Many people forget to drink enough water. Even though it seems like a no-brainer, it really does have a huge effect on your overall wellbeing. Your body can’t operate without water.
27. Dabble in a vintage art form such as ceramics or crocheting.
For kitsch value and a new form of stress relief, take up an old-school craft form.
28. Browse in used bookstores for new intellectual ideas and join a book group to discuss them.
Browsing through books of authors you’ve never heard of can open you up to new ideas. Book of the month clubs can spark intriguing discussion and open you up to new ideas.
29. Join a language exchange program to meet new people from different backgrounds.
Share your language with someone who is new to the country, and in return learn a new language yourself, all over a cup of coffee.
30. Write down a list of 10 things you most appreciate about yourself.
It’s easy to forget after a setback how great you are. This is a way to remind yourself.
31. Make yourself upbeat music mixes to listen to when getting ready for the day.
Dance around the room too, if you feel like it. Who cares who is watching?
32. Forgive yourself for past failures by writing yourself a letter or saying it out loud if necessary.
Forgiveness is important. Remember what Oprah Winfrey once said: “Think like a queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.”
33. Take yourself on a date.
This is just a way of getting yourself out there and taking the time to appreciate what you have to offer. Buy a gift. Take yourself to a movie.
34. Volunteer within the community or abroad.
Giving back to the world at large helps you see that your personal failure is not that big of a deal in the larger scheme of things.
35. Go on a retreat.
This can be a good way to feel revitalized after a demoralized period.
36. Make sure you are being proactive every day towards achieving your goals.
Stick to those to-do lists, and don’t let yourself take days or weeks off, as that can lead to lethargy.
37. Incorporate feng shui into your interior decoration.
This can have a big impact on energy levels in the room.
38. Go to a comedy show or learn some new jokes yourself.
39. Move to a location that is near the beach.
Studies show that those living near the ocean have a higher level of satisfaction in their personal and professional lives.
40. Give yourself rewards for meeting each smaller goal on the road to your larger goals.
41. Read biographies of people that you admire.
Figure how they did it, and also be reminded that everyone goes through periods of failure. There is not one person who goes through life without it.
42. Dress in power colors and styles that make you feel good.
43. Lend a helping hand whenever possible to others.
44. Realize the best way to learn is through mistakes and setbacks.
45. Keep an upbeat attitude throughout hardships.
46. Be there as a rock for others in need.
47. Smile as often as possible.
The world will smile back at you.
48. Tackle something you have always been afraid of.
I am terrified of heights, but the day I went bungee jumping stands out as one of the best days of my life and helped remind me that I am capable of anything.
49. Laugh in the face of defeat.
50. Remember that it’s OK to feel sad, but try to turn that around.
There is a time for grieving, and a time for forgiveness. Take those defeats, learn from your mistakes, and never look back after the lesson has been absorbed.

Author: Mark Foo

Monday, February 8, 2010

Today is a lovely day to be a butterfly....

Today I venture into the world of is time to stop stalking other bloggers and join the club.

Today should mark the beginning of my journey to find a new focus & purpose in my life.

Today should be about letting go and trusting that everything will work out as it should.

Today would be a lovely day to be a Butterfly!