Friday, April 06, 2007

Well, once again I've let several weeks pass without posting. And a lot has happened in those weeks!

Perhaps the biggest news is that I have a job! I have accepted the position of Director of Marketing and Community Relations with The Catholic Foundation. The Catholic Foundation is a nonprofit corporation, separate from the church but aligned with it, with the mission of providing a permanent source of funding for religious, educational and social service activities and ministries in the 23-county Diocese of Columbus. It is one of the oldest and largest Catholic foundations in the country.

I feel really good about this. In fact, honestly, I feel that I was meant to be here, and that God had a plan from the beginning. I had been moderately unhappy or perhaps uncomfortable at the old job for a while, but I wasn't taking action to leave. So God forced my hand. And throughout the time I was unemployed, I just kept praying that he would lead me to a really "right" new job -- not just a job, but a place where I felt like I belonged, where I could use my talents and feel at peace. I believe this job is the answer to that prayer.

Since my last posting Sam has had his meeting with the psychologist who gave the tests, and just yesterday we had the meeting with the doctor and Sam's teachers. Also, I read a book recommended by the psychologist and one of the strategies it recommended was having a coach for Sam. Well separately from all this, Sam had already been talking with the phys ed teacher at his school, with whom he has a good rapport, about whether there was some way she could counsel him a little. So I asked her how she might feel about taking on this coaching role. She was very enthusiastic, and is currently reading the book to better understand the issues we've identified and what the role of the coach is. So his classroom teachers are going to try to help him develop external structures to support himself and make some accomodations for his extra needs in this area, and are going to communicate with the coach so she can be effective in supporting him and holding him accountable.

The other big thing that's going on is that my mother is having back surgery on April 16. She was originally supposed to have it in February, but the pre-admission testing revealed a heart issue, which led to a cardiac catheterization. She is now stabilized on some new meds, and has been cleared for the back surgery. That's really important, because just in these few months the surgery has been delayed, the pain has gotten much worse. So we are all very excited about the pending surrgery. Of course, she's 82 years old, so I will admit I'm a little scared -- though she's been through all these tests and everything, of course the risks of surgery are a little higher for her. But we hope it goes smoothly and once she recovers, she will be able to remain active and pain-free.

In other news, my niece Jena just gave birth to a son yesterday. I don't know the height and weight, but she named him Aries, to her father's obvious chagrin. But my brother at least showed good humor about it. He adores his daughter, after all, and since her favorite screen name online is "hippiegirl," it's not like this name is an out-of-character choice.

That's where I'm going to wrap it up for today, except to wish everyone a very Happy Easter!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Well, yesterday Bob and I had the long awaited meeting with the psychologist who administered all those tests to Sam a few weeks ago. And interestingly, as we left Bob and I both felt that on the one hand, he didn't tell us a single thing we didn't already know. And on the other hand, he somehow reframed it into a perspective that helps make sense of it.

He said that while Sam's intellect is very high, as we have always known, the area psychologists call "executive function" is much lower. His executive function is not actually low, but relative to his intelligence, it is. The doctor said that only about 10% of very bright kids would have scores as low as Sam on executive function.

Executive function is controlled by the frontal lobe and governs things like working memory -- the ability to hold a set of directions in your mind while working on a project, for example. It covers a lot of self-regulation, the postponing of gratification in pursuit of a long-term goal, time management, planning, etc. Now, these are all areas where we knew he had problems. What we didn't realize was that they are all connected, all controlled by that one area of the brain.

So again, in terms of the labeling that schools and psychologists seem to love, Sam doesn't quite fit the label. Just as we know he has "Asperger's-like" behaviors but doesn't really meet the definition for Asperger's, similarly, he has ADD-like behaviors but doesn't meet the definition for ADD. Which is just as well, especially since we have previously tried ADD meds on him and they produce strong and unacceptable side-effects. (They make him anti-social.)

So the recommended course of action is that we must provide him with external structures that take the place of that internal regulation. For example, when he goes to do a homework assignment, we will now have him show or explain to us exactly what the assignment is before he starts. That will establish whether he knows or not. If the assignment is complex, and it took a lot of coaxing and guidance to get it all laid out, we might write it down, so he has those written instructions in front of him as he works. Then as soon as that assignment is finished, we will review it to see if he completed all the steps.

The psychologist will meet with Sam next week, and with his team of teachers in about three weeks, so that we are all on the same page. I had mentioned to the psychologist how frustrated we and the teachers have been by his apparent loss of motivation this school year, and the doctor was pretty sympathetic to Sam about that. He likened him to a dog that has jumped at an electric fence and been zapped enough times that now, when he looks at the fence, he just sees the pain. Even if someone opens a gate in the fence, he is likely not to notice it. In Sam's case, he started the year trying really hard to do a good job, but in spite of what really were his best efforts he couldn't stay caught up and was perpetually in trouble. So somewhere along the line, he checked out. Why invest all that energy just to fail anyway?

The doctor said in kids like this is it usually particularly hurtful and frustrating to hear, "You're not working up to your potential." Because while they have this great intellectual potential, the frontal lobe issues are just as real, so they have been working to the best of their ability -- their overall ability. But if we can get Sam to buy into building up structures to support him, then he can get past that roadblock and allow his intellect to shine. At least I hope so!

Friday, March 16, 2007

See, I'm doing better: it's only been a week since my last post here. I don't think I've mentioned it in this blog, but again this year I am doing a daily Lenten meditation online. If you're interested in checking it out, go to .

Today I had a second interview at The Catholic Foundation. It was with the head of the communications committee of the board, who is also the Executive Director of the New Albany Community Foundation. I felt it went very well, and I have to admit that I'm getting to that point where my hopes are up for an offer. I know I wasn't the only candidate called in for a second interview, but I did get a very good feeling during the interview. I keep trying to remind myself that I'm just trusting in God to lead me where I should be. It's hard, though, because there's a big part of me that wants to prod and poke God and generally tell him how to do his job.

Earlier this week I had a first interview with a company called Mapsys, and it was surprisingly interesting, too. I take some comfort in thinking if The Catholic Foundation doesn't come through, I can still pursue it. But I'm hoping God gives me some kind of clear sign which one is really the right one for me!

Poor Sam is still having a rough school year. In fact, I'd say it is getting worse. Next Monday we get the results of all that neuropsychological testing we had done, and I'm pinning a lot of hope on that revealing something actionable. If it doesn't, I don't know what the next step will be.

There are several different areas of problems. First, smart as he is, he is not performing well in school. That seems to be mainly about not organizing his work and managing his time, but I am gradually becoming convinced that this is not willful noncompliance. I think he has some sort of problem that makes doing so extremely difficult for him. This is a big area where I hope the tests reveal something, and the doctors know some form of therapy or something that can help.

Then there's the motivation issue. Sam seems to have lost all interest in school work and all internal motivation. To the extent that he does perform in school, it is clearly motivated by trying to keep me and the teachers off his back, not by anything intrinsic to him. He doesn't play music for his own pleasure any more, and he doesn't practice his instruments unless pressed to. He hasn't accomplished anything in Scouts (other than showing up) for months. Sadly, for him lately I think just showing up is an accomplishment. More than anything, I want him to find an inner desire to learn and accomplish!

He is having a big problem with one teacher. He says that he doesn't like the way she teaches but moreover, he doesn't like her. He says he has had other teachers where he didn't like the way they taught, but she is the first one he has ever not liked as a person -- and he believes she doesn't like him any more than he likes her. Today I mentioned this with another of the teachers, one I've known for years and trust a lot, and she said she has never seen any indication that the teacher doesn't like Sam. I think part of the problem may be that this teacher is one of those people whose voice doesn't fluctuate a lot, who is even-keeled to the point of almost placid, and I think Sam may read that as a lack of caring. Whatever, I've come to realize it is very intense and real to him and something must get resolved, as he has the same team of teachers again next year.

Of course, social skills are always a problem for him. I don't necessarily think those have gotten worse, exactly, but with all this other stuff going on he hasn't had any energy left to work on getting them better. Still, I am mildly encouraged that he has had some boys over for sleepovers this year, and they aren't just the kids who've known him since they were tiny.

We've begun talking about what summer camps to sign him up for and where we might want to vacation, but this is the point where my unemployment begins to loom large. I'd plan the summer one way if I thought I was still going to be home, another way if I plan to be working full-time. It is my hope that the answer will reveal itself before we get down to deadlines where I just have to make my best guess.

This weekend holds a Merit Badge workshop day for Sam on Saturday, and on Sunday afternoon his team for a Social Studies project is meeting here at our house to cook. Yes, cook. The class is studying Africa, and his team took on the subject of African food. So in addition to their oral report, they are making and serving some recipes from Africa.

There's never a dull moment here!

Friday, March 09, 2007

I don't know to what extent I even actually HAVE readers on this blog, but if there are any out there, you probably think I dropped dead. I didn't, of course, but I have had some big distractions since my last posting.

Most recently, we took my Mom to a cardiologist on Tuesday because she had flunked her stress test a few weeks ago. (About the time of my last post, actually.) The cardiologist ordered a cardiac catheterization. She needed to go to the hospital the next day for her pre-admittance testing, and my sister was already scheduled to work that day, so I drove back to Zanesville on Wednesday (yes, the day of the snowstorm) to take her for a couple hours of tests. Then I drove back over after church choir Wednesday night to spend the night, as we had to be at the hospital at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday.

The procedure went well and Mom seemed strong and fine afterward. It showed two major arteries are blocked 50 to 60%, and the one at the back of her heart is blocked 90%. They don't do bypasses or angioplasty or anything unless it is at least 70% blocked, so they will let the first two ride. And the one at the back of the heart is too hard to get to and too small a vein to be easily treated, so they will let that one ride, too. The doctor prescribed a beta blocker for her and said he will clear her for her back surgery. (That was the start of all this -- she is in pain and needs back surgery.)

So it was a largely positive outcome, except that now we know Mom is at risk for a heart attack. The beta blocker may help reduce some of that blockage, plus now we know to respond quickly to any signs of potential heart trouble. And the woman is 82 years old -- we were only kidding ourselves if we ever thought she WASN'T at risk for a heart attack. It's just a little disturbing being told that she is, somehow.

I have noticed as I've gone with her to all these appointments, the medical community actually treats her with a certain respect. (Amazing, huh?) I can see in their eyes and hear in their voices that they are impressed with what a tough, active little lady she is, and they really want to see her do well. It's quite uplifting, actually.

Last week had its excitements, too. Sam was off school Thursday and Friday, and while he went for neuropsychological tests each morning, we also went to a movie and tried to fit in fun stuff around the testing. He had a friend over for a sleepover, among other things. Christmas break had been like no break at all for him, with three papers due when he returned, so I felt great about him actually getting a four-day break where he could kick back some.

Friday evening and all day Saturday, I babysat for our nephew and niece. Drew is 6 and Paige is almost 4. They are really well-behaved children and just a delight to be around, but even so, by the time I got home Saturday evening I was exhausted!! Keeping up with little people is definitely a young person's game!

Since my last missive, I had an interview at The Catholic Foundation. It went well and I liked the Director there and the job sounded rewarding. The next step was for each of the ten candidates she was interviewing to provide a writing sample. It turned out to be both a writing sample and a brief project plan, but that was fine --- I felt they played to my strengths. Based on the combination of the first interview and the writing sample, she said she would narrow the field and have the remaining candidates come in for a second interview. I received a call Wednesday inviting me in next week for a second interview. So if you're reading this, then send me prayers and/or positive energy next Friday morning!

I also have an interview Monday with a place called Mapsys. I don't know much about them yet -- I still have to do my research. I never sent my resume to them -- a friend forwarded it to someone she knew there on my behalf, and that's where the contact came from. It sounds like more of a pure sales job than I think I want, but it is such a thrill to have someone seek you out that I didn't turn down the interview. After all, you never really know!

After all that driving to and from Z'ville this week, I am really looking forward to hanging out at home this weekend. I have some freelance work that needs my attention from a friend's sole proprietorship, and I'm at the point that just sitting and working on it will be a delight. In between spending some quality time with Bob and Sam, of course.

I'll try not to wait three weeks before I post again!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Today, I'm fighting the blues. I'll try not to make this post too self-indulgent, but I did think perhaps it would help to write about it.

Central Ohio has been battered by winter weather for the past two weeks, resulting in a total of five cancelled school days out of the last ten. So I know that's one big contributing factor. There was a period of about 2 1/2 days where I didn't even leave the house except to shovel the driveway. Repeatedly. Of course, all that wasn't without its rewards. My son was home with me and in addition to the pleasure of his company, it gave him a much needed chance to work on his Interest Fair project, for the fair coming up on March 22. Frankly, I don't know how it ever would have gotten done without this found time.

Which brings me to one of the big sources of my blues. Things are not going well with Sam in school this year. Though a brilliant child who scores in the 99th percentile in Language and nearly as high in other parts of the standardized tests, he is chronically behind on his work, and shows no motivation or pride in school work. On top of that, I found out at the end of the week that he had actually lied to me about having finished work that he had not finished, just to get me off his back. It was very hurtful to me.

At the suggestion of his psychologist, I have scheduled him to have a comprehensive battery of tests done with another psychologist who specializes in such testing. It will cost an arm and a leg plus two full mornings of Sam's time, but I sure hope it tells us something. We seem to be getting nowhere in improving his study skills, social skills, or general probability of succeeding in life. Supposedly this battery of testing will produce about a 15 page report that analyzes not just his abilities but his emotional make up and his learning style and his executive functions (ability to plan, etc.) and give recommendations about how to set him up for success. Then I think both the testing doctor and Sam's regular psychologist may join us for a meeting with his teaching team at school so we can develop a plan. I think all involved with him feel a sense of urgency because we have the remainder of this school year plus eighth grade to turn around all these negative habits and behaviors and get him ready to succeed in high school -- and right now that feels like a long journey for the time allowed!

I'm also blue because things with my mother have taken a downturn. Thursday night I found out her stress test, which did not occur on Wednesday because of the weather, was rescheduled for Friday morning and my sister couldn't get off work to take her. So I hurriedly packed and went to Zanesville so I could spend the night and take her to the test at 7 a.m. Friday. I did that, my sister joined us when she got off work at noon and we had lunch. When we returned to their house, we got word that the stress test revealed "abnormal results." So her back surgery, scheduled for Monday, is postponed until they meet with her, discuss what these results mean, probably get her in to see a cardiologist, etc. She was very frustrated and disappointed, having had herself all psyched up for major surgery, plus now hearing she may have some kind of heart problem she was previously totally unaware of.

Finally (and this one is really shallow) I'm blue because I'm all alone today. Being currently unemployed, I spend all day alone most days, and I really look forward to time with people. But this is the long-awaited Boy Scout ski trip for Sam, so he is in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania. Bob is at a Boy Scout leader training that lasts until 3:00. I had contacted a girlfriend about getting together today, but by week's end she was too backlogged in work, etc., because of the weird weather week. So here I am yet again, alone with the computer and the fish in the aquarium.

To end on a positive note, though, I did get one piece of good news this week. I am scheduled for a job interview next Tuesday. The job is Director of Marketing and Community Relations for The Catholic Foundation of Columbus. I think I'd like the job and I think I'd do it well. I am a little worried about whether it will pay enough to meet my family's needs, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. I have prayed and prayed that God will lead me to the RIGHT next job, so I'm trusting that if this is it, the pieces will all come together. Anyway, just gettting called in for an interview is very, very uplifting. With all the craziness this week I don't think I have sent out one single new resume, so getting an interview about one I had already sent feels like a great gift. Send me positive thoughts and/or prayers next Tuesday afternoon at 1:30, please!

Monday, February 12, 2007

This weekend proved to be even MORE fully packed than I had imagined. When Bob picked Sam up at school Friday afternoon (unannounced) he learned from a teacher that so far this grading period (about 2 1/2 weeks) Sam had hardly turned in ANY homework. So on top of all we had scheduled, there was a bunch of homework to be caught up. Needless to say, there were some serious family discussions about that situation.

But the good news is, by the time he went to bed Saturday night Sam was caught up on schoolwork. And Bob and I went to our dinner dance and had a great time. I'm posting the best picture I got, but I'm really disappointed with the pictures overall. There are almost none of us there having fun, and the pictures Bob took of other people at our table look like we were at a wake rather than a fun event -- but I swear, people really were having a great time! Anyway, here's what we have to show. Then on Sunday Sam and Bob worked really hard on making this plasma ball for his Interest Fair project. They have not yet successfully built it. After they struggled for hours, they enlisted the help of our neighbor and friend Nick, who is an electrical engineer. He was able to better articulate why it wasn't working, but not yet make it work. However, Bob is optimistic that if he contacts the company from whom we bought the kit and explains what data is missing, they can still finish it.

I had a lovely lunch with my sister-in-law Lori while they were working on that project, and it was delightful. I am so fortunate to have a sister-in-law who I would have chosen as a friend if I'd met her in other circumstances.

Now, here it is Monday again and we're back to the rat race. Even unemployed, I feel like I have more to accomplish than hours in the day. Weird, huh?

Friday, February 09, 2007

It has been a very strange week. Because of sub-zero windchills, school was closed throughout Central Ohio for the first three days of this week. That kept my 13-year-old home, which certainly put a damper on my productivity. Of course, Monday I wouldn't have been productive anyway. My mother is scheduled for back surgery on the 19th, and Monday was her day to go have all her pre-operative testing done. So that day was blown away for my purposes. (I sat at the hospital with her for the several-hour process.) Productivity aside, though, it was kind of nice to have that extra time with my son. He was finishing a major paper and I was able to provide support and guidance and keep him on task.

One thing I did accomplish yesterday was contacting a few more friends who had not yet heard my news. I was really touched by the immediate and powerful outpouring of support I got. My friend Lisa called right away and gave some really nice emotional support. My friend Ann called this morning and was brimming over with thoughts about who she could call and places I could look. And later in the conversation, she also provided some lovely encouragement to make sure I use this opportunity to do some soul-searching and figure out what I'm really good at and what gives me joy, and turn it over to God to get me to a place where those are the things I'll be doing. I had already been thinking along those lines, of course, and working with both the career counselor and my life coach/friend Jamie on them. But it felt great to get another reinforcement that this is what I need to be about.

While I admit to having a low grade fear about not finding something soon enough to shelter my family from financial distress, overall I do feel that this has all happened for a positive reason. I feel God is guiding me to something better, and I just need to cooperate and relinquish control and let it happen. While I wasn't actively miserable (usually) in my previous job, I wasn't truly happy either. It was never a perfect fit for me, and I often thought how I missed the feeling I have had other times in my life of being truly engaged by my work and energized by it. I believe God will lead me to something that gives me that energy again.

In spite of the weird demands on my time this week, I have had some successes. I went through a mock interview with my career coach which was a positive experience. She gave some good tips for improvement and preparation, while at the same time giving lots of positive feedback and praise that built my confidence for when I go into a real interview. I signed up for temporary access to the Central Ohio Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America's job board, so I can keep looking there for PR/Communication/Marketing type jobs. And just by trolling the general job boards I've identified another four jobs that are at least worth looking at harder and possibly sending off a resume.

I've become a mall-walker, and I've resumed my previous habit of using my walking time as prayer time. (You'd think I would have become MORE prayerful when I lost my job, but actually, I felt a little numb at first and didn't really talk to God as much as usual.) This morning as I walked I was very focused on how blessed I am. My life is filled with such wonderful people -- my immediate family, of course, and my extended family, and then the wonderful friends who support me. I just had to thank God.

This weekend, Sam, my son, needs to finish his 3-dimensional project and his display board for the Interest Fair at his school. The fair isn't until February 22, but he is scheduled to go away for a long-weekend ski trip with his Boy Scout troop next weekend. It is fully paid for and everything, but he knows if the Interest Fair stuff isn't finished, he doesn't get to go. So I'm sure as a family we will ALL be focused on those things this weekend. And on top of that, this Saturday night is the black-tie dinner-dance fundraiser for the scholarship foundation at our church. So Bob and I will get to go out on a wonderful date! By Monday, I'll need the weekday routine just to rest up from the weekend!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Wow, this unemployment thing is a lot of work, ya know? I can't believe it's been this long since I posted a new entry here at the blog.

Going all the way back to the weekend, let me just say, if you have not yet seen The Pursuit of Happyness, you are missing something. It is a wonderful feel-good movie. Very uplifting, very inspirational. I loved it -- and so did Sam.

We actually did take pictures of ourselves dressed up for our formal last Saturday, but I haven't bothered to upload them yet, so I guess we'll do without that little addition to the blog. Oh well.

This week, I have met with a career counselor and a life coach, I've sent out two resumes to positions that look REALLY attractive and found two more such postings that I will respond to tomorrow. I've had a telephone conversation with an executive recruiter who specializes in marketing positions who didn't have anything that was a match for me right now, but could another day. And I've forwarded my resume to two friends-of-friends who may or may not have some kind of connections, and made a few more initial contacts to old friends to let them know I'm back in the job hunt.

Also, I found that somewhere along the way my subconscious mind has come to the conclusion that the financial advisor thing is probably a bad idea, just because I have a 13-year-old son. I'd virtually disappear from his daily life for a year or two, and I can't think of a more vulnerable time in a boy's life for that to happen. So I'm exploring my other options.

Today, I spent most of the day designing the program for the Valentine's dinner-dance fundraiser at my church. It felt good to be productive. Plus, I hadn't used desktop publishing software in years, so it was also rewarding to find that it came back more easily than I had feared.

Well, that's probably all I have time to write this evening. But at least I got something out here!

Friday, January 26, 2007

I skipped blogging yesterday because I was spending the day with my son, quite unexpectedly. The day before yesterday, the Columbus Police found a syringe full of cocaine in the possession of a Columbus school bus driver, on the bus. The driver worked for an outsource provider used by Columbus Public Schools. Apparnetly late that evening the outsource company determined that their Columbus office had never run criminal checks on any of the bus drivers in their employ. They called Columbus Schools officials and said they weren't sending any of them out until they were checked. That left Columbus schools too short of buses and drivers to open their doors, and in ripple effect, the Columbus Catholic schools closed, too, because many kids come in on CPS school buses.

Thursday is Ski Club day at Sam's school, which means he has a ski pass good every Thursday. So after I kept a morning appointment, he and I had lunch together while watching an old episode of The Incredible Hulk, then we went to the ski resort. He skied for about 4 hours while I sat in the lodge sipping coffee and reading Dan Brown's Angels and Demons. On the way home from skiing, he told me it ranked among his top ten all time best days!

My morning appointment yesterday was with the firm where I had an offer to become a financial advisor back in May. They are definitely still interested in me, so I just need to make up my mind if that is really what I want to do. I'm leaning toward it, but not firmly decided yet. The first couple years take a lot of hard, grueling work with long hours, and while I am not opposed to working hard, I don't know if it is the right thing to do when my son is 13. But back when I proactively worked on what kind of work I'd enjoy, this is what I came to, so if I decide it just isn't right for my family, I don't know where to go from there. My friend Jamie, who is a professional life coach, is giving me three free coaching sessions, and I hope to meet with a career counselor next week as well, and I'm hoping that all that professional guidance helps me make the right decision about whether this is the next step for me.

I have also downloaded writers' guidelines from a bunch of places and am hoping I can write something to sell to bring in a little interim cash.

But today, I'm largely being a domestic godess. I did the grocery shopping, I'm doing the laundry, I ran the dishwasher and I'm about to empty it and start refilling it. And I finally, FINALLY forced myself to take all the junk from my office out of my trunk. So far it has only made it to the corner of the family room, but I won't leave it there too long. It feels too good to have a clean family room. But in the trunk of the car, it was largely out of sight and out of mind and it seemed like as long as I left it there, I didn't have to think about it. It became a big mental block for me. So I'm pleased to have broken through.

Tomorrow Bob is at a Boy Scout leader training event most of the day. Sam and I are meeting one of his teachers at the library for some help on a project, then we've discussed going to see The Pursuit of Happyness together. I like the idea, because I realized recently that with all his school issues and social issues, sometimes it feels like all we ever do is talk about problems and hash out how to do stuff. It had been way too long since we relaxed and had fun together. Yesterday felt nice in that way, and tomorrow holds promise, too. And for me, the day ends with a black tie gala on somebody else's nickel. It doesn't get much better than that! I'm wearing a red gown that was already in my closet. I'll try to get a photo I can post!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Well, today was the day when, inevitably, I got a little bluesy about the job situation. I know it had to come eventually, but I hope it doesn't stay around long. I'm still basically optimistic that it will all work out in the long haul, but today I am more focused on the short term. Will I find something before the money troubles set in? Will my family suffer hardship because of me? Will I end up having to go do temp work again? Where will I end up? What ending do I WANT to see?

Other than that, not much new. I've also been struggling to keep up my good diet and exercise habits. There's something about being around the house all day that makes it hard not to eat all the time! But I did get out for a nice outdoor walk this afternoon for the first time in days. The sun definitely helped my mental state. And yesterday, I got through the entire Pilates DVD for the first time.

One thing that I think is contributing to my bluesiness is that I'm home alone all day. I am definitely a people person and with no one to talk to all day, I get a little stir crazy. I haven't even been getting much by way of e-mail. Hint: if you're out there reading this, drop me a line or pick up the phone!

The rest of the week will probably be better, because I have a hair appointment on Wednesday and a job interview on Thursday, so at least I get to go out and interact with other humans those two days. Too much solitude makes me crazy.

Oh, and here's something funny. The last three years, Bob and I have gone to the Catholic Social Services black tie gala as guests of Nationwide Insurance -- they buy a table and then end up scrambling to get people to attend because it would look bad if no one was at their table. We had expected to go this year, but no word, no word, and finally, Bob was told yesterday that whoever is on the CSS Board this year got his own people to sit at the table. So today, Bob calls and asks me if I'd still like to go. We don't really know what happened, but apparently those other guests were a lot less sure than we were led to believe. So in spite of our financial state, I'm going to a black tie dinner dance on Saturday. That will be fun!!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Here it is, Monday afternoon after a very enjoyable, restful weekend! I went out to my friend Jamie's house Friday night where she had a little "self-improvement" party that was a lot of fun. I hardly knew any of her other friends who were there, so it was a pleasure to make some new friends.

Then Satruday night we hosted our Euchre Club at our house. We ran around like crazy people cleaning all day, of course, but it was worth it both for the sheer joy of having a clean house plus the fun of having this group of friends in. I don't know what was different about the drinks that night, but I swear it was the rowdiest we have ever seen our Euchre Club!

Yesterday Central Ohio finally got some snow for the first time this winter. I have sort of mixed feelings about it. I actually think it should snow in the winter -- it just feels right. On the other hand, I like to walk outside for my fitness exercise, and snow creates ice which makes that difficult. So I'm going to have to discipline myself to do something else for a while. (Lookout Pilates DVD, here I come!)

I don't think a lot of my blog friends are big sports fans, but the playoff game yesterday evening between the Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots was an amazing game! The first half was all New England, and it was a moral victory when Indianapolis managed a field goal just before half time to bring it to 21 - 6. But they came back from halftime on fire! It was tied up before I knew it, then they took turns scoring, keeping it tied, until the final moments. Peyton Manning led this beautiful drive to a touchdown with 1 minute to go, bringing Indianapolis to a 4-point lead at 38-33. In football, 1 minute is enough to be dangerous, and I really though New England might turn right around and score again. But then Tom Brady threw and interception and the game was over! It was a really thrilling football game to watch. And with a Chicago-Indianapolis matchup, I'm actually excited about watching the Super Bowl this year!!

Today Sam woke up with an awful sore throat, which he had yesterday, as well, so I took him to the doctor for a strep test this morning. It was not strep, just viral, but I still kept him home from school today because he obviously did feel like hell. He slept the morning away, but has been doing homework this afternoon. I had a long to-do list that I've been marching through, too. Nothing job-hunting related, really, but more domestic.

I do think that tomorrow I'm going to place a call to the Financial Advisor firm that I almost went with back in May of 2006. I have been thinking seriously about going with them, so I suppose I had better first check it out and see if the opportunity is still there. They left me with the feeling I was welcome to come take the offer later if I had a change of mind, but 8 months have passed and who knows what changes may have occurred. No point continuing to consider this and decide it IS the right thing only to find at that point that it is no longer available!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Well this has been a productive day! I broke out of the pattern of the past couple days and it seemed to pay off. After my walk and breakfast, I dug up materials I had prepared when I came close to taking a financial advisor job about a year ago, so I can review them and help myself remember what I liked and didn't like about that option. I also placed a call to the career counseling service I had used back then, as well as placing a few calls on personal matters. I am going to a little party at a friend's house tonight. It's a party to drum up work for her business, but I don't mind -- I will still enjoy it very much. I also did a load of laundry, moved all the furniture out of the kitchen and swept and mopped the entryway, kitchen, half bath and laundry room. Only then, after 2:00 in the afternoon, did I shower and put on better clothes than I walk in each morning. By the time I was finishing my make up after the shower, Sam was arriving home.

This weekend we are hosting our Euchre Club, so I will have lots of activity to keep my mind occupied. As long as I can land a new job in a timely manner so my family doesn't suffer financially, I can't help but feel that Dick, my former boss, has done me a huge favor. I needed to get out of that place and I kept finding excuses not to go. Now that the decision was taken out of my hands, I feel liberated. A little fearful financially, but really more that sense of liberation, that the future will hold something better than the recent past. In my heart, I know that I am going to be OK.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Here I am, about halfway through day #2 of life after the credit union. I have no profound insights, just a few little niggling realizations.

One realization is how diligent I have to be to keep up good habits during this period. I spent the past four months losing 16 pounds and got to a point where I feel pretty good. Actually, I was still thinking of trying to take off 4 more just for good measure, but I'm down two pants sizes and I feel well and I know I'm pretty close to where I want to be. But last night, what did I do? I kicked back with TWO rum-and-Diet-Cokes and about half a bag of Pepperidge Farm goldfish.

That is so pathetic on so many levels. First of all, if I was going to cut loose and do something wild and crazy, I'm thinking it should have been more glamorous or at least more FUN than Diet Coke and goldfish. Yeah, there was rum in there, but big whoop.) Second, it was evening -- a time of day largely unchanged by my change in job status. So why did I decide to lose control THEN? And finally, it really didn't make me particularly happy, so WHY?

Then today at lunch time I turned on the TV while eating my lunch. Big mistake. While there was absolutely nothing on worth watching, I still found myself unable to extricate myself until the end of the episode of What Not to Wear. I don't even like that show, I swear! So the bottom line is that I have to shore up my resolve to stay positive and productive and not fall into the easy traps.

I'm still trying to develop a new routine. I like the start of these two days -- get up, get the guys off, take my walk, eat breakfast and read the paper and then shower. And today, the next step was to go out to stores on the Nintendo Wii hunt. Word at Target is that if I'm there around 4 a.m. Sunday, I may be able to get one. And I'm considering it!

After the shopping trip I checked e-mail, where I had some well-wishes from people just hearing about my change, and sent some more e-mails to people I probably won't be seeing anymore with my job change. That brought me to lunch and the big sucking sound of the TV. When I finish here I plan to do my new Pilates DVD, then it's off to a parent-teacher conference at my son's school. Tomorrow I HAVE to do some major housecleaning, since we are entertaining here on Saturday night, and I want to get together a long household project list so that in the future I don't have to think of things to do, just go to the list and pick one.

I know that sooner than later, I also need to turn my attention to what I want to do for a living and start the process of finding something. But I think that will wait until Monday. It seems reasonable to me to give myself this whole week as a rest and recovery period.

Oh, before I go I have to give credit to Bob for one good insight. I can't remember how he said it, but it was great because it didn't sound mean or judgmental. But when I said something about getting up and starting the rest of my life, he reminded me that at least he isn't dead. (For readers who don't know, Bob's college roommate died suddenly and totally unexpectedly a few minutes past midnight on New Years.) It was a wonderful reminder of perspective -- compared to his roommate's widow, Sue, my problems look pretty small.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Well after letting this blog languish for a few months, it suddenly has a new life. That's because I'm entering a new life myself!

I got fired yesterday. Whew! Is that hard to say. It really blindsided me, too. I expected a contentious review, but I never saw a termination coming. The boss used a sports metaphor. He said that we had not grown membership up to the potential he perceives there to be and just like a sports team that isn't performing, it means it is time for a new coach. He had called me in around 12:30. After the conversation, I went downstairs, packed my things, tried to arrange for an orderly transition of my work, and left for the day and forever around 3:30. Even now, almost 24 hours later, I'm still having trouble getting my head around it. I feel a little numb and it just doesn't feel like it can possibly be real.

Obviously, I haven't had the time, energy or distance yet to figure out where I go from here. I don't feel particularly panicky, but that may just be the numbness again. If anything, I feel cautiously optimistic. About a year ago I explored the option of becoming a personal financial advisor and there was a company I liked that was ready to hire me. So one option is to reopen that discussion and go there. But I feel like I need more time to get past the numbness, experience some grief over this loss, and really assess what I want before I pursue that or any other specific option. There are money worries, of course, but so far they are not of crisis-proportion. I believe God will lead me to a right next step, before the wolf is at the door but in His time. And again, I am well aware of a level of numbness that must be worked through before I am ready to make good decisions.

I will say that compared to the time I was unemployed about six years ago, I feel better equipped to just face the start of a new day. I got up when my husband got up for work this morning, dressed in my walking clothes, and as soon as he and my son left for the day, I went out for a walk. When I returned I had breakfast and read the paper, showered and dressed. (There was a brief moment of thinking "How do I dress when the day is without shape or plan?" But then I sucked it up, put on khakis and a sweatshirt and moved on.) Then I started identifying people from my former work life to whom I wanted to say some kind of good-bye, and sent out some e-mails and made some phone calls. I also sent my old boss a list of items I had remembered that needed attention that were probably on no one else's radar.

It's been kind of funny. Before I left the building yesterday I found that my very top priority was making sure my wonderful staff that I left behind had everything they needed to continue to be successful, and that work could go on without me. And this morning, as I said, I sent that list of additional items for follow up. There is some little voice in my head that says, "Why? Why do you care?" But there is a louder voice that says, "I care because it is who I am, and I will not allow being fired to make me any less than who I am."

I plan to use this blog as a bit of a diary for a while, with the purpose of making it easy for loved ones to check on me. I know I am often reluctant to call a friend too often when they are going through an upheaval, but I really do think about them and wonder how they are doing on a regular basis. This will allow my friends to check in without discomfort.

So wish me luck! I need to work through what happened, figure out what I want to do next, launch a search to find that next thing, and still keep my family running and all that. Oh, here's one lesson learned from my unemployment six years ago -- that time I was too depressed to get a lot done at home. I will not let that happen this time. We have almost twelve-years worth of accumulated junk in the basement, and its days are numbered! And if I conquer the basement, there are plenty of other household projects where I can apply my nervous energy.