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!