Monday, October 07, 2013
As soon as my schedule starts to clear, more things get piled on.
I tried to take a couple of weeks to come down from the big event I planned, but I continued to get slammed. The president's father-in-law passed away the morning after the event so she was immediately off to New York for a month, meaning I had to run the foundation in her absence. Considering half the time I have no idea what I'm doing (half the time I think she doesn't have a clue either), I felt like I completely failed. There were bills to get paid, but I couldn't reach the treasurer. Why? His adult daughter is having some major health problems and he was fighting with doctors to get her the care she needed. Outside of the foundation, my workload was piled on with all of the president's work (she's also the associate editor at my job, and she sits through marathon school board meetings - something that I was forced to do while she was gone). On top of school board, I had to do all of the editing at my work alone. Additionally, one of our writers was in Michigan until the end of September so I was picking up extra stories. I was just hoping to get through it all so I could fully recommit once everyone was back. Of course, it didn't happen.
A couple of weeks ago my apartment complex put a notice on my door. Our lease is up in November and we were hoping (rather foolishly) that our rent wouldn't be increased. The first year it went up $350, last year it only went up $50. We were crossing our fingers that it would be an increase that we could find a way to swing. We've already eliminated every non-vital item from our lives. Unfortunately, the increase is $150, something we can't make happen. Even worse, it's considered "under market value." Our combined salaries are not 2.5 times any of the rates in this area and we make just over what would qualify us for low income housing. I figured I would try to combat the increase by writing more since most of the writing I do is outside of my 40/hr/week job, but the editor then hit me with a bombshell. My overtime can't be over $500/month unless there's a valid reason for the increase. $500 each month is literally the minimum we needed to survive prior to the rent increase.
As soon as the associate editor returned, I knew I couldn't get myself back on track. I needed to focus on finding a new job. Each day I've been scouring the Internet, sending out my resume to just about everything I'm somewhat qualified for. To date, I've received one response (and I've rewritten my resume and cover letter a thousand times). I had my interview last week, but was told by a friend (and one of my references who works at a company that works closely with this one) that they will most likely go with an internal candidate and not to get my hopes up. So I didn't/haven't. They will be making a decision on Friday and I'm not holding my breath.
Not too many people know about the inner workings of my office. There is a lot of toxicity there and not everyone pulls their weight - some just float along, getting by and making life difficult for others. At one point two weeks ago, I thought a co-worker was going to get fired. There was a meeting between him, the editor and the publisher. I wasn't eavesdropping, but I could hear some yelling through the wall (I couldn't make out the words, but I wasn't trying either - it was none of my business). What ended up happening was that my co-worker got a month off -- paid. It wasn't an administrative leave. It was more of a forced vacation. I don't quite understand how that works, but no one is talking about it. I was just told that he would be out the month of October and back November 1. Guess what that means? All of his work is now rolled into my work. For the month of October I'm doing the job of two people. I've asked if he was coming back - I ask nearly every day. If he isn't, then I most definitely will push (again) for a raise. They swear he'll be back that Friday. I've absorbed almost all of his writing for the next four weeks. Most of my days this month are booked.
So, I did what anyone in my situation would do. I went back into retail. Of course, I was quickly picked up by a store at the mall. I have great people skills, retail experience, and I communicate well. Them hiring me was a no-brainer, but the question becomes when? When will things start settling down and I can concentrate on me? The next two months are out - I'll be working my full-time job, the part-time job, and whatever overtime I can manage. My time off will be extremely limited and mostly used for writing and sleeping. After January the retail job should slow down some, but the probability of me getting into a routine is slim. I hate that it comes to this, but you have to do what you have to do to survive, right?
I also failed to mention that on top of my job, my overtime, the new job, and the foundation, I also work with four other non-profits. About three of the board members on one of them just quit to pursue other things, but luckily we're not in the midst of planning anything so there isn't much that I have to do right now. Another one requires minimal time. I literally just have to make a couple of Facebook posts a week and they're happy, but the other two...One of them just asked me to be a volunteer manager, and I feel so strongly about the cause that I couldn't say no. I was hoping this wouldn't go into effect until after the holiday season, but it doesn't appear that it will. My animal organization (who I'm currently foster kittens through - another time and money suck on its own) just asked me to help with grant-writing. How do you say no to something you are so unbelievably passionate about? I don't know where to pull the plug. I don't even think I know how to pull the plug on any of them. Quitting makes me feel like a failure and I hate letting people down.
At some point I'll figure this all out. As long as I can maintain some sort of healthy eating habits (I'll admit I've gone totally off the wagon the past couple of weeks), I'll be able to get through the holiday season relatively unscathed. I think that needs to be my focus. Working out is not going to work out. Food is the only thing I can try to control right now. I've been eating like a college kid of late (it's incredibly cheap). I'm definitely open to suggestions on strategies to eat well without spending my last cents at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's. I also don't have much time to cook or prepare food so just about everything needs to be simple and (unfortunately) packaged. I'll get through this. I always do. Hoping for a financial miracle though (it will have to come from Phil it seems).
Monday, August 26, 2013
Last night was the fundraising gala that has monopolized the last six weeks of my life. I didn't eat as horribly as I could have (I didn't eat well either) and I didn't work out once (I also hardly slept because of the massive amounts of work involved), but I got through it - barely.
Over the last six weeks I coordinated a newspaper as our program (in addition to my 50+ hr/wk job). I wrote 20 articles for the paper - one on each of the performing groups, one on each of the award winners, a general article on the foundation, 2 city-related articles, one article on a group that didn't get to perform, and two bios. I designed 16 ads - one for each of the performers and one for each of the sponsors that didn't have graphics ability. I also laid everything out and got it to press. It was a huge undertaking and an even larger undertaking to do by myself. Additionally, I coordinated the venue with the venue coordinator, put together all of the raffle prizes (got the baskets and arranged everything), served as backup entertainment coordinator (the person assigned to the project didn't keep us in the loop on what he was doing so I did half of the job because it needed to get done), wrote the media and press release for the event, and pretty much filled in and did things whenever possible.
Overall the event was pretty successful - of course it didn't happen without a major breakdown 2 hours before the event which resulted in me cutting my own hair (another story for another time), deciding I wasn't going to go because I couldn't take it, and not having anything that fit the way I wanted it to. I had actually thrown on yoga pants and decided I was going to drop off the raffle prizes and leave. I had gotten everyone to that point, and I needed to not be there.
The second I got to the venue I started getting pulled in various directions. No one had any idea what was going on or what to do. I started arranging silent auction items and then everything came down. The venue was telling me that guests were arriving and no one was there to check them in. The president of the organization hadn't arrived with the finalized guest list. The board members were clueless so all of a sudden (in yoga pants, a track jacket, and flip flops) I got a print out of the guest list (luckily I had finalized it and done the seating arrangement so it was in my email), jumped behind the registration table and started organizing and getting things done. Thank God for Phil. Seriously. We had gotten into a huge fight right before I left and all of a sudden - like a knight in shining armor - he showed up at the venue, knowing that I had been under an immense amount of stress and my actions earlier in the day were not personal. He started helping me when no one else would.
Minutes before the event he let me know that he grabbed the three dresses I was thinking of wearing and shoes because he was thinking ahead and they would be available in the event I wanted to stay. I didn't. When the president showed up minutes before 7 p.m. (the official event start time), she told Phil she had some surprise and I needed to be in there. So, with no time to spare and no chance to look in a mirror, I threw on a dress, the shoes he brought, and walked into the ballroom. (The surprise was just a rose for each of the board members)
At that point I was stuck and stayed for the event, which could have gone better, but could have gone worse. I got tons of praise for all of my effort and most people genuinely seemed to enjoy it. Until one of the performers ambushed me at the end of the night. Instead of standing up to her, I shut down. She then talked down to me again this morning through email and I snapped (rightfully so). I then broke down again. I got food that was super bad for me but "comfort," and took a nap. I slept for a good 3-4 hours this afternoon and felt the best I had sleep-wise in the last two months. I missed sleep.
Now that it's finally over, I can work on myself. Everything has suffered because of this event and I haven't had time for anything - my work, my home, myself have all taken huge hits due to the planning of this event. It's now time to get back on track - cut out the few things I've allowed myself during this time and start working out again. It would have probably helped my stress if I could have worked out, but as it was, I wasn't sleeping more than a couple hours a night and it was more important (for my mental stability) to get that shuteye than to lose an hour to sweat. I'm still debating on if that was a good decision or a bad one.
As always, back to the start line.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
I don't even want to talk about the disasters that were my interviews - especially the one that was scheduled for yesterday. Instead, I'm going to share my absolute favorite trade.
For as long as I can remember, I've loved brown sugar cinnamon Pop Tarts, but, at 420 calories for two pastries, they don't exactly fit into a low(er) calorie diet. However, a couple of months ago I tried the brown sugar cinnamon Special K pastry crisps, and was pleasantly surprised. While the taste isn't exactly the same, it's pretty darn close and at 100 calories for a package of two crisps, you can literally have 8 crisps (4 packages) for the same calorie amount as the 2 Pop Tarts pastries. I usually have two packages (4 crisps) at spread them out - have one package for breakfast and one for a mid-morning snack (or however I choose to do it). I definitely find this to be a totally acceptable healthy trade off. Try it sometime. =)
Friday, July 19, 2013
I finally thought I had gotten myself a bit of a work-life balance. After my last entry I decided to make working out more of a priority. It looked like my schedule was actually clearing up a bit for the next couple of months and I thought that once I got into a routine of some kind everything would work out.
That lasted about a week. I had a great week where I worked out most days and of course I was enjoying all the benefits - a slight benefit on the scale, sleeping better, less desire to strangle my co-workers, etc. Then, as always, something happened.
I pretty much got put in charge of planning an entire fundraiser - with a budget of $0 (or as close to $0 as possible). A member of my team left on Wednesday for two weeks (she is actually the president of the organization), which gave me even more responsibility. One of the other organizations I volunteer with is having another event and I'm part of the planning committee with that. I now have meetings every Thursday night until the end of August, my regular meetings (third and last Tuesday of the month), and a whole slew of new articles to write (and since I record my interviews to avoid mis-quoting people - I spend lots of hours going through/transcribing audio). This week I had a second interview at a job that will require an hour each way commute and on Monday I have an interview with a place a little bit closer - an amazing opportunity that I'm totally underqualified for and shocked I was chosen for an interview.
Additionally after the meeting tonight for the fundraiser, I just got slammed with a side project of the foundation - one that, if I do everything right - could lead to major (and awesome) changes within the city. My stress levels just went from high to off the charts. So, what am I doing? Bingeing on french fries - the one comfort food I have. I'm also going through constant anxiety because of the pressure.
It's now after 11pm and I feel like I'm going to pass out but have been completely unable to wind down.
Luckily, I'm traveling halfway down the coast and seeing my parents for the weekend tomorrow - taking a (unpaid - a whole other stress issue) day off work and spending three days out of town. I will probably be relaxed for 20 minutes and then my mom will stress me out. I love her to death and am extremely excited about seeing her, but it is inevitable that I will be frustrated.
One of these days I'm going to figure everything out - I'm going to get on a legit schedule and I'm going to stick to it. I don't know when that day will be, but I'm looking forward to whenever I can make it happen. =)
Thursday, June 20, 2013
When we all need to re-evaluate our lives and figure out where we're going and what we're doing.
For the last three years, my job has given me some of the most amazing experiences. I've interviewed athletes, mingled with politicians, and gotten access to things I would have never done if it weren't for my job. Without my job, I wouldn't have met and interviewed 1996 Olympian Dominique Mocceanu or gotten to cut in line to ride the newest roller coaster on opening day. I also would have paid for the handful of galas I've been to, concerts I've seen, and plays I've reviewed. There have been some amazing perks. However, my job doesn't pay the bills. I live in one of the more expensive places in the country, making my salary almost equivalent to minimum wage. There isn't much separating me from low-income housing. When I first started my job, it was OK. Then the rent hikes began and slowly but surely, my area was no longer affordable. When I first started my job, I was working so many hours on nights and weekends that I was able to take Fridays off. But, when the rent started changing, my hours started changing. I began working as many hours as I could - almost every night, every weekend and every holiday. I took on a second job (chronicled in my last blog) to fill in the gap. My job then switched how they paid me - to help them out. It ended up being a tax nightmare for me, but I continued. I love what I do.
The weight change came on slowly. A pound here and a pound there. Five pounds turned into ten, and ten turned to twenty. Eventually, I was sixty over my 2010 weight, which wasn't that low to begin with. I tried to make time. I tried to make it work. I broke my ankle - a setback.
My job anniversary is just under a month away. I haven't gotten a raise - just that reformatted payment schedule that allows me to pay my rent, but requires me to put in at least sixty hours a week. I have no balance between work and life. It takes a toll.
Before I can do anything - attend a birthday party, drive the six hours to see my parents, clean my apartment - I need to check my schedule. I live life by my planner. I also am involved with a handful of non-profits, most of which require a minimal time commitment, but one chips away at the little free time I have. I'm getting great skills - useful skill - however, it leaves minimal time for me.
Lately, I've been trying to get active more. A new wardrobe is pretty expensive and I see it as almost easier to try and get the weight off than to figure out where to find the funding for clothes. Last weekend was one of the few and far between weekends where I had only a few places to be. I worked out both days and it felt great. Then Monday hit. I was at an event Monday night, had a meeting Tuesday night, and was at another event Wednesday night. There was no time to get a real workout in (I could have done ten minutes, but I'm one of those people who doesn't want to half-ass a workout). It is now Thursday...and I'm free. Friday I'm free, too. But, I'll be busy from Saturday through Saturday and there won't be much, if any, time.
I've been looking at my schedule...staring at it, and hoping something will change - obviously, it won't. So, I've been thinking. It's time to move on.
There were some incidents that happened late last year where I thought things would change at my job -- they didn't. It's really been time to move on since I asked for a raise after my first year, and was denied - they told me I was doing a great job though and they were happy to have me (of course, doesn't every company like having hard-working slaves that they can get away with underpaying and overworking?). I clung to my job. When the first set of incidents happened just after my first year, I should have gotten the hint - nothing changes. I didn't. I also wanted to stay for at least two years. The ankle break happened a week before my two-year anniversary. I was stuck until I healed.
I toyed with the idea of leaving. I shopped my resume some. Early in the year I got two calls back. One for a freelance writing gig that didn't pan out because they wouldn't send me a contract (I refused to work without one) and the other one went with another candidate. I was OK with that. Slightly disappointed, but I didn't feel a real connection with either job. A couple of weeks later I got a call, but they didn't call me in for an interview (I must have accidentally ruled myself out during the phone screening). I had another interview, but think I botched the roundtable part. I didn't get that job. I had another phone interview a month later, went in, but wasn't chosen. I didn't feel that job was a good fit so I was relieved. But things (sarcasm: shockingly) didn't get better at the office. In fact, they got worse.
In the last couple of months I've shopped my resume more frequently. There was one job that initially seemed promising. I had a phone interview - it was supposed to be twenty minutes, but we talked for forty. I went in for an interview. The interviewer had to go to a graduation so he cut it short. I wasn't feeling the job and didn't send a thank you letter. He called me back for a second interview anyway. I went for a second interview two weeks ago. They mentioned a third interview (are you kidding me?!?!). I agreed but was losing my patience. Again, I didn't send a thank you letter. They never called back.
A couple of weeks ago I found a couple of jobs I was pretty interested in. Surprisingly, I got calls on both, with the "you do live here, right?" comment (my phone number hasn't changed since I moved and I never thought it would be a problem). The first one required a pre-screening phone interview. I passed. They scheduled an in person interview for today at 3:30, which actually worked out for my schedule and didn't require me to take too much time off work (the job is in the city -- the other city). A couple of hours later, I get a call back and they need to reschedule for Friday - no later than 2:30. I protested (respectfully) and was told no. I agreed to 2:30. I was then told, after I agreed, that 2 worked better for them. Seriously?!?! I had made it clear I needed something first thing in the morning or as late in the day as possible. They were not being accommodating. I was also told there would be a writing test and a panel interview and that I would be there for two hours. Really? They waited until that moment to tell me these things? I was angry. I didn't know how I was going to get the time off - I still don't and I may not be able to go (you can only get away with saying "doctor's appointment" so many times). But, it was a call back.
Today the other job called me back. They want me to come in - at 2 p.m. - next week. At least they have a better reason. One of the people conducting the interview works in their mid-west office and 2 is the latest interview she can be part of. I get that.
Based on the job description, I'm more excited about the first job. The second might be a better long-term opportunity. I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to do. Do to the location of the jobs, I don't necessarily think it will help my work-life balance - I will be driving to and from work for at least an hour each way (compared to my very short commute right now). Although, if I'm getting paid a livable wage, I won't have to work much on the weekends (I may, however, see if I can freelance write for the paper). Of course, if I'm working forty hours a week, commuting at least ten hours a week and writing a handful of articles each month, I'm going to be busy the same amount of time I am now. Will it really allow me the opportunity to get back on the exercise horse the way I feel I need to? I do feel as if I need a change - that's not-negotiable. I just wonder if I'm better off trying to find something closer to give myself the free time I desperately need to get my life in check and my health on track. Looks like I have lots of decisions to make....In the meantime, I'm not going to let this night off go to waste. Time to break out my workout gear.
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