Tag: working

What Collar Am I? Survivor 30

Survivor-Season-30-logo-500x310So you guys know I am a big Survivor nut.  It’s such an entertaining show and a fascinating look at human nature and the way we interact with one another.  What alienates people from one another, gives power, forms bonds, and why they make certain choices never gets old and they are now on season 30!  I have seen most of the early seasons and later seasons and playing catch up on the middle (still got Fiji, Palau, Guatemala, Cook Islands and Pearl Islands and a few others to watch).

What’s amazing is given the similar rules of the game each winner has been different and used a different strategy. It makes it a fascinating show to watch. You just don’t know who is going to win.

My favorite season recently was season 28 Survivor Cagayan because of the fantastic casting and one of the most engaging winners the show has ever had- Tony Vlachos.  He was building spy shacks, voting off his friends, running around the island and all the while remaining incredibly likable.  It was so great to watch.

Season 30 is coming up and this time they are dividing the contestants into 3 tribes of 6 just like in Cagayan (I believe this is the 4th 3 tribe seasons).  Cagayan was also a 3 tribes and it was separated into Beauty, Braun and Brains, which at first I had an issue with because I felt they were objectifying everyone, putting a label on.  However, it ended up being kind of a wash because there were people on all the tribes who fit all the descriptions so it didn’t end up meaning much.

What’s got me thinking is season 30 has taken a similar approach of labeling the 3 tribes but instead of appearance they are going with careers- white collar, blue collar, and no collar.

Kind of an interesting concept for the show don’t you think?  What tribe would you be put on?  Their definition of collars according to Jeff Probst is a little wonky with white collar “making the rules”, blue collar “following the rules”, and no collar “breaking the rules”.  I don’t know anyone else who would describe it that way but it’s Jeff Probst and he can do whatever he wants when it comes to Survivor (especially after season 29 which was a royal snoozefest…).

So given that further definition what tribe would you be on?  I would definitely be on white collar because I have a computer job and I am part of a religion with a lot of rules (although I don’t really make them?).  That said, I also have little pieces of no collar in me.  I work from home, don’t have a boss and the idea of working in a cubicle ever again makes me want to jump off a cliff.

all collars
Survivor 30 cast

I feel like most people these days are a mixture of all the collars.  What do you think?  Now with computers, social media and the internet doesn’t everyone have to be pretty savvy?  The days of a large blue collar class of unskilled factory workers and farmers just doesn’t exist much anymore.  Even if you are in the service sectors like working as a hairdresser you need a website and facebook page to promote your business or you will get slaughtered.  Farmers have to be able to use complicated machinery, same with what factory workers are left in America.  It is by no means simple, mindless work of yesteryear.

Do you think this has any effect on our culture as a whole the fact we are collarless?  I could see some ways it is a good thing and other ways it might force people into a type of work that is outside their nature.  In previous societies there may have been more choices for such people?   Does that lead to a whole bunch of depressed blue collar and no collar types who are wedged into white collar?  I know the worst time of my life was when I was stuck in cubicle hell every day, never seeing the outside, entering data all day- and I was probably considered one of the lucky one’s with a decent job.

On the other hand perhaps with careers becoming similar there is less class division amongst the 99%.  After all, is it really a big deal these days to marry someone who has a different career path than you like it might have been the past? (At this point anyone would be glad for me to just get married!)..   I don’t think so as long as you can support a family and have similar values.  Perhaps we are becoming a little less judgmental based on jobs because they aren’t that different (or at least have more in common than they used too?).

I don’t know.  I certainly don’t feel any smarter or better than those with technical skills because I have an MBA.  It’s just a different set of skills but still using a lot of the same stuff I use everyday. In fact, they are probably better than me at more things than I am better than them (if that makes sense…).

Or perhaps the whole idea of self-identifying with your career isn’t as important as it used to be?  Maybe our jobs are more of a fluid thing and we will all have periods wearing many collars?  I have been hard core white collar in several jobs including as a missionary.  Now I’m white with a little dusting of no collar.  If I get married and stay home with my kids I guess that is blue collar?  I don’t know what collar are stay at home Moms? I’ve worked in food service so that was my blue collar and I was a teaching assistant in college and I’m not sure what collar teachers are?

Now that I have a job I love I do self-identify with it more than my old job but for about a decade people would ask me to introduce myself and my career was one of the last things I would mention.  Honestly I think I would say survivor fan before accounting clerk.  It just wasn’t how I saw myself.  I might have mentioned work from home.  I still would be inclined to say ‘I’m collar I would rather be swimming”

Are you that way?  Is your job a means to an end or something that is a big part of who you are?  Would you see yourself as part of a larger working group, wearing a collar if you will?

Anyway, what do you think?  Do you ever watch Survivor and do you think this sounds like a good twist?  Would love to hear your thoughts.

As the new season is starting check out Rob Has a Podcast for great post show debate and commentary by former Survivor Rob Cesternino.  I love it!

I Love My Job

love-my-jobIt’s funny because I have no problem complaining on this blog from time to time but for some reason when I want to sing my life’s praises I grow modest. I feel like people will think I’m boasting and don’t want to rub the good things in my life in people’s faces.  But then again you all put up with the complaining so I should give you ,more of the joy (you see the back and forth I have).

So please take this with a grain of salt.  I am not trying to show you how great my life is.  I just want to say how grateful I am for the good things in my life especially my job.  I just love it so much!

I think back to years of entering data.  I remember one project where I had over 27,000 lines of data to enter and it took me a couple of months of mind numbing boredom.  When my former boss gave me the job he told me ‘it is a really boring job’ but I thought it was going to be a short term thing.

I would never have taken it if I had known it would dictate the next 10 years of my life but that’s what happened.  In 2008 when I started this blog I tried very hard to make a change but it never worked. I had experience as an accounting clerk and it seemed I was doomed to do that till the end of time.

In fact, I had accepted it.  I had given up on the idea of doing anything else and decided to make the best of it.  Certainly many had it much worse and at least I got to work from home which made it tolerable.  But there was always that creeping notion in the back of my head craving doing something more but it seemed impossible. I mean after 10 years you kind of accept your reality.

Then this offer to go into marketing came and it really has been a dream come true!  It came out of nowhere and I couldn’t be more grateful.  I will do anything to keep this job. I love it so much!

There are a couple things I especially like about it.

First, deadlines are different.  In accounting we have so many deadlines and it doesn’t matter if you are sick or injured or on vacation in Hawaii stuff has to get done.  I was used to working all the time- weekends, holidays, evenings etc.  I would get emails from my bosses at midnight and then again at 6 am.

I was sick as a dog last Christmas and I worked the entire time. Marketing is just so different.  Yes you have deadlines but everything is more relaxed.  In fact, they tell me to be patient with them and to take things easy.

I find myself doing a lot of research and putting together presentations on all the stuff I’ve learned.  That is awesome! In accounting I was doing the same tasks over and over again.  In marketing there are new challenges. Like last month I was looking into tailgating and twitter.  Today I turned in a presentation on camping.  It’s so great!

And the fact I can still work from home and have freedom I want to pinch myself.  How did I get it so good?  When I think what it would have been like injuring my knee a month after starting a normal job I am overwhelmed with gratitude at my blessings.  I not only could work from home while I was immobile but they couldn’t have been kinder or more understanding.

on one hand I feel like I served my time and am reeping the blessings.  Probably somewhat like a grandparent feels with their grandkids.  They did the tough stuff raising their kids and enjoy the blessings of grandkids.  However, I know nothing I did made that happen.  I didn’t earn the new job and there are many who work much harder than me who have never gotten such an opportunity.

I am just grateful.  Very, very grateful.  Humbled and grateful to my Heavenly Father for giving me this new opportunity.  I love my life right now!

Oh and the physical therapist says I only need to go 2 more times so good news on that front as well.  My birthday is coming up on the 23rd.  Like I said- life is good!

life is good2

Getting the Job

I’ve sat down to write this blog several times but each time abandoned the attempt because the words I created felt unsatisfactory.

As you all know 3 weeks ago I started my dream job.  After nearly 10 years of accounting I am now in marketing, which may seem like a nominal change but to me it is huge.  It’s creative, interactive and something I am actually pretty confident in (I was competent in accounting but was always a little out of my league).

A few weeks ago I asked my facebook group (which if you aren’t a member of please like my page.  It would really help me out https://www.facebook.com/smilingldsgirlreviews) what they would like me to blog about.  One of my favorite followers asked me if I had any advice on how she could get her dream job and what I did in my interview/resume process that helped.

This seems like it should be a pretty easy question to answer.  After all, it just happened so why not just say what happened.  Here’s the rub about that, was it just luck and timing and if so how can I give advice on that?

Well, here’s my attempt at requested advice:

1. Timing and Paying Dues-

dues

Perhaps this is a cop out to have as advice but in setting any worthy goal we must also be aware of God’s timing.  Think about relationships.  I can do everything right to meet someone and if it is not God’s time for me to have that experience it won’t happen.

The same holds true for your dream job.  You can have the perfect interview and resume and if it is not the right timing it won’t work out.  I know because I tried to get into marketing in 2008 and got nowhere.  I ended up back in accounting until the time was right.

I also believe that in life rarely is anything handed to you on a silver platter.  When we want something good typically God requires something of us in return.  I call that paying dues.

For example, on my mission I went through a period of about 3 months that were hell.  A companion who hated me and made my life miserable, new area, no contacts, extreme loneliness.  It was intensely awful.  One of the hardest experiences of my life.

However, I pushed through and after that time period I had the best companionships of my mission and helped 7 amazing people get baptized.  I don’t think God would have blessed me with those experiences if I had not paid the dues in the tough months.

It’s the same in the work world or in our families.  Some blessings come with a cost we must pay, with dues that must be met.  So, if things don’t go your way put your head down and keep trying and working as hard as you can where you are and when it’s right it will happen. Took me nearly 10 years!

2. Take Risks-

strip.print

I am not a high risk person.  Just ask my investment broker, I get very nervous with the unknown (hence my anxiety issues…) and want to keep my money as safe as possible.

That said- any good thing in life will require some risk.  If you decide to have kids, risk.  If you decide to buy a home, risk.  If you decide to change your job, risk.  There was and is a lot of risk with this new job for me.  There was risk in spending money on boxes and my channel.  There was risk in devoting time and effort into making them as good as they could be. There was risk in putting myself out there for the world to see, being vulnerable and authentic.

Here’s the key to taking those risks- they were all risks I could stomach even if I hadn’t gotten the job.  The fact I did makes the pay day extra sweet but any risk I’ve taken has been a great blessing in my life.  I’ve been so grateful for this blog for 6 years , long before I thought it might lead to a new career.  So, take risks, manageable risks, but take them!

It was also a risk to take the job.  I was making a little more in my old job and it meant juggling 2 jobs instead of 1 and giving up my health insurance.  It has all worked out but it was a risk- one I was glad to take. They could have told me it was an unpaid internship for the first 6 months and I would have taken it.  I was looking for that door in and I took it!

Some people might have found it difficult going from a job where I was pretty important to a part time, contractor position, starting from scratch in new company.  In truth, it can be kind of overwhelming but also exciting.  I feel young with a new enthusiasm I haven’t felt for years. I am happy to be at the bottom clawing my way up but for some that would be risky prospect.

3. Resumes and Content Creation

index

Even for someone as open as myself, the self-promotion aspect of a job interview can be daunting.  How do you make yourself unique and different but not too unique and different that it is off-putting.

I find if I can change it from self-promotion to simply ‘talking about my life’ it feels more natural and easy going.  Even though I stayed in accounting for nearly 10 years I worked for different companies during that time (6 if you include my Dad’s rentals). So, I found myself looking at my resume every 6 months or so, sometimes more.  Keeping it up to date and had correct reference phone numbers and that the information was still relevant.

I also started an online resume at http://about.me/smilingldsgirl which is free and looks very snazzy.  Make sure on your resume you have listed your skills for the job you currently have and the job you want to have.  And if you need those skills get them.  Take courses, learn on your own time and then add that knowledge to your resume.

This job opportunity came out of nowhere so it was very helpful I had my resume ready to go.  I had also given some thought into what content I was the most proud of.  Even with open book living I have never produced content I was ashamed of.  Every last post I stand behind and that includes twitter and youtube and everything else.

When given the chance I knew what posts were my best and emailed them to my future boss.  I had one post I loved for it’s writing, another for the comments and discussion it encouraged, another for the hard worker it described.  Have such content ready to go.  Create a spreadsheet where you keep track of such things because after nearly 900 blog posts the good one’s can be tough to remember.

It is so easy nowdays to do so much on your own and I’d say why not?  If you always wanted to get into movies than start a movie blog.  It doesn’t have to be intense just every week or so write a post about movies you like.  Keep it fun and control the tone of your comments section and content and do not do it to make money.  Do it to become the person you want to be and the world may or may not pay you for that conversion but does that really matter? If you are who you want to be and having fun that is reward enough.

President Uchtdorf, an apostle for my church, gave a fabulous talk about the miracle of creation and how when we create things it is good for the soul.  I believe that.  I have felt that with every post I have done, even the silly one’s.  I have created something out of nothing and that is empowering. So create!

4. Network

7.-Networking

There may have been an era where people opened the classifieds and contacted companies now hiring and got a job but that is few and far between.  Even with the advent of internet job search engines like Monster, very few people get jobs based on ‘published ads’.

I found this NPR piece on networking to be helpful http://www.npr.org/2011/02/08/133474431/a-successful-job-search-its-all-about-networking

“At least 70 percent, if not 80 percent, of jobs are not published,” he says. “And yet most people — they are spending 70 or 80 percent of their time surfing the net versus getting out there, talking to employers, taking some chances [and] realizing that the vast majority of hiring is friends and acquaintances hiring other trusted friends and acquaintances.”

I think that is really true.  Almost everyone I know has their job through networking not web searches or now hiring signs.  And most of the people I know who get published jobs are not in the greatest jobs.  It is perhaps easier to get a job at McDonalds without networking than say Goldman Sachs.

So how do you network?  After all , you don’t want your friends to feel like you are using them for their connections.  It needn’t be so obvious.  Just talk with people about what you would like to do.  My Dad was well aware of both my skills and work desires and a lot of people were because I talked about it on my blog, social media and in everyday conversation.

Once you are actively searching for a job just ask friends to keep their ears open for opportunities  that might be a good fit.  My Dad wasn’t planning on finding me an interview but was speaking with the head of the marketing department about needs and mentioned I could meet those needs.  That’s the kind of networking that can even create a job out of a need, a job that may not even exist but you could fulfill.

It doesn’t even have to be a good friend.  Let people at your church, civic group, book club, or kids playgroup know.  They may know people, who know people, who need you.

5. The Interviewjobinterview

Let me start out this section by being very clear- I am not great at job interviews.  My strabismus in my eyes can be a big part of the problem.  If you have trouble with eye contact like I do that can make job interviews tough.  I have also found some occasions where I felt my weight was a factor in not getting a job.  They would never say it was but you can just tell when someone is judging you for appearance not abilities.  This sucks but it is a reality.

I suppose if there is a way to improve that appearance than why not? You are presenting yourself in comparison to other people who probably have the same skill level as you do so an employer may be reduced to superficial gut feelings that may boil down to appearance.  So, I’d say cover your tattoos, wear a nice suit, smile, treat the interview like a real person and talk as naturally as your nerves will allow.

In the case of this job I had a phone interview which was a great blessing as it took the personal elements out of the picture.  I had sent him my resume and content links and he had spent considerable time reviewing them before the interview.  I was ready to answer any questions he might have about what I had sent him.

I had also taken the job description and looked up any jargon words unique to the new job.  I then prepared a ‘cheat sheet’ with those definitions and made sure I had something to say about said topics when asked.  This proved to be the key reason I got the job.  I had good concrete suggestions for our amazon and walmart listings- suggestions that I believe surprised the interviewer.  You could also include on your cheat sheet information about the company, it’s history, leadership etc.

I also made it clear what the upsides were to picking me.  That I work hard 24/7, have minimal obligations to distract me, could take little pay, didn’t need insurance, my working relationship with my Dad,  and I’m a quick study when it comes to computer programs etc.

You may also have a chance to minimize the risks of selecting you.  I told him my telecommuting would be an advantage not a downside because I was used to working all the time and creating content from home.  I also made it clear I had much to learn but was confident I could do it.

Mostly I would say try to be a natural but professional version of yourself, and if it’s the right timing it will work out.

6. Be Patient

patience

This is totally pot calling kettle black because I am completely impatient.  I hate waiting but in this case I had to be patient.  When my Dad initially told me about the position he said to wait for the job description before sending my resume (incidentally gave me some time to make it great).

I waited and waited for weeks and then the job description got posted.  I was nervous because in some ways I was a great, perfect fit, and in others I was not.  Again, I was prepared to overcome these issues and promote the benefits of me but I had to wait.  Then finally I heard we were going to do the interview but it was delayed and delayed again.  This whole time I couldn’t really talk about it with my online community because it was a digital media job so I wanted to lay low plus I didn’t want to ostracize myself from my job at Poler.

The interview came.  I was prepared, notes in hand, we spoke for 1.5 hours and I thought things had gone well but you never know who else is interviewing.  Than he asked me to do some ‘homework’ and I was patient and took the time I needed to make it good work.  I felt particularly strong about my input concerning youtube…

But I didn’t hear anything and week 1 passed, than week 2 I was busy with my writing conference.  No news was making me crazy and I couldn’t really talk about it much and there was nothing I could do but wait.  I assumed at that point I didn’t get the job but I figured he would tell me if that was the case.  So I waited and finally at the end of week 4 I got the job.  He asked me if I needed to wait the weekend and think it through.  “Nope” I said “I’m in!”  I had already done all the thinking I needed! 🙂

And I wasn’t shy about expressing my eagerness and excitement.  I don’t think there is anything wrong with such enthusiasm.  If I was doing the hiring I’d want someone that was passionate about working for me.

7. You are More than Your Job

balanced life

My last piece of advice is the greatest thing I learned from nearly 10 years of contently working in accounting.  I felt like a sell-out.  I felt like I had compromised my dreams to the cruel reality of what people would pay for me to do….

But that was a good thing in a way.  It taught me that I am not my job.  As a single woman I have always felt my career mattered more than my married counterparts (men and women).  Aside from hobbies it seems the main contribution of a single American is their work.  In fact, I was envious of my teacher and nurse friends because their contributions seemed more valuable than my career of spreadsheets and data entry and perhaps they are.

However, even  my teacher friends would not want to be solely defined by their job. Our work is our work but it is not who we are.  All of us have relationships, friendships, hobbies, family, church, clubs etc that define us just as much if not more so than our jobs.

My job in accounting may not have been my dream job but I was always grateful for it.  I learned so much from doing something a little outside my comfort zone.  It forced me to master skills I would never have learned otherwise.  It gave me great relationships and life altering moments that I will never forget.  So, if all you can get is a job at McDonalds then learn all you can from that job.  And always have an attitude of ‘why does God need me here now?’

Be as interesting and dynamic a person as you can be.  Try new things, have fun and maybe an opportunity will come out of the blue like it did for me.  If it does I hope my little post will be of some help to you.  My blogging may be small potatoes in the blog world but it is my greatest job and it has meant so much to me.  I am a better person because of all of you and the words we’ve shared.

Good luck! And if you would like further advice comment below or email me at smilingldsgirl@yahoo.com.

One last little joke
One last little joke. It’s all about the balance in life.

 

Myth of a Sick Day

sick day

Have you ever had a sick day?  I don’t know if I have.  Yes, I’ve certainly been sick and yes, I’ve taken sick days off of work but they aren’t really days off, and I don’t even have kids.

Yesterday was a good example.  I woke up with a stomach ache and spent the morning emptying my stomach.  I had emailed my boss to let him know I would be out for the day.  I answered a few emails and then crashed for about 3 hours.  I have never taken naps even when I was little (my poor Mom).  Pretty much when I take a nap I know I am either sick or on a mission (only time in my life I took naps).

When I woke up I realized I had a notice on my email that estimated tax payments were due that day.  I called my accountant but was having trouble reaching them.  They had told me previously that they weren’t due until July which didn’t seem right but I was so busy with a new job that I shrugged it off.

Sick-Day

Finally I was able to reach the secretary for the accountants and the two of us were able to go through all the figures and thankfully I could make the state and federal payments online.  (The accountants got a piece of my mind don’t you worry!).

This took hours to figure out and the whole time I really just wanted to sleep.  I hadn’t eaten anything all day but finally at about 8 pm I stomached some crackers and ginger ale.  After watching 24 I fell asleep.

I wish I could have taken an entire day off to recover but it nearly always works out this way.  I know I am not alone in this.  In fact, I have it easier than you Mom and Dad’s who really never get a day off to recover.  I guess it’s just being an adult.

I’ve always said the only time I miss my Mom is when I am sick. I’m a pretty independent person but to be taken care of like only a mother can is perhaps the best part of childhood.  My roommate was kind to bring me some crackers but just nothing beats the sympathy and care of a mother for her daughter (even at 33 years old!).

At least with my new job hopefully the work distractions will be fewer.  The downside to accounting is there are deadlines that don’t go away if someone is sick.  Today 5 checks had to be written and it didn’t matter if I was recovering.  The mail had to be gotten and a wire had to be written.  This could not wait.

There are definitely deadlines with marketing but it seems to be a slower pace and be a little more flexible than accounting. I could be wrong but that’s just the vibe I’ve gotten so far.

I know some people have 9 to 5 jobs so when they are home they aren’t at work whether it is the end of the day or a sick day but I think a growing number of us telecommute which means there is no end to the work day, sick or not.

My favorite thing about my job is that I can telecommute.  I am by  no means complaining just talking about my life.

I guess what can be difficult is making sure you get better while still doing all the stuff that still has to be done.  What strategies have you found to be helpful? How do you guys balance work and other demands?  I’d be particularly interested in hearing from other telecommuters.

At least this was just a 24 hour bug and while I was a little tired today it wasn’t too bad.  What was really rough was this last Christmas when I was sick as a dog and had to work the entire time.  I’m sure that is why the illness stretched on for over 9 weeks.  It was brutal.

If only sick days were like this:

Why Stories Matter

storytellingI’ve been thinking this week about stories.  Why are stories so important in our life?  Why do they matter?  And why do some stories create such an impact on me and do nothing or the reverse for others?  Why do we care so much about these stories?

Of course what made me ponder on the topic was my disappointment at the end of the story for How I Met Your Mother.  A story I had invested 9 years on and did not end the way I wanted it to.  It is after all just a TV show.  What’s the big deal?

Well let me tell you a story and maybe it will make a little more sense why it was such a big deal.  After my mission I got a job working in a cubicle, entering data and printing checks.  It was supposed to be a temporary position till I could find something else but a year stretched into two and then I started school so two became three.

I wanted to quit everyday, and I knew that God wanted me to quit, but I lacked the courage.  The courage to dive off into an unknown while going to school.  At least the horrible job was something and the unknown could be even worse?

I was scared and fear is an evil little sucker.  I was also unhappy but I saw no break in the unhappiness if I quit.  It seemed like I should be happy.  Other people were unemployed and had no job so what was my problem? Why couldn’t I feel happiness any more?

I did have a manager who was extremely manipulative and treated me like a bug that needed to be squished, but even if she would have been a saint, I would have been unhappy.  I usually am when I am scared and not doing what God wants me to do.

So I kept going, and going, and the anger and resentment built up inside me until I was scared I would explode.  Finally, one day in Feb 2007 I kind of did.  I grabbed my purse and I ran out of the office.  Then I called my head boss and let it all out.

I proceeded to then have my first panic attack.  I felt like I would lose control and all those feelings would come out and I would embarrass myself.  I couldn’t breathe or speak and for a second I wondered if I was going to die.  It was awful. One of the worst days of my life.

The next Monday at the office things were awkward but I made it through and things started to be better.  I had a new manager, less assignments, hours and even a desk by the window.  I made it through the summer and yet the nagging feeling of unhappiness didn’t leave me.  It was less a boiling point and more of a steady simmer.  It still wasn’t what God wanted me to do and I was still afraid to take the leap.

Finally in September, I made the decision- I quit.  I gave my notice and helped them train a new person and December 21, 2007 I walked out of the office with a box of desk nicknacks and shouted in the air ‘I did it!’.  I had quit my job.  I was diving into the unknown and looking for work in 2008.  Only crazy people quit their jobs in 2008, but I did and it was one of the best days of my life.  I knew it was right.  I knew for sure.

That day my friends and I went and celebrated my freedom at Bucca di Beppo’s and a weekend at the Marriott in SLC.  This isn’t the greatest picture but it is one of my greatest memories.

bucca

But you know what happened after I took this great leap?  It took me 6 months of interviews before I found a job, and even then it was only because of the mercy of my Dad letting me manage his properties I found anything.  I knew I had done the right thing but it was scary nonetheless.  God does not always iron out all the wrinkles when he gives you a new shirt to wear. At the end of 2008 I said on this very blog (I started the blog in May 2008):

“It has been a year of healing and growth, and I am immeasurably stronger as a result.  It all started last December with my taking the big leap of faith and quitting my job.  I knew I needed  a change and that the Lord wanted me to be doing something else, so I left everything in His hands.

Not knowing where life was taking me I entered the job hunt- interviewing for nearly 40 companies over 6 months.   There were so many jobs that I thought for sure I would get and then I wouldn’t.  The Lord definitely made me wait and show my faith before helping everything to work out.”

So, you perhaps can understand why it was so meaningful mere weeks after quitting that I saw this:

Someone got it.  Someone understood my story.  That’s why I stuck around for 9 years.  That’s why it meant so much to me.  It was the story and just like my story ended well, I wanted to see Marshall and the gang’s end well.  I’ll get over it.  I promise.

We all have our stories, and they all matter.  Stories matter.

Interview Part 2

I know you are all anxiously awaiting my next entry in this trilogy of interviews, so I won’t keep you any longer.  Here goes…

Marriage/Courtship-

What do you think makes a good marriage partner?  I think it is just that, a partnership.  There shouldn’t be a sense of domination in any way.  Nor should one spouse feel overly defined by roles or responsibilities but the entire marriage should be a joint responsibility.

Too many people lump the decision of having kids and getting married together.   The two should be separate choices.  You should ask the question do I want to be with this person if we don’t have any kids at all?  Then you can say as a separate question will he be a good father?  That said, I really can’t imagine anyone that I would want to marry that wouldn’t also have the qualities of a good father but I think the 2 questions should be separate.

To me a good test of a relationship is will the person sit through something they don’t care for just because you are in it.  I’m not saying they have to love it but is your participation enough to count them in.  This is true for both people in the relationship.  He better get used to sitting through a swim meet and cheering and I can go fishing or do whatever outdoorsy thing he loves.  The other person’s happiness should make you happy most of the time (we all have our moments).

Another test- does the person make things fun that would normally be a drag.  For instance, I’ve always said I want to go dancing with my boyfriend.  I hate dancing, so if I can have a good time doing that we have genuine chemistry.  Maybe that’s silly but there you go.

Finally, the best couples I know have an intellectual chemistry which is tough to define.  Do you find the person you are with interesting? Not that they have to be interested in the same things per say but do they approach problems with a similar vigor, are you fascinated by the world?  Do you listen to each other in a complimentary way?  I could never be with someone who thought I was dumb or vice versa.

Why do you think so many marriages fail?  Actually in my life not many do.  Amazingly enough at 30 not one of my friends that I have seen get married has gotten divorced.  I have met friends after they were divorced but never seen the entire process from someone in my peer group.  Even in the Mormon church it seems highly unlikely that there wouldn’t be 1 couple.  None of my cousins or siblings have gotten divorced. Perhaps that will happen in this decade but so far so good.

I think when marriages do fail it is usually because of selfishness.  People begin to feel that their needs are more important than their spouse, and a partnership becomes 2 separate entities coexisting.  Every situation is different and some times people just aren’t compatible but I think usually there is some kind of selfishness involved.

How can you comment on marriage as a single woman who has never had a relationship?  Well, it doesn’t take getting shot to know it is not a pleasant experience.  Some things you can extrapolate as an observer of life and human nature.   I’m sure I will learn a lot when it is my turn but a girl can’t spend 3 decades and not develop any of her own ideas on the topic, so there!

I also have relationships that while not romantic have taught me something about how they work.

Family-

What is your ideal family?  I have no ideal.  I have never been a dreamer in that regard.   I’ve only had one time in my life (BYU) where an expectation lived up to lead up.  Most of the time it is best to take things as they come and be grateful for what you’ve got.

Will you be happy unmarried, without kids?  Yes. It has never been a big dream of mine to get married or have kids.  There are lots of reasons why but all I’ve wanted since I was a toddler (literally) is to be on my own, making my own life choices.  If the situation comes I will be happy and grateful but I don’t think there is anything wrong with being happy if it doesn’t.

If you did have kids how would you want to raise them?  What is important to you in parenting?  I believe that kids should be in the world but not of the world.  So, yes expose them to movies, literature, friends, education, but do it in a way that maintains their innocence as long as possible and allows them to have true fun.  I don’t think kids should be manipulated to be mini-parents.  They should be guided and counseled but also feel free to express their own views and ideas.  I want my kids to know that I like being with them and that they matter to me and to God.

I do love the homeschooling movement and feel if done well it can give your children the best opportunity to flourish.  You can communicate with your child in a way that no teacher can (as wonderful as they may be).  The argument against homeschool is always a social one but I feel this is silly because public school can be just as much of a social nightmare.  Any education requires monitoring by a parent and an active voice that makes actual learning the priority, not the grade received.

I love that with homeschool a parent takes ownership of how and what is taught to her child. She takes ownership of her child’s peer group, social activities and moral teaching.  Not that they don’t have those things, as some might claim, but they are guided by a parent.  There may be some who want to offer their children up to the alter of community good but not me.   It may seem odd for a single girl to have an opinion on homeschool but I think you will find there isn’t much I don’t have an opinion on!

(I will add that clearly homeschool doesn’t work for every situation.  I’m just saying that it would be my first choice if given the chance).

What did your parents teach you about parenting/life?  My mother continually teaches me to nurture others.  She is a very selfless person.  In fact, she even gave up her freedom of movement when restricted to bedrest for most of her 6 pregnancies.   This was a very difficult time for our family but she taught me that sacrifices are the most golden family moments.  Its like on my mission- the moments where I had given my all, were the one’s where I became a true missionary.  The moments in a family where you give all is when you are a true family.

My Dad teaches me each day to find joy in the journey.  I get stressed out with the details of life.  I put loads of unneeded pressure on myself and always have.  He has always been someone who can see a way out of stress and is a true optimist. He also has a zest for life that I admire and hope to emulate.

Friendship-

What do you think is a true friend? In the quest to save the family sometimes I feel we could focus more on friendshiping in the church.  Especially in the single-world friends have been a huge support for me.  As wonderful as my family is when I think of the trials of my life I can also see a friend who was there to see me through.

I’ve also had so many laughs with friends over the years.  A true friend loves and deserves love back.  A true friend sacrifices time to be with you.  A true friend has chemistry that just works.  A true friend listens when you need to vent and gives you frank counsel when required.  A true friend you could see every day and yet go years and still have that connection.  A true friend should not be work in the traditional sense.  It should be a happy work. (Its actually hard to describe a true friend, but you know it when you see it!).

One of the things I have struggled with in the last few years is maintaining an active social life.  It used to be so easy for me to gather people together.  Now it seems so difficult.  Even to have lunch with a friend can take weeks of planning.  I wish I had one friend I could call on a Friday night with nothing to do and do something.  That almost never happens.  People are just too busy.  Even getting people to come to book club or other activity can be so hard.  I’ve noticed I have more success with dinner parties or when hosting something for my swim group.  Not sure why but I’m trying to figure it out.  I love to entertain and would love to plan cute get-togethers.  After the year I’ve had I kind of got out of the habit. The Christmas Swimfest gave me a ton of confidence and I already have a Valentines Swimfest in the works.

It just sometimes feels that while friends are so important to me, they are less important for people with families.  There are exceptions which I am very grateful for and I understand the predominance family should take.  That said, it can still be hard and lonely to feel that everyone else has moved on to the next step and you are still in college-mode.  As much as I loved college nobody wants to be at the same spot forever.

Work/Adult Life-

What is the hardest thing to do as an adult?  Finding balance. It always seems that one part of my life is taking over whether it health, work, family struggles, exercising whatever.  Achieving balance is the goal of a lifetime.

In what ways has adulthood disappointed you?  This is such a good question for me because I wanted to be an adult so badly.  I would say the greatest disappointment is the mundanity of life.   I don’t know what exactly I expected but so much of life is routines and doing the same thing over and over again.  Even in the most glamorous jobs there is a fair amount of tedium. Its just part of adult life.

I also wish I had taken more advantage of time off as a young college student to explore or go places.  I think because my parents traveled I assumed I would be able to do that later, and I have been very blessed in that regard, but its hard!  Its hard to find the time, get off work, get ready, catch up when you get home etc.  Its something I should have enjoyed more when I had the chance.

I was also in a rush to finish everything.  I set a goal and I want to get it done now. This is why weight loss has been so tough for me because it is not something that can be done right in a few months.  It takes years, a lifetime really.  I don’t like things that take a lifetime!  Again, I should enjoy the journey more.

If you could have your dream job what would it be?  I think it would be cool to work in a political campaign.  I also love public speaking and think I might take a stab at politics some day. I feel I would be a good advocate for causes I believe in but I am sure the whole process would drive me crazy (again the waiting and the tedium are my struggles!).  Also, I think it would be great to teach college, especially at BYU.  I have pondered a PHD before but there are so few positions in the liberal arts that it does not seem like a good choice.  Still, it would be my dream job.

Are you disappointed to not be doing your dream job?  Yes but I’ve learned that how I work is much more important to me than what I am actually doing.  Working from home and being my own boss is worth any sacrifice- even working in accounting all day!  I get chills and feel nauseated at the thought of going back to ‘cubicle Hell’ as I call it.

My only regret in working alone is I don’t have the chance to mentor people.  I benefited greatly from mentors in my youth and I hope to someday have that chance as an adult.  I’ve enjoyed teaching in my ward the last 2 years and feel I have been a mentor to some of the younger girls (and I feel I mentor my younger siblings) but I’d like to find someone that I can really guide and mentor.

What is your greatest flaw?  Definitely holding grudges.  I grew up seeing the world in terms of bullies and victims.  That’s how I survived.  I learned that people who abuse do it again and I kept them in that spot forever.  There are still people from my life that I struggle with anger and resentment towards.  I know it only hurts me but it is tough.  I get better each year at forgiving and hopefully by the end I will be something like my Grandpa Richards who loved unconditionally.  That is my goal to be like him because he was so much like Jesus.  My relationship with Christ helps polish me each day and that includes grudges, resentments, fears and everything else.

Do you wish you were skinny?  I’d be lying if I said No. As I mentioned in my last post judgement has always been tough for me to absorb and unfortunately being fat carries tons of judgement.  I still feel great resentment at anyone who places a label on me because of my weight.  It would be nice to not deal with these judgements. However, I suppose society would just find something else to judge and I’d have to deal with it.  I do appreciate the strength my journey has given me and being heavy forced me to rely on God for praise because in a few moments that was the only place I could get it.  And maybe I do a little bit of good correcting prejudice and speaking out.  If that was the case, it’d all be worth it.

Well, that’s a lot.  Probably more than any of you care to read but it does me a great deal of good to say it.   The next entry will be on my views on the political and social issues of the day.  Should be pretty fun!   (I have had an interest in politics since I was in grade school and voted in every election since I turned 18.  It is very important to me).