Ch-ch-ch-changes

Soooo…in the past few weeks, there’s been a flurry of activity in my life, some of it stressful, but most of it good. I have only recently been able to slow down a bit, rest and reflect on all the past few months. Here are just a few of those events/realizations.

I learned to steel myself against unhelpful criticism and find my value. My previous job was in an industry that I knew about and I’d been there long enough to feel comfortable. After some re-orgs, I wasn’t necessarily appreciated as much by my new chain of command, mostly due to their newness to my job function. Despite multiple conversations where I voiced my desire to make changes or improve myself or processes, I met with a great deal of resistance and sometimes even avoidance. I gave it time, thinking that they’d come around. Well, sometimes they don’t. And, despite my eternal optimism about people, I had to admit to myself that the only thing I could change was myself. In talking with others and getting feedback, I realized that I wasn’t just overreacting–I wasn’t being heard. So, what next? I thought. What do I have to offer? It’s a scary question to have to think through, but it is a valuable one. In revamping my résumé, I had a chance to see what new skills I’d learned and how I had grown. With a strong network of friends and family, I was able to recognize where I needed work still and, at the same time, how much I’d accomplished in the last four years.

I had to figure out how to go confidently into job interviews in entirely new industries where I know nothing. Along with the self-examination that had to happen, I was immediately terrified about having to go “out there” and knew that my next steps would involve a huge investment in social niceties and public speaking. Those are not my strong suit, but I can make it work when I need to. The previous step was necessary before I slung myself head first into the world of job applications, awkward phone screenings and talking myself up (again, something I don’t like doing). I prefer to be out of the spotlight, quietly providing massive support and strategy for my teams from backstage. When in the “hot seat” I am most effective when arguing on the behalf of others, but sometimes struggle when I am in a position to fight for myself. Again, it was a good experience that forced me to face both my social anxiety and develop some salesmanship on the fly. I did survive several months of no replies, replies with rejections (primarily because the companies couldn’t do out of region hires), and some phone interviews that ended in rejection. I recognized fast that while I had gotten comfortable in my current job, I had to stress my ability to learn quickly to get call backs from pharma, manufacturers and other industries. And, in the end, my experience with manufacturing and my adaptability were what helped get me my best job offers.

Christmas was essentially non-existent save for some gifts from my folks, but I was genuinely excited about the New Year for the first time in a while. Due to all of my job chaos, I gave notice in mid-December and then spent most of the month dealing with the aftermath of that. I also did a lot of paperwork and coordinating for the relocation.  So, I’ll just celebrate Christmas THIS year. On the up side, I was actually excited about everything happening, even with the chaos and “unknown-ness” of it all.

I had to leave my friends in Maine (along with my comfort zone). This goes along with the excitement–the sadness and uncertainty of leaving my cozy network of good friends and coworkers in Maine. Leaving my best friend and her new baby was the hardest by far, especially since I know it might be awhile before I can get up to see them again. I spent my last week or so meeting with as many people as I could and, ultimately, had two or three going away parties. I was greatly surprised at the people who came forward to tell me they would miss me–people with whom I had only brief interactions came to tell me how I’d made such a positive impact on them at one time or another. I was moved by their stories and genuinely surprised that I’d affected that many people in a short time, especially considering my general reclusiveness. It was a great boost and I left on good terms with a really grateful feeling.

Moving is always stressful. Moving 1300 miles away is more stressful. Full pack and move services help to lower stress. As generally adaptable as I am, I hate change. Well, change over a short period. I didn’t hear back about my relocation plans until the second week of January and needed to start the new job in the third week of January, soooo…that was stressful. What helped was the relocation package included both monetary help and a full pack and move service to make sure I had minimal manual labor to deal with myself. Fantastic. I’m considering it for all of my future moves. All I had to do was do coordinating via the phone and email and then just get in the car and drive south with my dogs.

For less rent than my 2br/1ba small townhouse apartment in Maine, I now live in a 3br/2ba house with a fenced back yard. The dogs were ecstatic to have their own space to play. The low-cost of living in NC was a huge reverse sticker-shock for me. But in a good way.

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I’ve had to start all over at my new job. I went from being the expert to knowing pretty much nothing. Luckily for me, it’s a feeling I enjoy. For an introvert, I’ve seriously forced myself to be social since my move. And that’s not a bad thing. I am learning so much every day and meeting so many new, interesting people it makes it worthwhile. I know that any social investments I make now will always pay off. I am trying to stay open and to say yes to things, no matter how mundane. It has worked for me before in the past and I’m having good luck with it here, too. Getting past the “I know nothing” phase usually goes faster when you’re willing to put ego aside.

Paying for snow plowing at the old house (for the realtor to show it) while enjoying 60F weather here is the emotional equivalent of taking out a $100 bill every few days, setting it on fire and watching it burn. This is just a given until I get it sold. Fingers crossed that it will happen in the next few months. I can feel my cheapo nerve get set off every time I see the weather forecast for the Northeast.

Mom and Dad can visit me now. With the entire set of dogs! Oh boy! It’s nuts, but great fun! So many dogs!

Trips with Mom to Charleston are now a doable thing. It’s a lot of fun and I’m hoping to be able to plan some trips around the Southeast this year.

Falling asleep after yoga or movie night with new friends in a new bed in a new house with my tired, happy dogs = the best. I have so much to be grateful for these days.

 

“But in times of trouble
I can turn to my mother
And I know that she gon’ understand
So at age 18
I cried to my mother
And she told me, “young man”

“There are moments when you fall to the ground
But you are stronger than you feel you are now
You don’t always have to speak so loud, no
Just be as you are
Life is not always a comfortable ride
Everybody’s got scars that they hide
And everybody plays the fool sometimes, yeah
Just be as you are

 

“My soul, is in Africa with you boy
Looking at the stars
On this diamond sky
Giving you my smile
So you can keep it on your mind
Floating on your blazing eyes”

 

Saturn Returns

I have taken the last few weeks to really focus on healing. I have been focused on work pretty intensely since last November/December, so I am taking some time off soon to travel and also some time to decompress at home. I have changed my eating habits back to some healthier options which makes me feel better overall. I forgot how much better I feel when I really cut out the sugar (refined sugar, I still eat fruit). Went to the doctor two months ago and then went back again this week and got good news. My cholesterol numbers are all great and my BP/pulse are “like a marathon runner” which is always a bit amusing to me, especially since I could barely make it through my 5K.  My doctors basically told me that I am my own worst enemy (the neurologist: “You can’t turn it off, can you? It’s a wonder you sleep at all.”). I knew this already, so I am now in the process of trying new tools to help slow myself down and manage my thoughts better. This includes doctor recommended CBT, yoga/tai chi and meditation. It is good to know that the rest of me is functioning well aside from occasional abdominal pain or tension headaches.

One of my more whimsical friends says that in our 28th year Saturn returns to the point it occupied at the time of our birth and is often associated with a “first life crisis.” Saturn brings tough lessons to be learned and challenging times, opportunities for us to work through our own blocks or bad habits. Scary as it may sound, I kind of like the notion of a reflective year. A time to think deeply about past events and make positive changes to improve ourselves for our own sake.  Reassess our goals, careers and relationships. Sounds easy, right? I’ve been doing some of this along the way, but I think that it may be a good thing to take time “off” to really figure out what I want to give, what I want to contribute to relationships and to my own small piece of the world. Not going to become a monk or anything, but definitely taking some time to think about what I want in the next few years. Will it be a different role at work? Or maybe a different degree on the side? Doing something more long term for my favorite charities? I think there are several great options. I just need to contemplate and then commit.

I’m grateful to have a good job, but I also feel like it is such a narrow use of my strengths. Because of this, I’ve looked for other opportunities on the side, helping at the children’s center and volunteering at the hospice center nearby. I think somewhere along my career path I lost my teaching/mentoring/helping/”good karma” outlets.

Commitment to much of anything other than work has been an issue for me the last few months, but I think this will get better with time and self-care. My hope cactus is always blooming, so it seems, in a most persistent (and impressive) way. I suppose that it is a part of me, so I should embrace it along with my flabby arms and piggy nose. I realize that this blog has been a mixture of contemplation and sadness the last few months, though it has been helpful to have another outlet. I am moving in the right direction, just slowly. And I am learning more about myself.

I really like Amy Winehouse’s version of “A Song for You” (Leon Russell will always be my favorite, though)…

I love you in a place
Where there’s no space or time
I love you for in my life
You are a friend of mine
And when my life is over
Remember when we were together
We were alone and
I was singing this song to you”

“Calling your name in the midnight hour
Reaching for you from the endless dream
So many miles between us now
But you are always here with me
Two words
In your hands
In your hearts
It’s whole universe
You are always here with me”

“Excuse me for a while
While I’m wide-eyed
And I’m so down, caught in the middle
I’ve excused you for a while
While I’m wide-eyed
And I’m so damn caught in the middle

And a lion, a lion roars would you not listen?
If a child, a child cries would you not forgive them?

Yeah, I might seem so strong
Yeah, I might speak so long
I’ve never been so wrong”

“It’s not a silly little moment,
It’s not the storm before the calm.
This is the deep and dying breath of
This love that we’ve been working on.

Can’t seem to hold you like I want to
So I can feel you in my arms.
Nobody’s gonna come and save you,
We pulled too many false alarms.”

 

“It isn’t very difficult to see why
You are the way you are
Doesn’t take a genius to realise
That sometimes life is hard
It’s gonna take time
But you’ll just have to wait
You’re gonna be fine
But in the meantime

Come over here lady
Let me wipe your tears away
Come a little nearer baby
Coz you’ll heal over
Heal over
Heal over someday”

“If I could say anything, anything what would it be?
A good question for our destined reality
I would tell you that I love you
Even when it didn’t show.
I would tell you that I love you, baby,
By now I hope you know.

If you could go anywhere, anywhere what would you see?
Take a step in any direction, it’s make believe
If your mind is always moving
It’s hard to get your heart up off the ground
Yeah, your mind was always moving
But your thoughts never made a sound

And we won’t break if we let go.
You and I already know
We were bound to be set free eventually.
So, here we are now
You can say anything”