Thursday, March 27, 2014

One Year

Well, it's been one year and counting.  Yesterday was my one year anniversary of getting laid off.  It's had a few good moments (like the fact that I actually got a summer to spend with my boy-o) and a lot of low moments (I won't highlight those...).  Over all, it hasn't been a very positive experience.  I could say that I've learned a lot, but even that paints a happier picture, since usually learning is a good thing.

But, I'm hoping that things are on the upswing.  I've seen a lot more activity on jobs I've applied to in the last few weeks, including two actual in-person, live interviews for positions this week!  (I'd take either one, but the one I interviewed today feels like a much better fit personality and skill wise.)  While none of the jobs I'm applying for will pay me anything near what I was making at my old position, they will pay me enough to do for now.  So, I'm hopeful but with the way things have fallen apart without notice before when it comes to job offers I'm not holding my breath too hard.

Anyhow, I really don't have much more to say.  Other than happy birthday to Mom on Tuesday and my cousin Ethan today.  I really do need to write more here, I have been letting things fester a bit too much and well, it gets kinda ugly when that happens.

Hopefully, I'll be posting more positive things in the near future.  At least spring should hopefully be finally here after the very, very, very snowy and bitterly cold winter we've had.  (I don't think there was a week in January and February where the boy-o went to school every day and without any delays....)

Anyhow, I'm just kinda rambling and I need to get to bed so I can get up in the morning to do it all over again.

Peace to all and may you have good things on the horizon.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Moving On

The last time I posted I was in a very, very negative space.  While the situation itself hasn't changed a whole lot, Congress isn't even talking about EUC, I still don't have a job, that kind of thing, I'm in a bit better of a place emotionally.

It turns out that I did decide to touch the retirement accounts.  That in and of itself was very hard to do.  I don't have a lot in there, and have no hope of ever fully retiring and I know touching them will put me even further behind the 8-ball in the future.  But, hopefully I have another 30 years to worry about that.  On the one hand, while it was hard to do, I'm glad I did it.  Yes, the way the account was structured I had to take a withdrawal instead of a loan so I'll have to deal with taxes come next year.  (But, 20% of my withdrawal was sent to the IRS, so hopefully the tax hit at the end of the year will only be minimal...)  I also talked with an adviser and finally, finally rolled my savings from the Big Corp that sold us to the Other Big Corp that laid me off into an account with the same company Other Big Corp has our savings set up with.  I think I'm pretty happy with how I have things set up... I left OBC's savings plan as it was, just taking a withdrawal.  I rolled over BC's stocks that I had in their savings plan into a brokerage account with the current Financial Institute.  I then took everything else (quite a bit more than I had in OBC's plan, since I'd been with BC much longer) and put it into a fairly aggressive, but not scarily so  mutual fund.  Since it bounced back after the 2007 mess, it has been gaining at a respectable rate that is very similar to what it was doing before 2007.  And yes, this is all the detail you're going to get.  Suffice to say, I'm happy over all with my choices and feel like I have at least a small handle on what my money is doing and someone I can call with questions.

I've also managed to do my Federal taxes.  Thank you e-file!  It turns out even with my nice severance package and an entire quarter of my normal earnings, we're getting a very nice chunk of change back.  That and the withdrawal from my retirement savings let me breathe a huge sigh of relief.  Once I get the state filed, we're actually getting money back from them too.  I'm not sure about local, that's always a pot shot.

So, with a firmer, if temporary, financial footing, I can breathe at least a small sigh of relief and focus on job hunting.

There have been a few ups and downs and some more snow the past few weeks.  And the whole family has been dealing with minor, but irritating tummy troubles the last few days.  It started with a Boo-boy being sick Thursday and Daddy and I feeling a bit run over late yesterday and through today.  I'm just so thankful that Boo-boy is as easy going as he is and let Gak and I have a fairly down day today.



I've also been thinking about Gram a good bit the last few days.  Today she would have been 91.  Yeah.  I really could have used her advice, or at least her shoulder to lean on this past year.  I always could count on her for sound advice and the wisdom to know when to just let me ramble and rant away and follow it up with a hug.
I've been not saying this here, because, well, some days I'm so good at denial, I think I should live in Egypt... Anyhow, I felt like I haven't had either of my two best advisers this past year.  Yes, I'm talking about Dad.  It is so hard to have a conversation with him some days.  And I don't want to worry him, because he's so very good at worrying.  And right now, there really isn't anything he can do to help, other than worry.  So, I find myself relying on past advice and pointers and life lessons.  It's not quite the same, but it's what I'll make do with.  Like I told a friend the other day, our loved ones may physically leave us, but they never really die as long as we keep remembering them and asking ourselves how they would approach something or what advice they'd have.  I'm so thankful that I've had such wonderful advisers in my life.  Yes, Mom is on that list too, but our relationship is different that the kind of relationship I have with Dad and Gram.  In some ways Mom and I are too much alike and both too good at ignoring what we want to.

Anyhow, I'm not sure where I'm going with this.  Other than to say that life isn't quite as gray and desperate seeming as it was a few weeks ago, even if it isn't all happy and on a positive track.

Peace to all and may you have good advisers in your life who know when to listen, and know when to talk and have good advice.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Hard Week

This has been a very, very hard week.  For many, many reasons.  Most of them are small and wouldn't matter a bit if things were any better over all.  This week has been like having a boulder crushing the life out of me and then pouring salt and lemon juice in the wounds, just to finish me off.  Oh, and rain.  Or at least very, very gray and foggy until yesterday afternoon at some point.
So, you can begin to see where the difficulties of the week are coming from.

I'm still unemployed.  I've applied to at least 6 jobs this week.  I've heard back from none of the jobs I've applied for in the past 10 months.  Even the very patient and helpful person at the contract agency hasn't had anything to even float by me this week.

And Congress voted not to renew EUC.  On the one hand, I can almost see some of their logic.  From the bits and pieces I've gleaned from gong through many news sources (because there is no such thing as unbiased news anymore...) is that people were trying to add things to the bill and the Democrats said "F* that!" and voted no.  I won't get started about how divided politics are around here these days.  I don't need to.  Anyone who even just listens to the news on the radio in the car will know.  Anyone who's spent 5 minutes or less on Facebook will know.  And I won't tell you how much it disgusts me, because anyone who knows me will know exactly how deep that feeling goes. But, on the other hand, the one that's actually attached to my body, I don't get it at all.  Don't they realize that by not funding this, they're hurting millions of Americans and keeping millions of dollars out of the economy?  I can't spend what I don't have, even on necessary things like groceries and gas...


Oh, and the rent was due.  And the car insurance.  And the credit card bills.  And... and... and....
And I looked at the bank account.
And I realized there wasn't going to be any money coming in until Gak gets paid next week.
And I cried.  I cried a lot actually.
I don't have enough money to pay the basic bills after this month.
Sure, I have a 401(k) plan with a good bit of money in it.  But if I touch it, I'll probably end up getting hit with taxes, but not until next April, not to mention screw any hope of retiring at any age.  And if I don't have a job by then, we'll be in even deeper trouble than we are now.
This week alone I've applied for 6 different positions.  Six.  And I've lowered my expectations of pay even further.  Because coming from a tech industry, if I don't get back to work soon, I never will.  You see, my skills are stagnating when it comes to operating systems and what's "current" in the business world.  And even if I was keeping up on things on my own, the first thing prospective employers see is that it's been almost 10 months since I last worked.  Six months is considered a long time.  A year?  Impossible.  So, while I really could use at least 2/3 of what I was making before, it looks like I may have to settle for half or less.  Which may, but probably not, pay the basic bills of this household.  And yes, I can probably lower some of those, but just by going to work, daycare will increase, gas will increase, car maintenance will increase.....  (Unless of course, somehow I get a job that'll keep me home from 11 to 7 every week day and on Saturdays as well, then at least daycare won't go up...)

So, right now I'm at the bottom of my financial, emotional and spiritual barrels.  I've almost licked them dry and I don't see much hope on the horizon.  Oh, sure, I still haven't been told "no" from the place I interviewed at in December, but, February is looking like a long time away financially.  (I really wish I'd get a yes, but you won't start until February XX or a no, we're going to go with someone else.... then I can make better plans and decisions...)

I'm just trying to take things one day at a time and keep my head above water some how.  And with all the gray and other little things piling up on me this week, it has been exceptionally difficult, almost like I imagine climbing Mount Everest as an ant would feel like.  And just as intimidating.

But, on the positive side it's sunny out today.  Cookie sales started yesterday and I have an awesome cookie mom.  So, if anyone wants to help my Girl Scout troop out, let me know.  If anyone has any miracle suggestions on any other fronts, I'm all ears.

Peace and may your barrels be overflowing with good things.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Conservative Logic?

I've had something bubbling and boiling and causing a bit of trouble in the back of my mind since yesterday when I picked Boo up from daycare.  I was listening to NPR, as I usually do when I'm in the LRH, since music and the speakers don't always play nice...

Anyhow, they were talking about the ending of extended unemployment benefits and different Congressional views on the subject.

But first, a brief recap.  Until the end of March of 2012 I worked all but two months or so total since graduating college in 1998 and even before that I worked every summer and a few hours a week in the computer lab at school.  Then I got laid off on 3/26.  I still don't have a job.

Anyhow, one of the things that was said, and made me flip my lid (it's a good thing Boo wasn't in the car yet), was that there are some conservatives out there that think that by not extending benefits it will actually get people to "search harder" for a job.

Really?  You really think that'll help?  You think having absolutely NO income will make a job suddenly appear that much quicker?  Sure, if I want to earn $7/hr flipping burgers.  I hate to tell you that, but I was making four times that when I was laid off.  Under UI I was/am still getting well more than that.  Do you want to know how many jobs I've applied to in the last 9 months?  I've lost track but at least three a week, usually several more.  Do you want to know how many I've heard back from/found a human to talk to?  less than a dozen.  How many interviews have I had?  about 5 phone interviews and one, yes 1, in-person interview in nine (9) months.  And do you know when I applied for that job that got me the in-person interview?  Over the summer.  I had the phone interview in November and the in-person one in December... and they may have a decision in February.

So, you tell me that taking away any and all safety net that I've been paying into for 12+ years is going to make me find a job faster?  So, unless Congress gets their act together this coming week, I have no idea if or when I'll ever see another UI payment again.  I do know that if I don't find something paying at least $20/hr by the end of February, I won't be able to pay rent on the apartment, pay for any insurance, phone, cable or simple things like put gas in the car of food in the stomachs of my family.  And I actually received a very generous severance package to some people I know who've been laid off in recent months....

Oh, and if you're wondering, that $20/hr is still a pretty big cut from what I was making and will make life tricky, but not impossible.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Reflections

It is the evening of the last day of 2013. To sayb is has been a hell of a year would be an understatement.

There have been many, many challenges to this year. Many have been met and surmounted. Several are still hanging over our heads.

We're not the only ones who have faced huge mountains put in their paths this year. 

I have friends all over this country, and world even, who have faced greater than usual challenges this year.

Normally I'm not a very superstitious person, but '13 has been a bear.

So, where do we stand?

Boo has been in very good health throughout the year after our January hospital trip.

Jim is still employed and has even seen a raise. He's still keeping his options open, but isn't trying too hard to do anything about it.

All of our technology gadgets continue to work and do their jobs.

I have gotten to spend a lot more time with Boo than I'd hoped for.

Boo is thriving in kindergarten. This, I think, is the biggest accomplishment of the year. It is the one that makes my heart the happiest.

I have been able to complete many wonderful yarn projects. I have had the opportunity to spend a lotnof time with my family and to volunteer at Hawk Mountain a bit as well.

Unfortunately, this is because I am still unemployed. I'm working diligently on resolving that, but it is taking much longer than anticipated. It wasn't my choice to travel this path, but  I'll make the best of it.

So, I bid a thankful farewell to 2013 and am doing my best to make 2014 as good as I can make it.

Peace to all and may you all have good challenges and adventures in the new year.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Quiet

Today I'm thankful for a little peace and quiet.  I love my husband.  I love my son.  I love all my friends and family.
But some times, some days, I just need them to all go away.  At least for a little bit.  I need time to not have to interact with the outside world.  Time to get lost in my own head, with my own thoughts.  Or lost in the thoughts of another, in a book or story.  Or mindlessly play puzzle games until I'm moving more on autopilot and anything and my mind drifts elsewhere.

I never realized how much "alone" time I got when I was working.  I got 20 to 30 minutes each way every morning and evening, well almost, to myself.  To listen to the radio or not.  To think my thoughts as I drove down the highway.  To prepare myself or unwind from dealing with people all day long.

You'd think I'd have plenty of that now that I'm home all day.  You'd be sadly mistaken.  My mornings are spent with my boys.  Getting Boo ready for school and out the door and spending a little quality time with just Gak and I until he's got to get ready for work.  Then either I've got to pick up a boy at lunch and we spend the afternoon together doing all kinds of things or I use the time to work on that whole finding a job thing, or errands and dealing with people in general.  There aren't many afternoons that I get a nice chunk of time to myself to just escape the world for a few.

Also, I haven't been getting up at the crack of dawn.  Gak has.  And therefore I stay asleep, or mostly asleep, in my warm, cozy bed trying to eek out a few moments of me time.

But, Wednesday nights, at least most Wednesday nights in theory, I get a couple of hours all to myself.  Boo is in bed around 7:30 or so.  Gak goes to Scott's house for gaming.  And I, get some blessedly quiet "alone" time.

So, pardon me while I take advantage of a sleeping boy and an "empty" apartment.  I don't know if I'm going to play with yarn or get lost in a book, probably both before the evening is done.

Peace to all and may you get the quiet you need.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Moms and Authors

Well, I ended up crashing last night before I could write my post.  I was thinking about it all afternoon.  As I listened to my boy-o and his Amma playing I was thinking about how thankful I am that he gets to spend so much time with her.  I'm thankful for all the things my mom has done for me over the years, but it makes my heart sing to see the joy my boy and my mom bring each other.  And, it also makes me a little sad because he doesn't get that chance to be with his Nana.

This evening I'm really thankful for two people.  I'm thankful for my friend Steph.  She's been there a lot for me, especially the past several months.  Even if it's just someone to mutually gripe at and about the world with, that's been a wonderful boon.  But, through her, I have met an awesome and wonderful woman and author.  You see, she works with Lynda Gene Rymond.  She's an author and has two children's books published and several more in the pipeline.  We've been doing a monthly series this year of having women come in and talk about their careers and how they got there.  Steph asked Lynda Gene if she would come and she said yes.  And boy am I glad she did!  All three of our speakers have been quite different.  And really, they just keep getting better.  Lynda Gene had our girls rapt attention from the moment she started talking almost until the end.  She spoke to all of our hearts and souls, and I think many of the girls were hearing her on all levels.  I know she spoke to my heart, not just my head.
And following the Native tradition that is a part of her bloodline, she opened and closed her talk with a song.  I don't know about any of the girls, but I sure felt the power of it, it was quite tingly!  I doubt the girls realized the power she was invoking, but I felt it.

Anyhow, I'm so thankful to have met such a wonderful person who happens to be a fun author.  She's definitely someone I could hang with and go on fun adventures with.  There were three things that struck me tonight.  One, sometimes the universe will find a way to make you stop hiding your true talent.  Two, put everything you can into the cauldron of your imagination and let it bubble.  Three, "publishing a book is like letting a leaf go into the Grand Canyon, there is no thud".

Peace to all and may your talents shine through, your imagination bubble over and you release many leaves into the world.  And may you also have wonderful people to share it all with.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Socks!

Today I am thankful for socks.  Not just any socks.  Those of you who know me well know that I'd rather be barefoot if at all possible, or in my hiking boots if not.  Yeah, I know, opposite ends of the spectrum.  But, that's me!

Anyhow, today I'm thankful for hand made, warm, soft and snuggly socks.  I finished my first pair since January or so this evening.  I have them on right now.  They're not perfect, they're a little long and a little wide, but they're so soft and wonderful.  They'll be even nicer tomorrow in my boots hiking.  I love my hand made socks for hiking.  Thick enough to provide nice padding.  Thin enough to not be bulky and weird.  And since they're all at least 50% wool, they're nice and warm, even when wet and they wick moisture away well.  So, yes, I'm thankful for socks and the ability to make them.
No, you can't have them.  They won't fit (unless your feet happen to be about an inch or so longer than mine but not too much wider, then they'd fit you perfectly...).  That's the other awesome part about hand made socks.  Custom fit.

Yep, I have happy toes.

But, I'm off to bed because I've got a busy and early day tomorrow.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Out!

Today was a good day. Even though the weather was a bit gray and cool, it was a good day to be outside.
Today I took some of my girls hiking at French Creek. Because of the iffy weather only 5 girls and Billy came. And there were 4 adults. (This is way more adults than required, but everyone there wanted to go for a hike.)
We probably did between 3 nad 4 miles today. Not a ton of climb, but enough to notice.
Sure, I personally would have rather gone out by myself on an orienteering trail (DVOA was in a different section of the park...), but I will take what I can get. I am thankful for any time I get to be outside and hiking. Even leading a group it does my soul good. And going to French Creek is almost like going home. I've done many, many trails there. The only park I've possibly been to more is Valley Forge because I lived on the edge.
So over all today I'm thankful for being outside.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Teachers

I know, I know I didn't actually post a blog yesterday. On Facebook I said I was thankful that the leader meeting was short. And I still am. Those things can be LONG and boring. I guess it was a light news month or something. (We did get to try the new cookies replacing the failed Mango Cremes from last year. They're a citrus cranberry crisp and they are delicious. I see many accompanying my tea this winter....)

But today I am thankful for what I should have posted yesterday. I am so very thankful for Boo's kindergarten teacher, Mrs. M.
We got his first report card Wednesday and we had our first parent/teacher conference yesterday. (Unfortunately Gak couldn't make it because he was home with Billy who got sent home sick... this way neither of his parents had to leave work.)  Anyhow it was a very good report card and an awesome meeting with his teacher. She admitted she was a bit nervous after orientation that he was just going to shut down and withdraw, which would totally inhibit any learning. But he has surprised US all with how he is doing. He's growing by leaps and bounds with his knowledge and has only shut downand withdrawn a few times and then only briefly in the past month or two. He is much happier doing math than reading but loves his reading specialist Mrs. G. He also has made two friends and the three boys do well together. Boo will always remark if one or thr other was absent.

And I know a lot of it is Boo maturing and growing on his own. I know some of it is good parents. But I also know a huge part of it is the patience and skill of Mrs. M. I  so thankful for her and her dedication to her students.

Peace to all and may you have good teachers in your life. Or more good than not, we've all had the not ones now and again...