Frenetic! and Festive

Next week is one of those weeks where multiple significant and stressful events pile on in succession... I'm not feeling too overwhelmed, but looking ahead resignedly and starting to gear up - while at the same time holding on to my holiday cheer.

After my post about wanting to settle in for a while and not continue to put effort into applying and interviewing for better-paying jobs, two colleges simultaneously managed to motivate themselves at the very last minute to schedule interviews before the holidays. So, I find myself committed to two early morning interviews on Wednesday and Thursday next week; one way up in Santa Rosa and the second one in Napa.

I am trying to feel hopeful and excited about these opportunities but honestly, I just don't. I do not even want to prepare, though I'm sure I will make myself, if not this weekend, then Tuesday, spend some time doing so. They are both, of course, stupid panel interviews, and one has NINE people attending. Ridiculous. How many people does it take to make a decision? Apparently nine.

If I had to choose, I would choose Napa, as it is only a half hour drive and would not require me to move. The Napa job, however, would require me to quit my non-profit job and dramatically scale back on my business for now. The Santa Rosa job is a part-time position, so theoretically, I could work two days there, two days at the non-profit, and a few hours in my business and make a good living - but both the non-profit and SR jobs are located such that I would need to move, likely to Petaluma, a town between the two locations. Am I really willing to move when I have so many good things happening where I live now, including my adoption process?

My finances are such that I can't, in good conscience, cancel either of these interviews, so I guess I will just take it a step at a time. But excited about them? No.

Additionally, I am committed to leading my career transition meet-up Tuesday evening, which has quite a few sign-ups (potential clients) this month. And, Thursday afternoon I'm scheduled for my first home interview with the adoption social worker. I'm looking forward to this but definitely have a few nerves about it. In a generous act that relieves some stress, however, my housemate gave me an early Christmas present and hired a cleaner to come the Monday before, so the house will be polished up for her visit!

Sounds like enough for the week, right? Nope, my birthday is Friday! No big plans, though, maybe a drink with friends. Despite the stress and busyness this week, I refuse to lose my holiday spirit. I attended our small and joyful staff holiday party last night for the non-profit, made peppermint cookie dough last week, have been enjoying the Christmas lights going up, and we plan to decorate a tree this weekend. ho ho ho!


End of NaBlaPoMo and My Word for 2017 (and 2016)

Final November prompt for NaBloPoMo: "Have you chosen a word of the year for yourself for 2017? What is it? If not, what words would you consider?" When I first read this, I thought this year for some reason so started writing about that. So first I will share my word(s) for 2016:

First, a stream of consciousness word jumble to brainstorm:

 S, colon cancer, NVC, not again, car wreck, totaled, insurance, new used car, EOL pod, financial coaching, business growth, ups and downs, reunion, rekindled hope, fundraising, donor embryo, niece, pen pal, Oregon, ceramics, housemate search, new housemate, relief, new job, belonging, appreciation, laughter, Halloween, unicorn, too.many.interviews, rejection, questioning, lessons learned, business plan?, Thanksgiving from planet meh, love my dog, foster adoption training, home study, new connections, refocus on BNI, ready for December holidays, trip home, avalanches of abundance.

Narrowing to three: ups and downs; rekindled hope; and too.many.interviews.

Narrowing to one: REKINDLED HOPE. These words relate to becoming a mom and they are core to my purpose and the fire that fuels my drive forward in life.

And finally, the true prompt, my word for 2017... what do I want to welcome into my life in the new year: FAMILY. My own family - that's it. Inherent in that word is home, stability, and love. Yes!

Thanks for reading along with my 29 posts this month. I feel good about this accomplishment! And look forward to staying in touch with several new bloggers. Happy (in 5 minutes on the West Coast) December!


Doctor Trips from Hell

Two more posts, then I'm not posting for all of December. Just kidding! But I probably will take a few days break. I'm going with the prompt for today: "What was your most embarrassing or scary trip to the doctor?"

Oh goody, let's go back and relive a medical trauma.

Sorry for the dark humor. I tend to have some anxiety around doctor visits because of my history of losing my mom, but as I think about it, that anxiety has lessened with all the fertility visits, tests, and procedures I have had in the past few years.

Okay, brace yourself, two doctor's trips have come to mind. The first, I got the flu. Initially, I didn't know it was the flu. It was in December maybe six or seven years ago when I was living in Central California, and I had a couple glasses of wine earlier in the evening and made cookies. It seems like I ate a weird potentially stomach-unsettling dinner that night, too.

So, I thought, it might be because I'd thrown this combination at my stomach, but it soon became very scary and out of control and I knew it was more than an upset stomach. I felt so nauseous I couldn't sit up. I just lay on the ground in-between vomiting, etc. I felt like I was going to pass out and started to worry that, since I lived alone, no one would know and I would die here alone, on the ground, in a compromising position in my pajamas.

I think we have a merciful memory system that erases the worst ones because I can't exactly remember how it felt, I just remember being so sick and out of it and afraid I would die alone. So, I called the ambulance. So embarrassing but I was too sick to care much as several firefighters traipsed into my modest, messy house and scooped me off the floor and onto a gurney. I remember they were so nice and reassuring, not rude or aloof, at all. I really appreciated that, though I was barely conscious. It felt soothing.

But. then. I was dropped off at the ER only to be considered lower priority than people who were bleeding out - the gall of it! - and lying there writhing in discomfort, feverish head ache, and nauseousness, until hours later they were able to get to me. Once they finally put those anti-nausea meds in the IV, sweet relief. I was re-hydrated, given the good meds and sent home. My only ambulance/ER story, knock on wood. Fun stuff.

The other story is much shorter. Basically, this creepy, mumbly old-school doctor who I was seeing for the first time for a routine check-up (not gynecological) required by K@iser for some reason, without warning mind you, put his finger up my butt. Yeah, that's not normal. No doctor has every done that before, outside of maybe a gynecological exam. You do that at other exams, sure, like a colon exam or something, but this was not that. And the fact that he didn't even let me know what was going to happen, no heads up, just kind of made his move and stuck it up there. Ach! Not okay.

Sorry, I warned you to brace yourself. Needless to say, I made sure to never see that doctor again. But to add insult to injury, for some reason his name was on all my prescriptions for a while because I guess he was still listed in the system as my primary care doctor. Finally, I got him removed from my account, and try not to think of it. Thanks, NaBloPoMo.  Just kidding. It's kind of funny now.

There are a couple fertility procedures that were super uncomfortable, but I'll spare you those in this post. You're welcome.

See you tomorrow for the last day of November and the last day of this month-long every day blogging journey!

Way too much!

I met with a new group of three think-er/try-er SMCs tonight in my area. One of them came to the adoption-specific group we held a couple weeks ago.

The meeting tonight was a bit overwhelming. The three of them had been meeting for years apparently and knew each other very well.

Also, all three of them are "poly" or practicing polyamory. Their check-ins included detailed recounting of medical procedures and in-depth sharing about their various love affairs. Way. Too. Much. for me having just met them.

They were very nice, but I'm not sure I'll go back to that group.


Noticings from NaBloPoMo

The month of November is almost over, and I have written a post every day but one. I am, indeed, ready to be done! Along the way and looking back, I have noticed a few differences in both the content and blogging experience when I am writing every day, and I would like to record these differences for posterity and future reference:
  1. When I write every day, I am more likely to focus in more depth on one experience or topic. I'm not so "bursting at the seams" with multiple experiences to share, like I am when I write weekly or so. There is satisfaction in exploring a topic more thoroughly and spaciously.
  2. I was positively influenced to integrate more visual images. I normally only do this on special occasions or holidays, but when all our posts showed up in the FB feed, I wanted mine to have a cool picture, too! And it was kinda fun searching for the right one...
  3. The month went pretty quickly, and I am proud I stuck with it.
  4. Looking at a lineup of other blogger's posts (on blogs I'd never read before), it was interesting to see which ones I was drawn to. The topic either related to a specific interest I hold - like a post with stories of how pet owners had met their pets, or one related to marital/relationship dynamics - or it was a personally meaningful or vulnerable sharing post, like some of the election fears or a relationship issue.

I am now following a few new blogs and look forward to weaving some of my insights into future choices around blog content and posting frequency. Though, to be honest, I don't see myself ever moving away from using my blog as a place to process my feelings and share challenges and celebrations. It has been, and will continue to be, very valuable to share my life at a personal level and participate in the community I am part of now.


A Welcome Letter - and timely visitors

I received an exciting letter in the mail on Friday saying I had been assigned a social worker and I should hear from them to set up a meeting within 5 days!

The letter also had criminal background paperwork for my housemate to complete and instructions for her about the live-scan process, i.e. pay online and then the form will be sent to take to a live-scan finger printing location. She was great about it and immediately completed it and mailed it in.

Adding to the sense of reality this letter brought with it, I saw my friend (and Oakland ex housemate) and his wife and baby yesterday. She is so cute and fun! She's learning to stand, grab on, and pull berself forward, and I had fun dancing around with her, but it was even fun just watching her discover carpet. They have wood floors and she was really curious to touch and feel the shag rug in the living room. I was imaging myself doing these things as a mother.

Another aspect of the visit was seeing how exhausted they were and the effort and time it takes to go anywhere. It was funny because we hung out at my house for a while and drank tea, then I suggested we head out for a walk and bite to eat downtown. I had been home much of the day on Thanksgiving and that day and was ready to get out of the house. They looked less than enthused and said they'd be happy just to stay there at the house. lol. I did eventually convince them to rally.

I hope the pieces keep falling into place. Looking forward to December happenings, then traveling to Oregon at the end of the month for Christmas.

A Tragic (and possibly preventable?) Death

An online blogger friend of mine passed away last week, and I've been thinking about it off and on since then. Members of us on a group FB page that knew her have been sharing our feelings of sadness and fear brought up by her death. She had a young daughter who had recently started kindergarten and was the light of her life. Rest in Peace, B. You will not be forgotten.

A sudden loss like this makes one think of the fragility of life and the importance of valuing and making the most of each day, as well as communicating our love to people regularly. This friend was healthy except for a couple of specific symptoms, including an extremely low heart rate and shortness of breath, and her cardiologist actually said it was nothing she would "drop dead" from. Haunting words to read after she did pass away not long after. He should have taken her symptoms more seriously and erred on the cautious side.

I'm not sure if it will be helpful, but I feel compelled to share a couple of links about heart disease and heart problems you can have, even if you exercise and are relatively healthy. There can be both auto-immune factors in heart disease, as well as detrimental effects from long-term, strenuous cardiovascular exercise (think training for marathons over time).

Please take a moment if you can and read the warning signs, such as breathlessness and edema. And please, make a BIG deal of these kind of symptoms, and err on the overly cautious side. I know B had a profound impact on the lives of those close to her, and she will be hugely missed, especially by her daughter. Maybe another impact she will have is educating others on heart disease and how to interpret, and take seriously, it's various forms and symptoms.


The Time Rage Got the Best of Me

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone! I hope you enjoy the day whatever you're doing and whomever you are, or are not, with. Special shout out to the single ladies away from family today; may the day be fun for you in non-traditional ways!

NaBloPoMo prompt for today: Have you ever rage-quit a job?

Not exactly. Well, not in a dramatic, say something rageful and inappropriate, then storm out the door kind of way.  But I did have a rage moment a few weeks back at a meet-up group I host... As background, I didn't advertise it well or early enough, plus a few people didn't show up. Sidenote: why do we do this? because I do this too, sometimes, i.e. sign up for an event, then bail shortly before it happens. I try to remember to change my r.s.v.p. but admit I don't always do so. So frustrating for the event planner. In any case, this led to meeting with just one person that night.

As fate had it, the restaurant we normally meet in had a band playing that night, so it was loud and I had to advocate and follow-up with the manager to get a table. While I was waiting, I had a glass of wine. So, I wasn't in the best mood, and I'd been drinking. I'd like to think that's why I became emotionally reactive. It WAS annoying and tiresome, but not worth the reaction I had.

What happened? Well, the one person who came jumped right into telling me her entire career story and talked non-stop for about 15 minutes (fine and even welcomed for a counseling appointment but a free meet-up event at a restaurant, not so welcome), until I finally interjected and said I wanted to suggest an activity, as well as explain my role in leading the meet-up and get business stuff out of the way, such as a sign-up sheet and collecting a small donation to cover costs of the meet-up.

I had barely finished my sentence, when she went into a tirade about how it didn't say anything about the meet-up costing anything (I double-checked later to confirm that I did in fact mention a donation would be requested to cover costs) and that maybe she would understand it if we were meeting in a rented space, or something, but in this case she didn't understand what she's paying for, that it wasn't worth it.

At this point, to put it lightly, my temperature rose. My thoughts were that I have a graduate degree and over 12 years experience in the career counseling field, and it takes effort and time to plan and facilitate these monthly events, plus paying monthly dues. I do benefit by sometimes connecting with a new client but not always. So, the fact that she felt entitled to waltz in and get free career counseling and take advantage of meet-up benefits without contributing at all really made me mad, and at some level maybe offended me or hurt my feelings. And not only not contributing - we've all been short on money at times and I would have totally given her a pass - but she lamented that the experience was not "worth" even a few dollars.

I think part of my anger was because I've made huge strides in my business over the last year or two in valuing my time, and other coaches and professionals time, as well. I guess I do believe in that value now, which is the silver lining on this story - recognizing that I really do value my time and counseling skills and believe I should be paid fairly.

To finish the story, I said that yes, it was in the event description, then told her I actually felt offended that she said the only value was in renting a space, and not the content, time, and effort, etc. She continued to argue. I stopped her and said I did not want to argue, that I wished her lots of good luck in her career and hoped that sharing her story tonight was helpful for her, and excused myself.

In retrospect, I think I did not need to take it personally and it wasn't a huge deal in the big picture, but I'm not sorry I left versus spending another hour listening to and helping a woman who wasn't appreciative.

Returning to gratitude...I'm thankful that experience is over and I learned from it and thankful for all the good things in my life right now: my sweet dog, Zoey; my health; my great work environment and ability to contribute at the non-profit; doing interesting, fun, and meaningful work with my clients; my planned trip to Oregon to see family over Christmas; my family and nieces and nephew; and my excitement and hope for building a family in the near future. Now off to have a Thanksgiving cocktail!

Thanksgiving Memories

In my family of origin, Thanksgiving generally included really good food and not so good connections. Dinner conversation would either be stilted or one extroverted person would be putting on a comedy show. One dare not ask or share anything at a deeper level for fear of being ridiculed. It never felt safe to share about challenges or be vulnerable.

In later years, after my siblings got married, more alcohol was mixed in, and people became "jolly" as the night wore on; sometimes overly so! I remember one time my brother-in-law was quite intoxicated at the end of the night and he was carrying my nephew home who had fallen asleep. I was truly afraid he might trip and fall with the baby, but thankfully he made it.

I would have a bit deeper introvert-friendly one-on-one side conversations sometimes but most family members seemed compelled to track the whole group focus, story, or comedy routine. I'm not a great storyteller or comedian in group situations, especially when the culture is not supportive, so this meant I didn't end up speaking much.

For as long as I can remember, my Dad has retired early, regardless of who may still be present. He makes no apologies for this, just states he's done, says goodnight, and walks out of the room. My (step) mom would stay up later on holidays. She enjoyed having people around, even if she didn't venture into very deep waters, would ask questions, and we had some good conversations later at night when I was staying at my parents' house.

This year, I won't be with family, or even with friends, which I guess I sort of chose by not reaching out to procure an invitation or inviting people to my house. I'm going to get a newsletter and marketing piece done by end of tomorrow, as well as take a long hike with my dog and watch a movie.  I may make some rolls or get some turkey and cranberry from the store. Leftovers are the best, and I'll miss them if I don't end up cooking.

One of my favorite memories of Thanksgiving, is one I celebrated with a close friend in Central California. We are both INFP personalities and tend to live and communicate in deep waters. We wrote out what we were thankful for and what we wanted to release and shared it with one another. Maybe I'll do an activity like that tomorrow...


The Four Questions

I'm developing and expanding my career counseling activities and tools in the realm of the "inner game" of career transition. "Inner game" meaning working through the fears, self-doubt, and self-sabotage that can come up when you are expanding and pursuing new goals in your career.

Eventually, I envision offering this and other content through group events and online programs, as well as individual counseling. I thought I'd share one tool that clients have said they appreciate lately. It's a tool from Byron Katie called, The Four Questions.

Here are the questions I share with clients, along with other "inner game" tools. I recommend The Four Questions when you're wrestling with persistent, negative self-talk. Let me know what you think!

The Four Questions
We all have self-judgments or self-doubts that come up in the career change process...i.e. “I'm too old,” “I'm not talented enough,” “I'm not qualified or experienced enough,” etc. Reduce the power of these thoughts by reality checking them with Byron Katie's, "Four Questions":
  1. Is it true?
  2. Do I absolutely know it's true?
  3. How do I react and what happens when I believe that thought?
  4. What would I be without that thought?