The Debbie Downer Report with a dash of hope

Quick request for regular readers - if you're willing, will you become a member of my blog? :) My number has been stuck at 29 for ages... Thank you!

This post will mainly be a downer report of recent events but also include some excitement and hope for the future.

First downer event: I was informed on Thursday that I will not receive counseling assignments at my college for Spring semester. WTF?! Complete shock and awe. Commence disbelief, questioning, hurt, and tears. Talked it over with a couple of other part-time counselors, and they were in shock, as well. In retrospect, I think there was a policy change that initiated at the beginning of this semester. The only clues about this change were part-timers not being inviting to the annual retreat and there being a couple of meetings to which part-timers were not invited. Just prior to learning about this development, I realized that our important orientation/education planning classes were only assigned to full-timers for the Spring, and all the other classes were only assigned to full-timers, as well.

I have worked at the college for several years and increased my responsibility over that time. When CTE counseling was shut down two and half years ago, I was really concerned about my job, but since then, I've worked hard to integrate into general counseling and feel proud of my efforts to serve students and teach several college success and orientation courses. I *never* have empty appointments, and my understanding was that we need more counselors, not less. To my knowledge, I have made no big mistakes or pissed any key people off. So WTF?! Again, my only guess is that it's policy regarding part-time/full-time that I don't fully understand yet, and something with the budget (errors in planning made at a higher level).

Since finding out this news, I have basically come to terms with the reality of what this means and have shifted into coping with it and planning how to replace that income - at least to the extent that I can get by - for Spring. Two hopeful possibilities in this regard: an interview for a full-time position at another local college on December first. I think I have shared how much competition there is for these positions but fingers crossed. The other possibility, which is the one I would prefer, is signing on several new clients. I have already signed on two more, for a total of three. I would like to find four or five more in the next two months. Will you envision that for me?

Positive actions so far include hosting a great career transition Meetup group last Tuesday during which four women signed up for consultations! I am realizing I need to actually get them in the calendar if at all possible before leaving because now we are playing tag to set them up. But signing one or two clients from that group would be wonderful! I am also following up with close friends and colleagues to generate more referrals, which is the best source of potential clients. Lastly, I am taking steps to increase my online presence and find opportunities to speak to introverts who are seeking meaningful career change and want to make a difference doing work that feels like play.

I have support through my business program, which is great. If you or someone you know needs career counseling support, will you please let me know in the comments or by sending a message? You can also contact me through my website (and receive a free gift of a Career Clarity Questionnaire) on my website at www.helpnavigatingtransitions.com  And all good thoughts very welcome. This could be the shove I need to expand my business...

The other downer news is that I was late to the adoption orientation and they had locked the doors and were turning people away. I was sad and disappointed, but I also see that the timing was likely not right for me. My intention is to attend the orientation in December, knowing that once I start the process it will likely be a minimum of several months before I complete the home study and am offered a placement.

Okay, I'm going to end on the excitement and hope! I'm excited to go to S's dad's house for Thanksgiving this week. We are staying in a dog-friendly hotel that night, and I'm looking forward to time away. Also, though it's more in the future, I continue to look forward to Christmas in Oregon. And in the weeks before that, I will also celebrate my birthday and attend S's company Christmas party, which will be festive and fun! S is buying me a special dress for my birthday, and we plan to shop for our niece and nephew's gifts together.

Finally, though S and I have had some difficult conversations lately and our old dynamic has reared it's head, we have also managed to talk through it so far and experience a new level of intimacy. We will be meeting with our counselor next weekend for help with healing more of our underlying "stuff" around this dynamic and developing communication agreements for when it comes up. I am feeling hopeful!


WDYD and other happenings

Sorry if this post is all over the place... feeling like writing a blog post but not feeling very focused.

One topic I wanted to follow up on is how I articulate the type of clients I help and the problem I solve for them.  Would you please let me know how this lands with you? When you read it, does it bring to mind specific people in your life?

You know how talented introverts who have outgrown their careers can distract and isolate themselves, actually hiding from the power of their greatest gifts?
Well, I help them recognize and focus these unique talents in a powerful career that feels like play and makes a huge difference in the world.

Any feedback welcome! :) I made myself go to a conscious networking event for women, and it wasn't awful - another business plus this week. Oh, and I got one more client!

In less positive news, my crazy housemate, M, has struck again. S stayed over and slept on the couch (because I have a single bed right now). M and I agreed on him staying over on nights she's not here. Unfortunately, I set an extra blanket on her couch for him to use in case he got cold and forgot to put it away the next morning. So of course, she assumed the worst as is her way and completely freaked out on me again, insisting someone had sat and slept on her couch. She called me a liar and a thief (I guess I am technically a thief as ONE time I borrowed a small amount of almond milk but in normal roommate situations this might be okay? Clearly not this one) and said I'm a bad dog owner and she should report me (!). This latter accusation is because I leave Zoey in her crate until 10am because I don't go to bed until midnight or one and she's out until then and goes for a last pee then. She sleeps soundly in her crate until I let her out. Anyway, M also called me a f-ing b-word again, as well. 

This all feels so Jerry Springer, and I know I need to just not react but it's challenging when she's directly attacking me like that. I'm not sure there are any legal/material actions to take, other than perhaps talking to the landlord if it happens again. Since day-to-day it tends to be civil/tolerable, my current plan is still to wait until after the holidays and hope for a change - perhaps even helping her move if that makes a difference. Thanks for listening to me vent. It's stressful when these blow-ups happen and if I'd known what she was like, I would not have chosen to live with her. I guess that's the risk with moving in with people you don't know or that your friends don't know.

Speaking of the holidays (in a happier light), it looks like S and I will be traveling to Oregon for Christmas.  Yay! I'm so excited. I can't wait to see the kids - and everyone else, too - and I think it will be good to be home on this first Christmas without my Mom. I'm sure it will be difficult at times, but I'm really glad I will be able to be there.

Okay, off to clean the house and do some shopping. S is coming up here for a mellow evening tonight, which will be nice.


Halloween 2015

I posted a few pictures on FB of me in my calaca costume (a leftover from my time spent in Code P!nk), S in a hilarious - to me anyway - slinky crypt creature costume with pirate/cop accessories, and Zoey in her Taco costume.  All the comments were about Zoey!  Taco wins the day! :)

We had fun handing out candy to the cute little - and not so little - kids in the neighborhood.  *Side note - I don't quite get the point of taking a baby trick-or-treating to stranger's houses.  I guess it's to show off the cute costume and thinking they might enjoy it?  They can't eat the candy, right?*  My favorite costume was this darling little girl, with calaca face paint somewhat similar to mine and a sparkly witch outfit with hat.  It was so cute.  I really think the Ninja Turtle costumes are cute on little kids, too.  The older kids had some seriously creepy masks! lol  Zoey adjusted after a while and didn't bark.  She is so smart.

Then, S and I went out to get a drink and something to eat.  We had some good talks, and he reached out and offered me care and sympathy at one point, which melted me into showing sadness and brought us closer.  He realized he had unconsciously been pulling back some because he wasn't feeling well and that was how his family handled sickness.  He said he would try and work against that impulse.  He has two-and-a-half more weeks of treatment, then the holidays off and surgery likely at the end of January.  He's tolerated treatment very well so far, but is starting to have a couple of uncomfortable side effects.

Good news on my cousin's husband:  He made it through surgery well, and is awake and, though initially there was some paralysis in his left side, movement began returning.  Also, he was interacting with his children.  I am quite sure my cousin misspoke when she said he is having his entire frontal lobe removed.  Maybe all of the tumor there.  Anyway, I'm relieved that it seems he will have a much better quality of life than I initially thought.


Rough Week

The day before Halloween... no big plans this year, except dressing Zoey in a taco costume (hehe), handing out some candy, and going out in our small downtown for a drink.  This will likely take place with S, but honestly, we have had a bit of a rough week.  We tried contacting our previous couple's counselor for support around communication in conflict, and some stuff came up about how S saw her over a year ago to deal with the anger that came up in his relationship at the time (which he shared with me and said was part of what made him work on it and realize how badly he had treated me those last couple months we were together).

That's not the issue, however.  The issue is that apparently he tapped into a really vulnerable place, then abruptly ended his work with her and didn't show up for his next appointment.  So, before she was willing to work with us again, she said she needed to see him individually a final time to have closure and talk about what happened to make him stop so suddenly.  Initially, we both thought that was a little weird - like she wanted to work out her own feelings on his dime.  But after talking to her a bit more, we both felt okay with it and an appointment was scheduled for yesterday.

Shortly after that, though, he had feelings come about something I said about a past lover.  When I said it, we were both sharing in a lighthearted way, and after my share, he told me something about one of his exes, as well.  So, it seemed like his jealousy pattern surfacing, which made me nervous.  We talked about it but it wasn't completely resolved, then we had a difficult phone conversation where I wanted him to be more present and he was frustrated that, in his view, I was trying to script the conversation.  He did have a point, but the way he spoke to me sucked.  Instead of just saying what he thought, he started trying to make a case how no one he had been with before had ever acted like this and asking me if anyone I had known had done this, etc.  Blech.  You don't need to try and make me feel messed up to make your point.  I already know I'm messed up!  lol  And so are you!

Anyway, I wish I/we could have had humor at that moment, but the call ended badly.  He's been distant and unavailable the last couple days, now he says he's clear and wants to reconnect and talk tonight.  But why should he get to call all the shots like that?  Is this setting a precedent for his behavior?  I am feeling the need more than ever for ground rules and accountability around communication, whatever that may look like.  We were generally communicating really well until this week, so I did joke that contacting our past counselor unleashed something evil and unholy.  Wish us luck.

In other news, through a lot of hard work and talking to several people in my business program, I made headway on defining the types of clients I want to work with through my career counseling business.  I'm refining my wording and maybe I'll share the finished product in my next post.  The idea is you want your ideal client to be crystal clear to people, so they can think of clients to refer you.

I'm still not sure when I'll be visiting Oregon, but I am missing them and especially my nieces and nephew.  My sister sent an email this morning giving an update about our cousin's husband who is having brain surgery today; his second one in five years.  She said he is having his entire frontal lobe removed.  I'm wondering how he will function?  I am sad and have been sending prayers all day for the best possible outcome.  Makes you realize how precious life is, and I think that is making me want to see my family more. 


Gaining Momentum

I am recovering from my three-day business marketing workshop intensive this weekend.  Whew!  All the information coming into my brain plus hugs and high fives and pairs activities, plus networking on breaks and lunch equals a LOT of energy drainage for an introvert.  I like the group and am excited to "get back on the train" as they say, and start connecting with possible clients again and being of service to men or women seeking a career transition to more meaningful work, aligned with their energy and personality.  My goal is to give 10 free career clarity consultations in the next month.  If you or someone you know might benefit from a 30-minute phone consultation looking at where you are now and where you want to be, and receiving key resources to help you get there, let me know.  No pressure or expectation to sign up for career counseling.

My event was about an hour and a half south, so Friday night, I stayed at S's house, which is much closer to the location.  That was nice.  It was my first time staying at his place.  I met his two roommates - an older woman and man, both single.  They were nice and the place is okay; better than I thought is would be from what S said.  The woman is a bit of a clutter collector but it's generally clean and his room and bathroom are nice enough.  Makes a huge difference for me to try and sleep in a Queen bed versus single with him.  At my house, one of us, me so far this time around, has always ended up on the couch.  But this weekend, he is bringing a queen-size bed he owns out of storage and transporting it to my house.  It has a wood frame, which sounds nice, and it should work much better.

On the family front, my adoption orientation is coming up on Tuesday, November 10th, and I look forward to getting the ball rolling again.  I imagine my next steps will be filling out more paperwork and connecting with a caseworker and setting up a meeting.  On a parallel track, I am talking to a friend of mine about tools to better manage my finances and save some money.  I might be able to get by with very little savings (other than retirement savings through my employer, which I pay into monthly) on my own, but not with a child.  I need to step it up and either earn more in the next few months or tighten my belt, or both. 

That's all for now... Wishing you a Happy Autumn!  


Moving Forward in Fits and Starts

Everything was moved in on Saturday, and now I have the daunting task of unpacking or storing all the boxes.  It's interesting to me that I survived the last several months without any of these items, which shows they are not vital to my life.  Useful in many cases, yes.  Aesthetically pleasing sometimes, yes, but not necessary.  I will admit after all the protests from my housemate about using "her stuff," it does feel good to move all "my stuff" into the dining room and kitchen.  I am back to having an abundance of cups and bowls, versus just the few I bought at the dollar store.

At the moment, housemate and I are getting along in a civil fashion.  Major drama erupted last Thursday, though, when I let her know late night that S might stay over and leave early in the morning for work.  He was wrapping up a conference and had been out with colleagues and I, admittedly after having a glass of wine, thought it would be nice to cuddle, especially since we have been talking about staying over but haven't crossed that line yet.  I texted her as a courtesy but realize now it was something we needed to talk about first.  I was thinking it would be unobtrusive and they wouldn't even see each other, but we do have a shared bathroom.

I think a reasonable response from her might have been saying that she felt it was something that needed to be discussed first and didn't want to be informed right before something was going to happen.  Then, asking me if I could change plans because she really wasn't comfortable with it.  Instead what happened is she turned into a toddler or teenage, I'm not sure which, and started cussing me out and yelling at me.  It was pretty crazy, and I felt really overwhelmed.  I knew if S came over, things would escalate further, so I got a hold of him and cancelled.  I made it very clear to her later that the name calling/cussing at me was unacceptable, and I did not want it to happen again.  I also apologized for not discussing it with her first.  We have since negotiated a couple things, including sharing the living room and S coming over perhaps one night a week on a night she is not there (she stays at her daughter's house two nights a week).  Feeling okay about it right now, but admit I questioned my choice to stay here after she blew up.

S has a couple of key appointments with doctors today, so please send good thoughts.  He hopes to start this round of treatment as soon as possible, so it - and I think the surgery, as well - will be done by Christmas break.  We have been talking about diet and supplements that will support his treatments and healing.  This article was interesting to me, in that it doesn't talk a lot about diet.  It says the most important factors are stress, exercise, staying away from mold, helping others, and levels of Vitamin D.  What do you think?  Apparently, this doc has studied these factors for over 30 years.  I did find a good cookbook along these lines, as well, and plan to use that.

We had a great time Saturday night after he helped me move in.  A friend of mine from the EOL leadership program I did - ironically right after we broke up - was having a 70th birthday party, replete with an Indian feast.  So, we had a drink ahead of time and caught up on our weeks, which was really nice, then headed over and had a lovely evening connecting with conscious, compassionate people and participating in sharing memories and recognizing my friend.  I usually get very nervous to give speeches, even informal ones in front of nice people, but I had some liquid courage at that point, and I think I did pretty well. :)

Tonight, we are going to the Gi@nts game with one of S's work friends and his girlfriend.  S said she's a little odd, so we'll see how things go.  It would be nice to have "couple" friends to do things with.  We've never had that before, other than with our siblings.


House! Relationship! Family!

Sitting in Starbuck's passing time while my new house is cleaned.  That's right, my new house!  My stuff was delivered a couple of days ago.  S and I moved some boxes and bedroom furniture in yesterday and will move the rest in next weekend, likely with an hour of help from T@sk Rabbit or another type service. 

My housemate has softened a bit, so that we are not exactly friendly but respectful and civil.  It's a step in the right direction, anyway.  Of course, I am counting on her moving out in a few months to a year, as she said she planned to.  We will see how that unfolds... she is financially struggling and, as I well know, it is difficult to make a move from that position.  Hopefully, things will pick up for her with her business and re-starting a part-time therapy practice.

Once I get my stuff settled in, I plan to contact social service folks in my new county and take the next step with paperwork and meeting with an adoption caseworker.

S and I have been continuing to communicate daily and see each other once a week.  I think I mentioned he is going through a health challenge right now.  He has the type of illness that many men his age have to worry about.  He caught it relatively early but will need to go through a round of treatment for the next several weeks, then surgery, then another round of treatment.  The doctors prognosis is that, if he completes all that, he should have a full recovery.  I am praying this is so.  When I first heard the extent of necessary medical intervention, I felt scared and had a moment of asking, "Am I up for this?"  After all, S and I are newly reconnecting and still talking through issues and concerns.  But things continue to be encouraging and grow closer between us.  I love him and want to be of support. 

One of the issues we started talking more in-depth about this last weekend is family and parenting.  As I have mentioned, S has a lovely adult daughter and step-son and does not feel the longing I do.  Plus, he is almost a decade older than me and worries whether it is responsible for him to become a father at this age.  He has also not wrapped his head around the various aspects and potential challenges of adoption to the level I have at this point.  But I have a sense he will "come around" should we stay together long-term.  In the meanwhile, I know he will be supportive of me in my present adoption efforts.

A parallel concern is whether his fertility will be affected by treatments because, although this path is not something we are pursuing or are ready to pursue, if a door is closing, I would like to know that and discuss it together.  Of course, his health is paramount and takes priority over anything regarding fertility.

So I guess we are in a complicated and multi-layered relationship right now!  I am feeling pretty hopeful and upbeat today, though, for what that is worth. :)