9/19/2016

Not ready to greet this Monday morning

Feeling super crabby today and NOT ready to start the week. :( My housemate had a date at our house last night and I went to a movie and out to eat to give her space. Then, when I came back I discovered the date had gone very well and he was staying over. This is totally fine in theory but it's just disruptive because we have a Jack 'n Jill bathroom setup and it's just weird trying to get ready for bed and get up and use the bathroom in the night and being so close to them, hearing music, etc. Needless to say, I do not feel rested this morning.

Then, I am also dreading the marketing weekend I'm assisting at next weekend Fri/Sat/Sun. I'm wondering if it's worth it. Every time I've done it, I feel totally drained, uncentered and exhausted by the end of the weekend and into the next week. I have paid off my program so the only reason to be assisting again is to get a shot of inspiration and to gain $300 to put towards the next program. I do want to do the next program... but it's not my priority right now and I don't see doing it until next year. I'm so tempted to cancel. I know they have plenty of assistants. I don't feel I can spare the time or the energy and there are some things I want to do towards my business that I could do instead. What do you think?

9/10/2016

Pursuits in Parallel

First, a few brief work updates... Still no word from Oregon! I emailed the HR person and heard back that the committee is "still at the interview stage" and "there hasn't been a job offer yet." I imagine they have moved forward with a second interview round but are not closing the door until they get a definite "yes" from one of these candidates. I keep procrastinating finishing the Napa college application for some reason. It's so arduous and repetitive. The deadline is the 20th, so I still have time.

And my potential client decided to go with someone else who specialized in "mid-life career change," which is ironic because all my clients but one younger woman are in a mid-life career change. Apparently, I didn't emphasize that well enough in my consultation. He said he really liked me and ended up speaking with 7 potential career counselors. I suppose I should feel good that I came in second, but there is no reward for second place! :( I do have three consultations in the next week or two from my meetup group. I would love to work with two of them and think we would be a great fit.

My most exciting news is that I finally attended an orientation with the organization in charge of foster care placements and adoptions in my county. As you might remember, I completed a several-week training at the beginning of last year when I lived in Oakland. Once I moved to another county last summer, I began research the process in this area. I attended a social services orientation at the end of last year, found out about this organization, and have been wanting to attend a monthly orientation ever since. The challenges were that there are two alternating locations, only one fairly close to me, the coordinator was disorganized and not a good communicator, and the dates changed at one point, as well.

I finally made it three nights ago. The gals leading it were very young; one was fresh out of college. They pulled the rookie move of not having any food or refreshments for a meeting that was at dinnertime. Boo. The presentation was pretty crappy, as well, and I've been to a few of these. They basically just read the wordy slides, not offering any personal anecdotes or opinions along the way, plus their language was harsh and discouraging. To cut them a bit of slack, the rules and policies have "just" changed in California and everyone is adjusting and learning, including developing new materials and presentations for interested foster/adopt families.

The main policy change is basically that *everyone* is now considered a "concurrent" family, meaning they are not differentiating between families interested in fostering children and families interested in adopting. After the strident, authoritative language in the presentation that seemed to say, "Get with the program; you are not allowed feelings or preferences!" I was a little stunned, and I could tell others in the room were, as well. I broke the ice and said, "Well, I am interested in adopting - I've never been a mom before and I want my own child. I'm willing to take some level of risk and support the process, but where does that leave me?"

The facilitator was fairly positive in her response and said that in that case, the social worker would likely refer kids to me who were farther along in the process. I absolutely am ready to work with the system and put the kid's needs above my own (including doing what I can to maintain relationships with bio-family members, when possible and positive for the child), but at the same time, while I admire so much people that have a heart to foster kids and work closely with the agency and the bio parents towards reunification, I am not in that place and need to be honest about it for the good everyone, including the kids. After my share, a couple other people in the room share something similar, indicating they really hoped to adopt, and it felt good to know I was not alone. I was also excited to hear that this agency has connections with kids statewide, not just in my county.

We filled out interest forms, and the next step is to meet for an individual consultation with the social workers. They already contacted me and we are working to get something on the calendar. I wish that my career/job piece could be in place first, but I will go ahead and meet regardless to get clear on what is required and what I need to be working towards. I am still most excited about CA Conceptions, but I don't think it can hurt to pursue these two paths in parallel, at this time.

9/03/2016

Still in limbo but turning a corner...

I heard back yesterday from the memorial trust and it's a big, "NO." :-(  I could not have felt any better about the interview, but I guess either someone else had more experience or there was an insider candidate. Moving on... I plan to finish my Napa college application this weekend. The application has tons of "extra" questions, which is so annoying. Sorry for the kvetching, but I get so tired of answering the same darn questions over and over and over. At least I can cut and paste some of my previous answers, but these guys went the extra mile and doubled the number of questions asked. boo.

I haven't heard back from Oregon, but since they said they were moving forward quickly, I don't think that is a good sign. I just sent an inquiry and imagine I'll hear back by Tuesday, if not sooner. That interview kind of sucked, so I'm not holding my breath. Moving to Oregon right now would be a HUGE deal, obviously, so I feel mixed emotions about not getting this one, one emotion being content with it. Maybe down the road.

I had a client consultation last week and will likely know if they're a new client on Tuesday. Fingers crossed!! He was shopping Career Counselors though, and said he would be talking to two or three other folks, as well. He did say he liked me, and he's an Introvert so my expertise fits him. I am also leading a meetup group on the 6th and hope to get a few more consultations from that. My budget definitely needs an influx of income, so I appreciate any good thoughts.

Still feeling kind of in limbo. Continuing to enjoy my "for now" part-time resource job with the brain injury support organization. I don't enjoy the paperwork part of it, but the people are so friendly and kind and I feel useful. It's quite refreshing following my last college job where I felt I didn't really belong. The long, stressful commute there and back I will not miss when I leave, which I still hope will be sooner rather than later.

I got motivated last night to find one or two local fun and enriching activities, where I could grow and learn, as well as potentially meet interesting people (especially ones I might want to date). I found a Unity church in the city 15-20 minutes from me that offers a lot of classes, which break the ice in getting to know people as an Introvert. I'm thinking about a Monday night spiritual principles class. I also put out a couple of feelers on local dance classes but haven't found the right fit yet. There are regular dances around here, but again, I need the structure of a class to engage and meet people, at least at first. My favorite is swing dance, so I'm hoping to find a good choice in that arena. Internet dating is so limited, and I'm not connecting with people I really resonate with that way. Plus, I'm feeling the urge for some personal growth.

I still hope to find a regular networking group to meet referral partners for my business, since the one I was attending in the Spring crashed and burned when we didn't get enough members to officially launch the group. We will see. I need to up my current income before I could invest in something else, though.

I'm starting to feel the turn into fall, and I'm ready for it. I guess it's bringing energy to expand and explore new things. Beginning to look forward to Halloween - my second favorite holiday - as well.

8/25/2016

Impatiently Waiting

Argh, this week is going sooo slowly. I am still waiting to hear back on both interviews, OSU and the Memorial Trust. My outreach calls did not lead to new clients as of yet, and my next Meetup group (which usually results in booking several consultations) is September 6th.

I have two client appointments later this afternoon, so that will be engaging and help the time go by. I "should" apply for an open counseling job in Napa, but it feels like the location is a long way away. I just looked up drive time, and it is only 32 minutes; 7 minutes more than when I worked at my other college. Okay, that is really not so bad, I will apply for this position by the weekend. I believe the Napa position starts shortly after hire - the application deadline is September 20th - but the DVC (college close to me) posting says it starts Spring semester 2017, which is definitely not ideal.

Part of my impatience is wanting to move forward with CA Conceptions. I mentioned the CC FB page, which is so encouraging, but it is also lighting a fire under me hearing all the pregnancy announcements and wanting to be one of them. I am trying to trust God, trust "right timing," but it is hard right now, as I am ready to be taking the next steps. Thinking of having a transfer before my December birthday, though, is still super exciting.

The other source of my impatience is definitely finances. I am scraping by on this much lower non-profit income. I still love the staff and feel good going in to work and helping brain-injured folks connect with programs and resources, but getting my paychecks is super disheartening. Please send good thoughts for me signing new clients who would benefit from my career transition support.

Tick. tock. tick. tock.  Argh!

8/20/2016

Weekend Updates

Thank you so much to those of you who weighed in on the job opportunity analysis in my last post. It was really helpful! Most of you leaned towards the job with the healthcare trust because it's local, pays well, and offers the opportunity to work remotely. Those of you that favored the university job in Oregon mentioned the positives of living near family and having summers off.

After interviewing for both positions, I have an update on the details of each job, as well as my feelings towards them now...

First of all, the Oregon job interview did not go very well. It was a panel interview on a conference call, which I have never experienced and I can now report is super. awkward. I could not see anyone and received very little feedback on my responses, even non-verbal. They were not a warm and friendly crowd. The main interviewer was kind of formal and unhelpful in communicating the expectations and framework of the interview. In "normal" interviews, it is not uncommon to ask to add something at the end that did not come up in the interview, but when I did this, instead of clearly saying, "I'm sorry, we have to stop now due to time," or something like that, she kind of withdrew and begrudgingly said to go ahead, which totally threw me off.

Also, during the interview, I asked about collaborating between the career and advising departments and an idea I had for that, and got a very strange, stilted response about referring students to career counseling, which did not really answer the question. This also threw me off a little, as I had been told by my friend who works there that this is a great idea and they are really looking for innovation. I realized later that I likely stepped into some political sensitivities, because there was a representative from the career services department in the interview, along with the advising representative, who was leading the interview. This whole separation is foreign and non-intuitive to me, as here in California, we simply have college Counselors that do both academic and career counseling, versus dividing out these functions. What is weird is that it seems that advising helps students choose a major/career, my favorite part of the job. I am still a little confused, and not optimistic they will call me back, even though I feel I did very well on the first half to three-fourths of the interview. Oh, and I did re-read the job description and discover it's a 12-month assignment, so no summers off.

In contrast, I felt like I totally rocked the interview with the healthcare trust for a career counseling position. The whole interview felt as comfortable as an interview can feel, even though this one was also over the phone (only one interviewer though). She and I had a lot in common and seemed to totally click. We had moments of understanding and laughter, having both worked for community colleges and for workforce programs. And the core of why we like career counseling seemed to be similar. I am knocking on wood, but I feel I will likely be moved on to the next stage of interviewing, which will indeed be with a panel/committee. Ugh. In any case, she said I should hear back by next week on the details of this. One potential negative I discovered during the interview is that my position is located in Oakland, which is the one location that has a physical office where other Trust staff work. So, I likely would be working from that office part of the time versus fully remotely, although she indicated I would also work from home to some extent, as well as travel out to various healthcare center locations.

I do still feel positive about the Oregon location - central Oregon, which has waaay better weather than where I grew up - and living near family. My brother said he thought we would likely see each other every few weeks and our families could be more in each other's lives. But traveling for CA Conceptions treatments would be costly and less convenient, and I am really appreciating my friendly, healthy housemate situation, especially in comparison to the stress of my last housemate. In addition, she loves Zoey and plays with her regularly. Yay! She generously offers to let her out when she's home and I'm not, and hangs out with her outside or in her room, truly enjoying Zoey's company. I really feel like she adds to the joy in Z's life, which in turn makes me so happy.

Maybe Oregon does make more sense later, if I do decide to go that route... what do you guys think, hearing how things went?

So now I am playing the waiting game and working on getting new clients to make my budget this month. I plan on making outreach phone calls, which I don't enjoy but which sometimes brings referrals. There is an Art in the P@rk festival nearby that I also may check out today. My housemate and I are going to go in on a big nature photo hanging for the living room. Hope you have a great weekend!

8/13/2016

Figuring stuff out...Please share feedback!

This post is going to be a "figure my shit out" post because I feel a little all over the map career-wise right now. I would appreciate feedback or words of wisdom from your own experience. It seems I'm in that situation where, even though I am excellent at coaching others and helping them make career decisions, I'm struggling to coach myself. Like the painter whose own house paint is cracked and peeling. ha

The context is that my career counseling business is in a "valley" within the journey of peaks and valleys that is self-employment as a counselor/coach, at least until you build enough passive income sources online. My college counseling unemployment ended, and I replaced it for the most part with a part-time, 15 hour a week (3-day), Resource Specialist job with a local brain injury support organization. Unfortunately I spend 2.5 hours per day, 7.5 hours per week commuting, so it ends up being at least 22-24 hours per week. Still okay, though the commute is stressful, but it limits my client and business building time. I still have 10 clients, three fairly new, though several are vacationing right now.

As I may have mentioned before, my clients often pay for a complete career counseling package up front, which is great in that moment! But not so great over the long term when I'm working with them but not receiving regular payments. To rely only on my business through one-on-one counseling work, I would need to bring in at least three or four new clients a month, and regardless, I need to bring in 1-2 new clients a month right now to supplement my other income. It doesn't sound like much, but that translates to doing a certain level of outreach and conducting at least 2-3 free career consultations per week. I haven't been marketing/networking as I should, though I did send out my third information-packed newsletter last week.

I also have drifted in my connection with my business marketing program. I'm officially finished with the weekend intensives that come with the program I signed up for. I want to enroll in the next-level program, but I didn't feel ready to do that a few months ago when my other program ended. I'm scheduled to assist at another introductory summit weekend in September, which will bring in several hundred dollars and another lower-rate opportunity to sign up. I have realized that being part of this program and actively developing myself and my business within a group of other committed, like-minded folks - many of whom were inspiring in that they were several steps ahead of me - really did push me and generate momentum in my business. As I think this through, I believe my next step will be assisting in the program I completed myself, Mastery, in Oct/Nov of this year and/or Feb/March of next and then moving forward with more money socked away towards the payments and hopefully receiving a higher income at that time.

Regarding the higher income piece, which is core to the desire to "figure my shit out," I have been applying for both full and part-time counseling positions with colleges and within other contexts. These positions generally pay more than twice what I make hourly at my current part-time position (my independent career counseling work pays four times as much per hour but as mentioned is difficult for me to predict and manage right now). I have two interviews next week, one as a career counselor with a memorial trust organization working with the region's largest health care system, and the other as an Advisor (career and academic counselor) at a state university in Bend, Oregon. The thing is, I'm not sure I want either of these jobs. As I have mentioned, I have thought that my ideal would be to find a part-time college counseling position close to where I live, which allows me to continue to put a lot of time into my business.

BUT And this is a big BUT, as you know, I am super excited to move forward with the CA Conceptions program and become a mom in the next year. To take the next step and begin receiving donor profiles, I need to take out a loan for the required up-front payment, and I believe I will have a higher chance of receiving this loan if I am making a consistent, higher salary. Not to mention, preparing for and supporting a baby down the road requires a good salary, as well.

Please bear with me as I analyze these two opportunities. It would really help if you share your opinions on these!

Pros and cons of the memorial trust position... Pros: located in Oakland which is where I see many of my clients and where I have friends; pays quite well - a little higher than a full-time college counseling position; seems to allow working remotely or virtual commuting; and uses many of my strengths while allowing me to develop skills I want for my business such as hosting webinars. Cons: full-time; requires some marketing and detail-oriented program management which doesn't fit me as well; limits my client contact to folks working within this health care system, though the system is large and requires many types of positions, not just medical practitioners.

Pros and cons of the Oregon state university position... Pros: located in Oregon, near family and in the same city where my family now has a vacation house and travels regularly (could be a big plus when I have a child); great weather and recreation in Bend; located near friends from my hometown who I recently loved reconnecting with at my reunion, including two living in the same city and one who works at the same university; and I am excited about the opportunity to work at a four-year university and see how that differs from community colleges. Cons: would require me to break my lease and move after having found a great roommate; pays significantly less than university advising/counseling jobs in N. California (10-15K less), though the cost of living is considerably less, too; full-time and would require me to put my business on hold for a while, though I believe I could rebuild it there; I would need to travel for CA Conceptions procedures; and relocating is stressful. One point worth mentioning is that "full-time" usually means 32-35 hours in a college/university setting and you often get part or all of summer off.

It's not as though I have been offered these positions yet, but I would like to go into the interviews with clarity about whether and how much I want the job. Another iron in the fire is having a full-time application in at the college near where I live, which I should hear back on in September. I guess I want to focus more on what I want and need in a job right now, and these parameters feel like they necessarily now include financially supporting my dream to become a mom in the near future. Please share your thoughts and experiences...What would you do career-wise, or how would you be thinking, if you were me?

7/31/2016

Research and Reflections on Donor Conception

The topic I want to talk about today is coming out of my journey forward to become a mom through C@lifornia Conceptions (CC) and donor embryos... it's the question of, "How important is knowing our genetic history and connecting with others who share this history?"

I'm reading the book, "Finding Our Families," right now, which focuses more on children conceived with donor sperm and having one biological parent, but relates in many ways to all children conceived with donor gametes on male or female side or both. I wanted to read it because I wanted to reflect and find more information about using donor embryos and the experiences of the families and children in these situations. I also watched MTV's, "Generation Cryo."

The insights I've gained include:
  1. When you tell the child seems to make a huge difference. The earlier the better seems to be the general consensus, but sharing information in a developmentally appropriate way is key. I have heard many shares and conversations about this on SMC blogs and discussion pages, and I know there is a lot of learned wisdom and books to help with this.
  2. Different children will respond in different ways and some may want to talk about and be very interested in hearing as much information as possible, while others may not be that interested, at least not at first. The advice I've read is to follow the child's lead and try not to take any reactions personally.
  3. Related to not taking reactions personally, the FOF book specifically recommends working out our own feelings, issues, and questions because the kid will read these and may be limited by us in expressing their feelings or authentically expressing or receiving what they want in this area. This includes grieving for dreams that we weren't able to fulfill, like having a biological child.
  4. Finally, there are many people who have gone before me/us and paved the way to successfully search for donors and donor siblings and to build relationships with them, if we choose. I know some of you have connected and met with sibling groups and I appreciate even more, now, what you shared about these experiences.

My personal reflection includes focusing on my own experience of losing my mom at the age of four and feeling myself as though I were lacking pieces of my identity growing up. How I felt relieved in my 20's to get a box of her stuff, including several photo albums and possessions of hers, and experienced additional growth in my sense of identity and satisfaction in my 30's when I connected with her best friend growing up and in early adulthood and heard a lot of new stories and insights about my birth mom, as well as feedback about how alike or not alike she thought we were. I also met several other close friends of hers later at a reunion, which was wonderful.

I know that the way my father dealt (or more accurately didn't deal) with my birth mom's death affected me a LOT and affected my grieving process and my own identity. He made it seem shameful and like something that should not be talked about. I got the message that I'm lucky he remarried and I have a mom who is just like my mom because I was so young when they married (not true). I felt different within my family and felt a different relationship with my mom (step-mom) than my sister and brother but, because this was never acknowledged, I had to make sense of it in childlike ways that were not accurate, and I felt worse about myself because of it. This did not have to be the case if they would have talked about it more openly and made space for me to ask questions and talk about my feelings. I felt very emotionally isolated in my family. All this motivates me to do things much differently when I have a child. I know my situation was different in that I was five when my dad and mom (step-mom) married and my sister and brother were both from their marriage, but there are many similarities.

I am having thoughts that I really wish my child could know one biological parent. I feel sad that they can't even have a genetic connection with my family and know biologically related cousins and aunts and uncles, etc., though I know they will still have them and feel part of the family. I have no doubt I will love them as much as I would a biological child, and I'm excited about the opportunity to carry them and connect with them and contribute to their formation all throughout pregnancy. I have the skills and tools and commitment to communicate well with them about their origins, but I wish I could give them more.

At this point, I have a sense that I might become an advocate for donor-conceived children in some way (maybe all parents of donor-conceived children are) and help them to find any information they want to find, including pursuing finding their donors. I know this may be a controversial view. But the more I think about it, the more I feel that if someone donates eggs or sperm to create a child, whether they were capable of considering it at the time, they should come to understand the child's longing to know more about their genetic origins. Of course, if we found the donor(s) and they did not want to get to know the child, I would respect that, but I would hope they would answer questions over email or mail, including any health or medical information not initially provided or known.

The existence of the Donor Sibling Registry gives me great joy! I'm so grateful to these people for founding an developing it and will no doubt be part of it. The other great discovery I've made is that CC families have an online group and a secret FB group, and the women on there are so totally awesome and supportive. We can connect with one another using file numbers and can find out further male donor information because CC gives the first name of the donor and the bank. So, I know I can connect with donor siblings, both half and hopefully full, through these means.

All this reflection also led me to further research about using a donor egg and my brother's sperm. I know, that just sounds totally bizarre and brings up feelings around incestuous taboos, but it is actually genetically no different then using your sister's egg and donor sperm which many folks have done, and the places I contacted said that yes, this is definitely an option. Unfortunately, the price is nowhere near as affordable as CC at over 30 thousand. So even if I wanted to make that choice, I cannot afford it, which I feel disappointment about. I do feel good about considering this and researching all options so that when I explain my process to my child, I can say I did think about their feelings and explore all options I knew of.

I would love to hear any of your stories, reflections, or advice, if you're willing to share? Please let me know in comments if you would like to communicate over email. Thanks for reading and going through this experience with me. Overall, I'm really excited and grateful about the CC choice!