It Means the World

I am noticing something interesting with regard to my non-profit brain-injury recovery organization job.

While I do NOT enjoy the long commute, including a toll payment, it means the world to me to be welcomed and treated with kindness, sensitivity, and respect each day that I'm there. It makes me realize how other jobs really lacked these things and how there was always some stress and disconnection while I was there because of it. I experience stress at the non-profit, but it's the good, normal kind of stress where you're working hard to accomplish your assigned tasks; tasks you know are helping people receive the services and support they need. And people are always ready to help.

Also, I actually receive *appreciation* for the work I do. Imagine that! Three specific ways I have received appreciation: first, my supervisor is totally awesome, funny, and sweet and she says, "Thank you very much" all the time. Part of this I think is her Japanese culture, and sometimes we joke around and she says it in ironic ways. :) But often it's sincere verbalization of thank you, which feels good.

Secondly, as staff at a non-profit that provides much needed services, our Executive Director and the Board regularly appreciate and recognize us. On birthdays, the tradition is to buy a cake and recognize staff by singing happy birthday. When our Office Manager got engaged, the ED bought her flowers. When a staff member recently left, we were all taken out for wine and hors d'oevres, and we have an upcoming staff retreat and appreciation day, which I'm looking forward to - not everyone loves interactive games and activities but I do! :) - and we will go out for dinner afterwards.

Thirdly, yesterday my boss said she wanted to share appreciation with me. She said that this is the first class cycle for the ITCP (Individualized Thereapeutic Computer Program) that has been full with a waitlist. She said she was talking with the ED about how she thinks it's related to how I connect and communicate with our new clients. She also took steps to respond to my concerns about not having enough time to do intake appointments, including changing a key process with how we do intakes, and saying that I could start to work a few hours from home soon (!).

Is it strange that part of me wants to stay there, despite the commute and making half as much money as I do at a college? The larger part will take the short commute and more money for what I know are good reasons (plus I don't love all the forms and tracking requirements), but when I leave, I will be losing some really great connections and the best work culture I have ever had.


Clear Sign!

I asked, and I received! Two new clients said "yes" to working with me yesterday. My part-time job did not officially give me more weekly hours, but they added a project to my job description and said they would pay for the hours I spend on this project, so that will be a little additional revenue, as well.

Considering these developments, I feel I am receiving affirmation to move forward right now on the adoption front. Yay! I filled out the initial paperwork and just need to have my housemate witness a signature, then I can send it all in, along with a check for a Livesc@n background check. Then I get the background check and schedule the more in-depth caseworker interview.

Part of the paperwork was indicating what I was open to in terms of a placement. I've already talked about the age situation, so I checked "under 3." There were two areas that I feel a little uncertain about, however... I wonder if I should be more open about ethnicity and also special needs.

Regarding ethnicity, it's interesting how unexpected thoughts and feelings come up. As I was filling out the form, I thought for the first time about sharing *some* heritage with my child. Since we are not sharing biology - added to the fact that I am really into ancestry and have spent time researching, reflecting, and envisioning trips based on my ancestry - I had a thought that it would be really wonderful to share some ancestry. I am a total *mutt* with Welsh, English, German, Dutch, Swedish, Irish, and French ancestry, so that wouldn't be too hard, but would include some European heritage. So I checked Caucasion and "Other" meaning mixed race, but I wonder if that's too limiting. I have also thought about the child and their feelings in terms of seeing themselves reflected in our family. I think I would work hard to make sure they have knowledge of and a connection with their heritage, but is that enough?

Regarding special needs, as a single mom and knowing myself, I don't think I am able to handle a serious disability. Considering my mental health background, I think I have tools and knowledge to love and support a kid who (sadly) has some abuse and neglect in their history.

The one I feel a little uncertain about is alcohol and drugs. I know many of the kids (most?) in the foster care system have parents who abused or were addicted to alcohol or drugs. My fear is that they might have the pain and challenges in their life that my cousin, who was adopted, has had. His mother drank throughout her pregnancies, and he has suffered the consequences. His lack of ability to regulate behavior and see the effects of his actions has led him to have three kids with three different mothers, struggle with addiction himself, and end up incarcerated. So you can see why I might be a bit fearful.

I think that the caseworkers will help me explore these concerns and come to a decision I feel good about. At least I hope so. Today, I am feeling excitement and momentum on this path, and I am grateful!

Lastly, as much for my own clarity as my desire to share it with you (i.e. feel free to skip :), I want to lay out what unknowns are still out there that may have an impact on my journey to become a mom:

  1. Job applications still out there, with recently passed application deadlines. These include Napa Vall. College and Diablo Vall. College, the latter being my top choice due to a 10 minute commute. Please send good thoughts that I will get an interview and be hired, even if the job doesn't start until the end of the year. I'm secretly hoping that one of these - though advertised as full-time - might somehow convert to part-time. But I'm torn because the security would also be good and college jobs usually only require 32-35 hours per week, which I could fit into four days. Oh, I did hear back a "No" from Oregon, which was not a surprise. Most. awkward. interview. ever.
  2. Small Windfall. I haven't mentioned this but based on my time working in Seattle many years ago, I signed on to a lawsuit that was already won, based on employers not providing benefits they should have. The letter said I would receive *at least* close to 2K, which would help financially as these pieces fall into place. The deadline to submit a claim is just passing, so I hope to hear something soon.
  3. Getting a better-paying job would be the green light to move forward on CA Conceptions, which is still my first choice, though I'm feeling excited about adoption. I could apply for credit right now, but after my conversation with my bank, I'm not at all confident I would get even close to what I need. Salary plays a huge role, and my consistent self-employment salary has not been documented long enough to show on a tax form, which is what the bank uses for self-employment.
Okay, I think that's enough reflection and analysis for today! I would love to hear your thoughts... I'm going to do some business work, then later hopefully watch Oregon play the Huskies. Hope you're enjoying your weekend!



I took another step forward today on the adoption front. I met with the social worker at the local agency who will be interviewing me, reviewing my paperwork, doing the home study, etc. She was one of the two young women I mentioned in a previous post about the orientation. She made a much better impression one-on-one and was very nice, friendly, and supportive.

Surprisingly, this agency seems to be a little less strict in some of their requirements than the County or than what I've heard in the two previous trainings I completed. The most significant example is that she said that the dedicated room for the child does NOT have to have a built-in closet, which is great because my house has two rooms that could potentially serve as bedrooms, if I bought a screen for one doorway that opens into the entryway. So theoretically I could adopt a child of any age, though at this point I am specifying under three. If I couldn't use one of these rooms, either my housemate would need to move - which is not feasible financially at this time - or I would need to specify under two, and realistically 1.5 years or under to give time to change the living situation before they turn two.

She was really positive about the fact that I have a fairly flexible schedule at this point, aside from the 20 hours or so I work at the non-profit. I committed to renting my office in Oakland Tuesdays 3-7pm to see clients, but outside of that, I have considerable flexibility. I have been seeing a couple of clients in Concord on Thursdays but that is currently an hourly rental situation, which I could move around. Of course, this will change if I get one of the college jobs I applied for, but that job may not start until the end of the year.

The next steps are filling out and returning some paperwork, getting Livescan fingerprinting done, and attending three training modules: one on a Saturday (10-4pm), one on a Monday (6-8pm), and one on a Wednesday (6-8pm). These are all offered one time per month and can be completed in any order. I am thinking that the sign for me to move forward right away with all this will be getting a new client in the next week or so or hearing that my hours are increasing at the non-profit by this Friday, which my supervisor has said is possible because we are so busy. If neither of these things happen, I'll hope to move forward next month.

My mind is of course still thinking about CA Conceptions, as well. I know I can't move forward with both adoption and CC at the same time, once I started actually trying to conceive. But if pieces were to fall into place for CC, i.e. accepting a counseling job or receiving a windfall (hey, I can always hope! :), then I would turn my complete focus to them. It is still my preference to be pregnant and become a mother from birth on, but I am definitely open to both pathways at this point.

I have always loved the month of October - the turn of seasons, fall colors, Halloween - maybe it's my lucky month! 


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?


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.


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.


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!