Super Chill

I'm purposely, consciously have a super chill weekend after an extremely stressful week that culminated in my crying yesterday at work when my boss didn't give me the extra hours I'd expected (I cried on my own after she'd left). The first part of the week was stressful preparing for my interview on Thursday, as well as going in to work early and rushing to get to my last adoption training on Wednesday evening - only to have it be like 45 minutes long (they said it would be 2 hours).

So, about the interview... I thought it went really well. I felt a great connection with the interview panel, my teaching demonstration went well, and I felt overall I answered the interview questions thoroughly and they seemed "with" me throughout. I did wish I'd thought more about the student learning objectives and how my teaching presentation related to those. I also wonder if they saw my career counseling business as a positive or a negative... I think I presented it as a positive, giving me more skills and workforce experience to share with students, and saying I'd likely continue working just a few hours a week with clients. But who knows what they thought. In any case, drumrollllll, I did not get the position. Yep, they emailed me back yesterday the same stupid, generic email saying they appreciated me and wished me well and apply again, etc. Blech. I put so. much. work. into preparing and I don't think I could have done much better. So what does that say? Am I just not competitive in this market? Is God telling me something? or are these things just usually rigged, with the winners decided before the games even begin...

I've reflected some on this, and there are two thoughts that emerged:
  1. I always ask my clients what level of interest they have for a particular career, on a scale of 1 to 10, and I make the case that their interest level should be at an 8 or above to sustain a career in the long run and not burn out or lose interest over time. When I asked myself what was my level of interest for this full-time counseling gig involving teaching college classes again, my interest level was a 6.5 to 7. I don't want to work full-time at any job really, as it means basically letting go of my business in large part, at least for now. Also, teaching college success classes is not consistently awesome. Some of the topics are fun and interesting and others are real snoozers, like how to take notes, and think critically, etc. And community college students are not my fave demographic. My favorite college class had a good amount of adult learners returning to school who were super engaged and mature in their communication - and they brought lots of interesting life experience.
  2. Maybe I am being guided to step up to my business and take it to the next level. I've come this far. I have had 7-10 clients consistently since early this year. I keep getting consultations and I keep getting new clients, albeit somewhat in fits and starts. I feel like I've learned so much in the last year and really developed professionally in terms of how I communicate with clients and how I present my tools and resources - I've created several new tools, actually, based on my learning. I have done some brainstorming and writing about how my career counseling (for the Introvert/Professional niche stuck in jobs that don't fit them) might be packaged into Group Program content for delivery in a live event and/or by video. I'd love to take the plunge and sign up for the next programs in the high-level marketing program I did last year, called Speaking and Leverage, which are all about delivering Group Programs. Also, I know I could raise my income if I had an assistant (virtual assistant likely) to help me focus and track payments, posts on social media, newsletters, event marketing, etc. In a way, I was looking at this job I interviewed for as my savior, hoping it would rescue me, but maybe I need to be on the hot seat and stay in the game to get over the hump and make my business sustainable.

And maybe I just don't have what it takes to be competitive when applying for full-time college counseling jobs in the super competitive Bay Area market. I still would love to have a part-time counseling position not too far from home. That opportunity I would give an 8 out of 10. My career counseling business by the way is an 8.5 to 9. It does depend in part on the client - some clients I love and some are challenging, but I don't know if I'd take away all the challenges right now because it is helping me grow. Anyway, that's all I have on that topic right now...

I'll end on a high note: I finished my adoption training last week! It was rainy on Monday, which caused our outdoor trivia night to be cancelled, so I decided to go. Monday's training was on diversity and culture in adoption, basically the responsibility you take on if you adopt a child of a different ethnicity and/or culture. They showed a film with some adoptees talking as teens/20's, then talking again 10 years laters. It was good information; not a lot of new stuff but "getting it" at a deeper level. Identity is such a huge and important factor. My deepest and most moving learning was something one of the adoptees said about their parents and family and how it wasn't like they were helping her to deal with racism, but that they were a "multi-cultural family" going through life together with all that that means. Something like that. Very powerful. I still, for a variety of reasons, am thinking I would like to adopt a Caucasion, Caucasion/Asian, or Caucasion/Latino child, but the latter two would definitely require me to step up and be fully "with" them as they go through life as a person of color. The third training was a total dud, as mentioned above, basically legalese about accessing services as a foster parent. The material was not made accessible to us as trainees! lol

Now, I'm waiting to hear from them about setting up the first long interview leading into creating a profile and completing the home study. I would have felt more confident about the income piece if I landed the full-time counseling job, but we will see what they say. I'll take it a step at a time. My boss at the non-profit did say we are working towards increasing my hours but she wants to have a better sense of how many hours I need to complete my duties, especially since we've changed the intake process somewhat and they have added follow-up calls to my duties. Some exciting news: starting in November, I get to work some hours from home! We have two holidays in November, so those days can be from home (since I'm not paid for holidays) and I think she said the other two Fridays, as well, but I have to double check. Only driving that long commute two days a week will make a big difference!

That's all for now! Heading back into my super chill weekend. Plans to do some business work off and on, maybe work out later, but other than that, watch movies, take walks, surf the web, do laundry, etc. Snuggle up at home. Hope you have a good, relaxing weekend, too, especially if that's what you need.


Halloween Fun and an Eventful Week

  We carved pumpkins tonight, my housemate and I, while watching the new Ghostbusters movie. It was fun! I love that the movie had all female leads in an action movie and their secretary was a hot guy. My pumpkin is the goofy one and hers is the scary one. Isn't the little pumpkin in it's eye cool? I hadn't seen a pattern like that before. Yesterday evening, we had drinks on the front patio of the local Mexican restaurant and watched the Zombie Crawl. There were some creative, crazy, and disgusting costumes. Some people went all out with the special effects, including open wound make up and creepy eye contacts. One zombie tried to eat my head. lol

During the day yesterday, I went to my first of three adoption training sessions with this new agency. It's a bit crazy that this is the third full training I've been too, but yesterday had some new information on trauma that was presented in a way that I can see using in the future. It was a way of re-framing and responding to behavior. I liked the idea of re-wiring the attachment cycle so that gradually the child feels safe. I highly recommend the movie, "Removed," and the second movie, "Remember Me." I think that's what it's called. Really well done.

I have two more training sessions. I'll either do one tomorrow night or in early November (I may have a another commitment I have to attend tomorrow) and the third one on Wednesday. I received and completed the Livesc@n paperwork and just need to go get fingerprinted, hopefully later this week. After that, I have the longer interview with the social workers, and I think they do an initial check of the house at the same time and give me corrections to make.

Another big event on the agenda this week: an interview at DVC, the college near me. I landed an interview, yay! Now, I need to finish pulling together my 10 minute presentation - I'm going technical this time with a PowerPoint - and review school information and interview responses. Please send good thoughts on Thursday at 10am!

Oh, I did want to share briefly that S had his reconstruction surgery to reverse the ileostomy and it went well. He's back to work though still healing, and we had a good conversation on the phone Friday after not talking for a while. He's recently started dating his ex again - the one right before me - so he's continuing that pattern. Oh well, it's no longer my problem. I'd rather it be her than anyone else because she seemed nice and I actually thought their relationship sounded pretty good, plus there was no weirdness or overlap with her while we were together (unlike the other ex). It's weird that he keeps going back to exes, though - it occurs to me that maybe it's because he pushes people away before it's clear that the relationship is not compatible. After three tries, I'm super clear that he is not "my person" as far as long term, marriage material. And we managed to end things much better - there's hope we can be friends, but I'm not sure if we are at that place yet.

Off to get some sleep so I'm rested for my eventful week...


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!