Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Career Coaching 101

These are ten questions to ask when trying to determine your Life Purpose:

1.  What do you love to do, whether in your spare time or at work?
2.  What parts of your present job or life activities do you thoroughly enjoy?
3.  What do you naturally do well?
4.  What are your ten greatest successes to date, in your eyes?
5.  Is there a cause about which you feel passionate?
6.  What are the ten most important lessons you have learned in your life?
7.  Are there some issues or perceived problems that have occurred over and over again for you?
8.  What do you daydream about doing?
9.  Imagine you are writing your epitaph.  What things do you want to be remembered for at the end of your life?
10. What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

Taken from Career Coaching by Marcia Bench.

I'm so proud of my little girl

A Kindergartener in Annalise's school is in need of several blood transfusions, and there is a blood drive being held for her.  Annalise was so sure she wanted to give, even though she is afraid of needles.  We found out that Annalise is too little to give, so I am going to give for her.  Even though she won't be donating, I am so proud of Annalise's willingness to endure something she hates (a needle) to help a friend in need.

Monday, March 30, 2015

God is funny

Today while driving, I wondered- what if God really does want me to work with kids?  What if the burnout I feel is really all just me?  About a week ago, I submitted a resume for a paid position at an organization I used to volunteer for.  I simply prayed, "God, if you really want me to work with kids, I'll get that job."  I felt like getting that job was a longshot.  Literally five minutes later, I got an email response from them.  How funny!  They asked for a more detailed description of my previous jobs for further consideration.  So I sent it.  I still start work as an auditor on Wednesday.  But I've never had a prayer kind of answered in five minutes before.  Looks like God listens.  What do you think that was?  A coincidence?  Or should I get over my burnout quickly?

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Selling at the Flea Market

I sold things at the flea market today.  After all things considered, my total profit was about $80.  Not great!  I always make a profit when I go there, but each time I go, the profit is less and less.  I need to think about why that is.  Is it a business concept?  Should I be doing things differently after a while?  Perhaps.  I did have a few new items, and these are what sold the most.  I sold mood rings, angel wing necklaces, and one birthstone ring.  The cross bracelets went good.  I also sold a few old items and some clothing.  The best thing that happened was that I sold a denim chenille quilt for $25.  I made it a long time ago, and realized we have too many quilts.  I wanted to see if I could sell one that I made, and I did.  Maybe I need to try a different flea market or set up in a different area of the same flea market?  It was a beautiful day outside.  It was dead in the morning, then busy about 11-noon, and then dead again.  I wish I knew business concepts.  It wouldn't hurt to take a class.  I should not be complaining.  I was able to fill up the tank, pay the water bill, and buy socks, laundry detergent, cat food, and fresh produce with my profit.  Maybe it sounds better when I list what needs were met with the profit rather than how much the profit was.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

What is next for me?

I finished visiting all of my kids and writing all of my court reports for April, so yesterday was my last day at CPS.  I start a new job on April first, and it's all good, but I'd like to think that that's not it. The new job is not all that's next.  I want to write my book and start businesses.  But I am stuck at not knowing where to start.  My main business idea is to career coach young adults, but most of what I read has to do with middle aged adults switching careers- not people who are college age just starting out.  Perhaps that means that I would be one of a kind, but it also means that it's hard to put together exercises that tailor to my potential clientele.  And the book- it would be so beautiful once finished, but where to start?  I suppose I could start with some of the short stories I wrote, but those were written with a word limit in mind.  I just don't know.  I want to spend the next week doing my thing.  I just don't know what thing of mine to pick out first.  Any suggestions would be appreciated. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015


My daughter and I were playing with a cardboard minecraft set.  The farm blocks unfolded looked like a cross.  You had to fold them into cubes.  Annalise was not folding the tabs in, but was still getting a cube.  It was just a cube with tabs sticking out.  
I showed her what to do.  I said, "Look.  If I fold these tabs in, like this, it becomes a perfect cube."  Annalise was enthralled, and immediately wanted to do it that way.  
I thought about how I showed her that.  I think a very liberal parent would not have shown her at all and regarded the cube with the tabs sticking out as her truth so to speak.  An abusive parent would have chastised her for doing it wrong.  I found a happy balance.  My child was happy, and she learned something.  

Saturday, March 21, 2015

I did it all

I heard the song "I lived" by One Republic on the radio.  I came home and played it over and over.  It reminds me of the past 16 or 17 years that I've spent my career life helping children and as a (hopefully effective) advocate for children.  Those days are coming to a close.  I think it's safe to say that for every up, there were two downs.  However, every up outshone 3 or 4 downs.  Most of what I've done does not go on my resume (You truly do have to keep that sucker under a page) but I can list it here on the blog.  

I worked in childcare centers. 
I was a volunteer and later an employee of the children's hospital auxilliary. 
I worked at the Children's Museum. 
I worked for a child abuse prevention program that did outreach in schools. 
I worked as an aide/tutor in a failing public school
I was a caregiver in an emergency shelter for kids.  
I worked as a court appointed child advocate.  
I volunteered short term with my church in an orphanage in Mexico. 
I volunteered briefly with Make a Wish.
Last but not least, I was a caseworker with CPS. 

The song is right.  I truly did it all.  I look at that list and get tired.  But I am also proud of myself for answering the call.  I am also happy it's all over.  

Feeling Good

I feel good about my decision to give my notice at CPS.  I feel an overwhelming sense of relief that I am doing the right thing.  I feel about 90% sure that I am going to go back to work as a retail auditor like I did some 10-15 years ago.  It was good money, and there is room for advancement.  For the time being, I ordered some things from a wholesale company to sell at the flea market along with my own jewelry designs.  Among the things I bought were mood rings, birthstone rings, yin yang bracelets, and several things with the cross on them.  I am surprised at hoe many people I tell are disappointed that I am changing my path in life.  It doesn't bother me.  They don't know the first thing about CPS.  My mom surprised me by giving me the money for my first order of things to sell with my jewelry.  I'm also going to purchase some stones to wire wrap.  I'm looking forward to the future and sort of deprogramming my mind after many years of heart breaking work helping the most vulnerable children.  

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Helping kids no more

I deleted the post that announced it, but April first will be my last day as a CPS caseworker.  Not only that, it will also be my last day in a career to help children.  When I was 19 or 20, I had gone through a break up with a fiance.  I was struggling a lot with the fact that I wanted to have children, and pressured a lot to put my focus on establishing a career instead of wanting children.  So I took that pressure, the energy I had at the time, and my desire to "give kids a good life" and made a career out of it.  Over the last 16 or 17 years, I think I achieved a lot.  If nothing else, I'll be writing about it.  I just can't do it anymore.  For one thing, my cup is empty.  I need to help myself.  For another thing, I did have a child, and Annalise is the best thing that ever happened to me.  I'm looking at the world through a different lens now than I did back then.  I want to make better money, and I no longer think that's selfish.  I have a couple ideas of what to do next, the main thing being to write a book about my experiences, but I'm going to become gainfully employed as well.  
I'm feeling a little relieved, but I'm realizing just how stressed I was over working at CPS.  I'm not having as many panic attacks, but I'm still having some.  My friend Dayna insists that this is just a season and that I'm just "taking a break".  My cousin the shrink said the same thing.  At church, I went up to one of the associate pastors that I'm most familiar with and asked for prayer.  I said, "I don't think working with kids is God's plan for me anymore."  And... he looked disappointed.  Even the words in his prayer were like asking God to change my mind.  Maybe these people are right, but I can't think like that anymore.  I need to change my focus in order to achieve a better, less stressed out life.  

Saturday, March 14, 2015

diaper cake

The important meeting Monday is also a baby shower.  I made this diaper cake for the shower.  It's lopsided, but cute for my very first one.  

Friday, March 13, 2015

Important plans

It's finally Friday!  Annalise went to her dad's house yesterday and will be there until Sunday night for his birthday.  I decided that this weekend, I am going to do a grand to - do list with all of my cases and all the things I need to eventually do for them.  I am going to work all weekend from home on them.  On Monday morning, there is an important meeting.  If I get stuck with anything, I can go over it at the meeting.  This is important, because work cannot continue to be as stressful for me as it is.  

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Trip to San Antonio

I am so tired after today, that I feel dead inside.  It was an exhausting day, not because of the driving (I love road trips), but the anxiety.  I drove to San Antonio.  The place I had to go to in order to pick up this child was horribly depressing!  It was like a jail for teenagers.  The child crouched in the corner biting her nails didn't help scenery.  The child I picked up was elated to be out of there.  When she got in the car, I told her she could put the radio on any station she wanted.  She blasted rap and was jamming those moves halfway back to Houston.  When the station faded, she put on a CD.  I took her to McDonald's, and we both had Big Mac's.  The new place where she is moving to is so much nicer than the old one.  It's an old country house on several acres in the middle of nowhere.  There are horses. It's so much better than an oversized jail cell.  
During my drive, I had a lot of anxiety.  At 9:00 am, my supervisor was supposed to sit in on a meeting for me, but she forgot.  So the secretary called me all yelling and crazy asking where I was.  I was on the road!  I didn't have the patience for her craziness.  30 minutes after it was all straightened out, I took three deep breaths and said, okay.  She was just stressed.  It's ok.  But she stressed me, too!  I made it back to Houston just in time for my 6:00 counseling appointment where I burst out crying to the therapist and said I can't take it anymore.  I have such an intense fear of failure, and the thoughts of it were bombarding me on the road.  We worked through it.  I honestly don't have any other choice than to face my fears head on.  It's the high road, and I'm not getting any younger.  My job as a CPS caseworker is a huge responsibility.  I don't take that responsibility lightly.  My fear of failure is just hard to explain, and I'm tired and dead inside.  It's a good thing I have my Christian radio station.  I don't know what I would do if I didn't have their encouragement in the car.  

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

10 hours a week

I was chatting with a friend about a book called unjobbing.  The adult form of unschooling- not going to work and just pursuing your passions all day.  Does it sound like one would go broke?  Well, I tend to believe the opposite- that I would become wealthy.  It's hard to think about quitting a job, though- especially when I love my job, I'm a single parent, and I work for the state and have great benefits.  My friend and I decided to commit just ten hour a week to pursuing said passions and interests while keeping our jobs.  It's a super motivating idea- the biggest obstacle people have to accomplishing their goals is fear.  This way, there is a lot less fear.

The child with too many papers

One of my coworkers quit, and I inherited 3 of her cases. One of the kids is moving this week, and my coworker did not do her transfer paperwork! Omg what a nightmare it was. It was a 20 page document on a child I know nothing about. Lots of digging!  I finally got her scheduled for intake on Thursday. The easy part will be driving to San Antonio to pick her up. After all of that cramming on her life story, I can't wait to meet her.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Do Over

Today, I got some work handed back to me by my supervisor.  She told me to re-do it with a format that I didn't know about.  This hit my mood hard.  I never knew about this format! In fact, I've been doing it without the format for two months, and it was accepted then.  Everyone I text this to says it happens to the best of us.  Yes I know, but don't some people understand that I have a fear of failure?

Saturday, March 7, 2015

TD Jakes at Lakewood

I took this video of Bishop TD Jakes at Lakewood church as the guest speaker. Yes, an usher tells me to put it down at the end.  She's worried about haters posting videos only to take one statement out of context.  It happened to Joel Osteen's wife recently.  I think it's safe to say that without the so called "prosperity gospel" of Christianity, I might be some bum on the street today.  You don't know what kind of poisonous self esteem I had in my younger years, and it was brought on by main stream Christianity.  I might have even been dead by now if I never started getting into the prosperity message.  It's importance doesn't "just" reach your finances.  I wonder if there is a prosperity gospel in other religions.  I know of a positive thinking Jewish rabbi on youtube, but that's about it.

Birthday Party Plans

I'm excited to be planning Annalise's 8th birthday.  It's going to be mostly a pokemon party.  I already ordered pokemon party stuff from amazon.  I also want a small petting zoo since Annalise likes animals.  I also got a 90 piecde cardboard activity for kids to build their own minecraft village.  That was a great deal.

I have never made a big deal out of annalise's birthday, becuase I thought she was too young to appreciate anything major.  But, 8 is not too young!  As long as I theme the party around the things she loves (pokemon, minecraft, and animals) and invite her friends from school and daycare, it will be a day for her to remember for sure.  I also feel that 8 enters tween years.  I love tweens.  I love that my daughter is almost a tween.  We have made it thus far.  Happy birthday in three months!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Too Many Chargers

I had the following chargers in my tote bag today:
The charger for my work laptop.
The charger for my personal phone
The charger for my work phone.
The charger for my daughter's phone, which she does not get to take to her dad's this weekend.

When I came back into the office after an outing to visit someone, I dumped my tote bag out and all the chargers were in a huge clumped up ball.  I picked up the whole ball of chargers by one cord and said, "I have so many chargers, I don't know what to do."
My coworker was in the room, and she laughed.  Then, she laughed so hard, she snorted.  Then, I laughed because she snorted... and then I snorted because I was laughing too hard.  We are stressed, and this kind of nonsense is necessary.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Did I just change my mind?

Yesterday for work, I went to see a couple who adopted three children and then gave one of them back to the system.  Such parents are harshly judged, but please no judgemental comments- the entire story is hard to swallow.  The mom likes to talk and talked my ear off for over an hour.  I didn't mind.  I could tell she suffers with her decision.  While sitting there listening to her, I think I had some kind of deja vu experience.  Then, almost all of a sudden, I decided that I no longer want to adopt.  This child is by far not the only severely damaged child on my caseload.  I'm dealing with a lot with all of these kids right now.  I don't think I could handle parenting some of them.  Some of them, yes, I could parent.  But some of them, most definitely no, I could not handle.  And single parents get the hard to place kids.  I think it's safe just to change my mind and stick with doing my job to the best of my ability.  Pray for these kids! That;s almost all I can do, too.  And the only answer I can come up with. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Would you unschool?

I've always been enamored with unschooling- a form of homeschooling where a child learns by pursuing their interests all day long.  The parents' job is to satisfy homeschooling requirements by identifying them in the things their children do naturally without being forced to.  We are not an unschooling family, as my 7 year old girl is in second grade.  But will we ever be?  We might when she gets older.  One well-known proponent of unschooling named Sandra Dodd claims that single parents can't unschool.  The truth is that they can, and they do.  Most of them earn a living the same way, by pursuing their interests.  You do not have to be a stay-at home mom.  Even unschooling married couples earn a living by pursuing their own interests.  It might be a reality for us someday.  I have a good resume in case all else fails.  Anyway, one major upset for me is that if we were an unschooling family, my daughter might have screen time 24/7.  If she chose how she spent her time, she'd spend it all playing games...just like her father (ahem).  Unschooling parents are not supposed to have a problem with that, but if they do, they can always strew.  What would life look like for us as an unschooling family?  What about your family?  What would you do all day long?  What interests would we and they pursue?  I'd like to think we would create so many wonderful things, including a prosperous life.

Monday, March 2, 2015

welcome back to work

I just wanted to say that my coworkers and supervisor were all so extremely wonderful about me coming back today from sick leave. They don't know what was wrong, but they do know I was hospitalized. I got so many awesome encouraging words. People were genuinely happy to see me. I am blessed. Tomorrow, it's off to start my march visits.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Christian Blessing

This morning, Annalise and I went to church.  I really feel like going on a regular basis these days.  I think it's good for us.  One thing I do struggle with is that they ask for a tithe.  Tithing means to give 10% of your income to the church.  The church has a lot of money, and most of the members are people without a lot of money.  What bothers me the most is wondering how many people go without necessities to tithe.  If someone does, would the church help them?
The debate goes further than that in my mind.  My church doesn't give much in the way of hand outs, but the message is definitely a thousand hands up.  We are not a mainstream Christian church.  So it's a stretch to say that the church doesn't help people.  The church itself is a massive help.
The thing about God blessing you if you tithe screams scam.  Doesn't it?  God can bless anyone he wants to, and God doesn't have to bless you *just* because you tithe.  If you give, you shall get return, but if you give just to get return, then that can come back to bite you in the ass as well.  A good point of view is Suze Orman's advice on giving.
Many people at Lakewood swear by being super blessed once they started tithing.  The principle might be true, or it might be that psychologically they are smarter about money because they are giving to the church.
I think if I dive more into this topic and continue to engage the debate in my mind, I'll come to a better answer than if I just swore off church altogether because I don't believe in the part that sounds like a scam.