Archives for posts with tag: goals

I really can’t explain or predict how, why, or when I will make progress toward any of my goals. This spring, you heard about my Big Plans for our kitchen (which surfaced as I avoided my Big Plan to re-upholster (at least partially) Dr. T’s favorite chair.)

Most of the upper cabinets and doors in the kitchen got painted early last summer. (I can now confess that two doors were inadvertently stacked in the pile of laundry room cabinet doors, and therefore missed being primed and painted.)

Our upper kitchen cabinets are hung under soffits (which have always bugged me.)

My theory was that if I painted the soffits with vertical stripes, I’d have the effect of higher ceilings. It was a great theory, but it took me months to get the nerve to try it. I have since verified my theory, but learned that I  am not as adept with painter’s tape as I might like. Let’s call it a noble experiment gone wrong.

More time passed, and the almostbutnotquiteright stripes irked me every day. I realized that the effort required for perfection exceeded the effort I was willing to expend in achieving it.

After some consideration, I decided to try chalkboard paint (surely you remember that I have used the same paint on the side of one cabinet and the panels of several cabinet doors)  on the soffit over the sink, and  the same soft gray paint that I used on the walls under the cabinets on the remaining soffits.

For no particular reason, I executed this plan yesterday and today.

I like it- I really like it!  Now that the soffits are painted, the cabinets really “pop” (as they say on HGTV.) Inspired, I finished  painting  the crown molding with the same color as the cabinets (Celery Ice by Behr, for those of you who are keeping score at home.)

This is not to say that this room is done, but it is to say that progress is being made, and that personality is creeping into a space that used to have none.

The lower cabinets even look better, though still in their original loathsome oak finish. I am optimistic now, but I know impatience will strike again before I am through.

…on the way to wherever it is I am trying to go. Those sneaky 10 pounds I mentioned have crept away, taking  a couple of their pals. I attribute that in large part to my little job, since it keeps me moving for hours at a time, and prevents me from freely accompanying TMIM out to lunch and breakfast in The Land of The Fried Potato (where I am helpless to resist.) I’ve also been able to walk regularly with my neighbor, new puppy (walks with him are “bonus” walks), and now, he and I are also walking another neighbor and her dog. Of course, I’ve also made a point of incorporating more of the foods I used to eat while I was living alone, so all of those things help. Because I was not actively “trying” to lose the weight, I can’t really say how long it took, but I did start to notice the drift somewhere around March.

The funnier thing that happened is that we have realized that my fundamental assumption about this move- that I would have to have a “real” full-time job or we’d be in trouble- has been blown to smithereens. Sure, we’d get things done around here a lot quicker if I had a bigger paycheck, but we are bumping up on a year soon, and I am guardedly optimistic.

Maybe it’s getting out from under the pressure of feeling solely responsible for my family’s financial existence, maybe it’s spring, maybe it is getting some distance from the emotional maelstrom attendant to my mom’s passing, but suddenly I am feeling a little more positive about finding that elusive “big girl job.”

This morning I spotted a posting for the job I used to do in California at an agency in a neighboring county. I applied, no longer in the spirit of desperation, but with the sense that getting an interview would be a win. (I would be happy to take the job if it were offered, but my dream job in the field is a step or two above it. I’d be thrilled just to have face to face conversations with my professional community at this point, considering the complete lack of response I got last summer.) If they don’t call me, I’ve lost nothing, and I have other interests to explore, don’t I?

I feel that I can capture that elusive future job in the same way I escaped from those sneaky pounds: by moving forward and doing what I know is right in furtherance of my larger goals.

Having failed to immediately find a job by rushing directly at one, I resolved to invest serious time and thought into what I really want to do and what I need to get there. Then I avoided taking the time and thinking about it.

Now, I am committed, one tentative step at a time.

For the first time, I have clearly identified what matters to me, and articulated it:

 Health:  I enjoyed what is referred to as “Rude good health” for the first 50 or so years of my life. I considered it rude in the sense that I made no particular effort to maintain it, and in fact risked it by doing dumb things like smoking cigarettes. I have been reminded in several ways that I cannot assume such a level of health will sustain itself without increased effort on my part.

Happy and Healthy Family: This is harder to achieve than it looks, since they seem to have their own opinions on the subject, and arguing about it seems somehow contra-indicated.

Comfortable and Welcoming Home: On the upside, I am finally in my “forever” home, with time to accomplish the things I have spent years planning. I have been painting and planting and rearranging. On the downside, my missing paycheck slows this process down considerably. This is a huge general goal, composed of an infinite number of steps. I am happy to realize that while I can’t necessarily get near the big steps (new flooring, bathroom renovations, etc.) I can manage many others with little or no expense.

Meaningful Work: It’s not all about the money, although I certainly hope to make some (hello, hardwood floors.) I have been lucky enough to know that my past work has made a real difference to some people. It’s a great feeling. I’ve come to realize also that I enjoy teaching/mentoring in any capacity. I am also a far better advocate for  others than myself. I hope that by continuing to tease out the general elements that I enjoyed most in my  previous jobs, I can eventually guide myself to the right place for me now. I also understand that my ideal job may turn out to be “jobs” given my interests, the current employment climate, and my ability to market myself. At this point, I have two planks in my work platform: a volunteer position that inspires and gratifies me, and a new, part-time job. Ideally, I will add a “bigger” job, and pursue some additional volunteer interests. (Next volunteer gig in the hopper: Kitten Whisperer! Okay, that’s not the official title, but the local Animal Protection Society  does use volunteers to socialize adoptable dogs and cats.)

Creative Outlets: Perhaps I will finally use the water colors I got for Christmas too many years ago to admit. In the meantime, there is my little blog, and any number of those projects around the house, so I am feeling pretty satisfied in this area of my life.

My challenge at this point is to direct my energies in service of these goals. They are related, and many of my actions should further more than one: for example, I expect my part-time job to allow me to exercise some creativity, learn something new, and be of some use to people, although in a new way. The money I earn can be allocated toward making my house a cozier place.

Many future posts here will be around my big 5 topics in some way or other. I may even go crazy and try to develop a Mission Statement– do you have one?

By now, my imaginary readers (their number is legion) are beginning to ask questions: “Waaaaaait a minute, didn’t you say this blog was about your search for work? HMMM?”

Me (head bent, kicking at phantom dirt clod): “Right. uh…”

I had big ideas and high hopes when I came back in June. I’d take a couple of weeks off to decompress from the demands of quitting a job and packing a two bedroom apartment within a six week window. (Although there was no doubt I would be doing this “someday” the  decision as to when was fairly abrupt.) Then, refreshed and relaxed, I’d start contacting people and agencies in my field, introducing myself and offering to meet to discuss what I might do to be of use, including volunteering my time as I began my search for full time employment. I would also consider what else I would like to do in my new and improved life- start a blog, work part time in a job that tapped into one of my other interests, volunteer as a literacy tutor, go back to school, whatever. And in the meantime, there was plenty to do around the man cave  house. I was sure I’d be working by August.

The R&R part of this plan was easy. Immediately after the 4th of July, I started sending my letters and resumes. Crickets. I made a few follow up calls. I trolled  internet employment sites and sent some more letters and resumes.  I started focusing on the house, and spent some time inventorying what needed work and determining what I could accomplish right away. And then it got hot. I mean, “I don’t remember it being this bad, who gets dressed in this weather?” hot. I began suffering aches and pains I’d never experienced. I didn’t sleep well. I was over-sensitive and emotional.  I was overwhelmed, and beginning to doubt myself. Somehow, my focus shifted from the positive: I am home. I can choose the course of my life from this point. I have time to do what I enjoy- read, paint, sew, putter around the house…to the negative: I’ll never find a job. No one wants to hire someone my age. There is nothing in my field. I have nothing to offer in another field. This house is falling apart and I will never make enough money to get it the way I want it. I became paralyzed by indecision- what should I do first? What if I pick the wrong thing?

I didn’t give up, exactly, I just slowed down. I have realized in retrospect that I  had unrealistic expectations of what I could manage, or at least of the time it would take. Even good changes carry stress; I knew that, but occasionally  suffer the delusion that I am exempt from certain unpleasant realities that apply to others. I have also realized that I couldn’t do what I wanted if I did not know what that was. Rather than continuing to blindly rush headlong at what I thought I should do, I started to circle around the idea of what I wanted to do. I also decided to order myself to just do something.

I have spent the last six months with my family, without having to buy plane tickets. I have become a tutor. I have finished a few projects around the house, started others, and planned even more. I have picked up a part time job that I think I will enjoy (more on that- maybe- as soon as I have digested my new employer’s policy on social media.) I have resumed my old habit of walking, both by myself and with my next door neighbor. And I have started this blog.

This blog is my job, to the extent that it helps me structure my time, and compels me to address what I am doing to identify and achieve my goals. It’s something of an ideal job, because it is fun, but it is clearly part time.  Next week, I attempt to identify the components of my ideal full time job.

Literacy is a big deal to me. For years, I’ve thought, “I should become a tutor someday.” And now I am. This summer I found an agency that trained and matched tutors to students. My student (let’s call him “BR” ) and I have just begun our second semester together.

BR is a grown man. He has spent more than a decade in prison. His life has included a series of horrifying incidents, any of which might have put me under the bed in a fetal position to this very day. An undiagnosed medical condition led to him being told, as an elementary student, to “sit in the back and draw.” He was socially promoted throughout high school, because he was good at sports. He did not graduate. He read at a second grade level when we met.

Turns out we had a lot in common. One of his goals is to get a driver’s license; I needed to get one too. He is looking for work; so am I.

We meet twice a week. We’ve missed a few sessions, but we are making great progress. Not only has BR’s reading improved, his confidence has grown considerably. He gets as much pleasure from reading “Hop on Pop” out loud as I do from watching this big, tattooed man work his way through it.

It’s clear what BR has learned- he’s got his short vowels sounds “locked down,”  knows what a syllable is, and has mastered most of his sight words. I’ve learned that this is really fun, and that I am pretty good at it. I’ve also learned that doing it is almost as easy as just wanting to do it someday.

George Lakoff

George Lakoff has retired as Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. He is now Director of the Center for the Neural Mind & Society (cnms.berkeley.edu).

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