News and Nonsense

If you’ve taken the time to follow me at all on any of my social media platforms, you might have noticed a few posts about my recent uptick in visits to local community places. Feel free to check out my Instagram for adorable dog pictures (link is in my sidebar) of Dobby the House Corgi as well as my food adventures.

Let me share a little of what I’ve done lately.

This past weekend was full of fun and mischief as I went out on an adventure with a local corgi group in my area. If you are familiar with the company Petsafe, you might know them as the group that makes lots of awesome dog-related products, such as invisible fences and various bark collars to deter unnecessary barking. Anyway, they also create gorgeous dog parks in cities all around the country, and we happen to have a couple dog parks made by Petsafe in our city.

(As a side note, if you’re a dog lover/owner and are interested in getting a Petsafe dog park in your city, you should check out their Bark for your Park competition. You could help win a dog park for your city.)

Anyway, I have taken Dobby there a couple of times now, and he isn’t so keen on it yet. He goes, but he’s more or less like a grunting, disapproving senior adult. He’s going along with it, but he’s only doing it so he can follow me around and make sure I know how much he disapproves.

Last Friday, I had a meetup with the local corgi owners in the area, and it was fabulous. It was full of laughter, fun, and water. Yes, water. You see, this dog park has a great area on the river that the dogs can just jump right in and make themselves at home in the water. Dobby was the only corgi there without a life jacket, poor guy, but considering his absolute terror about going in the water, I suppose it was okay.

One of the other corgis was comical in his attempts to get into the water. He failed spectacularly at swimming and was only saved by his life jacket and his derpy expressions as the humans all laughed at him. What can I say? Corgis are adorable. The best part was that Dobby did finally get into the spirit of things and chase the corgis around a few times. He’s starting to break out of his shell. Slowly.

Incidentally Dobby’s made a friend here at the apartments, and I’m so proud of him. He actually likes to play with this dog even when they’re on leashes! That’s a huge deal for our poor pup.

In other fun adventures, I went to BiscuitFest this past weekend as well. If you don’t know what that is, it’s simple. It’s a festival that celebrates biscuits.

Is there anything better? Of course not.

I dragged my parents along since I couldn’t convince Fernando to ditch work on one of his last days to come join me. Spoil sport. We went to downtown, paid $10 and ate 5 glorious biscuits of our choice. It sounds boring, but those biscuits were amazing. My personal favorite, and the one that won the people’s choice award, was one called “Mama Says Don’t Say Maybe To Chocolate Gravy.” There’s a picture on my Instagram.

But if you don’t want to check out the picture…

Imagine a confection–not a biscuit, a confection–of pure biscuit pleasure with the sweetest, most delectable chocolate gravy sandwiched between the two layers and drizzled atop it to pool in the bottom of the bowl. Then imagine a dollop of whipped cream and a slice of strawberry to top it all off.

Can you say yum?

I can. I did.

Excuse me while I drool a little in remembrance.

I’m quite enjoying participating in community events this summer. Apparently I need to find a few more of these sweets to join in. But for now, I’ll be finishing out my class days in style as I teach my students and watch Fernando learn a new trade in his internship.

How about you? Are you doing anything fun this summer in your community?

– RaeNezL

*Note: I am not affiliated with Petsafe in any way, nor am I receiving any products or services from the company for this blog post. I just like the company and thought I would recommend it myself! Check it out if you want or don’t. I don’t care.* 

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Stereotypes – They’re Everywhere

So I disappeared for a week, and I apologize for that. I got caught up in a lot of things happening with life, and now I’m back to continue what I’ve started!

I wanted to talk today about a trend I see on Facebook and other social media sites that I think can be rather dangerous.

You know how often we share articles, photos, memes, or anything else we find on our social media pages? It’s normal and easy to do. I love seeing what my friends have shared on their Facebook feeds most of the time. But guess what? It’s May 2015, and we’re about to enter the ever wonderful world of election season.

No? You don’t think so?

I think so. It’s going to hit like a whirlwind. News stations are going to light up like New York City at Christmas time. Media websites will feature every candidate posturing about his or her favorite go-to topic, and we’ll be inundated with the “issues” that are important for this election season.

Why do I bring this up? Because inevitably my Facebook feed and yours will be filled with tons of shares of articles from friends that are all about their political affiliations.

This is probably my least favorite time to be on Facebook, when something explodes in the media and I have to see shares about it pop up on my feed for an unknown number of days or weeks until it dies down. Now, I know that might sound silly to complain about, but realistically my main concern is how this appears.

Every time someone shares a news article and doesn’t comment on it, that person is basically agreeing with the content. 

Would you agree?

I had a Facebook friend share a link from a website that was rather uncomplimentary to immigrants this week. It essentially took some simple stereotypes of immigrants and made those stereotypes into a short story. Let’s just say I was unimpressed and downright angry. Not only because this person shared it but because his share basically amounted to approval of the content.

I don’t usually comment on things like that because it’s normally not something I like to involve myself in. Political battles aren’t my thing, and I don’t like to start arguments on social media since they’re pointless battles.

However, this past week, I’ve commented to two friends who shared things of this nature because I’m tired of seeing it all the time.

I almost never share articles on my Facebook page. Why? For the reasons I listed above. Shares amount to acceptance and promotion, and you can’t take that back. You can say you were wrong, but it never leaves the wide world of the Internet. I prefer to share things about my life and what I’m doing instead of sharing the more volatile things like my religious beliefs and political affiliations.

I also just don’t think people need to know how I feel about those issues on social media. I may share some of those things here at some point, so don’t be too surprised. However, I don’t feel that Facebook is the right platform for sharing stereotypes and political agendas and religious fights. There’s a time and place for things like that, and to me, it’s not my social media.

What do you think? Is social media the place to lay down the gauntlet of political, social, economical, and religious battles? Let me know your thoughts.

– RaeNezL

Grace Under Pressure: Lessons Learned

Today is another day where I have to sit back and look at my life and simply take it all in stride.

If you’ve been following this sporadic, crazy blog, you know my life has changed in multiple ways over the course of the last year and a half. I can’t even begin to tell you all the things that have changed for me, but I can tell you that one day I plan to sit down and write it all out.

That said, this is another example of life changing events that are all coming together in ways I can’t fathom to create the patchwork quilt that’s shaping up to be my life. It’s quite the motley piece of work at the moment, but I’m sure that’ll change as time goes on and it’s shape becomes clearer.

Yesterday, I was laid off from my job at the weight loss center. Again.

So I know that comes as a shock considering I only started the job in February, but it is what it is. I’m still trying to process it, but the real processing I’m doing is in recognizing this for the lessons it gives me for the future.

This is the second time in under a year I’ve experienced a layoff, and it was quite different from the first. So I wanted to write a post describing the differences because to me, this is what’s most important and worth remembering for the next job I tackle.

With no further ado, let’s begin, shall we?

First: being professional about a layoff means taking the time to prepare for your conversation with your employee and how you’ll handle that decision because that will determine much of how your employee views you.

With my first job, the layoff was something they had to prepare for based on news of losing a large client. It was a huge deal for the company, something the upper management had to ponder over and determine what branches of the company would be hit hardest, which positions would be cut, and how to best prepare those people who would be let go for life after the company. When I walked into that meeting, I had three people with me who were somber, solemn, and clearly hurting as they explained the situation to me, handed me paperwork explaining severance (a clear blessing considering how short a time I’d been there), how to file unemployment, and COBRA insurance policies. Their care and time to talk me through the situation was enough to show me that this was a company I cared about and would have loved staying with because of the family atmosphere and the relationships I had already developed.

On the contrary, with the weight loss center, the situation was entirely different. It was very cut and dry. I was taken to my office by the operations manager and told she “needed to make a change” and that meant today was my last day. There was no discussion of why she needed to make a change or whether I could work in a different capacity. She was simply done with me and needed me gone, and I could tell by looking at her that she didn’t seem to be concerned with my situation in the least because in her mind, she was tying up a nasty loose end.

Second: the preparation that was put into the layoffs led to the outcome with the staff and the sense of either comfort or unease as a result of the layoffs.

As with the first company, I was good friends with some of the people I worked with outside of work, so I was able to hear a little more about what happened in the aftermath of the layoffs. There was a normal company meeting set to take place within the next day or two, and it was at that time the management team addressed the layoffs with the employees. Yes, people were upset, but they ultimately understood the reasons for the layoffs as being connected to the loss of a large client, which some people already knew was coming down the pipes anyway. The comfort they gained from knowing that management was hurting just as much as they were was enough to help them bind up their hurts and move on with their work as much as possible. (Though, I will say some of them weren’t as comforted as others and did move on to other jobs, but that seems to be fairly standard in the event of a layoff.)

With my operations manager, I sat in shock as she told me I’d be laid off and couldn’t formulate a good question to ask. But then she asked me the mother of all loaded questions: “Do you want me to tell the girls it was your decision to leave?” Hearing this gave me even more questions, and I sat for a few minutes before responding: “No, it wasn’t really my choice to leave, was it?” (Now, you have to understand that was a really brave thing for me to say because I rarely actually stand up for myself, especially in a situation like this, but I digress.) So she told me she’d tell them she was making a change.

Here’s where the lack of preparation comes in: she obviously knew what she was going to tell them, that question was irrelevant and meant for my benefit only, and it makes no difference to me what she tells the women I worked with. The truth is, they know I had no motivation to quit, I was finding my stride and enjoying working with people. So regardless of how she handled it, she would have no means of convincing them I chose to quit, and they would still have questions.

Third: preparation is key in how you send your now-former employees out the door and how professional they’ll see you as an employer – whether that matters to you, is entirely your decision.

I’ve said to Fernando that I wouldn’t go back for my former employer because of being laid off, but that’s a pride issue on my part. The truth is, I loved my job, and I’d kill to have a chance to work with people like that again. Even in the way they sent me on my way, which may at first seem demeaning to the uninitiated, I recognize the professional courtesy they gave me and the compassion my manager offered me as he sent me out that day. You see, I understand a company’s need to shield itself from a potential volatile situation with employees who are being laid off.

I didn’t even work directly with clients, and they were rarely in the building, but given that we worked with computers that had private client information, it was essential the company shield itself from any potential for upset. The fact they gathered my things for me was pretty much standard operating procedure for most professional operations. But then my manager picked up my box of stuff since I was a wreck and walked me out. He walked me to my car and talked with me all the way there and was almost in tears himself about the situation. That means a lot to me, and it says a lot about his character.

Again, in contrast, when my operations manager finished her spiel and took my key from me, she pretty much washed her hands of the whole thing. She left me in my office to go to the front desk. I was still in shock and wasn’t sure what was going on, so perhaps she should have been more honest with me and told me to get out because I was trying to go on with work. When she came back and saw me trying to work, she let me finish what I was doing and then told me they’d pay me through the day and that I should go ahead and go so I could enjoy my day.

Wow.

Go enjoy your day?

If it wasn’t clear to me then, it’s increasingly clear to me now that she simply didn’t like me and wanted rid of me. She didn’t want to give me 90 days to prove myself. I was, in fact, bringing in clients at this point. I was early every day, had things up and running, and while I wasn’t the most confident and hadn’t completely developed my stride, I was beginning to get there.

That said, I realized what she meant. She needed me gone before the other girls got away from their clients. So I grabbed my things, my picture of me and Fernando, and I started out.

Her parting words? “Well, this is it. Bye, enjoy the rest of your day! Enjoy the sunshine, and the beautiful weather! I’m going to be jealous of you out in the sun!”

I don’t know about you, but that is one of the most petty things she could have said, especially after terming me for nothing more than a personality conflict. I didn’t deem it necessary to respond and simply walked out the door without a look back, and no, I didn’t enjoy the sunshine, Ms. Operations Manager, because it was 36 degrees outside, and you knew it! 

In conclusion: I’ve learned that it’s important to recognize professionalism from the source and try to figure out what you’re getting into when you start a job. I know Fernando didn’t like the company and didn’t want me to work there to begin with, and I should have listened to his warning signs. I suppose I was so hoping to find something and try my hand at something new that I ignored the signs and went for something new and different in the hopes it would pan out.

But now I know that professionalism in looks is a far cry from professionalism in actions. And I’ll save myself the trouble next time and simply go back to an office environment that practices more traditionally accepted norms and operations.

What about you? Have you learned anything from experiences like this? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

– RaeNez

 

Things I’ve Learned

I wanted to write a brief post about how life has been (which you know) and a few of the things I’ve learned in the last few months as I looked for jobs, learned to housewife, and became a wife.

When life gives you lemons, grab some friends, demand limes, and toss them in some Coronas.

So this is kind of silly, but the point is that the last few months have been somewhat stressful on a personal level. With the lack of a job and the loss of any potential for emergency unemployment income, I was becoming more and more stressed about figuring out how to help support my husband and myself financially.

As you can imagine, it’s at times like those that it helps to have a couple of close girlfriends to lean into and chat with. Now, I will admit to having a couple of Coronas with lime and even a few times where I drank more than beer, but I’ve since come to the conclusion that I really don’t need the liquor anymore.

I do need the girlfriends, though. And they’ve become my supporters and encouragement through this period of finding a new job, starting it, and training for what I’ll really be starting this coming week. It’s been a blessing to have them in my life because I could really use the girl time when I was feeling low.

When you’re short on cash, your standards for food will really stretch and bend. 

This one is kind of a no-brainer, but I thought I’d touch on it because of where I’ve come from and where I am now. I wouldn’t say Fernando and I are so strapped for cash we can’t even buy groceries. Even when I was unemployed, I was still had the means to pay for the more expensive things like fruits and vegetables and even meats that might normally have been more expensive.

So don’t start thinking we were too poor to eat. That’s not what I mean.

What I mean is that I’m so used to a certain standard of food in my parents’ home that it was strange to have to budget for different things. My mom will constantly purchase organic fruits, vegetables, and eggs, which obviously racks up a significant grocery bill. She’ll shop at stores like Fresh Market and Earthfare, which–while full of great options for really delicious meats, organic foods, and those difficult to find specialty foods–tend to have the higher prices that supermarkets like Kroger’s aren’t going to compare to.

Now my standards have changed just a bit. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that some of these are just the results of a more limited budget, some are the results of tips from frugal friends, and some are the results of living with someone who isn’t my parents.

A great example I could give would be with fish. I normally don’t eat a lot of fish, but Fernando loves it. He loves to get the frozen fish from the Kroger’s freezer, and he eats tilapia. My parents, on the other hand, will go to specialty fish shops to pick out fresh fish that is not farmed but is wild caught and purchase things like cod, salmon, and tuna steaks. They would never eat tilapia because you simply can’t find wild caught tilapia, and there’s no way they’d buy the frozen fillets.

Yet here I am buying the frozen fillets weekly. I’ll switch things up with some orange roughy, but Fernando is adamant that he doesn’t like cod. So I haven’t bought that yet, even though it’s one of my favorites.

Another big difference in how I shop now from how I did at my parents’ house? It’s all in where I shop. I still buy fresh produce and eggs, but I get them from the Aldi. I get other specialty items from the Trader Joe’s because of the decent prices. And then I’ll hit the Krogers for additional deals when they come out because I like a bargain.

When you first become a housewife, it’s easy to think you have to do it all yourself.

Fernando works 50 hours a week, and when we first got married, I saw myself having to stay on top of everything around the house in order to make sure I was of value to him.

Yeah…about that…it wasn’t exactly working very well. As much as I’d like to be an excellent wife and homemaker, it just isn’t something I’m a pro at yet. Give me several years, and I may be here telling you everything’s changed, but the truth is: I just don’t know how to do it all myself yet.

So yes, I can do laundry when it needs to get done. And I can make sure that the dishes are put into the dishwasher when they start to pile up.

But I wasn’t very good at it while I was unemployed. Part of that was a clear lack of motivation to do much of anything, honestly. I was depressed about being jobless and unable to bring in any income, and I felt like I was being a burden on Fernando. I just wasn’t taking the opportunities to do things that would be beneficial to either of us. And that was where the problem laid.

Now, however, I’m working again, and I feel the need to stay more on top of things like laundry, groceries, and dishes. Ironically I’ll keep up with those more obsessively than I ever did before. I’ll continuously put dishes in the dishwasher to add up until it’s full for a wash. I watch the towel pile to see when I need to wash towels and make sure I’m keeping track of my clothes for when to wash those.

And even though we’ve discussed groceries already, I’ve got to say that Fernando and I tend to go out together to buy groceries when we can. It’s usually a Sunday afternoon, and it’ll take us out for a weekly trip to the local stores to pick out the things we need.

So maybe I’m not vacuuming once a week or cleaning the bathroom regularly. I’m at least on top of the things that keep the house moving. For now, that’s what counts. And once I’ve mastered all that, I think I’ll try to get on top of the rest of it.

Those are just a few of the things I’ve learned so far as a newlywed. It’s a crazy, fun journey. I just know it’ll be a long adventure, and I’m looking forward to how things change.

– RaeNez

And suddenly eloping sounds nice…

It’s been a crazy busy week.

I submitted my notice Monday. I got my acceptance of my resignation from HR today along with my exit interview paperwork to fill out and submit when I do my exit interview. My HR VP seemed kind of sad, especially after the meeting we had a couple of weeks ago.

I can understand that, but I also got the job I wanted, and it’s amazing.

However, this whole wedding thing just seems a little overwhelming, and I haven’t even been engaged that long!

How do people do this, anyway?

I think perhaps I’m just stressing a little because on top of the engagement, I got a new job and am suddenly having to complete all these tasks for the new job, my current job, and everyone else in between. I drove to the new job on my lunch break today to submit my paperwork for a background check because it can take up to two weeks to complete them and might interfere with my start date.

Am I terrible to admit I almost want the breather between jobs? As it is, I’m going to be ending my current job next Friday to turn around Monday and go to a completely new job.

It’s making me more than a tad bit nervous.

Then there’s starting to budget for a wedding. I’ve discussed things with my parents, which turned into a really interesting conversation because suddenly my parents are actually concerned about their finances. And this is rather an anomaly.

Oh, wait, could that be because they went yesterday to order my mom a new Dodge Charger? Oh, yes, and because they’re trying to pay off the last of their house this year?

Well, I can understand that. And now I feel like I’m putting a damper on their finances by being engaged and actually wanting a wedding. Perhaps it was better when I wanted to elope after all. 

If I’m being honest, Fernando and I will be starting mostly from scratch once we are married. We’ll be financially stable in terms of being able to afford an apartment and living expenses, but we aren’t exactly coming to this with lots of furniture in place and a fully outfitted home.

Maybe eloping sounds nice because I’m tired, busy, and a couple weeks off to get away would be really great right now. And it could also be because I haven’t had any chance to really sit down and work any solid details out.

You know, any solid details besides the groom, that is.

The great thing about Fernando is he would happily run away with me and elope.

But I kinda, sorta want a wedding now. I just don’t know how to do it. I guess with enough time and planning it won’t be that bad, right?

We shall see.

– RaeNez

What a Crazy Month

It’s now officially March, and as a wrap up to February, I just want to say that it’s been more than a little exciting, crazy, nerve-wracking, romantic, and overall exhausting.

But it has got to be my favorite month in 2013 so far, and ladies and gentlemen, we’re only in the third month now. So that is a very good thing. We’re on course for this year to shape up to be one of the best years I’ve had in a very long time.

Yes, I’m still working in a call center. Yes, I visited HR twice in the last two weeks to discuss conditions on the job that have yielded very interesting conversations with people who probably don’t know much about working in a call center. Yes, my stats are generally going downhill in a job that has frustrated me to no end.

I’ve never been happier.

The last week alone has been full of all kinds of things that have turned my world upside down, and I want to take the right amount of time to go through all of them in the correct order because it’s important that you understand just why I’ve been away so long and just why it’s been so crazy for me.

Suffice it so say, dear readers, your writer is ecstatic and busy like a bee and thrilled to bits and pieces to be involved in things that will likely leave her busy for the next several months on a rather important project.

However, let’s rewind a bit.

I think I mentioned that I’d been praying for an interview with a company after I had a phone interview with them. If I didn’t mention it, well, that’s part of what happened over the course of February. If I pulled out my calendar, I could share with you the exact date, but either way, I had a phone interview for a position that sounded relatively mediocre when I first read the details of it but would at least get me out of my current job.

The phone interview enlightened me, and the remaining details sounded more promising. That resulted in an in-person interview with the management team. Now for this particular company, they’ve been going through some growing pains, and that has resulted in something that left them without a management team for the department the position I interviewed for was in. Have you got all that?

I went into the interview and interviewed with the CEO and president of the company because they are the acting management team for the department.

The CEO and president.

Whoa.

I was a bit intimidated, but they were incredibly personable. It was an hour and a half long, and they asked me questions going all the way back to high school. (Wow!) When I began asking them questions about the company, I was struck by how much they loved what they did and how passionate they were about the industry and the company mission. Not to mention they have an internal mission to make the company a place where people love coming to work.

I can definitely get on board with that.

I had good and bad feelings at the end of the interview, and I was so hoping they’d let me know if I’d advanced enough to be able to come in for a second in-person interview, which would be the final interview step in the process.

It took a week before I heard back from them, but they emailed me last Friday (meaning February 22nd) to say they liked me and wanted me to come back for a second interview.

Can you imagine how thrilled I was? I hadn’t been so excited in a long time, and I was starting to hope for the possibility I might actually be able to get a better job.

I set up the next interview for March 1st.

And that, my dear readers, is my first update. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much news, but you’ll be hearing much, much more about this last week within my next few posts!

– RaeNez

Because it’s Thursday…

…and I’m posting quite a few blogs, I figured I’d add this to the mix as I stare at the Darth Pig plushy from Angry Birds Star Wars edition that Fernando bought me and handed me a few days ago when he came to the house. (Also because he pointed out the last two blogs I posted were entirely bitter, and I realize I’m not entirely bitter, just moderately so.)

Doesn’t he just scream, “Rae, I am your Piggie”?

He makes me smile because he’s pretty much adorable, and if you haven’t played Angry Birds Star Wars, you should. Yes, that was a shameless plug, and no, I am not paid by the company to say that. They have enough revenue for their products that they don’t need to pay me to say that (unfortunately).

So today I came home from work and found a lovely box by the creators of one of my favorite websites. Inside were some of my favorite things. Clothes!

Yes, I am girly, and no, I will not apologize for it. 🙂

So I ordered, yet again, from ModCloth and have received an adorable polka-dotted skirt I’m determined to pair with a white three-quarter length scoop-necked white top and red peep toed pumps for work when it gets warm enough. The skirt comes to my knees, which is an entirely appropriate length for work. And, of course, it’s precious and adorable.

If only I could tie the bow that way…

I also bought a navy blouse that I’m currently wearing with jeans. It’s not a complete button down, and the sleeves will roll up and button to three-quarter length. It’ll look great with jeans or leggings depending on the look I’m going for because the blouse is so long. The only downside is the sleeve length. Even though I ordered the size that suited me and the blouse is otherwise almost too large, the sleeves aren’t quite long enough to be “long sleeved,” so I suppose I’ll have to wear them as three-quarter length and make it a summery shirt.

The material is light enough that would probably work best anyway.

Wouldn’t it be cute with a belt around the middle to shape it a bit?

And finally, my favorite items purchased this time around were the shoes I bought. They’re adorable and will look great with that navy shirt… if I can find enough yellow accents to go with them. Pair it with jeans and the shirt and the shoes, and voila! Instant comfort meets cute.

Why yellow?

You’ll see.

I never wear yellow, but I couldn’t resist the cheerful vibes…

If it doesn’t rain tomorrow, I’m very tempted to wear them to work. I’ve got just the shirt to wear with those and jeans. Since it’s casual Friday, they’ll fit in very well and be a bright spot on a 4-hour work day (soon to be 8-hours but not too soon).

In any event, tomorrow IS Friday, and I’m most definitely looking forward to finishing my week off without too much of a hitch. Maybe my cheerful yellow flats will give me good vibes and allow me to end my work week with style.

And that’s all you get tonight… three posts and a tired RaeNez who is now on her way to bed.

RaeNez