2017-12-03 Sunday Status Update and Reflection

Some days I feel so positive about my progress and some days I just feel like a follow through failure. Braeaking it all down with statistics helps me realize the reality and take feelings out of the story. These “pulse checks” are therefore very helpful. It’s also helpful to compare one moment in time to another. That way I can truly see if I’m making progress and meeting my goals.

Here’s today’s snapshot…

Exercise/Steps: My average steps for the last 7 days was just shy of 20k steps per day. This is on par with where I was two weeks ago but about twice as much as I was getting at the start of the year.

I went to about 6 Jazzercise classes for the week which is also about the same as last week but I’m doing more of this now than at the start of the year as well. I’m still using 8 pound weights but don’t think I can go any heavier because 8 pounds is pretty taxing on my joints.

Sleep: My 7 day average was 6 hours and 50 minutes. This is worse than the last four previous weeks which were all 7+ hours average per night. My goal has been 8 for so long but I’m feeling that’s unrealistic. I’m going to adjust accordingly and shoot for 7.5 hours. I’ve still felt rested and energized for the day when I wake up and I think that’s the important thing. I’m now able to sleep through the night which is HUGE! A year ago I was so far from that it’s crazy and was even still struggling six months ago. I’m attributing my improved mood and energy to this one factor and therefore know for certain the changes I’ve made in my life were not just good ones.. they were absolute necessity.

Eating: It was a tough week and my willpower was low. I had too much junk with sugar in it. I’ve decided I’m going gluten free… and I started a couple of days ago. If that seems familiar, it’s because it is. I just copy/pasted that from two weeks ago. It’s exactly the same. I caved on the gluten free thing a few times and broke down and had too many sweets. But a few days ago, on December 1st, I re-committed myself to being gluten free. It’s time to get serious. I’m not going to try and fool myself into thinking I can also cut dairy or sugar at the same time. So this month I’m going to focus on just that one change.

Employment: Still None. My MFA residency starts this month and I’m now actively engaged in looking for a job.

Relationships: I now have a backlog of writing to do on this subject.. for romantic relationships and new things regarding family, but I’ve not found dedicated time to do so because of other priorities. Of course I’m still single and unsure what to do about these of my life, but it’s not like it’s a thing you can set goals around and make “progress”. Am I Right?

Looking forward to:

1. Monday – Pounding the world wide electronic superhighway for a job. (Yes.. I’m actually excited about this).
2. Tuesday – An evening in or out with my lovely sister. .
3. Wednesday – Showing my HVAC who is boss and filing away the final episode of that saga.
4. Thursday – Lunch with Leah.
5. Friday – FriYay!
6. Saturday – Christmas cookie chaos!!

Life is Still Good,
~Miss SugarCookie

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2017-11-30 The Last Day Of November

When I decided I was going to quit my job I had a very general idea about the timeline I would adhere to for the remainder of the year. In review..

July – Adjust to not working, reconnect with important people in my life, meet new people, and travel the Pacific North West. Check ✅

August – Focus on myself and health. I set goals, worked on gardening and exercising and started cooking more. I

Dipped my toe in the dating scene and that left me somewhat sour, but I tried it. ✅

September – Originally this month was supposed to be dedicated to figuring out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I did do a little of this but almost none of it was related to how to obtain income like I intended. Instead it turned into a second August where I was very self-centered in just doing whatever I wanted. In the end my grand life epiphany led me to submit an application for the MFA program. So I’m a way, I sort of accomplished what I set out to do. ✅

October – Presumably I would have my life figured out by this point so this month was earmarked for actually looking for a job. Instead what I did was have my third August. Ummm.. ok. I don’t think I can even pretend I was on track by this point. However, I still felt great about EVERYTHING.

November – Doing analysis for my financials led me to really determine what my needs are. By this point I should have been deep in job search land but was not. I procrastinated that daily as I looked forward to my escape to Hawaii. Oh yeah, Maui! My savings were dwindling daily and for the rest of my life I will never regret going. Add that Mantra to my list “No Regrets”.

Today is the last day of November and In my grand master plan I would be zeroing in on a new job. A source of income to sustain my family is a top priority at this point. It’s time to get serious. I think I’ve successfully separated what I want for my life from what I need. I can now look at jobs more objectively.

I don’t need to find something that will repel me up a ladder and also check boxes for life fulfillment. I’m getting that from the other aspects of my life. Im getting it from my children and relationships and writing and experiences. I’m checking the box for continued personal growth with the MFA and the Master Gardner program.

The job I’m looking for needs to satisfy a slim but probably still tough to find set of requirements.

1. A minimum income to sustain my lifestyle. Thank goodness I’ve always lived well inside my means.

2. Flexibility to allow me to spend a necessary amount of time on those items listed in the previous paragraph.

3. A good company with a good mission, vision, and culture.

The end result might be contract work utilizing my current skills and expertise or it could be a full time gig helping me cross over into different industries. I’m open to either. What I can’t have is something that is a copy of what I’ve done in the past.. stress, poor work life balance, and a lack of growth.

Today I’ve set a goal for myself to update my resume for a few very specific job descriptions and also my LI profile. I’m also intending to reach out to three contacts to start spreading the word that I’m available. I’m going to do three a day until I’ve exhausted my list. Yes, December is going to be the month I get everything rolling. I expect that will take me straight into the holidays when the whole world pauses and nothing gets done.

My residency for the MFA is scheduled for Dec. 28 through Jan. 6 so I won’t want to actually start a new gig until then. It’s going to work out perfectly… I’m confident!!

It’s Go Time!

~Miss SugarCookie

2017-11-15 I’m Ready.. Let’s Go!

Yesterday I woke up uninspired and unmotivated and today I woke up energized and ready to take on the world. I could spend a while pontificating on why that is but I might not get very far.

I had relatively the same amount of sleep. I Went to bed at the roughly the same time. I had the same sort of day ahead. What’s the difference. Was it something I ate? Hormones? Quality of sleep? A three quarter moon on a Thursday? What’s the deally-o, yo?

See.. No answers, just more questions. Time to move on.

Right now I’m back on my elliptical at the gym jamming to random tunes on shuffle. I mean really random. No playlist, no station, no genre.. just me saying to the universe, “Give me what you got baby. I can take it”. So far I’ve had Pink, Maroon Five, Train, Chicago (which I elected to skip), Daft Punk, Phil Collins, and now Alanis.

Interesting mix. I wonder what message the Universe is trying to send me. I could go on a tangent about this too but, again, I know for a fact that ends in more questions instead of answers.

I feel like I’m becoming a master at typing on my phone while elliptical-ing. Speaking of masters, I’m embarking on yet ANOTHER new endeavor today. I’m going to an informational orientation on becoming a master gardener.

It’s a program offered by the county and from what I understand involves classes and community service hours. It’s actually a collaboration between both Sarpy and Douglas counties. The meeting is at the library in my area. I think they start “classes” soon-ish and then when spring comes round, they have assignments around town assisting with gardens in “public” spaces. That’s all just educated guessing though.

This is another area of interest of mine I’ve been putting off for years. And there is no more room for “putting off” in my life. The time is here. The time is now. I’m ready.. Let’s do this!

Perhaps this meeting is the reason I’m more pumped for the day. Perhaps, but does it also explain why my outlook on the future is so positive today as opposed to yesterday when I was freaking out about my job situation? Nope.. I don’t think so. 🤔

It’s most certainly all connected though. There is not one single person, event, or thought that is not connected in some way. This is why I can trust the Universe to control my “shuffle”. I guess that’s my version of faith. No matter what the unanswered questions are.. it’s going to work out!

On that note, I’m now jamming to Fall Out Boy, “This Ain’t a Scene, It’s an Arms Race”. How appropriate (and one of my favs!). That’s my cue to cut it.

Let’s Go!

~Miss Sugarcookie

2017-11-11 The Phone Call that Changed Everything

Sometimes we look back at moments in our lives and realize there was a particular occurance or decision or person that had a huge impact. Something so significant, it altered the course of our path and perhaps put us going in a new direction. Many times we don’t even realize those moments until weeks, months, or even years pass. For me there have been several and when I think about those times, it somehow seems that fate had a heavy hand in my life.

If I were writing a blog that was about my history, now would be the perfect time to tell the story of that one raccoon that dramatically altered the course of my life… in a BIG way. However, since this is mostly about what is happening in the here and now and not about what happened to me when I was 18, I’ll skip that one and go right into the phone call I had at 1:55PM today, November 11, 2017.

The call was from Jenna, at UNO. She let me know that I’ve been accepted into the MFA program. If I want a spot in the spring term, it’s mine. Wow.
The conversation lasted less than five minutes and she’s going to send me a detailed packet of information via email early next week, then “Thanks, I’ll talk to you soon” and “click”. Again.. Wow.

At the time of the call I was at Simon’s house planting spring bulbs. He wasn’t home. I paced up and down his small living and dining area and cried. Then I jumped up and down like a 8 year old and then i walked over to look out the front window and cried some more. Yup.. I guess you can add that to the list of things that will bring me to tears. A wave of emotion filled with happiness and pride and satisfaction. I did it!

Like I stated, most of those life changing events in my past seemed to be up to fate, or someone else, or just me rolling with the path of least resistance. I never had dreams and aspirations. I never had big life goals. By the time I was 33 I was 10 years deep in my career and positive that was it. I was a software analyst with a computer science degree and I was positive I’d never go back to school, because my path was set and I didn’t need it.

If there’s anything I’ve learned these past two really tough years, it’s that I deserve more and I deserve better. I deserve to dream and I have every right to pursue whatever that is, despite fate or what anyone else might think about it. It’s my life and I’m calling the shots.

I’ve been writing my entire life. My poetry is a huge part of who I am.  It’s a part of my soul and my process. This choice, this path is what is the right thing for me. It’s what I want and what I need and starting something new might be scary and there are still obstacles in my path, but I have confidence in myself and my abilities and I’ll be able to make it work.

People are going to ask me why.

My only response right now “why not?!!”

Last December I had a casual conversation with the spouse of a colleague at the company Christmas party. That interaction planted a tiny seed which sprouted when I was working out on an elliptical machine in a shitty airport hotel in Portland Oregon. I had an epiphany about my life.

That idea grew over the next few months while I was living a work-free life of leisure. On 9/26 I had a moment of complete clarity and that is when I made the decision to apply for the MFA program. There’s no way I could deny the power of the force inside me pointing the way.

Ok.. so maybe today’s phone call wasn’t the thing that changed everything, but the fact that it happened and the way I felt about it is pure validation. I’m really doing this. Wow wow!!

Overjoyed,
~Miss SugarCookie

PS. This is the poem I included with the two page “Statement of Purpose” that was required by the application…

Why I Write

I write because the very essence of my soul demands it.
Hearts are weak, soft, and are hurt easy.
They bleed, and then cease to exist.
The soul is liquid forever
Moving at its own pace through existence.
Mingling with others, and then splitting apart
Tirelessly spilling into new territory.
Fearlessly cutting the terrain beneath it into cracks,
Caverns,
And yes, even canyons.
The fluidity of it is perfection.
And there’s no need to lead the way, it knows.
So denying it what it demands is folly.
My heart feels and seeks after inspiration.
But words are the implements of my souls grand design.

2017-10-19 What About Right Now?

Yesterday I met with a finacial advisor. It was just an initial discussion so he could explain to me what he and his team and company are all about. He described their philosophy for investing and the different options available for utilizing their services. We also took a peek at what I have in my portfolio already which is great because in my history of working and saving, I’ve not had a lot of advice or input from an expert. Despite that, I’ve done ok.

The main questions or concerns for retirement revolve around what your goals are and if you will have enough to live how you want to live when you are no longer getting an annual salary. After not working for 3+ months and seeing how great it is, the retirement thing is really appealing. Planning for it is great, but what about today? What about RIGHT NOW??!

Each month I have been out of work I have done a deeper analysis of my spending and my budget than I have ever done before in my entire life. I’ve been so fortunate to have had a good job for 20 years and not had to worry about money. I’ve always had enough. I’ve never really been on a budget where I had to limit myself on ‘x’ so I could afford ‘y’. I don’t think many people can say that.

I’ve also always pushed the envelope when it comes to salary. I’ve asked for raises and recognized when the market demand for my job was at a premium and took advantage of those times.

When I started working in a professional capacity in 1995 my annual salary was 28K. I advanced quickly at that employer and moved onto the business/dev team in 1997. In those days we were called programmers and I did work in COBOL and CICS on a DB2 database. I capitalized on the jump in pay ranges during the Y2K “crisis” and when I found what increases other people were getting, I always asked for more.

In 2000 I moved over to supporting clinical applications and in 2001 made the leap to HL7 interfaces. This very specialized field meant that the skills I was learning would be shared by only a few people in the industry. People with experience in this area are sort of rare. This meant that when I switched employers, I could basically ask for what I wanted and get it. I did exactly that.

After seventeen years in my field and I was earning six figures. and that was without constant employer jumps for increases. I’ve only worked at two places. All of that is the reason I’ve never really been on a budget and also had no problem maxing out my 401K. So my retirement portfolio looks pretty good. But, again… what about RIGHT NOW?

Whether it’s retirement or tomorrow the questions are the same. What do you need to live comfortably and what are your goals?

The answers for me become more and more clear every month that goes by, I need about 4K a month to cover my bills and spending. I know I have the capacity to reduce this by about 1000 a month but that would be sacrificing money I spend on experiences and vacations which starts to cut into my preferred lifestyle. I recognize I can live more conservatively and make better choices and I’ve started making changes in that direction, but traveling is one of my joys in life and I’m not wanting to compromise on that one.

When I crunch the numbers, it is easy to figure out how much I need to make. I’ve only just started to look for a new job but am already acutely aware that money is typically the #1 thing people focus on. Knowing what my requirements are makes it easier to narrow the field and consider on the other things that could quite possibly give money a run for it’s .. ah.. money in priority order. Those things are flexibility and culture.

I ranted a couple of days ago about employers and the common practice of taking advantage of employees and over-working them and not paying enough attention to engagement, growth, and satisfaction so I won’t repeat myself on that. Bottom line is that in my book, this is more important than salary. At this point, I would rather take a job with less pay where the employees are really satisfied. I’m becoming less and less afraid to go on record with that statement.

This blog is very anonymous but I’ve already stated as much to two recruiters I’ve talked to. I’ve decided that once I really start to look and apply, part of that process will have to include talking to other staff members and not just management. If that can’t be arranged it’s probably a red flag.

These factors for any type of job I decide to do also fall into the category of “right now”. Life is too short to do something you don’t want to do or are unhappy doing for the sake of tomorrow. But a person shouldn’t sacrifice tomorrow for today either. I guess like everything, it had to be a balance. Plan for tomorrow but live for right now.

On that note, it’s time for me to go live for today! 😊

Carpe Diem!
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-10-18 Following My Own Advice

Today I went to the Omaha Startup Collective and while it’s great to attend events and meet new people, I don’t think I am “startup” material. I’m not an ideas person and it is very hard for me to get behind other peoples ideas because I already have a very full set list of things I want to accomplish on my own. Yes, I care about my community and my city and my neighbors and future generations, but do I care enough to join this group or that group or dedicate my time to things that are not top five on my priority list? Probably not. Still, it was good for me to try to do something new.

My first priority (pretty soon now) will be to find a job. Each day I spend time exercising, doing house or garden projects, taking care of the kids, and writing. It seems to take up most of my time just doing that and as I have stated before, I am not sure how I am ever going to go back to having 40 hours a week consumed by work, but I will have to figure that out.

My second priority is to start submitting some of my writing to different publications. I’ve wanted to do that for years and just have never pulled the trigger on it. Something was holding me back and I can’t even begin to imagine what that is. Anything I can think of feels like an excuse. If there is one thing I have learned from my travels in life thus far is that there is no time like now to start doing what you want. I’m a hypocrite if I keep saying that and don’t ever follow my own advice.

The other thing I have learned is that I am definitely driven by lists and goals. I’ve had several goals this year that I have been able to either accomplish or make great progress on which involve mostly sleep and exercise. Now that I feel like I have met with success and know the formula, that part of my life can continue on in a very routine fashion and I can start setting new goals. One of which HAS to do with writing and following my poetry passion.

Tomorrow I am going to what is called a Feedback Reading session. This is where accomplished writers read something they are working on and get feedback from the audience. This event is put on by the Nebraska Writers Collective and is typically followed by a writing workshop conducted by the same authors. This is just one of the things I try and do regularly to stay connected to the writing scene in Omaha. I would much rather spend my time with events like this than other random meet-ups like the one I went to today.

Aside from that, I am seriously considering setting some concrete goals around submission of my work and also doing more creative writing and less “stream of consciousness” writing. Nine days ago I referenced a concept introduced in a book I am reading which basically states that a poet needs no inspiration as it is always within them to be inspired. I’d like to put that to the test. Can I really take some sort of random daily prompt and make something out of it.. every day? Wouldn’t that be a nice challenge.

If I am following my own advice, “Today is a good day to start”, I would just go start that right now, but because there are only 8 minutes left in the day, I’m going to let all of this slide right into tomorrow. For now, it is time to see what dreams may come.

Until We Meet Again,
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-10-09 Multitasking to the Tune of Change

It’s Monday morning. Fall is in the air and it feels like change is quickly approaching my life. I’m back at the gym this morning writing from the elliptical machine. I’m somehow really digging this dynamic… feeling productive in two areas at once AND writing makes an hour of cardio go by super fast. I’m also getting good at typing from my phone. I wonder how this might be different if I was trying it at home.

This weekend I created a new playlist for fall and so my workout this morning is all Silversun Pickups, Lincoln Park, Dorothy, Live, The Pretty Reckless, and RadioHead. A good mix of older stuff and new. I also threw David Ford partly because the album I have is all good but mostly for the one song that I absolutely get pumped about every time I hear it.. “Go To Hell”. 
In fact, I can’t just listen to it once. When it comes up I typically listen to it two or three times. It’s great like “I Will Survuve” in that it leaves me saying “Fuck Yeah” every time. 
I need more of that. I think this is why doing this morning gym routine is important to me. It gets me pumped for the day. Whatever I end up doing I’m hoping it works with this. If I could find something that’s like 4 hours a day starting at noon, that would be ideal. If I can get someone to pay my about 100 bucks an hour for those 20 hours, well I’d be set. It’s nice to think about but probably not realistic. 
I’m also not going to be able to pull that much coin unless I’m doing HL7 and I’m so over that. Really. If I was all out of options, I most certainly would, but it’s time to go forward with something new. 
No word yet on my MFA application. I’m going to call another connection today about a technical writing position, which might just be the right mix of applying my technical background and doing more of what I want to be doing. Even if it’s not creative writing, it gets me more practice (and a paycheck). 
Done with cardio now and time for a few weights…
When They Come For Me I’ll Be Gone.

~Miss Sugarcookie