2018-05-22 Gardening and Things

It’s the ole switcharoo this morning cuz I had to work first thing and just now getting to the elliptical. I’m at JS’s house and he has a treadmill and elliptical machine. Let me tell ya, not all machines are created equal. This thing is an ass-kicker!

I’ve just got a ton of work this week and it feels great. I’m also back to learning some new things and it’s awesome.

Yesterday I checked a couple more issues off my May to-do list including getting our season pool passes and planting some summer veg. I still have more to plant but mostly just flowers. I’d like to do a few yellow or orange peppers, one zucchini, and one cucumber. Maybe some herbs too. I guess I have a lot more than I thought.

I’m leaving the west side of my house alone this year for a project I’d like to tackle. It involves moving my stupid shed (again) but this time so I can load in all the rubber mulch that’s on the west side of the house where I originally intended to put the shed. I had to move it to the back of the house cuz the city said it wasn’t following the code. Well it wasn’t following the code when I moved into the house so it was total crap when I was served the notice to move it. It was also late fall/early winter when that notice came in and the deadline to move it was like January 31st. What??

That means I had to wait for a window of decent weather to take everything out of the shed and coordinate help to move it. I might have some good bicep strength for a girl my size, but not shed-moving strength!! Josh was happy to help me (for a small fee – that’s his MO). I wasn’t about to spend hours moving that mulch in the cold so there it stayed. And my shed is just a little leaning because it’s on a slight slope.

It bugs me every time I look at it so I’m gonna fix it. Soon. Last year I planted watermelon in that spot and it just went ape-shit growing everywhere so I could not get to the mulch. This year I put the watermelon in the back of the back yard and it’s got lots of room to go gangbusters there too.

Today is pouring down rain so it’s a good day to sit inside and devise plans of attack for summer projects and vacations. I’ve already told the kids they maxed out on big vacations last year so we may do some little weekend trips this year but that’s it. I still have to figure out timing. I’ve got lots of high hopes for this summer actually so I really need to get on the ball with planning.

But first.. gotta make the $$$ to fund all that awesome!

Time to Plan,

~Miss SugarCookie

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2018-02-08 When Plan A Doesn’t Work

Yesterday nothing seemed to go as panned. Serious bummer.

It started when I went to my appointment at the Masonic center to donate blood. I’ve got the whole thing down to a science. That blood drive is every 2 months so it is perfect for the 60 day rule. I book my appointment using the app. A week before the appointment I start amping up my iron. The day of I do my rapid pass before I go.. and BAM, I’m in and out in like 40 minutes. Easy.

My hemoglobin was 12.4 which is too low by a tenth of a point so I had to walk away without donating. Stupid iron deficiency. It was probably because it’s like cycle day 3 or 4. I’m in purge mode so my RBCs are going to be low anyhow.

The clinical intake person treated me like it was my fault, which was super irritating. I go through great lengths just to have enough iron in my system to be above that 12.4 cutoff. I eat all the right things and take iron supplements and also match with vitamin C to get maximum absorption. I’ve researched this and I know what the fuck I’m doing.

So when she says “aww.. if you just woulda eaten some raisins this morning you’d have made it”. I wanted to punch her in the face. She goes on to say “and we really needed your blood too.”

No shit? There’s a need for blood? When is there not a need for blood??! I get emails once a week the supply is low. It’s either low or critically low and when I’m donating the very most they allow based on their rules, I don’t need some person pointing a finger at me like it’s my fault. Rotten.

Now my 2 month schedule is messed up because I’m going to try again at the library in a week or so. I ended up going to target to get groceries instead. Whatev.

From that point on, nothing else really went as planned either. Work was meh and I felt excluded but like I said, they don’t really need me so I just have to roll with it. I should be thankful because then I have more time to do other things, but instead I just sat online waiting for something to come my way.

I was also supposed to have a first date last night. Someone I met on Bumble. I was waiting around to hear from that dude too and didn’t go to Jazzercise or eat dinner or anything I would have normally done. I guess he was working late. This I completely understand because I’ve been in that spot, but after that, I had dinner late-ish and then was super unmotivated to do anything else. Whatev.

That lack of motivation has followed me to today and I feel like I just don’t give a shit about anything.

I ate my first chocolate in 31 days last night. Then I ate an entire chocolate bar and then I felt sick. This morning I weighed myself. After suffering deprivation for 30 days on that stupid program I lost ZERO pounds. Whatev!

Losing weight was never one of my goals but seriously??! If there has ever been a case made for the theory that not everything works for everyone, this is it.

For me I’m sure it has something to do with portions and my indulgence in RX bars… and possibly snacking too late in the day close to bed. Easy enough to test. Just don’t want to.

It’s slim pickings at the gym this AM. None of the usual suspects are here except the good looking personal trainers and their shiny wedding bands on their ring fingers.

There’s no man in black yet, no bird girl, and no creeping retired dude checking me out from across the room. No hot guys to motivate me to kick the resistance up on this machine. Whatev.

I still have a handful of unopened “open when” cards from Z from Mother’s day last year. One was “open when Plan A doesn’t work”. I decided to open it. It was a sympathetic message saying she was sorry the plan didn’t work out and went on to say that the good news is that there are 25 more plans to try.

“… Plan B, C ,D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z”

That girl is a total gem! 💎 She’s the bomb really. I’m a lucky mom. 😊

So today Plan B it is. I’m gonna try and find some motivation and get some things accomplished. I suppose that starts now.

Turn that Whatev into Vetahw!

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-01-19 On Balancing Budgets and Traveling

Well.. I did it. I asked for more work. So now if I get too much, I only have myself to blame. I’d like to target 25 hours a week. I’ve seriously been number crunching daily and looking at all my bills and accounts. I’m spending less than I have for years and for the first time ever, I’m on a budget.

I actually opened a second account that I have a debit card for and that’s what I’m carrying instead of my credit card. My visa still has $$$ On it from Hawaii and Christmas and I’m now only using it for emergencies. My target is to have that paid off by April and then I’ll be in a better spot.

I’m not yet making enough to cover my monthly expenses, but IF I put in 25 hours a week, I should be able to do that. That, of course, does not include medicine for my travel itch.

That’s the one variable that’s tough to factor in. Vacations and road trips are an expense that typically is a larger bundle all at once. It’s plane tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars, and more on food all in a short timeframe. I have not gone through the trouble of adding all that up and averaging it out over 12 months.

That would be a waste of time anyhow, as last year was so atypical. I travelled more than any other year of my life which included two “Dream” destinations.. Hawaii AND touring the Pacific North West. I won’t be doing that again, at least for a while.

Even with that being said, I’m already itching to plan something for this year. I just need to keep it small and do more road trips and visits to friends where it’s free for me to stay.

I’ve already told Princess KK I would come visit her this winter, but once I got my job I decided to try and wrap that into my first company trip. If they are going to pay for me to go to San Fran, San Diego is a short hop from there and a beautiful costal drive. I just hope they decide to do that sooner rather than later. I’d love to get the F out of the Midwest when the weather is still gross and not when things start to get better.

I’m also jones-ing for an Austin trip and currently holding my breath waiting to hear if the typical crew is all converging there at the end of March or not. Of course I’ve got Summer Residency in July, but I’m not exactly counting that in my list of travels.

For one, it’s Nebraska City and 40 minutes from my house. And secondly, the last one didn’t exactly feel like a vacation. It was lots of work and not a lot of play. The good news on that is the cost is added onto what I owe for tuition for the semester, so the expense is not draining my bank account.

In any case, I’m a planner and I always have the future in mind and I need that “something” to look forward to. I think that’s part of the reason I can’t help but evaluate every relationship early on and continuously question whether or not it has a viable future. That whole “Futuristic” thing is one of my top five “strengths” according to the Gallup Strengths-finder quiz. When I first got my results (in 2012 when I took the test), I wondered what the heck that meant and how it could possibly be a strength, but as time passes, I’m more and more aware that someone who is mindful of the future, typically has a pretty good definition of a path to get there. It goes hand in hand with one of my other top five strengths, “Strategic”.

Wow. Somehow I got from asking for more work to finances to traveling and now personality profiling. That’s quite a meandering. In truth, I could really go on and see where else that leads, but that’s not gonna pay my bills or for that next big trip I want to take. 😜 I should probably get to work.

One more digression sparked by observation before I call it quits… the Man in Black is wearing white today. How bizarre.

Happy FriYay!
~Miss SugarCookie

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

2017-10-19 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

2017-08-12 Looking Forward

It’s good to have a plan. It’s good to have things to look forward to. An event or a meet up or a vacation in the future that you can think about and be excited about. I’m a planner by nature and I love having things to look forward to. That’s probably why I am always planning to meet people for lunches or daydreaming and scheming about my next road trip or vacation. From the moment Hawaii was a done deal, it has been a topic of discussion with people and a wonderful thing to be excited about. That happens in November and I bought those tickets last spring, so I will have enjoyed looking forward to that for like 6 months.

One thing that was great about my job was that it paid enough to support my travel habit. There are so many places I want to see and so many things that I want to do that as soon as I get back from one, I’m almost immediately thinking about what is next. The downside to the job thing is, well, only three weeks of paid vacation a year. Bummer. I’m also a fan of the long weekend, you know take a Friday and maybe even Monday too and take off for a road trip. I think my PTO balance at work was often hovering around zero. Whatever job I elect to have next, I would like more time off. Four weeks is not unheard of but five would be the bomb. That’s probably stretching it some.

I originally planned to take three months off of work. Well, three months where I was just going to get some serious R and R and not think about work at all and then potentially another three months looking for the “right” job. For the most part being off work has been great, but now that I am almost halfway through my first three and about a month past my big Pacific Northwest adventure, I am really starting to want to plan some more things with the time I have left.

I’m supposed to do a quick trip with my friend Denise to Beatrice to witness the Solar Eclipse on the 21st, but that will likely be a one day trip. The one day trip I took to that crappy water park in Grand Island was more of a spur of the moment thing and not super awesome. I need something more substantial. Yesterday I had texts with both my friend Rebecca in Austin and my Mom about potential trips.

It looks like we (my mom, the kids, and I) will be going to visit my brother in Colorado in October over the four day Columbus day weekend. That’s so far away still. I may be going to Austin mid September too. That will probably be decided here in the next couple of days. Rebecca also wants to plan a girls trip sometime in October or November so that will likely be awesome too. Then we are leading right into that first week of November when I will be on the island of Maui. So that’s all very excellent.

I’ve also been thinking I would like to get back to the Badlands this year. I love that place so much. That is one of the benefits of being in a relationship .. you have someone to experience things with. I don’t much mind traveling solo, but when you get to where you are going, eating all your meals and seeing cool things by yourself is just not the same. You see the most amazing sunrise and you look to your left and your right and don’t have anyone to say “wow, how cool is that” to. That’s a bummer. Still, it would be nice to get back there before my time runs out.

For the next few weeks I need to focus on getting the kids back to school and potentially doing a little soul searching about my future. That’s another kind of “looking forward” that I’ve intended for this time in my life. I should capitalize on that opportunity while I’m at home and waking up each and every wonderful day with the luxury of doing whatever it is I feel like.

I guess it’s time to do that now. I wonder what this day will bring.

Always Looking,
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-07-08 Little Bits of Lots of Stuff

It’s Saturday in a life where everyday feels like Saturday now. I made myself a to-do list at the beginning of the week and as soon as I am done writing today I am going to go down to the kitchen to check it and see how I did. There are no “rights and wrongs” in this game I’m playing now. Whatever happens happens.

I can say that I have been procrastinating a little trip planning though. I have plane tickets and a rental car booked for next week but not much beyond that. I want to play this one slow and loose and not get too hung up on schedules. I’m taking the kids on our first real adventure this year and we are going to go explore the Pacific NorthWest, starting in Portland.

I visited Portland last year with Matt and we did a lot of stuff and the one thing I found really noteworthy was an old school building that had been turned into a hotel/restaurant/bar. It was McMenamins Kennedy School, but not really a destination for kids really, if I am remembering correctly (lots of bars). I also really dug the rose garden we went to, but the kids would also not have a lot of interest in that. I should probably start my planning by looking up stuff for families to do in Portland. I should, but again, procrastinating for some reason.

I have not written in a couple of days and have had a few meet ups, you know, in the interest of trying to fortify some relationships. I had lunch with my sister on Thursday. I had a drink with Kevin and Chris Thursday night. I had a second date with Mr. Fireworks (who shall henceforth be named “the dud” instead) on Wednesday. Then yesterday, Friday, I had lunch with a former co-worker, a wedding reception for my Friend Geri in the evening, followed by dinner and a movie with Josh. So, I guess I have been busy.

Most of it was pretty good, save maybe the second date on Wednesday. I don’t think I will be seeing that guy again. My feelings are not really hurt about that at all. I think i learned a little bit about myself and what I am looking for and how this online dating stuff works in the process. No harm, no foul. I tend to get caught up in my own head about stuff rather quickly and I think I just need to just adjust that dial a little bit and not get too wound up too fast.

I’ve re-written my bio for the Bumble app like three or four times now but I think I finally have it right. It is tough to convey what you want to convey about who you are and what you are looking for in 300 words or less. Especially for a writer.

Josh and I have talked pretty openly about the online dating and the process and what its flaws are. He’s on OK Cupid and does not have any faith that he will find his match through that. He’s also a firm believer that if you do the things you already like doing in your life everyday, that is how you will meet that right person. I agree with this to some extent, but this too has it’s flaws. I could probably do a whole blog post about each of these methods. Maybe I will.

My focus for any one topic today seems off and I’m low on sleep and battery power for my laptop so I’m going to cut here and try and ease my way into this Saturday. Perhaps there will be more later.

Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps,
~Miss SugarCookie