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The New Core Story: Step One

24 Sep

It’s one thing to recognize my original core story is holding me back and decide to move on, but where am I moving to?  If I’m going to successfully my core story, I need to have a new one in mind.  I need to take what’s obviously a huge project and turn it into something manageable, but I’m impatient.  I want my life to be awesome, NOW.  So what can I do to make some progress, so I can start to see improvements?

Being a cog in my own life doesn’t sound anywhere near as satisfying as running my life; I can begin by rewriting those daily, unexamined scripts that control my routine.  There are so many things that I want to accomplish, but so many of them don’t get done simply because doing them is not a part of my day.  I literally need to set aside part of each day and devote it to awesomeness.  I also need to automate the mundane so I don’t waste potentially awesome time thinking about it.

Tomorrow I’m going to start my new morning routine:

  1. Get up and dressed and ready to leave the house.
  2. Eat something.
  3. Go for a walk.

It really should be that simple, but I will happily procrastinate on each or all of those things on any given day.  My new core story says that I have healthy habits, so it’s time to automate my good intentions.

Wishcasting Wednesday: Immerse

21 Sep
Photo credit: colon+right.bracket @ Flickr

Photo credit: colon+right.bracket @ Flickr

What do I wish to immerse myself in?

I wish to immerse myself in my shiny new relationship!  It’s still very early, but things are going well.  I’m happy and I see a real potential for that happiness to be sustainable.

I’ve been dating a lot in the past year, but I rarely get to the third date.  That is partially because I know what I want and I’m not willing to settle, and partially because I’m rarely willing to put much effort into a relationship — I want it to start off good and stay that way.

This has started very well, but I’m actually willing to put some work in.  This person seems worth my time and effort and I’m enjoying that so much.  As I said, it’s very early, but my attitude is obviously different, and I wish to immerse myself in the good I am finding and the good I am creating.  I want to immerse myself in the excitement of a new relationship and in the work it takes to create a lasting relationship.

This is the first time I’ve let myself be excited about a relationship in a very long time, and I wish to immerse myself in the entire experience.

Seeds Planted

17 Sep

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

What seeds did I plant today?  I found myself focusing primarily on social goals and maintaining my relationships.

  1. I called my great-aunt to check on her.  My great-grandmother, her mom, died this week and she took it hard.  She seems to be doing better now than when I saw her on Saturday.
  2. I talked to my step-dad for over half an hour.  We rarely talk at all, but we both enjoyed spending time together when I was in Michigan this week.  My mom has a poverty mentality and they’re both just very stressed out right now.  He and I have never really been close, so it helps that I’m supporting him at this time.
  3. I briefly talked to my dad.  It was his grandmother that died, so I wanted to make sure he was okay and find out how the funeral went.  He has some good memories of his grandmother, but he seems to be okay.
  4. I went to the bar with Amy.  I rarely go out and I feel especially broke now, but it was nice to spend a little time together out of the house.
  5. I talked to Tiff about moving back to Reno.  We both loved it there and living together was amazingly easy.
  6. I exchanged a couple of texts with Justin.  That’s all it takes to remind me that he is wonderful and I am glad we are friends.
  7. I applied for a job and started a drastic overhaul of my résumé.
  8. I called a temp agency, but I’m not sure what to think.  I’ll finish my résumé and then take it in to a few different places on Monday.

Some days I don’t use my phone at all, but today I managed to really connect with people.  I’m not very good at that, so it was nice to find it so easy to do.

I found this exercise really helpful, so I’m going to try to make it a weekly feature.

5 Lessons I Don’t Want to Learn

15 Sep

Sorry, no credit or debit cards accepted.My trip to Michigan was depressing.  It usually is.  I was able to see almost all of my friends and family though, and it was great to spend some time with them, to be a part of their lives.  I miss that so much.

However, so many of those people I love are struggling in one way or another.  Most people are struggling financially — jobs are hard to come by and good jobs are all but nonexistent.  At the same time, the restaurant where my mom works, which my best friend’s family owns, is struggling to find decent employees.  I only saw one person who seemed truly happy and excited about her life.

I’m working to rewrite my core story and my trip home reminded me how I came by the beliefs I’m trying to change.  Here are some of the things I saw while I was there:

  • Financial insecurity is normal.  Real prosperity is an unrealistic goal.
  • Work is something we all have to suffer through; no one enjoys their job, but we have to have money.
  • There is always too much to do, so something must be sacrificed.  Usually it will be the sacrifice of a dream or a goal to reality.
  • You can’t count on anyone to help you.  Even if someone wants to help, they’re probably struggling too so how can they offer you anything?
  • It’s always best to be cautious.  Things could turn for the worst at any moment, so be prepared.

Everything there is treated as a zero-sum game.  People who are successful are regarded with resentment and suspicion — obviously they couldn’t have achieved that success without taking something from someone else.  People are reluctant to help others unless they can see a direct pay off.  Fear is always, always present and drives most decisions.  Everyone suffers from a poverty mentality and that is the part of my core story that I am trying to change.

Prosperity, not poverty.

Faith, not fear.

Abundance, not absence.

I can do this.

4 Places I Might Move

1 Sep

Earlier this week I wrote that I don’t belong in Spokane, so a friend asked me the logical question: where am I going to go next?  Good question.  My lease here goes through April, and it makes sense to stay somewhere where the cost of living is this cheap while I try to get my career out of the kitchen.  That being said, eight months is enough time to start bringing in some sort of reliable, misery-free income and it will be more than enough time in Spokane.

So where am I going to go when it’s time to get out of here?  I don’t know, but here’s the list thus far:

  1. Seattle.  The original plan was to go to school in Spokane for a year and then move to Seattle to finish school, but my school plans have been dramatically changed.  Seattle seems like an amazing city, and I’ve actually wanted to live there for several years, but I’m not sure April will be the right time.
  2. Tahoe.  Skiing is what I love and what makes me happiest, so I’m very tempted to go back to Tahoe.  I loved it there and I have friends there and there are even a couple of community colleges there.  However, Tahoe is very expensive and the housing market is crazy.  I think it’s the place I want to live my life, but not necessarily the place I want to build my life.
  3. The Bay Area.  Two of my closest friends are going to school here; I could join them there and get back on track with school without being too far away from Tahoe and my favorite ski area.  This option seems the most practical.
  4. Los Angeles.  I can’t imagine staying there long-term, but I do have a couple of friends there and I’d love to try experience living in a city like that.  It’s feels like the opposite of Spokane, and that might be what I need when I leave here.  I could live there until the ski season starts and then head to Tahoe for the winter.  After a summer in L. A. and a winter in Tahoe, I’ll probably be motivated to attempt school again and far more clear on what I want from my life.  This option feels shiniest.

Right now I’m feeling very overwhelmed by how far my life is from where I want it, but I do see numerous ways that I can have a good life.  I think I need to decide where I want to be, in body, career, and mind, next May and create a plan to get me there.  I’m approaching the problem from too many angles, and I need a more direct, targeted method.

I don’t belong here.

29 Aug


Pretty, but emotionally toxic.

Today I realized that I do not feel like I belong in Spokane.  As I explained to a friend, I came here to make changes, but this is a city where people settle instead of change.  I do not settle.

The entire impetuous for moving here was to take advantage of the low cost of living while I began working on the prerequisites for the degree program I want.  After weeks of maddening phone calls, today the community college finally admitted they are too understaffed to process my financial aid application in time for the fall quarter, so there is absolutely no chance I’ll get so much as a student loan until winter.  Without financial aid, I can’t go to school.  If I can’t go to school, there is absolutely no reason for me to be in Spokane.

It’s been an incredibly frustrating couple of weeks, but I just assumed that everything would get worked out.  I applied months ago, and I’ve been on top of all the necessary paperwork and I’ve been very proactive about calling.  How hard is it to get into community college?  Today I had to abandon those assumptions and reassess.

What I want to do now is get a small business loan or a personal loan or whatever it takes to get my business off the ground.  If I can give myself a few months to focus on this, I think I’ll have something that will support me by the end of the year.  If I can make this happen, Spokane will be a very good place to be for the next few months while I build my income potential.

This is a huge departure from my original plan, but it’s very much in line with what I want for myself: interesting, location-independent work.  Before I’ve always had an excuse not to pursue this, but I’m quickly running out of excuses.  Initially this felt like a set-back, but I’m starting to see the potential.


22 Aug

Last night brought the first flow of income from my new venture!  I enjoyed the experience and hope to replicate it tonight.

I’m coming up with several ways to learn new skills, and more importantly, I’m following through with them.  I’m worried I’m being self-indulgent and that I should be more focused on finding a “real” job so I have a steady stream of income.  I’m trying to remember that very few things on my resume have ever made me happy or given me the income I wanted.  Why would I rush back into that?

Well, because they provided me with the income I needed and I’m going to need more money very soon.  School starts in a couple of weeks and I have to be able to pay for it.  I should learn my financial aid status by Friday, and while I originally didn’t want to take loans, now I’m willing to do it.  I’d rather spend this time focusing on improving myself than being a wage slave.

I’ve been thinking about class lately and how I was raised and how that differs from what I want for myself.  My family is working class and while no one is struggling or suffering, money is always a factor.  Anything that is not a necessity requires careful consideration before purchase and many purchases require planning and saving.  I don’t want to live like that.

Instead, I’d rather know that not only are my basic needs always going to be met, but I’ll be able take a brief vacation on a whim or buy a new pair of skis when I want them or donate money to a new charity when I find it.  I don’t think that’s a lot to strive for, but I think it’s becoming increasingly difficult for many people to achieve.  I’m not sure if I think that because it’s true, or if I think that because of the socioeconomic class of the majority of my friends and family.

Something has to change, and right now it’s me.

Career Revolution: Still in progress.

21 Aug

I quit my job.  The plan was to wait until I had something better lined up, but I was really unhappy there and the situation was consistently degrading.  Obviously it’s a bit terrifying to watch money go out without coming in, but I’m getting more out of this time than I was out of that job.

I’m getting better at identifying my skills, but now I need to rework my resume.  Another reason I need to improve my resume?  I’ve been very focused on learning new skills and improving existing skills.  I’m working my way through an Excel tutorial and making small websites for my dad and my step-dad.  I’ve been using WordPress for those, but I just downloaded the trial version of Dreamweaver so I can work on my html and css skills.

In addition to skill acquisition, I’m spending some time trying to start a small side business.  It’s still very early, but I’m getting a favorable response and I’m optimistic.  I’ve known I wanted a less traditional job path for quite some time, and now I’m pursuing it instead of just thinking how nice it would be to have it.

  • I want to be paid well by people who value my services instead of working for people who only want the cheapest workhorse they can find.
  • I want a job that will utilize my skills and ideas instead of just my ability to fit in and follow directions.
  • I want a job that will encourage my growth and success instead of trying to limit me to their immediate needs.

A small part of my brain insists the economy is terrible and I should just take any job I can get and learn to deal with it.  The rest of me thinks that is stupid.  Why would I force myself to be so unhappy and under-stimulated when I can at least try to create something better for myself?  I’ll never be happy if I just settle, especially if I’m settling out of fear.

I believe I can make my life better, so why wouldn’t I try?

Career Revolution: Day 3

3 Aug
Excel 1992-94

Image via Wikipedia

I failed at my meeting today, but I applied to four jobs.  I’m so excited about this process; it’s forcing me to look at my options and to re-evaluate my skills and experiences.  I feel like I’m learning useful things.  I do expect some of these applications (probably a lower percentage than in previous job searches, due to pushing myself outside of my comfort zone) to turn into interviews and the interview process is always educational.  I’m also hoping I receive multiple job offers so I can improve my negotiation skills.  Women don’t do nearly enough negotiation and I want that skill in my repertoire.

Skill acquisition has actually been today’s theme.  I’m having a hard time filling out the skills segment on LinkedIn and that’s ridiculous: I have skills, so why wouldn’t I make sure people know about them?  Instead I keep thinking about the skills I think I should have, but don’t.  There will always be many useful things that I don’t know, so what’s important to me?  What skills are important enough for me to spend my time learning them?

Excel is the one that keeps coming up.  I am actually embarrassed by how little I can do with that program.  It’s such a basic and useful skill and I don’t have it.  I found a course that looks promising and a great coupon, bringing the cost down to $15.  I was going to take a class at school, but $15 beats the price of tuition by far.

The other skills I’m going to focus on?  My ability to use html and css.  I do have those skills, but they are not impressive.  I think I’ll build a website for my dad’s side business as a way to improve.  I’ll have something to show other people, and something for his birthday in September.  Win.

Today’s big win was doing a small copy-editing job for a friend of mine.  It was my first experience copy-editing and I was a bit nervous about making changes to his writing, but he loved it!  Yay for both of us.

So, tomorrow, I must not fail at meeting with a counselor at school.  I’m also going to apply for two jobs and purchase the Excel tutorial.  And of course I will continue using LinkedIn (which I’m really starting to enjoy) and Brazen Careerist, along with trying to use Facebook and Twitter in a productive manner.

Any advice about learning Excel or html and css?  Resources?  Tips?  I’ll take all the help I can get.

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Career Revolution: Day 2

2 Aug
A MacConkey agar plate with an active bacteria...

Image via Wikipedia

Due to cystitis I didn’t accomplish nearly as much as I intended to.  Being slowed down by forces outside my control is frustrating, but the infection is what inspired this project.  I tried to go to work Saturday, despite being in a lot of pain.  Usually I’m able to accept things as they come at work and try to rationalize away anything I dislike.  I was too sick to do that on Saturday: I had to face the reality that I am not satisfied there.

I was unable to see a guidance counselor today, but I’ll be able to get in tomorrow.  I did spend part of today preparing for the meeting though; if my credits transfer properly I am halfway through the prereqs for my program.  I’m continuously getting more excited and I feel like I have a solid plan, something I never felt during my previous two attempts at school.

So, today I applied to one job and began participating in groups on both LinkedIn and Brazen Careerist.  I’m not sure what to think of though.  It looks like a deluge of people competing for some very low-paying jobs.  I do want experience, but I do not want to waste my time.  I’m not sure what to think yet.

Other things I’m not sure of?  I received a response from the sex positive community I mentioned yesterday.  Their response turned me off the job completely.  They want me, along with all the other candidates, to write three fictional stories for their website and the one with the most traffic will get the job.  That does make sense, but I didn’t apply to write fiction (for good reason) and they’re not behaving in a forthcoming manner.  It sounds very much like they simply want free content and I can’t see how it will benefit me to provide it for them.

So tomorrow will bring one meeting, two job applications, and more tweaking of the social sites.  I’ve given both LinkedIn and Brazen Careerist halfhearted attempts in the past, but this time I can see their value.

Educate me: Does anyone have an opinion about Freelancer?  Or favorite groups on LinkedIn or Brazen Careerist?

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