Entries tagged with “relationships”.
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Tue 2 Mar 2010
(c) March 2, 2010
Each Christmas, I ask for the Life’s Little Instructions desk calendar for the coming year.
I love all the nuggets of wisdom it offers and I keep it on the counter in the kitchen “staging area” (the place where the mail and bills stack up and the cell phone charges) so I can glance at it often as I am going about my day.
Today’s “little instructions” calendar page really struck a chord with me—and I think it will with you, too. It says, simply:
“Treasure time. No amount of money can retrieve a single second.”
Wow. This one really hit me.
A year and a half ago, I went on a family “girls weekend” to Chicago to celebrate my aunt’s birthday, and I ended up missing some of the fun because I was stuck dealing with a work crisis for half of the weekend. There is nothing like stuffing yourself into a corner of the cosmetics section at Macy’s on Michigan Avenue on a crowded Saturday afternoon and frantically typing missives on your BlackBerry to folks back at the office to make you aware that your work and life are completely out of whack.
No amount of money can retrieve a single second.
A year ago, I went on vacation with some friends to Las Vegas. My friend had specifically asked me if I could leave my BlackBerry at home this time. I said I would do my best, but I still found myself sneaking into the women’s locker room at the spa in my robe, in between the hot stone massage and the pedicure, to quickly address a problem back at the office. At the spa, for pete’s sake!
No amount of money can retrieve a single second.
Six months ago, I asked my husband what we should do for vacation. “I thought you didn’t take vacations anymore,” he said to me.
No amount of money can retrieve a single second.
Over the summer, a close family friend died unexpectedly. Several months later, in the middle of the night, my parents called with the news that my uncle had been killed in an accident—on a highway he traveled daily for a decade. We miss them so much. We were blessed to have spent many wonderful moments with them…but what if we hadn’t made the time?
No amount of money can retrieve a single second.
The fact of the matter is that (1) Life deals us what life deals us, and (2) We are the only ones who have the ultimate authority to be the stewards of our time, in a way that aligns with our values.
One of the reasons I left my job and started my own business is because I reached a point where enough was enough. I wanted to be the captain of my own destiny, and that included having the final say on where and how I spend my time. Obviously it’s not all “fun and games” all the time – There are still responsibilities and deadlines and clients who need attention. But I didn’t want to miss out on another thing I value, personally or professionally.
Individuals in job transition—whether looking for that next job opportunity or starting a new business venture—may not have the benefit of a regular, robust paycheck, but we do have an even more important gift on our hands in the interim: the gift of time.
Take full advantage of this gift. How will you spend it? Here are a few ideas:
Make things right with the people who’ve been craving your time and attention. Maybe, like me, you were working in a pressure cooker, glued to your BlackBerry and dealing with one crisis or issue after another in a high-stress work environment. Or, alternatively, perhaps you were so burned out that you were too tired to participate in activities with your family or friends, even when you were available. If you blew off someone important to you, even if they understand that you were in survival mode at the time, you owe them an apology. Do it today. Make things right again.
Create a time “hierarchy” list in which you assign all key areas of your life a priority. If spending time with your kids is your top priority, rank that “No. 1.” Maybe volunteering at your church or synagogue is your “No. 2” priority. Ranking these key areas of your life will help you make better decisions about where your time goes.
Set aside a few minutes each week to call or e-mail a friend, loved one or colleague. Let them know what they mean to you. Even if you can’t be with them frequently, let them know they are important to you—in your own words.
Identify two or three drains on your time and take steps to remove them.
Perhaps you were cornered into volunteering for a project that doesn’t rank high on your priority list. Or, maybe you find yourself continuing certain habits that no longer fit your current lifestyle.
Write down a “mission statement” for how you will better maintain boundaries to manage your work/life flow.
For example, will you promise to only check your BlackBerry once a day while you’re on vacation? Or, better yet, will you arrange for a trusted friend or colleague to be a first point of contact for your business dealings while you are away? If you are invited to two events at the same time, will you always give priority to the family activity or the activity involving your closest friends?
Identify areas of your life where you are suffering from “diminishing returns.”
I know some people who will drive 30 miles to save $1.00 at a grocery store. And while it’s certainly true that many of us are being more fiscally careful during this down economy, are you wasting your time for such a small return? There are likely several areas of your life where you are saving money but wasting an awful lot of time. See if you can’t bring these a little closer into alignment.
Do the thing you’ve always been wanting to do but never had the time.
Maybe it’s taking a class at the gym that was always out of reach because it’s in the middle of the work day. Perhaps it’s working from a funky little coffee shop, which your old boss never would’ve given you permission to do. Or, maybe you simply relish the ability to take a book and sit in the park for a few minutes each afternoon.
We are blessed with the gift of time. And, at the end of our lives, that’s what we will remember and treasure most of all. Why not use this time of transition to really focus on what matters most?
Wed 10 Feb 2010
By Diva Nikki
(c) February 10, 2010
First, I’d like to thank those of you who sent notes of support and concern after my recent Prioritizing Priorities article.
I’d also like to reassure you that in our household, nothing excremental or otherwise has yet hit the fan. We’re just taking further steps to prepare ourselves as best we can.
Not to say it’s all puppies and rainbows in our lives these days, either. But one thing I’ve noted about times of trial in our lives is that it puts in sharp, unmistakable relief the good things in our lives as well. It makes me think of one of my favorite quotes:
“Don’t block the blessings.” – Patti LaBelle
As a Desperate Workingwife, here are some of my suggestions for recognizing the blessings in your life…even when your spouse’s career transition may be far, far less than a blessing.
Appreciate your own career and development.
I recently underwent a bit of career transition myself and began reporting to a new manager in a new area of the company at the beginning of this year. I might have been tempted, at first, to think, “Gee…just what I need. More change.” And that would’ve blocked some serious blessings. Because as it turns out, my new manager is one of the best surprises I’ve had in a long time. She believes in me wholeheartedly, pushes me to be better and encourages me to think bigger. She’s completely reenergized my passion for what I do. There’s a blessing I want to count, not block.
Stop and revel in your own accomplishments.
I’m not saying you should rub your own accomplishments in your spouse’s face. Be tactful. But do celebrate your wins in a personal way. Just finished a big project at work? Treat yourself to a pair of shoes on clearance. Lost a pound this week? Do a happy dance in the kitchen. (I highly recommend socks on hardwood floors for the best spinning capabilities.)
Celebrate the accomplishments of others.
You’ve probably heard that even if you’re feeling down, if you physically make yourself smile that act will eventually elicit the corresponding emotion of happiness. (Try it.) Celebrating the blessings of others can bring you blessings of your own. So attend your friend’s baby shower, go to happy hour to celebrate your co-worker’s promotion and hoot and holler when your spouse gets called for an interview.
Notice and accept support with gratitude.
Chance are, you’ve got a great support network in your life. (My best girls – you know who you are and I love you.) Have you noticed that more often lately, as you’ve been living through your spouse’s career transition time, that lunch or coffee tabs are picked up by friends? Rather than argue with them. let them and thank them. Most of us have it in our nature to want to help the people we care about. This is their time to help you – don’t block their blessings by taking that opportunity away from them.
Thank God for the blessings which come out of thin air.
Maybe you got an unexpected refund check in the mail. Or your heating bill was less than you thought it would be this month. In my case, out of nowhere, a new friend came into my life through one of my music groups. Without any rhyme or reason I could think of, this beautiful woman became somewhat of a personal cheerleader for me and gave me confidence at exactly the time when I needed it. When these things seem to come out of nowhere, simply stop and offer praise for the Holy Spirit’s influence in your life.
Patti Labelle, Don’t Block the Blessings – available on Amazon.com
Yvonne Bynoe, Is Your Attitude Blocking Your Blessings?,
Wed 27 Jan 2010
By Diva Nikki
(c) January 27, 2010
In one of my recent posts, I talked a bit about how the journey with a spouse in career transition can be a long one.
So what do you do when the magical end date for unemployment insurance is getting closer and closer at hand? How, you may ask, do you cut things back even further when you’ve already been cutting back?
I’m going to preface the following with a disclaimer. (Thank you, 11 years of working with lawyers in a highly regulated industry.) I am not a financial advisor, nor do I suggest any of the following as official financial advice. You really need to consult your own professional financial about what makes sense for your situation and what your options are. What I do want to offer, however, is food for thought from my own life.
Here are some things to consider as the journey gets longer.
Look at your budget…again.
There are “nice to haves” and “need to haves.” For example, saving for retirement is a really important strategy. And…it also won’t kill our entire future if we stop investing for a few months.
Here’s an example. Our cable bill just went up. And we started thinking hard about whether cable is a necessity or just a nicety. Especially in the days of Hulu.com – is it worth over $100 a month for the convenience of flipping through a bunch channels just because we’re bored? Or could we get by with Internet and more time to read books?
Protect the income you do have.
As the sole breadwinner, I decided to take out a disability insurance policy for myself, above what my employer already covered. It’s an added expense (at a time we don’t need additions), but for me it was worth knowing that if something happened to me while my husband’s still looking for work, the income we do have would be safer.
Encourage your spouse to start broadening the job search.
Undesirable as this prospect may be, if the realities of this economy and job market are such that he’s just not finding a job that fulfills his worth and experience, it might be time to broaden the options. Discuss the possibility of looking for less senior positions or positions in former fields of expertise. Or, if your family situation would allow, discuss the possibility of broadening the geographic part of the search. There may be more opportunity in other areas.
If dire straits are truly near, consider part-time work.
Not that any career professional (let alone an MBA) would relish the thought, but asking if “you want fries with that” would at least help make ends meet if you need to make up for unemployment insurance when it ends. And a part-time schedule would allow for networking and job searching time. If you want to be really supportive, you could consider part-time work, too. Perhaps working weekends at a shop you love.
Consider the value of your clutter.
Do you have things around the house you don’t use but may have value? For instance, since my husband and I got iPods, we realized we never used our CDs anymore. So we sold them to a used book store and made several hundred dollars. Look around to see if there might be things you could trade in for cash.
Hang in there and keep supporting each other.
You will get through this. Together. There will be a better future.
Wed 6 Jan 2010
By Diva Nikki
(c) January 6, 2010
Guilty pleasure admission: I’m a “Gleek.” Since the very pilot episode of the TV show Glee, I’ve been hooked.
There’s something about the absolutely over-the-top portrayal of a group of high school misfits, their weekly slushie face-dousing trials…and the way they continually fight through the negativity and adversity to do what they love…that endears this show to me.
Their wildly successful pilot episode featured the small group of initial Glee kids doing an amazing version of the Journey tune “Don’t Stop Believin’.” I will admit – I went out to You Tube and watched it several times.
There’s something about that song – and the show – that resonates with my life right now. As the wife of a husband in career transition, I feel like negativity exists every day in our household. While I’m quite happy (as is my unstained wardrobe) that I don’t literally have a grape slushie thrown in my face each day, there are certainly days where it’s hit me or my husband in a proverbial sense.
Like every time he applies for a job and gets the lovely standard form rejection letter (sometimes within a day, which really hits you). Or each time he tries to sell a great new idea for a startup business to a new client and never hears back from them. When we count the days until unemployment insurance runs out. As I’m in a store and don’t get to purchase something I want because we’re on a budget. And when we have to endure well-meaning people who say really trite, insensitive things about my husband’s current employment situation, essentially saying, “You’ll never be able to pull this off.”
Every day we live through the adversity, I feel just like one of those poor high school kids, getting up every morning and just knowing the cold, icky (though maybe not bright purple) reality that’s going to be sloshed in my face.
The lesson for me here really is: “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
Don’t stop believin’ in my husband’s brilliance and abilities.
Don’t stop believin’ that everything will be ok.
Don’t stop believin’ that there really is a greater Plan unfolding.
Don’t stop believin’ that the economy will improve and more jobs will become available.
Don’t stop believin’ my husband is doing everything he can to find a new career.
Don’t stop believin’ in my own ability to keep supporting my husband emotionally…and our household financially.
I think I need to go work on my jazz hands…
Fri 1 Jan 2010
Guest Column by Rebecca Love Williams
(c) January 1, 2010
I hope that you all had a very happy holiday filled with peace, love and joy. Now that the new year is upon us, it is time to really think about the New Year that is approaching us.
Have you started writing your Life Plan for 2010 to allow you to get a “fresh start”?
A Life Plan is a written plan of your goals and objectives in your life. It is like a map or guide to help you achieve your inner desires. Your plan can be divided into eight areas:
- Family and friends
- Love and relationships
- Money and finance
- Personal development or personal growth
Each of these areas affects your life and the importance of each one will vary depending on your internal values and situation.
Here are a few questions you might want to ask yourself while writing your plan:
- What’s most important to you, your core values?
- What do you dream about?
- Where on your career path do you desire to be?
- Is your employer helping you accomplish your personal career goals?
- Are you still having fun at work?
- Will it allow you to spend more time with your family?
- Are you spending enough time with people who are important to you?
- How can you maintain your health?
- Do you have the time and the resources to entertain and travel?
- What places do you want to visit in the next two to three years?
- How much money do you want to make?
- Does your current employment support your income goals?
- How much do you need to save for your later years?
- Are you giving back to your community?
- Where do you want to live?
- Are you continually developing and improving your relationship?
These questions will give you some starting points to think about as you begin developing your plan for 2010. Of course, Life Plans can be more complex, and if you would like to develop a more intense life plan, you might need to seek out a Professional Coach.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Guest columnist Rebecca Love Williams, principal of Williams Business Solutions, is an experienced professional coach and human resources consultant. She regularly coaches her clients through a process to help them achieve their life and professional goals, including an emphasis on life planning strategies. Williams is based in Evanston, Ill., and serves individuals and businesses nationwide.
Wed 16 Dec 2009
By Diva Nikki
(c) December 16, 2009
As 21st Century women, we’ve grown up being told we can do anything—and everything—we put our minds to.
We balance careers and families. We volunteer, cook gourmet meals and wear fabulous shoes while doing it. We can do it all. We’re superwomen.
AND we’re now supporting our households financially and emotionally while our spouses search for their next careers.
The first time my husband was unemployed was within the first year of our marriage. We were both working toward our MBA degrees full time while working full time, and I felt like I still had to prove I was a perfect wife.
When my husband lost his job, I tried to keep things going as “normal”—which meant that not only was I working and studying full time, I was also still doing all the cleaning, cooking, laundry, grocery shopping, remembering of all family birthdays…you get the picture.
Eventually, I cracked. It was eating me up inside that I was doing ALL this work and my husband was home. All day. Watching curling during the Olympics and playing video games.
At first I wanted to blame him. “I shouldn’t have to ask him to help,” I thought. “He should just recognize what needs to be done and do it!”
Then I realized: The reason he wasn’t helping was because I’d never asked him. So I finally did. I learned that there are ways to ask for help that are more effective than others.
Ask. Don’t tell. Don’t yell. Ask.
Truthfully, unless you ask, your spouse probably doesn’t even realize you need help. Yelling at him or telling him what to do are not effective. Be calm, be specific.
Specifically, ask for help.
Your spouse isn’t going to say, “Gee, honey – I’d LOVE to do a bunch more work I’ve never done before!” But loving spouses do get a feeling of purpose by helping those they love. You’re giving them an opportunity to do that. Plus, by taking some of the incidental sources of stress off your plate, you’ve got more capacity to provide emotional support for him.
Teach him what to do.
If you’re asking for help around the house with chores he’s never done before, your spouse may need a bit of instruction. Show him where supplies are, how to work appliances, etc.
Make things easy.
Gather cleaning supplies into one area. Buy ready-made frozen meals or mixes. Separate your dirty laundry. Make detailed lists.
Adjust your expectations.
Your spouse is not you. Do not expect that things will be done exactly as you do them. Rather, appreciate that things get done. Even if towels are folded differently or you eat spaghetti for four days in a row, celebrate the fact that you have clean towels and a meal prepared for you when you get home.
Show sincere appreciation.
Your spouse is helping you out, during a time when he’s already feeling stressed. Let him know that you truly appreciate what he’s doing to help make your life easier.
Fri 27 Nov 2009
By Dan d’Man
(c) November 27, 2009
It’s an unfortunate reality that most of us will have at least one person on our holiday shopping list who is a recent addition to the ranks of the unemployed.
If you’re looking for the perfect gift for someone in a job transition, here’s a list you’re going to want to check twice:
1o. The gift of luxury
Life’s little luxuries are the first things that most people eliminate when faced with the loss of income. If your friend is someone who craves her morning cup of java, a gift certificate to her favorite coffee shop will surely be appreciated. Coffee shops are also a great place for some impromptu networking.
9. The gift of health
In “Bummed Out or Burned Out? How You Can Identify When the Normal Sorrow of Job Loss Becomes Something More Serious,” Charlie Cummins, president of Life Transitions Consulting, communicated the importance of remaining active and fighting lethargy when dealing with a job loss. A membership to a health club or training class shows you care about your friend’s health and well-being.
8. The gift of family
If your recipient has children, the most welcome gift they can receive is the ability to give to their kids. A gift certificate to a movie theater, bowling alley, children’s museum or toy store will raise the spirits of their entire family.
7. The gift of inspiration
Does your gift recipient have bigger goals and dreams he was reticent to pursue before he lost his job? A book like “What am I gonna do with my life,” by Po Bronson might be just the inspiration he needs. A less conventional but much more fun source of inspiration could also be “Oh, the Places You’ll Go,” by Dr. Seuss. Add a personal note inside the front cover that conveys your belief in him and he will succeed … it’s 98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.
6. The gift of relaxation
Help your friend reset her stress level with a spa gift certificate for a massage.
5. The gift of information
Do you know someone who works in your friend’s profession — or a profession he’s always been curious about? Setting up an informational interview can help him learn valuable insights, make contacts and keep his interview skills sharp.
4. The gift of expertise
Just because your friend is a great engineer, it doesn’t mean she can write an effective resume. Covering the cost of a professional resume service could be the most important gift she receives. The Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches (PARW) is a good place to search for services near you. The PARW also offers information about professional career coaches and certified employment interview professionals — people who could make the difference between getting the job and almost getting the job.
3. The gift of laughter
Wrapping up a voodoo doll customized with a former boss’ face or a corporate logo (www.vudutuu.com) won’t help him find a new job … but it’ll probably bring a smile to his face.
2. The gift of membership
Paying your friend’s membership fee for a professional industry association will open the door to valuable continuing education opportunities and networking events.
1. The gift of yourself
Offer to proofread their cover letters and resumes. Babysit so she and her husband can get away for a night. Run errands so that he can attend a job interview or networking opportunity. It’s a free gift that’s difficult to put a price on.
Wed 25 Nov 2009
By Diva Nikki
(c) November 25, 2009
For most of us, getting through the holidays in a normal year is bad enough. The song “The Twelve Pains of Christmas,” by the Bob Rivers Comedy Corp, about sums it up for me.
Sending Christmas cards to extended family on my husband’s side I barely know. Driving to and from—and spending hours in—rehearsals and concerts. Standing in huge lines at unforgivable hours of the morning just to get a few more dollars off the already inflated price of a Christmas gift your mother-in-law probably will return anyway.
So…now that you’ve got a spouse at home worried about finding a new job, you’re on a reduced budget and there’s more stress to go around than flour on holiday cookie baking day—how will you survive?
Here are a few tips for getting through the holidays while you’ve got a spouse in career transition:
I know the holiday season means three times as many filled days on the calendar looming at you from your refrigerator door. But now might be a time to reassess some of those commitments. Is there anything you can cut back on for awhile?
Do you really need to make 70 Christmas cards by hand and handwrite messages in all of them? What if you send e-greetings to most people this year, and just saved the special cards for those most important to you? Evaluate which holiday traditions are most important to you and which ones can be changed or put on hold.
Have a discussion with your spouse and family members about what you can realistically can spend—and can’t—on holiday gifts this year. Agree on a spending limit in advance, so there are no disappointments or embarrassments later.
Even with your own transition issues, there are always those who need more help than you. Talk with your whole family about “adopting” a family or cause this year. Ask that everyone contribute what they would’ve spent on gifts to this effort instead.
Gifts don’t have to be expensive. In fact, handmade gifts are often more appreciated than something bought from a department store. A few ideas for creative, low-cost gifts for family members:
- Create a recipe book with all the recipient’s favorite ingredients. Search recipes online, copy them and paste them nicely into a document. Print out and place in a hand-decorated binder.
- Make jars of specialty hot chocolate, chai tea or soup mixes. Decorate the covers and include instructions for making the final product.
- Use crafting talents and supplies you already have on hand: knit/crochet scarves, stamp sets of cards, make mini-scrapbooks or create jewelry. Not only will your personalized gifts be appreciated, it will give you a fun, stress-relieving project you enjoy.
Realize this temporary.
No one wants to “skimp” on this special time of year. But remember that a few changes for this year won’t be devastating in the long run. And, who knows, your family may even love some of these ideas enough to start new traditions.
- “Gifts from the Kitchen: Recipes for Jar Mixes, Food Gifts and More,” The Recipe Link
- “Holiday Gifts: 8 Homemade Gifts in a Jar,” SquawkFox, December 8, 2008.
- Amy Scattergood, “50 ways to make your holiday gifts homemade,” LA Times, December 10, 2008.
- Lori Johnston, “7 splendid homemade holiday gifts“
Recent Desperate Workingwife columns:
Tue 24 Nov 2009
By Sharon Korbeck Verbeten
(c) November 24, 2009
Yule know there’s a different feel to Christmas this year—the recession-tinged feeling is already in the air and in the store aisles.
While halls and malls are still decked out for the holiday season, the joy of shopping has been overshadowed—for many—by decreased wages, lost jobs or the threat of lessened job security.
Black Friday, indeed. These days that term might refer to the dread some feel about getting a pink slip on the last day of the work week. Still, there are those looking forward to the traditional “Black Friday,” when shoppers, like myself (I’m fueled by seasonal spirit, pumpkin muffins and Mountain Dew!) spring from our beds at 4 a.m. or earlier, eager to get the best deals.
According to the finding of one national survey, retailers are about to embark on the season of the serious bargain hunter. A survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF) found that U.S. consumers plan to spend an average of $682.74 on holiday-related shopping, a 3.2% drop from last year’s $705.01. And two-thirds of Americans indicated the economy will affect their holiday shopping plans this year.
So, what’s a savvy shopper to do? Here are a few well-considered tips.
Stacy Schuster, a sales associate with the GAP stores in Milwaukee, offered her best tip, based on personal experience. “Get a part-time job in retail at a store where you would normally shop,” she said. As an employee, the mother of two saves 50% on all her purchases—great for both personal and gift purchases.
Also a seasoned eBay shopper, Schuster recommends scouring the online auction site for items on wish lists. Bidding competitively—and early—can save a lot off retail prices.
Jennifer Hogeland, a mother of two from De Pere, Wis., also has turned to online shopping this year for most of her purchases, mainly because so many sites are offering free shipping. Shopping online also has a residual benefit, she said. “It avoids the whimsical and unnecessary purchases I’m sure to make if I’m in the store.”
The NRF survey also found that one in 10 holiday shoppers plan to shop thrift or retail shops for gifts this year. That may not only be smart and pocket savvy, but “green” as well.
“Why not recycle and repurpose items you don’t want?” said Pat DuChene, a single mother from Wisconsin. “Our family is doing a grab bag with a ‘trash into treasure’ theme.” Who knew re-gifting—once so uncouth—would now be considered so in vogue?
Now, where did I put that silly—I mean stylish—scarf I got last year…?
Wed 14 Oct 2009
By Diva Nikki
(c) October 14, 2009
You’re finishing up your workday, answering a few more e-mails and tidying up some papers on your desk. The phone rings and you see on the caller ID that it’s your husband.
Not uncommon – there are often calls like this at the end of the day to discuss what to pick up for dinner. So you answer, phone crooked between your ear and shoulder so you can multi-task while talking. And then you hear the words…
“Honey…I’m so sorry to tell you this. But I just lost my job.”
The typing stops. Your hand comes up to hold onto the receiver because you need to hold onto something right now. You no longer even see the papers on your desk because you’ve developed a sort of tunnel vision. And it feels like your heart just landed in the pit of your stomach.
How do I know? Because I’ve been there. Three times in six years of marriage, I’ve been there and gotten that phone call. My name is Diva Nikki, and I’m a Desperate Workingwife.
Things you need to hear: Don’t panic, and you’re not alone.
Despite your initial instincts, should you be in the midst of one of these phone calls right now, remember the reason that the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was so popular was because it had the words “Don’t Panic” in large, friendly letters on the cover. (more…)