Considering the Unconventional

Originally posted on Eric Tonningsen's "Awakening to Awareness":

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“It is especially important to encourage unorthodox thinking when the situation is critical: At such moments every new word and fresh thought is more precious than gold. Indeed, people must not be deprived the right to think their own thoughts.” ~ Boris Yeltsin

Last week I attended a diverse professional group meeting. Being my first visit, I was invited to rise and tell a bit about myself to this relatively small (>40) group, some of whom I casually knew. I acknowledged that I am a practitioner of the unconventional; a fan, if you will, of unorthodox… defined by Dictionary.com as “not conforming to rules, traditions, or modes of conduct, as of doctrine, religion, or philosophy.”

I suggested they consider me not a rebel, but as someone who challenges stagnation in people and society by looking at areas in our lives most in need of repair or rejuvenation and then, deliberately…

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Keeping Things in Check

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Like I have mentioned before, I have been a stay-at-home mom for over 7 years.  I must stay that the rewards are endless, but for me, the lifestyle of a stay-at-home mom has had some challenging aspects as well.  I let a lot of things slide including my personal well-being.  I gained weight and chose to spend the majority of my time catering to my son and his activities while neglecting my own.  Just as I see all the benefits of choosing not to work outside the home until my son was younger, I am also aware of the the things I didn’t keep in check.

Now I am in the process of doing the things for myself that I had put off for so many years.  I am aware that others may be in my same position for various reasons.  Some may be taking care of an aging parent, a recuperating spouse, or settling into retirement.  All of these things are honorable and good, but one must take care to not neglect oneself.  Taking care of yourself takes nothing away from the good that you do  for others. I have realized that now that I am working to put myself back in the shape I was in prior to being a wife and mother.  I would like to share some of the things I have learned from my past mistakes.

Your health is priority

You would think that your stress level drops dramatically after you quit your 9 to 5.  For me it didn’t.  Being responsible for another human being can be very stressful.  There were so many things I had to plan and to plan around.  I didn’t have a scheduled lunch break so oftentimes lunch did not happen for me.  It no longer became part of my routine.  I made sure that my son was fed and dry and well rested, but I didn’t schedule that same thing for myself.  Sometimes I only ate once a day.  Usually my meal was fast food eaten in the car while my son was napping in his car seat.  I felt that I was being a good mother because I was placing my needs above my son’s.  Eventually the pounds started to pile on, my blood pressure began to rise, and when I looked in the mirror I didn’t recognize myself.

Maintain a connection to the outside world and also make frequent ventures into it

I didn’t realize how much structure my job outside of home added to my life.  I had scheduled meetings, lunches, presentations, and most importantly social interaction with adults.  These social interactions were vital to my life.  These connections were not only important for my work, but also for me as a person.  I did not realize how important they were until I no longer had them.  I also didn’t realize that my social skills needed to be exercised.  After a while I began to shy away from any social interaction.  I stopped going to church, I stopped going out with friends, and I spent most of my time at home.  Had I continued to to maintain some form of social interaction I may have been able to keep some of the things in check that I had let go.  I could have had the encouragement and fellowship of other people to aid me in that transition.

Accept help when it is offered

I can’t tell you how many times I turned down offers of babysitting just because I felt I didn’t deserve a break.  I felt that it would be selfish of me to accept help for something I had quit work to do myself.  What I failed to realize is that parenting is work.  And just like with any other job breaks are not only deserved, but should be mandatory.  If you are a caregiver in any capacity you must give yourself a break.  Accept the extended hand that is offered to you.  If you aren’t offered help there is nothing wrong with asking for it.

Don’t compare yourself to others

I am still struggling with wondering if I am a good enough mother.  My I breastfed my son for 10 months.  He began to ween himself I had very little choice in the matter.  If it were up to me I would have done it for longer.  I was envious of the women who were still nursing their children.  I also wondered if my son was involved in enough activities, if I was feeding him the best possible food, if I was capable of providing him with enough intellectual stimulation, etc.  Every time another mother mentions something they were doing for their children I would feel bad if I wasn’t doing the same.  In reality nothing is perfect an we are not going to do things perfectly right all the time.  All we can do is our bests.

It wasn’t until 2 miscarriages and several hospitalizations that I, who had always been very healthy, realized that I was seriously harming myself.  The altruistic behavior that I had placed so high on a pedestal was killing me.  I could not do my best if I was making myself sick.  I am so glad I learned my lesson before it was too late.  I would encourage all of us to do the same.  There are enough hours in a day to get what you need done.  Take full advantage of them, but most importantly, use some of that time for yourself.

 

 

 

 

Getting Back in the Game

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After many years of being a stay-at-home mom, I am now in the process of seeking outside employment.  I have found it to be very exciting.  Having been out of the game for quite some time, I have to get used to all of the new ways of securing employment, networking, and the use of social media.  It has been fun, but I have met with a few challenges.   I feel that I have some valuable advice that would benefit anyone who is seeking employment after a long hiatus.

  • Get a LinkedIn account

Before I began my job search I had a LinkedIn account, but I did nothing but supply basic information.  Your LinkedIn account should be a version of your resume.  List all experience relevant to the type of industry you are interested in.  You may also want to list any experience that will secure you any type of employment if you aren’t looking for anything specific.  Oftentimes experience you may deem as irrelevant may get you into the door of a company you may enjoy working for.

  • Clean up your Facebook page

Many employers use social media in their recruiting process.  Google your name and see what appears.  If you feel that what you see is not what you want a prospective employer to see then you have some work to do.  Those pictures of you passed out drunk in the back of your friend’s car may not help your chances of gaining employment at a reputable establishment.

  • Perfect your resume

Seek professional help only if you have to.  I would suggest that you not pay for one.  There are too many free resources available.  First make an attempt at creating one.  Then as a knowledgeable friend for suggestions.  If you are a student or and alumnus/alumna of a college or university, seek the help of your institutions career services.  Remember that there may be some valuable experience in places many fail to list( ie. church organizations, volunteer work, or even class projects).

  • Learn to write an effective cover letter

I feel the cover letter is one thing most of us feel the most insecure about.  Just think of it as your personal commercial.  If you are seeking employment with a specific company do your research.  View their website or read their publications.  Know the company’s mission and see were their values match your own and work that into your cover letter.  This shows the employer that you are serious and willing to put some effort into professional image.

  • Connect with others in your field

This is very important.  For those of us who are reentering the workforce or new to the workforce altogether, connections can give you the inside scoop on employment opportunities.  You can also learn from them and gain more contacts through your association with them.

  • Secure excellent references

Chose references who can give the potential employer accurate and relevant information about your skills and character.  Teachers and professors are excellent for this.  I have asked my professors to act as a reference for me.  Since I have not worked outside of the home for 7 years it was very important for me to be an excellent student.  Although I’ve maintained a relationship with my former employer, that is only one reference.

  • Maintain good relationships with former employers

Always try to leave on good terms if possible.  It is amazing how small the world is.  You never know who knows who.  You also owe it to yourself to leave a good impression.  As mentioned previously, former employers can provide excellent references if you leave in good standing.

  • Always put your best foot forward

This is not only a rule for those seeking employment.  This is a rule for life.  You always want to project your best self.  I was once offered a job because of the way I was dressed.  I have also been told at an interview that the interviewer had heard good things about me.  I may not have been granted an interview if the employer had heard negative things.

 

I hope this has been helpful.  I would like to challenge all of us to help someone along the way.  There are many of us who are in well-established careers and may be far removed from the job-seeking process.  It can be very challenging.  If you are in a position to be of any assistance, don’t hesitate to offer it.

 

Write on Wednesday #23

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Today’s Writing Prompt:  Write a resume and cover letter for your favorite book character.  This is a good exercise in close reading.  What have your learned about this character?  What are their strengths?

Publishers & Presses

Originally posted on New Media Communications:

Novel Coverage & Submission Sites:

Literary Agent Research and Evaluation (not free)

Writer’s Digest Guide to Literary Agents

Agent Query (find literary agents specific to meet your genre and submit to)

Query Tracker (find agents AND publishers)

Literary agents you can follow on twitter

Independent Publishers & University Presses:

Book publishers, including independent publishers, university presses and small presses are listed below with hyperlinks to their websites. Most are primarily from the U.S. and Canada

2River poetry, chapbooks

8th House Publishing (Canada) poetry, fiction, nonfiction, essays,

1913 Press poetry, poetics, art

a+bend press chapbooks

Able Muse Press poetry, fiction, nonfiction, anthologies

Above/Ground Press poetry, chapbooks, broadsides

Academy Chicago Publishers poetry, fiction, nonfiction

Accents Publishing poetry, fiction, anthologies

ActionBooks poetry

Advocado Press books on disability

Ahsahta Press poetry

Airlie Press poetry

AK Press radical books, visual and audio media

Akashic Books fiction

Alehouse Press poetry

Alice James Books

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Tapping Into Your Wisdom

Originally posted on Eric Tonningsen's "Awakening to Awareness":

“Those who know are wise. Those who know themselves are enlightened.”       ~ Laozi (Lao-tzu)

One of my sisters is a ‘go to’ person. She is an impartial sounding board, grounded in integrity, and she serves as a lens through which I can see matters differently. She is intellectually and emotionally wise and she possesses a solid sense of self.

Throughout our lives, we encounter people who presume to know what is best for us. The insights they offer cannot compare, however, with the powers of awareness and discernment that already exist within us. Even my sister.

Like most people, I have spent much of my lifetime looking for answers, direction, and solutions. This meant always looking to change something or acquire something to improve my life. Society conditioned me to focus on improvement, getting more, and fixing what kept me from getting more and better. Does this…

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