Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My Not-So-Hot January Goals Report

Since it's the last day of the month I want to take some time to check back in on my E&E Action Items and see how I've been doing.

This month has been positively crazy: my son and I had our first solo flight to FL, I quit my job, I spent a LOT of time doing goal setting and strength finding, and we had a really scary 911 call and trip to the ER.

And as far as my Action Items are concerned, to be honest, I did not do so hot. So now is the time to evaluate, and I'm basically going to commit to keeping it, drop it, or change it.

So let's review.

Below is a picture of the employable section of my action items.

Attend one networking event.
I checked off "networking event" because of my goal setting workshop. It may seem like I'm just fudging it into the networking category, but in my definition of networking, just going out and meeting people who have the same interests as you, just for the sake of being social is going to count, because shoot - I just need some adult conversations. COMMIT.

Exchange contact information.
So this I didn't do. I actually kind of don't think I will ever do this unless I were to go to one of those cheesy meet-and-greet networking events. I'm not even really sure where I intend to go with this goal but I'm not loving it. DROP. 

Create an online portfolio.
So in reflection of this goal, having this blog is really where I am going to be documenting skills and so what I really need to be doing with this goal is learning a new blog skill per month. CHANGE: Learn a new blog skill.

Volunteer somewhere new.
I feel really badly about not meeting this goal because I thought this would be a slam dunk because I do volunteer a lot! Oh well, this month was a wash. COMMIT.

Take a class.
I checked this box off because of my strength finders class and I've come to realize that the networking event and this action item are very similar, which to me is fine. As long as I learn something at one and talk to people at the other, which in this case I did both, it doesn't really matter how it gets labeled. However, I don't know why I thought this would be so hard that I needed 6 months to do it, so CHANGE: monthly.

Learn how to do something financial.
Another really vague goal that wasn't accomplished, which is why I should reflect on my goal setting advice and make them SMART. I'm not sure where I am going with this either. No surprise, DROP.

My enjoyable action items turned out slightly better...albeit still an F.

Read an employable book.
I read Living Your Strengths. However, I think I am going to move this goal out of Enjoyable and into  Employable, because to me something enjoyable would be the last book of the Hunger Games which keeps getting rotated through my library book cue because I never get to it. CHANGE.

Read an enjoyable book.
I'm disappointed I never made it to this, will work harder. COMMIT

Try a new recipe.
Biscuits, done! COMMIT

Take baby to a new place.
New place, sheesh...we flew to a whole new state! COMMIT

Organize a different part of my house.
I will do this. COMMIT

Complete a home project.
We got our basement insulted this month! Hurrah! COMMIT

Since I dropped/moved some action items, I'm also going to add some new ones for this upcoming month.

So here is to February!


P.S. - I'd love to here your January progress reports! Comment, tweet, or email!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

How To Find Your Strengths

Last week, as part of  Get Out of The House week, I signed up for a Living Your Strengths class at our church. The class is based off the Clifton StrengthsFinder test and if you have never done it before - YOU NEED TO! I swear this test has given me so much insight. I've even actually taken it before, 5 years ago in the business setting, and because my life has change significantly (quitting my job) it has given me even new perspective.

To summarize, the test basically identifies five overlying themes/strengths that "energize you." These are things that you are naturally good at and are innate to your personality. In class, we were told that 1 in 33,000,000 people have the exact same five themes in the exact same order and only 1 in 275,000 have even the same five regardless of order. Essentially, YOU ARE UNIQUE and HAVE SOMETHING SPECIAL TO BRING TO THE WORLD. I love this message because I truly believe that I have something I was meant to do here.

So these are my signature themes, in order, Significance, Responsibility, Input, Learner, Achiever; and they make SO much sense to me, especially once I read more about them. (At first when I read Significance, I felt super insecure because I felt like it made me sound like an attention-hog, but I don't really think I come off that way and if I do, I don't mean too!) When you read the descriptions of each strength, they explain that they each manifest differently in each person, for me, Significance means that I "see my work as a way of life rather than a job" and I want to be seen as "credible, professional, successful" and that I need "free rein" over tasks. I get stressed out "being admired", especially in front of people, so that part of the strength really does not align with me, along with a few other things. If you were blessed with Significance in your top five too, you might be attracted to "wanting to stand out" or "being an independent spirit" instead, and that is a great thing because you are able to capitalize on those elements.

These strengths 100% explain the rise and fall of my inner-city teaching career, to the degree where I actually think they were a dangerous combination. I could go on and on about how I "see my work as a way of life rather than a job," that's one of the reasons I worked 12 hour days 7 days a week; combined with my Achiever strength, "working long hours without burning out" I just COULD.NOT.STOP.  Choosing teaching came naturally because of my Learner and Input strengths, because I "love to learn" and overwhelmingly wanted to share it with my students. My Responsibility strength explains why I felt "emotionally bound to follow through," my "obsession for doing things right," "that my good name depends on it," and why I had was unable to leave even though I was truly starting to burn-out. I know if we hadn't moved, I would have not been able to leave and could have been in a really bad place. Pushing your strengths to their breaking point can easily turn them into weaknesses.

*Although, when I think of teaching and strengths, all I want to do is make all of my students take this test and then teach to their strengths. That would be marvelous! JUST.CAN'T.STOP.

Now that I know this about myself, I need to search for jobs/experience that help me to maximize these traits. Along with the descriptions of these signature themes I was given a worksheet of action items, and as I said before, I took this class through my church, and so we received the Catholic Edition of the book, which also includes ways to get involved in your parish utilizing your strengths. I am so excited to explore some of these action items.

It's also surprising to me how well this blog fits my strengths right now. Even if only one person reads a post and gets something out of it, I feel Significant. I feel like I am dispensing information that might have some value (Input) and I get to Learn, a whole bunch of things, whatever and whenever I want; I am 100% Responsible. The Achiever in my enables me to achieve tangible goals, even like just posting once a day.

Essentially, buying this book, for $15, and taking this class has been enormously helpful for me and I totally recommend it to you. And if I'm not convincing enough, Einstein says it best.


P.S. - If you take/have taken this - SHARE with me! I want to know your strengths and how you use them!

Friday, January 27, 2012

My Pediatrician Finally Told Me I Am a Good Mom

This specific comment has been resonating with me so much since our visit to the doctor on Wednesday, per our visit to the hospital on Tuesday, that I had to post about it.

In the past 8 months I've come to learn that my pediatrician is NOT warm and fuzzy, which I know is a really weird quality in a pediatrician, and I've almost switched ped's multiple times because of her harsh tones. But after our visit on Wednesday, I've come to somewhat respect her harsh opinions, especially because once she doles out a compliment it feels extra good.

After the 911 call and the hospital visit were relatively inconclusive, I felt really doubtful that I had made the right call. If you look at my son right now, or when we were at the hospital, other than some minor congestion and some VERY infrequent coughing you would assume he was perfectly healthy. (He was  laughing and playing.) When the emergency response team or the hospital staff (who were all truly awesome otherwise) kept asking me, "is this your first?" It really drives me nuts; just because I have never had a child before doesn't mean that I can't correctly problem shoot a situation.

Not to compare my child to my car but this always happens to my car. I'll hear a rattling, the car wont start, I'll take it to the shop, they don't hear or feel anything and then I get smacked with a whopping bill, all for nothing! It makes me feel like an idiot! My son's coughing fit was truly one of the scariest things I have experienced and when things come up inconclusively, I feel questioned about my ability to make the right call.

So here is what my pediatrician said, and I really do think it's basically the best thing she could have said at the time: "I'm really glad you called 911, it sounds like you avoided the situation escalating." That's when it hit me, when would the right time to call 911 be!? Was I supposed to wait until his face turned blue? Heck no. Had I not called, anything could have happened and I'm just glad that I didn't risk it.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Abandoning Get Out of The House Week...for now

My son had a follow-up visit at the doctor yesterday because of our trip to the hospital.

The doctor reassured me that my son is probably teething, so I wasn't completely off base with my prognosis, but she also diagnosed him with bronchiolitis. I'm glad we know what's going on now.

However, due to these unforeseen events, we will be abandoning the remaining baby events for Get Out of The House Week. We will be trying this challenge again though, once he gets better.


P.S. - I would love some tips on dealing with a sick child. Today he is much more snotty and congested, still no fever, but isn't really interested in eating. I would love some home remedies to relieve congestion because I think he finds that the most troubling.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Get Out of the House Week: Day 2, Challenges Already?!

I seriously almost abandoned my week long mission this morning.

My son woke up, ridiculously congested and drooling a ton. At first we though he might be sick, but he was happy as a clam and had no temp, so we kind of deduced that he must be teething.

At 10am, I had planned for us to go to a baby playgroup at the library. When he went back down, he didn't wake up until 9:30am. (I'm not one to wake a sleeping baby, regardless of what I have "scheduled.") So I was racing around to feed, change, and dress him so we could make it on time. (It's only an hour long program and there is a story and music in the beginning.)

We left the house late, which sucked because when we got to the library, parking was ridiculous. There is usually at least one spot in the lot, but it was packed, and we had to go down the street and around the corner. We missed half the program but the half an hour we were there was worth it. It was great to catch up with some moms I haven't seen in a while and meet some new ones.

I'm also glad that I made it out this morning because I did not make it to my evening event. About 15 minutes after my son finished eating dinner (carrots and blueberries with oatmeal,) he started to cough. At first it was just normal baby cough but within five minutes it turned into a violent hacking and vomiting that lasted for another 15 min. After ten minutes I was majorly freaked out and called the Doctor who told me to call 911 if I thought he wasn't able to catch his breath. So we did. I was terrified.

The police, fireman, and ambulance arrived so fast. By then his coughing had returned to a somewhat normal cough but he was still trying to catch his breath and his eyes and face were still beet red. They pulled out an air breathing machine and he played with it and his face returned to its normal color. We decided to drive to the hospital ourselves instead of take the ambulance.

The hospital quarantined us for pertussis because there have been a number of recent outbreaks, more so in kids who are up-to-date on their vaccines, like my son. We are waiting for the results to come back. I honestly never would have thought he was sick because even at the hospital he was in good spirits, laughing and smiling.

Tomorrow's outing will probably be to the Doctor. 


Monday, January 23, 2012

Get Out of the House Week

I grew up in the great State of Florida, and now that we live in the chilly north I have a hard time getting out of the house, especially with baby. It is really hard to truck him around normally, with the car seat or the stroller or the shopping cart cover, but in the winter it is even harder to bundle him up and take things on and off, remember blankets and hats, and to keep him happy under all those layers. It is a real struggle for me to even leave the house at all because I just don't like being out in the cold. This can't be healthy though, never leaving the house leaves me (and baby) with little social interaction. So this week I am forcing myself to get out of the house at least once every day, with baby or without. I sat down and looked up every resource I know of for events and meet-ups and this week I will be doing it all (or at least one thing.)

Looking for some events for baby or just for you? Here are some sources to try:

BABY: Our local library has several FREE baby playgroups through out the week at each of the different branches. They play a little music, tell a story, and then have some free play; plus you can get some time to talk with other adults = networking.
YOU: The library has tons of free/cheap classes in all kinds of things. Just a sampling of what is available at ours: book discussions, art speakers, computer skills, etsy-instuction class, learning languages, film screenings, meet-the-author events, performances, etc. A lot of events are available in the evening and some of the speakers during the day could be perfectly reasonable to bring baby to as well. This is a great way to build up some employable skills, or network with people of similar interests.

YMCA/Fitness club
BABY: I take a great baby-and-me swim class at a local indoor pool. I know he is too little to be really "swimming:" but his affinity for water has definitely increased and they teach great pool safety skills like how to find the wall, floating, and how to climb out of the pool.
YOU: A lot of local rec centers have free/small fee childcare while you get to hit the gym.

Religious Organizations
BABY: Our church's bulletin is filled with great family events. It also has a mom/baby group that meets once a week. When our son gets older they have an affordable preschool too. Our local JCC is also popular in our area, not just amongst Jewish families, for having events, mom's groups, childcare, etc. The same is true of lots of other faith-based groups.
YOU: Not only do most groups have events for baby but there are also book clubs, speakers, and community service opportunities (resume-builders!) My church even has a career builders network that hosts job search related events; and a great skill-building event that I will be going to this Saturday, (so more to come!)

Local Mom Blog
BABY: Our area has an awesome local mom blogger who posts weekly event listings and reviews of places to take the little ones. I found the site through a google search "[your town] mom blog."
YOU: A lot of the events that are posted are great ideas for a free/cheap date night with the husband.

Hopefully these resources help you to get out of the house too.


P.S. I'm always looking for ideas: share some of your own resources for how you stay busy!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Goal Setting and Pure Barre with Lululemon

On Tuesday I went to a workshop sponsored by Lululemon. It was a two part workshop: the first part was about goal setting and it was followed by a pure barre class; both were ridiculously HARD!

When I signed up, I was really looking forward to the goal setting portion of the night, and I'm not sure why, but I was really expecting it to be easier than it turned out. The Lululemon leader read to us about how to set goals and to make them SMART (all things I've done before) but then she asked us to envision what our life looks like in ten years; to be honest I have never thought that far out. My current frame of mind is severely limited to making it through the next three years before our family moves again. From there we were asked to write goals backwards, for the next 10 years, 5 years, and then 1 year, as a way of trickle-back goal setting.

For me, the most obvious thing I envisioned was having a fulfilling career, but what does that look like ten years from now? - I have no idea! So as we were asked to to plan backwards I realized that my short term goals need to be about figuring out what is that "fulfilling career." 

I'm still working on my worksheets from class but I am eager to share then with you; sharing your goals is one of their advised ways to keep committed to completion. If you are interested in trying this yourself, the Lululemon website posts all their resources on goal setting here.

The second part of the session was a pure barre class - it was two days ago and I am still SO SORE (in a good way.) It was totally worth it! Taking the class reminds me how much I enjoy working out and would like to have more time for it; its something that I need to work into my goals.


P.S. - Try out the worksheet and share your goals with me; then we can both keep each other motivated!