Weekly I like to take time to look at ‘business’ stuff on linked in. Over the years I was working one of the best pieces of advice I heard was to always reserve some time for business research. One must keep a tiny toe in the ‘now’ of your career or things will just pass you by. It is also a way to keep your brain engaged in the larger world and not solo focused on the problem on your desk. It is along the lines of ‘pure research’ you go looking and learning not with a specific goal but with the goal of being open to what comes.
Today I stumbled on a recruiter that personally posted that people with ‘gaps’ in their resume are still very very worth talking to. Yes. They are. I am not sure what my career path is at this time but I’m actually really glad, for one, I am not with my former company. I took a giant leap leaving and my reason, on paper, was to stay home for my kids but other people take that jump out of a job because their boss was awful (actually the #1 reason most leave), lack of growth or they just didn’t fit the culture. They leap with nothing other than a supportive spouse or a savings account. I fully support that leap because you honestly can’t know what you are missing until you are there.
Most people I know started working at 15 or 16 years old and continued with one job or another through high school, college, and a career job. If working is all you know, you just don’t know what everyone not working is doing. So here is a sample of things I’ve done in my ‘gap’ that I either didn’t know existed or could never have done if I was working full time.
- Responsibility for another person 100%. Nothing has improved my learned management skills than kids. I can handle my 3, I can add on 3 more. I don’t want to run a daycare but I have acquired a knack for seeing the needs and managing them. Sometimes I have to be last, sometimes I need to arrange that I be first in order to be able to handle them. These are absolutely necessary skills for any manager in any field. **People also leave the work world to take care of a parent, same lessons here with even less ability to mandate therefore more leading skills emerge.
- Volunteering. Do you know how much of the world runs on volunteer efforts? Tons. Schools, library, hobby groups, local civics all have very limited funding and the cool extras (and some of the basics) come from volunteering. I’m not in the medical side of things personally but I bet hospitals need help too.
- Learning self-starter skills. How many jobs list ‘self-starter’? How does one learn to self-start when 90% of life is scripted? When you are home, alone, with a to-do list but nobody watching – that is when you know if you are a self-starter or not. Kids or infirmed people actually demand attention, those that stay home solo are the ones that hone the self-start skill. If you want to get something more than feeding and entertaining kids when you are solo; you learn self-start skills.
- Researching and trying new things. Back to my weekly research personal mandate; if you have time do it. You never know what you will find or what it will spark in you. Life at home can get really dull if you never leave your box. Look at the local world, look at the greater world, look up anything you hear about but don’t know much about. Read a site with different opinions, listen to NPR while running errands. You don’t need to spend money on every project you see, research tends to be free. If you have the basics in your mind don’t be surprised when you start seeing more of ‘whatever’ in the world and you can go deeper.
- Supporting others. I have plenty of friends that need a little help here and there and I can actually do that because I can juggle my time. I can help a friend with a new baby for a few days. I can make a meal for a sick friend so she can sleep instead of cook. I can rescue a friend with car trouble or who is locked out. I can watch a kid or two on a snow day or random holiday so their parents can both work. It takes more than one person to run the world, sometimes you need someone as a backup and the ability to step in and help out is not just a real-world skill but a business one too.
I could seriously go on for 1000’s of words and that is just my slice of life. Personally, I took the opportunity to do some freelance work. I got involved with my school board and ended up running a campaign and learning tons about local politics and honed plenty of business and communication skills. I’ve traveled more than I ever could have with a two-week vacation job, seeing other parts of the country help you understand your own and there are endless perspectives to gain.
I wish everyone could take a year and live outside the frame of a 9-5 job. Vacation is not the same, it is necessary but not the same. My life is not a vacation, it is a different version of work, sometimes easier and sometimes much harder. Nothing I’m saying is novel but the prompt from that one recruiter today hit a chord. It is your mistake if you don’t value what someone may have done and learned in their time outside an office. If you are on the fence about taking the leap, don’t worry that there is ‘nothing’ at home beyond cooking and cleaning.
With that I should hop back over to the work of the day. Then onto all the other things on my list.
Ah, January, the month of almost no Mondays. One year we didn’t have any because of snow days but this year I’m crossing my fingers.
Today is Martin Luther King Jr day, the day we honor the man that is the face of the diversity movement in the USA. Sometime over the year, I heard an interview with a contemporary of MLK and fellow crusader (who is still alive). He worked closely with Dr. King but he had a lot to say about how he originally did not buy the ‘non-violent’ part of the movement. This was actually key for him to understand and he explained that once he knew that violence would always be the headline, drowning out any other message, he could join the cause and leave his fists at his sides. He finished his interview lamenting that not only the fact that Black Lives Matter is a movement now (he had hoped it would be unnecessary) but that they are missing the key non-violent element. (He also gives credit to the CIA in his memoir because they did, in fact, tap and transcribe every call he ever had to Dr. King. Once there was a freedom of information act and he got them, he said writing a book had never been easier. Great perspective on a fairly invasive point in time.)
I’m glad that my kids are friends with a diverse group of kids, as diverse as a small northern town can be. They base their friendships on how nice the kids are.
It is a good Monday to have a break since we had an event over the weekend. We stayed up too late talking to friends and not really doing the normal chores of a weekend. We also had bad news about an old friend from the east coast who went out on his daily kayak jaunt and never came back. He was young, healthy, had a wife and daughter, and was in the same history group we are so we saw him online and at some big events. The suddenness of it makes my paranoia of driving in the snow or anxiety when Lars or the kids are biking or jogging or anything seem not so neurotic.
There isn’t much link between the sudden loss of someone and the slow slow remedy for racism except that it is absolutely opposite in some ways since you just can’t argue with death, he is just gone and apparently one can have sneaky racism you don’t even see until you look a certain way. The only similarity might be that I will continue to be optimistic as far as I am able – It is better for the kids to play and Lars to bike and me not stress myself into a coma about it, just like I can’t second guess my (and everyone’s) every word, action, and thoughts to see if I’m accidentally offending someone. If you know me, I’m doing my best, I promise.
This week is blessedly normal. School every day, workouts, normal work and housework. The exciting snow storm we were supposed to get went around us so we have a dusting but nothing special. Here I am on Thursday feeling pretty good about what I’ve done in the week but none of it is worth typing about.
The notable item that compelled me to write today is the results of our builder meeting. Did I mention that the reason we are not yet actually building and still in planning is that we had to eliminate our finished basement? Apparently some time in the course of history there was water three feet below the surface of the land so no basement for us. I’m ok with that, I don’t want a flood, I don’t want to fight for a permit so back to the drawing board (or cad board) we went. The builder is really great with going back and forth with us and in the end, I like this design better. Without using hundreds of words, we basically turned what was originally a 3 car garage into house space where we can put Lars’s office, utilities, a guest room, and a family room. The winters in this state make garage mandatory so we added it to the back left corner of the house.
In the meeting today we joked that there is only one room we have not changed a ‘den’, in the front of the house. I think I cursed it because with all the changes to create square feet, the house looked really unbalanced and flat. Totally a first world concern but any guilt I had about it was erased when the builder said he thought it was off too. Want to know how we can fix it? Eliminate the den and have a more open front hall with a more centered door. Now there are officially zero rooms we have not changed from our original design, including garage and porch. We are also playing with some roof details to make it more interesting and changing some windows to be more balanced from the outside. We are really excited about the project (if you couldn’t tell). Oh! best random surprise? Since we went to a slab the builders put in-floor heat into the plan. That is great for energy and comfort, however, we can’t have hardwood. Not a bad trade though.
What else? Well, we have the first science fair project starting. Niamh actually choose to type up her method last night instead of watching tv. I have to say that school is teaching her how to use google docs quite nicely, she has a presentation with pictures that I have no compulsion to redo.
This weekend is an SCA event so there is prep for that including finding what we want to wear and setting up food and stuff for after. We actually don’t have houseguests for this event so extra easy. Tonight I’m doing a bunch of baking, including a batch of thankyou brownies for the builders because I feel like we have been a bit of trouble, and, I’m really glad we have in-floor heat.
Kids are due home so I need to go be an active mom 🙂
Every year I make something for the kids (and sometimes more people) and this year I was inspired by the fact that they tie blankets onto and around themselves, with various levels of “success” to be part of their games. I read ages ago that giving kids things that can be used in games rather then specific use objects is better for their imaginations. I posted about this a few weeks ago when I had just finished #1 and said I was excited to see how they liked them. I also got an email asking how they liked them so here is the answer 🙂
(If you don’t recall or don’t want to click over, they are capes made from blankets that have a hood and a built-in tie/scarf. They also have pockets for either hands or stuff.)
I knew when I made 3 identical capes they would be used in very not identical ways and I was not wrong. In the crush of Christmas they were overlooked a little, but, I was rewarded when we got home when Zoe and Fiona were using them in an elaborate game.
Zoe was a bird in the game and she was using the hand pockets to make wings and loved running around the house.
Fiona was a hunter and tied her hood tight and wrapped the scarf around her whole body to make it a coat and she was trying to hide her sword (bird catching sword) when I made them pose for the picture.
Niamh actually started using hers instead of a jacket and has worn it out to walk the dog more than once. She ties a bow in a third perfectly valid, and very sweet, way to wear the cloak.
We also live in a cold state and our house is pretty tight but there are still cold spots and a wearable warm thing is a good idea so I made myself one too. I find myself wearing it in the evening for reading time to give extra snuggle time while also keeping my phone safe in the pocket as we transition into bedtime. So many of my outfits lack pockets…
If anyone wants the how-to on this let me know. I used $3 blankets and they took me under 20min to make. I have never seen this particular pattern online but it also isn’t all that unique a design so I may have just missed it.
I have used up my computer time for now so I must get back to the list of things to do (that may or may not include reading the book I finally got to start….)
I just looked back and I made zero attempts at resolutions or goals last year. Can’t exactly say that was a bad idea, I seldom remember resolutions too long but I do a decent job at small constant changes. I also didn’t have any major plans last year as of Jan1. I knew about the short summer and the impending milestone of 3 kids in school but otherwise, all the major things that actually ended up happening were surprises. That is how life goes I suppose.
2018 has a few things to shape it;
- March we are going to a big SCA event in Mississippi because it fits perfectly with the kids school break.
- our house building project is getting real. We had a bit of a false start with plan #1 so we are on plan #2 and hopefully will be in the permit stage. House is going to be a major theme of the year.
- house selling or renting will also be a thing.
- Packing, I should probably put packing an entire house and 10+ years of stuff on the list. Glad I started already!
- Summer will be extra long and I’m thinking of what to do, but, house/move/pack timeline will dictate.
- I would like to find a bit more work both for the income and for the satisfaction of it. Not full time but maybe a few consulting projects during the school year.
- I may end up running for school board. This is a maybe, we will see later in the year.
So I have some short-term goals of prepping for events and getting this house ready to pass on, and, longer-term ones like building a house and progressing my career. Everything else that may happen I’m ready for but you just can’t plan for the unexpected.