Monday, January 28, 2019

Monday Mornings at Work

Despite the drag of waking up early and fighting traffic on the freeway, I actually enjoy coming to work on Monday mornings (most mornings in fact). All my co-workers on the sales team are in the office, and we talk at length about our weekends and the latest adventures.

It's highly entertaining for me as I'm about 20 years older than they are (but still fairly immature). I'm Gen X, they are Millennials. They all live with their parents, with the exception of one, who lives with her boyfriend. A lot of people my age don't like working with Millennials for a myriad of reasons. Since they don't work for me directly and we're not technically on the same team, they don't bother me. Plus, they're timely, responsible, intelligent, creative and have a confident, teachable attitude.

We all make each other laugh and share good shows to watch on Netflix, Amazon or Hulu or a great new podcast. We talk at length about Dirty John podcast/Bravo TV show and scary search and rescue stories from Reddit. We talk about friends and family members, drinking stories and other NSFW topics. Today, one of them showed us all a funny prank call video where a guy pretends to be Vietnamese and calls a Chinese business order and relentlessly harasses him. Yeah, it's not P.C., but very funny.

She also told us about the new show we have to watch - "Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes". I can't wait to watch the series! That freak worked his psychopathic magic in my hometown when I was a young kid!

I learn some new things from them and I like to think they learn some new, valuable things from me. They teach me how to make the best Snapchat and Instagram Stories and good filters and poses. I teach them how to set up a budget, save money, set up a ROTH IRA and 401k and plan for the future. They teach me all the various ways you can obsess about your eating habits - keto diet, intermittent fasting, Whole 30, calorie restriction, etc. I teach them (with my actions) about eating in moderation with food from home and taking mini breaks in the day to exercise.

They entertain me with their stories of good restaurants and bars they've tried. I entertain them with crazy stories about parenting my kids and my attempts at controlling their digital exposure. They say they would not be happy if their mom was 'invading their privacy' by monitoring their private messages  to boys on Instagram. I say, "I don't care. I will take that phone away from you and spank your bottom for being disrespectful to me. You'll get a flip phone!" It is very funny. When my oldest daughter has an especially unruly, rebellious moment, I share it with them and they laugh and cheer for her. It's funny to get their perspective on teen life, since they aren't too far from that age themselves.

Sometimes they are annoying, mainly when it comes to the obsession with Snapchat and Instagram - how many likes and views. And I'm sure I annoy them at times acting like a know-it-all librarian. I encourage modesty and professionalism. I don't want to hear anything about how high-waisted pants are fashionable. It's B.S. and hideous, not to mention it creates a nasty camel toe. You can't make fun of mom jeans and then try to claim it as fashion. NOPE. Also, your fave bathing suit is missing the ass fabric. I don't care if it's the trend, I'm not wearing a g-string bikini or S & M swimsuit to the beach, pool, lake or river. I'm a size small or 4, but somehow I don't think my ass would look that great covered with just a thread. There is cottage cheese cellulite!

But the good news is - the sales chicks reminded me that a good spray tan makes you look thinner! You better believe I'll be getting a few of those leading up to spring/summer. I just ordered a few bikinis on clearance from and I'm praying they fit and are flattering. Even if they're not, I'll capitalize on the spray tan and own my saddlebags. I'm in my 40s and have had three kids, so I know I look pretty good despite. Let's see how the next 20 years treat these Millennials after all the delicious cocktails, gastro pubs and charcuterie boards. ;P

No matter what, I'm really enjoying my new workplace and my co-workers. Mondays typically suck at most jobs. Today was another great day working with funny and nice young women. I'm happy to call them my friends.


Sunday, January 20, 2019

New Year, New Me and New(ish) Job

My last time I've written on the See Mom Work Blog was June 2017 - over a year and a half ago.


I've always aspired to be a writer and blogging seemed a natural fit for me. I have enjoyed keeping a blog and attempting to chronicle my motherhood journey in a quest for work/life balance. A few years ago, something shifted in my psyche and in my life and I burnt out of everything. Maybe it's been a mid-life crisis or depression, who knows, but a culmination of things caused an unexplained implosion. 

Trying to raise three young kids, one of whom was (is) a diabolical pre-teen with ADD/ODD, and another immature, attention-seeking child, led to a chaotic household. I felt out-of-control and unable to cope with it. I tried unsuccessfully to keep the house clean which continually upset me. I tried unsuccessfully to advance in my career, and had two awful, short-term jobs back-to-back. I felt like I needed a mental break and would have preferred to have ONE job for once - to care for the kids and home. I couldn't do it all and have it all. 

I wanted my husband to step up and help me or lighten my load. Let me take a break from working, hire a house cleaner, take us on a vacation or short getaways. I felt trapped and hopeless. I became angry, bitter and resentful. I took it out on him and the kids and wanted to run away. I withdrew, blamed and was convinced things would never change. I felt triggered and experienced similar hopeless feelings from my memories of childhood; growing up poor in a chaotic household with 'feral' children and a single mom who had checked out and neglected us. It felt like my husband was also checking out, constantly on his phone or the computer at home after work, taking the kids camping trips on the weekend without me, not communicating with me or showing me affection, and other perceived slights. I felt invisible.

My hope and dreams of having my career and life aspirations had hit a stand still and I felt sad and frustrated that I couldn't make 'great' things happen. I was (am) very jealous of everyone else who seemed to be living much better lives, making their dreams come true and looking great doing it. It seemed to me I was always going to be struggling with unmet goals and needs. Perhaps my self-defeating thoughts were a major pity party based in lies I tell myself. But I focused my anger on my husband and blamed him. Which didn't have positive consequences - it led to our separation, then divorce. 

I have been working full time again for about a year and a half in a job that I enjoy. I co-parent with 'Daddy-O' pretty well, we are friendly and focused on being good parents and the kids seem mainly well-adjusted and happy. I bought a condo almost a year ago that seems more and more like a home all the time. I'm adjusting to the minimalist lifestyle, following a tight budget, cooking and cleaning more rigorously and being independent and autonomous. But it hasn't solved my loneliness and melancholy. It scares me a lot when I think about being destitute and not able to care for myself and kids. So now I really need to make sure I stay employed, even when my restlessness and irritation kicks in (as it always does). 

So, that is my brief overview of the new changes in my life the past few years. In this new year, I am going to focus on continue my writing 'hobby' to somehow turn it into more of a business. I'm going to work on improving my mood and outlook, seeking professional therapy and other healthy actions. I will read self-help books that deal with my unique issues with my dysfunctional family upbringing and attachment disorders. I will start journaling again. I will get better at meditating regularly. I will spend more time outdoors. I will be more honest, authentic and assertive. I will spend quality time with people who bring me joy. I will take up hobbies/activities that keep my mind and body active. I will drink less alcohol and eat more healthy, home cooked foods.  I will ensure that my kids take me seriously and follow my instructions, doing their part to keep up a tidy, calm home and that we participate in fun activities together that don't involve screen time. (Wishful thinking).

For my new(ish) job, I'm going to continue to give 100%, get experience in that particular industry niche and eventually get promoted to make more, then work towards my next gig. Hopefully a job where I can work remote and have more flexibility. If the economy takes another downturn and I lose my job again, I will have to reassess my career choice. I'm getting older, less edgy, dare I say irrelevant. I need to make sure I stay on top of business trends, best practices and work those career angles. I have over 20 years left in my working life, so I would really love to work in a job/career I enjoy and I feel appreciated and impactful. I have at least five years left in paying after school childcare expenses. But, I can't get too excited because then I'm sure there will be a lot of college expenses to worry about. 

I suppose I'm starting to realize that life is a constant struggle. Comfort and security is never really guaranteed. That social media is a farce and a lie. I will continue to limit my time on Facebook and Instagram for personal use because it aggravates me and tends to stir jealousy and anger in me. That perfectionism is toxic. Life is a circuitous journey. I should give myself and others grace. Gratitude is therapeutic. And all that jazz.

Well, I've successfully published my first blog post of 2019. And it wasn't that difficult at all! I will aim to keep momentum in writing and power through mental blocks against it. It is very therapeutic for me to share my struggles. I would like to delve into writing about my family, my battle against melancholy, seeking recreational activities to offset my demanding work/parenting life and other miscellaneous rants regarding working mom angst. Wish me luck! And THANK YOU for reading! Leave a comment and some encouragement if you're inclined.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Are You There God, It's Me, Unemployed Elle?

Dear God, Odin, Master of the Universe, Almighty One, Father of Mine...
Are you there? Are you listening to me? Do you see me? Obviously I am physically and mentally capable, willing, available and experienced. I would like to be hired for a professional job again, please. Pretty please. With sugar on top.

Perhaps you have a master plan? Perhaps I'm best in this dedicated mom role right now? But I'm getting discouraged and demotivated. The economy is better, there are lots of jobs posted... there should be no reason why I'm not being an opportunity.

Why are hiring managers and organizations so damn flaky and hot/cold? I really need to have a job. Like, months ago. If I have to spend the summer without a job and no summer camp for the children to go to, so help me God, I may really perish.

Stay tuned. Need to hustle to get the little peeps from school. I'll continue my stream-of-conscious prayer in my head to you. I expect results Lord Odin!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Unemployed and Lamenting

I was laid off in January. Almost four months ago. This is the second job loss in the last few years. It's a little unsettling and demoralizing. I question my career choice, my abilities, my age, my emotional fortitude, my intelligence, character, employability.

I'm over 40 in a career that seems to be a young, driven person's career. I don't want to make lame excuses or be a victim. If I'm being one, tell me and let me know how to adjust my mindset. Ever since having my third child, I'm very challenged for time, energy, money, resources, patience, mental agility. Working full time and using childcare pretty much took a full paycheck and maybe a little more each month - on a fairly decent salary I would say. And I'm always spread thin - at home and at work and every other realm.

My last job came after a six month lay off from a very challenging position where I was doing the work of an entire team it seemed. I couldn't succeed in that role. I could barely work the full 40 hours during the week. Yet I didn't want to blame being a mom. I wanted (and want) to do it all. And do it well. But it doesn't seem possible. I tried.

So back to the point. My last job... the hiring manager told a very compelling story about the organization to get me inspired and onboard. I didn't realize until too late that it was an aspirational story. The reality was the exact opposite of what she presented. She even oversold herself. I learned quickly that the work environment was toxic and my boss was a control freak.

I wish I had blogged more during those eight months that she reigned over me. She was so neurotic, bipolar, two faced and bossy. I should've listened to my instincts in our interview when she dominated the conversation and didn't listen when I spoke, talked over me and everything centered around her, her career and her vision and strategy.

I gave the job my 100% and give her the benefit of the doubt. I didn't want to create conflict or lose my job. Although there were many times that warranted standing up to her. Here are just a 'few of my favorite things':
  • If I had a hint of a cold, she would panic that I would get her, the office and her infirm dad sick and would want me to stay at home (more extreme than school illness policies)
  • She had layers upon layers of process and procedure to share information and project updates as if I were Six Sigma/PMP certified and we were launching a rocket to the moon, which was far from the case. The simplest of projects/tasks would become paralyzed by her stubborn adherence to her wonky rules.
  • People brought their dogs to work almost daily, yet the one time my Little Chicken Hawk had to be picked up from school because of a potty accident, she became outraged that I had him in the office briefly. (I couldn't leave him in the hot car, outside the office building alone, or otherwise.) She ended up tensely being introduced to him, making him feel unwelcome and then making a big deal out of it that evening and the next day with me behind closed doors. I was lectured for bringing him in briefly, introducing him to others, talking about her behind her back about her rules. Other people had brought their kids in and she was equally annoyed by it. Oh and she just 'LOVES KIDS', however, I think that's false.
  • She gave me detailed direction in ordering materials before a specific date and we'd had months of back and forth leading up to it, comparing quotes, designs, options. Turns out it was the wrong direction from the president and he didn't approve the expense. It pissed her off, put her in an awkward position and she blamed me for not following procedures. There were closed door meetings, stomping feet down the hallway and cold shoulders. I apologized to the president for any wrongdoing on my part and he brushed it off and made it seem copacetic.
  • It felt like a toxic relationship where you're always walking on eggshells and not sure what mood the person was going to be from day to day, hour by hour.
  • I tried to be friendly in the office with the other staff. She tried telling me not to talk to certain people telling me that they're not a good worker and would often talk about others behind their back and over-the-top friendly to their face. She liked to be in the know about everyone's lives and tried to influence the president on who should stay and who should go.
  • She needed plenty of time off for random crises like a cat's sickness, leaky pipe, etc. However, if I needed time off, it was a nuisance or petty.
  • She took copious notes and kept them under lock and key and randomly ripped her notes up loudly in her office.
  • Always kept her office door closed to concentrate and if it happened to be open and someone had a conversation nearby, she would shut her door rudely and exasperatedly.
  • She claimed to be a mentor to young girls, when it was really being an AA sponsor (I believe). She was supposedly sober and often talked about her former crazy party days. I don't mind someone being in recovery and working their program, but the neurotic, abusive treatment of employees is completely unacceptable.
  • She become enraged the one time I needed to leave a volunteer charity event 15 minutes early in order to make it to an after-hours appointment. I told her about it before and during, and I told the other volunteers, but she claimed to not know. She emailed me that night about it and she had a heated closed door meeting with me about it the next morning. She accused me of being defiant and told me 'I needed to get out of my head' and some other asinine shit. I was stunned in disbelief and hurt. It was supposed to be a positive event with holiday philanthropy and she tainted it and created another tense, hostile workplace situation. This is the one time she made me cry on the job where everyone could see my red, puffy face. Then that made her feel incriminated and she suggested I wasn't feeling well and that I should go work remotely. ?! 
  • I could go on and on, but you get the gist
Unfortunately there was no official HR department in our small office and I felt there were no checks and balances against her power. I really tried to make it through each day doing the best I could and to keep my reactions and emotions in check. I wanted to keep my job, make it at least a year and get my bearings as I was going through divorce mediation and I suspected I was suffering from depression. I didn't want to be a baby or a victim - 'woe is me'. I wanted to be strong, confident, capable.

I felt like whatever initial fondness she had for me, turned into disdain and hostility as her attempts to control and manipulate me would sometimes fail. Of course, I tried to adjust my projects and communication style to her preferences, but it was always a moving target. I have over a decade of professional experience and many good performance reviews, so I'm not a complete incompetent moron. Or am I? I've started wondering about my own abilities and have lost much of my self esteem. I've considered changing professions or at least industries.

She liked to attempt to give me career advice. What I would be good at, what I'm not good at, what type of person she thought I was - basically I'm not cut out for corporate life. If she's the epitome of 'corporate', than hell yeah, count me out. I have become so disenchanted on the career I fell in love with and so burnt out by politics and egos. I'm hoping my next job will fuel me and not deplete me. I can't handle going through this again.

As a side note, I need to blog more as an outlet. I've been blocked and not able to put my thoughts into words. I think it would help me feel so much better getting it off my chest and knowing that I'm not alone in how I feel. I could really benefit from two or five different support groups for all the things I'm going through. Is it a complete midlife crisis?

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Actual Tears Shed in the Workplace

It's happened. The unspeakable. Tears fell from my eyes at work. This is something that hasn't happened in EVER (that I can recall). I've worked since I was 12 years old in a lot of jobs, some of them pretty crappy. But crying at work isn't something I find acceptable. I try to keep all my emotions in check at work.

Not only did I cry, I sobbed. When I couldn't control it at my desk, I went to a bathroom stall and let it out. All my anger, frustration, confusion and powerlessness came to a head. It's hard to say if it's related to the holidays, my aunt passing away, my marriage ending or all of it accumulated, but what set me over the top was my controlling, borderline abusive boss.

The afternoon prior, I'd left our holiday volunteer event 15 minutes prior to scheduled ending because I needed to get to a personal appointment. I didn't get a group photo of the volunteers before I left because of leaving early, as well as my hands were deep in the food we were serving. I'd also published promotional posts on our work social media related to our volunteer event without her review/approval. She knew I had the appointment, but she acted like I hadn't asked her and I had just snuck away. She is the type that you have to ask for permission in writing. Leaving early negated getting the group photo, and I realize that it's part of my role to get that. I messed up and tried to apologize. Posting on social media without her approval is just a ridiculous charge.

So that same night of the event, she emailed me with her list of offenses I'd committed. I knew that I would hear all about it the next day. I wrote back with my defense. Then she came into the office the next morning and I already felt really sullen and filled with dread. I went in to her office to try to talk to her and she started blowing up. Some things she said: "You need to own your shit", "Your defiance", "You need to get out of your head"... I was stunned and hurt. I felt attacked and angry.

Some of my 'woe is me' thoughts: why does she have to make it personal? What did I do that was so horrific? Why do I feel so targeted? Why can't I do anything right in her eyes? Why does she have to control every little thing? Why can't I ever be happy working anywhere? Why would a boss do that?! What is wrong with her?! What is wrong with me?!

She ended up walking away without us resolving it and going to a colleague's office. Likely to talk about me. I sat at my desk and started to well up. Then I started crying, then let myself go to the bathroom to sob. When I came back, of course people noticed. She then tried to soften her approach and talked to me about my personal life and suggested I go elsewhere to work remote. (I think so others didn't realize she'd made me cry as it would be a bad reflection on her.)

Like usual, I didn't stand up for myself adequately in this situation because she intimidates me. We don't have an HR department and the president is rarely in the office. But we did talk it out and some of the air was cleared. The team gave me a sincere greeting card for the loss of my aunt. The day went better as it went on, as her morning anger melted and she transformed into a jovial, social person in the company. But the damage has been done. I don't know what crazy shit show I signed up for, but I need to save myself and my career.

I'm starting to question my perceptions and how much is reality or what seems to be depression. I feel paralyzed by everything and burdened. Irritated and annoyed. Everything is a task. Nothing is a joy. How am I supposed to get better? People always have helpful advice. I take it for the most part. But a new therapy I will begin to take is journaling. (Which is like blogging, but even more free style.) Where I can really drop some F-bombs.

Other useful depression therapy advice commonly recommended (many of these I try):
  • Exercise
  • Yoga
  • Meditate
  • Mindfulness
  • Healthy diet
  • Good rest
  • Friendships/connectedness
  • Gratitude journal
  • Positive self talk
  • Limit caffeine 
  • Limit alcohol
  • Give back to the community
  • Self care (massage, nail salon...)
  • Nature/outdoors
  • Therapy
  • Music
  • Self help books
  • Support groups 
  • Church
  • Prayer
One thing I haven't tried is anti-depressant medication. I think I'm there, ready to give it a try. I am tired of living with sadness and anger and anxiety and fear. I'm trying to 'snap out of it' but it's not working. The holidays and the stress of marital separation is making it worse.

I am reading Brene Brown's book Daring Greatly right now and it's been pretty therapeutic so far. I wish I could retain those nuggets of wisdom when I'm feeling the most vulnerable and stressed. Or when I feel personally attacked at work.

Tomorrow is Monday. Ugh. After the Thanksgiving break. Double ugh. I hope I can get through the week staying on her good side and doing an acceptable job. (I FEEL LIKE A VICTIM OF ABUSE WHERE SHE IS CONDITIONING ME AND CONTROLLING ME SO I WALK ON EGG SHELLS). Am I crazy or am I correct in my assumption?

Needless to say, I'm on the hunt for my next opportunity. I need to be secure, content and productive when I work. I'm wasting my time and talents at this place. Hmph.