Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Happy 1st!

Our little friend Violet had a birthday party just a few days before I left for my trip to DC, and we had a lovely time celebrating with her family and friends on a beautiful fall day in a local park. Her parents, our good friends Robyn and Dan, provided tons of great food for everyone and we had a fun time watching Vi enjoy her first cake. She is such a happy, agreeable and easygoing baby--one of those babies that makes everyone to have them! We were a little bummed because we had to leave before all the presents were opened, but I got a couple of cute cake shots at least. I think this was my favorite!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Why I Quit My Job, Part 2

So obviously there was a lot going on at work causing me a lot of dissatisfaction in my job. In addition to that, there was a lot going on in my personal life that was making me want to spend less time at work and more time doing other things. Here's a brief list of some of the non-work reasons I was ready to hit the high road.

1. I really want to feel like I am doing something meaningful and important with my life, and writing reports all day wasn't really cutting it. I didn't mind my job while I was spending 6 hours a week volunteering at the shelter, because that was my purpose, but since I was no longer involved with dog rescue I was feeling very unfulfilled personally.

2. I really want more time to volunteer! I've been volunteering two Saturdays a month at The Leo Center food pantry and I really like it, but I'd really like to have time to get more involved--there and with dog rescue! About a year ago I connected with a couple of local Lawrence women who had just started Lawrence based Crossroads Dog Rescue, and although I only got to take pictures for them one time, I'm so looking forward to helping them as much as possible!

3. I really feel like I need to use the other side of my brain for a while. I've been using the left analytical side of my brain for so many years, and that's definitely one of my strengths, but the creative side of my brain wants to get some exercise too. I want to have time to practice my photography, maybe learn some more web design, do some more writing on my blog, and practice my simplistic graphic design some more. I have some ideas for art projects floating around in my head that I really want to get to work on!

4. I really want to improve my physical and spiritual health through daily workouts and quiet times with God. It's never been possible for me to do both in the mornings without getting up at 5 a.m., which takes a toll on me because we don't usually get to bed until between 10 and 11 p.m. There are so many studies that have found 8 hours of sleep a night is important, so I really want to be consistent in my sleep and in my spiritual/physical workouts!

5. In addition to my back pain that's made worse by sitting, I have a couple of other ongoing health issues that have been taking a toll on my work life. A few years ago I developed "unexplained edema," which is just random swelling (mine is mostly in just one leg), and the doctors haven't been able to figure out what's causing it. It's uncomfortable and slightly painful and it makes sitting more difficult as well. Then this year I developed some upper gastrointestinal problems (esophageal spasms from a messed up stomach) that are definitely exacerbated by stress.

6. I really want to spend more time with my mom as she's dealing with her own health issues. As one of my coworkers pointed out when I told him I was leaving, I won't ever regret making some personal financial sacrifices to spend more time with my mom as she gets older. Period.

I know there are probably other factors that lead me to this decision, but I took some Tylenol PM a couple of hours ago and I'm really getting loopy, so I can't think of any more. Regardless, I think you get the picture--I resigned because there were lots and lots of straws on the camel!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Nervous Excitement

I slept terribly last night, waking up ever hour or so and having a hard time going back to sleep. I woke up at 6:30 and laid in bed wide awake--my mind was racing in so many directions I finally just got up. I guess it's not that strange under the circumstances, because a lot has happened in the last 48 hours and I'm getting ready to experience some major life changes. For the few people out there who don't know yet, I officially quit my job yesterday and I'm so very excited about it!

While a few of my friends were a little surprised, most people close to me knew I had been contemplating this change for a really long time. Honestly, the decision has been years in the making. I first started thinking about quitting or going part time several years ago when my back problems started. Sitting is just so painful for me, and since I sit at a computer programming reports all day long, that means I'm in pain every single day at work. This pain has controlled my life for so long, and I am so thankful that I won't have to sit all day long every day anymore.

Really though, the back pain was just the tip of the iceberg. For months we'd been praying that God would give us guidance and wisdom in relation to my job, because there were just so many issues making me want to quit--issues at work and in our personal lives. I'd been fighting my desire to leave mostly because of financial worries, since without two incomes we certainly won't be able to support as many ministries and causes that are important to us. It felt selfish to stay home when I'm capable of working since there are missionaries relying on our support to feed their families. It felt selfish to leave a good job when so many people were completely out of work. Finally though, so many things had piled up on the list of things making me want to quit, I felt like this must be God's direction--I was so burdened it felt nearly impossible to stay!

Although I don't necessarily want to go into huge amounts of detail about all the reasons I'm leaving, I do want to make a brief list, mostly so that 10 years from now I'll remember why I made this decision!

Work Related

1. I just had my 12th anniversary at work, and have been in my current position for 9 years. For about the last 2 years, I feel like I haven't learned anything new, so the work I'm doing is generally not that challenging, which means I'm not enjoying it nearly as much as I used to.

2. While the work I'm doing (creating database reports using SQL and PL/SQL, in case you're curious) isn't necessarily challenging, my workload certainly is. On average, I get 20-30 requests for reports or data each week, and it can be pretty stressful, especially because many people don't plan ahead and think their request is an emergency.

3. One of my responsibilities was training new employees on how to run reports, and only about 10% of the people I've trained over the years actually a) understand how the database works and b) remember the reports they were trained on and c) still actually work at the EA and d) actually care. It was such an exercise in futility and I was really tired of it.

4. As my organization geared up for another campaign, there was some reorganization taking place elsewhere in the building that affected my job and made the reporting process less efficient. Inefficiency is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me--I just can't take it.

5. There's another department in the building that has an incredible amount of turnover--there have been 16 people in 2 positions in 12 years. Since I happen to have worked in that department previously and also happen to have helped create their reporting application, the training of those new people and the cleaning up of their data-related messes always falls on my shoulders. They just had another person leave, and I just don't want to deal with them anymore. I find it super frustrating that the administration doesn't just fix the problem in the department that's causing all the turnover!

6. While my responsibilities at work seemed to increase each year, my position/title did not, so I felt as though my career wasn't advancing at all and there was no potential that it ever would.

I could probably think of lots of other things if I tried, but these were definitely the most significant work issues. The issues in my personal life are so numerous that I'll just have to put them into their own post tomorrow!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Beginner Graphics

Since I get bored pretty easily, I've been trying to update the colors and header of my blog about every season. On Saturday, I was feeling kind of crummy (still fighting the cold I was complaining about before I left for DC), and since I didn't feel like doing anything except laying in bed anyway, I decided to use the time to redo my header for fall. Although my graphic design skills still leave a lot to be desired, I think I'm getting a little better, although I changed it so many times the new header took me like 3 hours to finish. I'm pretty sure a real designer could have done it in 1/3 of the time, but oh well. I like projects that help exercise my creativity!

In case you're subscribed through a blog reader and didn't see the new header, come visit the blog and let me know what you think!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

DC 3-Day Pictures

I've obviously been home for several days, but I haven't had the chance to blog until now because every free evening I've been trying to get the pictures from the 3-Day ready! Initially I didn't think I would spend much time editing them, but since most of the shots were taken while I was walking, there were plenty of crooked and blurry pics that needed a little attention. Plus, since I got the new Photoshop over the summer, I just can't help tweaking pictures a tiny bit even when they probably don't really need it!

Anyway, I added captions to some of the pictures, but many of the shots are just buildings that I thought were really cool even though I had no idea what they were! Maybe my DC knowledgeable friends Jake and Amber will help me identify some of them. There were so many awesome things to see on days 1 and 3 when we were in the city. I can't wait to get back there for a vacation to get a better look at the sites and learn more of their history!

I'm really going to try to write more about the 3-Day on my other blog, but in a nutshell, it was a great location for the event, the weather was darn near perfect, and my dad finished strong without any problems at all. Not that I had any doubts that he would!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Stress and Birthdays

The last week has been quite stressful, and my body let me know that it wasn't appreciating the extra stress when I woke up Saturday morning with a sore throat and a fever. I wasn't really surprised under the circumstances. After receiving the terrible news on Thursday and subsequently worrying about my grieving friend nonstop, I could feel the illness coming on by Friday afternoon. Then after a super busy day at work I ended up staying at the office until after 7 trying to finish up a big project, which certainly didn't help things. Even downing a bunch of vitamin C Friday night and going to bed early didn't keep me from having to cancel my training walks with friends on Saturday morning. After sleeping most of Saturday away I managed to make it to our friend Mike's 40th birthday party for a couple of hours that evening. On Sunday I tried to rest as much as possible too, but that day we actually had another birthday party to go to--this one for our 1-year-old friend Violet!

Tonight the birthday theme continued when I went over to my friend Melissa's with a few other friends from work to bring her dinner and wine for her birthday. It was hard to call this one a birthday celebration though, since obviously Mel just lost her husband 7 days ago. There were a lot more tears and hugs at this party than candles and presents, unfortunately. The sadness and grief have been so emotionally draining, I can't even begin to imagine how Melissa and her family feel.

Although I've felt a little better every day since Saturday (is this only Tuesday??), I would like to have spent more of Sunday and yesterday evening lounging around and trying to heal. Unfortunately that wasn't possible since I had lots of packing and preparing to do, given that I'm flying out tomorrow evening to Columbus, Ohio, where my dad will pick me up. As most of my friends and family know, the following day we'll drive together to Washington, DC, where we'll be participating together in the newly titled Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure! I'm super excited!

Now if I can just make it through one more day of stress at work, I'll be free to enjoy a relaxing vacation with my Pop--that is if you consider walking 60 miles in a weekend relaxing!