Job hunting

Life is funny isn’t it? You think and plan and work diligently towards improving your own circumstances as well as those that employ you, but then life throws you a curve ball.

So I now find myself in the aftermath of quitting a perfectly good job where I was feeling satisfied and fully utilized, in order to care full-time for my ailing father. But that need has now vanished as he has moved beyond this earthly plane.

Now I find myself back in the job-hunting market with all the other over-qualified, experienced and competent folk.

I utilize as many information refining and gathering techniques for this task as I can:

  • I subscribe to many career news feeds via my Feedly account.
  • I subscribe to industry-specific enewsletters.
  • I bookmark employment webpages for organisations where I’d like to work and I check these regularly.
  • I keep an eye on career ads in print and online.
  • I use LinkedIn to connect with professionals I know and others in the industry.

I have been applying for relevant positions as they arise. It takes me about six hours to write a job application answering the requirements fully.

I worry that at my age my resume looks a little long, but it is what it is, and personally I know that means I am experienced in my field, stable in my work attitude, mature in my emotional intelligence, and at the peak of my ability to contribute in a meaningful and practical way.

I also worry about the mistaken view that the younger one is the better they are to adapt to technology. The ability to handle technology varies from person to person, regardless of age. Some people, like me, have a natural inclination and understanding about technology, and this translates readily across all types of devices, software, databases, utilities, and emerging media. I have the kind of brain that has always understood and enjoyed maths, physics, engineering, technology, manufacturing, database structure, etc. That ability does not deteriorate with age, in fact an ability to laterally link those ideas to new trends and emerging technologies increases with age and experience.

kitchen_garden

So I use this valuable time to read, listen to podcasts, learn new things, update my eportfolio, write, take on some new projects, exercise, grow vegetables, and prepare healthy meals.

My ‘to-do’ list is still a mile long and there are only so many hours in the day.

 

Walking in nature

One strategy I intentionally employed with the objective towards handling the grieving process and retaining a positive outlook on life is to walk in the natural environment.

I know that just being in amongst nature, absorbing the sights, sounds, textures, and smells lifts my spirits and reminds me of my place in the larger scheme of things.

I love the chaotic unpredictable asymmetrical and beautiful variety of nature’s garden: the choir of bird calls and insect buzzing; the extensive palette of green; the movement of leaves, grasses and dust particles; the unusual flowers; the occasional animal; and the absence of manmade ugliness.

Susan at Pillar Point

So I did and it has. I’ve walked the trails of the Mornington Peninsula and recently some of the rugged walks at Wilsons Promontory. The vistas at ‘The Prom’ are awesome (in the true sense of the word). The greens, aquas, and turquoises of the crystal clear waters sparkle like a precious gemstone. The wind roars like an oncoming freight train. The rocky monoliths stand in perpetuity – daunting shapes remembered from my childhood visits. The beauty fills my spirit and soul. Petty squabbles dissipate. My love of life abounds.

Back in December as I sat in the hospital room beside the waxen corpse of my deceased father on the morning he died, I received the words into my head “Just enjoy your life!” I’m sure this was a message for me from my Dad’s departing spirit, as he knows my serious nature more than most.

Tidal River Duck Race

And Tidal River is a place where adults can let their inner child run free. The group of people we went with really know how to enjoy life with childish abandon without the need for alcohol or drugs. They are a bunch of mostly retired fitness nuts. So we had running relay races on the beach. We rode the waves on body boards. We had a duck race and a boat with egg passenger race on the river. We laughed. We looked for wombats at dusk and rose at dawn with the birds. We snorkelled the rocky shoreline, walked and ran the trails, and relaxed in water holes in the river. We had a heap of fun.

So yes Dad I am getting on with enjoying my life.

Plans for 2014

If there is one thing I learned from 2013 it is that not all plans are successful. Life sometimes takes over and the best laid plans with the right intentions need to be put aside.

But inspired by the ladies from the Up for a Chat podcast, and because I do believe in the power of intention and visualisation, here are some of the things I want to accomplish and/or work towards this year:

Review of 2013

Once again inspired by Chris Guillebeau of The Art of Non-Conformity I look back over my experience of 2013. It was a really difficult and challenging year for me.

Here is what didn’t go well:

  • On 23 January my mother passed away after a four year battle with cancer.
  • Dad was alone for the first time in his life and grieved and this sat heavily on my mind.
  • Dad was diagnosed with Mesothelioma at the end of July just prior to his 77 birthday.
  • With family members I shared care responsibilities for Dad which meant a lot of organisation and travel to and fro.
  • We sold our house and most of our possessions.
  • We resigned from great jobs.
  • We moved and left some great new-found friends.
  • I went from being a fully employed professional to being a full time carer with no wage.
  • Dad passed away on 16 December.
  • The funeral for Dad was held on 20 December.
  • Our annual family Christmas get-together was held on 22 December and was a horrible out-pouring of grief.

Here is what went well:

The man with many hats

So these past three weeks (indeed this whole year) have been life-changing, defining, difficult, enriching, surprising, sad, busy, purposeful, supportive and a privilege – for me.

We left our jobs. We sold our house and most of our stuff. And we moved into my father’s house to be with him as he battled Mesothelioma. My transition was from a full-time, employed, busy, professional, to a full-time carer giving medication around-the-clock and worrying as my father got weaker with each passing day.

Stanley Frederick Smith passed away this morning at about 5am in hospital. I had seen him yesterday, and he gave me a huge smile when he opened his eyes and saw me – a gift. But I felt his time was limited. It was so sad to see such a clever mind be limited by illness and drugs: so sad to witness your own father grow weak.

Of course I knew him as my father, but as I sorted through his files I got to see more of the person. He was a funny bloke who loved a joke. He loved to stir, rile and rouse others. His wit, puns, and jokes were a constant source of entertainment for others. But he was not a clown.

He cannot be defined by one label. He wore many hats. He was: a professional; a manager; a boss; a methods engineer; a car lover; an artist; a friend to many; a president; an organizer; a leader; a committee man; an active member; a foodie; a cook; a HAM radio nut; a Morse code practitioner; a photographer; a joke teller; a conversationalist; a talker; a geek; an intellectual; interested in physics and astronomy and mathematics; a life long learner; a language learner; a family man; constant companion to Margaret; a life participant; an independent thinker; and a kind person.

18 Stan xmas no mo 90s copy

His files were full of jokes, photos of classic cars, caravans and caravan trips, people gathered in groups eating together, and people enjoying each others company. He was a people person.

While his time has ended and he is probably reunited with my mother, my own life journey pauses between life chapters. We will mourn, pay tribute, share stories, then sort out the accumulated possessions and legalities. Then begin the next phase….I have some ideas.

EOM

Don’t you love acronyms? They are useful if you know what they mean and if you are communicating with others who know the same ones. They exist across the range of human subjects and are specific to their own topics. If you don’t know what an acronym stands for then they are as useful as if someone spoke to you in a foreign language.

EOM is commonly used in emails in the local government organisation where I worked for the last four years. And in that time I never knew what it meant. It’s significance seemed unimportant, so I was never prompted to ask.

End Of Message! Superfluous perhaps. It was commonly used in the subject line of an email when there is no content in the body of the email. For example, “Email subject: Leftover sandwiches in staff room. EOM”

On my last day I received a phone call from a local newspaper reporter asking me questions about why I was leaving. I told him that it was because I was going to care for my father who is failing quickly with Mesothelioma. I reminded him that he needed to go through the usual Council communication channels. Prompted by his enquiry I wrote a media release and sent it through to the Council media person. It had not occurred to me that this would be of any interest to the local community. It was published in the newspaper under the cute heading “Portland Library Manager turns the page“.

EOM

20131130-095255.jpg

Breathe and step

I feel like I’ve been holding my breath for the last four years bracing myself in anticipation for the inevitable crash that was my mother’s messy destiny. I lacked motivation to move or plan of think or enjoy simple pleasures. I had a tight grip on the handrails of life.

Now I feel I can breathe easily for the first time in ages. It is uncomfortable to admit there is relief but there it is. It is hard to watch a loved one suffer. So the relief is mine, as well as the guilt in feeling that.

Anyway, amazingly I have begun to move – to swim, cycle, walk and practice yoga, as well as meditate, study, read and I hope to paint again too.

chocolate_and_zucchini_cake_09022013Also cook – yesterday I made this Chocolate and Zucchini cake using zucchini’s from our garden and based on the recipe from Clothilde Dusoulier the author of the book Chocolate & Zucchini, but I changed it to be gluten free.

This uplifting TED Talk by Shawn Anchor was shared on Facebook by Oriah Mountain Dreamer and it made me laugh as well as remind me of the simple ways to tap into positivity. The happy secret to better work.

I am currently reading The one hundred year old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared by Jonas Jonasson.

My 2012

Inspired by Chris Guillebeau of The Art of Non-Conformity I offer you a review of my 2012.

It was a fruitful year at work. After three years in a leadership role I feel the library team are functioning happily and effectively. This is positive and noticed and commented upon by our customers.

On a National level the National Year of Reading and love2read campaign provided a brand and focus to work around. Our locally organised and funded events were successful and included: an entertaining talk by David Astle of SBS’s program Letters and Numbers; a Dr Suess Olympic Reading Relay Challenge; a visit and talk by author Kathryn Fox; a short story competition with the NYR theme for November “What makes you cry?”; book reviews; and competitions. It must be said that for our small rural region the NYR offered nothing except a logo. We provided everything all the planning, funding, organisation, seeking and paying for authors, staffing. We should have used our own logo!

NYR12

On a State level Tomorrow’s Library and the Victorians Love Libraries campaign prompted passionate discussion. The Stage 1 Report has leapt to a ‘solution’ that needs quite a lot of detail IMHO. Hopefully Stage 2 will fill in the gaps, especially for small libraries on the remote fringes of the state.

The VALA Conference held in Melbourne in February was a professional highlight and I was particularly interested in the presentations by Jason Griffey, Eli Neiburger, Eric Miller, and Tim Sherratt.

The Local Government Rural Management Challenge was held in Renmark and I was part of the team. This experience was intense, challenging and worthwhile.

As a technology lover I enjoyed using my new devices to access information for work and play. I am adept at sourcing and reading eBooks, e-journals, and multimedia. I listen to a variety of podcasts from around the world on my iPod as I drive to and from work. I watch TV programs, podcasts and other videos on my iPad. I sync my devices to my work email and calendar to stay on track. Facebook is a horrid and deceitful form of communication that has lost its value since being infiltrated by advertisements, organisations, and payment for sharing. Twitter I ignore now that it has become too big and unwieldy. Free Apps are king. I read blogs via the Google Reader app and this is a very convenient way to spend down time. Pinterest and Goodreads are top of the tree in terms of social media I think.

I began a Master of Information Studies via distance education at Charles Sturt University. With just four subjects to complete, the first two subjects are Strategic Planning and Project Management. The reading of academic papers on these topics has been interesting and rewarding and I hope will assist me as I lead the library into the strategic planning process in 2013.

On a more personal level I have been meditating and practicing yoga and hope to increase my involvement in these.  Leadership for the disillusioned by Amanda Sinclair provided a useful model of mindful leadership that supports my own attitudes. I read her book then was lucky to attend a seminar at the SLV.

My eldest son was married earlier this year and my youngest son gets married early in 2013. My daughter was married some years ago now – can’t think how many! My mother continues to respond to all the cancer treatment they throw at her and my father does everything in his power to support her. My husband continues to cycle with the local cycling club, as well as working with the local Council.

#NYOR2012 Amazing

Amazing! This is the theme for the first month of the Australian National Year of Reading.

And so to kick off my involvement I will proclaim that The Most Amazing Book I Have Ever Read is “Illusions: the Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah” by Richard Bach.

It begins…

“1. There was a Master come unto the Earth, born in the holy land of Indiana, raised in the mystical hills of Fort Wayne.”

It is a precious jewel of a book offering a gentle and positive slant on life. I love the mystical spiritual elements that are grounded in the real world of squashed insects on windscreens and greasy hands. We are gently urged to look beyond the veil of reality where something amazing might be revealed.

It is a story about two pilots who fly small planes around the USA selling rides in small town America. They meet and discuss Life. Don is the Teacher and the Richard is the Seeker.

Where do you learn all this stuff, Don? You know so much, or maybe I just think you do. No. You do know a lot. Is it all practice? Don’t you get any formal training to be a Master?”

“They give you a book to read.”

The book is revealed: Messiah’s Handbook: Reminders for the Advanced Soul; a source of wise and interesting sayings.

I tend not to keep hold of many books once I’ve read them, but Illusions is the exception that I will keep and reread. I used to loan it to others but it never came back, so now I keep my own copy. And who can blame anyone for wanting to keep a copy for themselves.

It sits alongside Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig in a genre all of their own. Whilst Zen is complex, Illusions is a simple tale. Both gently coerce you into a deeper insight.

                        “Argue for you limitations and sure enough they’re yours.”

Flying not falling

It looked to me like he was plummeting to earth before the orange chute opened, but he said he was flying. My partner/husband/friend/companion/accomplice could not stop smiling as he told me about his skydive.

He has also recently managed to stand up on a surf board. His “bucketlist” is getting shorter. Another thing ticked off his list was to build a new house.

Visit Paris –yes. Climb Uluru – yes. Visit Machu Pichu – not yet. Visit Paris again – not yet! I don’t like the notion of the “bucket list” and prefer to think of my life as a colourful palette. Each day we create what we will. Sometimes it can be a muddy mess while at other times it is so beautiful beyond all expectation.

I have felt like I was falling – my life changes so total I have struggled to find my feet. This morning I realised I am flying not falling. The typical morning-mind complaints rattled around in my brain, whinging about the injustice of having to get up early to drive to the rural airport; when a scene so unique and beautiful stopped me and made me realise how lucky I was to  be out of bed early after all.

I was driving through patches of fog as morning light illuminated the countryside in soft pastel stripes of pink, blue and grey. The pastures lit up in vivid green and the white wind turbines turned their man-made symmetry in slow motion above the fog. It was a jewel of a day, so lovely and precious that I felt lucky and privileged and snapped out of my morning fug. Indeed I was lucky to be alive. I thought about stopping and taking a photo but I knew this could not be captured within the confines of a small digital image.

And that got me thinking about how my life has changed in so many ways. I recall wanting change and now every day is different and new. I had lifted myself out of the stagnant predictable sameness that it was, into a fresh, vibrant, challenging, rewarding and creative experience. We (my husband and I) pushed the boundaries and expanded our life experience to be fuller and richer.

Last night I was in a small country town hall at a public meeting listening to locals talk about their town. Today (in an unrelated matter) I enjoyed fine dining in The Melbourne Room of the Melbourne Town Hall then just three hours later I am in the plane banking over Discovery Bay looking down on an emu racing back into the pine forest.

Maybe the meditation is having an effect, allowing me to be quick to appreciate life more often. The power of mindfulness.

We are Fifty and Flying not Falling.