I Quit with Much Rejoicing

Linda1I may have hinted I was unhappy, in reality absolutely and utterly miserable in my current employment. Nailing down the why’s hasn’t been easy. Truthfully, I knew some of the reasons but not all from the very beginning. The honest to goodness, oh my gawd, get me out of this madness fact was I was miserable nearly from the day I walked in the door and it only got worse. Exponentially worse each and every single day, it also got easier to identify the reasons why. Finally, this month I had enough of all of it, with great trepidation, I made a decision that I may well come to regret but is nonetheless the right decision for me.

I QUIT.

Yes, you read that correctly. I had enough, I reached my limit my wits end and I wrote my letter of resignation and pushed the send button. I had been contemplating this move for months, seriously contemplating for weeks but then it hit me and I hit the wall of ‘done’ and pushed send. Thinking to myself as that letter went out, ‘shit, can I take it back’.

Last year was very difficult for me, emotionally and financially. I was out of work for nearly six months, ran through my savings and was down to my last month of emergency funds when I accepted the position with my current employer. I had high hopes. I had made the decision to go from being self-employed to returning to the corporate world, to what I thought would be my last istock_000008650446small_custom-6ce6bb326422c9899f3e1b667f9bcae2444a689c-s6-c30job before retirement. I had researched this company, had spoken to more than twelve (12) people within the organization up and down the food chain. I was impressed with what I had seen and heard, I was happy with the salary and benefits, I was happy with the role I was taking. I was excited!

I wanted this to be wonderful.

Then reality hit, it hit hard and fast; it hit like a freight train and rolled over me, squashing me into the ground within the first two weeks. Honestly, I was left questioning my sanity, competency and value. I did not know where to turn, did not know whom to ask and did not have any direction. My boss was incommunicado, his boss simply said, ‘be patient’. The entire environment was toxic and I was miserable, I kept thinking it would get better; it didn’t.

Now less than a year later, I QUIT.

Scary as hell really, with bills to pay and a mortgage I am returning to independence. I am returning to contract work. I am going back to having some control over the environments I work within and those I work for and with every day. Is there risk? Yes, absolutely there is huge risk. Especially since I haven’t had time to rebuild my emergency fund. Nevertheless, misery is a far greater problem than the alternative, the possibility I might not stay busy and paid.

toxic-stress-response-pageIs it really I don’t have the patience to work within a corporate environment where the answer to many questions of inefficiency is, ‘this is the way it is always done’. Or is it that in my industry, consulting and IT, the culture is so toxic today I simply am incapable of surviving. I suspect it might be a mix of the two. Where the only concern is the bottom line, quality and human beings take a backseat. There is of course one other problem that everyone is afraid to mention, afraid to say aloud and that is cultural misalignment that has taken place within most large IT Consulting firms in the last decade.

Our industry, like so many others has been first outsourced then in-sourced through the H1B program, American workers replaced by primarily Indian workers. In the case of my employer, many  of management was Indian (2:1), most at my level were Indian (3:1), those one level below me (5:1) were Indian. Senior leadership of course were primarily American, this is the C-level those who were the face of the company but in all honesty they didn’t affect the lives of those of us who had to function with clients, or with each other day in and day out.

I am all for diversity in the workforce, however when it begins to create a toxic work environment I believe there needs to be something done. The fact of the matter is, when cultures collide especially in work environments all of us need to ask why and what we can do to fix the problem. We shouldn’t avoid the problem; we shouldn’t ignore what is causing the problem. We have an obligation to address the issues and create solutions, for our employees, our clients and our shareholders.

The H1B program was designed to bring qualified resources into the US, employers then sponsor those employees into Green Cards and even onwards towards their Citizenship. This provides large employers such as IBM, HP, Microsoft a source of educated IT professionals at a very low cost. Since the late ‘90’s when the program was expanded the program has brought millions of resources into the US and in turn sent millions of American professionals into the shadow economy of contracting versus full-time employment. One of the reasons for this is cost but as I think I have found out the cost is offset by the loss of organizational culture, the change in workplace culture is incompatible with our psyche and professional expectations, especially if we are women.

I QUIT.10402430_10205015207440428_9211021343351180985_n

Yes, I did that. Today is officially my last day. Yesterday I handed over all my gear, my computer, my phone, my badge. Today if they need something they can call my personal phone, I don’t expect they will though. My resignation caused some angst, though I suspect also it caused some small rejoicing, as I was a thorn in the side of some. I do not regret my decision to accept the position, I do regret allowing myself to stay longer than I should have hoping that it would get better.

So onward and upward, the lesson I learned is to not allow others to treat me badly while making excuses for their bad behavior. Culture is not an excuse.

I QUIT and now I start something new.

Jumping in Delicately

I have been absent lately, from my own space and yours. It is has been a tough time, I haven’t made a secret of it have I? That being said and the fact that I have shared mostly the harder parts of the past three months versus the small victories, well it hasn’t been all bad and it hasn’t been a complete and utter disaster, every day and without relief.

Yes, I really have gotten out of bed on occasion. Though I must admit, I do love my bed.

Thanks to the wonderful advice and information found at Lessons From the End of a Marriage, I have started to build up some stamina, a toolbox suggestion came from this particular posting and I am working on my own this week. I realized after reading the post and checking in at the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory that I was high up there (438), not just in the past year, in the past 90 days. Wow, that was an eye opening; guess it is time too really take steps to align my attitude with my true needs and take care of myself.

No, I haven’t found the RIGHT job yet, however, I am committed too not run scared from my plan to stop consulting, stop traveling and reinvent my career and myself. Don’t believe for an instant I am not scared, I am petrified; still I am going to pursue this change for my own good, for my health spiritually, mentally and physically. For my financial health (and so I don’t panic) I may have to modify, I may need to take on short-term contracts, but that is something I can do easily I think.

All this being said, let’s talk about some wonderful things. Things I did for myself and things that have entered my life.

First, isn’t he handsome?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Yes, he is the newest addition to my family, born Thursday, 13 March 2014. I was there, at the hospital this time. Unlike when his big brother was born, I was there. I realized how special it was to be able to be part of momentous family events, rather than off somewhere else because of work. What a blessing this was. I am so excited with Chase Lee, he is beautiful and his big brother is happy to have a new brother. Yes, for all you who take exception, Painted (Inked) Grandma’s are the BOMB, and I say this with the very best meaning.

Last month Red from Momma Money Matters came for a visit. As most of you know, Red is one of my nearest and dearest and her visit was lifesaving, truly. We didn’t do much, a few shopping trips, a trip to the ballet, a couple of dinners out. Mostly we sat and talked sipped wine and talked. The biggest and most important thing Red did was demand my presence in life, require me to get out of bed every morning and move. I needed that more than anything else at that point. What most people don’t know is I have spent so much time on the road I don’t have a social network of friends here, where I live.

One other thing I did while Red was visiting was have new professional photographs taken. My original intention was simply to have headshots done to update my profile on job-hunting sites such as LinkedIn and elsewhere. With Red in town I expanded that to include her for our business cards and banners at RedmundPro and anywhere else we might choose to use them. But then, with her encouragement, I expanded one more time and had new ‘fun’ and personal pictures taken of just me, being well not quite me but maybe the me I hope to be sometime in the future.  This is the result:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The photographer is Christ Hanna of Posture Studios, he does a great job and this is the second time he has made me look beautiful (when I was feeling less than). Personally, I think he does a wonderful job and looking through his portfolio, well it is eye-popping to say the least. I am not his usual subject, so I am in awe just how marvelous he made me look. The first time he photographed me the results made me cry (happy tears), it was a low point and I was stunned into speechlessness.

If you are in the Dallas metroplex and want wonderful photos of yourself or someone else I would highly recommend you consider Christ, he is wonderfully talented. I have already engaged him to take the first formal pictures of my lovely grandson; I am more than certain he will do marvelously. With a wedding coming up (youngest son) I intend to hire him again in the near future.

Finally, on a slightly more personal note I am sure will find hysterically funny. I want to relay I am not dead; I might be slightly socially awkward. For many years, I have had two modes of being, the married Val and the business Val. I do not know how to respond to anyone flirting with me other than to ignore and think they are full of it. Blatant showing interest in me whether simply to get in my bed or otherwise, tends to go right over my head. In fact, I truly do not recognize it, I am oblivious; truthfully, I can’t imagine why anyone would.

So what you should find funny, while Red was on her mission of mercy she yanked my chain; twice no less. Yes, men actually flirted with me, attempted to gain my attention and I was utterly unaware. Handsome men paid attention and I was unconscious. Probably I should not admit any of this, what does it say about me? Well, married Val still exists in my heart and brain; I suppose that is what it really says. Somewhere there is someone else, somewhere there is the other me the one who knows how to flirt back, who knows how to ride a bike, who knows how to be less socially awkward. Somewhere inside of me is that woman, maybe someday in the future she will emerge with some encouragement and enough opportunities and reminders.

Thanks to Red and Christ, at least I know now I still look half way wonderful on a good day (Thank you).

riding a bike

Choices are Terrible

1343863240_3320_fearFear is a terrible thing.  The stories we tell ourselves of what will happen if we do or do not do certain things can spin out of control in our own heads.  If we have any imagination our internal stories can cause us too cower in corners refusing to take the steps we know in our hearts are right.

What do I fear?

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  • Losing everything
  • Never working again
  • Being alone for the rest of my life
  • Never being loved again
  • Dying alone
  • Not achieving any of my dreams

What am I willing to sacrifice so this doesn’t happen?  Apparently everything at least that is how it feels right now, today as I face the nearly untenable return to work in a hostile environment leaving too much unsaid at home.  What is it in my personal psyche that will accept what is indefensible under any normal circumstance rather than take risks that are not grounded in facts.

Yes, some of them are grounded in personal  historical realities.

Yes, some of them are grounded in societal standards and those translate into well founded fears.

Finally, some are simply my own fears, my own personal insecurities built over years of hearing “not good enough”.

Somewhere, somehow there comes a time when it is important to separate what are unreasonable fears from what is simply the truth about choices we make and why we make them.  Is there a part of us that chooses jobs because we think, ‘this is something that makes sense and I can do this; be successful at this.’  Or, as we get older in a market that values youth and beauty do we think, ‘shit thank you Jesus, someone is willing to pay me now if I can only stay under the radar long enough to retire I will be good.’

I wonder about this one, I truly do.  After twenty plus years in an industry that is unkind at best to women, one that I have fought hard to succeed in I find myself on the cusp of antiquity.  I still love what I do. I badly want off the road, badly want to find a ‘forever’ home that will value hard won knowledge and my years of experience.  Truly want to find somewhere to rest myself, on the laurels I have earned through years and 3 million miles in the air.  I still have it in me to work hard and contribute to success.  I still have it in me to mentor and lead.  What I don’t have in me any longer is surviving in hostile environments in silence hoping it will be better tomorrow.  I just don’t have that in me, I simply can’t find the strength or wherewithal to hope next week or this week will be better than the last one when I know the same people will be there and nothing has been done to change their bad behavior.

hazardous-waste-symbolsThe idea of getting in my car and driving four hours to an environment that is so toxic it makes me want to weep or scream every single day makes me weep now.

Funny though, when the environment I am leaving is as toxic it is choosing between two rooms one full of Sarin the other full of Rican.  Which is worse?

Dying alone seems a better choice, it is simply a matter of telling myself this isn’t the worse that can happen.  Never being loved is a silly fiction, I know I am loved it is simply a matter of definitions, love comes as a gift in so many different packages.  Being alone, how much worse could it be than it is right now when I am more alone together than I have ever been.

Losing everything, now this is a terrible one.  Terrible because I have been here before and I am too old to start over again.  Terrible because it is a very real fear, not just one I made up in my over active imagination but one I have lived.  Terrible because it truly does scare the hell out of me and causes emotional and intellectual paralysis.

Love is a sometime horrible state of being, we hope beyond all reason what we love and whom we love will be good for us and that in turn we will be good for them.  We hope, rightly or wrongly we can fix what is broken in ourselves and that our baggage will match theirs so our travels are along the same roads.  We hope we speak the same language, from our hearts and our minds; both are important as we walk along paths no others have medium_diverging_paths-270x180tread dragging our histories behind us.

Sometimes we fail.  Sometimes, despite all our best intentions we fail miserably.  Sometimes there isn’t enough love to fix what is broken inside of us.  Compassion, empathy, humor, self-confidence these have to be part of the mix we bring.  When we try to force another person into a mold, whether it is an image we have of him or her or of how marriage should work we are doomed before we place our feet firmly on the path.  When  we have no flexibility in our personal views, in our vision of the world we have doomed ourselves to a very narrow future and we doom our partner to unhappiness if they don’t agree.

What am I willing to sacrifice?  Myself? My pride?

What happens when we don’t tell, or worse when we do but the other person doesn listen or doesn’t hear?

I have to answer these questions soon.  Choices are terrible things, aren’t they?

I leave you with this from one of my favorite Broadway shows, I think it says what we should all ultimately strive for.

Overrated, Certainly Not

crybabySome weeks it doesn’t pay to get out of bed, well okay it does pay but not enough. Have I ever mentioned what I do for a living?

No?

Well, if I don’t get out of bed I do not get paid, no one pays me to sit at home, not one single red cent. It would be nice if I got paid to recline, eat grapes, sip wine and otherwise indulge my decadent debauched  dissolute self-indulgent delicate sensibilities, but it doesn’t happen. For many years, six in fact I have been an independent consultant or as some of my more delicate subtle clients refer to me conslutant.

For nearly twenty years, I honed my skills at sucking up and telling clients, what they didn’t want to hear in dulcet tones and with smiles, convincing them, that yes, they really did want to do what they didn’t want to do and they wanted to pay astronomical sums of money for the privilege of doing it. Over the years, my clients bitched and moaned about the cost of my presence, whined about how much they paid just to have me darken their door. Now and then, a client would shake an invoice in my face demanding I actually read aloud the figure at the bottom and explain why I was worth all those zeros.

Finally after all those years I decided I no longer wanted to work for others, there is a story behind that decision and it isn’t pretty. Nevertheless, there is a downside for my independence. I do not get paid if I don’t roll out of bed and show up at the client side to work each day. Having a bad day, worse how about a bad week? Suck it up, really tough tits girlfriend get your azz in gear stop at Starbucks for a quad shot and shake it off before you get to the client, no one cares they are paying you for your skills and competency, not your personal drama.

Sick today, hope it is only today and not all week? If you are too sick to get out of bed this is a day you won’t earn a dime. Better hope you have money in the bank, your bank that is. Your salary is paid by you, if you don’t have enough to cover it for the next payroll, you will be short paid. Hope the bills aren’t too bad and you don’t have quarterly taxes to pay this month!

Another big downside to my world?  There is nothing like uncertainty. Oh sure, everyone has uncertainty in life and certainly in their jobs. Whether you are an employee or a contractor you face the reality of job loss, this is  the world we live in today. If you are an employee with even a little bit of tenure you will likely receive some notice or a small package in lieu of notice. You will also be eligible for unemployment, something to tide you over. Contractors on the other hand get nothing, maybe not even the courtesy of a warning shot over the bow. We sign-up for specific periods of performance (contracts) however, these can end without any notice. If we know contract is ending we begin looking for our next contract, if a contract is ended without warning we are out in the cold, no severance no unemployment.

Most of us work on Net 30 day invoicing terms, all too often when our contracts end without notice that last payment is very difficult to collect.money-lock1-300x269

I am an IT Program / Project Manager. I am independent, I have my own consulting firm and I am incorporated. I have been fortunate, I have had very little time between contracts in the nearly six years I have been independent. This doesn’t mean there haven’t been a few scary times though. I have been on a couple of contracts that ended abruptly, a couple that were long-term and great fun. I have nearly always been fortunate in those I have worked with, never had problems collecting my money.

The upside to how I live in my work life? I am independent, if I really don’t like a client I am free to end a contract. I do not have to play politics, I have only one goal I want the project I am working on to be successful and the client to be successful, this is the only dog I have in the fight. If my dog wins I will gain a client for life and a good reference.

Generally speaking, I control the hours I work and the time I spend in my work. I no longer work 60, 70 and even 80 hour weeks. This happens now and then, when it does it is justified and necessary for a very short period of time. I take at least four weeks a year of vacation, I never did this when I was someone else’s employee.

The downside to my work life? Some days, when I am having a tough day, when I don’t feel emotionally, mentally or physically up to the day I can’t call in sick. I have a greater obligation to my client than I might to an employer. I also only have myself and I don’t get paid if I don’t roll my happy ass out of bed and get to work.

Most days though, even when my life feels like it is spinning entirely out of control it is pretty dammed good to be me.

Native Tongue

One day not so long ago and not so long after I bought both my two new computers I had a problem, not a small problem either. Indeed no, it wasn’t a tiny problem that I could simply reboot and solve, were that it I would have done so. This was an ugly and profound problem, a problem none of us wants to see and especially with a brand spanking new and very expensive computer.

What the hell!

I had built this lovely from the ground up. Extra everything, it was turbo charged, built for speed.

What the hell!

I had also paid a pretty penny to have all my software loaded, the latest and greatest from Bill Gates, not just the basics but also all those business applications I need for my work. Things most people don’t need and perhaps hadn’t even heard of, pre-loaded and send me the CD’s just in case.

What the hell!

There I was though on a Friday morning, in a panic. I wasn’t sweating bullets yet; all my work was backed up. I hadn’t lost my work. Nevertheless, there I am on hold, waiting for Customer Service to come on the line to tell me what I need to do to recover my brand spanking new computer.

Did I mention I had dual hard drives? Oh, well I had dual hard drives yet still there I was, with;

What the hell!

Finally, Prem came on the line. He was very helpful he told me I had two hard drives and could I please boot my system so he could remotely log on.

Really? I explained I was unable to do so but would be happy to try if he would explain to me how I could do this.

Prem got very frustrated at my stupidity. Clearly the failed hard drive was my fault.

I asked to speak to his supervisor. Prem hung up on me instead.

What the hell?

I called back, when I finally got another customer service person on the line I explained the problem and asked to speak to a supervisor. This person was reluctant to pass me to a supervisor, but after a five-minute conversation did so.

Fasid, was very polite and explained to me he could not find Prem’s notes thus could not find any record of my previous conversation. I would have to start from the beginning, would I mind very much if he took control of my computer to discover the problem?

“No of course not, except my main Hard Drive has failed and I cannot boot up. The hard drive needs to be replaced. The computer is under warranty and I want you to send out the part with a technician to fix it. That is what I pay for.”

Fasid explained to me that he wasn’t authorized to do that, but he would send the request to another group who would call me back when they were in the office in two hours.

So I waited. What the Hell!

David Chen called me back late that afternoon; he was from the ‘Customer Care’ department. He wanted to know why I had lodged a complaint. Really?

  1. I have a business account with your company
  2. I bought two computers from you less than 6 weeks ago for a total of $4,900 including hardware, software and warranty
  3. One of those computers has failed, it is my primary computer for work
  4. I spent the better part of 4 hours on the phone this morning with people who would not resolve the problem, who hung up on me, who were not authorized to fix the problem or who did not speak the language well enough to understand the problem
  5. I have waited more than 6 hours for someone to call me back, meanwhile my computer still does not work

David was very conciliatory. Well I guess he had to be he was in customer care. He confirmed my hard drive had failed and he ordered the part and the service. Initially he tried to tell me this would take at least a week, but I reminded him I had paid the extra warranty. I also reminded him I lived less than 15 miles from one of their plants, I could walk there faster than he was proposing to have the part. He also proposed I could replace the hard drive myself, again I read the warranty to him. Not only would he send the technician to replace the part, they were responsible for making certain my hard drive was operational.

Then we talked about my unhappiness with the customer service experience. I obviously was unhappy with that morning. I was especially unhappy with Prem, who had hung up on me. Prem had another problem though, he could not speak English very well and he spoke very softly. I was continually asking him to repeat himself so I could understand what he was saying. I get it, organizations have outsourced and off-shored their tech support. There is no turning back from this and all the complaints in the world are not going to change this trend, it is here to stay. But can we at least set the standard, please. Can we at least say if you are servicing English speakers you must have conversational English, servicing French speakers you must have conversational French, and so on. Is this too much to ask?

Apparently, this particular computer company has found another source of revenue based on the complaints and feedback on this issue. David suggested I sign up for the added benefit of Native Tongue Customer Service at the low cost of $35 per year.

What the Hell !

Where have all the Flowers Gone, Boomers and Feminism

When I was born in 1957, society was on the cusp of change, women, particularly in the West, were beginning to shake off traditional roles and demand their place in the offices and the boardroom. I was born in the last cohortwikipedia.com of the Boomers, the generation of rebels and idealists. Mine was the generation swept up in the second wave Suffrage, rebranded Feminism and ignited by the Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. Mine was the generation who wanted more than marriage and a house in the suburbs, who are now struggling at the end of our careers and wondering just what in the hell happened.

My generations coming of age began in 1967, better known as the Summer of Love, it ended with the start of the Reagan years in 1981. During the intervening years we saw many changes in our thinking, our social views and even across the approximately 69,000,000 members of the Boomer Generation still alive, there is a greater divide than in other generational cohorts. Perhaps this is why we struggle so with the loss of all we gained during the great uprising of our youth, the time when we were still fresh, rebellious and idealistic.

It was during this time we pushed for freedom to choose a career and delay marriage and motherhood; we thought we won. We won the right to access contraceptives whether we were married or not (Griswold v. Connecticut, 1965). Through the generosity of a single woman, Katherine Dexter McCormick hormonal birth control was developed by Gregory G. Pincus and finally brought to market as an oral contraceptive in 1960. We saw our right to health privacy and body integrity affirmed (Roe v. Wade, 1973). In 1972, we saw the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), sponsored by Martha Griffiths (D-Michigan) in the House and Sam Irvin (D-N.Carolina) in the Senate, pass with bi-partisan support.

What you might not know about the ERA:Wikipedia.com

Finally, in 1994, then Senator Joe Biden a legislator of our generation drafted and passed with broad support the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA HR3402, 1994, 2000 and 2005) which until this year has been reauthorized with little opposition. The 112th Congress is still battling to reauthorize VAWA this time, thus far the Senate passed the reauthorization with new provisions reflective of our times while the House in a very partisan vote said ‘Nay’ and is busily rewriting for the third time their offering with reduced funding and of course changed provisions.

Some things you might not know about women both locally and globally:

  • Women perform 2/3 of the world’s labor, this includes both paid and unpaid
  • Women make up 51% of world’s population and 50.9% of the US population
  • Women with children make up 13.1% of our entire national community, or 8.3 million women. Women globally head 83% of households.
  • Women account for 2/3 of the world’s illiterate adults.
  • Women globally earn only 11% of the world’s income and own <1% of the world’s land and assets. In the United States, on average women earn .77¢ for each dollar earned by a man for the same work.
  • Gender based violence kills more women worldwide than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war. It is estimated one in three women will be the victim of gender-based violence between the ages of 15 to 44.

We hear a great deal of rhetoric right now with the political season upon us. A lot of slogans dancing across our screens and men talking big about morals, ethics and the Right American Way as they beat their drums and flap their gums rapidly to keep the money pouring in. There are billionaires buying elections, Churches crying the blues, talking heads spewing hate and idiots making up nonsensical string theories to scare the naïve into cult like head nodding while they chant the names of their favored candidate or platform meme.

One thing I believe as a woman is true, we have looked away too long. There is indeed a war being waged and we are losing. When I asked ‘what the hell happened’, it was a very real question not just about our jobs but our public life, safety and enfranchisement within society. In 1967, we thought we were moving into a new age of freedoms and opportunities. What we have found instead is a scarceness of opportunity as we approach our retirement. We did not achieve equality for ourselves and our daughters’ watch helplessly as what small steps forward we did take is being stripped from them through legislation intended to diminish them and effectively strip them of their freedom.

The 112th Congress has floated the following:

  • 61 Abortion bills since they have been in sessions, or should I say Anti-Abortion bills.
  • 813 separate pieces of legislation specifically related to health care and insurance, much of which is directly related to the Affordable Health Care of 2009.

What the 112th Congress hasn’t done is focus on putting our nation back on track and working in a bipartisan way to fix what is ailing us. Instead, what we have seen is women being pushed further and further down, across the nation laws are being passed that are draconian in nature and elected officials are using language that even a decade ago would have seen them run out of the office. Meanwhile, women are being silenced for saying VAGINA.

What is next?  Will we be back to begging in the streets when we grow too old to sell our wares?

I leave you with this, it is I think relevant and I leave you with one other question is it time to stand back up not only for American women but for all women everywhere.

SOURCES:

http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-03.pdf

http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-14.pdf

http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/

http://www.opencongress.org/money_trail

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1990-01-26/features/9001070809_1_decency-real-thing-guardian-angel

Careers are made to be broken

I started on a completely different career than the one I am on today. Somewhere in 1990 the IT giants made a dramatic announcement that would panic the world.

The sky is falling, well no but might as well have been. What was really happening was the Millennium Bug or Y2K, the giants of IT had announced no software or internal clocks were prepared for the Year 2000. OH NO! What

Y2K Bug

did this mean for the rest of us? It meant millions of dollars were going to be spent preparing for the year 2000. Software giants would push their products, fortunes would be made and new careers would be launched. It meant a fairly egalitarian new marketplace would be created.

My new career would launch in 1994, I loved it more than my first and would invest and sacrifice, push the limits of my health at times, crawl over broken glass and fight for my right to be there more often than I can count. The problem? While we, those of us here in the US were building this market and sacrificing to do so, it was being slowly ripped out from underneath us. For those of us who happen to don skirts and stilettoes, we have seen our opportunities diminish and our careers, no matter what success we may have achieved previously, lay in shambles at our feet.

I joined the ranks of consultants in 1994 with a fortune 50 company. I was one of the first hired into their new SAP practice, a practice that would grow to thousands worldwide. I remained with them for seven years and achieving great success. I would join two more global organizations in senior roles over the course of the next ten years. By the time I decided to venture out on my own as an Independent the market had changed, Americans and especially women were seeing less opportunity and their incomes greatly diminished.

What is wrong with this industry? We don’t own it in any shape or form in the US and it is our fault. Prior to the Millennium, Bill Gates and other ‘experts’ demanded and won an expansion to the H1B program. This is the government program intended to enable industry, science and education to fill shortfalls by recruiting from overseas. The first wave of recruitment was predominately from India, it was two parts; Insourcing and Off-shoring.

Suddenly we had hundreds of thousands of technically capable but socially inept resources swelling our ranks. The cultural issues were many, the stratification of their own country by caste, religion and frankly gender were pervasive in those early days. It wasn’t infrequent an Indian man would refuse to shake my hand or the hand of a woman client. In many cases communication was insufficient, for all of us.

To further bolster the perceived on-going shortfalls of hands and feet to do work the H1B remained at the pre-Millennium numbers. As recently as 2007 Bill Gates testifiedin front of a Congressional Committee of the need to continue to import talent, as if we didn’t have sufficient skilled resources in the US. Yet, most of us in this industry had been forced to Independent contracting by then, with lower rates and no benefits. Unemployment and

Bill Gates Testifies 2007 Senate Judiciary Committee
courtesy Microsoft.com

under-employment in my industry was the norm, long before the 2008 economic crash. Our problem as Independents? We don’t have affordable access to on-going training, skills enhancements, industry conventions or any of the other opportunities those imported ‘employees’ have. Go figure.

I have been an Independent Contractor for five years.

This year I decided to join a company. There are reasons for this, one of the biggest being my desire to refinance my home. I know, sounds stupid doesn’t it however, the banks don’t like independent contractors no matter how successful we are. The company I joined is India based; I was concerned about this but after several interviews with their partners including their one American partner I was convinced they had culturally assimilated.

I was wrong.

So here I am, palm meet face. My ego is frankly shattering in a million pieces a day. First, because I think I have made a horrifying mistake in judgment. Second because I feel so useless and dispensable. Since February of this year, I have been employed by this company and almost completely ignored. Yes, when someone wants or needs something they seem to remember I am here and happy to help, but I am more of an overpaid secretary than a highly competent professional.

What to do?

I have begged to be allowed to contribute to the Intellectual Capital of the organization, it is something I do well and have done for both clients and employers in the past; to no avail, I am ignored.

I have begged to participate in the sales cycle, I am good at this and have done this in my past career. I am ignored, except when I am needed to build a slide deck, develop a pricing schedule or audit a Statement of Work.

I would of course love to be assigned to manage a project, this is what I was hired to do. I accepted a position below past roles in other organizations so I could do what I love doing, Project Management.

Nothing, Nada, Zilch

Me, I am simply feeling a bit of despair. My ego is bruised and my options at my age dwindling. Dreams maybe need to be changed, I hate this feeling of having no control.

Perhaps this is my future…..

For lack of stimulating work
Courtesy TravelingThought.com

What to do? What would you do?

http://www.myvisajobs.com/Reports/2012-Green-Card-Sponsor.aspx

Train Wrecks

Train Wreaks

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Image courtesy of Wikepdia

We say we don’t love them, but honestly, we really do. When we hear about one if we are nearby we rush out to see the destruction, if not we tune in to watch on our television, our social media is filled with the sad news of body counts and fault. We can’t detach ourselves from the constant stream of tragedy.

We hate traffic, until we roll-up on the five-car accident on the side of the road. We cannot help ourselves, just like the three hundred drivers before us we crane our necks, slowing down to see what we can see. Is there a body? Are they using the Jaws of Life to crack open that $50,000 car?

When I was eight years old I went to school on a Military base in Munich Germany, to get there I took a bus from Pullach, which was about a 40-minute ride. One snowy, slushy morning with some 40 children in the bus, we slowed down and were directed around a police cordon. Suddenly the bus matron told all the children on the right side of the bus to look the other direction (not out of the window). Of course, we all ignored her and pressed our faces onto that frosty window, climbing over each other to get a better view at whatever we were not supposed to see. There it was, gory and terrible. A car had hit a man riding a bicycle, decapitating him. Apparently, in Germany in 1964, they didn’t believe in covering things up until necessary; I have never forgotten that sight.

Image courtesy of 1000AwesomeThings.com

The light at the end of the tunnel is most likely the train. Have you heard this before? I certainly have, I have thought it and even said it about more than one thing in my life, from my job to my marriage. There simply are times when things seem out of control, we feel as if we are in free fall and the emergency ripcord is just out of reach. I have been feeling this way often lately, more often than I care to admit frankly.

Image courtesy of Nasa.gov

What is it that drives our feelings of inadequacy and fear of loss, fear of failure? Do we watch everything around us, the ‘picture perfect’ people, the stars of reality, movies and television fail, their lives spinning out of control and fear our own cannot help but follow suit. Surely, without their resources, without their access how could our own lives not slide into that black hole sucking our energy,draining our emotional fortune? Is this really it? Is this why so many of us feel so inadequate when we look in the mirror, when we shop or just on those days when the sky is grey and the rain falls.

Perhaps the reason we are so quick to laugh and point out the failure of Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher’s marriage is the years they were successful and loving didn’t validate our personal views. Nothing during their marriage was met with public acceptance, nothing considered ‘normal’. Always there was a joke to be had their age difference, their public affection, their life in Tweets. With the meltdown of their marriage in a very public way, just like driving by that 5-car pileup we made jokes, pointed our fingers in their direction and laughed, never once thinking how much pain they might be in, only that for once it wasn’t us; not our marriage.

Image courtesy of flickr.com

These past six-weeks I have been a bit blue, no real reason for my internal color scheme just the shading of the season I guess. The world seems to be taking such a turn for the worse, the gears of my mind work overtime to make sense of what doesn’t make any sense at all. The only way I am able to make any sense of what I am feeling lately is to try to take on the bigger picture, to depersonalize and put my pragmatism in front. Try to find the ripcord and get myself out of free fall.

Dust Up

I am having serious problems with my house; it is scaring me, causing me sleepless nights even. Really, I am having terrible problems with my house. It keeps getting dirty without any overt action on my part. I have evil nasty gremlins who take pleasure in my slow descent into insanity. I am certain of this; positive in fact there are malevolent Dust Bunny wranglers living in the vents of my house.

First let me say I am a bit retentive, anally retentive that is, about my environment. I need my house to be clean, things put back where they belong, where I put them originally. I do not like disorder in my environment; it makes me a bit demented truthfully. Okay, enough about me and back to my obvious problem with the evil Dust Bunny wranglers and my dirty house.

   It is clear to me this is what comes out at   night to ruin my morning.

Sure, it might be the dog or for that matter the cats. It might even be my intense dislike of laundry; really I do have a deep fear of dirty clothing, it goes along with my abiding hatred of ironing anything. It could be that as I age my standards have relaxed, I am not as retentive as I once was not so controlling. I don’t think this is it though, in fact I know this is not the case based on my reaction each morning when I find myself surrounded by cobwebs, muddy paw prints and those daunting dust bunnies.

I have studied the problem in depth, sitting in my living room watching my cats chase the self-animated dust bunnies across the floor. Truthfully, I am mesmerized by the paw prints across my floor, often thinking to myself, “I should have more closely matched the colors so they don’t make me so crazed.” I have considered never eating from the beautiful dinnerware or using the ‘good’ stainless utensils again, thus avoiding kitchen clean up.

There are a number of other ideas that cross my mind with regularity in my quest to stop the madness of my house running contrary to my desire for order and cleanliness, unfortunately when I have suggested them to my husband this is the look he gives me.

Is he wrong? Is there a possibility I am simply being overly nitpicky? The answer is yes I am without doubt being a bit overly sensitive to my surroundings and the gremlins that are destroying my sanity. I accept even that I am making my husband a bit crazed now and then. I can’t help myself; despite this; I am unable to stop my neurosis.

I sought exterminators for the Gremlin Wranglers, did you know I am the only one with this problem. No one has the solution to these insidious and nasty little beasts.

So what to do?

I have considered giving up hobbies, I could stop my forays into social media and the occasional debates on church and state I enter into, but if I were to do this where would I release my aggravations? If I did this only my husband would suffer, he would be my only remaining target.

I could abjure all forms of writing and the research I do for some of my writing projects. This would solve another problem, the dust bunnies would have one less place to hide, the Gremlin Wranglers one less frontier to conquer (my bookshelves). Were I to take this option my mind would atrophy, I am nearly certain of this, many of my friends wouldn’t like me any longer (maybe this isn’t true) and I would no longer be the woman my husband married (he may see this as a blessing, I will have to ask).

Finally, I could stop working outside of the home, give up my career, stop earning a paycheck and devote all my time to household duties and tasks. Palm meet face…this would not serve the purpose intended, for more reasons than I can count ($$$$$).

This leads me to only one conclusion I need help. I need a housekeeper, someone who can confront the Dust Bunnies, dog tracks, laundry and my neurosis with a small smile and a shake of her head.

Bradyworld Image

Communication Exchange

I recently received an e-mail from a stranger challenging my thoughts regarding a specific person from history and how that person might align politically today. I didn’t think long or hard about my reply, I simply suggested they read the entire essay before attempting to correct my perspective. Thinking the correspondence was at that point completed I put it from my head. I will admit my response was a bit snarky, impolite even; I have only my own weariness to fall back on. The fact is that particular essay had been written in 2009 and remains a point of contentious debate even today, over the years many have come challenged the premise some politely and some not so much, one person even threatened violence, many have suggested there was a warm place awaiting me  sometime in the future.

That wasn’t the end though. The next e-mail came within a day. It was politely written, though it chastised me for my snark, even the rebuke was done in gentle language. In reading this letter I thought to myself, in all the two-hundred plus comments not once has anyone actually asked me what was I really thinking when I put together this essay, why did I choose what I chose; perhaps this deserves an answer. Maybe it deserves more than, “Because I can, dammit”.

So I sat down to think about this essay, which my new e-mail friend had read twice now according to him. I went back to read it again as well, to make certain I hadn’t missed my own mark in the writing. Then I responded (without snark) with the explanation of my thoughts, the premise and the layers and gradations of the essay. Yes, I also apologized for my previous snippiness. Ultimately, I defended the premise of the essay but agreed I took literary license by assigning a current political stance to a historical figure based on past actions and teachings.

Communication isn’t really communication unless what I say and what you hear (read) are one and the same thing. This particular essay was nuanced; it was also a subject sure to offend some, if not many people. To some degree I knew this when I wrote it, certainly I knew it when I named it and as I tracked the comments I became increasing aware of just how big a nerve I had struck. The problem was the nuances were lost on those who took the greatest offence, but also lost on those who agreed. I learned some important things;

* People will defend positions and icons even when these haven’t been attacked.

* People are often incapable or unwilling to read or hear below the surface and thus miss the tones.

* Always wait for morning to respond to e-mail.

I write other places on other subjects, sometimes more controversial subjects in fact. I have always thought to keep it lighter here so I have a place of solace and restfulness. I like it this way, though my links are here and you are welcome to read my more political thoughts, I don’t plan on bringing them here at this time. I have continued my correspondence with my new friend, he is kind and interesting in his challenges to my thinking. I suspect we disagree on nearly everything based on his stated political leanings. I find our discussions refreshing as they are about the finer points rather than personal attacks you find so often these days when two sides debate the issues.

Just my random thought on communication  and what I learned from a single e-mail exchange.

%d bloggers like this: