Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Career Change: It is hard

Another post, that, for one reason or another, I stored away as a draft.

About six years ago, I graduated from a private university with an MBA in Finance. That I have not used. You see, prior to that I had been an accountant. Being an accountant is very boring, but I liked working with numbers, so I thought finance was a natural transition.

As it turns out, it is much, much harder to move from the world of accounting to the world of finance than really makes any sense at all.

So, I started reaching out to people in finance at my company. They offered the normal suggestions--networking, informational interviews, and taking on project work to gain experience. I've done all of those things. Okay, technically, I have not taken on project work--I've offered my time to a variety of groups, but no one has accepted.

I joined the women's network at my company, the Lean In-style circles offered by my company, and I've participated in a mentor program, all to try to gain exposure to different people, different career options, different options for how I should proceed.

Then, I reached out to someone at my company who has successfully made the transition from accounting to finance. And he had the same advice--namely, informational interviews, project work, and the like. All of the same stuff that hasn't been working for me. He did, however, have some ideas as to what "additional experience" I would need, as well as some of the non-technical barriers to entry. It was actually the most useful conversation I've had on the topic.

While I would like to stay at the company where I'm currently working, I've realized that staying might not take my career in the direction I want to go. I've set up a meeting with a recruiter to see what sort of outside next steps I can take, or what other career options there are for me.

A few weeks ago, I googled how to leave a career in accounting, but most of the advise was directed at people who wanted to leave public accounting--and nearly all of it focused on getting a job in the private sector.

In a conversation with a self-employed friend, she pointed out that women are more likely to say things like "I was very lucky..." and men are more likely to say "I did this..." when talking about how they shaped their career. My company really pushes employees to "own their careers" but it's a little bit of a trap. I've discovered that what they really mean, but don't say, is that they want employees to own their careers within the parameters management prefers.

Unfortunately, I think luck plays a very big part in successful career change. A lot of it seems to be being in the right place at the right time with the right people. I'm still trying to figure out how to make my own luck, but I've stopped working so hard at doing all of the things I'm "supposed" to do--it was too much effort with little payback.

I do have some feelers out there for different prospects, and I've been thinking way more outside the box about what I want to do. I'm trying to make some big changes in my life, which is a little scary, but I also know that I'm more scared of staying put.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The worst Lent EVER

I found the below post in my "draft" file. I'm not sure where I was going with it at the time, but one of the things I'm working on in my Transform campaign is to figure out a food lifestyle that makes me happy, keeps me satiated, and is healthy. It's a lot of work to eat well, because it involves a lot of planning, and I don't particularly like to cook. But I also know that I feel better when I eat well. As Gretchen Rubin, over at The Happiness Project proclaims, one of her personal commandments is to "be Gretchen." Basically, this means that she needs to do what is right for her, not what she "thinks" she should be doing, and not what is right for other people. 

Okay, so here is the actual post:

My CrossFit gym (I REFUSE to call it a "box") is doing what my friend accurately described as The. Worst. Lent. EVER. It's basically this thing where, for 30 days, you can't eat anything fun whatsoever. I'm sure that if I managed to keep my shit together and not stab anyone ("
stabby" is a real emotion if you're from New essentially means angry, but has the colorful implication that someone might end up in a garbage can. Because that's how we roll), I'd actually lose a ton of weight. But I'd be the bitchiest version of myself, and the reality is that I'd probably gain it all back as soon as I stopped.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Energy Drain

At least once a week, you'll see an article on Facebook about getting rid of "toxic friends." But I have sort of the opposite of a toxic friend.

I had a friend who was nice, and sweet, and generous, and always up for anything. When she asked "how are you?" she actually wanted to listen to an answer, instead of just exchanging a brief greeting.

And somehow, I found her exhausting. I would spend a day with her, and I would come home completely depleted, despite the fact that everything that had happened had been fun and pleasant and nice and enjoyable.

For a while, I felt guilty about avoiding this friend. I couldn't pinpoint what the problem was, and I felt bad about not wanting to spend time with someone who was so nice.

In the end, I decided it mattered less WHY this particular relationship was exhausting, and more that it simply was. I would never suggest to someone else that they should spend time with someone they found exhausting, even if that person was nice, so why should I?

I haven't seen this person in over a year, and sometimes I still feel like I should tell her why I "broke up" with her, although to be fair, she hasn't contacted me, either, so maybe the feeling was mutual. In the end, the conclusion I came to, was it was exhausting for me to be around her because I always felt like I needed to be patient, and sweet, and nice, and basically not me. Pretending is exhausting.

Thursday, May 14, 2015


A while ago, probably around December or January, back when everyone was thinking about New Year's resolutions, I read something that resonated with me: a suggestion to pick a one-word theme for the year. Rather than a list of things to do (or not do), pick a theme you wanted to permeate your year. For reasons I still can't articulate, I LOVED this idea, but I couldn't think up a word at the time.

No big deal, I figured. I don't really buy into the idea that you can only make changes to your life at the beginning of the year, and I knew from experience that keeping resolutions is really, really hard. Then, over Mother's Day weekend it hit me: Transform. That was the theme I wanted for my year. So what if my year now ran from Mother's Day to Mother's Day in stead of New Year's Day to December 31? I realized that all of the changes I wanted to make had to do with transforming my life. And the word, transform, sounds so positive, so rejuvenating.

I started my transformation in the most obvious place: sleeping on my husband's side of the bed.

Captain America said, "What are you doing?"
"Transforming my life," I replied.
"Why are you doing it on my side of the bed?" he asked.
"If you recall, this side of the bed USED to be my side" I told him.
"If I recall," he retorted, "you're annoying."

A few weeks ago, I read an article on Facebook (that arena for all things important and cat-video related) about a capsule wardrobe. This was back before I came up with my Word of the Year, but still the idea resonated with me as something I wanted. The idea is that if you put together a wardrobe of your favorite pieces, that all mix-and-match, you'll have a nearly infinite number of outfit combinations without shopping or having an over-packed closet. (Okay, okay, I know, a mathematically finite number, but NOT THE POINT!)

I HATE shopping, and dressing like a grown-up is not my forte, despite my completely Corporate America job as an accountant at a software company. But, I figured, if I don't have to think about what I'm going to wear, getting dressed will be so much easier! Captain America was concerned I'd get tired of wearing the same things over and over (despite the fact that I'm perfectly content to wear my Harry Potter pajamas every day of the week). (I have matching pants. And I bought them at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter when Captain America took me as an anniversary present. He really does love me!)

Captain America was also concerned about what we'd do with all of my other clothes, but I pointed out to him what the blog pointed out to me: most women own a ton of stuff that doesn't quite fit properly, and therefore they rarely or never wear it. I could just get rid of all of this stuff. The rest I put in those giant vacuum bags and stored under my bed. Because in a few months, I'll probably want to update my capsule wardrobe for fall.

I also realized that while I thought I didn't like wearing dresses or skirts, what I didn't like was shaving my legs. I already knew that I didn't like shaving my legs, but I didn't associate it with my perceived dislike of dresses until on a whim in Target I bought a pair of tights. As a kid, I LOVED tights. As it turns out, I still love tights.

So here I am in one of my capsule closet outfits. I didn't take this picture until the end of the day because I thought it was a little monochromatic, but I received so many compliments at work. One woman even told me I looked like a model! (To be fair, taking selfies is not my forte, either, and so you can't tell, but I'm wearing 4-inch heels. I'm pretty sure that this is what inspired the "model" comment.)

Friday, December 5, 2014

You don't have to be crazy to work here, but it helps!

I just found this from a few months ago, and it still amuses me. 

Jennifer: who do you work for now? I should have taken a pic of the org chart!

Virginia: I now work for Marisa

Jennifer: Okay. Frank kicked you and Aaron to the curb!

VirginiaIt's like kids at a party...any grown up will do to pour the juice or whatever...any manager will do.

Jennifer: LOL! That's true. Marisa seems like a good manager for career development

Virginia: Yes. And that's what I need, because I am bored to tears. A well-trained monkey in a diaper could do my job. Hell, we could potty train a well-trained monkey!

Jennifer: Thanks for thinking of the carpet.

Virginia: Well, we just had the carpet replaced! And, there'd be the added bonus that the monkey could demonstrate Frank's banana-opening theory. 

Jennifer: We'd have to lock the peanut M&Ms up. I hope the monkey likes donuts. The monkey could also eat the rotting leftovers.

Virginia: Do monkeys eat leftovers? I know pigs do, but they don't have opposable thumbs.

Jennifer: We could make a pig pen as part of space planning.

Virginia: All of the zoo animals that interact with the public have a companion monkey could have a companion pig to eat the leftovers! And when the pig gets old...instant bacon! Or did I just cross a line?

Jennifer: We could bury it in the volleyball court and have a luau.

VirginiaOMG! YOU ARE SO RIGHT! Best idea ever! Let me tell Marisa we need to hire a monkey in a diaper so it can have a companion pig so we can have a luau! And we'll have revenge on the product team that didn't invite us to their party!

Jennifer: Yes!

Virginia: Nothing tastes better than sweet revenge...except when that revenge tastes like pork!

Jennifer: Haha!

VirginiaOMG! why aren't WE running this company yet?

Jennifer: Right?! Give us a little more time and there will be piglets roaming these halls!

VirginiaI totally went to grad school to run shit. I did NOT go to grad school to accrue severance.

Jennifer: Fact!

VirginiaWe live in California...people seem to think they can take their dogs everywhere with them. It's only a matter of time before people take their monkeys and companion pigs with them everywhere, too. We just want to be on the front end of that trend.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Admission: I'm on a diet

I'm on a diet.

Without getting into the details, yes, it's brand-name, no it does not involve anything delicious, and yes, I'm aware I'm consuming a lot of chemicals. It's temporary!

I've been trying for a while to lose the weight I gained when, over two years ago, I worked at a job with long hours and a lot of travel. And I've been unsuccessful. I've tried upping my protein. I've tried new exercises. I joined a CrossFit box. (I LOVE my CrossFit box! I am so strong now! But I have some pants I still can't button.) I've tried cutting out drinks (any drinks: juice, coffee, alcohol).

But it wasn't working. So when a coworker had success with this diet, and another wanted to try it, I thought, well, let's see what happens. It's easy in that I don't have to think about what I eat: everything is prepackaged. I have some friends doing it with me, so that helps. And it's been working.

I was hesitant to try this diet because I was afraid of what people would think. I didn't want to be someone who had to diet. I didn't want to jump on a trend bandwagon. I didn't want to feel desperate and fat. I WANT to be someone who can be cognizant of what they are eating and make smart changes to lose weight. But, I'm not that person. Or at least not yet. But then I also realized, I don't care about the diets of my friends: I care that they're healthy and happy. I'm not doing this because it's a trend, I'm doing it for me. And I'm not desperate. I'm still a healthy weight and size. I'm not fat. I'm just not who I want to be.

Tackling the question of who I want to be has many layers. But one of them is someone who is a little smaller.

Almost every female I know has a love/hate relationship with food, or has gotten over a love/hate relationship with food. It's like that boyfriend we've all had--that one where we say, well, I was in this dysfunctional relationship and it sucked, but now I really appreciate the person I'm with because of it. Why do we need that? Why can't we skip over the disfunction and just appreciate? This is probably a topic to discuss with my therapist. If I had a therapist. But that's another kind of "dating" relationship; one that I don't really have time for right now.

Back to the love/hate relationship with food. It's really sad, because food is fuel, and it's delicious and nourishing in more ways than one. Food is socializing with people you care about, food is holiday traditions, food can feed your body and your soul.

But sometimes food pollutes your body and soul.

When I talk to people who have made major changes to their diet and nutritional lifestyle, I'm always amazed by how personal it is. I always thought you just start eating better and less, but that's not the case at all. It's way more an emotional battle than a physical one.

I used to be the person who could eat anything. In high school, I was on two swim teams. That coupled with a fast metabolism inherited from my mother meant I could eat donuts and Reese's pieces every day, in addition to all of the significantly more normal, and decidedly healthier meals my mother prepared. And still be a size 2. And have muscles.

Tragically, I am no longer on two swim teams. I have a job where I sit at my desk. My mother doesn't cook my meals, my husband or I do (mostly my husband, actually). And while I still have muscles (bigger muscles, in fact!), and my pants size is single-digit, I'm far from a 2 (although I have no plans to ever get back to that).

I've been on this diet almost two weeks now, and I'm noticing both the physical and emotional changes. Good or bad, here's what I've learned about myself:
1. I miss coffee more than chocolate (WTF?)
2. I don't like to be full; I like to be not hungry.
3. I like eating small meals every two hours, like a newborn.
4. I like eating the same thing every day.
5. It's actually easier on the weekends, when I can DO what I enjoy than on the weekdays, when I don't enjoy what I do.
6. Which means I should probably be looking for a career change. Hopefully it's not located at the bottom of a pint of ice cream or beer.
7. In general, I don't miss alcohol, but I haven't become a teetotaler.
8. I do miss juice, hot chocolate, tea with milk, and pretty much anything else I can drink.
9. I'm more of an emotional-eater than I thought.

I'm not a patient person by nature, so this whole life's-a-journey thing is never really something I've embraced. But, to quote the Cheshire cat, if it doesn't matter where you want to go, "then it doesn't matter which way you go." And I definitely have a destination in mind.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

I HATE having to do other peoples' jobs for them

This is a letter I composed to the billing office of the physical therapy group where my husband went for a shoulder injury. I think it was very mature of me to not include things like "Get your head out of your ass and do your fucking job," "the incompetence of your billing department is only overshadowed by it's persistence in such incompetence ."

The name of the group is Synergy Specialists and Captain America wasn't even that impressed by their services. I highly don't recommend them. 

To whom it may concern:

Please check your records. Our HRA has paid both the $107.92 patient portion from Captain America's visit on 3/20/14 (payment #PH4339xxxx paid on 4/8/14) and the $107.92 patient portion from Captain America's visit on 4/22/14 (payment #PH4370xxxx paid on 5/9/14).

UHC has verified that these checks have been cashed, so perhaps they are sitting in your unapplied cash account?

Feel free to call UHC at 800-718-1299 to discuss this issue further. However, as my husband and I do not owe any payments, we will ignore all future requests for payment.