Monday, March 29, 2010

Job vs Career

I have often wrestled with the difference between these two things. I have had jobs, and I have also considered myself career oriented. But lately, I find that I am in an in-between area. I want to have a career, but if feels more like I just have a job. To me, a career means something fulfilling, interesting, enjoyable. A job just means showing up, going through the motions until you can leave. The trouble with meeting the criteria for a career-is whether or not you get paid-and how much. I LOVE teaching group exercise-and that just does not pay the bills. I would love to stay at home with my kids more-which also does not pay. I have a job that pays (at least better than those options); and it does not even come close to matching up with my list. So, the conundrum continues.

I am not sure what the answer is. The go-getter in me has shifted. I am not so sure what I want to go get anymore. I used to be so eager to do anything just to prove myself and I really believed I could do anything. I am not feeling it so much lately. My husband would say to this, "stop being so pathetic-grow a backbone". And I can see that, but I have lost my way. I struggle with what I want to be when I grow up-and I am turning 40 in a few weeks! I don't expect my husband to understand-he just isn't built like I am. I guess what it comes down to is the fact that I am just plain scared. I have never been so scared of letting people down. I want to take care of my kids, hold up my end of things with my husband, do a good job at work, all that stuff.....I just haven't been able to do it.

Spring Break in Texas

It's no secret that I am not a Southerner. While I do appreciate it's warm-hearted and very polite people, delicious recipes and sleepy paced, small town charm, I have also been on the receiving end of the harshness of being a foreigner in the deep south=not a good experience. All that being said, it was my idea this year to visit my husband's extended family in a relatively rural part of Texas known as Port Arthur (I often refer to it as Port Armpit). It is close to where Louisiana and Texas meet-just in case Texas wasn't hillbilly enough.

I have been there a couple of times before, once with my husband about 10 years ago, and then again in 2004 when my youngest was about 18 months old. It was EXACTLY the same this time. In fact, it resembled 1950 or 1960. The house we stayed in had one TV (no cable) with Gunsmoke, Archie Bunker and Bonanza reruns playing. There was no internet. There was one bathroom in the entire house-which of course had an ashtray in it. And speaking of ashtrays, I saw a man smoking in the bakery section of the grocery store-Bruce's. They still have stores named after people. I noticed there were no sidewalks in the town either-and lots of obesity. This probably goes hand in hand with the abundance of fried food items available at most restaurants. There was actually a fast food restaurant called, Donuts and Burgers. There were far more donut places than gyms-if there even were any gyms or rec centers. So, to say the least, it was quite a different experience than life here in the burbs of the oh-so-fit and pretentious Denver area.

While it was culture shock to me, I must admit, there were several things I found enviable about life in a slow-paced small town in rural America. People just don't seem as stressed out-people are so friendly and pleasant-and it's geniune. I never felt rushed. Life just seems more simple. And simple can be very good. The boys and I climbed trees-real trees, not the flimsy kind we have here in Colorado. Jackson and I were both on a limb that was at least 2 stories high. It was awesome. We hunted frogs and looked for four leaf clovers. We drove accross huge bridges and saw giant barges go underneath. We went crabbing. We visited people who had my son's pictures all over there homes. I never doubted this was a good trip to make despite my own misgivings about the South. It really was a good time.

Monday, March 1, 2010


I remember something a very wise man I worked for early in my career told me once, "Teri, the only thing that never changes around here is change". Steve Rubin was the CFO at Mortgage Plus at the time I was hired there in 1995. It was such a great job-I got to do all kinds of different things while I was there. Although I ended up getting laid off in 1997 (almost 3 years after starting); I probably learned more there than anywhere else I worked in that forsaken industry. The only other job I felt left a real mark on me was Long Beach Mortgage, where another man I respected very much (Tony Mango) said these words to me, "Well, Teri, if there is a job that is easy and pays 100k a year, please let me know because I will be first in line for it. What do you expect?" Those were years in my work life that I still had a ton of passion and excitement for what I was doing. I never really loved the mortgage business, I just liked learning new things-and it was a very dynamic industry, I liked being successful, for the longest time, I just did better and better. In fact, I never thought I could ever fail. After a terrible parting at Long Beach, I never had that feeling again at a job. I would come close at CAR. That job was more about the people than the job. I truly hated to leave that job, but I thought I had found a good opportunity at AST amidst a certain lack of a good situation in CAR. The market just could not support my salary much longer there. I am not so sure it would have mattered. In fact, the market isn't supporting mine here at AST either. I have wanted to be at home with my kids more and more as the years have gone by. Moms have told me again and again that the older the kids are, the harder it is to not be a presence in their lives. And I am seeing that.

I had to fight tears today as my 5 year old sat in the dentist chair (like his 7 year old brother a couple of weeks ago); and we found 2 cavities. The hygienist was good enough to point out all the plaque I am missing when I brush his teeth. which I don't do every day-b/c I am tired and lazy, I don't have my priorities straight. My 2nd grader is going through some kind of thing in school where his grades are slipping, he wants to quit sports, he gets very angry-he is just a different kid than he was 6 months ago. I can't help but think a lot of these things might still be happening if I was at home with them, but at least I could focus on them. I feel spread so thin some days. I just let them sit in front of the TV while I try and shift piles around the house so I can have some semblance of order. Then, I make some dinner neither of them will eat, then try and get the dishes done (or mostly done) and start the uphill battle of getting them to bed. I often get them all the way in their beds and they are just about out before I remember that we haven't brushed their teeth-which I often let slide. I realize this is the plight of many parents, and it's not all fun and games, but I have been wondering lately if there is some way I can merge these many weights on my shoulders so that maybe I could be more productive-both at home and at work. I wish I could just work part time. I am afraid to talk to my employer about it for fear they will just let me go. I am afraid we can't afford it. I am afraid if I stop working, I will lose validity and vitality. I am afraid Paul will turn into a giant ball of stress and nerves-who scrutinize my gas and grocery purchases with a monocle. I am afraid of change.