Happy 2nd Anniversary MrsEnginerd!

It is hard to think I started this blog two years ago after having been laid off. At first, I saw the opportunity to write as cathartic since I was saying goodbye to a ten year career, a total bummer, and needed to make amends with my newfound free time. After a few months, MrsEnginerd became a hobby that has helped me share my knowledge and experiences in a format that automatically archives itself for future historians to find. Although not perfect nor extremely popular, readers find value in the information I present and the emotions I convey.

At the moment I write this in 2017, I have a new career path, a new customized home, a bunch of DIY projects under my belt and hundreds of books, comics, Yelp reviews and PS4 trophies. My peers value my thoughts and opinions on and offline, and I have been able to refine my personality in writing. I have even coached other bloggers! Hehe. The tone and emotion behind my words has changed and matured. The places I have traveled and the people I have met have been worth the time off and the mindset change. I still have a long way to go though…

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My introvertedness hinders me from promoting it at a grander scale but I promised myself, and you, my loyal fans and friends, to eventually do this. I don’t feel quite ready yet but I know I shouldn’t sell myself short. The 500 posts and thousands of hits are proof there is a need for the content and discussions contained in its virtual pages. Hopefully I find that groove or niche that makes the decision to go bigger much more easier to pursue. 😎

In the mean time, please enjoy the posts, pictures, videos, Facebook and Pinterest posts. You are the reason I’ll keep brandishing the mighty pen. Keep reading!

Thanks! ¡Gracias! Merci!

Thirteen Reasons Why Not

Statistically speaking at least 80% of people surveyed have thought about suicide in any way, shape or form. It doesn’t mean they wanted to kill themselves and had the resolve to try, it just implies that during the most desperate times of our lives many of us have thought of how it would feel like to end the pain once and for all. Twice in my life, to get rid of the anxiety and depression, I welcomed the thought of dying, not by my own hand, but accidentally. Kind of a “if God wills it I won’t resist the urge to unplug” moment. Once when I was a senior in high school and many times during the Layoff countdown period. No one is immune to these thoughts and there is no logic to minimizing them when a person opens up and asks for help. Life is not meant to be fair or easy but we can try to make it bearable for each other.

This last thought is the reason the book 13 Reasons Why resonated so vibrantly with me and my experiences. Being a teenager, feeling lonely, unloved, unworthy and unlucky took a toll on my self esteem and world view that gave me a cynical and obscure way to see and deal with life. It was the best I could do to put some distance behind me and the cruel words and actions of my unsuspecting peers. My close friends realized that I wasn’t acting like my normal self. They offered books, hugs, support, constructive criticism, and patience to get me to see how awesome, beautiful and exciting I was as a human being. How much the world needed me. The thought that I was suicidal didn’t cross their minds and I made the same mistakes as Hannah Baker and Clay Jensen. Between not risking enough or risking too much, 😥 keeping quiet when I should have spoken, and destroying my self esteem to please others, I had dug a huge hole that was filling with water ever day. They made me realize the water was elevating me to the surface, in an attempt to get me out of that mess rather than trying to drown me in my own sorrow.

Being bullied is not necessary an overt attack. Many people use passive aggressive remarks, back handed compliments, exploit microinequities and differences to shrink others to size and put them in their place. Jealousy, feelings of betrayal, insecurities, inefficiencies and lack of confidence drive many to retaliate against the successes of their peers. They take losing to you seriously, as a reflection of their worth and define themselves in comparison to others. This is dangerous especially when your teenage frontal love isn’t fully developed. Your emotions take over and block rational approaches. That is why it is so hard at this stage of your life to talk through problems and reach win-wins. The odds are literally not in your favor.

During the layoff the suicidal thoughts were brought about because of the idea that my potential will never be fulfilled. Straight A, two degrees student and professional engineer get you nowhere without an influential network and a Plan B (aka savings and motivation to pursue something outside of engineering). Being a great employee and excellent wife were not getting me where I wanted to be, and hadn’t been the goals I had traced for myself in my 30s. I didn’t have kids to spend the time off with nor the desire to use my break to get pregnant or be a proper stay at home wife. What got me through it were a couple of new friends, Pinterest, power tools and a few trips to see and talk to the same people that helped me the first time around. Many of them never knew they were renewing my spirits, passion and will to live. They were my angels and hopefully I positively changed their mindset by sharing the experiences of my darkest hours.

I’m not ashamed of having felt I had more than 13 reasons to end it, and feel proud I found more than 13 reasons to rage against the dying of the light. Truth be told I never attempted suicide but boy did I plan how to make it look like an accident. Death defines us and there are even some that punched out on a high because they feared the end of the good times. We all matter, we all link the system. Hug someone today, give them a compliment, mean it when you tell them that you care or love them. No one knows what the other person is truly thinking: a kind act brought on by compassion and empathy can save a life. Become the hero they deserve and need. The world will be a better place because of it.

Hugs!

My Life Two Years After The Layoff

When I started this blog as an unemployed nerd the future seemed bright and full of possibilities. Having gone through the grief phase where I cried and cursed the heavens for the pink slip, and for inability to find an alternate job position within the company as an engineer, I had made peace with the circumstances and concentrated on having fun. After 10 months of pure bliss – thank you severance package – I went back to work as an engineering instructor, a role I am still performing a year and a month later. This new job gave me the necessary acquisition power to purchase a bigger home, one that we are expecting to close on in mid Feb 2017. Woop woop!

It hasn’t been easy redefining my reality as a non engineer with an engineering degree. What gets me the most is that I am still an engineer damn it but I can no longer say I design stuff in the present tense. Took me a while to realize that the experience you already possess cannot be taken away or diminished in importance. Even the layoff gap has a meaningful purpose in the grand scheme of things; it helped me learn certain basic woodworking and repair skills that have become extemely useful in both my career and personal endeavors. What I learned during that time made me more marketable and well rounded, even relatable to thise who had no idea I was into power tools and glitter. 😎 Now, when I tell folks I am building a master closet for the new house they don’t wonder how I will manage or tell me that I am crazy. I found a niche that I can exploit in case of emergency, DIY Female engineer, and a bunch of supporters who have been there and done that too.

Am I happier now with a lower salary, the technical non technical job and with the knowledge that I may have incurred in a permanent new career path? Not really but it pays the bills. Wish my family had been a bit more supportive and given me an opportunity to find the perfect job but having income gets me a chance to do other things while I plan ahead. The pay cut was brutal and we aren’t making up for the difference well. We’ll see how we can adjust once we move to the new home. Finger’s crossed. If you are going through a similar experience don’t lose hope. We all have talents to discover and develop. Market your technical and soft skills to the best of your abilities or enlist someone that can help out like a headhunter. That LinkedIn profile has done wonders for my self esteem and visibility. Something I didn’t have before when I thought being laid off wasn’t going to happen to me.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Reach out if you need guidance. We are here for you.

Hugs!

Folks, Millennials Already Are the Leaders of Today!

During the presidential and general elections, the media made a stink about the Millennials. They went from crybabies (due to not letting go of Bernie Sanders’s loss) to slackers that didn’t go out to the polls to vote. It seems the adults in the room can’t stop complaining about, and have borderline bullied, an entire generation because they arent living to their expectations. They took offense when the kids charged to the polls and streets to protest the bigotry and closed mindness of their new elected leader, ironic because their Boomer parents took to the streets to protest as well. Their children are rekindling the civil rights movement their parents dropped when they joined corporate America to do more of the same oppression and discrimination they fought against. Capitalism at its best.

Maybe people didn’t realize the oldest Millenials, now 35-25, are already the doctors, lawyers, tradespeople and blue colar workers of “the future”. We ARE the progress…

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With a slight edge over the Boomer population, 75.4 million to 74.9, the 18-35 year olds are taking the biggest piece of the working class as of 2015. 😀 If you are wondering, the Gen Xers are not as many, and they never had the ability to fully commandeer the traditional industries run by their parents. What did they do? They built new ones with their no nonsense attitude and penchant for getting things done efficiently and effectively. Companies like Tesla, SpaceX, Google, Amazon and Facebook are overrun with kids who program apps and create processes and tools to make your life easier while shooting for the stars, literally. – Self driving car, anyone? -Geeks with PCs and Macs created this virtual environment we live in and now their kids and siblings, and in some cases grandkids, optimize and rule it supreme.

The contributions of the Boomers and Traditionalists are invaluable but it is time they stepped down and handed over the reigns. This generation is ready to take the next step and find the solutions they seek in their own people and in those adults that can appreciate the doors opened by our way of thinking and what our life experiences bring to the table: aspiring to obtain work-life balance in a world where people don’t have to go broke to keep their families safe and healthy.

Millennials In The Workplace: They Don’t Need Trophies But They Want Reinforcement – Forbes

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To add insult to injury, many Boomers still believe we are lazy bums that switch jobs every 2 to 3 years. Well…those projections were made before the kids hit the ground running career wise. Even though there is truth to the job flip flop statement, it is not because Gen Yers are not loyal to the companies that hired them. The phenomenon arrises from the discontent they feel when the companies that they are loyal to do not provide growth opportunities nor protect their job security. When you are new to adulting or worse, newly married with kids, the last thing you want is a pink slip or the burden of more responsibility for the same amount of pay. This generation refuses to repeat the failures and mistakes of their parents and require a healthy work-life balance schedule. It is no secret that compensation and flexibility are key to retaining this generation who was coached by their Boomer parents (irony again) to demand special treatment and consideration. Heck, even my Boomer counterparts enjoy the benefits of alternate work schedules and days off with pay! Hehe

Millennials are more than unique snowflakes that get their feelings hurt; they are agents of change. It is their ability to sympathize with others and form activist movements that enables them to become the change they want to see in the world. You think they recycle or drive a Prius because it is trendy? No! They were taught to conserve energy and resources since their first day in Kindergarten and are extremely savvy when it comes to upcycling and reuse. Captain planet and Bob the Builder where their heroes…did you expect any less of them?

Yes, they may be annoying to anyone over 45 but that is because #1 we remind them of their children or siblings and #2 between the whining and moaning we make some good arguments and points. Student loan debt taught us that education should be affordable, especially when we can’t expect the salary our parents got and a cheap housing market. Not being able to afford health care made us empathize with the poor and hard working classes who are in the same boat with us in this respect. Even when we work we can barely afford the luxuries the generations before us enjoyed. The picket fence, a dog and 2.5 kids American Dream is no longer feasible, so we adapted and endure.

Fight it all you want but there is absolutely no proof that the Millennials are rotten apples or a bad deal. They said that about the Gen Xers and they opened the internet for us and sent goods directly to our homes! Imagine what we could achieve if you cheered them on instead of berating them. It is the age of the Millennials. Step aside and let them prove you wrong. (After all, momma didn’t raise no quitters or losers. Am I right?)

Responsibility v. Love

You are not responsible for the ones you love, except if they are children under a certain age or a pet. It may be a controversial thought but the subject is worth discussing. Many of my Millenial peers go through life feeling responsible for friends and family, carrying huge chips on their shoulders that shouldn’t even be there. We all want to justify a particular situation in which we felt accountable for the choices of others as if this absolved the person of any wrong doing. The truth is what others do, think or feel is not up to you. Even if they try to make you responsible for their behavior you don’t have to accept the burden. You have a right to walk away from unsafe or overwhelming relationships. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

When I wad laid off, I felt that my fanily and friends should have had my back but I quickly learned that it was up to me to save myself. It may sound harsh but it isn’t; my family cannot be held accountable for my decisions or emotional state. Yes, they can offer support and comfort up to the level that their love and means allow but whether I lived or died was not up to them. My husband wasn’t responsible for my credit card debt or bills, nor for my physical and mental health. Some of you may assume that contractually and morally he has an obligation to take care of me but this is only accurate to an extent. By law he can choose to divorce me and walk away from being at fault for anything under my name. The fact that he choose to stay and help me through the chaos that followed the pink slip was an act of kindness and love, not of responsibility. He held my hand through the process and brought some clarity to the situation. It took a long time to understand that his brand of love was to get me to push myself out of the hole I had created for myself. Now, I am grateful for it because it made me a stronger and even more independent person.

Be careful when burdening yourself with other people’s problems out of love and devotion. Although I can’t argue against taking care of a sick family member or providing for a destitute friend, I can advise you to take care of yourself and clearly know your limits and state boundaries. In my quest to help my own family succeed, because I felt responsible for them, I got into arguments about financial affairs and courses of actions that resulted in alienating those that I was attempting to help or rescue. It was never up to me to make their lives easier or to expect daily expressions of gratitude, as an example. Because of this you can’t take their decisions personally and you have to learn to give only that which you can spare. In certain scenarios it may be okay to give more than what you can afford to spare but those are again extreme cases that cannot be argued against.

The next time you feel the need to take someone under your wing and solve their life’s problems remember that by taking over you are not allowing the individual or group of people to own their mistakes. Providing others with the answers stunts their growth and development. Unless it is a matter of life or death, stay away from fixing everybody else’s conundrums. You cannot adult on somebody’s behalf. Each person needs to learn through their own experiences. As much as I would like to carry the pain and anxiety of my peeps on my shoulders it is up to them to appreciate and study the consequences of their actions to determine if the lesson was worth the pain. If you are constantly feeling unappreciated you may be exceeding your role in that person’s life. Take a deep breath and watch from a distance. If you give them enough time they will surprise you.

When I First Moved to the USA…

When I was 23, a big engineering firm hired me to design their products, processes and tools in their PNW facilities. At the time I was fresh out of college and had lived all my life in one place, a city of about a million people in a tropical paradise. My US Citizen status, awarded at birth, made me a unique demographic: female, hispanic heritage and available for work without a Visa or Green Card. Very nice things to be if you were looking for a job post 9/11 and while affirmative action policies were becoming a bit more helpful and less stigmatic. I didn’t mind taking advantage of any diversity and inclusion initiative that could open doors for my career. After getting hired I continued to support cultural awareness and knowledge transfer programs. The more people who became educated in the many world economies and traditions, the better. Drumming international business by proving cultural proviciency was key for the industry I worked, and still, work in.

The two weeks prior to my departure were filled with box packing and supply purchases. Since the culinary offerings were going to be different than those I grew up with my family knew I had to stock up on the essentials; sofrito (cooking base), 1 cent shower curtains, seasonings, adobo and a few samples of coffee and traditional candies for my boss and coworkers. Leave it to Latinos to give a gift on their first day on the job. (Gratitude is classy and ingrained in my DNA.) I also managed to pack my boyfriend, now husband, because if it were up to him he’d still be living with his parents. (His words not mine.) Saying goodbye at the airport was easier than I thought because the crew would come visit me during the summer or 5 months later. We didn’t say goodbye just “hasta luego”.

My mom decided I could handle the move and the apartment hunting on my own so she gave me a big hug and sent me on my way. Trust and confidence in myself and my abilities is one of the best gifts she has ever bestowed upon me. i spread my aluminum wings and flew to the Wesr Coast to start my adult life. Eek! If the adulting hashtag had existed back then you would have seen a plethora of tweets about how expensive rent was for a three bedroom apartment or how much Comcast charged for cable internet service. I still remember my hubby asking for a PS2 and a TV to play with because he was unemployed and bored out of his mind. Without a relocation stipend, I had to use my internship proceeds and offer letter to get most things on credit with small downpayments. Buying a queen sized mattress and a sofa occupied most of our free time because you had to go to a store to get it. Ordering online was barely a thing for household items or brand names. An air mattress wasn’t cutting it, and at $100, it was the cheapest thing we could find until our bedroom set was delivered 4 days later. Everything took twice as long as it does now.

People take for granted the struggles others faced because they were in a different time. To assume my salary and position were blessings or luck was a true insult. Scrounging up money wasn’t as easy as setting up paypal or gofundme accounts. You had to physically wait for the cash to make it across the sea and land to get to you. Dial up was the most popular means to access the internet and microtransactions weren’t even in vogue. You had to deal with a bank check or a Western Union teller. Actual people had to be engaged in the process of making sure you didn’t go broke or became destitute. Asking for a personal loan was akin to saying you were starving and needed help. Banks back then hated desperate people, especially those without credit or historical payment data and without Co-debtors, which meant you were asking mom and dad for a signature, you couldn’t get a loan. You had to make due with the hand life dealt you or risk the conditions of a payday loan. Budgeting was a balancing act on a tight rope but we managed well until my husband got a job at the same company. Double income, no kids  (DINK) was a lifestyle we welcomed until the wedding and family plans materialized. (The kids never came so I am still enjoying the freedoms and perka of the DINK status. We never thought having kids was going to be this difficult.)

Because of all this, I will never envy the new hires than come in with their iPads, iPhones, and their parents in tow. What drives me nuts is that the think we are like them. They were recruited through an accelerated hiring program and partnership with our University that wasn’t as strong when we graduated. To them, our company is one of many that fight for their talent. To us, it was a miracle they even knew our college existed. If those who came before me hadn’t proven our alma mater worthy of recruitment we wouldn’t be here today. It takes a village to make things happen. No kids, you didn’t earn it, it was facilitated for you. Work hard to deserve the opportunity since you are all once layoff away from an unhappy ending. (Been there recently, btw.) No one catered to me and my needs because the Baby Boomers ruled and owned the world. They were raiding 401k and pension funds that had been offered as benefits to retain my talent. Half of those benefits were taken away from me but you will never miss them because you will never know of them. Sad part is you tell me to be grateful for a job that has slowly asked me to do more for the same or less! Ugh. How do I reach these kids!

Which reminds me, my first day at work my car windows froze and had ice, a new and novel thing for a girl of the tropics. Seeing snow 9 months later was a joy until I had to learn to drive in it. Black ice became the stuff of nightmares. The summer was gorgeous and reminded me that it is the natural beauty of the place that made me fall in love with it. All these evergreen trees reminded me that there is beauty in nature’s ability to weather every storm. That’s exactly what being an adult would entail. Being resilient instead of unyielding, and perseverant instead of relentless. Speaking in my second language in a foreign culture made me stronger and braver; the courage we need to face the world on our own comes from experience and taking chances.

The next time you open Pokémon Go during your workday remember us, the kids that only had snake as a game in our Motorola Razrs. The generation that still memorizes credit card codes and telephone numbers. The poor souls that know things were different back then, not necessarily better. Calling home in 2005 required that I wait until 9pm or weekends to take advantage of the free roaming, long distance and minutes. With a 700 minute plan there were a lot of clever ways to get a message across and my mom knew that it only made sense to call if there was an emergency. The long winded communication was done via email because there was no 4G internet and texts were 25 cents each! I am amazed how far we have come in terms of telecommunications and technology. My mom couldn’t facetime me or Skype me. Heck, Facebook wasn’t even popular!

I can’t believe it has already been over a decade since the plane landed that Super Bowl Sunday. (We had to wait for our luggage to be offloaded from the plane because the handlers were watching the ending of the game.) I’m on my second home, third new car (five for us as a couple) and 8th wedding anniversary. Everything happens for a reason and I have to thank the two beautiful and smart women that pulled my resume from the pile and gave me a job. I owe them my life and my home. If you ever are in the PNW let me know and I will show you the wonderful empire we have built together for our Enginerd family. The best is yet to come, I hope…

“I’m in it for the challenge, not the money…”

There is not a day that goes by that I do not wonder if people have it all wrong when it comes to working. We are the only species that pays to live on Planet Earth. That’s insane. I get that we need inspirational sayings to get out of bed and justify life in general but to say that I work for the challenge is a stretch. It sounds like something a well trained Millennial thinks about Pokémon Go. Think about it, if they wouldn’t pay you would you still do what you do for a living? Many wouldn’t and it is a shame because we have lost that sense of pride in our work that shaped our grandparents’ generation. I can’t say the same for the Boomers. Most of them definitely work for the money and prestige. That’s the only reason they haven’t retired.

What do you do if you are stuck in that middle ground like me? Do you still claim to work for the challenge? The money is good, not great, and I really wish I had more of a stretch goal or challenge than just teaching and waiting for customer support calls. Yes, I am an engineer and I help other engineers but a call center by any other name is still a call center. I get the same irate and distraught customers Xfinity gets but with a more technical vocabulary. We are always at the receiving end of a dissatisfied and disgruntled customer.

I love having a job and a paycheck or at least I claim I do. It’s not easy to admit that I feel like I am on vacation most days and that I am not being used at a 100% capacity. Earning the paycheck almost feels like stealing candy from a baby. I sit and wait and get paid regardless. Maybe for people like me, the overachieving Type As, this is menial work. For us there is not a job too big to handle which makes it harder to work and live for the challenge; things can be daunting or difficult but not challenging per se. There’s a difference, albeit it trivial. Overcoming a challenge requires that we stretch or grow to find an agreeable outcome whereas addressing difficult situations, for which we already have experience and succeas rates, isn’t a stretch anymore. I feel like Liam Neeson’s character in Taken, happily retired but still capable of working at the higher potential but only doing so for the sake of those I love. To me, the real challenge is getting used to this new normal. Ironic isn’t it? My life is much more complex and entertaining than my job! (Is it the same for the rest of us?)

Nothing about my life is uneventful and I do face every day challenges for the opportunity to excel and not for the money. This provincial life doesn’t pay, it’s voluntary work and effort. As hard as it has been to get over the layoff and the miscarriage, nothing I have ever pulled off at work has had the intricate mix of emotional strain and stress as my real life. Going to work is my hobby, the place where I get a break from balancing multiple tasks at the same time. I get paid to get stuff done. Yay! Hopefully I am not the only one for which this is true. I have more fun at work than at home unless I am alone with my PS4 (until I start losing, grrr). My work life balance has more weight on family than work. I wish it was about level though.

I’m not asking for a harder life or a harder job role; I’m asking for better and wider opportunities to succeed or new directions to stretch into. After eleven years of pushing paper, I’d like to get down and dirty and become more hands on as a teacher and student of science and engineering. I need work environments that challenge my intellect and my business savvy with problems that can be solved, and will be solved, not passed on to the next generation. I want to build and fix it! Therein lies the real quest: To find a place where I can be constantly in quick growth mode. Life can be too slow for me and I get bored too hurriedly. Hence I call it provincial which is a bad problem to have when you are an introvert. All the free time becomes detrimental to my focus and drive allowing me to overthink every eventuality and become weary of the future.

Whenever I see a child, I think of all this wasted potential. They do anything for the challenge, for the recognition and for fun. I want to recapture that time where I was all curiosity and promise. I want to go back to the days when we all had positive thoughts about tomorrow and beyond. With all this talk of war, racism, discrimination and hate, one begins to wonder if we are up to the challenge as a society to sort the muck from the good. Will we ever be able to go back to doing things for the challenge and not the money? I hope so or this experiment we call civilization will crumble under the weight of its own fears and inadequacy. Let us hope and work for better days to come.

I Used To Be…

I used to be strong and brave, dauntless even. Very few things in life scared me and if someone corrected me, I thanked them for the knowledge (after corroborating that in fact they were correct). I used to write long poems, ballads and odes, testaments to my teenage angst and bewilderment. I don’t know when I stopped writing or worse caring about what people thought about my prose. I had never censored myself or my feelings for the sake of others’ comfort. I used to be, well, me.

After the layoff in 2015 I used to be very confident about my technical skills. I was never questioned or had to prove myself until the day came that I had to leave. I cannot even fathom how my prowess as an engineering historian and miracle worker couldn’t save me, data that could have been easily validated by talking to my peers. Now I’m the person who used to lead certain projects or that used to be the heart and soul of the team. That’s hard to process for a kid that was used to knowing the answers to all the questions; the most indispensable part of the team. I still do know most answers but I keep quiet and don’t venture to speak up unless no one else in the room takes the opportunity to guess. Confidence in my skills dwindled. Ironically, there isn’t a trivia game in town that I cannot win, with the right crew of course, or a subject I can’t work my way through. Truth be told I used to be a lot less sensitive about not saying the correct answer. I definitely lost my edge there. I have to follow statements or answers to questions now with “I am telling you, not asking”.

I used to be very impatient, to the point no one could hear or see me waiting because I was already doing something else if I couldn’t get my way. Now, I agonize over months of planning, ditching events at the last minute because it wasn’t what I was expecting it to be. I can sit and wait for hours and even years until something happens, too still and complacent to be noticed. I stopped actively going after what I wanted.  Too many rejection letters forced me to stop caring and trying. You can say that I took a leave of absence from competition as well. I used to win all the awards, discussions and games. I was always out there doing something, achieving. Somewhere along the line I ran out of steam, of drive. What once was pure ambition and fire has died down exponentially.

Maybe the many disillusionments have jaded my inner child to the point it had to save itself by leaving me behind. All those dreams I used to have and all the energy I used to expend have left me hollow and exhausted. It is as if my soul decided to leave my body behind, a shell of its former glorious self, and took the light inside me with it. I used to give 100% in everything I did and now I barely show up. I do the minimum required and sometimes a bit more than expected but not too much to get noticed. Trust me when I say that my minimum is still better than most people’s best but I can tell I’m half assing it even if no one else can. That bothers me.

I used to be extremely resilient and perseverant, relentless even, and wouldn’t take no for an answer unless it was obvious I was doing the other people damage. I used to know exactly what I wanted from people and from life. I always got more than I bargained for without having to settle for less.  People used to admire my courageous and brazen disposition. I got stuff done. I still manage to do this actually but not with the same pizzazz and ease. My magic wand used to work wonders but now it falls short of my own expectations. Others are surprised with the high quality of my work even though I can’t see it. I feel mediocre at best most days. Weird.

I used to be so many things before I got married: carefree, assertive and independent. Now everytime I say or do something people expect it to represent the views of an entire household, and my assertiveness is met with resistance. Strangers and friends alike judge my every move and question my loyalty to “my man” when I decide to do pursue non traditional roles, usually whatever my heart desires falls into this category. Wanting to be more than just a wife became an issue. For some reason people think I have to ask for permission to do what I want as if I had an owner. I don’t. It’s sad because I used to not be concerned with public opinion or beliefs until others started imposing their values and expectations on me. I used to be myself and that was enough. Not anymore. All these accusations of not taking care of my house are driving me crazy. The place can be spotless and it would still be an issue. Can’t people embrace I’m not normal?

What I miss the most though is that I used to be happy. Genuinely content and effervescent, with no owners and no limitations. I hadn’t been defined by the decisions I had made or at least not as rigidly as the decisions I make now as an adult. I used to be so many things and I am so many more now that it is hard to reconcile what I wanted vs what I got. I’m missing many people, those who died and those who left me, but that loss doesn’t compare to the amount of myself I lost with each departure. I let life define me instead of defining myself. I think it’s time to bring back that which served me and shed the weight of that which doesn’t. I suggest we all do the same. Life is too long to be miserable, to be defined incorrectly by the perceptions of others. Rage, rage, against labels. I sure will now.

Embrace The Layoff (or Furlough)

Time mends all wounds and a year and four months after being laid off I can honestly tell say that it was the best bad thing that ever happened to me. It may seem counter intuitive but it makes perfect sense. A paid vacation that turned into many adventures and opportunities both in my career and in my personal life. Yes, I did take a paycut but I can always get a promotion or search LinkedIn at leisure. I learned to value my time, to enjoy being a master of my own universe; to save and use government programs for the unemployed wisely.

I wish though that my engineering union would have come up with a furlough scenario where we all kept out jobs but took a cut in pay. At first it would have sucked but knowing that all my peeps and their families had money and job security for a while longer would have made a difference. A day to spend at home to discover myself and explore my family and their personalities? Why not? We could all do cookouts and pot lucks to stretch our cash and feed those who really needed a hand. We’d all go through it together instead of me and my husband doing it all on our own.

A layoff comes with a lot of baggage because people assume that you had to suck to be at the bottom of the list but that is not always the case. Organizations can layoff workers to save money and to substitute them with cheaper labor, but even in a team of performers you have to have the least over achieving of them all. Don’t take it personally. At the beginning I thought I had done something wrong but I do not regret any of the things I did to preserve and foster a healthy work life balance. If I used to much vacation, so be it. If I took too much time off to help my family, they can keep the job I lost. It may have been my dream to be an engineer, and the diploma on the wall says I will always be one regardless of the title of my role: I am an engineer by calling, through and through.

People who get laid offs are not incompetent or bad employees, they are just the first to go. In many cases being part of the first wave was beneficial because the competition was non-existent and I had the market all to myself. It can work out even better if you volunteer to be let go as they throw extra incentives your way, especially if you are near retirement. (My company offered 2 weeks of pay per year of service up to 26 years. Some say the total is 26 weeks. Either way, free money!)

If you are not near retirement but wanted to look for a new job anyway now is the time to switch careers and/or companies. Many industries are looking for people that are not afraid to take on the roles of the aging boomers. (Sorry!) The cash out of a layoff can help you have a nest egg while you transition into a new future. If your company pays for your education while laid off, as long as you enroll before your last work day, you could take advantage of the free tuition. Bleed them dry before you exit, in an honorable and legal manner. 🙂

Get a hobby, start a band or place the first steps towards owning your own business. Study the needs of the markets in your area and solve a problem. Look for ways to invest and people who can help you during the transition. Make your own luck. Dream big or stay home. A layoff or a furlough is merely the beginning of something new, something exciting and full of success. Arm and ready yourself to win this battle and you will eventually win the war.

Remember that you are more than a career: You are a legacy. A pink slip and a warning note will not undo all your years of service and dedication to your craft. No one can take that experience away. Use it wisely. 😉


For more information on my layoff and layoff advice, visit the Layoff section of the blog.

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