Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Go back to work?

I was away this weekend - a fun, but cold weekend in Vermont. With 3+ hours in the car each way, I was thinking about the coming year. What am I going to do? Of course, my husband was also asking me - "What are you going to do if you don't find a job soon? - Do you want to find a job?" The problem is that I really don't know what I want. My job hunt is not going well. My resume looks a little scary at this point. I have been with many companies and have several 'holes' from not working and I have been away from a 'real' job since 2002. I got on the "mommy track" by leaving time consuming jobs and working part time and now I'm paying the price.
There is no good way to explain in a 2 page resume that I took time off to spend time with my kids and to provide a more stable family life for all of us. How do you show that a family has difficulty when both parents work more than 40 hours/week and both travel? How do I explain that some job changes came because the company was bought and they booted everyone - it should not reflect on my abilities - they did not seem to matter.
How do I show them that in my time "off", I have run a small antiques business to pay for my antiquing habit, have done countless hours of volunteer work in our schools and at a local charity, developed and taught a wonderful after school program for children that teaches them about different cultures, put together several business plans hoping to start my own small business (never worked out though). . .
Finally, how do I convince a hiring manager that a BS in Engineering and 20+ years of business experience should be able to substitute for an MBA? Book smart or street smart - what do they really need?
I have tried touching on a few of these things within a cover letter, but I'm convinced no one even reads those any more. Unfortunately, part of my problem is that I would rather work for myself and I really need to figure out how to do that - beyond the bits of consulting and contracting that I have been doing.
Anyway - that is my vent for today. I have not been writing much - it is just such a busy time of the year.
Anyone else out there take some years off from a professional career and get back in? Any advice?

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Santa traditions

I was thinking about the whole Santa tradition today. My youngest daughter, who is 9, was discussing her list with a friend while I was driving them to gymnastics yesterday. She was explaining how Santa stopped bringing presents when you were 16, and her friend was saying it was not so - her parents still get presents in their stockings from Santa.
(For the records, my kids are more than 9 years apart and we provide gifts from Santa and from us. When our oldest hit 16, the 2 groups of gifts were getting so "small" - due to the cost of items that teenagers want - that we decided to clear the Santa slate. Most people who have a 16 year old may not be dealing with a 6-7 year old who still believes)
Anyway, I just got to thinking about how many times this type of thing has happened since I have had kids. Discussions about Santa result in comparisons of traditions. "Santa gifts aren't wrapped!" - "Yes, they are!"; "Mommy, why don't kids who have less than us get presents from Santa?"; "My parents gave it to me" - "Parents don't give Christmas gifts. Only Santa does!"; "Mom, what's the real deal with Santa?" - "Do you really want to know?" - "NO! Never mind" I have heard all these things, and many more. So, I ask myself - how are we able to keep this wonderful magic alive? It amazes me when kids believe past about 4 years old - with all the mixed messages from others and the inconsistancies. I guess there is something to be said for WANTING to believe!
Generation after generation - we choose to start new traditions and honor old ones. Our kids continue to enjoy the wonder and excitement of the season and many of us do everything possible to keep the 'secret'.
Now, I don't want to get too caught up in the gifts area - I try to focus on the spirit of giving and the joy of family. Like it or not, the gifts from Santa and all the details around them will end up as a vivid (and hopefully wonderful) memory for our children.
So, on we go - deciding what Santa will bring this year and what we will give. I always struggle with who should bring the most desired toy - Santa or me??!!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Positive thoughts (in 30 second chunks)

I have been responding to blogs about things that can change the world. One in particular (click here) is about a challenge to come up with 30 things that take 30 seconds each. The lists that others had come up with captured many of the things I might include as well.
I posted my addition - which is to make a positive comment about another religion, race or culture - especially to a child. The idea is to reduce negative thoughts about things that are different or unknown and to influence positive concepts. What if we all did this for 30 seconds every day?!
This has got me thinking about an after school program I put together (with the help of a friend) a couple of years ago - called "Explorers of the World". I don't have the time today, but I will post some info on that shortly - I'm actually going to put some thought into a separate site for just that topic.
More to come . . .

Sunday, November 26, 2006

How do we change the world?

Is it me or are people going crazy all over the world? Do we even know why people are killing each other in some countries? Do the people doing the killing even know why they are doing this? How can we stop the violence and suffering and poverty?
I know these seem to be rhetorical questions - something we could not possibly answer and begin to address - but why not? I would really like to know what can be done by individuals - and I'm not talking about making a donation to some large charitable organization.

So, how do we change the world? How do you put together a group of reasonable people and make an impact somewhere along the way. I almost don't care what we target at this point - killings in Darfur, civil war in Iraq, bombings in Israel and Palestine, starvation in Ethiopia, torture, rape and murder in too many places to list . . . How do we change this downward spiral? How do we leave a better world for our children and future generations?
Please post ideas, comments and what have you.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Kids and Friendships

If anyone had told me that having children would affect my friendships for the next 20 years, I would not have believed it. Well, 18 plus years after having my first child, I can look back and see that kids have had a huge influence on my social life - probably more than any other factor.

Face it, once the kids get into school and other activities, you start to spend a lot of time with their friend's parents. If the kids get along well, you try to get along with the parents. For me, this has led to a group of women that enjoy drinking wine together and talking up a storm - quite regularly. When I look at the group that we have assembled, I do wonder if some of us would ever have become friends if we did not have our group of 3rd grade girls in common. This is not a bad thing - it's just interesting to think about what we really have in common.

On the other side of the friendship equation are the old friends that you have had forever, but parent very differently than you do. We thought it would be great to all have kids and get together during this new phase of our lives. Suddenly, you can't stand to be around one or two of those kids. Maybe your friends can't handle your child's personality. You find that your best friend is not the person you choose to get together with any more. Calls are less frequent. You might wait a year and then try to get together again - hoping that the tantrums or freshness has passed. Nope. Some kids are just not as easy to be around as others, and this is just no fun.

So, we all know that children have a huge effect on our lives. Until we live through all the stages, we can never know just how much they will influence. One thing is certain, friendships will be affected. Hopefully, it's all recoverable in the end.

Share your stories about friendships with kids - write a comment here.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Being a mom – as I see it

Well, I am getting sick and tired of all the debate and general nonsense over women’s choices to stay home or work after they have children. Aren’t you? Why has it become stay-at-home moms against working moms? On-line blogs are getting ugly, people are going on record saying that staying home is a ‘cop-out’ or ‘boring’. With everyone on edge, asking the question “Do you work?” is often followed with: “. . . um, I mean . . . um . . . outside the home . . . of course, if you are a mom, you work . . .I didn’t mean . . .”

For goodness sakes – let’s just get over it. Here is how I see it. There is no right or wrong answer. The best choice for you today, may not be good for you a couple of years from now and may not be the right choice for your sister or your neighbor. My friends and I talk about the idea that we could have it all – we were told that years ago. You can have a family and a successful career too. It sounded so good – so simple. Well, I don’t know about you, but my life is not that simple. Can you work and have kids – happy kids? Of course you can. Is it easy? HA! It’s hard – really hard. Can you stay home and be happy if you give up (or take a break from) your career? Of course you can – but that is not easy either. Being home with the kids or being their personal driver every day is not always the most exciting part of our lives. Working all day and worrying about your kids getting where they need to be and how you will feed everyone tonight is not always a picnic either. Face it – nothing is perfect.

Kids happen. As they get older, they need different things at different times. Jobs change. Husbands (or partners) and their jobs change. Situations with family and friends change. Sometimes things work pretty well and other times things are a mess. Personally, I have done a little of everything. I have worked full time (including travel), I have worked part-time (2, 3 and 4 days a week) and I have been home full time. Each situation has had good days and bad days, and there are always compromises to be made.

So, moms out there - we don’t need to make it harder for each other by imposing dread about what others will think if we stop working or go back to work. Whatever we chose to do, we will sometimes wonder if we should have done it differently. We will never be certain about what the right answer is, so let’s do the best we can, go with our gut and try to remember to enjoy the kids along the way.

Political parties – as I see it

It’s time. It’s actually far overdue. It is time to start a new political party. Don’t tell me that we have the Independents for that, or talk about the Green/Rainbow Party – I mean a real party – right up there with the GOPs and the Dems.
Since our country is so divided – right down to local, small town politics – we need to do something for the moderates among us. So today, I am proposing a platform for a new party. We’ll also need a name, but for now, here is what I think we should have in our charter:

1) We do not lie. Plain and simple. It does not mean we have never lied or that we might not occasionally tell a little white lie (“No Mrs. Kramer, I don’t think you are unreasonable.” or “No, Mr. Bush, I don’t think that smirk makes you look like a scheming, arrogant jerk.”). I mean we will not lie about the reality of situations and we will present ALL sides of issues – because we will actually believe that we are working for the people we represent.

2) We will have a far better vocabulary than the current parties. Words like “wrong”, “sorry”, “reconsider”, “reasonable” and the phrases associated with them, will roll off our tongues when appropriate. It will not be a cold day in you know where when our members might say “I’m sorry - I was wrong – I did not have all the facts and I will reconsider my decision.”

Is everyone still ok reading this? I know this is difficult to wrap your head around given where US politics stand today – but stick with me here. I have been known to get a little crazy.

3) Once we are in power, we will not presume to be better than every other world culture, nor will we need to impose our politics on others who resist. As much as it pains me to say – we will not know everything. We will be a respectful party who does not seek to isolate the US from the rest of the world. We will do our best not to call other leaders, no matter how tyrannical, “evil” or “the devil” in public.

4) If someone in our party does something wrong, we will not look the other way. If we mess up on this one, we will refer back to item 2.

5) We will not bury self-promoting items in completely unrelated legislation so as to benefit a small number of constituents at the expense of the rest. This will also include not initiating or supporting pork barrel spending. For instance, Citizens Against Government Waste reports that, since 1985, we have spent $65.7 million on shrimp aquaculture research and $86 million on wood utilization research. Our members will have already figured out how to use wood and will know that we can do better things with that money, and the rest of the estimated $3 billion plus that is spent every year on ‘pork’.

6) We will ban lobbyists – enough said.

7) Our party members will be allowed to have different opinions. We will not make members feel like traitors if they think one of our new proposals is not the best thing ever. If you don’t like this idea, don’t join us – I mean do join us. Uh-oh, I need to work on this point.

8) Finally, our new party will not allow campaigning that costs big money. We will spend a modest amount to travel around and talk to people. We will get our coverage through interviews with reporters so that they can publish information in their papers, magazines and TV reports - for free. Candidates can put up web sites that tell about themselves and what they believe and what they plan to do if elected. We most definitely will never talk about an opponent’s family members, clothing choices, cosmetic surgery or hair style – no matter how tempting it might be.

Although there has to be more to a political party than this – let’s start here and see what happens.

Now, we need to name this new party. We could combine our current party names - be the Democans or the Republicrats – but I think we need more distance from these people. How about the Centralists? Moderators? Reasonablists? Honest Abes?
OK, this is harder than I expected. Progressives? New Order? Goodfellows? Those sound familiar, don’t they? Since this is all starting in New England, maybe we could be The Patriots? The New Patriots? The Other Patriots??? (That would make us the TOP party!)
What’s in a name anyway? Maybe the acronym idea would work well. How about BILL (Believe in life and liberty)? HHH (Honesty, Hard work and Happiness)? I give up (no, that is not a name suggestion). We’ll just be the no name party for now – heck, I think that might catch on – at least in the Boston area.