Category Archives: Career

Next Level [Insert Poop Emoji]

I work in an office with a casual dress code. Perhaps not as casual as I tend to take it, but three-piece suits are not required. Recently, I noticed a co-worker dressing to impress. At any moment, should there be a meeting, she is ready. Me on the other hand? Not so much. And that is a problem.

Years ago, a friend of mine was in a bit of a professional rut. She was applying for jobs all over and no one was taking the bait. Day in and day out she assessed the problem and she came up with none. Qualified? Check. Capable? Check? Hard worker? Check. Educated? Check, check. After a frustrating conversation with herself, she realized to get to the next level she had to act like she was already there. She began moving differently and dressing differently. Nothing she did was out of the realm of herself, it was just in the vein of her best self.

The Universe gives us back what we put out. It does not matter if you are the most qualified, educated or dedicated person in the room. Do you look the part? Do you act the part? Do you live the part? I often wonder how con artists get away with obtaining jobs they are less than qualified. How are they operating medical offices and accounting practices with little more than a high school diploma? They somehow trick people who have been in the business for years and often get validated by said individuals. The package they present is what makes the difference. From the expensive paper their resumes and fake letters of recommendations are printed on to the way they speak, they are living the life they stole, and it makes a difference.

I dress my life. Take one look at me and you can see that (a) sleep evades daily, (b) clean eating means it didn’t stain my shirt too bad, (c) money is non-existent and (d) energy that should be going to me just simply isn’t. I mean, sure, I enjoy some mediocrity like the next guy but I cannot set up camp there. That is not good enough for me.  I need more. I want more. How do I get it, you ask? More is as more does, Forrest.

I must do more. Not in the traditional sense of running around like a headless chicken, but more so in the sense of creating an environment that is conducive to the more I expect for myself.  I must lift myself up to the level of what I deem success to be. I will never in a million years be a flashy expensive clothes/car/house type of person. I will forever be a tee shirt, jeans, ball cap type of gal. My afro will most likely always be big and unruly. But just because at my core casual is who I am, it does not give me permission to be lazy.

The next level which is meant for me, is for me. It does not require me to be anything other than who I am right now. It does, however, require me to be a less lackadaisical version of myself. I cannot be less than my personal best, which by the way, does not include chin hair and hamper shirts. As much as the gung-ho twin wants to hop on all of this at once, the forty-year-old sit-yourself-down twin knows better. One small bite at a time. Much like the woman with the issue of blood who only needed to touch Jesus’ hem, if I can just touch the handle of a razor my healing will begin (joking, not joking).

~SM

The Meltdown

I had a meltdown. If I was the Wicked Witch, I would have been all smoke.

I have been working since I was eleven. I have been getting a paycheck with someone else’s signature on it for almost thirty years. I have clocked in and out, followed someone else’s rules and adhered to someone else’s dress code for the better part of twenty. Cookie was my chance to escape. With three months of self-time, I could create a new biz and quit the rat race. At some point, between daydreaming about what I thought I would be able to do and sleepwalking out of sheer exhaustion, nothing was accomplished. With two weeks left until my jail sentence began, I decided to get serious about a seven-year-old idea. But then….

I saw it. I saw my idea on someone’s Etsy page and people were buying it. My idea. Her page. I slid off the couch and onto the floor (yes, literally) and laid in the fetal position shivering. My idea. The one I had drawn up, attempted to create. The idea I had sitting on the dusty mental shelf waiting for the perfect time—for this time—to put into action. That one. It was on some strange lady’s page with her stupid smiling face and her stupid bio. Mine. Mine. Mine.

I managed to get up off the floor before the tears came. I went to the bathroom and burst into tears. Why the hell could I never win? Was I just destined to be a worker bee? Didn’t God know I was tired? Did He not know I have to work hard just to bust a fake smile from the corner cubical under those harsh fluorescent lights? Didn’t He realize I want to create something too? I tore all my little positive quotes off the bathroom mirror and just stood there staring. I sighed. Of course, He knew. He also knew I was ungrateful. I was spoiled and now, feeling a bit too entitled.

The idea wasn’t meant to sit on a dusty mental shelf. The idea was meant to be given and worked. I am the one who let life get in the way. I let vacations, relaxation, concerts and tasty food sneak its way in and steal time. I let dating and wedding planning slide in and take its space. I am the one who let the idea get away. The Etsy Lady got the idea too and she ran with it. I sat with mine and watched it fester and mold and had a meltdown when it wasn’t fit to consume. Tsk tsk.

Of course, I could go through with it anyway. I could do all the extra work to do my version of the idea (cuz yes, they are a little different), but do I have the energy though? Do I have the money? Do I have the time? Nope. Nada. No. I will just chalk up yet another idea gone to waste (the personal shopping thing still burns my buns every time I see it every friggin where–another story for another time) and pull up my big girl undies, swipe my key card and clock in.

Yes, it sounds like giving up, but it isn’t. Some of us are meant to be where we are and there is nothing wrong with that. Perhaps if I just stand still and accept the position I am in I will be much better off, and I won’t need so many stinking Post-its cluttering up my bathroom mirror. I won’t have to constantly remind myself of how great I can be if I can just be great. Right here. Right now. Maybe if I stop thinking about a way to escape, the guard will just hand over the key.

I am going to work on being present and happy in the moment. If I can stand here, now, I can stand there later. And I am a-okay with that.

~SM

Hi-ho, Hi-ho

I just had a baby. Yes. Me. The woman who said she would never have another child nor get married. I managed to (a) have another one and (b) marry the baby daddy, too (Young Gun…’member him?). I made plans and God laughed. Doesn’t He always?

Said four-month-old baby is miles away getting fed and changed by daycare ladies while I am at work squirming in a hard arss chair (which I am convinced is grinding my vagina bones into dust little by little). I have checked the daycare daily report feed about thirty times in the last two hours. I can’t even. This is not for me.

I say work is not for me but in all actuality it isn’t the working that’s not for me, it’s the being back in…hmmm…. society? Not saying SAM’s aren’t apart of society. I just wasn’t. I barely brushed my hair or cleaned my underboob (or wore a bra) while I was a temporary SAM.  Now I am thrust back into rush hour traffic, eating Pop-Tarts for lunch, and fake smiling. I have been thrown back into wearing underwear and shoes. I am subjected to professional stuff. If I was not one of those go-to-work-only-to-daydream-about-being-home kind of people before, I am today.

I mean, I could totally flip my desk over and burn up the road. I could call Young Gun and tell him I quit this $!@#. He would understand. He would say okay and freak out behind my back. I could plan my day around going to the WIC office and applying for government assistance. I could go to Starbucks and work on the next great American novel. I could be with Cookie. There could be fresh baked cookies or muffins for The Boy and The Girl when they get home from school. Dinner could be ready as soon as Young Gun hits the door. There could be forest animals flitting about and little singing dwarves dropping by. It could be….

A mess. An absolute mess. Who am I kidding? None of that would happen. There would be fresh nothing for the older kids, dinner would still be rushed, burnt and late, the only animals flitting about would be Tinkerbell and all her little flea friends. I would end up sitting at Starbucks getting fatter (and broker) by the day and writing the next FB post instead of a novel. *Sigh* As much as I don’t wanna admit it, sitting in a cubical on this vagina-bone-grinder might just be where I need to be—for now. At least until I grow up a little or win the lottery…whichever comes first (wink).

~SM

Writing. That’s It.

I went on a job interview yesterday. A simple job, yet a little different from where I am now. The tasks are basically the same. The money just a few dollars more and the hours are greater than the 20 I work presently. The interview went well. I spoke properly. I looked him in the eye. I shook his hand. I looked professional (afro included). As I said my good-byes and thank yous and headed out of the door, I knew it wouldn’t make me happy.

I went on a job interview yesterday. I need to make more money. I would like to move. I would like to save. I would like to send the kids to college and a part time paycheck just does not cut it–so….I went on an interview yesterday. But it isn’t what I want.

Not the job, per say. The job was neat. I would learn a few new skills, meet some new people, and perhaps add another 5+ year employer to my resume….but it isn’t what I want.

What I want is this. Right here. Right now. A desk. A phone. Converses on my feet. A cute shapeless dress on my body. A computer. A keyboard. And words. I want the creative license to just….be. I want words and enlightened thoughts spilling out onto blank pages. I want this.

When I told YG my thoughts on the interview yesterday, he fell silent for a moment and finally said, “Want to know what I see you doing? I see you writing. That’s it. Writing.” Me too. I see it too.

I went on an interview yesterday and by the amount of “Thank You for Your Resume Submission” emails I receive daily (due to my job applying marathons), I will likely go on more. I have to be realistic, right? We need to eat and bathe and live with lights. So, I will go on more interviews and apply for more jobs just as a cheating spouse would continue to go home and pretend to like their partner—all the while dreaming/loving/fantasizing about something (someone) else.

~SM

The Nutty Professor: Step 3

With The Kids pulling the growing up move on me and with my life starting sorta over from scratch, I took an inventory of where I stood and where I wanted to end up. Clearly there was a gap. I work a part time job that does not quite capture my attention. My bank account sees more negative signs than a false E.P.T. My debt to income ratio is hysterical and I don’t see any of this getting any better without some work on my part. Enter the never-ending BA quest.

The first step in changing anything is to actually want to change it. The second step is to plan to actually change it. Step three is holding your nose and jumping in (with intention that is). I recognized something had to change. I had the opportunity to re-do somethings and rearrange some others. I had a second shot at this and I wanted to do it right.

I pulled the trigger and stepped back into the classroom–virtual anyway. I decided it was not too late for me to move into the educational system (teaching adults…not kids….I shudder at the thought). And, sure, I had attempted to go back to school before, but this time it is different. I have no partner to hide behind. No kids to use as an excuse. No more years to waste. There is just me and the goal. That is it.

So for weeks I have been reading, studying, doing homework and making a real effort to be an intentional student. I have kept up with assignments, read during baseball tournaments, spent off days writing papers, and stayed late at work to finish up homework. Presently, I have purposefully made room for obtaining a degree so that while The Kids are off doing things college kids do, I will be settling into The Beach House teaching at a University.

Plans change. We know this. But I am willing to take the steps to make the plans possible. It is exciting and rewarding to know that if I keep pushing there is an obtainable goal at the end of the yellow brick road. Dr. Van Dunk never sounded so good 😛

~SM

Calling Dr. Van Dunk…

There is a picture of me with a pen to my lips smiling. I was about three. I remember Mommy reading to me at night and being drawn in by the words more than the pictures. When people would ask what I wanted to be when I grew up I would say a best selling children’s book author and Shelia E.  It is quite obvious I haven’t quite reached either goal–yet.

When I reached high school, I decided being Shelia E was a long shot, but becoming an Editor-in-Chief of a major magazine, living in an NY loft apartment with a closet full of amazing clothes and a revolving bed full of Adonises was achievable. I could graduate early, go to college early, BS/Masters/PhD in one six year fell swoop, retire by 35, dedicate 10 years or so to writing books, maybe get married, perhaps have one kid and by the time I was 45 settle down at a university and teach English to uninterested 18 year olds. I was a woman with a plan.

I understand the journey I have been lucky enough to take is just that–a journey. Journeys are not meant to wrap up nice and neat. They are continuous excursions with moving parts. They are never point A/point B simple. That’s what trips are for. This journey is ever changing and nothing is set in stone, and after some growth it finally clicked: My travels are not done until I am taken outta here.

I have 5 years until my nest is completely empty and what happens after that? I want to go back to school. Yes, I have attempted it before–quite a few times actually–and yes, I have said I was going back before only to get derailed. The plan (EIC, Adonises, NY loft, etc) was skewed a bit. It got a little clouded, but why can’t I pick up where the dream left off? I am 35 now. Not retired, but I am 35. I can still dedicate 10 years to writing. I can still maneuver through BS/Masters/PhD landing in a classroom at 45 with uninterested 18 year old students calling me Dr. Van Dunk. That is possible…all of it…and for once I am not afraid of any possibility.

~SM