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Unemployed no more but still healing

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I'm baa-aack!

On August 22nd after 20 weeks, 100 applications, 15 first interviews, 4 second interviews and one blessed offer, I rejoined the ranks of the employed. I have stepped down from the ranks of management back into being a writer, but I am relieved to be working again. The pay is less than what I made 10 years ago and I'm back in a cubicle after years of having my own office, but I thank God every day that it's a job I like.

Now that the hurricane that was my career has faded into a tropical depression, I'm left looking around at all the devastation and finding ways to heal.

I've spent the last few months turning my mind inside out trying to figure out what I could have done differently. I've spent hours analyzing stuff with friends, family, a counselor. "How did this happen to me?" "What could I have done to prevent it?" I tried to be honest with myself, so I can take the knowledge into my new job. Time and again, I came up empty.

Now that the dust is settling, I stumbled upon a simple truth. Sometimes sh!t happens and it has nothing to do with you. This realization that, like a hurricane, this was something I couldn't control or prevent was liberating. Two bad bosses in a row can really happen.

Boss #1, whom I will call "Miranda" was just plain crazy. I stayed beneath her radar for four years. During this time, Miranda had me on some sort of pedestal. I was "a star", the perfect employee who could do no wrong. I let her always be the smartest person in the room. I agreed with everything she said. I questioned nothing. I fed her regular compliments and criticized anyone who would dare to question her decisions, ideas or intellect. I told her everything she wanted to hear. I politely declined her repeated attempts to hug me. In return, I got fat raises, trips to national conferences, bonuses, a laptop, a flexible work schedule, memberships and subscriptions to whatever I wanted.

Then I changed. I had outgrown my job and asked for new responsibilities so I could grow professionally. I wanted more managerial latitude and decision-making. Her "mentoring" started to feel more like "micro-managing". I grew tired of Miranda tearing up everything I wrote with a red ink pen like I was a high school student. Her health had declined and so had her mind. Miranda descended into a level of craziness that was only visible to people in close proximity. When our organization lost out on a major federal grant, she snapped. Suddenly, I was the employee who could do no right.

In December 2009, I got a free afternoon off that was given to high-performing employees. In May 2010, I got kudos for being such a steady worker. In July 2010, she butchered me in a performance evaluation. The bullying was officially underway, and I was gasping for air. The pleasant work days stretched into an unending nightmare as she instituted the full array of a bully's tricks. She was enlisting all of my co-workers to help her build a file on me. She tore up everything I wrote, denied me time off, isolated me from my peers, fired and laid off some of my closest allies, and masterminded "conquer and divide" schemes to pit me against my co-workers. She reorganized my department and hired a less-experienced, less educated person from outside the organization to supervise me. They were paid twice my salary and joined her in the bullying.

I knew the HR director was in Miranda's pocket so I lawyered up. I found an attorney who leaped at the opportunity to take my case. Turns out I was the fourth person to engage his services against Miranda. She is Caucasian, all of us who lawyered up were African-Americans who she had either fired, demoted or bullied.

My health had deteriorated. I had panic attacks and my blood pressure rose through the roof. My colleagues outside of my employer didn't know what to think. They could tell I was not okay, but had no way to know if I was the one who had the problem or my employer. I took 30 days of FMLA. During this time, my employer of six years settled my complaint out of court for thousands of dollars and I fled to another position without giving notice. I thought my career nightmare was over, but it was just underway.


(to be continued)

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SONYALATRECE 9/11/2011 6:37PM

    Wow!
I truly missed you soror & pray for peace and healing.
Lord knows you don't need any more Mirandas in your life.

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TACONES 9/11/2011 5:06PM

    emoticon on the job. Thank God. I'm glad you are back.

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Hangin' in there

Monday, April 04, 2011

I haven't been doing well on my SP plan. Since I lost my job, I stopped recording my eating, cooking healthy meals and I've only exercised twice in the last 10 days or so. I'm struggling to control the stress I'm under and get re-focused. I figured that the best thing for me to do is to log in and talk about it even if I'm NOT doing well. I'm actually not mad at myself because I've always known I'm a stress eater and losing your job ranks pretty high.

I'm really going through a string of bad luck. www.youtube.com/watch?v=VR8KfMTmPRQ

Still, I'm still standing and refusing to give up. My best friend MOJOANDY called me up and reminded me to keep on keepin' on. I agreed. At the very least, I don't want to regain the weight it took me so long to lose.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PARAMAGIC66 4/4/2011 3:43PM

    I understand completely. I also have been going through alot of stressors lately. I haven't lost a job but have lost a very dear friend. I have been on a huge rollercoaster ride, and all just after I hit my goal weight and had a huge article in the newspaper about me. Every day I try to gain a little more of my focus back. It has certainly not been easy, but I am determined not to slide back to where I started. Thank the Lord for my spark friends. They are always here for me with words of encouragement. You can do this. Just take as many small steps as you need. Keep logging in and letting us help. emoticon emoticon

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TACONES 4/4/2011 2:18PM

    I agree with your best friend. Keep hangin' in there. emoticon emoticon emoticon

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Lost my job and found three pounds (long)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Yeah, d@mmit, I gained three pounds. Know what's funny? I'm more upset about that than about losing my job. How is that possible? Well, with losing my job, I could see the axe about to fall. With the three pound weight gain, I have no explanation. I know it's water weight and it's not even close to that time of month. So when I weighed this morning, I was, like, WTF?

I'm an extremely intuitive person and I knew I was screwed when they put me on a performance improvement plan 90 days after my date of hire. I had already gotten most of the grief out of my system and launched a quiet job search. So when my boss set up a monday 4:30 pm meeting two weeks in advance, I knew what time it was. The meeting went like this:

Bad Boss: "How are you coming along on the eight goals I set for your 60 day performance improvement plan?"

Me: "I've made progress. I will brief you on my progress for each goal." I start to discuss my activities and the progress I've made.

Bad Boss: "Sounds to me like you're making progress. Still I'm concerned about..." (starts to bring up things that do not appear on my performance improvement plan.)

Me: "Here are the strategies I've developed to address those items." I start to brief him on my plan and philosophy. I read the expression on his face, so I pause and ask the magic question: "Do you see me here in 30 days?"

Bad Boss: "I don't think you're going to make it."

Me: (Pause) "Then let's discuss my severance."

At that point the conversation shifts to negotiations. I negotiate two month's severance pay. Bad Boss looks like he's going to cry. He asks when I want my last day to be (seriously???) I tell him, "Today."

I handled myself calmly and professionally. I don't cry, complain, argue---none of that. It's not for him to see because my response is the only thing I can control. Besides, I had been there less than a year and the pay really sucked considering the scope of the job. Bad Boss offers to help me find another job, says he's willing to make some calls and be a reference. My only response is, "If you need an independent contractor--call me." I extend my hand, look him square in the eye, and shake his hand firmly. Who knows, he might have to call because I made a conscious decision to wrap up three projects and submit them the day AFTER our meeting. I'm the only one with the online userids and passwords to all three projects. Without my information, they can't access the work.

When I walked out of the office, I was surprised to see that they had sent most of my co-workers home. Probably because they thought I'd go off on everybody and create a scene. I must've been a major disappointment. I joked with a former co-worker as he helped me carry my boxes to my car. I told him that I had enjoyed working with him and that I knew that God was not going to give me any more than I could handle. When I pulled out of the parking lot, my co-worker/friend/Soror followed me. We drove and parked in a lot about two blocks from the job. I got into her car and it was only then that the tears started to flow.

When I told my family and friends, about losing my job they were like, "How did you figure out what was happening?" I told them, so I'll tell you. Here are the classic signs:
1) You are no longer "in the loop" on decisions
2) You are not even "in the loop" on decisions affecting the department you run
3) You have a major philosophical difference with your boss about how your job is to be performed
4) Your boss starts to avoid you--no small talk, no feedback positive or negative, no response to your emails
5) You are blamed for things that are beyond your control
6) You get little or no credit for your ideas or a job well done
7) A co-worker with major power in the organization is openly competing with you
8) You have a conversation with the office pariah about the organization's dysfunction and discover you agree with them more than you do with your team
9) The organization is a bad cultural fit. In my case, the overt religiosity within the organization made me uncomfortable---and I'm a christian.
10) Your subordinates and your boss start breaking the chain of command

So now, for the first time in decades, my entire future is a blank slate. I have NO idea where I will be working or living a year from now. The changes in my life are happening so rapidly, my head is spinning. Before I can start filling in the blanks, I'm giving myself a week to lick my wounds, hold pity parties with my friends and family, and just feel sorry for myself. After that, I'm launching my job search. I am actually thinking about going into business for myself. I'm getting tired of Bad Bosses and Crazy Bosses.

The only thing that's keeping me sane is my faith in God and my SP program. Okay, so maybe I can't control losing my job or finding three pounds, but I CAN pray and maintain my eating and my exercise habits.

Onward and Downward.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WRITINGBLUEHAWK 3/29/2011 11:33AM

    Words cannot express how GRATEFUL I am to have friends--both online and offline. It's been rough, but I am staying strong. Thank you for your thoughts, support and prayers. I truly appreciate it. Despite everything that's going on, I've vowed not to give up on being healthier.

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AKAFIT 3/27/2011 8:16PM

    Soror, let me start by saying that you ARE AMAZING. You handled yourself with the professionalism and decorum that only comes from God. I was sitting here thinking, man "That's my soror!" God is going to bless you in ways you can't even imagine, so just hold onto your seat my sister, God is working some things out.

Secondly, I am in agreeance with Soror Sonya on the 3 pounds. Stress is powerful and NO JOKE! So, give yourself your grieving time and then KICK that mess to the curb. You have to be ready for God's next move and He can't bless you if you are blocking HIM with worrying about the future. Hold onto this:

2 Corinthians 12:8-10: "Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

LET GO and LET GOD!

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TACONES 3/23/2011 11:33PM

    Continue to keep the faith. You handled that meeting very well. I am sure they were not expecting that type of professionalism. I bet they learned something from that, I know I just did.
So true on the list of your observations of when it is time to go or not needed.

It sounds like you have a good plan. emoticon

Stay focus.

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SONYALATRECE 3/23/2011 1:10PM

    The three pounds came from the stress of knowing that you were about to lose your job. That's normal. I just said a prayer for you after reading your blog. This too shall pass and you will come out shining in the end.
Keep the faith and NEVER compromise your beliefs for ANYONE or position. He is walking with you and carrying you through.
emoticon

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GOOSIEMOON 3/22/2011 10:33AM

    Sorry to hear you lost your job!
It sounds like that particular job was not good for your mental or physical health. There must be something better out there for you.

Take great care of yourself and the next better job is just on the horizon!

emoticon

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Oh, Drama

Saturday, March 19, 2011

For the first time I can remember in a while, almost every area of my life is in transition. My relationship with my child is changing, my job is uncertain, and I've lost touch with one friend of six years and ended another friendship of five years.

I'm not clear why all this change is happening at once, but sometimes that's how life is. Still, if I were to compare this time in my life to the weather, I'd say it's like a light drizzle in cold weather. Depressing but not devastating. I've survived many storms and this is no comparison.

This week was so-so.
THE GOOD: I cooked twice this week; kept my kitchen clean, bought some new exercise clothes and shoes, logged in all my food and exercise, and worked to increase my fruits/veg/water, even hitting my goals on two days this week.

THE BAD: My weightloss is stalled again. I won't repeat all the whining that I did last month. I know it's water weight, but it's frustrating. Still have work to do on fruit/veg/water intake. Still ate out several times this week because I've been watching college basketball at bars and grills. I'm hopeful this will change once the college basketball season is over.

THE UGLY: My dog chewed up two of my fitness books, including the one by Tosca Reno. I am just disgusted. I only exercised on sunday, tuesday and today. I am drinking way too many diet cokes.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

AKAFIT 3/21/2011 11:02AM

    Soror, way to blog and keep it moving. I can so relate to you on many fronts.

Friendship ~ mine have been going through a lot of transitions and the jury is still out on one, but the bottom line is that I have survived. I am wiser, more entuned to my needs in a friendship and I celebrate the other relationships in my life that keep me grounded and going. God always brings you something else or helps you to realize that the friendship as it was had run its course.

Dogs chewing ~ sorry can't relate nor compute. I have NO pets and I am ever so grateful for the lack thereof!

Son ~ well, this one is a loaded subject. My son, just turned 11 in January and when I tell you that some days I wanted to pound him you best believe that is true. Then we have moments where I catch a glimpse of my "little boy" and I know that "this too shall pass." I have just started reading a book called "Raising Awesome Kids in Troubled Times" and the beginning of the book put something in prospective for me. He said that we must have a God centered relationship first and foremost and then we show our kids that through our words, deeds, and sometimes through our struggles. I realize that my child has to find his way in life. I can help him, discipline and guide him, but the bottom line is this: I can't live his life for him. That is sobering and true all at once.

Anyway, just know that you are not alone in your battles and struggles. I am here and so are many of your other sorors and friends. So, keep moving forward knowing that victory is assured because you are STRONG and GOD FEARING and the battle is not yours to fight.

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SONYALATRECE 3/21/2011 7:03AM

    Wow! Got rid of a 30-year friendship which had been waining for the past 5 years. God is still in control. Things will work out 4 you!
Stay true to Him & your goals!



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TACONES 3/19/2011 4:08PM

    You will survive this storm as well. Stay in prayers about all aspect in your life and God will show you what to do.

Great job in making the necessary changes to get healthy. Congrats cooking two days in a row. emoticon

I am so glad that my dog stopped chewing stuff up. Well, come to think of it, she chews but she chews tissue and paper towel. emoticon

Kids? That's another story. I know when my son turned 13 going on 14, our relationship started to change. It was hard for me but we survived. He is now 16 but boy was it hard when he was trying to find his own identity. I stepped back and let his dad take over because I don't think that child of mine would have survive. I really needed Jesus to come down and let me know then what to do because that was one of the hardest thing for me when the relationship between me and my son started to change for the worse. I felt like I was loosing grip on realty and he refused to listen to anything I had to say. Well that passed and we learned from that. Some days are hard but nothing like it was before. I am learning to listen to him more.

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

Take it one day at a time. emoticon

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Well, D@mn!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Today I spoke to my "son" who is a division 1-NCAA football player. I told him about my new eating and exercise habits and he was very supportive. During the course of conversation, he mentioned that he maintains an "in season" weight and an "off season" weight, which is 11 pounds higher. The depressing part is this; BOTH of his weights are more than ten pounds less than what I weigh now and he plays football!!

All the conversation did was motivate me to work hard in the gym this evening and eat a sensible, nutrient-dense dinner. I don't like the idea of weighing more than my "son".

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SONYALATRECE 3/16/2011 10:20AM

    Remember muscle weighs more than fat, so don't be too hard on yourself. Besides men distribute much of their weight in their upper body. Women more so in our lower bodies.
Keep Sparking so they all say, "Da%#!" but to you. WooHoo!


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