Thursday, August 30, 2012

All About August

August was the busiest month of the summer for me. Lots of changes. The older I get, the more resistant to change I find myself becoming. Especially when the way things used to be were great. Ah well. The month certainly passed quickly, and I'm looking forward to Fall and all it brings - football, changing leaves, cooler temps.

Here's the low-down of my month.

Surgery Recovery. I feel like I've covered this ad naseum in other posts, so I'll keep it brief. I'm feeling good. I still feel pain when I sneeze, laugh, cough, or move in certain ways, but most of the time I forget about my stomach because it feels fine. The tightness isn't quite gone but almost. I put vitamin E on my scars to help them disappear, but I know that it's going to take a long time before they stop being bright red/purple. The one around my belly button looks really good, actually. Yay! I'm very pleased with the results of the tummy tuck, as I've said a million times already. *smile*

Work. Is a mixed bag of treats. I really like everyone I work with and I like the job duties I've been given. I love having my own office and look forward to slowly decorating it and making it my own. However, there are some things that need to change pretty darn quick. There's some office politics going on that don't please me at all, especially because I'm in the middle. There's been a lot of restructuring and I think that's the cause of the problems. I've thought a lot about how I'm going to handle things and am sure that in time, once everyone is used to the new ways, it will all settle down.

School. School started this week. Now that I'm working full-time, I lessened my class load from 3 classes down to 2. I have the last undergrad class, Global and Complex Entities (a mixture of Advanced and International Accounting) on Monday evenings. The professor for the class is also the department chair and upon learning that I'm a Masters student taking the class as a "leveling" class, he suggested that I talk to the Masters program head to see about getting Masters credit for the class as an elective. I asked and received an affirmative response! Yay! That means that I'll have 2 of the 10 classes finished this semester instead of just one! My other class is a Masters class. It is Financial Accounting and Reporting and is held Wednesday evenings. When I registered for the classes in the Spring, I was really bugged that all my classes were going to be in the evenings from here on out. Now that I'm working full-time during the day, it's quite a blessing. It means that I see my hubby 1 hour each of the two days I'm in class, but we'll survive. Somehow. *smile* My Wednesday night class is taught by a professor I had last Fall. He's a really nice, cheerful, funny sort of guy, but his lectures were hard to follow along with, especially in regards to the readings and homework problems. They didn't go with what he was saying. So, it's going to be an interesting class. The best part of being back in school is seeing my friends from last year. Many are in my Global class on Mondays and it was fun catching up with them. So different from last Fall when I didn't know a soul. It wasn't until Spring semester that I really started making friends with people I recognized from previous classes. My Masters class has only one person I know well in it...and I don't like him, though I try not to let it show. He's rude to fellow students and to professors, which is really hard to bear, though he's always very nice to me. It should be a good semester.

Journaling. Sigh. Still didn't happen this month. I really want to write in my journal every day. I just need to move my journal back by my bed so I can write a little bit before going to sleep. Right now it's in the living room. What good is it doing there? I'll never write while watching tv with Steve. I can do this. I know I can.

Exercising. With my new work schedule, I don't walk as long in the mornings as I used to, but I still go on walks with Steve and Sadie in the evenings that I don't have class. Fortunately, the university allows for 3 hours of release time every week to do something wellness-related. I had planned on doing yoga, but it didn't work out (I'll post about it later), so instead I'm going to workout on my own Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at lunch time. I'll walk/jog around the track, sometimes ride the stationary upright bikes, and always take 10-15 minutes to do the weight machines. This will make up for the nights I don't get to walk with Steve and Sadie and will also give me an extra workout on Fridays. I'm very excited about it. The school also pays for certain wellness activities, so after 12 weeks of recording my exercises, I'll get $20. There are various other ways I can earn $20, up to $200 a calendar year! Most of the things I already do, so it's an easy $200. I just have to record what I'm doing. Easy peasy!

Summer To-Do List
With starting to work full-time, I killed my to-do list. Summer was officially over for me. I feel good about all the things I accomplished. It was a good thing to have and kept me from slacking off too much.

Other Stuff
We had planned to go to Cedar City for my SIL Jenny's baby shower and my nephew Scott's birthday party, but Steve ended up in the hospital that Friday, so we stayed home. All is good with him, which is a huge relief. I missed getting to go down and see everyone though. I told him, next time he wants to get out of seeing my family, don't fake a heart condition. *smile*

Tonight, we're going to the first University of Utah home football game. We are going to be terribly late because neither of us can get off work early enough, but we'll still see most of the game. And, it will fun to dress up in my Utah gear and watch football live again. I'm also really looking forward to going to all (or most) of the Weber State home games this year. Yay for football!!

We finally were able to go to farmers markets this month after not really going much this summer. It was great buying and enjoying fresh produce and baked goods (we're in love with this one vendor's banana bread!). We love the one in Ogden because it's close and still has a great selection, but we also went down to Salt Lake once and got to experience the bigger market. AND we stopped to get frites from the Bruges Belgium Waffles and Frites. Mmmmm. What a treat!

August was good. It was busy and went by quickly and had lots of changes, but it was good. I didn't even mind the heat very much - probably because my office is so cold! I can't believe we only have a few months left of 2012. I'm determined to enjoy each one!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

New Job Update - Part 2

I'm halfway through my fourth week at my new job.

Last night, I dreamed about one of my former jobs, Intermountain Hearing Clinics. Gosh, I loved that place. I loved the two people with whom I worked, I loved my job duties, I loved most of our patients, I loved the commute (3 minutes), I loved the office, I loved our Accountant, etc. I worked there for 7 years before deciding to move on to a different job. It was a hard move but it set in motion changes that really impacted my life. Ever since, then, though, I've been looking for a job that felt as good as that one did. A place where I didn't dread going into work, where I felt I was accomplishing things, where I liked the people I worked with and the things I did at work.

My last job, a student worker at the Student Health Center at WSU, almost fit the bill. I really liked the people with whom I worked and I never dreaded going into work. It was an easy job and most of the time I just did my homework or surfed the web. That was nice but I always kind of felt bad for being paid to do not very much. My supervisor kept telling me not to worry about it, so I mostly didn't.

My new job has a lot of potential to be like my job at Intermountain Hearing Clinics, if not better in ways. I work with some really nice people that make the workday go by nicely. My training hasn't been the most effecient, productive in the world, so it's been kind of hard to determine if I'd like my job duties, but as I'm slowly learning them, I think I'll enjoy them. It's a different kind of bookkeeping than I did at the audiology clinic, but it's still crunching numbers. I support two departments in the IT division, departments that are very different and have different ways of doing things. One department is used to having a support person, the other isn't but has wanted one for a long time. It's going to be interesting working out how to support both departments and their different quirks. I like a good challenge. And, I like that I'm blazing a new trail. The gal I'm replacing has set up a good system, but it's her system. I like that I'll be able to rework it a bit to fit my role - something that is different that what her role was in ways.

I have my own office. I've never had my own office before. At Intermountain Hearing Clinics, my "office" was a built in desk in the kitchen. It made grabbing a snack from the fridge extremely easy, but it was also a high traffic area. At SUU, I had a cubicle...well, more like a desk in the middle of the room with really low walls surrounding it. I now have an office with four walls and a door that I can close if need to be left alone to get an important project done in time. I have walls that I can decorate! I'm not sure how I'll decorate them or when, but I can!

Unlike at Intermountain Hearing Clinics, I now have lots of good benefits - medical (which I declined because I'm insured through the Air Force), dental, life, and retirement!! I'm the most excited by the retirement. The school is very generous with what it contributes to their employees' retirement funds. I also get free tuition for up to 6 credit hours a semester and 3 hours a week of release time to do wellness activities. I'm enrolled in a yoga class twice a week and I don't have to make up that time at work (i.e. come in early, not take a lunch, etc.). I wish WSU had release time for classes like SUU did, but I am really grateful to have it to exercise and do other wellness activities (there's a relaxation room with massage chairs that I can go to once a week - again, without having to make up the time at work!).

Last night, Steve and I made plans for the extra money I'm bringing in now. I'm really excited to be contributing to our financial future. Even when I wasn't working at all, we were in a good spot financially, but now we have the chance to do some things that will really be good for us, now and in the future. I'm glad, and very fortunate, to be married to someone who thinks the same as me about money and savings and debt. The money isn't the most important thing to me (I'm fortunate to be in a position where I don't need to work), but it's definitely a wonderful part of my job.

I hope to stay at WSU for a long time. I plan to stay in this position until I graduate with my Masters, and then I hope a position opens up in the Accounting Services division (Payroll, Accounts Receivable, Purchasing, etc). I'd like to eventually start teaching beginning Accounting classes as an adjunct or assistant professor until I get my PhD. I like working at a university. The atmosphere is different than in a corporate setting. I like the emphasis on learning. My VP really encourages his staff to take or teach classes. And he isn't alone in that; most departments feel the same way. After all, we're at a university! I feel very fortunate to finally be working at a university again. And, I feel very fortunate to have landed in this position, with these people.

It's a good job.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Surgery Recovery Update

It's been just over 8 weeks since my tummy tuck. Can you believe it?

Someone asked me if I still feel pain. Yes, I do. My doctor told me it would take 6 weeks before I'd feel good. He didn't lie.It took that long...and I'm still a work-in-progress. It took 4 weeks to be able to function fairly normally (drive myself, do light housework, walk half a mile, etc.) but I still didn't have feeling in my stomach - total numbness one side to the other- and it still felt like my skin and muscles were being stretched tight (because they had been). It still hurt quite a bit.  At 6 weeks, I felt better, but not 100% better. I finally could go without the support garments (hallelujah!), walk over a mile, clean the bathroom, vacuum, and work full-time. At 8 weeks, I have regained a lot of the feeling back in my stomach, just the very center (about an inch diameter around my brand new belly button) still feels numb. My muscles still feel sore but not as much. There are times I actually forget about my tummy because the soreness isn't too bad. My skin rarely feels tight, just if I've sat too long in the same position.

I can finally sleep on my stomach, but it hurts when I roll over onto it. Once I'm on my stomach, there's no pain, it just hurts to get there. Thankfully, it doesn't hurt so much that I wake up every time I turn over like it used to. Sleeping for hours uninterrupted is a blessing. It hurts to sneeze. A lot. Laughing and coughing still cause minor pain as well, but not as bad as sneezing. I had no idea you use your stomach muscles when sneezing. For that matter, I've learned of all sorts of activities that use my stomach muscles that I hadn't realized before. I can't sit up by myself unless I hold on to something, and then it still hurts quite a bit. Usually, Steve puts his arm in front of me so I can use it to pull myself up.

My stomach muscles are very weak, so I'm slowly trying to increase their strength - I do a few girl pushups and some crunches every night. I tried to do a plank the other night it but was too painful, even with Steve holding up my middle a little to take off some of the pressure. Next week I'm starting a yoga class at work. It's twice a week. I'll have to be very careful to not overdo it and hurt myself too much, but I'm really looking forward to it. Yoga is a great way to build up strength in your core.

I told Steve the other night that I hope to be all healed in two weeks. That means no numbness and no tightness/soreness. I'd love to not hurt when I sneeze or cough or laugh, but a part of me can't comprehend that - it's been so long since I've been pain-free that it doesn't seem possible. However, every week I seem to make huge strides towards completely healed that it's totally possible that I will be in two weeks...or three or four. *smile*

I've come a long way and it feels good to be where I am. I absolutely love wearing clothes! I realize what a silly statement that is, but it's true. I love wearing pants more than I ever did before. Skirts and dresses could sort of hide my stomach, but pants showed it off. So, I chose my shirts carefully when I wore pants - they had to be long enough to cover my tummy. What freedom to choose shirts regardless of their length! In fact, I love wearing shirts that aren't too long now so I can see how good I look in my pants. I bought a new pair of jeans that has a belt and can actually wear shirts tucked in. It's a whole new world for me.

It's been a long healing process, longer than I fully comprehended going into it; however, it's been worth it. Even in the beginning, when I was in so much pain and couldn't do anything by myself and had those awful drainage tubes, there were moments that made it worthwhile. Spending lots of time with my mom, Steve's tenderness and loving service, sitting in bed with Sadie curled up next to me for a couple hours every day, wearing pajamas all day, Mom doing my hair, making out with my hubby, the first time I wore real clothes (after the drains came out) and seeing how flat my tummy was - these are memories of the early days of my recovery, moments that cut through the pain of healing, memories that I cherish. Now, as I feel better every day, every week, I'm rejoicing in my new stomach, my new confidence. It's totally been worth it!

That said...I'm not going under the knife again for a very, very, very long time!!! *smile*

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

The Lowdown on My New Job - Part 1

Ever since I moved to northern Utah, I've been applying for full-time jobs at Weber State University. I had loved working at SUU and enjoyed the benefits that came from working in an academic setting. A few times, I came close to being hired on at WSU but was never offered a position. Finally, I gave up and decided to go to school full-time to get a Masters of Accounting degree. Not working was so hard for me - I felt horrible about not contributing to our household income - so, after discussing it with Steve, I applied for and was offered a student hourly position at WSU's student health center. It was great! I worked 20 hours a week, most of the time blogging or doing homework. I developed friendships with the full-time staff there and decided I'd stay there until my schooling was finished in December 2013.

Life threw me a curve ball and I panicked...just a little. Steve failed his physical and started a process that may (we won't know for a few months) lead to him retiring a year earlier than we had planned. The thought of him going out and getting another job while I went to school and my ultra-cushy part-time job made me sick. My goal all the time we've been together, in which time he's brought in the bulk of our income, is to be making enough money that when he retires he can work at whatever job he wants - even if it's a piddly job at a sporting goods store - without worrying about our finances. After 20+ years in the military, I think he's earned the freedom to pick a job that he'll really enjoy.

So, with his earlier-than-expected retirement staring me in the face, I immediately jumped on WSU's employment website and applied for the only full-time Classified Staff position currently open. Steve, when he found out, didn't approve. He preferred that I focus on finishing my degree so I could then get a really good job in my career field instead of taking longer to finish because I'm working full-time. In the end, we compromised and agreed that I would work full-time only at WSU, since my goal is to work there or another university for the rest of my career.

A few weeks went by and my panic had mostly subsided. We had talked things through and had a good plan, so I knew we could weather any outcome. I had forgotten about applying for the position at WSU until the day before our Alaskan cruise when I received a call to set up an interview sometime that week. I was thrilled to be getting the call and was disappointed to have to tell the caller, the secretary, that I was going on a cruise and wouldn't be back until the following week. She said she'd let the hiring committee know and would get back to me. I was hopeful that they'd reschedule for the next week. Later that day, she called and asked about June 25th. I said that would be great, so she told me the time and location of the interview. I excitedly told Steve about it and he rained on my parade by reminding me that I was having my tummy tuck on June 22nd and would not be able to walk on my own by the 25th. I said I didn't care. I wouldn't risk not getting the job by calling her back and ask to reschedule. He persisted. I knew he was right but put off making the call until the Sunday after we had returned from our cruise. I left a message explaining my surgery, etc, and asked if we could reschedule once again. I didn't have a lot of hope this time.

I didn't hear back from them before my surgery (a Friday), so I figured they had found someone else in the time since we had talked weeks prior. My tummy tuck took place early Friday morning and I was home in bed early that afternoon when my phone started vibrating. Figuring it way my dad checking to see how I was, I answered, not even looking at the caller. It was WSU calling back to reschedule the interview!! She was surprised I had answered, I explained that I was pretty drugged up but okay. We discussed how soon I could come in for an interview and set a date for two weeks from that day. I was thrilled!

Two weeks later, Steve drove me to the interview. It went really well AND I loved how I looked in real clothes after my surgery. A couple hours later, the director of the department (which is part of the IT Division) called and set up an interview with me and the VP of the IT Division, so I knew they had liked me. I went to the interview with the VP and it went well, too. Talking about the job duties, I felt like they'd be a good fit for me, and my would-be supervisor seemed really nice. A few days later, HR called to offer me the job and I accepted. I had been a little worried about starting to work full-time three weeks after my surgery, but fortunately (for me at least) I had to wait to start working until the background check passed. It took 2 weeks, so I started last Monday, just over 5 weeks after my surgery. By that time, I was feeling good enough to sit at a desk for long periods and walk around as needed.

My first couple days of work went well, despite a little confusion Monday morning when my trainer and my boss weren't there. I spent an hour talking to a guy who had just started the week before, then read for two hours when he had to go to a meeting and before my meeting with HR. Tuesday night last week, I panicked again. Why was I working full-time??? I had a cushy part-time job that gave me time to do my homework, freeing up my free time, and that let me go to school full-time so I could finish faster. I knew it, I loved the people, and I had plenty of time with my husband. Oh! And, I felt horrible about leaving our dog alone outside all day now. I spent a restless night, planning on quitting my new job and begging my old one to take me back. Of course, when morning came, I realized I couldn't do that, even though I really wanted to!

My desire to go back to my old job had little to do with this job. Once at work, I liked it well enough. It was weird because there were huge amounts of times when I wasn't being trained (like right now) and so had to find stuff to do on my own (pretty hard when you don't know what to do or how to do it). Then I discovered a little bit of "politics" that exists and wasn't very excited about having to deal with it. That said, the people were nice and I kept hoping that I'd eventually get trained to do the work and that I'd enjoy the work.

Yesterday, I finally came to terms with my new situation. Quite frankly, I'm a little embarrassed and ashamed  that I ever wasn't. As I wrote earlier, I've been hoping and trying for this for a couple years. It's a good job in a market that isn't overflowing with them. I have good benefits and good prospects of furthering my career. I hope that now my "foot is in the door" I'll be able to one day work in the departments that will be more along the lines of my studies (Payroll, Purchasing, Accounts Receivables/Payables, the Controller's office, Auditing, etc.). Instead of bemoaning the fact that I can't sleep in until 7:30 any more, that the dog has to be alone a little longer, that I won't be able to do homework at work, etc, I should be grateful for the blessing that is this job. And now I am.

And I'm finally beginning to get trained on the "meat and potatoes" of my position and really do think I'll like the work. My official title is Office Specialist. Basically, I'm part secretary and part bookkeeper. My supervisor is the head of one department in the division but I will eventually support both departments in the division (this is the cause of the "politics" I mentioned earlier). I'm glad that my main duties relate to Accounting instead of being a straight secretarial position that just answers phones and orders supplies (which I do, too). It sounds like I'll stay fairly busy once I know what I'm doing but that the work won't be overwhelming. Perfect!

The best part of this job so far is the stress it takes off me about my future. I worried about finding a job after school and Steve's retirement and now I don't have to. It doesn't pay a ton, but it's enough for us right now and, like I wrote earlier, it should be a good stepping stone for other, better-paying jobs on campus.

So, I'm going to relax and enjoy this position for all its worth. It's going to be a little tricky with school, but I changed my class load to two instead of three, so I'm sure I'll be able to get homework done and still spend time with my hubby. I'm meeting very nice people and learning new things. And, I'm not sitting at home bored to tears. Yep, I'm very glad and very fortunate in my new job.


Sunday, August 05, 2012

July Update

Even though August is still technically summer and still quite hot, the end of July signals the end of summer to me. It's not a bad thing. I don't love the cold, but I don't care for the blistering heat either. There are other reasons I'm grateful to say goodbye to July.

Surgery. At the beginning of July, I was like a totally different person than I was the end of the month. I started the month with draining tubes, my mom was staying with us to take care of me, and I could barely walk or stand on my own. Slowly, I started to regain my strength and my mobility, especially once the drains came out (very painfully!). I had frustrating moments when I felt like I wasn't getting better as fast as I would have liked, but during the last couple weeks of the month I progressed a lot every week, feeling better and better every day. Best of all, I finally stopped wearing the support undergarments the doctor required me to wear for six weeks post-surgery! I'm not 100% better - my stomach muscles and skin feel tight still, especially if I've been sitting too long. I can finally sleep on my side but not my stomach. Certain movements cause me sharp pain, like sneezing, but they are dwindling in number. Finally, I look great! It's fun to actually see my belly button where it's supposed to be, and wearing clothes is a lot more enjoyable and easy now that I don't have a huge stomach. I have a huge scar, but it's already fading a little and as neither Steve or I have a problem with it, it doesn't bother me at all.

School. Nothing to say really. I enjoyed another month free of homework or classes. That said, I'm looking forward to starting classes. It will be fun to see my friends and to get going with my Masters degree. I'm only taking two classes this semester instead of three and plan to keep with that load until I graduate - which seems like an eternity from now!

Work. The reason I lightened my class load is my new job! After two years of trying, I finally got hired on full-time at Weber State University. I am the new Office Specialist (aka secretary/bookkeeper) for the IT Division. I think I'll like it. The people are really nice, the job seems like things I'll enjoy doing, and the pay is okay (more than I made as a part-time hourly) and the benefits are good. The VP of the division is fairly new and has been making a lot of changes that people haven't been loving. My position is taking on  new responsibilities that has some people disgruntled and others thrilled. It's a political mine field unless I tread carefully until everyone gets used to the change. I can do that though I don't love office politics.

Journaling. Didn't happen. My surgery interrupted my usual routine and totally killed any attempt to restart journaling. I was surprised that I didn't feel like writing more while recuperating. Mostly, I just wanted to watch tv - anything that didn't require thinking of staying awake too long. :)

Exercising. I didn't track my exercising in July at all. It was pointless. At the beginning of the month, the farthest I walked was from my bedroom to the living room once or twice a day. I slowly worked up to over a mile a day both in the morning and the evening with a much shorter walk in the afternoon, and I eventually managed to get close to my pre-surgery pace. I thought I'd start recording my exercise this month, but with starting my new job and being totally out of the habit, I will probably wait until September. I'm not worried about not exercising because I walk the dog in the morning and in the evening with Steve. Once I start classes, my evening walks will be affected (I have classes two evenings a week) but I'll try to start riding my bike in the evenings to make up for it.

Other. We had our annual cousins weekend in July. We met at Cassie's new home in Salt Lake and had a lot of fun. Kristi didn't feel too well most of the time, so we stayed pretty low-key, mostly staying at Cassie's but we did go out to dinner Friday and Saturday nights; Greek one night and Italian the other. For the first time in several times, we stayed up really late each night talking and laughing. Kristi made a delicious Oreo dessert and we ate it all three days, actually finishing it by the time we left Sunday afternoon. We missed Alyson a lot but it was wonderful to have Kristi there. At one point during the weekend, I had a mind-blowing, life changing ah-ha moment. It was crazy but much needed. Sorry, that's all I'm going to say about it.

Last weekend, Steve and I went down to Cedar for a quick trip. With the help of my mom and Corey, we painted the bedroom walls in my condo because one of the last tenants had put a ton of holes in the wall. It was a lot of work, but with the four of us we were able to finish in four hours - having painted two coats on the wall! Now, the walls look great and fresh. We also hired a friend to go in and clean the whole condo (it needed it!), so the in-coming tenants can start at a good point and I can expect them to leave the condo with it looking as good as it does now.

Summer To-Do List
Didn't accomplish as much as I thought I might while recuperating from my surgery (mostly writing and other nonphysical activities); Like I said, all I wanted to do was watch tv or even read. However, I did manage to accomplish a little.

Watch "Citizen Kane"
Organize my desk upstairs
Paint bedrooms in condo
Get new tenants for condo (filled only 2 of the 3 rooms)

Now that I have a full-time job, I'm considering my summer as over, at least as far as my summer to-do list is concerned. I'd still like to accomplish some of them, but I won't focus too much attention on them. All in all, I think I did a lot this summer, especially since I was recuperating from major surgery.

Well, that's my July. I can't say it wasn't a good month. It felt good to be able to relax and not feel guilty about not doing more. Of course, by the end of the month, I was doing housework, but just a little every day. I started to feel a little bored, so I'm glad to be working and having things to do again.

I hope you had a good July and that August is even better!