My First Interview in 20 years. I think.

So I had my first interview in 20 years! How exciting! Well, not really. And, I’m not sure it qualifies as an interview. This was a very interesting experience. I am a bit confused about how I felt about it. The company sounded awesome, the position Just Right… But this interview made me feel not great about the idea of the company.

Why? Well, because it was an interview with myself, basically. I logged onto a website, had my video camera working, and was presented with six basic interview questions that were just presented on the screen in text. I then had to answer – on video. No other person involved.

Job InterviewEven more odd was that I could review, and re-do my answers as many times as I wanted to. I reviewed my first answer, and was HORRIFIED. Is that what I look like? Is that how I sound? What did I just do with my face! OMG. It was a truly horrifying thing. I have not done any video (unless you count a few videos of me running my dog in an agility trial), so perhaps just because I am not very familiar with it was what bothered me? I quickly decided to NOT review or re-do any answer.

Why did I decide not to review and re-do any answers? Aside from the torture of watching myself on video repeatedly – that is just not how life works. You do not get to re-do your answers and conversations with people. This is life. It is face-to-face (be it in person or on video chat), or at least voice to voice! A person gets so much from interaction with another person that this recorded answer idea is just BAD. I get they were looking for something different, and if a person wasn’t REALLY interested, they would not go through the torture of a video. But couldn’t they get what they need from the standard email with questions to answer instead of this video Q&A? The job didn’t have anything to do with video, so doesn’t really mesh. I’m open to trying something new of course, but it really was so awful!

In the end, I received the “we have gone a different direction” email that I expected, honestly. It definitely was a memorable experience, though, not one I will quickly forget. Has anybody else had this type of experience?

The Miracle of Doggie Prozac

Learn how putting my dog on Prozac helped save her life.

Yes, yes, my dog is on Prozac (Fluoxetine). She has been since she was just over two, and had I done it earlier, life would have been a lot easier and simpler.

I urge all pet owners who have extreme behavior problems (reactive, anxiety, etc., ruling out health issues first) with their dogs to consider medication as early as possible. The thought of it scared me at first – I mean, what sort of failure of a pet owner would I be to need medication for my dog? Sure, drug her up! Had I not had this stigma in my head about putting my dog on medication, we could have gotten on a path to happy lives a lot faster.

Although Emme is as well bred as they get, from world-class lines who have health and behavior history for years and years… She has got a screw loose. Or maybe three or four loose. Her reactive and guarding behaviors started as early as 16 weeks old when she bit me after I tried to take a chew away from her. At six months old she started viciously attacking Kevin when he even went near her, for no reason, though could have been a guarding behavior. All of this, plus whatever is going on in her brain, escalated to complete trauma for us and into a tailspin of anxiety and even worse behaviors – for years.

Finally I caved, and started her on Prozac. And it changed our lives.

Were it not for the Prozac, she may have been euthanized. That’s right. Euthanized. Let that sink in. That is how dire our situation was.

And now – because of the Prozac, she’s an awesome dog. I often wonder how many other dogs could be saved if their owners knew the options open to them?

Close friends & family know Emme is on Prozac, but when I tell others not within our close circle, I usually get funny looks, or an eye roll. I’m told I should train my dog better instead. What these people do not understand is that all the training in the world won’t help if your dog’s brain is so chemically imbalanced they cannot even BEGIN to learn the right behaviors. The medication helps Emme’s brain allow her to be receptive to the right behaviors. It helps “take the edge off” her anxiety and helps her be able to redirect to proper behaviors.

Emme SmilesWe still have our issues: dog reactivity, leash reactivity, general crazy sometimes. But I know how to work through them, and with the help of the Prozac, Emme is able to calm down quicker and redirect to me and yummy treats. If we see you on the street with your dog, don’t be offended when we spin around and go the other way without any word – I just can’t take my focus off her and redirecting her. We try to avoid situations where she may feel threatened or confused, we avoid putting her into a position to guard me (she loves me so much, lucky me). Without the Prozac I’m not sure any of this could have occurred.

Now we get to enjoy all the things we love – agility competitions, dock diving, barn hunt, Rally, walks and visiting her favorite people. She is happy and lives life to the fullest!

Putting your dog on medication is not something you should do without first ruling out any other medical issue. Take your dog to the veterinarian for a full physical exam, behavior history, and any blood work your vet recommends, including a thyroid panel. If possible, consult a Certified Veterinary Behaviorist. They are best equipped to help you with behavior modification exercises and the right type of medication. (Sometimes several different medications need to be tried to see what works best). We did all of this and MUCH, MUCH more before finally settling on this medication.

I hope this post helps out some other dogs and dog owners out there who may not know where to turn next.

Recommended Behavior Training Reading:

  • Click to Calm: Healing the Aggressive Dog by Emma Parsons
  • Mine! by Jean Donaldson
  • The Cautious Canine: How to Help Dogs Conquer their Fears by Patricia McConnell
  • On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas
  • Culture Clash by Jean Donaldso

Learning to Be at Home

I have officially been unemployed for six weeks! That seems like a long time now that I type it out, but it has not FELT like a long time.

The first two weeks I was home was like a mini-break from work. I did all kinds of things around the house, yard, garage. Spent lots of time with the dog, cats, visited my parents, had lunch and breakfast with friends. Then I had a quick getaway for a long weekend, and back to the grind of being home for a few days. Then I departed for an 11-day trip to visit my brother and sister-in-law in Denver, CO for my 3rd Denver Pop Culture Con, along with time spent working on my sister-in-law’s public art project, the Selfie Sofa. (Check it out!)

And now I am home again.

And starting to go a little crazy.

In fact, I just watched a video on YouTube of Pugs on video during the day while their owner was at work. And found the cat her own YouTube channel to watch. See what I mean? Crazy.

How to fight the crazy though?

Well, I need to find a job. That would solve so many things. But, my goal is a remote job, so what it won’t solve is the being alone all day factor. So I need to work on that. I also need to get in a better schedule.

I do currently get up between 6 and 6:30am, and take care of the pets as well as some cleanup in the kitchen and get some food ready for Kevin. But after that… I really need to lay down the law for myself. This week I have been taking the dog for a morning walk, which has been really great I am going to continue to do.

Then I think I need to schedule in more time for job hunting, and preparing for interviews. I am not as prepared there as I should be. I do a lot of job hunting, and usually all of it on Monday, but this week I have been plugging away all week long because, like I said, I am starting to go a little crazy.

And write more blog posts! Maybe more informative blog-posts which would inspire somebody to hire me. But for, we’ll just have fun.

Off to walk the dog!

Job Dreaming (Not So Serious)

Over the last couple weeks, I have been occasionally drifting off into a line of though about a “Dream Job”. And when I say “Dream”, I mean Dream!

First off, is a Fashion Designer. Because really, did you ever see what I did to my Barbie Dolls? (Have you watched this? Fascinating.) I have some skills! But plus it would be fun, and I could dress myself however I like and it would be OK. And then maybe I could be on Project Runway. I would be so good for that show. #goals

Next, is a Podcaster of some sort. I recently discovered I have an “Entertainment Weekly” channel on my Sirius Radio. There appears to be an hour or more dedicated to every show or movie known to man. Surely there is room for more, and it would give me a legitimate excuse to binge watch Working Moms and Dead to Me. #netflix

A little different now – what companies would just be plain COOL to work for? Surely they would hire remote, because they are COOL? Something like Space X, or NASA. NASA might even be a government job, so HOORAY for great benefits and half the year off. Or how about Formula One? I bet they need a UX expert for their website. And then maybe we can get free first-class tickets to Monaco. Or Sephora, for you know, free makeup!#bettergoals

Last, a Fiction Writer. Now, I don’t mean a little something here or there. A blog post or two. No, I mean a full on, hardcore LITERARY SAGA. MIND-BLOWING WORLD BUILDING! One that is 15 novels long perhaps? I’m thinking Tolkien, Jordan, Martin. Or even Robin Hobb level. But I’d like my SAGA to get made into movies, or a series on HBO of course, so I probably should get started on this #dreamjob soon.

For now though, I’ll keep dreaming while I head out west for Denver Pop Culture Con next week and some #art with my brother and sister-in-law. Maybe I will find some more cool Dream Jobs!

Last Week at My Job: What a Weird Week

The other week was the last week at my job of the past 20 years. I had known it was coming for three months, so it was no surprise. There was a lot of time to think about it and prepare. But boy… it was a really weird week.

Throughout the past year, many people had their “last week at work” and I cheered them on! Every person who worked for me I encouraged to enjoy their last week – relish it. How often do you get to leave a job of so many years on a good note? Granted, we were being let go not of our own accord – but regardless. It was still with smiles and encouragement. So I said ENJOY! Every last Monday I was the prime cheerleader. HAPPY LAST MONDAY!

And so, each day, I patted myself on the back. HAPPY LAST TUESDAY! HAPPY LAST WEDNESDAY! I had a day countdown I religiously tore off each day. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1! (Actually, I had been keep count for about the last 30 days)

The hardest part though was that I was, by this time, very disconnected from everything going on. So some of my weekly meetings seemed very silly. In fact, I cancelled most of them because really – they were pointless at this point. Others would be taking on what I am doing so let them start. I didn’t know what was going on, no hot projects to jump on, things to fix; talk about a boring week.

Thankfully, I had reserved some jobs I could do that I knew otherwise wouldn’t get done. They were mostly mindless type of jobs, but good time fillers. So I did manage to stay busy but it just was weird.

I’m really glad that week is over. It was boring, stressful and full of anticipation and anxiety – as well as excitement and joy! But all of those things mixed together all at once.

And so now I am onto my first week off! And smartly, we scheduled a vacation, so I will enjoy the beach and ocean breezes before having to start delving into what my next job may be.

Reflections on Losing My Job of 20 Years

Early this year I was informed I would be losing my job of the past 20 years. That is basically my entire career. I only worked professionally in one other place for about a year before moving to this job. Over the years I wore many hats: started as a designer for the newly formed “Internet Department” and as things progressed, I eventually landed in a Project Manager and User Experience Manager Role.

Honestly, it was a bit of a relief when I finally was told it was over though.

I’ve been prepared to lose my job for some time – a year+ ago a large amount of the staff was let go and more left through the year. So it felt my end would also be coming, eventually. I’ve been mentally thinking about it for almost two years. On top of that, I’d been dissatisfied for many years, and wanting to make a break – so it being forced on me was welcome, in a way.

But it is hard, really SO hard. Even though I’ve been fortunate enough to receive a nice severance package, and have had several months to prepare along with a career-building team brought in to help and workshops on healthcare, finances, an incredibly supportive family and more. . . It still looms. Every now and then terror and melancholy hit me.

20 years. TWENTY years. That is a whole lifetime really. That is so many friends made, people met, experiences had, lessons learned, tears shed, laughter shared, stress-induced sleepless nights, chaos, memories and so much more.

So I do want to stop for a moment – NEED to stop – and reflect on all of it, appreciate it and acknowledge the impact of this. It is no small thing.

But I am going to keep my head up, my energy positive, and be excited for what is to come – I think there are GREAT things to come for me. I’ve been provided an opportunity and I am not going to waste it. I will look back at these 20 years fondly and appreciate all they brought me to help me through the next 20 years!

Working From Home, Actually Working.

Earlier this year I was informed I was being laid off my job of the past 20 years in a few months. Knowing this was coming, and that I am not able to move, I began looking into Remote work opportunities. We live in a rural community, so I believe this is my best option.

As I began honing in on a plan, updating my resume, understanding what roles are out there for Remote work, it became evident I needed a real work space. It’s all too easy to take a nap, or watch some TV when you are settled in, all comfortable on the couch with your laptop.

Occasionally, I work from home for my current job, and wind up with horrible back pain. At the office, I have been using a stand up work station for five years and I love it. It eliminated a lot of pain I was having. It also makes me feel energized and active. When I do sit, I feel very low-energy and find it difficult to concentrate.

So I finally made the plunge, and invested in a stand up desk, two new monitors, a docking station, and updated the office with a new coat of paint, rug and moved around the existing furniture so my partner and I can share the space.

I can’t wait to start using it as a dedicated working space! I’m excited now and really feel like I’m on the right path.

Next up: Google analytics certification, ACP certification and, the dreaded PMP certification.

PMI ACP Certification

ACP Certification – Agile Certified Professional – is a certification from PMI (Project Management Institute, the industry-standard for project management certifications). In order to take the test, one must first apply for it on the PMI website, and meet a certain amount of qualifications:

1. A high school diploma, secondary degree or associate’s degree
2. 2000 hours working in a team in projects
3. Worked for 1500 hours on teams that used agile methodology
4. 21 hours in approved training on agile practices

Once you apply and fill in all the information (this is quite tedious), you then wait to see if you get accepted, or audited. Right now I am waiting to be accepted. When you do get accepted, you then pay for and schedule the test.

There are different online self-guided training courses a person can take, or live online leader-lead course, or even in-person classes. Most of them take up about two days of classes, and cost goes up depending on your choice. For me, I am trying the most low-cost option first (self-guided) to see if that is enough.

I currently have two days planned of training (to meet my 21 hour requirement, I already checked that the training I selected is approved by PMI), then I plan to study a few more days, take a couple batches of “test” exams, and then hope to take my exam a few weeks later.

The exam is a three hour, in-person exam with 120 multiple-choice questions, and costs $439 for members of PMI (which I am). Yikes!