Saturday, July 31, 2010


Here's the thing, I don't think I've ever had a job I really loved. I've had jobs I really enjoyed, and felt good about, but nothing I've ever been truly passionate about.

I can enjoy aspects of it, and I can make the best of whatever I am doing, but there's not a lot to love about being an admin pleb. I sort of fell into doing secretarial work after a checkered job history that involved retail and hospitality as a teenager, a stint in my 20's where I considered myself employed by the Government to party and get a bitchin' tan, then the agency I went to to help me find a job employed me as their receptionist, I moved up through the ranks into Accounts Clerk, PA, and then swapped over into consulting myself.

I worked as a Recruitment Consultant for about 3 years, for about 4 different companies (no, that's not unusual in recruitment). Then I got made redundant and as no-one was hiring in Recruitment, took a temp maternity leave contract that turned out to be last job I really enjoyed.

It was as State Sales Secretary for a pharmaceutical company. I worked for a great bunch of people who appreciated what I did for them, and gave me the autonomy to just get it done.

From there I worked as an Executive PA in a few different roles, and then I have been doing part-time admin since having my Gorgeous Gal. Recently, I have been doing full time temp work to help with our finances.

I have always regetting not going to University after I finished high school. At the time, I was so over schooling and desperate for 'freedom', plus I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, so I just binned the idea and moved in with my boyfriend (I know, I know, quit groaning...)

I have always felt less than adequate about that. I know I am intelligent, capable and hard-working, but really feel inferior when I am around people who are 'educated'. Even when it's apparent I'm probably just as smart as them.

So I have been thinking a lot lately about what I want to be when I grow up (no, you don't need to remind me how old I am). This has been a bit of a tricky subject for years, as there have been so many things that have interested me over time: law, journalism, psychology, policing, teaching, but have lost their sheen the more I thought about it: defending crimals, harassing people, being shot at, dealing with other people's bratty kids all day. Not sure which is worse out of those last two.

You know how often in life, the Universe will keep throwing things at you until you finally sit up and notice? I have been having that a lot lately, all around career fulfillment and seeking menaing by what I do.

It has lead me to a conclusion I didn't expect.

Given that's it probably to late to become an international secret agent, I have been spending the last few months thinking about what it is I really want from a job. I don't need a job to define me, and my family is still the most important thing to me by a mile, but I do feel like I need something more now. So here's what I've come up with, what really matters:

I want to feel like what I do makes a difference in the world. I want to make a meaningful contribution.

I want to work closely with people, and feel like I have helped them, not just with little things, but at important moments in their life.

I want what I do to give me flexibility to enjoy my family and my life.

I kind of want my job to be a 'real' job. This is a hard one to define, but a job that needs a qualification. One that as soon as you say what you do, people know what that is and that you went and got an education to do it.

Once I had defined these things in my head, the answer kept being shown to me, by the friends I kept thinking about, dreams, bumper stickers I would notice, t.v. shows, even the articles I would randomly flick to in magazines.


The more I think about it, the more passionate and excited I become.

I ran into a friend I haven't seen in ages yesterday, and she is now also studing nursing. We got talking and she was full of information. I had assumed that I would need to keep working admin roles until I could not only afford to take time off to study, but to afford the tuition. I have since learned that as early as your second semester, you can work in Assistant in Nursing roles, and that I might be eligible to have my fees fully deferred, like a student loan. That hadn't even occured to me.

So I am off to Griffith Uni's Open Day next Sunday, and ready to start changing my life! Maybe this will be the kick off we need to bring about positive change in the rest of our life, we seem to have been stuck in Groundhog Day lately.

And you know what else is funny? This fits in perfectly with another little dream I have. When GG is a teenager, I want to take her and go do a 'volunteering holiday'. This is where you travel to a developing part of the world, and volunteer your time and services; you might help build a school in Africa, work in a medical clinic in Peru or teach English in a Cambodian orphanage. Can you imagine how valuable it would feel to immunise babies in a village in a third world country?

So I have been doing a lot of research, and speaking to a lot of people, trying to find out as much as I can, and here's what I'd like. I know a few of my readers are or have been nurses, and I'd love to hear what you love and don't love about your job. Actually, whoever you are and whatever you do, I'd love to hear what you love or hate about it.


Friday, July 30, 2010

The Universe's Plaything

It seems once more I find myself caught in a plot twist in the cosmic sit-com I'm sure my life actually is.

The contract I had with Centrelink that I had to guarantee I would be available for to see out the entirety of? Til October? Gone.

Yep, on Wednesday we were all (20 odd temps in 2 teams) called into a meeting and told that due to operational requirements we would all no longer be required as of close of business the next day.

Talk about stunned.

Some people got upset. A few cried. Some people got angry. A few people walked out.

Me? I went and got back on the phones. I needed the money.

By the time I got home Hubby had gotten over being angry on my behalf and was actually quite Zen about the whole thing. Sure, financially we were screwed, but hey, as a family we weren't coping so well with me working full time, so maybe this was for the best. Hubby has a tendency to focus on the negatives of a situation, so you can imagine how proud of him I was, and how supported I felt. You can also probably imagine the reward it got him. (Hey, we were too stressed out to sleep anyway...)

So I spent Thursday night doing the job search hokey-pokey and made plans to spend today with GG, catching up with some friends and their kids I haven't seen for ages. We decided to focus on part-time roles, as that's really is what's best for our family. I talked myself back into a state of positivity and convinced myself this was all for the best, something would work out.

Then, this morning I got a call from the agency that placed me at Centrelink offering me a 4 week contract. Cue immediate relief.

A 4 week contract a mere 2 hours travel away. Would take 2 hours by train or even if I drove. That's 2 hours each way. Cue terror.

Thing is, I can't afford (literally) to be picky. I need to be working right now. And there are just no jobs available on the Coast. Even though it means catching the train at 6.30 in the morning and not getting home til 7pm. Sigh. I took the job.

Then I panicked at 5 minutes to 5.00pm and nearly pulled out. Then I convinced myself it'd be okay. Then I panicked again and convinced myself GG would hate it, I was a horrible Mum. Then I went a little nuts. Then I called my husband.

He talked me down off my little ledge, reminded me that we had already talked this through, re-assured me he would re-arrange his days so that he could drop GG off on her kindy days as well as pick her up.

In the end, we decided that I would do it for a week. The agency rep is doing a site visit Thursday, and if I'm finding it too much, I will let her know then, so she has 2 days to find my replacement. That seems fair. I can do one week at least, even if it is Hell on Earth, I can do one crappy week for the good of my family.

So I enjoyed every minute of my day with GG today, and will continue to over the weekend. This afternoon, while she rode her bike at the park with me walking beside her, I bought up the topic:

"GG, you know how Mummy has been working a lot the last few weeks?"

"Uh-huh. Hey! Look! A puppy!"

"Yeah, lots of puppies here, it's a dog park remember? He's a cutie isn't he?"

"Yep. Cute."

"Yeah, anyway, so you know how Mummy has been going to work?"

"Uh-huh. Oh! Look! Another puppy!!"

I'm gunna fast forward a little here...

"Do you miss Mummy when she goes to work?"

"Yeah, sometimes."

"Yeah, I miss you sometimes too. Well, for the next few weeks, I'm going to be working even more, but only for a very little while. You'll still see me every night, and of course weekends, but you might have dinner at Grandmas before Mummy gets you sometimes."


"But remember, it'll only be for a little while. And we'll still see each other every night."

"Oh. I still see you ebry night?"

"Yep, every night. And don't forget the weekends. And, after that little while, Mummy is going to take a whole week off, and we'll do heaps of stuff together! What do you think?"

GG turned to look at me, her little face incredibly thoughtful, and unless I'm deluding myself, very wise.

"Oh-tay. Oh look!!! A puppy!!!"


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Not really the message we're looking for, folks.

So we're all aware that Tony Abbott has trouble winning women voters over, yes?

So are the Today Show apparently. During their show this morning, they decided to go out into the world and interview women on their opinion of Abbott. Great idea.

What was not a great idea however, was their choice of venue. A hairdressers salon.

Really?! How patronising! Like that's the only place women go during the day... once they've finished all the housework of course.

How about go to a hospital, and interview the female Doctors, nurses and staff there. I'm sure they'd have great opinions, given Abbott's previous role as Minister for Health. For that matter, ask the patients, still dealing with the problems he left behind.

Or what about go into the business district, and interview women on their lunch break. Oh that's right, they're too busy grabbing 10 minutes to eat something before rushing back to work so they can earn less than their male counterparts before rushing home to get dinner and run the kids to basketball practice.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The lighter side...

Working at Centrelink Call Centre is many things. One thing I didn't expect it to be was funny.

I'm actually quite enjoying it - mostly the people are pleasant to deal with, and I do actually feel like I am able to connect with and help people. Even if I can't do what they want, I can advise them of what do do next etc., where to go to get more help, things like that.

I'm also enjoying the company of people I work with, it's quite a good mix and we all catch up on our breaks and share info and tips, things of a valuable workplace nature.

We also like to laugh at people.

We share stories of nice people, angry people, people we've caught out trying to dupe the system, and just plain funny stuff. We don't use their names obviously, and it's not done in a mean way, it's just a way to spice up our day, which can get pretty monotonous.

Some of the better stories that I've come across, either by speaking to the caller directly or from these 'team meetings', I've decided to share for your enjoyment.

Like the girl today who rang to claim an advance. She was receiving a benefit for people who are looking for work, and was receiving the rate of a single person living in a hostel. After checking through all her details with her, during which she again confirmed she was still at that address, I processed the advance. She was so happy to have made it through the whole process, she then went on to tell me how much it will help her, given that she's pregnant and that she and her boyfriend want to set up the spare room for the baby. To listen to her backpedal and try to stick to her original story when I questioned what hostel had built-in boyfriends and spare rooms available, and what sort of work was she looking for now that she was pregnant, was almost too funny. Almost.

Then there was they guy who I told would be receiving a call "within two working days". His reply? "Yeah, but I'm not working, hey?"

Then there was the guy who rang up the day he was released from prison, and got stroppy when told it would take up to a week to get him on benefits. When he snapped at me, "I just got outta jail, I got no money, what am I s'posed to do?", it took all I had not to snap back, "How 'bout not committing a fucking crime!"

But my absolute favourite?

Watching my colleague try and keep a straight face as she collected a caller's details. Surname? Taylor. First Name? Jenny. Go on... say it out loud...


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Are you a Rocker or a Roller?

There are a million different "types" of people and personalities out there (or 16 if you ask Myers-Briggs) but for me, they all boil down to two main aspects. When faced with a challenge, or something new, people either react positively, or negatively.

Some people react like a rock, refusing to budge in their ways and their thinking, staying obstinately in one place and letting life bash away at them until they are eroded away.

Others prefer to roll with it; they go with life's flow and adapt to changing situations.

There are some things that are worth refusing to budge on of course; you shouldn't compromise or change your core principles just because they are hard to stick to. But in my experience, Rockers tend to view everything negatively, fearfully and with suspicion.

Rollers tend to be more positive in general, sometimes naively so, but view the world with enthusiasm and relish new things.

I seem to have come upon a lot of Rockers lately, and find myself very drained by them. I have quite a bit on my plate at the moment, and don't have the energy to expend on fighting off their bad ju-ju. It has gotten to me a little of late, and I've fallen in the trap of thinking negatively, expecting the worst.

I have learnt through bitter experience how poisionous negativity can be; how it can lead to depression, anger and hopelessness. So I am not going to let it take hold. I am going to continue to enjoying the work I'm doing, it's not all beer and skittles, but I do feel like I am helping people, and enjoying the human aspect of it. I refuse to be sucked into bitching and moaning about things. As Alice Grist writes via her post on Sharnanigans, life could be a lot worse, I could be buried in sand up to my neck, being stoned to death.

I'm not going to moan about how I miss time with GG, instead, I am going to be grateful I have a lovely, healthy, clever, happy and adaptable child to snuggle up with and breathe in her delicious smell. I'm going to be appreciative of my wonderful husband, who works so hard at two jobs and look forward to the time very soon we can spend more time together, proud of how hard we have worked for our family.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Can I just say...

how very chuffed I am that you guys are still with me!!

No-one has dropped off my followers list, even with my abysmal posting record of late. Thanks so much everyone for sticking with me, and I will have some stuff for you later today (hopefully, depends on family co-operations!!!). In the meantime, have a cute Mum (or Mom, depending on where you live) song . Enjoy...

Oh! Also, the other day I was contacted by a woman setting up a website for Gold Coasters, and she asked me to be a regular contributor!! Yay me! Might be a big ask, considering I haven't even managed to put up a blog post in the last two weeks, but I love a challenge! Stay tuned for details...


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Workin' 9 to 5... and then some!

Oh man! This week has been FULL ON!!

I started my full time job on Monday, which will be in a call centre for a Government department, and the training has been... umm, intense. We are not only receiving training in the computer system, but the appropriate programs, benefits, eligibility, rates, thresholds and legislation that apply. Plus, I've never worked in a call centre before, so I am getting my head around the computerised phone systems, workflows, scripts etc. My brain is f.r.i.e.d. Plus I am pretty daunted by the fact that tomorrow afternoon I will be finished training and out there on the phones! Eeek! People, calling, and expecting someone who knows the answers!

I'd love to tell some funny and entertaining stories about the people in my training group and the stories we have been told as dire warnings about why not to do a certain thing, but to be honest, I am so tired and have so much still to do, it's all I can do to just check in with you guys. I have some stuff planned for the weekend though, hang in there!

I don't know how Mums work full time without help, I really don't. GG goes to kindy twice a week, and my Mum has risen graciously to the occasion and looked after her the other three days. As of next week, my Aunt will look after her Tuesdays. Without them, and their valuable help, not only would it hardly be worth me working after the cost of child care, I don't think I would like GG in kindy for a full five days; I feel much better about her getting one-on-one, loving attention from a family member she knows and loves, plus who knows and respects how I raise her.

My husband works a full time day job with big hours, plus a night job two nights a week and Saturdays, so I don't ask him to help out at home at all, though he likes to give GG her bath to help me out, and of course he can play with her while I'm cleaning up after dinner etc., which makes life easier.

Of course, I am still having to cook dinners (except for when Mum gives it to me like tonight, thanks Mum!!), do dishes, laundry (and of course it's rained all week), ironing, prepare lunches and make sure the poor dog, who has been cooped up inside all day because it's been raining, gets walked and has a chance to run in the park. At the moment, I drive straight home from work, pick up the dog, drive him to the park, let him have a quick ten minute run around while I review my training from the day, get back in the car, go pick up GG, come home, spend some time re-connecting with GG, then get her settled and off to bed (easier said than done, for the last few months we've been back to letting her fall asleep on the couch), then try and get some housework done.

Aside from all this, I have been dealing with helping GG deal with now having a Mum who works full time. She has done really well actually, I explained to her earlier on Monday that as well as going to kindy and playing with her friends like normal, for the next little while, her Grandma and Aunty were going to be looking after her a lot more than usual, but we would still be having dinner together all the time like usual, and have time to play in the evening. She took that in pretty well, though this morning when she woke up to find me getting ready for work, she did ask, with a sad little face, "Mummy, are you going to work again today?"

I replied that yes, I was, but Grandma was going to take her to coffee this morning (we usually attended this regular Thursday morning coffee group of Mum's friends together) and then she would get to go to the shops. Then I reminded her that it was only a couple of days til the weekend, and distracted her by getting her to think up some fun things for us to do together then.

This worked reasonably well, but didn't stop me feeling guilty about spending so muhc time away from GG. She's a pretty obliging kid, but she's definitely a Mummy's girl, and I hope she continues to deal so well with me being away, and doesn't get upset when she realises it will be this way fro quite a while (4 months). I feel guilty giving GG this extra thing to deal with, but I must admit I feel so much relief that I will be earning really good money for a while, which will let us catch up financially and is desperately needed.

Geez, I hope this gets easier!!


Friday, July 2, 2010

For your viewing pleasure...

Sometimes I am quite sure my life is some sort of cosmic sit-com, a la The Truman Show, where I reel from one crisis to another, all for the entertainment of some faceless, feckless deity who's sitting there mindlessly eating Pringles and texting their mates.

There's no other explanation really.

Remember this post, where I was getting all panicky and panty-twisty (thanks Gucci) about returning to full time work? Sure you do. I worked myself up into a total state, wracked with guilt over leaving Hannah, twisted with self-doubt as to whether I was even capable of the job.

Slowly, I came around, got down off my little ledge, convinced myself that it would be fine. No Bad Things would happen. I wasn't a bad, neglectful Mum abandoning her daughter; she would be in loving family care, except for her normal kindy days, I would be showing her that women can be mothers and have jobs outside the home, and I would be putting food on the table. We would all be fine and certainly, the bank balance would be a lot healthier.

Then, the Government department I was going to work for scrapped the project I would have been part of. Job gone.

I was flung back into a despair so angsty Edward Cullen would've eaten his left arm to be with me. I felt like a failure yet again for not being able to contribute financially to our desperately lean household. I felt desperate, scared and kind of pissed off. How can it be this hard for an intelligent, capable and willing woman to find a bloody job!?!?!

Then, there was probably an ad break.

Next, like a little ray of hope, I was asked to come for an interview next Monday for a part-time job I had applied for. Awesome!!! Now, your sit-com heroine has learnt her lesson though, people; I remained calm, I did not pin all my hopes and expectations on this interview. I did not take it as a forgone conclusion that once they had met me they would ask, nay beg me, to join their team. I played it cool, but secretly, was really, really hoping it would pan out, as the job is practically perfect for me.

I did however convince myself that it was all a sign, the Universe telling me that I wasn't meant to be working full-time, especially not so far away from home, and that it must mean there was something even better out there, just around the corner.

The more I thought about it, the more I came to the conclusion that I would stick to the search for a part-time job, it was only responsible after all, to be present more for my daughter's sake.

Just before the credits roll however, we need to have a twist. My trusty employment agency guy, who I had forgiven for the scrapped job dealy, rang and asked would I like to be put forward for another contract role he has just been given, this time as a customer service officer for Centrelink and Family Assistance (welfare office for my non-Oz homies). It did cross my mind that perhaps that's a bit like working in the unicorn section of a pet store, but hey, a job's a job! I'm actually a bit of a customer service nut, and thought maybe I could be a shining beacon of change for a jaded organisation, revolutionising the entire system. Humble I'm not.

Of course, this role would be full-time, but not as far from home, located only about 20 minutes away (in Bogan Headquarters, but I'm hoping this will just mean more blog fodder!!). I now needed to re-evaluate - did I want to stick with the program of looking for part-time work, or chase the prospect of a real, live job? Again I gnashed, worried, umm-ed and aw-ed, and decided to ask to be put forward. I am simply not in the position to not try my damndest to get any job going.

So he emailed me some testing and aptitude stuff, I did it at the kitchen table after I'd scraped off the dried up Play-Do and sculled a coffee for confidence.

And today, I was offered the contract! Full-time until October, possibility of being hired on by the Department if I am a go-getterer type, and full training provided at the outset.

Of course, my first day of work co-incides with the day of my interview for the part-time role, doesn't it? Of course it does!!!! Of course it bloody does!!!!

I tried sussing out whether I would be able to start the next day, or have the afternoon off (I used a Doctors appointment as a reason), but to no avail. I rang the company I had an interview with to ask if I could re-schedule. Left a voicemail message for the HR chick with no reply so far.

Gah!!!!!! Could someone give me next weeks script please, so I can at least be prepared?