Tag Archives: perspective

Field Notes on Resigning from a Job

Saying Goodbye

A year and a half ago, I left my accounting job to get married and move to a different town. Last week, I left my teaching assistant position to teach college. While my experiences do not make me an expert, I have made some observations. Here are my top five observations and advice for resigning from a job.

1. If you did a good job and got along well with people, coworkers and managers will be sad to see you go.

2. When you give two weeks notice, be prepared for an onslaught of writing procedures, communicating job duties, and sad faces. As word spread through the high school that I was leaving my last job, people’s faces would fall every time they saw me and remembered I would not be there much longer.

3. Write down the contact information for everyone you want to keep in contact with. You may think you will never, ever forget the email structure or extensions you used every day for eight years, but it only took me a year to get fuzzy on those things after I left my accounting job.

4. People who never seemed to like you or never seemed to notice you may go out of their way to wish you well or to say how much you will be missed. My favorite response is to smile and say, “Why, thank you!” Even while I am thinking, “I didn’t know you cared.”

5. Be gracious. Leaving is not all about you. Celebrations involving food were a big deal at both of my most recent jobs, so my departures were commemorated with snack days and kind words and lunches and lots of attention directed my way. As much as I would rather not be the center of attention, I tried to gratefully accept it all with gracious poise because I knew it meant my coworkers cared.

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Lows & Highs: Mission Trip

Low: There were numerous, random delays on our road trip from Memphis to Kansas but we made the best of it. With the help of Waze on my phone, we avoided one stretch of road construction but there was not a good detour around a second one. While we crept along in the two-lane construction zone, Brian noticed there was no traffic in the oncoming lane on the other side of the concrete dividers and guessed there was a wreck. He was right and we eventually came upon the scene of a semi versus car accident on a bridge with no room to get around in the narrow lane. We drove past about ten miles of cars stopped in the other lane, grateful that we were not headed that direction. 2014-03-21 18.32.38
High: My high this week was seeing what God did at Bible club on Whittier! It is so very easy to get attached to the kids in the few days we get to enjoy them. Also, I love seeing our college student team grow spiritually and emotionally during the week.

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Craft time is always hands-on, even for the leaders!

2-5 year-olds in a train!

Leading the youngest kids’ group (2-5 years) is like I imagine herding cats is. Sometimes we could get their attention by hollering, “Let’s make a train!”

Yoshi, Abby, Courtney

Yoshi (left) and Courtney are two-year-old who got attached to several of us and like to be carried around. It’s hard to see in this photo, but Courtney and I have matching purple eyeshadow.

 

Lows & Highs is a Stories from the Stairs weekly feature. Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs in the comments or by posting a link to your lows and highs blog post.

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Lows & Highs: Car Repair

Low: I tried to fix a car and my attempted repair did not work… On the bright side, I am confident I did not make it worse! One of our college student friends could not get her car to start on Thursday, so I tried to help by asking the same diagnostic questions my dad has asked me when my car wouldn’t start. I checked her answers with my dad and then met her at the college with my tools. The battery cables and terminals were corroded and I was able to clean off one but the other would not loosen. The car still would not start when we tried to jump-start it, so it had to wait for someone more experienced than me.

High: Brian had a math educators’ conference on Saturday so I had a girls’ day with the same friend. We highlighted each other’s hair, watched a movies, and had a fun time chatting.

Lows & Highs is a Stories from the Stairs weekly feature. Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs in the comments or by posting a link to your lows and highs blog post.

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Choosing Plenty Instead of Guilty

Plenty Button
Sometimes I feel guilty about what I don’t do, like…
  • hurried or unbalanced meals when I do not plan ahead or lack energy to make what I planned,
  • the clutter of things I need to put away,
  • stacks of papers I need to file in the filing cabinet I cannot reach because of the stacks of boxes still unpacked in our home office,
  • unwritten thank-you notes,
  • evenings when Brian and I come home from work and I feel tired or out-of-sorts instead of cheerful and energetic,
  • not being able to do everything I think I should be able to handle.
But then I mull over God’s Word and remember what is true. For example, “Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. 19 Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. 20 Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything” (1 John 3:18-20 New Living).

 

When I honestly consider what my actions show, I find myself choosing time with and for people instead of doing tasks that have clear, tangible results:
  • praying for students
  • doing manicures or sipping hot drinks and listening to chatty students
  • joining small group ladies for dinner on short notice
  • spending quality time with my husband

The thing is, when our actions and choices are like Mary’s, we often give up having homes like Martha’s. That is what Jesus called choosing the best thing and that is plenty for me.*

*Luke 10:38-42

What life lessons have you been learning recently?

 

Edit: I finally got this image and link working to tell you I am linking up with Amy at The Messy Middle.

Trusting Tuesdays button (Mobile)

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Mismatched Crazy Hair Day

At the high school where I work, this is spirit week in preparation for our homecoming basketball game on Friday. Monday was Mismatched Crazy Hair Day, so I wore my hair like this.

Crazy Hair FrontCrazy Hair Side

 

 

 

 

 

 

For reference, it usually looks like this.

Highlighted Hair

I received a variety of responses and determined that today’s hairstyle was not crazy in many other people’s perspectives.

Male teacher: Oh, you got a haircut.

Female teacher: Hey, I like your hair! You should wear it that way more often.

Male student: Nice hair, Mrs. Howe!

Female student 1: What is up with your hair?
Me: It’s for crazy hair day.
Female student 2 (to her classmate): You shouldn’t say that. What if she was actually trying to look nice?

My favorite anecdote from today:
In one class, a female student mocked my hair derisively in Spanish to the girl across from her while I was standing in plain view near their table. After a minute, I continued circulating around the room to help students and overheard the other girl inform the mocker that I actually speak and understand Spanish. The first girl was shocked and grew a little quieter after that. I simply smiled and continued helping students with their assignments.

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Plans change… so I have a word of the year

Until today, I did not think I would have a particular word of focus for 2014 even though I have for the past three or so years. It was not an entirely intentional decision, but nothing seemed to jump out at me as “undaunted” and “enjoy” did for 2012 and 2013. I was fine with that and chose not to force it or make a big deal about it. As I wrote recently, traditions change and that can be a good thing.

I have recently been noticing and paying special attention to the abundance and fullness of God – both who He is and what He provides – in every day life. I considered “enough” but it did not quite communicate what I have been seeing. Instead, my word for 2014 is “plenty,” which comes from the Latin word for “fullness.”

Plenty Button
Won’t it be exciting to focus on God’s abundance and fullness for a year?!

Do you have a word or theme that you are paying attention to or studying? I’d love to hear about it in the comments or you can post a link if you’ve written about it somewhere else.

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Lows & Highs: 4/17-4/30/13

Lows:
1) I started drafting a tentative schedule for the day of the wedding and it looked like I would have to start getting ready at 6:30 a.m. (which seems far too early).  Brian and I talked about what truly matters to us on the schedule, though, and pared it down so I can start at seven. I know it is only 30 minutes later, but it seems much more reasonable in my mind.

2) I went clothes shopping by myself, spent hours trying on lots of stuff, and did not find garments that fit well. I finally stopped for a hazelnut Americano and a blueberry scone when I realized I was tired, frustrated, and hungry. I felt much better after that.

Highs:
1) Brian and I met up with our good friends, Jon and Priscilla, for dinner and our last scheduled premarital counseling meeting before the wedding. (Jon is going to be our officiant.) Since we had not seen them in weeks, we had a good visit with lots of catching up on plans and travels.

2) I went shopping for wedding and reception decor and found everything I was looking for that day at very reasonable prices!

3) I tried on my wedding dress for my first fitting and it looked even better than I remembered! In addition, jewelry I already have looks terrific with it.

What were your lows and highs from the past week?

Lows & Highs is a Stories from the Stairs weekly feature. Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs in the comments or by posting a link to your lows and highs blog post.

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Simple, Summery, & Fun

Wedding Planning2

Have you ever planned a wedding? Boy, can it be a lot of work!

I have attended, helped plan, and bridesmaid-ed lots of weddings, so I’ve seen how much work wedding planning can be. Now that we are planning our own wedding, Brian and I have a philosophy that the important thing is the two of us committing to each other before God and the rest is just a party with people who care about us.

We want to enjoy our brief season of being engaged and to spend the majority of our time preparing for a lifetime of marriage instead of for a one-day wedding.

Early in planning, I told him, “I think we need to communicate clearly about what’s important to each of us. If neither one of us has a strong opinion about something, we should pick the simplest, least expensive option or eliminate it altogether. Like, if neither of us care what kind of mints we have at the reception, maybe we shouldn’t have mints.”

“I agree and I don’t really care about mints.”

“Okay, bad example. I care and we’re having cream cheese mints.”

For some reason, he laughed really hard.

We still laugh about that conversation, but it greatly simplified the planning. For example:

  • Our theme (wedding themes are trendy, right?) is simple, summery, and fun.
  • Decorations will be cute but minimal and I will probably delegate them to friends who are better at it than I am.
  • We are having an afternoon wedding because more people will be able to make it a day trip.
  • Plus, a cake reception lets us include more people on our budget than a dinner. (We are going to have a light lunch of party subs and chips and fruit with our family and wedding party between photos and the ceremony, though.)
  • We made our guest list in a spreadsheet so we (read: my mom) could do a mail merge to print address labels with minimal effort. The invitations do not require any folding or assembling, so we will just stick them in envelopes.
  • We chose music we like but that is not particularly traditional for weddings.
  • We will have our favorite cake flavors (lemon and red velvet) and some of our favorite drinks (iced tea and peach Italian soda).

Do you have any ideas for simplified wedding planning?

If you need a fun, talented photographer in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area, check out Keri (she didn’t ask me to say that). She is our engagement/wedding photographer and I really like her!

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Field Notes on Boys #1-5

I am absolutely not an expert on boys. My information is based completely on my experience and observations from years of living with brothers and having friends who are boys. Many of these can apply to men as well as boys. This set of Field Notes is mainly addressed to girls.

1. Boys do not think the way girls do. (In general, I find people do not all think the same regardless of gender, so it is best to not assume anyone thinks like I do.)

2. Communicating through hints and subtlety usually does not work, so be clear about what you think, feel, or want.
A. Side Note: To improve the clarity of your communication, think about what message you want the other person to get. Summarize that message in one or two sentences. Tell the other person the summary.
B. Side Note: Just because you are clear does not mean they will do what you want.

2. Boys look for reactions. If you like something a boy does or says, respond positively and promptly. Do not try to play it cool or ignore them. They want a positive reaction. If they do not get it, they may try for a negative one.
A. Side Note: Sometimes they try for a negative reaction simply because it is fun to see girls get annoyed, embarrassed, or freaked out.

3. Boys generally love to watch girls get embarrassed, especially if they turn bright red! (See previous Note about reactions.)

4. Boys really can and do think nothing sometimes. This is very relaxing for them, so please do not stress them out by insisting they must have been thinking about something.

5. When young boys do not know what to do, they initiate a random, usually playful, physical altercation. (See earlier Note about reactions.) When one of my brothers was about ten, he saw me reading on the sofa and proceeded to fling himself onto, sprawling the entire length of said sofa and squishing my book. While freeing my book, I asked him nicely twice to get off, to which he just grinned and acted like he could not move. I marked my place in the book, hooked an arm under one of his legs and grabbed his ear with my other hand. Before he could react, I stood up and he hollered loudly as I carried him into another room where our mom was reading. “Mom,” I said depositing him next to her, “You need to deal with your son.” He still indignantly bemoans how “mean” I was in that instance, but he does so with a mischievous grin.

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Lows & Highs: 2/4-2/12/13

Lows
1. Tuesday night at class, I spent the first hour doing the administrative work of testing instead of the teaching work I love. I was grateful to have my assisting teacher there and she cheerfully went through the planned activity with the class until I could get there. I did enjoy getting to teach and interact with students during the second half of the class, though.

2. I keep growing frustrated – mostly at myself – for being unable to do everything on my to-do list. Between my own expectations and those of others, my to-do list grows long in a hurry and I am still unskilled at delegating and telling people “no.” I keep forgetting that God gives me enough time to accomplish everything He wants me to do but not necessarily to do everything I think I must do.

Highs
1. Friday night at class, I taught a lesson based on drawing your own family tree and got all but one of my fifteen students chattering enthusiastically and practicing their English!

2. On a shopping trip in a nearby city with my parents, we accomplished all our errands and went to Panda Express and Starbucks! Oh, and my dad decided to join Twitter while we were on that shopping trip. So far he doesn’t tweet but treats it more like a personalized news feed.

What were your lows and highs from the past week?

Lows & Highs is a Stories from the Stairs weekly feature. Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs in the comments or by posting a link to your lows and highs blog post.

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