other plans

What’s that saying about life?  How, if you make plans, God will pretty much say, “ha!”  Is that it?

I dunno about all that, but this week has been an exercise in something or other.

Friday was my first, unofficial start day for my last semester of grad school for my nonprofit management degree.  I say “unofficial” because I go to school online, and they open up the course the Friday before the official date.  So, technically, I start back on Monday after about a month and a half off.  It was a good break that came at the exact right time because about a month and a half ago, I was recruited away from my previous employer and started a brand-new gig.  I had worked in the industry before, so there wasn’t that big of a learning curve, but new jobs have a way of being exhausting.  In any case, my first, “unofficial” day of school sort of snuck up on me.  I registered for this particular course before, but then had to drop it.  So, I have the books somewhere, but never remembered to actually go look for them.  So guess what I get to do this weekend?  I have a feeling I’ll be buying that book again.  Ha.

I’m taking three classes this summer.  The real fun comes in July when I’ll be taking two classes instead of just one for the last half of the summer semester before graduating right around my birthday.  I’m kind of nervous because I’ve heard things about the one course and the other one is, essentially, a thesis course.  I’m actually excited about that because I think I’m going to do case studies and use my professional experiences to make some really cool insights into the nonprofit industry.  My entire program has been very community-oriented in that I develop things for nonprofits for my classes.  I’ve really loved this aspect of the program, but it’s been a little difficult.  Let’s just say the nonprofit industry has a lot of politicking and big personalities that don’t always mesh.  And sometimes, the problem’s been me.  Sometimes, my life outside of school was too demanding, and I was just hanging on–much to my own dismay.  I’ve always finished what I’ve set out to do, but it hasn’t always met my own standards–though it met my class standards.  In any case, I’ve learned to not be such a perfectionist and to see it as a learning experience.

So, this course is majorly service-oriented and has some real challenges in terms of the partner I choose.  Because I have to work with a nonprofit that has a decent budget to work with and a need for a marketing plan.  The nonprofits I’ve worked with in the past don’t meet the budget restrictions.  So, now, I’m having to forge a new relationship and get it together sometime this week.  I’m hoping it’s an easy process.

This is good, but stressful.  I need to network more, and I have some good contacts.  So, I’m sure I’ll get it done–but will I be excited?  I don’t want to just do something because it meets the requirements.  I want to feel passionate about it.  Luckily, I can do marketing in my sleep.  Pretty much every job I’ve had has had marketing involved in the duties, and I have a degree in Comm–with lots of marketing courses under my belt.  So, I’m not all that worried about that at all.

_________________________

This week has also been challenging because I had unexpected emotions sort of blindside me.  There’s been a lot of stuff going on that has triggered some core issues I have–that are really difficult for me to cope with.

There are pretty much two things in the world that can make me lose my shit: 1) healthcare & the bureaucracy that goes with ALL of that and 2) money.  Both of these things, when I’m forced to deal with them, cause me to freak out.  Unfortunately, there’s been some instability going on with finances.  I’ve also been feeling less and less happy with my doctor and the care I’ve received.  And then my former health insurance company decided to be completely worthless.  Oh, and my bank pretty much took money out of my account for no reason and then double credited me and wouldn’t listen when I tried to tell them one credit was all I needed.  I’m still dealing with the banking issue–a week later–(so annoying and seriously making me want to close my account).

The insurance issue is mostly resolved.  Basically, as far as I can tell, my former employer took premiums out of my last paycheck, but failed to pay the premiums to the insurance company–which ended my coverage two weeks beforehand.  Which wouldn’t have been that big of a deal except I had some major medical bills that month since I finally had time to do one big thing that needed to be done–that they had pre-authorized–and then got violently (like whoa) ill the day of the procedure–which required every blood and lab test known to man to rule out some horrible infection.  Turns out, I just had a killer bug that wasn’t really parasitic or bacterial–so all of it was for nothing.  Oh, and my liver was being a dick–so they had to rule out liver damage from all the other crap related to my gall bladder almost exploding a year ago.  Let’s just say March and April kinda sucked.

In any case, I had already shelled out beaucoup bucks for all the crap the insurance company wouldn’t pay because of deductibles.  But everything in March should have mostly been covered.  Except they covered nothing.  My now former doctor was a big fan of tests–mostly unnecessary ones that I couldn’t say no to because the cancer door had been opened and I had to do it just for peace of mind.  Sigh.

So, I wasn’t pleased when I saw all these unpaid claims.  I was actually quite pissed.  Basically, this insurance company gets off on not paying anything.  They make it an Olympic event, and their customer service is nonexistent.  Worst ever.  It took me about 3 days of fighting every day with them just to get them to finally admit a mistake might have been made, and maybe I was telling the truth.  Then they referred me to my old benefit provider at my old company–which has been a pain in my ass since day one.  Shockingly, they were actually helpful and responsive.  (Maybe they’re only dicks when you work for them).  They acknowledged they messed up.  But instead of fixing the issue with the insurance company, they said they’d refund the premium in two weeks.  Um, no.

My roommate thinks I have an ERISA claim, but I know nothing about ERISA–and a lawyer would probably cost more than the medical bills I’m stuck with–so after a few million rage moments, I’ve decided I’ll just pay the damn thing.  Of course, to add insult to injury, the insurance company is now trying to get out of paying for my therapy bills because I didn’t go to an inpatient thing–which makes no sense since they clearly told me before I ever booked an appointment that outpatient benefits were available and that I didn’t have to do anything to qualify for them.  Whatever.  I’ve already paid the bills.

All of this makes me so damn happy I opted out of employer coverage with my new employer and got my own damn plan (with no stupid deductible)–that’s about the same amount of money.

All of that crap pretty much triggered the hell out of my money neurosis.  Because I don’t just have thousands of dollars lying around to give to anyone who wants it.  The dead cat thing that happened in April (argh) was pretty costly, too, so money was especially tight and would be till next week.

There were other stressors going on, too.  My roommate and his family had a very difficult month, and he was scheduled to go home to see them this weekend (saw him off last night).  It coincided with our signing a new lease here and blahblahblah.  I also decided to find a new doctor–which is so difficult (I think I found one…see her next week).  Add to that feeling really run-down and having lots of asthma problems.  And our new cat was on round 2 of antibiotics.  He’s still very sick–which meant I’d have to care for him alone–which is not easy given how much he fights nose-wipes.

So, it’s no wonder that I started to freak out about other things.  I realized I’m still hard-core grieving my Cleo.  I had felt really asocial all week and just wanted to hide from the world.  My emotions were pretty much bonkers, and I was pretty much crying daily over that or the other stuff or work.

Yea…so, work.

I’ve kind of gone into what I do before.  And why.  Pretty much the gist is that I work for these big companies, and I work on a project-to-project basis.  When I switched employers in March, I started working for one of our competitors.  An old boss had recruited me away.  It was an open-ended project with a major company with zero end and had been extremely stable–which is not all that common–and was a big plus.  Most major companies do a lot of shopping in this space, so your contract is always in flux.  There are no guarantees.  One minute, you may have a job; the next, you don’t.  You still are technically employed, but you don’t get paid until you work (obviously).  The instability is a huge issue if you do this work.  You have to be okay with it.  The thing is–this work comes with many quirks and perks.  One is that–when you leave a project–you’re eligible for others.  They can’t guarantee anything, but most companies keep good people working.  You get benefits despite working contractually.  If something isn’t working, you don’t have to keep the client.  You can move on without damaging anything.  You get way more days off than most people because of gaps between contracts.  You get to work from home.  You get paid weekly.  Plus, in my field, when the economy tanks and something bad happens, our work is usually the most stable compared to the people who are normally stable in happy times.  And most of the time, you manage yourself.  There are some companies that are way more hands-on and others who aren’t.  I do it because I enjoy the work.  I make a big difference.  I can take care of myself.  I don’t have to commute or deal with any office politics.  And I get bored with normal workplaces and just one client all the time.  So, I left the employer I’ve been with–who I’ve left before and came back to–twice–mostly because these guys were gonna pay me way more, and I needed a change.  This job promised to be way slower in pace and more conducive to work-life balance.  And I’d get to do things I love doing.

And it totally was that.  Drama-free.  My boss was amazing.  No one ever bothered me.  If I wasn’t feeling it, I could take a research day.  I just did my job.  But it was extremely boring and monotonous.  Coming from my high-volume/stress world, it was like watching paint dry.  Which made me think–“God, I’m losing my skills.”  And my mind.  Because I don’t do boring all that well.  But I decided that I would use this time for me–to try to set up good habits and take care of myself.  It certainly felt better.  But then, I started getting in my own way and injecting stress into my day–and continued to not take breaks or eat or whatever.  And then, others started causing stress.

I dunno–this Monday, I started having this intuition that something was not right…that I needed to bolt–that I made a mistake.  I started feeling down on myself and feeling like I had to do something.  Little things here and there seemed off.  I’d read some disturbing news things, and I could feel something coming–which made me paranoid and freaked out.  I took a breath and just told myself to use this time to set myself up for bigger things–to focus on transitioning faster.  I didn’t try to deny my feelings, and I didn’t jump off the ledge.  I held steady and kept going.  I didn’t try to control the situation.  I just let it unfold.  Then, yesterday, I got the call that there was bad stuff happening–major budget cuts happening in staffing for this client–that my team alone was losing four people–and since I was one of the last hired, I was on the list.  We do long-term, strategic moves that are pretty expensive for the client with rare pay-offs–that are worth it, long-haul, but not in short-term when money is tight.  I totally understood.  I was told to finish my day and that they would get to work on finding me a new project.  I got half a day’s notice.  Which pretty much sucks.  Apparently, there will be a lot more in the next few weeks–across the board–so now my old boss is worried about his job and feels really bad about the situation.  It is what it is.

Of course, being me, I wasn’t just gonna wait around.  I made a call or two.  Within an hour of the news–before I even had a chance to be “untethered,” I had a new job.  Within three hours, a start date was nailed down.  Back to my comfort zone and one of my favorite people ever.  I start back on Wednesday.

And–you know–I’m happy.  I’m going to be paid a little less (that’s the other problem with our industry–budgets tend to be tiny), but most of the extra money I made was gobbled by taxes so I really never saw it.  I missed high volume.  I like the frantic pace of it–even if it is so personally taxing, at times.  I’ve learned some good lessons from slowing down and have learned that it really doesn’t matter if I’m busy or not.  I have to choose me if I want to feel good.  I wasn’t doing that even when I was bored out of mind.  I feel better about the work I’ll be doing and the people I’ll talk to daily are a lot nicer.  It’s more of a challenge.  I had to learn that the hard way, I guess.  My new gig is stable–not going anywhere–and I have nothing to prove.  I’m already respected and valued.  They’ll keep me busy until I decide to take on new challenges with a new career.  And the best? NO MORE VPNS!

It’s enough.  So, yea–another interesting detour.

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