Sunday, July 29, 2007

Was it just a dream?

Today's blog actually started out as part of last night's blog, but because it was so long, I decided to edit things a little.

Here lately I have hinted a lot about making a change. Well, I am going to be bold here, no matter who's reading.

When I first mentioned upcoming life changes, I was about to go on vacation, & I wasn't sure what would happen when I returned. My mom was really sick. I wasn't afraid she would die while we were gone, but I was afraid we'd learn that her condition was terminal. Well, we learned she didn't have cancer, but she has some other health issues. She had her gallbladder removed, but she's still having problems. It is really too complicated to get into here. It's been hard on all of us, but of course, hardest for her, since she has been a pretty healthy person overall. It has taken a LOT out of her. So, please pray for my mom. Hopefully, she is on the track to recovery.

I also had a dream of becoming a Southern Gospel artist, & early in the summer I thought maybe this would be my last chance to make that dream come true. Through prayer, I have come to the realization that God wants me to sing for Him, but He doesn't want me to go on the road doing it. I will continue to sing at my church, possibly at others, but I won't be quitting my job & buying a tour bus.

Other things changed though, since all that. Our vacation was not very relaxing, coming home was even more stressful, and a week later, on the day Mom had her surgery, I had the horrible, terrible, no-good, very bad day at work. Since then, things have calmed down there, but having seen the imperfection (or perhaps more accurately, the truth!) there, two weeks ago I applied for another job, which I will refer to as "Job X," with some unbelievable benefits (read on).

I interviewed for it last week. Since then, I haven't heard a word. I don't know if that's good or bad. I have mixed emotions about it. I hate to leave another job. In 18 years as a nuclear medicine tech, I have never worked anywhere longer than six years. I do have retirement funds (from three different employers), so I am not completely without any kind of plan for the future, but I haven't got the years of security some people do. But in this day & age, do any of us REALLY have any job security? (See the story of Sterling Marlin, on yesterday's blog.)

"Job X" has a lot of possibilities that I don't have currently. It would be 4 10-hour days, where I seldom get more than 32 hours in 4 days now. That alone would be a HUGE difference for us. That kind of extra money would help us get a lot of debts paid off a lot sooner. I would have to drive about 30 more miles a day, but the difference in gas money would be more than covered by the extra work hours. But the biggest difference is that "Job X" would give us significant tuition assistance for our children. I know of NO other employers in this area that offer that benefit. Right now, I am just hoping I can get hold of enough cash to buy all the kids' school supplies during tax-free weekend next week, much less pay college tuition in three years. There are other pros & cons, which kind of balance out.

Yes, we have made some terrible financial decisions, & that is not the fault of my current, former, or possible future employers. Still, when I look at "Job X," I see a chance to regain some of the footing I have lost over the years. That makes it hard to deal with the ever-increasing possibility that I WON'T get offered "Job X." I mean, if I haven't got it yet, are my chances of getting it improving? Possibly, I guess. But at this point, I can't keep sitting around thinking about how much better life will be when it happens. I need to be content where I am. Can I do that? Can I make those changes in my life without "Job X"?

I was excited about several possibilities other than the tuition deal.

One: I wanted to buy a hybrid or other earth-friendly new vehicle in a year or so, when we'll need a third vehicle. Without "Job X," I'll most likely be buying a used car. That's OK. Used gas-misers get sold too. I can live with a used vehicle.

Two: I'd like to be able to "eat green." Right now, I have to be really careful with the grocery money. I usually end up going over budget in this area. I am not that good with couponing & scouring the sale papers. Those actions usually just make me want items I don't really need. My biggest problem there is that I should've taught the kids to appreciate pinto beans & cornbread when they were toddlers. Instead, I fed them pizza & hot dogs. Sigh.

Even if I had cash to spare, there are no organic food stores in Clarksville. "Job X," in Nashville, is close to several. But yesterday, I went to the Organic Farmers' Market in White's Creek, which is only open from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday. While I enjoyed those $3/lb Cherokee Purple heirloom tomatoes, I probably won't make the 20-mile trek down there next week. Instead, I'll drive 5 miles to the nearby garden center that sells regular tomatoes for $0.50/lb. Not organic, but a lot less driving. As much as I want to help support organic farmers, it is currently a major sacrifice for me to drive that far to pay 6 times the price.

Three: I'd like to do more cool things with the family while they're the right age. Right now our entertainment budget includes HBO & TiVo. Actually GOING to a movie blows the budget, & we've done that twice this month. And I only went to one of those, a matinee! I'd like for us to attend concerts occasionally & see more independent films together, & of course, nights like that also include dinners out.

Four: I'd hoped to have the extra money to give nice Christmas presents not only to my kids & my husband (who evidently think they're supposed to break the bank every year) but to my parents, grandparents, & other family members. One reason I'm in so much debt is because I've overspent my Christmas budget almost every year. If "Job X" doesn't come through, I guess the credit cards will. That's not how I want to live, though.

Five: I was actually stoked about the 3/4 mile walk from the parking lot to "Job X" & back daily. I suppose I could figure out another way to squeeze in 1.5 miles of walking a day.

There are other things. I had dreams of maybe getting into education or research at "X," which are opportunities I'll never have at the office. Can I do them independently? Maybe, I don't know. But, there are people who would love to have my job, too. It's not that bad. It's just harder to scrape by.

Sorry about the novel, but I had a lot to get off my chest. I feel better now.

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