Saturday, September 28, 2013

Home is Where Your Rump Rests

With this new move, I am having a difficult time adjusting. The time zone is different, the weather is different, and the drivers are absolutely mad. All the same, I remember the wise words of Pumba: Home is where your rump rests. Right now, My rump is in unfamiliar territory. Here are some tips to adjusting to new areas as a spoonie:

1. Drive around - If you want to know how to get around, the best way is to go for a drive. Normally, the first place I find is a mall. I like going in, seeing the shops, and maybe make a purchase or two  to help fit into the local fashion. In my case, I need more warmer clothes.

2. Local radio - Listen to the local radio stations to find out some upcoming events to socialize. Sometimes doctors do ads so you can find out who's in the area.

3. Cuisine - I love trying new foods. Now that I'm in Florida, I'm in seafood heaven. The difficult part of trying new foods is the headache diet. Must restaurants understand special diets and will accommodate. Don't forget to tip well for their trouble.

4. Job hunting - When searching for a job in unfamiliar territory, it can be stressful, which can trigger a flare. Try not to overdo yourself. Since it's the holiday season, I picked up a job at a retail shop (one of my absolute places). Make connections at networking events to help find a permanent position.

5. Meetup - When I was living in KC all alone, I found a wonderful app called Meetup. It connects people with similar interests and creates friendships. I enjoyed all the experiences I had with my KC Meetups and my first Tampa one was so much fun. It's a great way to make friends with groups and feel safe.

How so you cope in a new area as a spoonie?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Affirmation: I Overcome Obstacles with Ease

An older affirmation is needed for me today. I had my first day of my new job (it's part time, but hey it's a job) and when I got home, I was shocked at how drained my bank account has been. From the travelling, overdraft fees, food, and just overall debt payments, I am absolutely a wreck. I can't believe how bad my situation has gotten. I have to remember, though, that many have it WAY worse than I do. I am extremely blessed to have gotten an opportunity to live with my parents instead of being homeless with so much debt.

So this old affirmation is reminding me that I have overcome previous obstacles with ease and I can still do it. I've got a plan to do some liquidation in order to payoff large debts and by working this new job plus tutoring/babysitting, I can get back on track. I can do this because I have an amazing support system: friends, family, and fellow spoonies.

So enough with the negative thinking! It's time to focus on the positive. I have a roof over my head, food on the table (not provided by me unfortunately), and people who love me. If I keep the positive thinking, I can remain focused on the tasks at hand.

How do you overcome obstacles?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Unemployed Workaholic Spoonie

So now that I'm all settled into Tampa, the job hunt begins! My biggest concern through the whole process is I am afraid to start a job and then have to leave due to migraine. This rainy season hasn't helped me much! Unfortunately, I do not sell enough books to do that full-time (but one can dream), so I need to find something. Here's my tips for the job hunting process as a spoonie:

1. Knock on doors - I went to the mall the other day (since it's holiday hiring time) and just went door to door asking for openings and applications. Most said you fill out applications online, but one in particular let me fill out an application, talk to the manager, and schedule an interview the next day! Being persistent (and owning half a wardrobe from the store) helps. My first interview went well and I have  second one today.

2. Don't be afraid - It's tough to go through what we do, so don't get discouraged if your phone isn't ringing off the hook. In my case, I am applying for jobs in finance and retail. I haven't had too many phone calls, but this job market is super competitive. There's always going to be someone with more experience/education trying to get the same job as you.

3. It's up to you to disclose your illness - I have been open and honest in my interviews because I'd hate for there to be problems when I start work. Does this hurt me? It might, but at least I'm keeping my integrity. You never know, your future employer might admire you more for working under such conditions. I had asked about flexible scheduling since I never know when a migraine is going to hit me, and my body tires quickly.

4. Try something new - I recently started auditioning for acting opportunities. I am a very expressive and creative soul, so I figured this would be up my alley. Unfortunately, they don't pay you millions of dollars to start with (who knew?!), so taking classes, doing free work, and networking are in order. In the mean time, I need a paying job to support my income and pay my debts.

5. Follow up - It's been my experience as a job seeker and a manager seeking employees that friendly follow-ups after an interview (typically a day or two after) are a great idea. It lets the manager know you're serious about wanting to work with them and you have a good work etiquette. Try not to sound desperate though (it's like a date). You want them to want you.

6. Just keep swimming - Like Dory says, "just keep swimming!" Don't give up because you haven't found anything within your first month. Try temp agencies, make friends, and gain local references to help you.

Let me know your experience with the job hunt as a spoonie. Or if you're employed and seeking new employment, what have been your experiences?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Spoonie's Debt

If you are like me, you are underwater with all your debts and your phone constantly rings with a new unfamiliar phone number. Today, I answered one and almost cried to the supervisor on the phone. I know they are just trying to do their job, but I am trying to survive!

When the associate finally answered after I gave four aggravating "hellos," I was already in a bad mood. If you're calling me so often, why aren't you immediately on the line to answer when I pick up? He's spouting out numbers and I'm explaining my situation. Obviously he doesn't understand, but he says he does. I explain I'm unemployed at the moment because my debts got so unbearable that I moved halfway across the country to live with my parents. The next question he asks, "well what about your spouse?" Excuse me? Do you really think I'd be in this situation if I was a two income household? I got a bit snappy, which I regret, but come on people! So then he says, "well why can't you borrow from friends and family?" I then explained paying debt with another debt doesn't help the situation. My primary focus is a job (or two) so I can gain income to pay off these debts. That's how the cash cycle works!

So he directs me to his supervisor because he's probably frustrated that I'm unable to pay anything. She then calmly says all I need to pay is $25 to delay the process for 40 days and she'll waive a late fee plus the credit card fee for me. Now there's some progress! I was still unsure about paying anything since I needed fuel to go search for jobs and even if I snagged one today, I wouldn't get paid for 2-3 weeks! However, I didn't want 75 phone calls from these guys a day so I paid it. If I needed to, I'll have to bury my ego even more to ask money from my parents for gas.

Does this scenario sound familiar to you? If you're like me with heavy medical debt, overdraft fees, and past due bills, it should. So what have you done to help your situation? I am seeking advice!

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Adventure begins

Well just had my last day of work at my current job. My trunk is filed as much as it possibly could and I'm getting up for a big adventure.

7 states
1600 miles
24 hour drive

Let the adventure begin! Watch my Twitter for pictures and updates :)

Stef

Monday, September 9, 2013

Sharing is Caring

Since it's Invisible Illness Awareness Week, I thought I'd do some sharing. It's my last week at my current job and a new beginning is awaiting me. As a spoonie, I constantly share what it's like to be like me and how to raise awareness. Here are some ways I've shared:

1. #spoonie - By using this hashtag I'm social media, I'm starting attention to myself as well as being people to ask what a spoonie is.

2. Spoonie Chat - Every Wednesday night, Dawn Gibson hosts a chat to talk about topics involving spoonies. This includes stress, family, holidays, and work. I've benefited from it by hearing others' stories and being thankful for myself.

3. Self Publish - I wrote a small ebook about my experiences so far and plan on expanding it. I'm also working on a guide to the Headache Diet to help others not be so frustrated like I was.

4. Talking about it - The best way to share is to conversate. By talking to those who don't understand, it gets them thinking. It also helps others appreciate their bodies more.

5. Special events - Migraine Awareness Month and Invisible Illness Week are just two examples of moments where our community can educate others. Thank you to those who take the time to organize these events.

By sharing, we open ourselves up to those who need it. They could be caring for a family member, having a hard time with a friend, or confused about their own ailments. Either way, sharing is caring.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Affirmation: I Am the Master of My Feelings and Emotions

Throughout the process of discovering myself, keeping pain down, and living a positive life, I found I AM the master of my feelings and emotions. Here's how:

1. I create my own emotions - When something happens, I choose how to feel. My body doesn't randomly break down and leaks with tears. I choose to be emotional in a situation.

2. Art - Through artistic expression, I can resolve feelings and emotions so I can move on and enjoy life.

3. It's MY body - No one can decide how I feel: not a significant other, family member, friend, our stranger. I am in control of my body and emotions.

4. I have support - When times get tough, I have a great support system and they help me get through unresolved feelings to regain my control.

5. Experience - It's taken me a while to get to where I am now. I am thankful every day for the experiences I've had, people I've met, and impact it's made.

How are you the master?

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