Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Job Hunting is a lot like Dating

I will admit, it’s been quite a few years since I’ve dated, and even longer since I was going on semi-frequent dates with different people, looking for the right person to date long-term. I have, however, conducted many job searches over the past couple years, and the whole process (which is extremely flawed, but that’s another post altogether), feels a lot like dating.

I did have an online dating profile—briefly—back in college, but it was more as a joke, and I never actually met anyone in person. Today’s job search feels pretty similar to what online dating is like. You create an online profile/image for yourself that potential employers will view and judge you by before they even consider sending you an email or giving you a phone call to potentially set up an interview. In the same way with dating sites and apps, you’re being judged by your picture, your description, your hobbies and interests, and so on.

In the dating world, as with the job search, there are all these “rules”, which seem to constantly change. You want to appear interested, and in a job search, persistent, but you don’t want to come off as desperate or needy—so don’t call or email too often. You should wait a certain amount of time before calling/texting/emailing. I’ve seen varying opinions on whether you should include a cover letter, how long your resume should be (stick to one page, or is more okay?), etc. 

After you speak on the phone, perhaps more than once, you decide to meet in person. You wear your best outfit, try to ask the right questions, and give intriguing, appropriate answers to their questions. You leave the date/interview thinking it went really well. Maybe there will be a second. But even after the first, you're already invested—you've gotten to know them and they’ve gotten to know you; you've gotten a peek at what it would be like to work there/be with them, what the day-to-day might be like, maybe it’s the dream job (or the job that could turn into the dream job—or the person you can picture yourself with long-term…marriage, kids, retirement, etc.). They tell you they’ll be in touch, and if you’re lucky, they give you a specific date.

You wait around, sometimes hearing nothing on the other end. Did you say/do something wrong? Did you have lipstick smudged on your teeth? You wait and wait for the appropriate number of days to pass before it’s deemed acceptable for you to call or email and check in (10-ish business days after an interview, unless they gave you a specific date, in which case, if you don’t hear from them on said date, you should wait another day or two before reaching out so you don’t look too desperate—insert eye-roll emoji here).

Sometimes, you get ghosted. The other person just disappears, ignoring your emails and phone calls. You’re left still wondering what you did wrong, with no feedback as to what you could do to improve (okay, getting feedback from a date might be weird/awkward). Other times, you get the rejection email/text/phone call. “It’s not you, it’s me.” “I met someone else.” “You were a qualified candidate, but we chose a candidate whose skills and qualifications best meet our current needs."

Now you have to deal with that rejection. You’re angry, then sad, maybe even depressed. “What’s wrong with me?” “Why doesn’t anyone want me?” “What am I doing wrong?” It honestly takes some time to get over it, move on, and put yourself back out there, because you had been picturing yourself with that person/company, you had imagined your future together, and with a quick email, all of that is gone. So you have to get over it and move on, and if you’re unemployed, you have to do this more quickly than you might have to in other situations. You have to put yourself back out there and go through it all over again, risk the rejection and heartbreak all over again. Because as the job-seeker, you don’t get to be the cold and distant one who says “It was great to meet with you and we’ll be in touch soon”. It’s expected that you’ll be enthusiastic and eager and show genuine interest each and every time, because potential employers don’t want cold and distant employees. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Testing Out My Green Thumb

I recently did something I never thought I would ever do: I bought myself a house plant. It was my Valentine’s Day gift to myself, actually:

We have a mold problem in our apartment (which I am, as I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, allergic to). I have cleaned and cleaned our bathroom—the main culprit because there is no exhaust fan or window—to no avail. It also appears that there is mold on the window in our bedroom and the windows in the living room. I started doing some research and found that many houseplants help purify and remove toxins from the air. English Ivy in particular can help reduce mold spores in the air in addition to removing other toxins from the air. 

So I decided to give it a shot. I went to Lowe’s and bought a ceramic planter to plant the ivy in, along with soil, 3 small English Ivy plants, and a small trellis for the ivy to climb. I came home, transferred the ivy to the planter, and then placed it in our bedroom. The colors of the planter along with the ivy immediately boosted my mood. As for the mold-reducing properties, well, I didn't have to wait long to see the benefits. 

I woke up the next morning far less congested than normal which seemed miraculous. By the end of the day, my eyes weren’t itching and watering as they have been recently. For at least the past month or so, it was almost painful to keep my contacts in for too long because my eyes became too itchy and irritated. 

I’ve had the ivy for almost a week now and it has made a noticeable difference. My eyes haven’t been itchy at all and I’ve been able to comfortably wear my contacts for the entire day. While my sinuses haven’t cleared up entirely (I don’t really ever expect them to clear up completely), I have noticed significant improvements. My asthma symptoms have also improved significantly. 

My mom sent me a video showing a woman removing mold with hydrogen peroxide. I tried that in our bathroom and on the windows and it didn't work. So I gave in and put in a work order. They asked for pictures of the mold, so I sent in several, and they will hopefully be sending someone out this week to take care of the problem. In the mean time, at least our air is cleaner.

I’ll keep you posted on Ivy’s growth and my symptoms, as well as what happens with our moldy bathroom/windows! 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Solving My Insomnia--For Now at Least

I think I may have finally solved my sleep problem, or I’ve at least made improvements. After we moved (and possibly even shortly before we moved), our brand new bed, which was purchased and delivered in late October, started creaking/squeaking. I couldn’t figure out what was causing the noise, but every time we got in or out of bed, moved around, or even just sat down on it, it made noise. Loud noise. 

With all the new noises in our new apartment in our new city, I didn’t really consider that this noise might be the culprit. However, I became furious that our 3-ish-month-old mattress, box spring, and bed frame--all purchased brand new—were creaking and squeaking with every move we made. Finally, after a few restless and sleepless nights and listening to Chris roll around and the bed creaking with each toss and turn, I started googling. 

Why would a brand new mattress and box spring be creaking? Especially when the mattress is memory foam and has no springs to squeak and creak.

I looked at several blogs and websites. As it turns out, most box springs these days A. contain zero springs and B. have a piece of cardboard (yes, freaking cardboard) slid on top of the wood frame and underneath the fabric that covers the box spring. The creaking comes from the cardboard rubbing against the wooden frame. So one afternoon last week, I decided to do as all of those blogs and websites suggested: rip out that stupid cardboard. 

It was a little difficult to do myself and I probably should have waited for Chris to help, but if I heard that bed creak anymore I was going to go crazy. So I spent an afternoon ripping out the cardboard from our box spring. It wasn’t easy, and I got a few cuts, bruises, and splinters in the process. But the end result? Worth it.

I got the cardboard ripped out and got the box spring and mattress back on the bed frame and tested it out. NO MORE SQUEAKING! And guess what? I’ve slept relatively well since then. Sure, I had one night over the weekend where it took me forever to fall asleep but I think that was partly that I ate some ice cream pretty late in the evening (and eating sugar too late seems to make me really restless). Every other night I’ve had a pretty easy time falling asleep and staying asleep, for the first time since we moved here back in December. 

This may not last. I may start being kept awake by outside noise again in the near future. But for now, it seems to have helped, and I am so grateful for that. 

I do think it’s ridiculous that we paid good money for a “box spring” that is just wood, cardboard, staples, and fabric. If I had known that, we probably would have built one ourselves—and it probably would have been higher quality and sturdier than what we bought. 

Has anyone else ever experienced this problem?

Monday, February 8, 2016

Soul-Crushing Allergies

For those of you who didn't know, I'm allergic to latex (it would probably be easier to make a list of things I'm not allergic to at this point).

A friend in nursing school recently posted on Facebook that if you have a latex allergy, there are certain foods you should avoid. I responded that I'm allergic to latex and eat most of those foods with no problems. But after I thought about it, maybe I am having problems and I'm ignoring them.

Here's the list of foods she said to avoid, along with how frequently I eat them:
bananas- literally almost every single morning with breakfast
avocados- several times a week, usually in the form of guacamole
chestnuts- uh, never, as far as I know
kiwi- I love kiwi, but I rarely buy/eat them...but if someone includes them in a fruit salad, I will eat a ton of them
guava- I don't know that I've ever even tried guava
hazelnuts- not too often
potatoes- I LOVE potatoes, in the form of french fries mostly, but regardless, YUM
peaches- when they're in season I'll eat a few, but they're not my favorite fruit
grapes- off and on depending on the season
apriocots- never, ew

So, I eat quite a bit of the things on that list. I did a little research after that and found the American Latex Allergy Association (really, I hate that that is even a thing). The technical term for this "phenomena" of having one allergy and having allergic reactions to foods because of it is called "cross reactive allergy". In layman's terms (as I understand it), these foods have similar properties to latex, and therefore can cause similar allergic reactions in those who ingest those specific foods. According to their website, they have a list of several foods, broken down into categories based on degree of association or prevalence of the cross reactivity:



They also have a "Low/Undetermined" section which includes 33 other foods (!!!). I won't list them all here, but I will list some that I frequently eat:
sweet pepper
cayenne pepper
plum (when in season)
cherry (when in season)
shellfish (when I can afford it- ha!)
citrus fruits (several times a week)
strawberry (all the time when in season)
soybean (I don't eat this often, but suspect I am allergic to soy also, and perhaps it's a cross-reactive allergy??)
coconut (several times a week)
peanut (stopped eating peanuts after having an allergic reaction, but again, makes me wonder if that is linked to the latex allergy)
oregano (in pretty much everything I make??)
zucchini (pretty often)
nectarine (when in season)

That's a lot of foods. :(

I think my next step here will be to first eliminate the foods the ALAA lists as High and see how I feel and then reintroduce those individually to see how I react. And then do the same for the Moderate foods. I also found it really interesting to see soybeans and peanuts on the list. Some of the other foods on the Low/Undetermined list I eat pretty regularly and there's no way I could cut out that many foods. So I'm going to start with the high and moderate foods to see how my body handles it and see how I feel. But, probably not until next week, because guacamole.

There are also cross-reactive food allergens for allergies like pollen, grass, mold, etc. But I can't even look at that right now without feeling totally overwhelmed. However, some of the foods on those lists, are also on the latex list (apples, potatoes, carrots, celery, bananas, etc.), so maybe cutting some of those foods will help with both.

Just when I think I've got a handle on my allergies (environmental and food), I read a soul-crushing Facebook post and I have to start over again.

I do find it funny that I had been thinking over the idea of doing another Whole30 or going Paleo again before this information slapped me in the face. Lucky for Chris, I think attempting to go Paleo or do a Whole30 while simultaneously cutting out these foods would be extremely difficult (and would probably make me crazier/moodier than usual). So I'm only going to cut the foods from this list and keep my diet relatively the same for now just to see how those foods are affecting me.

Like I said, I will probably start this next week, so I will keep you all updated on my findings!

Anyone else have experience with cross-reactive allergies?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

January Recap: 100 Miles and Beyond

Copper and I surpassed 100 miles walked last Saturday! In total, we probably walked closer to 105, and probably surpassed it before Saturday since my app never seems to be accurate. Either way, 100 miles in one month is probably the most I've ever walked and it felt great to accomplish that!

In regards to some of my other goals that I set for myself this year, some have been going well, others have not. I've been doing a pretty good job of turning off the TV and putting my phone away at least a half hour to an hour before bed and then making myself a cup of tea and reading a book. I finally finished reading Anna Karenina on Sunday night (actually, it was Monday morning thanks to my newfound insomnia). I have been reading that book on and off since September, so it felt really good to finally put that monster to bed.

Unfortunately, all the tea and reading and relaxing before bed hasn't seemed to help me sleep--it's just helping me get books read. Still searching for things to help me actually sleep. I've tried a white noise app which didn't help at all. I've tried calming music which helps me relax, but doesn't seem to help me fall asleep. I used ear plugs the past two nights. The first night, I slept great. Last night, not so much. I tossed and turned all night and I assume I slept some, but it was not very restful. So sleeping in our new Dallas apartment is still a work-in-progress for me (Chris seems to be able to sleep anywhere and any time after 7pm).

We've been doing okay about unplugging in general (i.e. during meals), but not great. We are cooking at home almost 5 days a week now and are making small attempts to make those meals healthier (sometimes they're really healthy, sometimes we make a frozen pizza). I feel that I'm doing a pretty good job on keeping up with family and friends and having better relationships, but there's definitely room for improvement there.

I did very little writing in January, but I've got some ideas floating around that I need to get on paper this month. I also did not submit anything in an attempt to get published. So I will try to remedy that this month as well. And as far as finding a job I love, well I have an interview tomorrow, so please send prayers, good thoughts/vibes, etc. my way!

Because I'm still unemployed, we haven't made much progress on budgeting and reducing our debt. It's hard to really add extra money to debt payments when we're living on one income and unfortunately don't have any savings. My hope is that once I have a job, we can really buckle down and focus on not only paying off our debts, but building up our savings, so that we're prepared for any future emergencies (medical, auto, etc.), or for any future unemployment (although I hope that never happens again!).

I was sick for most of last week, so I skipped yoga Wednesday-Friday. I finally went back on Saturday for a sound mediation class. Then I skipped again this past Monday since I only got a couple hours of sleep the night before. Unfortunately, that means I'm out of the yoga challenge I was attempting to complete, but I needed to take care of myself. Getting back on the mat yesterday, I was definitely stiff, but I felt so much better after class.

Overall, January was a pretty good month, in spite of the goals I made zero progress on. Luckily, I've got my Passion Planner to keep me on track!

Wish me luck on my interview tomorrow! :)