Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Lupin Lady

Yesterday I did my civic duty and voted. Today I am sick to death of politics, it makes me grumpy. Working in the yard makes me happy. So I am devoting my blog to things that make me happy and allows me to live out whatever is good, whatever is praiseworthy, and whatever is true. Planted For Good is my attempt to share my desire to be planted for a while and make my world a beautiful place. No longer will I post information just for the sake of information which in this 21st century is too numerous and too little valued. In college, I studied art and design and loved it. I still love it. But as every struggling artist knows, you can’t make much of a living from it, so artists learn to live with less so we can live with what truly feeds us, beauty.

I love books. No surprise I have an search bar on my blog. Children’s books are among my favorites. Miss Rumphius is one of my favorites. As a small child she tells her grandfather her dreams of travelling the world. Her grandfather tells her there is something else she must do. She must make the world more beautiful. Without telling you the entire story, at one point in her life she plants lupin seeds wherever she goes. With our many moves and the many gardens I’ve planted and tended from the northeast to the southwest, Miss Rumphius is still very dear to my heart.

While in high school I announced to my mom my desire to study horticulture, she laughed and thought I was kidding. I was not. Although California is an agriculture mecca due mostly to the Central Valley, Orange County in 1975 was not. By this time most of the orange groves had been replaced with suburbs, strip centers, and malls. Not that it mattered to me. I had no intention of staying in Southern California with its Hollywood weirdness and in-your-face billboards. I wanted to go somewhere and make the world beautiful and, in my eyes, Southern California was too crazy to transform. Eventually I did escape from California but it took me over 30 years, although I still have not settled anywhere. So wherever the good Lord puts me, I plant a garden, nurture, and care for it and try to make my corner of the earth a more beautiful place.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Informational Interviews and Internships: The Missing Pieces

Yesterday, I posted an article on FB that addressed the difficulty 20somethings are having finding employment after college in this economic climate. There are a lot of opinions as to what the real problems are but none of them really offer a solution. At one point, the article states "...well-educated young adults with the resources to muddle through unpaid internships or low-paying jobs until they land better ones seem poised to ride out the lingering effects of the recession." This isn't unique to the 21st century. I, and many of my peers, had to travel this path before we landed the job of our dreams.

"Internships" is a buzz word that, during the past four months, keeps flying by me. First, in the paralegal program I attended. Then, in a book Husband brought home for our teenagers entitled All Work, No Pay: Finding an Internship, Building Your Resume, Making Connections, and Gaining Job Experience . This may be one piece of the puzzle about which recently graduated young people need to gain a positive perspective.

Another important component not mentioned in the article is the information interview. In one of my old posts about job hunting, I briefly mentioned this excellent tool. My personal experience in just how these have worked for me follows... all positive stuff!

While in design school, we were required to conduct such an interview. In reality, I chickened out and ended up interviewing one of my instructors who happened to own a design firm. However, the importance of topic didn't escape me. A couple of years later, after living and working in Orange County and wanting to work with a well known designer in Los Angeles, I made a cold call to her firm, with sweaty hands and palpitating heart. To my surprise, she granted me the interview. By the time I had returned home from our meeting, I'd received a call offering me a job, although only in an administrative capacity. I accepted and viewed it as completely positive because I had my foot in the door.

Jump forward a number of years to 2011 to Eastern Canada. Undecided as to whether to pursue interior design or make a career change, I contacted another designer and asked her for 10-15 minutes of her time to discuss interior design in the Maritime Provinces. We ended up meeting for lunch where we spent 1 1/2 hours talking about the industry and getting to know each other. Four months later she contacted me to "help out" on some projects. Within six weeks, she offered me a permanent position once I obtained necessary accreditation, which she would help me acquire. Again, another very positive experience. I am confident I would still be there had we not taken a transfer to Houston for Husband's job six months later.

Job hunting is always stressful and unnerving. However, using these interviews and internships allow us to make decisions about our careers based on solid information while also allowing us to experience "a day in the life of..."

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Financial Aid Maze

If you could read the bottom of this picture, the little box says "Department of Education's financial aide delivery system as illustrated by Jay Leno on the Tonight Show." Husband and I recently attended a FREE workshop entitled Paying For College Without Going Broke. Remember, we have two in college now and three coming up from behind and we're supposed to be saving for retirement *grin.* I think the chart is a joke, but only in part. Here are some startling facts.

* Only 5% of families have a college savings plan.
* "Average" cost for a state college/ university is $20,000.
* Private Schools average $25,000 and up per year.
* The "average" student now takes 6 years to graduate, because they're working their way through school.

How did C-Span know this was a current event in my very own home?! In an attempt to avoid wearisome newscasters, C-Span has become my go-to for news these days. This week the Senate is discussing a bill aimed at stopping student loan interest rates from virtually doubling on July 1, 2012. HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!

Actually, the news from the workshop was fairly encouraging, but only in the same way that you're excited when gas prices drop from $3.72 to $3.65. Apparently, private schools are ramping up their own scholarships in an attempt to compete for students and reduce costs for families. This is money that most of us aren't aware is available. It's mind blowing to hear the amounts of some of these university endowments. Harvard's endowment is worth $50 billion dollar. Yes, that's BILLION! Here in Texas, Rice's endowment is estimated at $4 Billion. In other words, private schools have their own private bank accounts so if you know how to "market" your students, they have a chance of receiving substantial funding.

If all goes well, Husband and I will be through the college "maze" in 2020. At that point, maybe I'll write a book entitled "How We Sent Five Kids to College Without Going Broke" to help offset some of the costs!

Monday, May 7, 2012

College Finals and Playtime

Although I completed the paralegal course about 6 weeks ago, job hunting is still only a part time occupation. This is a direct result of having a large family who still needs "Mom" to fill in and do what she does best... everything nobody else has the time or inclination to do. I learned a long time ago that love requires sacrifices, and for me, it came in the form of my career. Now, mind you, I'm no longer a student but I do live with (among other persons) two college students and this week is finals week!! The stress is high, the nerves are raw, and some of "us" are just plain cranky. Eldest Daughter (who drives) had no classes today, just more studying. So I elected to take Eldest Son (who is still racking up driving hours) to class.

In between drop-offs and pick-ups, I popped into a clothing consignment shop. These are among my favorite places on earth. You can take the Bohemian out of Long Beach, but you can't take Long Beach out of the Bohemian. Today, I hit the jackpot again in the form of an entire outfit for $20.30. Ann Taylor linen/rayon blend slacks, Jones New York sleeveless print blouse, and a great purse (I'm not into purses so I wouldn't know the "designer" name if it hit me in the face.)

As I'm living the stress of college students without being one, a trip back through memory lane helps keep things in perspective. The Twins had a school project for which they needed a photo of them in babyhood. Yes, it's Robin Hood and Friar Tuck in the flesh!

When people used to ask me if having child #4 & 5 as twins was difficult, my instant answer was "Are you kidding me? They were among the easiest." Can you guess why? They were live dress-up dolls for the older three and the twins loved every minute of it.

Now, in the midst of the teenage years, I need to remember...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Break Time

This is going to be a short post because my right hand has gone "on strike" again. After two weeks I managed to get an appointment with an ART provider to get my hand back in shape. Basically, the nerves are strangled through overuse of particular muscles. This happened back in the fall when I opened, unpacked, and put away 160some boxes of stuff after our move. This time the cause is too much time on the computer. Maybe I need to invest in a computer station! For any of you out there who have been diagnosed with carpel tunnel, this is a technique/ treatment worth looking into. It's a unique type of therapy, often used for athletes. You can read the link, watch their video, and find out more.

Well, wish me luck as they put me back in working order! It can actually be quite painful but as my son used to tell me "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."