Sunday, November 23, 2008

Telecommuting on Hold & Summer Vacation!

The whole idea of finding a new position that offers telecommuting is quickly losing steam. I would like to stay within the government for now, so in order to get a position that offers telecommuting as a benefit, I would have to initially hike all the way down to D.C. for an eligible position. Because I live in northeast Maryland, this commute is nearly impossible. It would be a nearly two-hour commute by train – I’m not even considering driving. So, back to the drawing board! I may continue to search for positions that may be offered in Baltimore, but I’ve settled on the notion that I’m not going to stress myself out over finding something. Sometimes, if you keep your ears and eyes open, these things sometimes appear that you normally wouldn’t find by looking too hard.

As the countdown to Christmas begins, so does my countdown to planning my next summer vacation! I always like to have something booked by the end of January – I like things taken care of as far in advance as possible. Based on some new news I’ve received regarding a family trip with my husband’s side of the family, I may actually be able to plan a trip to the Out Islands of the Bahamas! I’m very excited about that possibility, so I hope to have more details in the next week or so. It’s not that I don’t love the mega-resorts in the Riviera Maya, Cozumel, or Punta Cana, but a secluded hideaway on a nearly deserted island is what I need and want right now! Stay tuned!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Rediscovering creativity

I’m in the process of reading a book called “The Career Guide for Creative and Unconventional People” by Carol Eikleberry, PhD to help me sort out my next steps in finding my true calling. I believe writing is only part of what I want to do, but I guess I’ve been so ingrained with the business world’s non-creative positions I’m a little afraid of making the full-time leap to a creative field. I have so many interests to apply my creative abilities to that I almost feel like I’m unable to make any decisions as to what I really want to do!

What I have realized is I have to be patient with myself, which is no easy feat. I am normally very impatient, getting easily frustrated when things don’t go the way I planned in the timeframe I worked out. I believe in myself and my capabilities and that I will someday be very successful at what I love; I just have to realize it won’t happen by tomorrow. If anyone has any success stories to share, please do so! I’m always inspired by those who had a dream and watched it come to fruition.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Story of Stuff

Getting off the treadmill in life has various meanings for me. Primarily it is about pursuing your dreams and stop getting caught up in the nonsense of the status quo. However, it can also mean stopping the cycle of stress on yourself and the environment by opting out of excessive consumerism. This idea hit home for me after watching the following video from The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard:

It was an eye-opener for me and hopefully it will be for you as well. This nation is buckling under the weight of debt its citizens carry and it needs to stop NOW. Let me know what you think about the Story of Stuff…

Take a Hike!

I returned yesterday from a fabulous weekend of hiking at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Charlie and I decided to take advantage of a long weekend, and the need to unplug, by planning a mini-vacation somewhere close. Since Shenandoah National Park is about 50 miles west of Washington D.C., it made for an easy commute. We stayed in Front Royal, a small town situated at the north entrance of the park. We spent two nights at the Super 8 Motel for a bargain price of only $138.76. The Four Seasons it was not, but it was a comfortable room to spend the night. When we arrived around noon on Friday, we grabbed lunch across the street at Spelunker’s Frozen Custard and Cavern Burgers. If you are a health conscious individual, this is not the place for you. Charlie chowed on a cavern burger AND a chili cheese dog (which he later regretted) and I decided just to indulge in a vanilla custard cone. Wherever you decided to eat while in Front Royal, save room for a Spelunker’s frozen custard – it was decadent!

While the Super 8 advertises a free continental breakfast, it was rather sparse consisting of donuts, two selections of cold cereal, milk, orange juice, and coffee. For more substantial early morning fuel, try Wynn’s Restaurant located at 219 E Main Street. Here you’ll find good food at a bargain price (our bill came to $10.00). For an inexpensive lunch or evening meal try Main Street Mill located at 500 E Main Street. For dinner on Friday night our total bill came to $40.00 which included two beers, an appetizer, two entrees, and dessert. The food was good (I had the southwestern chicken breast while Charlie chose the half rack of baby back ribs) and what I found to be most surprising – the portions were realistic (unlike the gargantuan servings dished out at chain restaurants).

The real highlight of the trip were the amazing views and hiking found within Shenandoah National Park. This was my first trip down Skyline Drive and I was not disappointed by the clear views of rural towns and fiery orange and yellow trees surrounding the park. However, I was really geared for an aggressive workout of hiking and the Park more than delivered. On Friday Charlie and I only had a few hours of daylight to use and we chose to trek the Overall Run Falls trail as our goal for the afternoon. This trail is located within the Matthews Arm and Elkwallow Area of the park, situated around mile marker 22 (see map: This trail leads to the 93’ foot Overall Falls and is moderately difficult; roundtrip is approximately 6.5 miles. It provided a good aerobic workout while taxing our butt and legs which Charlie and I felt this immediately upon returning to the Jeep. I would recommend this trail for intermediate and advanced fitness levels. Be sure to pack water and a light snack. If you do not invest in hiking/walking poles, be sure to find a sturdy tree branch to assist you in your hikes (please find a branch already on the ground!). I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a walking stick (or two) for any uphill hikes. They not only reduce your fatigue (trust me, you will still feel fatigued even when using the poles) and increase your speed, but hiking/walking poles assist in stabilizing your footing which is essential, especially on the descents. We only passed one other couple on the trail which we attributed to it being a weekday afternoon, so we felt as if we had the place to ourselves.

While we didn’t encounter any wildlife on the trail, on our drive out we came to a screeching halt when I spotted a black bear at the top of a tree about 75 feet away to our right (fortunately there was no one behind us)! We jumped out and marveled how this magnificent creature could precariously balance himself on spindly branches at the very top of the tree and swiftly maneuver his way down! So much for my notion of climbing a tree if I ever encountered a bear in the woods!

On Saturday we traveled further down Skyline Drive to the Skyland area of the park. Our first hike was the Whiteoak Canyon Trail located at mile marker 43 (see map: This trail brings you to the Upper and Lower Whiteoak Falls, both spectacular to see; roundtrip is approximately seven miles. Another butt-kicking trail, we found our speed decreased some due to more people being on the trail – a lot more people. If you really want solitude for your hikes, I suggest planning hikes for weekdays versus the weekend. Since this hike involves an 1100 foot elevation change, I felt muscles in my legs, butt, and hips I never knew existed! It was quite a challenge, so I recommend this also for those at an intermediate and advanced fitness level.

Once we finished the Whiteoak Canyon Trail we traveled a little further down Skyline Drive to the Big Meadows area. We parked across from the Big Meadows Lodge, a little past mile marker 51, and hiked the Lewis Falls Trail; round trip is approximately five miles (see map: We packed our own lunch, however, Big Meadows offers a restaurant if you are interested in a sit-down meal. The Big Meadows Lodge, Skyland, and Lewis Cabins (further down Skyline Drive) offer lodging, but when Charlie and I inquired about lodging within Skyland we noticed a sign posted that reservations for 2010 would be taken starting January 3, 2009. Obviously the lodging at the Park is very popular so you will need to plan a couple of years in advance.

The Lewis Falls Trail is a must-see! The Lewis Falls are a splendid sight to see and well worth the precarious hike to get there. The trail map indicates it is a moderate hike, but Charlie and I agree it should be upgraded to a strenuous level as it was a challenge for both of us (speaking mainly of the hike back up the mountain). However, the views from the trail itself are breathtaking making it well worth the muscle soreness and fatigue! We returned via the Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Trail runs throughout the Park so you have the option of picking it up at various locations or hiking it exclusively.

We returned home on Sunday still sore from the hikes, but well-rested nonetheless from a mini-vacation in the great outdoors that soothed our harried minds. For more information on Shenandoah National Park, please visit the National Park website:

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Looking for the dream job

In keeping with my personal philosophy, “If you are not happy, move on”, I decided this week that if telework is so important to me, I need to start looking for it now. My hope
was my current office would consider adopting it, but it doesn’t look like that is going to happen. In my years of working I have always sacrificed some personal beliefs and/or desires believing that doing so is a normal way of life. However, I can no longer deny these beliefs because doing so is making me one miserable individual! I also fight the tendency to ruminate over how I should have done this years ago. I know I’m not the only one who is in the same predicament so here is my personal list of steps to take to make your dream job a reality:

1. Do not deny your personal beliefs and desires! In order to be happy, you must hold these sacred and search for the right company/institution that honors your beliefs and desires. In a quick search online, I found over the course of this weekend that these types of companies do exist! Start your search at: http:// From here you can plug in “perks” you are looking for in a company and it delivers the specific companies to match those perks you find important.

2. Realize that the perfect company to work for may be you! This is something I am seriously considering and right now I’m in the process of developing exactly what I would like to do. This includes market research and developing a business plan. If you are serious about starting your own business, I suggest one of your first steps should be to meet with your local Small Business Development Office representative (http://

3. Searching for a new career is like holding down a part-time job. Allow yourself the time to conduct you research, to amp up your resume, and to then apply for jobs.

4. Be open to relocating, if needed. If you own your own home, I know the real estate market right now does not lend itself to moving, but realize you may have to move in order to acquire your dream job. This has been my hang up for years now. I live in northeastern Maryland and have limited myself to just the immediate commute area for job opportunities. Do not fall into this trap! Open yourself up to relocating and the world is yours for the taking! My husband wants to wait another 18 months before we move, but I no longer think I can wait that long. However, since I am searching for telework opportunities, I should be looking for companies that would allow me to remain where I am for now with the possibility to move in the future.

5. Block out the naysayers! This is critical to realizing your dream job. Many, many negative individuals are out there waiting to hold you back because they do not have the courage nor desire to actualize their dreams. Stay true to yourself and believe in yourself whether you want to be a world-renowned chef or open up a local pet-sitting business. For me, I sometimes keep the bulk of my plans to myself, only sharing them with a few trusted individuals (i.e., positive and inspiring individuals). This mitigates hearing a bunch of negative garbage that I can do without.

Today for me will be sorting out whether I can be satisfied changing career fields in order to achieve the benefits I want: telework, fun and casual work environment, room to advance, generous paid time off. I also need to sort out whether I would be willing to accept a pay cut to achieve these benefits. My gut reaction is yes, but I need to discuss that with hubby first. He has been very open to me taking a pay cut, as long as I can wait for him to finish college (the 18 months discussed above) and for him to get a higher paying position.

Go forward with your dream – today is the best day to start.