My inner-world is my oyster

“Leave an extrovert alone for two minutes and he will reach for his cell phone. In contrast, after an hour or two of being socially “on,” we introverts need to turn off and recharge. My own formula is roughly two hours alone for every hour of socializing. This isn’t antisocial. It isn’t a sign of depression. It does not call for medication. For introverts, to be alone with our thoughts is as restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating. Our motto: “I’m okay, you’re okay—in small doses.”
Jonathan Rauch

 

I have frequently been mistaken for being a snob or at worst…painfully shy.  I admit that I prefer my company over the company of others. It’s simply my basic wiring.  I do love socializing but only in spurts.  Afterwards I do need to recharge.

 

I find comfort among my thoughts and dreams.  I revel in my “alone-time.” Both of my jobs, being a civil servant working in a team environment, and a soldier in the U.S. Army Reserves mean constant interaction.  At the end of the day someone like myself needs time alone in order to recollect, reorganize. And yes, it IS as restorative as a good nights sleep!

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If you think you may be an introvert or that someone else might be, you can click here on this website for 23 signs of introversion

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Does having a positive attitude work?

…when you don’t feel it? And this blog post is focusing on the 9 to 5.

It’s a bear.  Day in and day out you face the same routine, wondering if all the culmination of hard work, years in school and/or the military (like myself) are paying off.

Is there something about your work environment that is creating stress?

beingpositivequotesYou have a couple of options either 1.) Change or job 2.) Continue on in your abject misery or option 3.) Change your attitude.  And with today’s economy #3 is the far better choice.

Pretty much everyone has that one thing (such as workload) or with a particular someone, which contributes to their stress. You can try delegating some of your work or reducing the number of projects/responsibilities you have, (if that’s a viable option), or simply practice better time management.

Everyone has a work complaint.  However, if you persist with the negative attitude, then you need to examine if this type of job is really for you.

Also, examine your goals.  Are you ready for a promotion?  Is there another job opening within your agency that has “your name on it?”

Think about various ways you can improve yourself,  even your immediate work environment. If you have a cubicle (like I do) personalize it (if you’re able) and bring a little piece of home with you including pictures. Those are great motivational tools for someone like myself. I decided to start small and am “reinventing” myself through a new wardrobe.  The compliments I receive, let alone just feeling better about myself, has greatly picked up my spirits.  Speaking for myself, I love my jeans and t-shirts so getting out of the lazy habit of throwing those on when I come to work (dress code is informal), was difficult for me.  But when I decided to change my current style, (if you want to call it that), was fun and uplifting.

10175070_10152262957958366_149267932635700388_nDo what works for you and create goals!  Having something to reach for, to look forward to is quite an energetic way to continue on the right path towards success and ultimately a more sane and “better” you!  🙂

 

Where do I go from here?

A lot of us “middle-aged” folks come to this precipice wondering if we have reached the pinnacle of our existence.  Is this all there is to life?  To me??

Why do we think this way? I’ve come to the morbid conclusion it’s because we realize our time now has an expiration date. My main concern is being able to retire comfortable within the next 13 years.

There are coworkers who are still working at my agency in their 70’s.  Their 70’s!!!

It’s a damn shame these people continue clocking in when they should be enjoying their Golden Years.  And not just only that….but when they retire, the vacancy opens up opportunities for the younger generation.

But, to retire on a fixed income is downright scary. I think this fact among health issues, keeps us up late at night.

With the current state of our union, this economic disarray really is forcing people to rethink their financial future. However, with that being said….being cognizant of your future earnings should be as important and part of your life goals as anything else you deem important.

 

The bottom line is….Don’t leave things for the last minute.

 

Games-To-Play-With-The-Elderly-Chess

New wardrobe=new outlook

92106_SueAndKris_HP_2014_0701_LF4_1403901736As simple as this sounds, buying a whole new wardrobe does lay a “sparkle” on things.  Getting up every morning to go to work sometimes can be quite “routinish” boring. That’s where online shopping steps in.  😉 I have noticed a wonderful pick-me-up within myself and continuous compliments from the ladies here at work.


Zulily offers a plethora of items from clothing to household goods.  Perusing through their many colorful selections, you can easily become addicted to it.  (Just don’t tell my husband). :p

In all seriousness though, when you feel that you need a little extra boost to your work routine, don’t pull your hair out. Figure out what you are able to change and if it’s bringing in a brand new wardrobe so be it. Splurge a little. But of course in a responsible way (i.e. don’t let your mortgage fall behind).  89321_fig_HP_2014_0701_AMS1_1403721941🙂

 

Keeping a positive attitude….at work

“That’s when I first learned that it wasn’t enough to just do your job, you had to have an interest in it, even a passion for it.”
Charles Bukowski

 

I consider myself one of the lucky ones. I actually love what I do. Albeit there are days when I would much rather be home. Stress can really play havoc on your entitled sense of well-being.

However, with that being said, bringing a positive attitude to work is simply a must.  We have to “live” with our coworkers 8 hours plus a day. Sometimes this means you spend more time with them than with your own family and friends. Make the most of it.

Having a positive outlook will most certainly met out in wonderful consequences such as a promotion, goals met and success of projects.  But the most important thing is simply a generalized sense of well-being.

They say work in a field which you love. And I do.  I deal with veterans and military history.  I’ve served in the military pretty much all my adult life. Since the age of 15 I strongly felt serving the U.S. Government was a calling.  One I gladly answered.  There was no hesitation on my part to join the Army or to apply for a federal job.

 

Just remember:

“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bounds. Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”

Patanjali

 

 

 

WHY are Monday’s so damn difficult?

I say this tongue-in-cheek however every Monday seems like a weekend hangover.  I don’t “party” I just relax.  Went to the country again this weekend and oh boy was it nice not to have any demands made of me.  I could simply forget about the rest of the world and focus on me.

According to Jaquelin Smith in her Forbes article:  11 Ways to Beat the Monday Blues:

The ‘Monday Blues’ describe a set of negative emotions that many people get at the beginning of the workweek if they’re not happy at work,” says Alexander Kjerulf, an international author and speaker on happiness at work. “It contains elements of depression, tiredness, hopelessness and a sense that work is unpleasant but unavoidable.”

The Monday Blues are so prevalent that they have become a cultural phenomenon, “and this makes it easy to laugh them off as ‘just the way things are,’” he says. “But they can be much more than just a passing tiredness; they are often a serious warning sign that something is not right at work. If you were happy, you’d be excited and energized on Mondays, not tired and depressed.”

As it turns out, your case of the Mondays can have a negative impact on your performance and productivity—as well as the people around you.

“We know from countless studies in psychology and neurology that your current emotional state has a huge effect on the quality of your work and when you’re feeling blue you are less productive, less motivated, more pessimistic, less creative, less engaged and learn more slowly–just to mention a few effects,” Kjerulf says.


I was beginning to feel it was just me but seems this is a common “phenomenon” prevalent with most 9-5’ers.

The article delves into 11 keypoints you can use to help you get over that initial lag. Having a positive attitude resonates throughout the article.  Makes sense, and it’s free.  Another plus.  But boy would I love to simply be kicked back at home right now.  😉

The fire within…

Had a recent discussion with my husband the other day about the “Lost Generation.” Who exactly are they? I belong to Generation X and my husband was one of the last to be born in the Baby Boomers generation.

I’ve noticed, especially in the military, that this “Lost Generation” certainly seems to be at a lost especially when it comes to respect and military bearing. Not once in my career during what I would term the “old school” Army did I witness such blatant disrespect towards or officers and non-commissioned officers (NCOs).

Now, now I see it everywhere and unfortunately witnessed such an incident this past drill weekend within my own unit. This private took it upon himself to sound off against our 1st Sergeant and, of course, this was taken care of.

 

Time to get off my soapbox but sometimes I have to speak out.

Generational ideology has always fascinated me and I was able to pick out a website which contains a great breakdown of each segment:

 

 

Generational Breakdown

In America, there are six living generations, which are six fairly distinct groups of people. As a generalization each generation has different likes, dislikes, and attributes. They have had collective experiences as they aged and therefore have similar ideals. A person’s birth date may not always be indicative of their generational characteristics, but as a common group they have similarities.

(My grandparents)

  • Strong sense of personal civic duty, which means they vote.
  • Marriage is for life, divorce and having children out of wedlock were not accepted.
  • Strong loyalty to jobs, groups, schools, etc.
  • There was no “retirement” you worked until your died or couldn’t work anymore.
  • The labor-union-spawning generation.
  • “Use it up, fix it up, make it do, or do without.”
  • Avoid debt…save and buy with cash.
  • Age of radio and air flight; they were the generation that remembers life without airplanes, radio, and TV.
  • Most of them grew up without modern conveniences like refrigerators, electricity and air conditioning.
  • Sometimes called The Greatest Generation.

Mature / Silents

Mature/Silents (My parents)

  • Born 1927- 1945.
  • Went through their formative years during an era of suffocating conformity, but also during the postwar happiness: Peace! Jobs! Suburbs! Television! Rock ‘n Roll! Cars! Playboy Magazine!
  • Korean and Vietnam War generation.
  • The First Hopeful Drumbeats of Civil Rights!
  • Pre-feminism women; women stayed home generally to raise children, if they worked it was only certain jobs like teacher, nurse or secretary.
  • Men pledged loyalty to the corporation, once you got a job, you generally kept it for life.
  • The richest, most free-spending retirees in history.
  • Marriage is for life, divorce and having children out of wedlock were not accepted.
  • In grade school, the gravest teacher complaints were about passing notes and chewing gum in class.
  • They are avid readers, especially newspapers.
  • “Retirement” means to sit in a rocking chair and live your final days in peace.
  • The Big-Band/Swing music generation.
  • Strong sense of trans-generational common values and near-absolute truths.
  • Disciplined, self-sacrificing, & cautious.

Baby Boomer

Baby Boomers (My Husband)

  • Born between 1946 and 1964. Two sub-sets:
  • 1. the save-the-world revolutionaries of the ’60s and ’70s;
  • and 2. the party-hardy career climbers (Yuppies) of the ’70s/’80s.
  • The “me” generation.
  • “Rock and roll” music generation.
  • Ushered in the free love and societal “non-violent” protests which triggered violence.
  • Self righteous & self-centered.
  • Buy it now and use credit.
  • Too busy for much neighborly involvement yet strong desires to reset or change the common values for the good of all.
  • Even though their mothers were generally housewives, responsible for all child rearing, women of this generation began working outside the home in record numbers, thereby changing the entire nation as this was the first generation to have their own children raised in a two-income household where mom was not omnipresent.
  • The first TV generation.
  • The first divorce generation, where divorce was beginning to be accepted as a tolerable reality.
  • Began accepting homosexuals.
  • Optimistic, driven, team-oriented.
  • Envision technology and innovation as requiring a learning process.
  • Tend to be more positive about authority, hierarchal structure and tradition.
  • One of the largest generations in history with 77 million people.
  • Their aging will change America almost incomprehensibly; they are the first generation to use the word “retirement” to mean being able to enjoy life after the children have left home. Instead of sitting in a rocking chair, they go skydiving, exercise and take up hobbies, which increases their longevity.
  • The American Youth Culture that began with them is now ending with them and their activism is beginning to re-emerge.

Generation X

Generation X. (Me)

  • Born between 1965 and 1980*
  • The “latch-key kids” grew up street-smart but isolated, often with divorced or career-driven parents. Latch-Key came from the house key kids wore around their neck, because they would go home from school to an empty house.
  • Entrepreneurial.
  • Very individualistic.
  • Government and big business mean little to them.
  • Want to save the neighborhood, not the world
  • Feel misunderstood by other generations
  • Cynical of many major institutions, which failed their parents, or them, during their formative years and are therefore eager to make marriage work and “be there” for their children
  • Don’t “feel” like a generation, but they are
  • Raised in the transition phase of written based knowledge to digital knowledge archives; most remember being in school without computers and then after the introduction of computers in middle school or high school
  • Desire a chance to learn, explore and make a contribution
  • Tend to commit to self rather than an organization or specific career. This generation averages 7 career changes in their lifetime, it was not normal to work for a company for life, unlike previous generations.
  • Society and thus individuals are envisioned as disposable.
  • AIDS begins to spread and is first lethal infectious disease in the history of any culture on earth which was not subjected to any quarantine.
  • Beginning obsession of individual rights prevailing over the common good, especially if it is applicable to any type of minority group.
  • Raised by the career and money conscious Boomers amidst the societal disappointment over governmental authority and the Vietnam war.
  • School problems were about drugs.
  • Late to marry (after cohabitation) and quick to divorce…many single parents.
  • Into labels and brand names.
  • Want what they want and want it now but struggling to buy, and most are deeply in credit card debt.
  • It is has been researched that they may be conversationally shallow because relating consists of shared time watching video movies, instead of previous generations.
  • Short on loyalty & wary of commitment; all values are relative…must tolerate all peoples.
  • Self-absorbed and suspicious of all organization.
  • Survivors as individuals.
  • Cautious, skeptical, unimpressed with authority, self-reliant.

Generation Y

Generation Y/Millennium (My daughter)

  • Born between 1981* and 2000*.
  • Aka “The 9/11 Generation” “Echo Boomers” America’s next great generation brings a sharp departure from Generation X.
  • They are nurtured by omnipresent parents, optimistic, and focused.
  • Respect authority.
  • Falling crime rates. Falling teen pregnancy rates. But with school safety problems; they have to live with the thought that they could be shot at school, they learned early that the world is not a safe place.
  • They schedule everything.
  • They feel enormous academic pressure.
  • They feel like a generation and have great expectations for themselves.
  • Prefer digital literacy as they grew up in a digital environment. Have never known a world without computers! They get all their information and most of their socialization from the Internet.
  • Prefer to work in teams.
  • With unlimited access to information tend to be assertive with strong views.
  • Envision the world as a 24/7 place; want fast and immediate processing.
  • They have been told over and over again that they are special, and they expect the world to treat them that way.
  • They do not live to work, they prefer a more relaxed work environment with a lot of hand holding and accolades.

(source)



Irregardless of which generation we belong to, we are all Americans and need to work together towards the common good.  We all need to contribute towards the betterment of society.  When we narrow our focus to just ourselves we become selfish and short-sighted. Sadly, I feel that’s what is happening to a lot of individuals in my daughter’s generation.  It’s all about self-entitlement, not self-accountability.

In the end, all of us need to work together, find common goals, remember that we are Americans.

A lot can be said about the Greatest Generation.  We should remember the sacrifices made (i.e. D-Day) and what our grandparents (great-grandparents gave up) to ensure their descendents would have a free and meaningful life.

 

Dressing for success

The old adage is quite true.  When we conform to the professional world both physically and mentally we are bound to succeed.  However, with that being said…….when you work in an environment where the dress code is quite laxed, and the only people wearing suits is management, the mental mindset is undoubtedly what determines whether you will continue up the promotion ladder or not.

I am quite lucky in that I’ve been promoted 4 times in the past 12 years.  In the federal government you are promoted on merit and you take exams which will determine your current skill set, and, if you’re able to take on the additional responsibilities of the next higher grade.  What you wear is not as necessarily important as what you know.

I have seen various forms of dress from sweat pants to suits.  For myself, it depends on my current mood as to what I’ll pick out from my vast array of “vestments” from my colorful closet.  Today was a “blah” kind of day.



My husband sweetly pointed out I was dressed as all the others. I knew I was and yes, it was also a wake up call to perhaps step out of my comfort zone of jeans and t-shirt and break out my summer dresses and tasteful blouses.

I also realize if you dress for success it actually does affect your psyche. I do feel prettier and far more professional.

Just today wasn’t the day.

 

Perhaps tomorrow I’ll release this funk and create a fresh start.  Certainly my mood warrants it.

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Participating in the military funeral honors program

For most of my military career I have volunteered (or been assigned) to various duties.  The duty which stands out the most for me is the military funeral honors program.  This solemn event is one of my favorites to behold.  Full of rich history and steeped in military tradition, I am always in awe observing one of these in progress.

My wish is to be buried at Jefferson Barracks (alongside my husband)…among our bravest and finest soldiers, for me, is one of the greatest honors.

Below is  additional information for those of you who serve or know of  a family member who served and may wish to have this done:

 

Honoring Those Who Served

 

The rendering of Military Funeral Honors is a way to show the nation’s deep gratitude to those who, in times of war and peace, have faithfully defended our country. This ceremonial paying of respect is the final demonstration a grateful nation can provide to the veteran’s family. This website will provide information on Military Funeral Honors along with helpful links to websites related to other military and veterans’ issues. The website will also serve as a resource tool for our nation’s funeral directors as they assist veterans’ families by arranging Military Funeral Honors.

 

HONORING THOSE WHO SERVED
is our commitment to recognize the sacrifice and contributions of our nation’s veterans.

 

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(source)

Retirement? What’s that?

I calculated that I have at the very least 17 delightful more years of employment before I can retire.  My goal was 55 but unfortunately I am under the federal retirement system called the Federal Employee Retirement System (which sucks) or FERS for short. (source)

With that being said IF I retire with less than 30 years of service prior to 62 5% of my retirement pension will be deducted for each year am under the age of 62.

So, as of right now am trying to see about buying back my active duty time and apply it towards my total years of federal service.  If I am able to do that it means I can retire in about 13 to 14 years putting me at the tender age of 58. However, FERS employees only receive 1% of their base pay for each year they are in federal service.  So, 30% really isn’t a lot unless I put a bulk of my paycheck into my Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) and we all know with inflation and this shitty economy that’s not going to happen.

Friends have told me that eventually the pension will go the way of the Do Do Bird, and employees will have to invest instead in some kind of 401k plan.  Now, being a federal employee I am currently in no danger of losing my pension but when I reach 58 or 62 who the hell knows?

Scary to think I’d end up like those Detroit retirees whose pensions were to be frozen.  (source) Sad state of affairs. Perhaps a strong union would help. I feel it’s a travesty to our retirees taking their hard earned money. God only knows what’s in store for my daughter and future grandchildren.  It behooves young people to save NOW for their retirement.  Sock it away in something viable.  Though, when I was in my 20’s I wasn’t too concerned since we seem to think we are all invincible at that age.

If you are a federal employee or interested in becoming employed with the federal government here is some retirement info you can read to see if it’s something you really want to do:

FERS retirement topics:

  • Eligibility – The main eligibility requirements for the common types of retirements.
  • Computation – How your retirement annuity is computed.
  • Creditable Service – Rules showing the civilian and military service that can be used to compute your FERS retirement benefits.
  • Planning and Applying – It’s never too early to start planning for retirement in order to ensure it goes smoothly. Here you will find information to help ensure your retirement starts well.
  • Early Retirement – Explanation of the minimum retirement age and early retirement if your agency under goes a “reduction in force” or you are involuntarily separated other than for cause.
  • Types of Retirement – Learn about the age, service requirements and considerations affecting the various types of retirement.
  • Deferred – If you are a former Federal employee who was covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), you may be eligible for a deferred annuity at age 62 or the Minimum Retirement Age (MRA).
  • Survivors – When a Federal employee dies, monthly or lump sum benefits may be payable to survivors. Learn about these Survivor benefits here.
  • Military Retired Pay – Adding military service to your civilian service
  • Service Credit – Payment to increase your annuity for civilian service when no CSRS retirement deductions were withheld or were refunded or for military service after 1956.
  • Former Employees – Options if you leave your Government job before becoming eligible for retirement.