A week in California

By June 27, 2011work from home

Monday in Cali: Is Being a Full-Time Mommy a Career?

It was a Monday and two months had passed since my baby was born. I was left with a huge decision: Should I go back to work or not? Before he was born, I was confident that I would return. I had a promotion and a raise waiting for me. My job was turning into a career and I was finally making strides towards reaching my professional goals. Well, my son changed things drastically. As much as people tell you this, it never really sinks until you hold your baby for the first time.

After much deliberation, I made the decision to stay at home. I never pegged myself as a “housewife” or “stay at home mommy.” In my mind, I was going somewhere—somewhere important. I mean, that is the whole reason I went to college. I didn’t waste my time studying, staying up late, and stressing over classes just to stay at home and care for a baby. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a noble and extremely difficult responsibility, but it just wasn’t a part of my original plan.

Rather than sulk, I wanted to find ways where I could be a mother and a working professional at the same time. I spent a lot of time praying for God to open opportunities for me to do both. Family and friends have been telling me to try and find something online. Supposedly, it’s all the rage and it’s easy. Well, it’s not. Finding a credible online job is like trying to find a needle in a hay stack. So many offers are clouded by outrageous claims or sketchy application forms.

As a mom, being able to work from home is the ideal. While it is difficult to juggle both, I know that at the end of the day I am caring for my son and that will always be my first priority. These are just a few tips that have helped me beat the dreadful search of finding the right online job.

1. Be patient. More than likely, you will not find the right fit immediately.
2. Network. Find out if any of your friends have worked online before. If so, ask for their recommendations.
3. Build Your Profile. Take time to invest into your profile, resume or whatever else the company is looking for to hire you.
4. Be Willing to Start Small. Don’t expect to make the “big bucks” right away. Most of the time companies offer feedback so be willing to take the small jobs until you build your credibility. This will lead to bigger jobs down the line.
5. Be Selective. When describing your skills, work history, certifications, etc. include those that are relevant to what they are looking for. It is not always helpful to flood your profile with every bit of information about you.

Tuesday Cali: The Unexpected Side of California

Most of the world pegs California as it is depicted in the latest reality T.V. shows. However, if you travel upstate a few hours you will find your ideas about California to be untrue. Just North of L.A. you will climb what is known as the “Grape Vine.” This huge hill is like a metaphorical separation of two worlds. L.A. is fast-paced and the place everyone wants to be and full of people they want to become, but on the other side of that hill are acres and acres of farm land. This is where I now live.

My daily drive consists of passing miles of corn fields, grape vines, citrus orchards—you name it. I use to think this would be boring, but instead it has become de-stressing and downright inspirational. My mind is not preoccupied with the day’s tasks as I drive down the road. Rather, I frequently find myself trying to figure out what crop is growing and thinking about what it would be like to take a nap in the shade casted by the acre of walnut trees. Today was just like that.

Around 10am I got in the car to run a quick errand. Rather than worry about being in a rush or plagued by the days endless tasks, I looked forward to driving and getting to daydream a bit. When I got home, I was refreshed by day’s sights and sat down at my computer at home. It was time to work and I just knew it was going to be a great work day. There was no writer’s block. No stumbling through the Thesaurus trying to find the right word. Just the day’s inspiration flowing from my fingertips.

It is amazing what your environment can do for you. I never realized how much it had an impact on me till I moved. I love what I never knew about California until now. I have been out-of-touch and inundated by a consumer-mentality. It’s re-energizing to be able to enjoy a day without doing much but just listening and watching. Before, I would find myself trapped by T.V., facebook, or surfing the internet. Being willing to make a few lifestyle changes has provided me with a whole new perspective that motivates me to be work harder. Today was just an ordinary Tuesday. I can’t wait to discover more ways to be inspired by the beauty of Central California.

Wednesday in Cali: Writing Between Time Zones

It was 6:30 am in the morning when I woke up to the sound of a chattering toddler hoping that someone will bring him milk soon. Once he was settled, I checked my smart phone for any emails I may have received while I was sound asleep. Low and behold, an email from my editor proposing the topics for the upcoming magazine issue. As I read down the list, I quickly began organizing the topics in my head starting with the one that seemed the most interesting and ending with the topic that, in my mind, was the least interesting. I responded back without any hesitation in hopes of getting my first choice.

Within minutes, I received an email back. The editor informed me that while she would love for me tackle my first choice, she may have to give me my second. The reason? Simply because it required that I shop for a particular product that can only be found in that country. Because of my relocation back to my homeland, I could no longer fulfill this requirement. I settled for my second choice and began writing.

When I first hired, I was a contributing writer locally. Thankfully, the company liked me so much that they wanted to keep me as a writer even when I decided to relocate back to my home town, the United States. While outsourcing me as a writer has worked out thus far, I see now that it does propose its own challenges. There are going to be moments that despite your expertise, experience, or education living locally can have its advantage. Rather than allowing this to stifle my opportunities, I have found that the best way to making outsourcing work towards my advantage is to find where I’m most needed and to not worry about the areas I can’t reach. If the company values your contributions they will keep you and find a place where you will be the most effective.

In following two weeks, I plan to dedicate my time crafting an article that is rich in research, relevant and well written. My evenings will be set aside for this. Anyone with a toddler running around knows that you can’t get much done during the day time. So, with that said, my days will be spent being a mom changing diapers, playing in the dirt and cleaning up messes. When night strikes, I know that I can spend my time becoming the best writer I can be.

Thursday Cali: To Grandmother’s House We Go

Today, we get to take the five hour trip to visit Grandma’s house, though it will not be by car, but the reliable train. Most of us would probably say, “Who rides the train anymore?” It’s not very popular anymore, but I have really grown to love it.

My first experience riding the train was between the cities of Athens and Thessaloniki in Greece. I was a bit weary at first, but as the train rolled down the railways, I knew it was going to be a fun trip. I love that you can get up and walk around. You are not confined to a small seat and narrow aisles like a plane, and you can move about freely without being buckled into your car seat. It really makes traveling enjoyable. The ride is smooth and typically cuts through country sides that are not scene by the everyday passer buyer. Overall, I would recommend it to anyone.

To pass the time, I sat at a seat with a table, pulled out my computer and began working. With the sun setting on my left, it made for an ideal working environment, except for the fact that the internet went in and out as we passed through towns. I decided to copy and paste what I needed online to a word document so I wouldn’t have to worry about waiting for internet connection. Before I knew it was 11:00pm and we arrived at our destination in Irvine, CA. We were picked up by my brother-in-law who drove us another hour south to reach our final destination.

We arrived around midnight, and Grandma was ready to greet her grandson, who by the way was wide awake and had a case of the giggles. He did nothing but act silly the entire trip. Clearly, he was sleep deprived and all I could think about was what tomorrow was going to be like. Was I going to have to deal with a cranky baby all day? I prayed he would sleep in pass his normal wake time of 6:30am.

Rather than fall asleep right away, I decided to pig out and watch an episode of Grey’s Anatomy—-a personal favorite. Before I knew it, it was 1am and I figured I should probably go to sleep soon. Honestly, what was I thinking? My son will be ready to rise and shine at 6:30am no matter how much I had hoped that he would sleep in.

Friday in Cali: What Happened to the Time?

I started the day snuggling my son until 7:30am. It was nice to sleep in for a change. He drank his milk and ate his oatmeal and banana cereal. Once he was taken care of, it was time for me to get ready. My husband has the morning off and I was going to take advantage of the time to get a few errands down without have to carry my son along.

First stop was the Department of Health. I needed to get a TB test for a job I just got hired for last two weeks ago. Even as a child, I dreaded the needle. I didn’t cry hysterically, but I just hated the whole experience. Now, I get through it by turning my head and asking the doctor to tell me when they are going to stick me—-I hate surprises. I was done in about 5minutes, something that would be impossible if I had to tote a toddler with me.

Next stop was the Sheriff’s Department for fingerprinting. I had an appointment and if I didn’t make it, I would have to come back later. I got there about 30 minutes early. When the office assistant asked to see my Driver’s License, I opened up my wallet and could not find it anywhere. The assistant was not going to budge on the time or give me any grace if I missed my appointment. I decided to rush home and get it where I left it—in the computer scanner. Thankfully my husband was home and he walked out to the car to hand it to me. I got back to the Sheriff’s Department just in time and had my fingerprints done in about 5 minutes.

It was barely 10am and I had two important tasks done. Well, as the day went on, my time started to get away from me. I later stopped by a friend’s house to drop off something a borrowed. What began as a quick trip turned into an hour long stay followed by a two hour phone conversation while our little ones were napping. Though our chatting took much of the better part of the day, it was much needed and worth it. I was happy that I didn’t have to work a 9am-5pm job and could spend time with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while.

Before I knew it, it was dinner time. We ate and enjoyed family time, and then I realized I needed to get to work. It was nearing 9pm and I was just starting to work for the day. I’m glad I have the flexibility to work from home online. I can make time for the unexpected and still help support my family. All in all, it was a good day.

Saturday in Cali: Scorching Summers

Did I read that right? It is supposed to me 105 degrees Fahrenheit. The summer has hit like a sledge hammer and looks like it isn’t going away anytime soon. Guess it is time to pull out the tank tops and keep my hair pulled back—I can’t stand when my hair sticks to the back of my neck. Well, it was barely 9am and it was already in the 80’s. That alone made me weary of the temperature that was to come. I knew it was only going to get worse.

Though today, by anyone’s estimations, is going to be a hot day it is nowhere in comparison to that summer heat and humidity of the Philippines. Having lived abroad there the last three years, I have learned a new definition of hot. Not only is it hot, but you feel like taking shower and changing your clothes at least three times a day. Partly what makes the heat so unbearable is the expense of running air conditioning. So instead, most people, including myself sit in a house that is climbing in the 90’s with what feels like 100% humidity….ugh.

I plan to beat the heat the only way I know how. Thanks to Manila, where there is a mall every 5 miles, many go hang out in Starbucks and sit in the luxury of air conditioning so that is exactly what I am going to go do. I am not much of a coffee drinker so McDonald’s will do just fine. I will sit in the corner with my Strawberry Lemonade and enjoy free WiFi.

It was a perfect opportunity to search for jobs. I hit up the Classifieds in the local newspaper online, craigslist and whatever website that will give me an opportunity to make decent money without working full time. I spent the next two hours filling out applications in hopes of getting an interview in the next couple of days. I left McDonald’s with high hopes and cooled down from the summer heat.

When I got back home it was lunch time. Nothing to heavy or hot was would be on my menu. Maybe a chicken salad and iced tea would do. I pulled out the leftovers from dinner the night before and began making my salad topped with chicken, croutons and some parmesan cheese. I poured a glass of iced tea and sat on the couch to watch an episode of one of my favorite shows on Netflix.

Sunday in Cali: Connected 24/7

Some may say I might be a little late in the game, but I just got my first smart phone about two months ago. I wouldn’t say that I am not old fashioned but I don’t really care if I have the latest phone. Even till now, I don’t search and download apps or probably use the phone to its fullest potential. I know how to make calls, text, going online, take pictures, and my latest skills is using the GPS which has become quite handy.

I appreciated the value of my smart phone the most when we didn’t have internet at the house. Yeah, the screen was a bit small and there would are times that I get frustrated when I easily hit the wrong key, but at least I was connected.

Today, we were getting ready for church. Our family got in the car and found our seats comfortably up front. When the pastor began preaching, I turned to my husband and asked, “Can you show me how to use that online bible app?” He laughed at my naivety, but gladly helped. Good thing we meet in a school so the connection was strong as he quickly searched through the app store to download the application. I was ready to follow along in my Bible in a matter of minutes.

Years past growing up in the church I would have either brought my own Bible or borrowed one from the slot that ran along the back of the pew. Now, all I have to do is pull out my phone. Frankly, it was easier to navigate through the Bible too. Instead of frantically searching through all the pages and trying to keep up, I could find where I was going by clicking the book and chapter on my screen. Today’s passage was out of the book of Matthew.

Service ended about an hour later. I closed the app and put away my phone. It was nice to not have the Bible on hand without the weight. Carrying my purse, a diaper bag and chasing a toddler around at the same time makes not having to carry around one more thing relieving. After catching up with a few friends, we left and headed home for lunch. It was nearing 1pm and I was starving. I contemplated snatching a piece of my son’s PB & J sandwich, but wanted to make sure he wasn’t as starving as I was. He ended up gobbling the whole thing by the time we got home. My first stop was to bolt to the refrigerator door!

Cash Sender

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