Thursday, January 27, 2011


I had a second interview with a job that I was interested in. I blogged a bit about this before. This being the first job interview that I've gotten, if I make it through this final round of interviews, I would still have a lot of irons in the fire if the offer comes.

As I drove up to Seattle for the interview yesterday, I was thinking that this isn't the job that I want. It deals with cycling. It pays well (although I did find that health insurance isn't covered and that cuts deeply into the pay). It's a topic that I'm passionate about and I think that it could be fun (although expensive) to live in a downtown area for a couple of years. It is also sort of nice because it is only a 2-year position... since my pattern has thus far been to move every couple of years. There is also a lot that this job would not let me do. I would not be able to commute to work by bike (Ironic, huh). We certainly wouldn't be able to put much into savings with the given salary. And I don't know that it would be the best career move.

Anyway, As I drove up yesterday, I was thinking of how I didn't think the job payed enough (I had assumed that I would have to pay for mileage, but that is reimbursed and that would make a HUGE difference). I had in my mind that I was going to sort of back out of the offer because I don't think it was the best option for me. I was going to use the excuse of costs associated with the job as a reason to back out. But it didn't turn out that way. I still think that I want to keep looking. I don't think I should take the first job offered me... and I have some other prospects that I'm really excited about (but they are far from offering me a job).

Did you really read all that? Frankly it wasn't the full truth. The reality is that I think I had to stay in the running for this job because I'm competitive. I made it to the final four. I can't pull out right before they make the final decision. I don't think it is fair to them for me to stay in with no intention of taking the position (and maybe I would take the position). Anyway... I have a fear that part of the reason that I'm still in the running is because I'm competitive and I can't quit when I really should.

I've got some other job options that I'm excited about. I would really like to stay with the Y, but those interviews don't start until mid February. And there are some government jobs that I'm excited about, but it's hard to say how long those will take.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I found this and it's been very much what I've been thinking about.

"To be whole, let yourself break.
To be straight, let yourself bend.
To be full, let yourself be empty.
To be new, let yourself wear out.
To have everything, give everything up.

Knowing others is a kind of knowledge;
knowing yourself is wisdom.
Conquering others requires strength;
conquering yourself is true power.
To realize that you have enough is true wealth.
Pushing ahead may succeed,
but staying put brings endurance.
Die without perishing, and find the eternal.

To know that you do not know is strength.
Not knowing that you do not know is a sickness.
The cure begins with the recognition of the sickness.

Knowing what is permanent: enlightenment.
Not knowing what is permanent: disaster.
Knowing what is permanent opens the mind.
Open mind, open heart.
Open heart, magnanimity."
Laozi's Tao Te Ching

Actually the poem was a response to this video, which is one of the best TED talks I've ever seen. And yet still I fear making myself vulnerable.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The hard part

There is a lot that I don't like about looking for a job, but also a lot that I like about it. I just need to get it off my chest. I can't stand that every place you apply requires you to fill out this tedious form that requires that you input your work history and job history into a form. Then they have the nerve to ask for my resume. Do they not know that all that information is on my resume? Thanks, I feel a lot better now and I'll stop complaining about the mundane things that I just don't like doing.

What I love about looking for a job is the opportunity to dream about a new future. Dream about a new direction in life and dream of great outcomes. That brings me to another part that is difficult. It's not that I don't like this aspect, it's just that it's a challenge. I struggle to think of choosing between jobs. (See, I like to dream... I dream of multiple job offers... I dream of employers fighting over me as if I was the solution to all of their problems.)

I have my first interview next week. In many aspects it's a dream job. It is a temporary position for 2 years, working on a grant to promote cycling as a form of transportation. It's a project manager type position. I would be teaching bike safety, building collaborations with other community members and working to promote cycling. I think it would be an awesome job. The pay is reasonable, except the job is in downtown Seattle. Seattle is a great city and I think that I would like the cultural opportunities for me and the kids. I would also like being involved with the cycling community. I just know that living in Seattle is expensive and while this job pays more than I previously made, I didn't used to live in Seattle.

But then I think of the other jobs that I've applied for. While I think that the job in Seattle is something I would enjoy, I don't know that it is the right step for my career. I've never done anything (career wise) in cycling. Would it be like a 2 year hiatus from my area of focus or would it provide me with new and improved skills that would expand my opportunities. I wonder.

The jobs that I've applied for with the state government, Universities or Kaiser seem to be better steps for my career. They would better put to use my knowledge of human physiology and nutrition and I think they would better prepare me for more health promotion/public health type jobs. And I think that is the direction I would like to go. These are the jobs I have been preparing for with my education and career experience. They are dream jobs, but not in my favorite hobby that I've been passionate about for years.

And then there is the pay. Some of the other jobs that I applied for pay more than the job in Seattle (some pay 70% more), and they are located in areas where the cost of living is lower than it is in Seattle. One of our goals is to be free of all debt, and that wouldn't be possible in Seattle and it might be with some of the other jobs that I applied for. When I look at it with some of my bigger picture goals and longer term goals, I seem to feel that the Seattle job is less than perfect (although still very close to my dream job in many ways).

Here comes the real hard part. If I were offered a job in Seattle, would I take it? Is it really the best opportunity? Or would it be the only position that would even offer me a job (or an interview)? All the excitement, and all the worry all rolled up into one. I'm excited to see where I end up.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Selling everything

Before we moved out west, we sold just about everything we owned. We went from a 2000+ square foot house to a 8x30 trailer. Everything that we kept fit inside the trailer and the van that pulls it. With that said, I will be honest and say that we do have a few things that we removed from the van and camper and have stored temporarily in my sister-in-law's garage. We just don't want to have to trip over some stuff every day.

I tell people that we did this and they ask why, or they are 'sorry' that we had to sell our stuff. Honestly, selling our stuff was something we look forward to long before we had the big sale. I want to take the opportunity to explain what it is like.

To start, my wife and I have walked through our house on numerous occasions looking for the stuff we thought we could do without. We were sometimes able to get rid of a few things, but indefinitely we would justify most of the stuff that we had in our house because it was a convenience item or because we might need it sometime. When we decided to have a HUGE garage sale and sell most of our stuff, it was fairly easy to walk around and say that we were going to get rid of a bunch of stuff. It was easy to put prices on things and it was fairly easy to take someone's money and watch them walk away with what used to be ours. There just wasn't much that I was really attached to.

When the garage sale was over, the hard part began. There we were, mentally ready to go, but with a house full of stuff that we needed to get rid of. These were things that had value to us. These were items that we had used regularly for years. Nobody bought them at the garage sale, so it left us in a position where we either needed to try again to sell it, or give it away. That was the hard part, putting forth more effort to sell stuff or giving it away.

I'm going to take a little step back and say that it wasn't difficult to give stuff away. From the very beginning we had a pile of give away stuff. It wasn't hard to take the things we had set aside for a good cause to the homeless shelter. That actually felt really good. The hard part was the stuff that we intended to sell. These were items that were not really going to provide someone with a basic life essential. It was just stuff. Stuff people pay for. Stuff that I would now have to give to a charitable organization who would then sell it to make money. I wanted that money.

It was hard because I saw the value in stuff that I was giving away and I saw that someone else was going to reap the benefits of the value. But it was also hard because we just wanted to be through. We wanted the house to be empty and clean (and sold would be good too). We wanted to move onto the next step in the process.

When I left our house, there was still a pile of stuff in the garage for people to come and pick up. Habitat for Humanity was going to get some of it and a friend was going to take the rest. I really wish that had been taken care of long before we left rather than having to be left in the garage.

Now it's a few weeks later. I can't think of a single item that I miss. My wife regrets getting rid of The Chronicles of Narnia, but we'll be able to get those again at a library or used somewhere. I also think that we will miss our couch and love seat. It was Amish built and it was exactly what I like in living room furniture. It will be very expensive to replace (we bought it from Habitat for Humanity and got a really good deal on it). I don't think that the living room furniture can be considered a regret, because there really wasn't a way for us to keep it, but there will be a time in the future that I wish I had those back. Just like I think back at once owning a VW Thing. I wish I still had that Thing.

So far, life with less stuff has been a wonderful experience. I played Scrabble with my kids and my wife this evening. We read more often together. I think it has been really good for us. When I think of getting a new place, I am afraid of getting something too big. I like having my family close where I can be with them as they talk to themselves to sleep, I can hear them sleep. I can hear them stir. I can be the first to tell them 'good morning' when they wake up. So far, so good. I look forward to more experiences with my family. I feel richer than I have ever been. I wonder what my kids will remember when they are my age.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The job search

I am currently looking for a job. I knew that was part of leaving Kentucky, I knew that I would have to find a new job in the Northwest. I even knew that the job market wasn’t great. What I forgot to calculate into the equation is that I am over educated with a degree that can’t get you a job in any field.

My training is in Exercise Physiology and Health Promotion. I chose the field because I like the approach of the discipline. Instead of specializing in part of the body, Exercise Science looks at the body as a whole. The medical world is getting more and more specialized; you have a doctor for your feet, another for your ear nose and throat, and another for your endocrine system, etc. The field of exercise science is one of the few that still looks at a body as a whole. It looks at the endocrine, renal, and thermal regulatory responses to exercise (and at rest, and fasting, and after eating, and in a diseased state, etc).

Most people, when they think of exercise science, first think of either sports or personal training. I didn’t go into the field for either reason. I am in exercise science because I like the broad base that it gives me to help people achieve health. In my studies, I branched out a little to look at overall health through the lens of civil engineering, public policy, and public health. I wanted to understand why people make the decisions that they do, and what can be done in the planning, design or prevention realm to help people be healthier.

So here I am, I have a master’s degree and have finished all but my dissertation in exercise science. While working on my PhD, I was also working toward a minor in public health. I have a very good understanding of how the body works and how to make it healthy. I have some background in public policy and civil engineering and I have a little exposure to the public process to make changes.

When I think philosophically about education, I feel that I have been very well educated and should be a top candidate for a large variety of needed positions.

Unfortunately, that is not the case. As I look at job announcements, the positions that interest me. The positions that I feel I would be really good at all require a nursing, dietetics or public health degree. I have quite a bit of education in all of those fields, but the letters that I have behind my name are BS, MS, and ABD. I don’t have an RN, RD or MPH, so I therefore don’t qualify for the jobs that interest me.

When applying for a job, they have a list of ‘required qualifications’ and if you don’t have those, they won’t consider you further. I think that there should be a way for me to submit my qualifications that would magnify my different perspective. I think that I have the experience and expertise to do well at a large variety of jobs, but my education hasn’t provided me what I need to get the jobs. I don’t have the right letters behind my name.

As I look at options, I wonder. Would it be more productive to go back to school and get an MPH, RN or PT degree? After 8 and a half years of formal education, returning to school isn’t overly appealing, but I fear that those 8.5 years have been a total waste, so a few more years might actually qualify me to get a job. The ultimate frustration is that I feel qualified to do a whole lot. I even feel qualified to do a whole lot that is greatly needed in our society, yet I don’t qualify for the available jobs.