Issues, Labor Issues, Quotes & Excerpts, Thea's Thoughts

Working Smarter Rather Than Just Working Hard

Because of the recent tragedy in our family, I’d been reflecting on what are the most important things in life. A few of the things I’d been thinking about are time and work. Don’t get me wrong. I love what I do for work. I’m thinking about how I’m going to juggle quality time with my little munchkin and being my best at work at the same time. Because of this, I’d been reflecting on about the American perception of working hard. I’d been hearing about this “working smart” idea for the longest time and I want to apply it to my life somehow.

Making Time
Making Time

Working smart is not about working less or not working hard at all. I think working smart is about finding the job that you’re passionate about, balancing life and work by spending quality time with your family, taking care of your health and rejuvenate, and still have time to take care of your chores.

According to the American Psychological Association, we have an overstressed nation. “As the aftershocks of the Great Recession continue to be felt across the country, money (76 percent), work (70 percent) and the economy (65 percent) remain the most oft- cited sources of stress for Americans. Job stability is on the rise as a source of stress; nearly half (49 percent) of adults reported that job stability was a source of stress in 2010 (compared to 44 percent in 2009). At the same time, fewer Americans are satisfied with the ways their employer helps them balance work and non-work demands (36 percent compared to 42 percent in 2009).” This stress could translate to physical and mental health problems.

I don’t always agree on Bill Maher’s politics but on this one he has a point: “Our politicians love to brag, “The American worker is the most productive worker in the world.”  Yeah, ’cause they work scared. That’s why a majority don’t even take all of the few vacation days they get.  Because you don’t want to seem less valuable to your boss…”

There’s a movement named, “Take back your Time” which is working on ideas for an action and a comprehensive program to win more free time for Americans. They have a website:

http://www.timeday.org/

Also, they’re promoting a bill called” The Minimum Leave Protection, Family Bonding and Personal Well-Being Act:

http://www.timeday.org/right2vacation/Minimum%20Leave%20Protection%20Bill.pdf

I’d been thinking about how this proposed bill would mean to me. I work on a contractual basis and I think about what will happen when my contract ends this year.  I really like where I’m working now which have a flexible working time. Because our government  don’t have any mandated vacation time, I worry about the next job that comes along.  Would it have the same working conditions that I have now?

I’ m also thinking about the employer’s perception on single parents. Even if there’s a considerable progress that has been made here in this country, there’s still a perception that if you’re a woman and you’re the sole provider for the child, you’re somehow limited on what you can do at work. I think that if you’re not available to work overtime because you need to pick up your child at school at a certain time or you have to take a half day off so you can be with your child  for their dance recital, it doesn’t mean that you’re not capable of the job. I think that mandating vacation time would protect my quality time for my son,  for myself and still be productive at the same time.

It’s ironic how Americans joke about how other industrialized nations have mandated vacation time with an average of 20 days paid time off on top of public holidays and sick leaves and yet, we secretly wish we have the same thing.

Grief & Loss, Healing, Quotes & Excerpts, Reminiscing, The Aftermath, Thea's Thoughts

Memories

“Memories are what warm you up from the inside. But they’re also what tear you apart.”
~ Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

I know that it’s coming from the heart when people tell me that I can take comfort with the good memories I had with Steve. I do appreciate the good thoughts and prayers that’s coming my way, even from people who I don’t even know and just happen to stumble about Steve’s story from the news or from the webpages.

Steve Swimming in the Open Sea
Steve Swimming in the Open Sea

I don’t know if anyone could understand that when I think about him, I would rather have him than thoughts of him. Thinking about all the things we’d done, all the places we’d traveled together, it just makes me yearn for him more. I just ended up sobbing. I wish I could make more memories with him but I can’t. I’m very aware that this is all a process. I have to learn and to accept how to live without him. And that thought still makes me cry. How can anyone eventually live without the love of their life? I don’t even know if anyone has an answer to this.

Boracay Trip with Steve
Boracay Trip with Steve

There are occasions that any thoughts about him makes me smile. Most of the time, it’s something that someone said that reminded me of a joke that Steve and I shared, or something funny that Steve said or did when he was still alive. There are just a few people who knows this side about Steve. He was just more than a quiet man.

My family and friends literally embraced Steve into their lives.
My family and friends literally embraced Steve into their lives.

By the way, to those who sent messages, condolence or mass cards, funeral flowers, gifts and donations to me, I’m truly grateful for all your generosity. I haven’t finished with my thank you cards but know that all of you had touched me deeply with your kindness.

“Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Tears from the depths of some divine despair
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
In looking on the happy autumn fields,
And thinking of the days that are no more.”
~ Alfred Tennyson

Boracay Trip with Steve
Boracay Trip with Steve
Grief & Loss, Healing, Quotes & Excerpts, Thea's Thoughts

Books About Grief And Loss

I’d always loved reading books. I could go on for days just reading. Steve loved it, too. We could be sitting side by side reading a book. But we do have different taste in books. He prefers nonfiction and I prefer fiction works. But these days, it seems I have a lot less time for reading. Whenever I can, I try to read a few pages at a time to read a book.

Here are some of the books that I’m currently reading or planning to read:
“No Time to Say Goodbye: Surviving The Suicide Of A Loved One,” by Carla Fine.

No Time To Say Goodbye
No Time To Say Goodbye

 

“Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide,” by Kay Redfield Jamison.

Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide
Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide

 

“Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief,” by Pauline Boss.

Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief
Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief

 

These books had been inspiring me to continue on writing down my thoughts. Maybe, I’ll write a book someday but that’s too far ahead and that thought scares me. Again, one day at a time.

The last set of books that Steve had been reading were:
Red on Red: A Novel,” by Edward Conlon
“Blood Lessons.” by Charles Remberg
“The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict between America and Al-Qaeda,” by Peter Bergen
“A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose,”by Eckhart Tolle

 

Funeral, Healing, Recovery, Reminiscing, The Aftermath, Thea's Thoughts

Seeing Steve Again

In the 80 days that Steve had been missing, I’d always anticipated that he’ll be coming back home. But sometimes, it felt like that the probability of Steve coming back was nil. There were times I’d felt uneasiness in the pit of my stomach because I had no idea where he was.

A Man In Brown Suit
A Man In The Brown Suit

The longest time Steve and I were apart was when he was training to become an FBI Special Agent. We didn’t see each other for two months and yet, we called each other almost everyday. After that, I would visit or stay with him. I knew then where he was and he was doing something really important for himself and I supported that. We always supported each other’s career. We both believe that a person’s work should be something that you enjoy. It should be more than just a job.

The EAP staff from the FBI picked me up from work that morning when the news broke Continue reading “Seeing Steve Again”

Healing, The Aftermath, Thea's Thoughts

At Work

One of the things that has been helping me to live through “this” is my work. There are days that it’s a struggle to get up in the morning but because I’m working, I have something to look forward to. I have a reason to get myself together aside from my precious little one, regardless of my pain.

The little munchkin having fun at Disneyland.
The little munchkin having fun at Disneyland.

The unexpected kindness from my colleagues at work was overwhelming. They respected my privacy in spite of the very public way our family’s tragedy had been unfolding. And my bosses. I’ll never forget what one of my bosses said to me when I told him that I needed another week to be off to take care of the funeral arrangements:
“Just take care of what you needed to do for yourself and your family. You don’t have to worry about work. Whenever you’re ready, we’re here to welcome you with open arms.” I bawled after that.

It is important to me because my work allows me to contribute however small that is to something beautiful, something that makes people happy. And that’s one the things that gives meaning to my life right now.

Thank you.