Tag Archives: work

New Year, New Job!

So if you’ve been following me for a little while you’ll know that in 2013 I went part time in pursuit of happiness. This was a tough, but fantastic decision. Did it increase my quality of life? You betcha. It was still a difficult year because Ben was diagnosed with a long term illness that compromises his life quality, but work improved through the roof. I can honestly say I’m happy and whole at work. I relaxed a lot and got to know the amazing (and frankly, fucking crazy) people I work with much better.

I ummed and ahhhed about whether to go back to full time this year. I decided part time, told the bosses, then found out I missed out on a short-term position because I was too hard to replace. Luckily, they’re awesome and let me change my mind.

I had a lot of good things lined up for 2014, it was tipped to be a good work year. Little did I know things were going to change before they even began. Just before we went on holidays for the year, I was asked (no expression of interest, I was just asked!) to fill a position for one year because a colleague is leaving. It will mean a busier schedule during the day, but much, much less take home work. It will mean more responsibility and decision making, will be amazing on my resume, is a very rare opportunity for someone in my field and most importantly, I will be working with people in an area I love and am passionate about.

To top it off, I’ll be doing some more academic writing, being a keynote at a local conference and hopefully will attend my field’s national conference to present a workshop- something I did last year when it was in Brisbane and loved.

I feel that my hard work is being recognised and am looking forward to kicking some arse this year- with work, with relationships and with happiness. Can you just feel the ridiculous happiness radiating from your computer?! Then go and have a green smoothie, because you’ve been at the computer too long 😛

What opportunities are you going to make the best of this year?

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Work It

So I made a maxi skirt the other day and discussed how I would wear it. But if I want to corporate it up, I would wear it like this. And I did.

IMAG2931Like a boss.

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Tortilla Bake

So back in high school, my first job was working at a Mexican take-away shop in the food court of a shopping centre. I know. Magical. We made nachos with liquid cheese and crumbed chicken burgers with the corn chips that crushed and were left in the bottom of the tub. Tres authentic. Three afternoons a week and all day Saturday I would smile patiently at the lady and her adult son who would come in, order, eat most of the meal and then come back with a complaint and demand a refund (Dad taught me how to deal with them and I would make every step of the meal with them watching me, asking them if I was putting on too much salsa, if they wanted me to zap the final product so it was extra hot, etc. etc. Thanks Dad). On Thursdays, in the lull between afternoon and late-night shopping, I would clean every inch of tiles and counter, scrub out the deep-fryer and fold a million paper napkins around two million pieces of plastic cutlery. I would get free pizza and garlic bread from the (also now gone) Italian take-away next door at the end of the night. I was so special.

I started on 6.64 AU an hour and started saving for a car immediately. Later I saved for schoolies and then moving out to go to uni. My first boss was great but the couple who bought the business later were really nasty and didn’t like that another part-timer and I had been working there more than a year and therefore couldn’t be easily fired and were also getting on in age (17. Over the hill).

Even thought the other girl quit, storming out one lunch after being accused of stealing from the register (an embarrassment I would also later be accused of) and I was berated in front of customers if I was too generous in my servings, I stuck at that job until I moved to Brisbane.

AND YET…

I never liked Mexican food.

That’s right. Mexican was never as popular in Australia as it has been for a long time in the USA, because Mexican meant Old El Paso taco shells or tortillas, salsa and sachets of mince meat seasoning. There were no other brands to buy, you couldn’t get flat bread in the bakery of the supermarket yet and so it was quite expensive. Add to that I never liked cheese and (still don’t like) sour cream, I was not one to beg for Mexican for dinner. Hell, I didn’t even like corn chips and salsa at parties.

And I’m not sure what changed. I’d like to tell you a story about a friend’s mum who made amazing authentic Mexican taught to them by Indigenous people of Mexico’s highlands (does Mexico even have highlands?), but I can’t. I have no idea when my taste buds changed (probably when I stopped being such a picky eater) but I would place a bet and say it was probably nachos. White people love nachos 😉

One dish that I loved and began recreating from the take-away store was tortilla bake. We made a chicken and a beef on and people lost their minds over it. This tortilla bake is obviously vego, could be vegan if cheese was left out and could be healthier if I had used less cheese. It was supposed to be special and “what the hell”, we had the cheese to spare. These days, I see tortilla bakes all over sites like Pinterest but, back in 2001, this was the best you could get.

In pictures, with explanatory captions, is my current incarnation of tortilla bake.

IMAG1882

I have, from the left, a can of Mexi beans (basically kidney beans in sauce but we had no home made ones), chipotle sauce, corn, pre-cooked capsicum and onion, olive oil spray, tortillas.

I have, from the left, a can of Mexi beans (basically kidney beans in sauce but we had no home made ones), chipotle sauce, corn, pre-cooked capsicum and onion, olive oil spray, tortillas.

Spray the bottom and sides of a pie dish, cake tin or whatever dish fits your tortillas and place your first tortilla inside.

Spray the bottom and sides of a pie dish, cake tin or whatever dish fits your tortillas and place your first tortilla inside.

Start layering. You can see a layer of beans, capsicum and onions, and corn here. Change the ingredient to suit your budget and preferences.

Start layering. You can see a layer of beans, capsicum and onions, and corn here. Change the ingredient to suit your budget and preferences.

Add a layer of cheese (I thought I'd leave out that photo because I'm sure you know what cheese looks like) and then add a second tortilla. . I've then used the back of a spoon to smear a layer of chipotle sauce onto this tortilla. This can be done on the first tortilla too, depending on your tastes.

Add a layer of cheese (I thought I’d leave out that photo because I’m sure you know what cheese looks like) and then add a second tortilla. . I’ve then used the back of a spoon to smear a layer of chipotle sauce onto this tortilla. This can be done on the first tortilla too, depending on your tastes.

Add another layer of beans, veg and cheese followed by a tortilla until you fill your pan. Our dish is really shallow so we only get two layers. Then add a final tortilla, more sauce and top with cheese. Chuck that puppy in the oven until the cheese is cooked and it's hot all the way through.

Add another layer of beans, veg and cheese followed by a tortilla until you fill your pan. Our dish is really shallow so we only get two layers. Then add a final tortilla, more sauce and top with cheese. Chuck that puppy in the oven until the cheese is cooked and it’s hot all the way through.

It's good to let it rest and firm up after you get it out of the oven. If you can wait. Otherwise, serve with sides of your choice, like a green salad, corn cobs, or in our case, European styled cabbage and mushrooms. Yeah, I don't know why we chose that either.

It’s good to let it rest and firm up after you get it out of the oven. If you can wait. Otherwise, serve with sides of your choice, like a green salad, corn cobs, or in our case, European styled cabbage and mushrooms. Yeah, I don’t know why we chose that either.

AI AI AI.

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The Decision to Earn Less, But Live More

After the unhappiness binge that was 2012, I wanted 2013 to be better. Anyone who knows me would tell you that I’d not exactly one to sit around and do nothing if I feel something needs to be done. Oh, the pity party continued, but in my head while I did other things. I decided that I would ask my boss if I could go part time for one year. She was very cool about it, saying that she’d rather let me recharge than change jobs or go crazy at work.

And have the time to chill with Confucius.

And have the time to chill with Confucius.

It wasn’t an easy decision. The feeling that if I had this conversation with my boss, I would be seen as a failure was one I wrestled with for quite a while before I talked to her. Would she think I couldn’t handle the pressures of my job, would it limit me for future projects or promotions? Would she just think I was a wimp?

Luckily, she didn’t (openly) think any of those things. I still work five days a week, but I have two mornings off. One I spend on mundane, happy things: running, pottering around the house, reading and generally fighting back against stress. The other, I spend doing some academic and conference writing, hoping to get published based on my conference workshops later this year or early next year. Funnily enough, it seems I’ve had to take time off work to potentially advance my career…

I’ve taken what I’ve witnessed from other part time colleagues and come up with a plan that works for me. Apart from my two mornings, I use my time at work very carefully so I don’t end up doing extra work anyway- very common for part-timers in my profession. I’m super busy at work, but, apart from key busy times during the year (usually about 6), I should have little work to take home. I still stay at work after hours a few days a week, but I’d rather work at work than at home.

This of course meant accepting a pay decrease, which happened to coincide to moving to a new place where I now pay $45 more per week. Ben works part time, but his work doesn’t bring in much and can be sporadic. He’s also on a uni prac, which limits shifts.

So why accept less- less work, less money, fewer opportunities? To live more. I realised that working for tomorrow all the time- that potential job, that potential project- meant that I wasn’t in the moment. I wasn’t enjoying today. Today, with my lovely husband, my supportive friends, my beautiful city. I wanted more, so I settled for less. In fact, it isn’t settling, it’s having the best.

I see my city and my relationships in a new way- the natural and structural beauty, which is free to view, the simplicity of having friends round for a rustic meal rather than an impressive dinner party or expensive meal out, walks with Ben that don’t have to end in coffee.

I haven’t been happier.

The path to happiness. Well, a vintage clothes shop anyway.

The path to happiness. Well, a vintage clothes shop anyway.

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