Me at 36!

Where does time go? No one really knows. My guess is that God collects all the time you've had on earth and stores them in a special box so that one day when you meet Him, He will review your life story and ask you which part of it you liked best, which season was the hardest and which moments taught you the greatest lessons. But that's just my imagination. 

I turned 36 years old yesterday and there's a part of me that couldn't believe it. Hence the question I wrote in the beginning of this post. 

Every year my husband has two questions for me on my birthday.

1. How does it feel to turn another year older?
2. What are your birthday thoughts and wishes? 

The answer to his first question is always, "I feel the same way I did on my last birthday." I don't feel old - that's what I meant. People even tell me all the time that I look young for my age. Why, thank you people! Please keep those compliments coming, haha! : ) I do what I can to take care of myself but will you judge me if I've been skipping gym time lately? I promise I won't tell anyone about the half dozen donuts you inhaled in one sitting. Fair enough? : )

My birthday was celebrated in a small and simple way. At first, our plan was to invite some of our friends for lunch but I changed my mind when I realized the cost. Before you call me stingy, read on. We already spent money when we traveled to Utah on the first week of July so for me that trip was more than enough for an advanced birthday treat. 

The goal is to save up so you can "live it up" and by "living it up" I mean to be able to live comfortably and decently. I don't have a very active social life so I don't live it up that way. If you're getting older but you're not getting wiser (in this case, financially) then you're doing it wrong. I mean, come on, I like our friends - but a quiet dinner for 2 was what I preferred (hint: introvert). We had dinner at a Thai restaurant of my choosing where they served us my favorite pad see ew. For appetizer we shared their nutty prawns and then my husband ordered the duck curry which I thought was the most delicious duck curry I've ever tasted. Then for dessert, my husband got me a cute bundt cake for us to share. Did I make a wish and blow my candle? Sure I did. All captured on video and photos. 
I received a surprise gift from my husband on the eve of my birthday. He gave me a beautiful necklace with a pink pearl pendant. It looked pretty as it hung on my neck. He said that he had to secretly take a photo of my pearl earrings to give him an idea of what necklace would perfectly match them. How sweet!

Now on to my birthday thoughts and wishes...if you ask me what I'm thinking about and wishing for, prepare for a deluge of (random) ideas and hopeful desires. I came up with a list because, well, you know it's my go-to tactic to clearly share my thoughts (my mind goes a mile a minute, so listing it down helps me focus). 

1. This getting older thing is something that does not scare me or depress me. Aging happens to all. 

2. As I get older, I discover new things about my personality that I didn't pay attention to before. It's worth it to have a deeper understanding of myself since I almost always think I'm weird. 

3. I've forgiven people who hurt me. When I forgive, I set myself free. Forgiveness is really for my own good. 

4. There really is a fair-weather type of friend so I'm being careful on who I give my energy to. 

5. Being a difficult person is different from being a person who is having a difficult time. I have Ann Voskamp to thank for that. 

6. I wish to travel more. 

7. I wish to one day work from home. I just wish I know how to successfully make that happen. 

8. I have joy down in my soul. A fulfilled life is an inside job. 

9. I am enough. Because of what Jesus did on the cross for me, I am enough. May I never forget this golden truth.

10. My life is my art. Thank you Lord for this life and for helping me to become creative with it. 

Not career-oriented.

Photo by on Unsplash

I am not a career-oriented individual. That might confuse anyone who just read my previous post because I spent weeks applying and interviewing to finally get the job. But let me say it again, I am not career-oriented. I live and work in the Silicon Valley with my husband (who is very driven to succeed in his engineering career) but my mindset is not like the rest of the SV folks whose days begin and end with conference calls, trying to figure out the next best technology that will change the world. I am simply content with the job that I have and I don't have the desire to be promoted to a higher job title. I work as an Executive Assistant to the CFO of a successful tech company. Nothing goes if the CFO says no. My responsibilities include managing his daily work schedule, ensuring that I connect people to him so urgent matters are discussed and running his daily office operations smoothly. 

Is my job boring to you? It doesn't bother me. I will not trade the freedom, work load and schedule that I have with a high corporate job title that will stress me out and rob me of my precious time with the person I want to be with the most - my husband. Some would say that I could earn more if I aim for a management position -- excuse me, who said that money is all that matters? If we're not careful, money can fool us to think that it is the main goal. It is not. Money is just a tool. I am happy to earn a decent salary with the work I do and I know that financial increase can happen if I perform my job well. The responsibilities (in other words: headache!) that come with a management position do not sound appealing to me, so no, thank you. 

But let's say for example I have a high-paying corporate job. What good does it really bring when I'm tied to my  office desk and can't even take a week off to go on vacation with my loved ones? And is it really worth it to earn so much money and have the respect of the business community when my husband hates me because I'm never present when he needs me? I don’t think I am capable of handling a demanding job that pays a lot but ruins my life in the end. 

My marriage matters more to me than my job. My life outside of the office is my priority. I don’t speak for everyone as I am sure there are married couples who can successfully manage their busy careers and personal lives even when both of them are very career-oriented. But in our case, I have decided that only one person should be highly focused on career and the other should fully support that goal. I chose to support the career goals and dreams of my husband and let him soar to achieve them. My role is to encourage his creativity and leadership. We’re a team. Our marriage is fun and thriving because we find balance in everything we do. 

As for me, I work because:
1. I am an adult with bills to pay. (Haha!)
2. I want to help my husband build a good future for both us.
3. I want to earn money to give back to the community, help people and travel to many different countries.
4. I want to use the skills I've been given. 
5. Work is a gift from God. 

While I applaud the go-getters, achievers and glass ceiling breakers, I also praise ordinary people who have found satisfaction and contentment by working steadily and faithfully in their chosen jobs - even if they never get promoted. I praise those people who go out there and work diligently everyday, unbothered by whether they move up the career ladder or not. I salute industrious and reliable employees. Some of you may just be like me who prefer the stability of a simple job, without prestigious titles before your names, just waking up early everyday to get things done and provide for your family. I am cheering for you!

What I'm saying is if you are happy with where you're at in your career, good for you. If you've found something that strikes a perfect balance between office and home life, good for you. If you're career-oriented and can still take care of yourself and your most important relationships, good for you. 

"Don't you have big dreams? Don't you want to be the boss?" -- let me tell you something: I do have dreams and they may not be as big as yours but they are my dreams and I want to achieve them. Besides, what's wrong with small dreams? Do not despise the day of small beginnings! (Zechariah 4:10) I don't have to or want to be the boss. I can lead in my own little way without being called "boss". 

Does it mean I advocate complacency and laziness when I say I am not career-oriented? No, don’t take it the wrong way. My point is whatever legal and decent job your hands find to do, do it well. If you believe that your current job is what you want to do until you retire, do it well. 

I am not career-oriented, rather I am life-oriented. You can choose the kind of life you want to live. May you enjoy the path you have chosen. 

praise report: yay, new job!

There is no better way to say it ---

I got the job! Yes! Praise God!

Let me give you a little history of how this good news came. A few days before this job was offered to me, my recruiter informed me that I was a finalist for the role and I'd get a status update before the weekend. So I waited. I prayed. I kept reliving the scenes in the meeting room where I had my interviews. I debated whether my answers to their questions satisfied them or not. Did I impress them? I wondered how good the other candidate was. A hundred other anxious thoughts swam through my head. I held my breath. My hope was dissipating as Monday came because no one called or emailed me about the result. I kept my laptop and phone beside me at all times. I didn't want to miss the news - whatever it is, I 'd take it. Minutes became hours. I started to believe the other person got the job. I got up and went to our bedroom feeling so discouraged and defeated. I wanted to hide. I was tired. 

And then my phone rang. It was my recruiter. I didn't know how to feel or what to say to her. I wasn't nervous, not even excited to hear whatever she was going to tell me.

Recruiter: Hello, how are you?
Me: Hi, I'm good. (I tried to sound so cheerful but who was I kidding? I was not feeling good!) Thanks for calling me back. What's up? 
Recruiter: So, we just got the confirmation from (insert company name here) and they wanted you to join the team! Congratulations, you got the job!
Me: (stunned, could not believe what I just heard!) Oh wow, really! That's great! 
Recruiter: They want to know if you can start next Monday.
Me: (trying not to cry) I can definitely start on Monday. 


What just happened? What did God just do to me? Isn't He amazing? He heard my prayers and the many prayers that my husband prayed on my behalf! God proved His faithfulness to me again. This is another one for the books. 

Please excuse me while I do my happy dance!

Stepping Out and Looking Up

I'm stepping out to take a chance
And if I fly or if I fall it's in Your hands
You're the Maker of my dreams
And You'll make a way for me
So I'm stepping out
I'm stepping out to take a chance
(by Group 1 Crew)

Yesterday I spent 3 hours on this page trying to share my frustration about job hunting. I wanted to document my struggles in the last 42 days of being unemployed as well as my recent interview experiences. I managed to write about how I felt but my words were empty so I stopped and walked away. This isn't working, I thought. I needed a break from my own thoughts so I scrolled through Instagram and checked what others were doing. I assumed some of them were having a bad day, too, just like me. Hey Misery, you want company? 

Late in March I started getting phone calls from recruiters. My planner has a list of all the interviews I've had and all the companies I submitted my resume to. I knew that making a list would help me track my application process. I don't think list-making will ever lose its value to me. To make my storytelling easier, I came up with a "list" of stories about each recruiter I got in contact with.

Recruiter # 1
- I met him in their office after he interviewed me on the phone. The building was undergoing construction so I had to ask the workers in the lobby where the main door was. They were speaking Spanish which I clearly didn't understand. Thankfully someone in the group knew English and told me to enter through the other office. Anyway, my recruiter apologized for the mess and proceeded with my interview. He asked about my qualifications and what I want for my next job. He tried to submit my resume to an accounting firm that needed admin support but when I checked their company reviews on Glassdoor, people had more negative things to say than positive ones. I declined. He tried to look for other openings but the second company he offered to me was far from where I live so he got a double decline from me. Sorry. 

Recruiter # 2
- She called me from Illinois but the job opening was in Sunnyvale, California. They're looking for a part time office assistant who will man the reception desk and do other ad hoc tasks. I declined to be interviewed for this role because she lost me at the word "reception". I am not conceited. I have nothing against receptionists (I used to be a front desk associate. I respect these people and the job they do!) but I no longer see myself in an entry level position. 

Recruiter # 3
- He called me a few days after I responded to the job advertisement he posted on LinkedIn. He said the client he's working for is Yahoo! and they're looking for an executive assistant to help a couple of directors. It was a contract work for 6 months with possible extension. I asked him which department this executive assistant would support and he said, "Oh sure I can definitely help you with that, let me ask the team in Yahoo and I will get back to you." That conversation happened on March 30, 2017, fast forward to almost the end of April and I still haven't heard from him. 

Recruiter # 4
- Actually this person was not a recruiter - he was the Hiring Manager! He's with a start up company and they're looking for an Office Manager to help them organize the new office they recently moved into. He said it was a part time job and the pay rate was within my range. He asked me hypothetical questions on the spot!

*How will you manage if I tell you that we need to paint the conference room?
*I need to order purple ribbons for marketing purposes. What will you do to accomplish the task? 

I came up with answers as fast as I could but my gut was telling me this was not the job I wanted. So nope, I didn't get a call back from him even though he said he was going to update me on my application status. 

Recruiter # 5
- He was referred to me by the previous agency who gave me my most recent assignment. One day he emailed me with the information for a job opening at Google. Their mobile team was looking for a Project Coordinator/Associate to support the Technical Lead and her team. Of course I wanted to apply for that position, it's Google! I was really looking forward to be interviewed but things went south because that job req was cancelled and the recruiter didn't update me even if I followed up many times. He was not very proactive and responsive. I have a friend who works at Google and he even tried to reach out to this recruiter on my behalf. Guess what? The freakin' recruiter didn't respond to him, not even with a sigh!

Recruiter # 6
- This was the second time a recruiter found me on LinkedIn (my profile is private, how cool is it that they get to access my professional info?) He works for Apple and told me that the Wireless Team is looking for an admin assistant to support managers and directors. This was exciting news for me! Oh my goodness...really?! Apple noticed my resume?! They rejected my applications a few years ago :-)
Anyway, the recruiter was very direct with his questions about my employment history and all the stuff I did before as an executive assistant. He described the team and walked me through the job description. I believed I could do the job but I started losing interest when he mentioned working off hours to support the staff in UK. The pay rate was lower than what I expected and I didn't want to go through the rigorous interview process that they intended for this role. In short, I declined to be further interviewed by the managers (because he wanted me to meet them the week after our initial phone interview). Yes, I'm the girl who said no to Apple.

Recruiter # 7
- She called me one afternoon while I was busy writing a cover letter for another job application. She said her company was looking for an admin who will be able to stand 10 hours and do an assembler's work. Wait, WHAT????????? I politely excused myself from the call and told her that she was talking to the wrong person. Then she asked, "What job are you looking for then?" and I replied, "I am an executive assistant supporting senior managers. I don't know where you got my resume from but I am not the person you should be interviewing because I don't even know what assemblers do. Sorry, thank you for trying to reach out." End of convo.

Recruiter # 8
- She has been trying to place me at Adobe since February but the department kept cancelling the job order so this opportunity didn't get me anywhere. It's okay, though. The recruiter was nice and I could tell she really wanted to give me a chance.

Recruiter # 9 
- I reconnected with my very first agency in the Bay Area and told the manager of my current status. She immediately asked for my updated resume and said she will help me with my hunt. I haven't received any job leads from them yet. Most of their clients are looking for applicants with accounting background. Uhmm, I don't have what they're looking for and that's fine. 

Recruiter # 10 
- I got in touch with this recruiter 2 years ago when I desperately tried to get out of a dead-end job. She gave me an honest piece of advise back then and have assisted me in looking for a job. I got in touch with her again in February but we never really got to work on a solid job lead because of the office areas she's concentrating on. We have the case of the "north and south", I'm here and she's over there. Guess we never could agree. She asked me what's the farthest city I can commute to and my salary requirements. I've yet to hear what she's got for me.

Recruiter # 11
- I reached out to my previous account manager who gave my resume to their company's recruiter. I had a phone interview with the recruiter that same day but it didn't work out because the pay rate was below my requirement. Later on this recruiter shared that she is a Filipino too and that she went to an elite school back in the Philippines. Okay, good for her. She was probably trying to connect with me as her "kababayan" but I didn't appreciate how she tried to "lecture" me on the difference between Sharepoint and WebEx. Girl, you're too much. 

Recruiter # 12
- She called me just a few minutes after I submitted my resume online. She said she's always on the lookout for new applicants and they're moving fast in the hiring process. Her client is a well-known tech company that's looking for a senior admin to support the CFO and his team. She sent my application to the HR team right away and the next day I was scheduled for an onsite interview! This one went pretty good. 

At the moment I am waiting for further updates on my last interview. If you're reading this and you're unemployed too, please know that I totally understand you. The stories I shared may not be similar to yours but trust me - I know how difficult it is to "snag a job". I got so close to giving up but I didn't - although I wanted to! Being unemployed at age 35 (almost 36!) is unnerving, messy and downright challenging. I'm an immigrant who's trying to build a career in California, competing with thousands of jobseekers in the Silicon Valley, shooting for the moon one resume or interview at a time. 

When you know you've done your best but it didn't meet people's expectations, where do you go? When your back is against the wall and there's another wall right in front of you, what do you do? 

Look up. Lift up your eyes. I may be pressed now but I look up for rescue. 

I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? 
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. 
Psalm 121:1-2

I will hang on until help arrives. 

Job hunting is faith-work.

After losing my job a few weeks ago, I told myself that I would take some time off to settle in to my new normal and simply relax at home. Settling in means no updating of resume and LinkedIn profile, no checking of job openings on any job site and not reaching out to recruiters to let them know of my status. Did I follow that plan? Nope. I did the exact opposite of those things. I earned a living by managing schedules and getting things done for busy executives so doing it for myself was easy. I couldn't help it. My last day at work fell on a Friday so when Monday came I began applying for work. I don't recommend doing this if you recently lost your job because it will only add stress to your already stressful situation. Unemployment is tough, so by all means take as much time as you need to gather your mental, physical and spiritual strength because the road ahead could get bumpy.

If I told you I'm not worried or anxious about getting my next gig, then I partially lied. Right now half of me is enjoying the freedom of not being in the office and the other half is terrified of not knowing what's next. I am happy with my life in general and I've always kept a positive outlook but there are days when I get scared of the big unknown. At the end of the day I ask myself "what will happen to me now?" I am getting old and my career hasn't been steady since I moved here in California. I fought hard to get back in the workforce and I know I will keep fighting until I find a job that hopefully will last until I retire. My husband and I live in one of the most expensive cities and relying on his income is not the wisest thing to do. Although we are doing fine and debt-free (I praise God for this daily!), we can't say when the economy will shift and affect the jobs of people in the Silicon Valley. 

Job hunting is my full time work nowadays and it's probably the hardest job I've ever had. It's depressing even though I've only been jobless for weeks and not years. I think it doesn't really matter how long you've been looking for a job. The waiting is difficult. It's frustrating - either no one calls for interview or they send rejection emails. I know I have the skills, experience and education to fulfill the requirements of the job but no one wants to hire me. My resume was written with the help of a professional recruiter but HR folks aren't impressed. I'm not applying for the CEO position, people, why don't you give me a chance to show you what I can do? Why? So then I get in to this dark hole of discouragement and I feel like quitting. But when I see how hard my husband works to provide and take care of us, when I think about our plans and all the good things that come from having a job, I put on my "I can do this" hat and return to the battlefield to continue applying. Dude, I just can't give up. This world wasn't created for quitters. 

Talking to myself in the mirror is a way for me to cope. I practice answering interview questions as I stand by the sink, a make-believe scenario that might become reality one of these days. When it gets too much and my faith is tested, I close my eyes and remember what God did for me in the past. I recall the many ways He has delivered me when my back was against the wall. When fear tries to bully me and tells me I don't have what it takes, I call on Jesus and ask Him to grab me aside, to remind me that I can do all things through Christ and I'm on the winning team because I am His child.

I'm fighting anxiety even as I write this. There's still no job offer when this day is over. I'm facing the facts of my situation but I'm also learning to not take it at its face value. I choose to believe that behind all my disappointments God will come through. I just put one foot forward, take the next obvious step, do my best and watch what God does with my efforts. God is the miracle-worker, not me. God controls time and people's hearts, I don't. My part is to trust Him while He does His work.

Here's a little encouragement to my fellow jobseekers out there: Let us not lose heart. Cliche as it may be but we lose 100% of the shots we don't take, so keep trying, keep applying, keep pressing on to reach your goal.

Wake up, stand up, pray up, cheer up.


Stop, Smell, Snap(shot)

I don't just stop and smell the roses, I also take a snapshot of them. 

Some days are tough and it can be hard to look for what's good and beautiful. But if I unclench my fist and begin to thank God for the grace in small things, I realize how rich and full this life is and that gives me a great sense of satisfaction.

It's just the first quarter.

My coffee has gone cold but I drank it anyway. It's one of those quiet mornings at home when all I could hear was the sound of cars passing by or the neighbors chatting as they walked their dogs. I sat in our dining room and recalled events in the last two months. Obviously I wasn't active here on the blog because my attention was on to something else - in other words: work. I turned on my phone to check my Photos app knowing well that it would tell me what I did and where I went lately. I like taking snapshots. I know the pictures would come in handy one day so I point and shoot my camera whenever I get the chance. What do you do to help you remember people, places and things? I ask because I like remembering people, places and things. Taking photos is one way to help me remember.

In January, I bought a book at Barnes and Noble. I was not planning on buying another book because I still haven't finished reading the one I got last year (!) But this book has been intriguing me for years ever since I heard about it. Finally I gave in. So glad I bought it because Ann Voskamp's theme in her "One Thousand Gifts" book was about finding grace and practicing thankfulness in all of life's situations.

Here's one of my favorite lines in the book which I highlighted in pink (of course):
I want to slow down and taste life, give thanks and see God.

In the beginning of 2017, I said that my word for the year is gratitude. I liked how this book aligned with my intention. Ann Voskamp's style of writing is different from what I've seen in other authors' works. I had to read some of her sentences twice or thrice in order to grasp what she meant. But thank you, Ann, for pouring out your heart in this book. You inspired your readers to live a life of thanksgiving even when it's hard, even when it really hurts. Thanks for your words. 

In February, I went to Oregon to accompany my husband on his business trip. Oregon is not on my list of favorite places to visit. I just tagged along because I didn't want to be left by myself for a week.  We've been to Oregon before and I was not impressed. Tax-free shopping, fine. We just made sure to check out spots that were okay enough for unimpressed visitors like me. 😆 We went to the Portland Art Museum, took photos under St. John's Bridge and sipped some good hipster coffee.

After spending a weekend in Portland, we drove to Hillsboro where my husband's meetings would take place. I could work remotely so I did that from our hotel room. I didn't like the hotel where we stayed in. There must be something in their pillows or beddings because I woke up with a swollen face and puffy eyes for days! The dreary weather did not help me cope at all. It snowed on the day I didn't wear my boots. Oregon, I couldn't dislike you more if I tried. My husband and I missed home terribly. That same week we saw the news about the floods in San Jose. I worried because the reports showed flooded areas near our apartment, but I knew our landlord would call us in case of emergency. We counted the days until our flight back home. Upon reaching our front door, I greeted the entire house like a long lost friend and then hugged my pillows tight when it was time to sleep. I've never taken these things for granted. 

The end of February was rough for me. I resigned from my job and spent the first couple of weeks in March preparing to turn over my responsibilities. It was a contract work that almost turned into a full time employment but the terms they offered didn't meet my expectations. I worked with a really nice boss, though. On my last day in the office,my boss gave me a gift and wrote me a letter saying thanks for all I did. To be honest he didn't have to do any of it. His leadership and kindness over me was enough. I wish all managers in the world were as good as him.

I chose to slow down after my resignation. Staying home has been good for me, no kidding. Unemployment has its perks, too, if you know how to manage your time and energy properly. Am I sad? Nope, I can't be sad if I knew I made a good decision. Can I still say I'm grateful after quitting my job? Yes, I still have tons to be thankful for. My recent job loss taught me so much about who I am and what I truly value. I was in this same spot last year but the God I know came through in His special way and took me out of it. His faithfulness in the past builds up my faith to believe that He will make a way for me again. I'm eager to know my next adventure!

Stay hopeful and be thankful!