Nice summer, big changes

Big changes are coming to my life. I’ve never been a big fan of change, but this time, it’s for better.

I guess the beautiful summer we had here was a good omen of things to come. We had warm, sunny days one after the other for a big chunk of the summer. We barely had any rain, particularly in July. It was a long time coming. The last summers were all their kind of disappointment. After a mild winter we had a nice summer and now good things are happening !

I’ve written at length about my job search and the obstacles I faced regarding my wheelchair. Well, after more than a year of hunting, I finally found something. It’s everything I could’ve hoped for ! It’s for a big insurance company, it’s not menial work and it’s actually relevant to my education. There are opportunities for promotions and they are not intimidated by my wheelchair. The only downside is that it’s downtown, a good forty minutes from my home (if the circulation is not too bad). I’ve waited so long, I can live with that crossroad. I think I found a satisfying solution anyway. I’m starting next week and I’m happy. I hope it will be a great match.

I’m not stopping my certificate though. I’ll do one class at the time until I finish it. I’m only four courses short and I put too much effort into it. I’m so proud of my GPA, it’s never been that high in law school. It’s a big undertaking to do work and school but it’s not impossible. I’m a person that thrives the more I have to do. I had a year and half to take it easy, I’m ready to start over.

I now hope that the wonderful summer don’t turn into a monstrous winter. More to come !

Surprising myself

My second semester of my business administration certificate is finally behind me. It’s been academically over for three weeks, but I was still waiting for a grade. My microeconomics professor was quick to give out the grades but not my math one. In microeconomics, I was a bit disappointed with my final exam’s grade (even though it’s was a 90). I studied really hard. I was so ready for that exam I nearly went to do it a day early. I was up and ready to go at 8 on a Saturday morning, only to realize the exam was on Sunday… In the end I’m passing the class with a A-, which is what I wanted.

My biggest struggle this semester was my math class. It’s no secret that I’m not known for my math skills even though I excel in accounting. To balance accounts you don’t need to know hardcore maths. That class was a challenge from beginning to end. I had non cooperative team mates for the assignments and I had to put a lot of effort to move on from my bad memories of high school maths. I always felt stupid in those classes (I was good at everything else). So the three weeks waiting period to get my grade were agonizing. I wanted at least a B-. The exam in itself went well enough, I struggled less than in the midterm. At the beginning of this week, the grade finally became available ! When I saw it I nearly fainted. To my amazement I had 96% on the final exam ! It’s nothing short of a miracle ! For me, in math, that grade is more than extraordinary. It gives me a final grade of B+ ! Even if it’s in the B category, I’ll take it because it’s math. It just goes to show that everything is possible if you put your mind to it. No subject is too difficult to master. All those classes I’m doing in business aren’t in my normal area of knowledge. I’ve always been interested in the history of the businesses around me but not necessarily in the financial and managerial aspect of the field. Every ”A” I get is a big achievement. I feel more pride in that certificate than I ever felt during my law degree. I feel more focused too.

I have now started the summer semester with two new classes. One in financial management and one in information and technological systems. A lot of work are ahead of me to get to mid-july. The grades from last semester are just what I needed to get the motivation to push through another semester. The end is in sight and with it, a lot of new opportunities (I hope).

What a difference ten years make !

I’ve always been a good student. I always got satisfying grades without much effort. I loved to learned and I remembered enough in class to reach the class average without studying.  It’s been like that all through elementary school, high school and even college. In law school, I put a bit more effort in studying, but again, I sailed through it easily. When I look back, I tell myself that if I had put more work into it, I would’ve get even higher grades and maybe more opportunities. If I would’ve been top of my class in law school, instead of being equal with the majority, things may have been different…But the past is the past and we cannot go back (If I could, I wouldn’t even go to law school). I think we choose a career, or at least a field of study, too early.

Now, having reached thirty and gone back to school, I have a completely different outlook on things. I chose my field of study after working in it for a year. I’m way more confident in that choice than the one I made at seventeen, when I knew nothing of the world. I also know that getting the best grades possible is not silly. It is still possible for me to retain enough information to get through an exam, but I want to give my best. I’m currently studying like I never studied before. My first semester proved to me that hard work pays off. At the beginning of this semester, I had a week of panic because I have to do an university-level math class. Math was never my strong suit. It was the one subject I struggled at. My I-don’t-study approach wasn’t working for math. I barely got through in high school. So I was really nervous about that mandatory class. Five weeks later, the panic is over. I’m understanding it ! I don’t know if it’s because of age or hard work but it is going great. My mid-term is next weekend so I’ll see the results soon. I know for a fact though, that doing that class in my early twenties would have been different. I think I would’ve struggle a lot more. My mindset is soooooo different now. It reassures me that I’m doing what’s right for me right now. Timing is really everything. Don’t be scared of going back to school later in life or take a little more time to choose what you really want to do. It’s worth it !

I’m still here

I know it’s been a while since I last posted. Even though nothing major has happened, I’ve been quite busy these past few months. With school, turning 30, the mandatory cold of the year and the holidays, my days were filled to the brim. So here are some highlights of my fall:

The biggest part was school. I was really motivated to get as good a grade as I could, so I put a lot of time and efforts in my studies. Both my classes were filled with papers to turn in and exams to study for. I gave all that I had and was happy to pass both classes with flying colours ! Hard work does pay out. I nearly got perfect grades on my finals. I’m not the person with the best attention span so I was worried about the “learn on your own” principle, but it turns out okay. The program is very well done and I never felt totally on my own. I’ve got two days left of my winter break and I’m ready and excited to start again, even though this semester, I have a math class that is mandatory…not my strong suit.

Fall 2015 also marked my turning 30. I dreaded this milestone for months. I didn’t feel 30 (still don’t) and I was worried by that number. I was in so much of a denial that I even refused to plan anything big. I went to brunch with my family on the day before and dinner at one of my favourite restaurant on my birthday, with my best friend, her daughters and my parents. It was great but I have to admit, I had a bit of regrets about not doing something more for the big 3-0. Well, I was in for a surprise. It turns out my friends and family thought so too. The next Saturday, that was supposed to be an evening out with my best friend, turned out into a surprise birthday dinner with all the people I love the most. When I look back I see all the clues, but on the day I was really surprised. Two months later, I have accepted my age and realized it’s just a number. As long as I don’t think about it…hahaha.

The fall was also consumed by the worst cold I got in the past five years. I had sinusitis less overwhelming. I was out of commission for more than a week. I saw all the school work piling up and I got a little bit stressed. I was able to get better and catch up in the weeks that followed but that kept me busy.

With all the day to day tasks, the normal appointments and the birthdays and celebrations, I didn’t see where the time went. Since we were lucky enough to get a late winter (no snow at all before Christmas ! yeah !) it was easy not to notice the last of the year go by. I did celebrate Christmas fully (4 parties this year) even if I didn’t see it coming at all. Even though I still don’t have a job and I’m not where I would like to be, I don’t regret those busy months. I lived and that’s what matter.

So far, so good

As the week winds down, so is my fourth week of my return to school. I can’t believe a month has passed since the beginning. So far, I really like it and I don’t regret my choice. It was my best decision in years.

Five years ago, when I finished law school, after I passed the Bar, I was so done with school. I was ready to join the workforce and stopped living on a student budget. It didn’t go as planned though. I arrived in a saturated work market and realized I chose a field that was less open-minded that I thought. After struggling for nearly three years to get into the legal world, I took a job doing something else. That job made me realize that I loved accountancy and customer service (even though I will always love the law). That was also a field more welcoming to me. Since my love for studying was coming back slowly I decided to apply for a certificate in business administration and that’s where I am now.

I can’t describe how much I love it, how it is helping me to get out of the pit I was in since I lost my beloved job last spring. I feel motivated again. I feel like the world is mine to conquer again. I also wish it will help me get an interesting job in the field I now love. A year of experience will be more easy to sale with an education that goes accordingly. I’m really throwing myself in it. The fact that I’m doing it from home gives me more time to dedicate to it. I don’t lose time travelling downtown.

I have to give praise to my university. Their online courses are really forward thinking. They are in a class of their own. My management class is an hybrid type. Half the class is on campus and the other half is at home. It is possible to listen to it live and chat with other students and the teacher in real time. I was never aware of that type of teaching before. My accountancy class is more of the classical variety. The teacher makes powerpoint and there is a forum to talk to her and the other students, but you still have to learn by yourself. I like it too, the book is well made and there’s a lot of exercises to practice.  I’m happy that a good university like that offers that kind of education. At the end of the program, I’ll have a real diploma from a “brick and mortar” school, not some questionable diploma from a virtual university.

It’s really rewarding when you realized you finally took a good decision !

Back to school

I’m so excited, I feel like a first grader ! Next week I start my business administration certificate ! I started looking at my two classes outlines and I’m ready to go. It look like a lot of work, so I’m glad I only took two classes to begin with. It seems like a lifetime ago that I chose them. One is in accountancy and the other one in management. I’m taking them from home but from a real “brick and mortar” school. One of the best in the province, the first french language university established in North America. In my situation,  I couldn’t easily move to a city that is two and a half hours away, but they are the only one to offer the home based option (with a real diploma, not an online class one). There is even one class that I can listen live, the class is given to school and home based students at the same time. I find it really forward thinking.

Yesterday I ordered my books for the semester and I am happy to say I just received them ! That was quick. Seeing them just gives me even more the study bug. I want to do it right and study the best I can. I’ll be honest and say I’m not the most studious person around. I got my law degree with a good average but I could’ve had better. I’m smart but a bit lazy. It always came easily to me in grade school and high school that I took a habit to not study much. But now I hope to break that habit. It takes a lot of discipline to study from home but I’m ready for the challenge. Anyway I’m still job hunting so, for the moment, I have the time to put all my efforts into my studies.

I’ll probably start my readings tomorrow to be ready to start strong next week. A new chapter in my career is starting and I have a feeling it’s the right path. I’ll finally have the knowledge that goes with my work experience. I can’t wait to see what’s around the corner. Happy back to school everyone !

Vacations

I was away from this blog for a while now. It’s because I decided to take a vacation from the job hunting and the routine. I needed to take a step back to recharge my batteries. I was becoming tired and depressed. That time away did me so much good. I feel positive and happy again !

I slept late in the morning, didn’t start my days before the afternoons, ate out a little more, spend time with my friends and family. You know, all the great things about the summer. I barely opened my computer, just relied on my phone. The culmination of this break was a small family roadtrip.

I love roadtrips ! I love my country most of the times and I wouldn’t live anywhere else, but to reach that conviction I need to get out of it at least once a year. This year with the economy as it is, nobody could afford the week at the beach, so we settled for a two-day trip in upstate New York and Vermont. Yes, two states in two days. I did it last year too, so I knew it was achievable. This year it was with my parents, my cousin and her boyfriend. It was the best company ! My cousin lives far from my home and I see her only a couple times a year, so to have her for two full days was awesome. So we left a Monday morning, hit no traffic at all and we were in the States at 10 am ! We were mostly going to do some shopping and that’s exactly what I told the custom’s officer. Honesty is the best policy, no ? And shopped we did ! There are so many products we don’t have here and the prices are generally lower than up north. We stayed the night in upstate New York and traveled by ferry to Vermont the next day. Vermont is really a beautiful state and Burlington a beautiful city. And they were so accommodating ! Being able to go into a pub from an other era, because the owner owned a ramp so I could go up the step in the front, is priceless. I live near a bigger city than Burlington, where there are a lot of restaurants with one step a the front…but ramps ?? no. I was really impressed. Maybe it’s common in the US or I stumbled upon the right place, but it made that trip even better. That’s what I like about travelling south of the border, I always feel less out of place with my wheelchair. The province of Quebec is great because they pay for everything I need at home, but when it comes to universal accessibility, there are still a lot to do to achieve it. When you say that only 9 stations on 68 are accessible, and that nothing is done to continue the work, you understand that the will is not there…but that’s for another post…

So now, it’s back to routine and normal life but it’s okay. I feel so much better and ready to take over the world haha. I’m kind of excited to start class in September too. I started receiving papers from the university and it became real all of a sudden. I am so ready to start fresh. With that attitude it can only get better.

Checking in

I don’t post often these days, but nothing worth mentioning is happening. My life is always the same, nothing changes. Summer is not the best season to job hunt, so I’m cutting myself some slack.

Life is still a learning experience in itself though. Here are a couple of things I learned in the past few weeks:

– You can get quite drunk on white wine when you ate a light lunch. Learned this at my best friend’s birthday party.

– You can learn a new language for fun only, even if you have no chance of ever using it. I started learning Irish with Duolingo. I may recognize the words but I’ll never be able to speak it ! Since I’m fluent in both English and French and knew some Spanish I wanted something different. Well it is ! Will I ever use it ? big doubts. But it’s fun !

– It may say summer on the calendar but if Mother Nature thinks it’s autumn, it’s autumn. We had the worst month of June this year. We started the AC for the first time this past Tuesday (July 7th). If June felt like October does it mean October will feel like June ? We can hope right ?

– You can get really excited about the most small and ordinary trip ever. I’m planning a 2 days trip south of the border, in upstate New York, and it’s like I’m embarking on a world tour. I can’t think about anything else ! I’m sure it will cheer me up ! And empty my bank account (why is everything so less expensive in the States).

The biggest lessons are in the smallest things 😉

Looking back to go forward

Recently, I’ve decided to use my time without work to do everything that I usually put aside because I don’t have the time. There’s no better time than the present to act. I recommend it to everyone who are down on their luck, waiting for the phone to ring. With cellphones, it is easy to wait for it while doing stuff.

First, what better time to do some spring cleaning et reorganizing. My current bedroom setup dates from a couple of years, when I was still at university. I felt I needed to move things around and let go of some stuff. I didn’t touch the furniture but I started to change my storage system. My interests and priorities changed in five years and there are some things I wanted closer and some things stored better. I also sorted through stuff like pens, cds (who listen to those anymore ?) and mementos. I’m glad that I could get rid of some things I couldn’t before. I guess I’m getting older and looking ahead instead of staying in the past. I feel lighter and happier since then. This morning, I was getting through some stuff from high school. Here’s a trip down memory lane ! Old school I.D. with atrocious pictures, tickets from school band concerts and the ancestors of texting, the paper letters. It’s so funny reading those ! The mind of a teenager is a funny thing. I’m really nostalgic of that time nowadays because of all the things I’m sorting through. I wish I would’ve been the person I am now in those times. Like my best friend told me, we were way too bothered about what other people thought about us, to be ourselves. We are better persons now, and we are happier too. But I don’t only spend my day cleaning ! That would be too out of character for me !

I can have fun and enjoy life even though I don’t have a job. I won’t let my employment status define me. I think that when I’ll let go of all my preoccupations, things will get into place. For now, I’ve decided to be happy. I’ve visited the library and borrowed dvds of tv series I haven’t seen before. I have the time to binge watch so why not ? I have to stop feeling guilty every time I enjoy something. I also let my passion for girly things shine. I do my nails with my big collection of nail polishes, I try different style of make-up and I wear my jewelry. As my school I.D. up to university showed, that’s also recent for me. I was so shy and scared of the opinion of others that I tried to be as bland as possible (as possible as it is in a wheelchair lol). That time is over though. I’ve grown a lot since March, and I like it. That’s something that’s good for me but that will also help me in job hunting. Now I just have to accept that’ll be 30 in November … :s

Job hunting in a wheelchair

Today I would like to share some thoughts on the job hunting process when you don’t walk on two legs (but I’m sure it can apply to other disabilities). I’ve become quite the expert in the last couple of years. A lot of people don’t understand that it’s slightly more complicated and wonder why I’m not applying to more jobs. Maybe someone who is responsible for hiring will read this and open his mind the next time a person like me apply for a job.

First of all, the biggest hurdle is the accessibility of the premises. That’s the number one reason why I don’t send 50 resumes a day. Before applying, I have to check for stairs (thank you google street view !). Because why send a resume if it physically impossible for me to enter the building. You would believe in our day and age that it wouldn’t be so common that buildings are inaccessible…you would be wrong. That’s partly why I lost my old job, they moved to a two levels building without elevator. Where I live accessibility is not a priority for any government, ever. Most jobs for smaller companies are in building with less than three levels, so no elevator. So many an opportunity are not available to me. It’s frustrating because it has nothing to do with what I have to offer.

When I finally see job postings in a good building, I apply. If I’m lucky enough to be asked for an interview, the second hurdle appears. What would they think of the chair ? I don’t really know when the time is right to tell. For bigger companies or public job it’s easier because they have programs to hire people like me (never work for me though) but for smaller ones, it’s a challenge. Generally, I say nothing until I get there and have them deal with it. They always do a double take when they see me, and I always wonder how big a factor it is when I don’t get the job. Last week, someone from an placement agency called me because he saw my profile on “Linkedin”. The conversation what great until I said I was in a wheelchair. I heard in his tone that it mattered way more that it should have. He quickly told me that he would call me back to set up an interview…days passed without a call back. So I guess I blew it…but for me it was important not to be sent to a place with stairs…People discriminate what they don’t know. My last job was for a company that knew me as a person before I started working there, so the chair was never an issue, but for people who were never around difference, it’s the only thing they see. They can’t see who I am as a person, what I’m good at. They only see what I cannot do. They don’t know that I live a pretty normal life outside of work. I have friends, I go out, I go on vacations…my wheelchair never stopped me from doing anything…except work…sometimes I wonder if maybe I’m not enough of a fighter, people with disabilities do found jobs, why not me ? I do have a weird resume…I have a law degree but worked in accounting…but I was good at it !

Anyway, now I’m putting all my effort into bigger companies, like banks and insurance companies. Places where I hope they are more open-minded. I had two phone interviews yesterday, but I’m better in person. But at least on the phone they don’t see me. I’m staying hopeful, tides have to turn eventually.