1. On being unemployed

    October 3, 2018 ♥ Posted in: Journal, Seattle by Kristina Horner

    On May 29th, I came back to work after taking nearly a month off for my wedding and honeymoon. I was feeling refreshed and excited, ready to get back to my routines, ready to take on my next project. That day, however, I found out things had not been going exactly as planned at work. I found out that most of my coworkers had been living in an unnerving sort of unknown for weeks, due to hallway talk and things said in hushed voices.

    On May 30th, an email came out letting us know our org was being dissolved effective immediately, and while no one was losing their job that day, there were a lot of questions that needed to be answered.

    On July 9th, after a month of not knowing what was going to happen, my team was laid off – along with a whole bunch of other people we worked with.

    A lot of layoffs at Microsoft are interesting because they don’t happen immediately. Though I got the news of the layoff on July 9th, my last day wasn’t set until September 7th. This is because they give you time and resources to look for a new job within the company, hoping you’ll stay. I’m thankful for that time, but what this did was create a very stressful summer, in which I felt a ticking clock constantly echoing in my ears, reminding me how many days I had left to find a new job, how many days until I would be let go for good, how I wasn’t working hard enough or applying for enough jobs or scheduling enough informational meetings.

    All I wanted was to leave the stress of wedding planning behind and start the next chapter of my life on a healthy and happy foot, and yet, instead, I stepped into a new pit of stress and anxiety, worrying that if I couldn’t find another role in the allocated 60 day time period, then I must not be good enough.

    Well guess what. I didn’t find a new job in the allotted 60 day period.

    September 7th was my last day at Microsoft, which honestly felt pretty bad. I loved my job. I loved my team. I loved the work we were doing, and the culture our org cultivated, and I honestly loved being a Microsoftie. I loved the campus. The farmer’s market. The ham and swiss and granny smith apple sandwich I ordered way too often. I didn’t want to leave. I worked hard there for four years, I stopped making YouTube videos, and I leaned into being a ‘career person’.

    And then as quickly as it began, it was over. And I’ve learned an important lesson in not counting on anything as a sure thing, not believing anything might be ‘forever’ – and it’s not a fun lesson to learn, nor is it a very optimistic way to approach life. As quickly as I have learned this lesson, I’m trying to figure out how to unlearn it.

    Now it’s almost been a month, and I’m in a slightly better place with this whole situation. I finally feel like I have time again, now that the “60 day pressure” is off. I’m still working on finding a new job every day, but I’ve also given myself some room to breathe. Your job isn’t your only defining feature. It does not dictate your value or your worth. I’ve been taking a cycling class. I’ve been teaching myself new crafting skills. I’ve been writing and catching up on shows I never have time to watch and playing Pokémon Go again and cooking, and I’ve gone on a couple of little trips.

    great seattle instagram walls

    I’m going to find a job. I know I have an impressive resume and useful skills, and soon enough I’ll be back at a desk, back to my commute, back to the routine. For now, I’m trying to appreciate this time, and see it as a gift. How often do you get a few months off? How often can you decide to teach yourself embroidery just because you have some time? How often can you schedule appointments during business hours and go for a walk at noon and actually make it to bars in time for happy hour?

    Don’t get me wrong – I definitely look in the mirror some days and ask myself, “why haven’t you gotten a job yet? Why did the other people in your predicament find something right away while you’re still floundering?”

    But that kind of thinking isn’t helping me. All I can do is keep being brave, keep putting myself out there, and use the time as best I can. No one will be able to look back on my unemployment period and say I wasn’t living it to its fullest.

    Now excuse me, I’m going to go learn how to make glow-in-the-dark slime.

     

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  2. Cherry Creek Falls – Hike #1

    June 11, 2017 ♥ Posted in: Hiking, Journal, Seattle by Kristina Horner

    For the last year or so, I’ve had this inkling that I wanted to start hiking. Which is funny, because when I was young I hated when my parents would make me go hiking (“why would we just want to walk around in the woods when there are books to read?”), and I also distinctly remember in college making fun of the fact that the very first thing you’ll see on anyone’s dating profile here in the Pacific Northwest is that they “enjoy hiking”, like there is nothing more stereotypically Seattle than a loud and proud love of hiking.

    But… I mean. I work at Microsoft and graduated from the UW and started hiking and even recently bought my first The North Face jacket, so honestly… maybe I just need to admit that I’m pretty stereotypically Seattle. Maybe I should just embrace it.

    Anyhow, my friend Jenn and I decided to start hiking. We’ve both been trying to be more active lately, including signing up for (and actually going to!) a gym, and signing up for a 5k (The Bubble Run!) at the end of the summer. And yesterday we did our first Pacific Northwest hike, complete with sweet new hiking backpacks.

    And yesterday we did our first Pacific Northwest hike, complete with sweet new hiking backpacks.

    25 foot cherry creek falls hike seattle

    The Hike: Cherry Creek Falls Trail
    Description: A hike along old logging roads to a 25 foot tall waterfall on Cherry Creek just outside of Duvall, WA.
    Length: 5 miles (out and back)
    Elevation Gain: 718 feet
    How long it took us: About 4 hours round trip, with about a 30 minute stop for lunch and pictures at the falls, and Jenn struggling with a hurt ankle on the walk back.

    Thoughts and anecdotes:

    This was a fantastic first hike! The trail itself was moderate to easy, with a few tricky mud puddles to cross here and there. There’s also a point about 2/3 of the way in where you have to cross a literal creek, which added to the challenge and excitement. I’m not sure if it’s because we went early in the season, but there’s also about a half-mile stretch in the middle where the trail is really thin and a bit overgrown, so you spend a bit of time pushing through bushes and shielding your face, which was just a little bit annoying but overall not too bad.

    When you get to the end of the trail, there’s this beautiful viewpoint that overlooks the falls from above, but the real magic happens when you hike down the last steep stretch to find yourself at the base of the little body of water that forms at the bottom of the falls. We were disappointed it wasn’t warmer, because what a place that would be to take your shoes off and splash around in the water. We made due just eating the sandwiches, carrot sticks and chocolate chip cookies we’d brought along which enjoying the view.

    The people we encountered on this hike were friendly and had cute dogs, and even offered Jenn a beer after we passed each other multiple times during her ankle-hurting saga. We respectfully declined, because as savvy new-hikers, we’d already brought our own tiny wine bottles. Because we’re classy.

    The only strange thing that happened on the hike was near the most treacherous mud puddle – Jenn and I were cautiously making our way over when we heard a phone alarm go off. Jenn wasn’t too concerned right away, because she assumed it was mine, but I don’t use a phone alarm. I use the silent vibrate alarm feature on my Fitbit. I assumed it was HER phone, but it quickly became clear it wasn’t coming from her direction. In a few seconds time, I was certain either someone had dropped their phone on the trail, or there was someone waiting just off the path, ready to kill us.

    Once we’d cleared the mud, we walked a few more paces, and a man was just standing at the top of the next hill, by himself. It was his phone. He was holding it in his hands. And he obviously had been able to hear us saying “where is that alarm coming from? Whose phone is that? This is creepy!” from just around the bend but chose to say nothing!

    He was friendly as we passed, and we all laughed about it, but I was still pretty creeped out. I might have to write a scene in a book sometime where characters find out they’re not alone in the woods by hearing someone else’s phone go off loud and clear. Probably at night. Probably when their flashlights have gone out.

    For the record, I packed extra batteries for my flashlight, so this fictional horror scenario would not happen to me. Always be prepared.

    We’ve got our next hike planned for next weekend, and I’m so excited to make this a regular thing! Stay tuned for more blog post updates/reviews of the hikes I go on.

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