Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Life with a hyphenated name

My husband and I have been married for almost 11 years now. From the beginning of our relationship, before marriage was the option, I had always wanted to keep my name. After the proposal and the wedding day was nearing, I had an internal debate on what to do. I knew the traditional route was not for me because my name is my IDENTITY after all. It was either keep my name all together or hyphenate. So months of contemplating on what I could live with for the rest of my life, I chose the hyphenated option. If I had only known how uneduated some people were when it comes to hyphenated names, I might have chosen to keep my name period.

First of all, in the technical age that we have, in some programs that people use for driver's licenses or making arrangements with a travel agent, the hyphen is a foreign symbol. So instead of "Breeman-Rhodes on my drivers license it is "Breeman Rhodes" Using the hyphen in some programs just makes things go batty. When I was trying to get my name established with my job's network, my boss was hestitant to put my hypenated name on it because apparently a hyphenated name screwed up something once before. For the longest time, I was "Amy Rhodes" in the network, making me cringe everytime I saw it. Finally, with the help of the IT guy, I got straight; it took my full name and did not crash the computer!

Another thing about hyphenated names people don't understand is the filing part..do you file it under B or R..anyone?...you file it under the BBBBBBBBBBB!!!!!!. Okay, that maybe a little too dramatic, but you file it under the first of the two names because you treat it as one word. I found this website with someone else having the same issue with a hyphenated name http://www.rainwaterreptileranch.org/scr/ I can't tell you how many times I have had to educate pharmasists and doctors offices because they did not treat it as one word. Though things are getting better now and I don't have to lead the way all the time.

Another issue is your initials. I just don't think everyone realizes that when you hyphenate your name, you keep your initals too because you keep your middle name. My true initals are ACB..my office still has me as ABR..YIKES!

One thing about hyphenated name, though my husband's last name is part of the package, I still view his last name as HIS, not mine. MY last name is different. I would think after 11 years of marriage, that the feeling would go away, but it does not. I am proud to have my name though some people might be confused by it. I have had some people compliment saying "That's a good name." I am glad people respect it :) My daughters share their father's name, which is fine with me. When it comes a time in their lives keep their names or give it away, it will be their decision. Maybe it will be easier for them than me in going against tradition.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Getting paid what you are worth?

I have been thinking of this issue for a while, and am just now putting in on paper. I know with past jobs, I sure did feel like I was underpaid. But looking at situations, I did end up "settling" with what I was willing to take. Regardless of my MBA and experience, I was willing to take something to live by. Looking over my whole experience in salary negotiations, I have shot myself in the foot on alot of occasions and regret it either by not negotiating, and negotiating on a higher level.

Now, I just got a new job. Not getting too much into the actual numbers, this one is making exactly the same salary I was making at my last job PLUS the chance to make commissions, something I never had the opportunity to do before. What I was making on my last job, I thought was good because I was still learning the ropes of importing and was waiting on my customs brokers license. With this job now, I never really been an "account manager" and did not know much about the industry that the company represents which is tradeshows. Looking back, I probably could have asked for about $5000 more, but I did not want to rock the boat. It was a job offer, and I took it after 6 months without a job.

Back in May I started to learn about the negotiating game. One company in particular offered me a job. It was close to an hour away from home, and they were asking $10,000 more than what I was making from by last job. But they were going to throw in an additional incentive for "compliance" with the possiblity of making another $10,000 additional. On paper the deal looks good, but it was an hour a way from home, means a new car, new car seats, price of gas. Well, thinking of all the extra costs involved, I went ahead and stepped up the negotiation to the max..I countered with the $20,000 more I was making. I did not care much about the incentive at that point, I just needed something to cover the extra costs especially since it was an hour away! And do you know what, those people are still probably looking at my counter offer because I never heard from them again. Truly in my heart of hearts, I KNOW I am worth that salary that I countered back with. I just think they were taken back with my persistance in getting it up more to a level I wanted.

Now, I am at a salary I think could be fluffed more. But, you know what, compared to other things I have been offered and work environments, this one seems best. Maybe I can earn that extra $5000 next year after my review. But we will see. Perhaps I can earn a ton on commissions and it be a moot point.

Women being underpaid is very common. I see articles reinforcing that fact. http://edition.cnn.com/2005/US/Careers/06/23/women.salary/. This one is a good one to read on that fact. I also saw another article that said if you want to earn more money these days, you have to work longer hours.http://www.nber.org/digest/jul06/w11895.html


I will make what I am worth one day, but looking at all aspects of life, raising a family and their importance, I think that will be closer to my empty-nester years when the girls are away from the nest and I can concentrate on a long-houred career. It may raise risk of illness, but I would make it! Some type of motivation, huh?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Make the Monsters go away!!!

My 3 year old has a habit, annoying to her father and I but something quite common for her age, of coming into our room in the middle of the night because she is "scared of monsters." We have begun a ritual at night of checking her room and seeing that all the monsters have gone away. Needless to say, once the lights turn off, her fears come back and she insists to come sleep with us. I don't know when the last time my husband and I had a quiet night. Our 6 month old sleeps through the night so she is the least of our worries. But the older one, knowing that the world may not always be secure, thinks of monsters when she does not know what is there.

She has also done this with her bath. Wanting only a "teeny-tiny baths" because she has become scared of water. And the sound of the water going down the drain in the tub leads to a great leap out of the tub, and screams of "There are monsters in the tub!"

Being an adult, we can always explain "what goes bump in the night" We even as adults have fears and nightmares because we are in situations beyond our control. Debt, unemployment, addictions, homelessness can all be monsters in our life, and if we don't have control of them, they control us. I know that my husband and I have been through that nightmare. Now, with both us being employed and finally getting paychecks, we now can have control of what was uncontrollable. In a way it is blessing to have that control now, but sometimes we know those monsters may reappear. God may throw a monster in the closet to remind us that sometimes there are things that scare us and we cannot explain. This can lead us to Him, like our daughter coming to us in the night, looking for Mommy and Daddy to comfort us.

I know this is just a phase with my daughter, but I hope she never outgrows coming to us if she has fears, no matter what it is.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, back to work I go!

Wednesday this week was the first day of my first job since I had my second daughter nearly 6 months ago. The night before, I started feeling the pangs of anxiety of leaving my second born with a sitter and me not seeing her bright smile through out the whole day. Everything turned out great and all went well with me and with her. Of course, this separation from my first born was not as traumatic since she had ready been going to daycare. But with this new system of pumping breast milk twice a day a work helped me keep my bond with my daughter, almost giving me comfort that I was doing something for her while we were apart.

Work, on the other hand, is definitely a blessing from God. This is the first job I have had in a long, long time where I don't feel anxiety when I walk through the door. The people are genuinely happy, and never sour in attitudes or work ethic. The atmosphere is sooo relaxed. There is even the encouragement to wear flip-flops on days where the temp is over 90 degrees. Also, did I mention that this job is only minutes from my house! Granted, the daycare centers are not that close, but I don't have to drive 45 minutes one way to get to work, like I did with my last job. I also get the option to earn commission with this job, unlike some of my other occupations, so it gives me motivation to push a little harder.

I believe this is a first step in lots of roads I have crossed in the past few years where I feel like I am going somewhere in my career. In the past, I have working as a paper pusher, problem solver and deed doer with no reward. Now, other people are hired to do that kind of work while I just concentrate on working with customer service, find the niches, look for opportunities to grow. I will have to update this as this goes along. I might be off of cloud 9 by then --lets hope not.