Thursday, May 31, 2012

Digital Nomadism

Ooooh - someone coined a phrase for what I'm contemplating.  Digital nomads are individuals that leverage digital technologies to perform their work duties, and more generally conduct their lifestyle in a nomadic manner (wikipedia)

As the date for selling the house creeps ever nearer, we are taking care of a lot of tiresome details.  We are optimistic that the house sale & move will happen as planned.  Closing is set for the 25th of June.

I've been spending the last couple of weeks working (in the office about 2 days per week) and the remainder of the time relaxing, hanging out with Doris, eating John's most excellent cuisine.  I've gotten very lazy now that I am de-toxed from the work situation so ..... I am embracing my inner slug! 

Le Chef in the soon-to-be-ours condo kitchen(ette)

I have also been researching the possibility of earning a living online.  I am having difficulty, though, finding people that are accomplishing this by teaching college.  In a way, that's a good thing because I'll feel like a pioneer!  Distance education is the future for higher education. No doubt about it.  Maybe I can learn the ropes and eventually blog/write/present about this new way to teach.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I've applied to 3 nursing programs that have online adjunct openings.  These positions are part-time, contracted, term-to-term, and offer no benefits.  I've also applied to 2 nursing programs in another category entirely - as full or part-time but with permanent faculty status and benefits as well.  I'm leaning toward the latter category because looking for classes to teach every 6 - 12 weeks would get tiresome. 

One program has graduate students at 200 clinical sites across the U.S. and needs someone to do clinical site visits.  How cool to get paid mileage to travel.  Is this too good to be true?  I'll let you know!

I often think back to November when the tornado put an end to my travel plans that I had been making for over a year. I was so angry for so long!  Then when I didn't get the job I expected to eventually retire from, friends told me it would work out for the best. (That included some of you).   Frankly, I was skeptical.  But now, 2 months later, I'm daring to hope that everyone was right about that.

But for now, it's been a lot of fun exploring the suddenly wide-open possibilities for my teaching career!

Thanks for hanging in there with me ..... 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Home & Work

We are making some progress on the house we are selling.  We are still addressing the small issues found during the inspection.  Yuck!  I hate this home-maintenance stuff (as you well know).  Not only is it time-consuming and costly, it's pretty damn boring as well. 

Here's our new place.  Not a great photo, I know - I'll get some better when I get my photo equipment all in one place. 

My sis-in-law lives immediately to my right.  If I were to turn the lens that way, you would see her door and her sweet doggy, Tess.  But I didn't have permission so I won't. 

I followed-up with the school I applied to last week and, as I suspected, they are not hiring right now but will be in the future as their graduate program is growing fast.  I'll touch bases with them every 3 months.  I'm confident it will work out in the future.

So, I need to get busy.  I plan to apply at Phoenix and Excelsior - both with strong nursing programs with good reputations.

If any of you have experience with online teaching (especially on the road!), I would love to hear about it!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Moving Timeline

My 2 classes started today so that will keep me busy through August 1st for 2 - 4 days a week. I feel sad that this is my last time with these particular students but I have 5+ years of good memories stored up. And many years (I hope) of teaching ahead of me! 

I've been spending some of my free time trying to figure out how to create an office in the upstairs bedroom of this 2 BR, 2 BA condo.  (I'll be losing my home office next month and losing my campus office in August).  I think I can use an armoire to store all the equipment and office supplies.  The nice thing about this arrangement is that I can close the door at the end of the day to eliminate clutter.  Something like this:

Web Photo

I will also have a comfy armchair and ottoman in the same room to work from.  The same chair and ottoman that is in my campus office. 

I've also been thinking about how to configure a mobile office but I will probably start out with something like this:

If you have any tips for an office-on-wheels, please share! 

The house closing will happen in a few weeks.  The inspector found a few additional things that have to be fixed.  The day I write my last check to have work done on this 60-year-old house is a day I will celebrate!!! 

This week the 4 siblings will go through the condo and take the items they want that belonged to their parents (my in-laws).  We will likely donate everything else.   And John is meeting someone after work who is interested in our 16ft. canoe (and paddling gear). 

I will get with the consignment furniture folks the first week of June.  We have some beautiful pieces that are too nice to yard-sale.  The yard sale will happen in about 3 weeks.  Then the movers will vacate the rest of our stuff the 3rd week of June.

After that ..... I can concentrate on finalizing some online teaching prospects and finally finally getting that RV.   

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Minimalism: Quantitative Proof

After the tornado, we had to move all our worldly belongings into a pod placed in our driveway.   Then we had to move it back in after the damage was repaired. 

No kidding - everything we own was in that container (except for the kitchen appliances). 

Now you can see why friends laugh when we say we are buying the condo so we can downsize. 

February 2012

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Little Progress

The home inspection took place today.  We have some annoying things we must take care of before the tentative closing on June 25th.  Right now I'm staying busy trying to figure out how to get 1500 sq. ft. of stuff in a 1100 sq. ft. condo.  People who know us laugh when we announce we are downsizing.

I start teaching tomorrow and am not looking forward to returning to the office.  I'm not angry, just ...... disgusted.   

But I'll focus on my wonderful students because that's the way it should be. 

The university I applied to for the full time location-bound tenure-track position called the other day.  The director asked if I was still interested and I didn't know what to say.  I guess my hesitation said it all.  I told her I would think about it.  I was tempted to tell her my scheme about working from the road instead but, you know how it is, one never knows how people are going to react or in which direction the conversation will lead.  With the exception of this blog, I'm keeping my plans to myself for now.    

I haven't heard back from Frontier University yet.  If I don't hear from them this week, I'll follow up next week.  I hope it works out but, if not, I have a fall-back plan with the online adjunct teaching.  Good options!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

We Accept The Contract!

So we will be selling the house and buying my father-in-law's condo.  Provided that the sale goes through. 

We've been in our house for 12 years so the thought of moving/selling/donating stuff is daunting.  But I'm trying to focus on the end result.

Like how much $ we will save in housing expenses.  I figure we will save over $4K/year on operating costs alone - never mind the maintenance, insurance, and property taxes. 

And the fact that I won't have to write another $600 check for this and a $1200 check for that, all the while fuming about how much gasoline that money could buy. 

Still, as many of you who have been through the process know - it's scary stuff!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Better Blogger

It's evident that Blogger was overhauled during my hiatus and I gotta say, it's improved.  I haven't had any problems of late with publishing posts, signing in, or commenting on other blogs.  Have you noticed it's more operator-friendly?

We got an offer on the house.  It's a fair offer so the time has come for us to make a decision about condo vs. house (by 6 PM today in fact).  I'm having trouble with the choice and am very much on the fence.  I really believe if I knew what I was going to be doing for a living, the choice would come easier.  It's a terrible thing not to know your own mind. 

I gave the decision-making power to John today.  In 28 years of marriage, we've never done it that way but I seem paralyzed by indecision.  It's an odd sensation.  It's been almost 6 months (!) since the tornado and I don't think any more time or any more discussion will make a difference. 

He'll be home in about an hour to deliver the verdict.  I've got my Manhattan glass chillin'.  I'll let you know!

Meanwhile, I applied for a faculty position at the Frontier Nursing University.  This is a highly-regarded program that trains nurse-midwives and nurse practioners to work with the medically underserved. 

The nurses gave care to the inaccessible by making house calls on horseback. 

The program is large - they admit 600 students from around the world every year.  The teaching would be done online with a requirement that I visit the campus in Hyden, KY several times a year. 

I've been there before while researching an article in 1996 about the organization as a model of nurse-managed care.  I loved it - the school, the school's mission, the clinics staffed by nurses, and the location itself.  The small campus is nestled in the hollers of Kentucky - real "Coal Miner's Daughter" country. 

It's another option I'm looking at and I'm trying not to get too excited but ..... I'm kinda excited!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Gathering Data

It is slightly embarrassing to have a travel blog and not be travelling.  Maybe I should change the title to the Travails of Kimbopolo?
I got a helpful response from the woman who taught online while full-timing for 3 years.  She is most enthusiastic about the combination.  Tells me it’s completely doable.  I have some additional questions for her and hope to learn more. 
I got a good referral for an online program yesterday from someone who has consulted with them  – Excelsior College.  That helps because there are so many online nursing programs I would rather not learn by trial and error if there are any I should avoid.  They are all accredited and have qualified faculty but again, there are just so many of them.  Maybe in this case just flipping a coin and jumping in is the way to go. 
Yesterday I met with the Director of Undergraduate Research, whom I know, and who needs help with the program.  We talked in general terms of my working part-time perhaps in the fall. We decided to leave it for now and revisit later this summer.   

I truly would love to stay with AU in some capacity.  (I must admit that a minor reason for this is the possibility of being successful somewhere else on campus so I can give the finger to my soon-to-be ex-department.  Petty?  Oh, you betcha!). 

I’ll have to give it some thought because if I let the opportunity go by, it will.  I just have to figure out how the part-time scenario will allow me to pursue online teaching and traveling. 

In the meantime, I prepare to go back to work next week and teach my courses for the last time. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Plan C

Though I find myself back at Square One and baby-stepping, my desire to travel has not diminished. 
Is the second infection of hitch-itch worse than the first?

I expect to hear from the location-bound-summers-off teaching option any day now to schedule an interview.  And maybe that will work out, but my heart is really with Plan C.  (That would be the teach-online-circumnavigate-the-U.S-plan). 
I’m trying to do something every day to make working while traveling a possibility while still leaving room for other options.  (I don’t want to talk myself in to anything because that can backfire, can’t it?).  For the past couple of days I’ve been digging around the internet looking at different online nursing programs and also trying to connect with anyone who has done Plan C. 

And through a RV discussion group, I’ve gotten in touch with someone who recently taught online while full-timing.  Progress!  I hope to hear back from her soon and gather some much-needed information.

We got an offer on the house this past weekend.  A disappointing offer – $15K less than we are asking and we are to pay $6K in closing costs.  We counter-offered with the full price and no closing costs and haven’t heard back yet.  I imagine the buyer’s response could be summed up in 2 words.  You probably know the ones I mean.  We are in no desperate hurry, thank you.
Staying in the condo is still a possibility but it’s early days yet as far as settling the estate.  The family hasn’t gotten the condo appraisal back yet, for example.  And, of course, we may decide to keep the house.  For what feels like the first time in my life, I’m waiting for events to determine our decisions, not the other way around. 

See ….. I have learned something!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Lucky Girl

Got the pathology report back today – that big bad ovarian mass was BENIGN! 

Is there a lovelier word? 

Moments after hearing the news, my joy was somewhat tempered by the thought of all the women who hear the dark side of a biopsy.  Ovarian cancer is the most lethal reproductive cancer.  I teach this stuff, so I know what the worst-case scenario is. 

I feel relieved, grateful, but mostly lucky.

Onward ……

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Decisions Part 2: Work

So many decisions.  Where to live and how to live. 
Thanks to all who posted comments on Part 1.  You gave me some good insight.    

Now for the job situation.  I can get a job anywhere – the need for nursing faculty is dire right now.  In fact, this is the root cause of the national nursing shortage.  Tens of thousands of qualified applicants to nursing programs are turned away due to lack of instructors. 

But John needs to stay here for at least 4 more years until he retires and I don’t want to be parted from him right now.  We’ve lived and worked in different cities before in our 28-year marriage and it was doable but I’m just not in the mood to be away from him right now.  Plus there is the expense of maintaining 2 households were I to relocate.  I estimate that I would have to earn at least 20 grand more to make up the difference. 

There is a faculty opening at Troy State - a nearby graduate program - that I have applied for.  I’m waiting to hear back about an interview date.  It’s a 9-month position so I would have summers off!  That possibility is very attractive to me and you can guess why - I could buy whatever rig I wanted and just take off in May for several months. 

The other option I’m looking into is online instruction.  Online learning is very big right now in graduate nursing education.  I have all the qualifications and feel confident I could get any position I wanted in that world too.  Again, the advantage to this would be obvious to all of you -  I could work from the road!  Downside: the pay is not that great.  However, it would be enough to finance one heck of a road trip.  I could do it for a year and, if it doesn’t work out, all I’ve lost is the RV depreciation. 
Gee, now that I’ve written it all out I feel good about the prospects.  Fortunately I don’t have to be in any particular hurry to make a decision about work.  I agreed to teach my courses this summer (though now I wish I had asked for combat pay).  The housing situation is more pressing than the job situation. 

Anyway, I’m starting to see that losing my job is not the end of the world – something I wouldn’t have believed 7 weeks ago.  I’m grateful that my perspective has returned intact.   And also feel fortunate that I have so many good options when some folks have few or none. 

As usual, I welcome any and all input! 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Decisions Part 1: Home

After all the upheaval of the past 6 months, everything about our lives seems very much undecided.  Mainly where I will work, where we will live.   

Our house is on the market and it will sell soon, no doubt.  Although we are still not 100% sure we want to sell.  Lots of pros and cons.  We put it on the market because, after all the many tornado-induced  repairs (new ceilings, new paint, new hardwood floors), it’s never looked better.  But also because I was mad at it (as you can see from my 11/22 post).  I’m pretty much over that but after living in the condo, I don’t miss the house at all.  That tells me a lot.    
The condo is small and low-maintenance - really ideal for someone like me who probably isn’t genetically predisposed to be a homeowner.  It’s felt like a vacation living here the past 5 months (even though it is furnished with my in-laws', bless ‘em, outdated and mismatched furniture).  And it’s a good size for 2 people with a stinky little dog.  But having said all that, we are still undecided. 
I have 2 primary objections to buying the condo from John’s sibs and moving in: 1) the unit next to us is vacant and on the market – I’d like to see who we would be sharing a wall with before we commit and 2) John really likes the house and I don’t want to take that away from him (though he tells me as long as I’m happy, he’s happy anywhere).  We are hoping objection 1 will be resolved before we are forced to make a choice. 

OTOH, the things we might miss about the house are the doggie doors and covered parking. 

One of the biggest advantages to selling the house is that I can probably finally get my RV.  And with no house to tie me down, I could travel much more.  For one thing, we’d have more money!  You homeowners know what I’m talking about.    

Then there is my up-in-the-air work situation which I will leave for another post .…

Have any of you faced this kind of decision?  Wanna share?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Another Update

Just wanted to update my readers (assuming I still have any after my lenghthy stay in Blogger Limboland).  We’ve experienced a lot of change in big and small ways since November.  Here’s a rough-hewn timeline.

November 16, 2011: major tornado damage sustained.  See posts and pics below.  We move into my father-in-law’s condo where we remain today.
December 7, 2011: my beloved father-in-law died in the ICU after a 3-week hospitalization.

December 12, 2011: I receive my PhD.

January 25, 2012: we put our house on the market.  For my feelings toward the house, see the post of 11/22.  Yeah, I was angry.

March 5, 2012: I interview for the full-time permanent faculty job that I have been doing for the last 5 years.

March 13, 2012: I learn that I did not get the position.  The one that I loved and planned to retire from.  The word “devastated” doesn’t really convey our reaction.  I can’t eat or sleep and lose 8 pounds in 10 days.   

March 29, 2012: A routine GYN exam reveals a large pelvic mass on the right ovary; ultrasound indicates it is a tennis-ball size cyst.  MD is optimistic that it is benign.

April 24, 2012: I have laproscopic surgery to remove the cyst.  No complications and I was back home that night.  We are still awaiting the biopsy report.    

Crash.  Burn.    

My grand travel plans were dashed and the pain was so intense that I couldn’t follow any of your blogs for months. 

On the other hand ….

Some good stuff happened as well.  It’s taken a while but …. I feel great!  Doris is thriving and loves it here at the condo.  (Primarily, no doubt, because we are together approximately 20 hours out of 24).  I’ve come to appreciate my loving husband John even more and look forward to the chance to try to make his life a happy one.  He doesn’t ask for much – but that doesn’t mean I can’t give more than that. 

And after all this, I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time.  I love the slow empty stress-free days and just hanging out with family and friends.  And I’m consistently sleeping well for the first time in years.  I know it can’t last so I’m greedily savoring every wonderful moment of it.  And waiting to see what's next. 

I’ll write more later about Plans B, C, and D.  Even though of all the lessons I’ve learned the most profound is this: planning is merely a smug cognitive activity and then there’s a tree in your living room.